Let’s not worry about the Mt. Soledad Cross

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By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — The Los Angeles Times editorial board published an opinion today that the 59-year old infamous high Cross above Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, Ca., should be removed: “A cross is not a universal symbol for memorializing the dead. It is a Christian marker.” This is but the latest legal challenge (not all brought by non-Christian groups, many by activist legal societies) to the Cross, which is also a signal tourist attraction here in San Diego.

If a Cross is not a universally used symbol for memory or faith, then neither is the Star of David or the Crescent such an icon. If that were the case, then the entire military doctrine that US military chaplains remain liturgically inclusive and equipped to pray with or for military personnel of any faith at any time is invalid.

This is America, for God’s sake. Let’s not get stuck on technicalities or rewind old paranoia. Apparently the Cross had anti-Jewish implications when it was first erected—an unfortunate symbol of Christian resistance to Jewish property owners in La Jolla. Many of the citizens who fought that reprehensible social policy, most prominently Roger Revelle of the University of California San Diego, were Christians. The Cross atop Mt. Soledad didn’t interfere with their pleas for social justice and La Jolla has long been strengthened by its multicultural demographics.

After six decades, and hundreds of thousands of visitors, cyclists, hikers, thoughtful folks who simply admire the inspiring vista of land, sky, and ocean, the Cross remains simply a beacon, a marker, and a landmark.

I once lived adjacent to the site and it did not bother me then and I it does not bother, offend, or intimidate me now. I remain much more concerned about the glaring mercantilism that has by now drained all the fall/winter holidays, from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas, of any dignity or theological poetry.

Is the cross technically or constitutionally out-of-bounds? Perhaps. Does it even remotely threaten my spiritual life? Not in the least. When I visit the breathtaking site, I see images and read stories of American war veterans whose narratives are embossed with all religious symbols. This Jew is not going to succumb, in America in 2013, to the notion that the Christian cross, by definition, is a not sign of peace.

To quote the commentator Ben Stein: “I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.”

Everybody just needs to calm down about symbols and get busy with the work of feeding the hungry, pleading for the widowed, and clothing the naked. Here are where the real threats to religious teachings languish—while we indulge our time chasing valuables and not values.

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Rabbi Kamin is a freelance writer and author based in Encinitas, California.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

2 Responses to “Let’s not worry about the Mt. Soledad Cross”

  1. Mike Hall says:

    More people have been killed, Jews included, throughout human history in the name of the cross than by any other religious belief. Pastor Mike

  2. Larry Linn says:

    The Plaintiffs were the Jewish Veterans of the United States of America. Why should a Christian symbol be imposed upon veterans who are not Christians?

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