Judge Roy Moore & Foundation for Moral Law File Brief Defending Utah Highway Memorial Crosses
Contact: Rich Hobson, Foundation for Moral Law, 334-262-1245
MEDIA ADVISORY, Oct. 27 /Christian Newswire/ -- Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and the Foundation for Moral Law, a religious liberties legal organization in Montgomery, Alabama, filed a legal brief in the case of American Atheists v. Duncan, a Utah case involving crosses placed along highways as part of a memorial to state highway patrolmen killed in the line of duty.
Judge Moore stated,
"The Utah Highway Patrol Association, and the loved ones of these fallen heroes, are entitled to commemorate these troopers by placing a cross on the side of the highway and they shouldn't have to deny their beliefs and respect for their loved ones simply because the American Atheists don't like it."
Beginning in the late 1990's, the Utah Highway Patrol Association, with permission from the Utah Department of Transportation, began erecting 12-foot steel crosses to memorialize patrol officers at the site where the trooper died or was mortally wounded. The American Atheists, Inc., and several other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal district court, arguing that the memorials violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because they constitute a religious symbol and are offensive to some who view them. The federal district court ruled that the memorials do not violate the Constitution because the cross, while a religious symbol for some, also carries the message of commemoration of someone's death. The American Atheists appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Foundation's brief argues that the First Amendment must be interpreted according to its plain meaning as understood by its Framers. James Madison and the Virginia Constitution of 1776 defined religion as "The duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it." Under that definition, a simple memorial cross on the side of a highway cannot possibly be called a religion. Furthermore, the Foundation argues, an "establishment" of religion was understood by the Framers to mean the founding or recognition of one church as the official state church or granting special favors and advantages to that church. Again, using that definition, the placement of a memorial cross by a highway cannot be considered an "establishment of religion." The offended feelings of a few traveling atheists should not trump the desire of the majority of Utahans who wish to honor their fallen state troopers.
To find out more about the Foundation for Moral Law, please visit www.morallaw.org.