The Offense of the Cross is Our Defense

G.K. Chesterton once said, “If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”  I can’t imagine many atheists would agree with him on that, but he makes a logical point.  In a country where freedom of religion is one of our hallmark values, we now have an organization called “The Freedom From Religion Coalition.”  Their goal is clearly to take away any religious symbolism from any public forum.  Is that really what the law has in mind?

The most recent area I have heard of their efforts was in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, at the sight of a 91-year-old war memorial at the town’s fire department. (story) At issue is a cross and a  firefighter’s prayer on the memorial.  The irony of their request for immediate removal is that they are actually spreading religious ideals in their quest to remove religion.

The fact of the matter is that religion is an important part of the culture of our world.  The government is not supposed to establish a religion that we all must follow, but it doesn’t have to stay completely out of religious symbolism.    There is no reason people need to separate their beliefs from their daily life in the world, especially when it comes to recognizing those who sacrificed their life for others.

Crosses have been used as a symbol of sacrifice in cemeteries for years.  Does it mean that all of the men and women who have died for our country were Christian?  Of course not. Doesn’t that meant we are endorsing a religion and therefore should get rid of all crosses in cemeteries?  No. In the cemetery it is used as a symbol of hope, regardless of what your beliefs are.  What is so offensive about the cross?  Why demand they be removed?

In ancient times, a cross was not a symbol of anything positive at all.  It was a symbol of justice, criminal activity, and execution.  It would not have been something people in Rome would have worn around their necks or placed in their cemeteries.  What changed the cross was an innocent man who died on one and then rose again from the dead.  All of a sudden the cross was glorious.  The cross became a symbol of hope and life, even when someone is confronted with death.

The reason this “coalition” is up in arms over this is because the cross represents Jesus Christ to most people.  The controversy is that He is the only way to God, a way that many people would rather ignore.

Paul talked about this confusion of the cross  in 1 Corinthians 1.  God takes the cross and completely changes it from a symbol of foolishness to a symbol of hope.

“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. ” – 1 Corinthians 1: 22-23
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25

Even so, why should that take away from something like a memorial?  The cross is not making anyone follow Jesus.  It is not rejecting people of other faiths.  It is simply reminding people that their death,while maybe not at a time that they would have chosen, is not in vain.  It proclaims that there is hope for a future because someone greater than they are died on a cross and lives today! This is offensive to some people, but it is the very truth that provides defense from the punishment of sin that we all deserve. That is a good news message even if you choose to ignore it.



  1. “Their goal is clearly to take away any religious symbolism from any public forum. Is that really what the law has in mind?”

    It depends entirely what you mean by the word ‘public’.

    If you mean ‘out in the open’, then no.

    If you mean ‘with public/government/funds from taxes’, then yes.

    “What is so offensive about the cross?”

    Ask the Jews.

    1. What I mean is that having a cross out in the open, and in this case on government property, is not a violation of any law. The law states that the government shall not establish a religion. Setting a cross on a memorial, or a prayer for that matter, does not indicate endorsement of any religion. I don’t know who paid for this memorial, but is has been there for 90 years. If it is like a lot of similar memorials, it is not funded by taxes. Having it displayed on “public” property is not a violation, in that case.

      The idea of Jesus as the Messiah is offensive to Jews, but that doesn’t mean they are right. Truth is truth. Someone is right and someone is wrong.

      1. “Truth is truth. Someone is right and someone is wrong.”

        And the government is not to take a position on it. Which is why your particular religious symbol doesn’t belong on government land.

        1. This memorial has been a landmark in that town for 90 years, as it is. They are not taking a position on religion. Truth is another matter because we all need to take positions on truth everyday. The government takes positions on truth all the time. These things are not as easily separated as you are stating here. Jesus Christ can be historically proven from sources outside of the Bible. If He did exist, then we each need to at least take come to grips with who He is and what He represents. Either He is the Savior or He isn’t. But, that is not the point of this post.

          1. “This memorial has been a landmark in that town for 90 years”

            So what? Doesn’t matter. If it’s against the law, or the Constitution, it doesn’t matter that it’s been against the Constitution for a long time.

            ” Jesus Christ can be historically proven from sources outside of the Bible.”

            No he can’t.

  2. well, to be honest and accurate, the govt role is not to deny any religious symbol access, not to deny all religious symbols. The govt would be wrong to say that a cross is allowed, but a star of David isn’t. Or if they said that the “big three” can have their symbols, but paganism, Hinduism or Baha’i can’t. That would be the endorsement of “religion” by the state.

  3. to the comment that you can’t find proof of Christ from non-Biblical sources, I offer from Tacitus
    “Nero fastened the guilt . . . on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome”

    Pliny the Younger
    “They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”

    there are more at this link

  4. Amen! I believe it’s like demanding all life preservers be taken off a sinking ship……the need doesn’t seem apparent until you need one! Good read!

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