Challenges Mount Over Religious Symbols On Lake Elsinore Veterans Memorial

The City Council must now decide whether to approve or deny the design featuring the religious symbols.

The design for a proposed Veterans Memorial in Lake Elsinore that features a cross and Star of David may bring legal challenges.

Jason Torpy, president of Washington, DC-based Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, has submitted a letter to the Lake Elsinore city clerk and council members requesting the religious symbolism be removed from any proposed design.

The Nov. 7 letter, written “on behalf of military men and women who have served our country in all branches of service and all conflicts of our nation,” makes the request to remove religious symbolism and any “sectarian bias” from the proposed monument or any other future monuments that require city council approval.

“Make the legal choice that honors all our veterans,” the letter reads. “A simple change will still make for a wonderful monument to all veterans.”

Friday, a subcommittee comprised of city officials, local leaders and veterans, agreed to submit to City Council a final design proposal for a granite Veterans Memorial slated to be erected at the entrance of the city-owned Diamond Stadium.

The city gave the go-ahead earlier this year to pay for a memorial, but first asked that a subcommittee be formed to come up with a design and location for the monument.

Coming into Friday’s meeting, the subcommittee had honed in on a design by Sun City Granite Monuments and Memorials that depicted a soldier kneeling in front of a cross, but after discussion it was agreed the Star of David should also be added to the project.

According to Justin Carlson, management analyst for the city, during Friday’s meeting 17 people addressed the subcommittee, with just four rallying for a design modification.

“There was strong support for the design. In addition, a petition was submitted with 75 signatures that support the cross design,” Carlson said.

But Torpy says the city should follow precedent laid out by the country’s Founding Fathers.

“Conservative and Christian veterans may advocate for a Christian memorial and viscerally denounce the voices of reason who point to the Constitution and the diversity of our military. Council members should remember that they have been put in this difficult and actionable position by Christian special interests. Prove that this memorial isn't about religion. Don't be strong-armed by special interests.”

The City Council must now decide whether to approve or deny the design featuring the two religious symbols. The large-scale monument is expected to cost city taxpayers approximately $46,000.

Torpy contends the legal center of the Washington, DC-based American Humanist Association has also challenged the monument. Click here for a plea to Lake Elsinore City Council from a local veteran requesting the religious symbolism be removed from the monument.

The city is expected to discuss the issue during an upcoming city council meeting. The agenda for the next city council meeting, Nov. 13, has not yet been posted.

Click here for more about legal challenges to these types of monuments.

Joy November 09, 2012 at 02:33 AM
I AM a Christian, my husband IS a veteran, but I think in this instance I agree! While the cross doesn't offend me, I would be more than a little bothered if another religious symbol was widely used to represent respect and remembrance of Veterans and their sacrifices. It should simply be swapped with another American, patriotic symbol, or as Mary Ann commented above, the "Soldier's Cross" of Rifle, Helmet, and Boots.
Anon November 09, 2012 at 04:20 AM
I agree Blues. Do they get mad when Christmas decorations are put up everywhere ? Funny how atheists celebrate Christmas huh? Hypocrites.
Roberto November 09, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Liberals have destroyed America. Like Melissa said, the litigation is already paid for since the cross is being displayed in a historical sense. Build it and let the loony liberals have at it. The atheist - Christian haters won't change so why bother listening to them? We are solid ground to defend against the loony lawsuit.
Popeye November 09, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Stop your whinning TeaBagger! You are one of the losers that voted wrong again! Ha ha ha
LBV Collins November 09, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Good morning, American. I have no problem with Christmas decorations being put up everywhere... Heck. I LOVE Christmas. (In fact, as early as July, I start singing Christmas tunes as I walk around the house. Drives my wife crazy.) Nor do I have any problem with people putting out religious symbols in the yards to celebrate Christmas... nativity scenes, crosses, signs with Bible verses, etc. Let's face it: Christmas is a fun time of year for a lot of people throughout the world. And it's also one of the most profitable times of year for many, many businesses, who generate as much as 35-50% of their annual revenue (or more) during this holiday season.
BLUESGUITAR777 November 09, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Good morning everybody. Atheists love Christmas because they've taken 'Christ' out of it. They've turned it into a materialistic "holiday" where the expectation of the day off from work (for most) and having to spend ridiculous amounts of money at retail stores are the norm. God is no longer part of the equation.
LBV Collins November 09, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Good morning, BG777. I disagree that atheists turned Christmas into a materialistic holiday. Capitalists did that... and capitalism is secular. Same is true for Easter, Saint Patrick's Day, and Saint Valentine's Day.
BLUESGUITAR777 November 09, 2012 at 04:40 PM
" I disagree that atheists turned Christmas into a materialistic holiday. Capitalists did that... and capitalism is secular." Uhhh.... atheist = secular Secular means 'of the world.' An atheist does not believe in God and does not follow His principles. They follow their own principles and there are only two different types of principles; God's or the world's (secular). Capitalism is okay if practiced with a good ethic but greed can quickly overcome (as it has). So no, friend, Capitalism did not turn Christmas into a materialistic holiday - atheists did.
LBV Collins November 09, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Hi BG777. I don't quite follow your logic. Are you stating that only atheists are capitalists? And that no theists embrace the holiday season to significantly increase their annual revenues?
BLUESGUITAR777 November 09, 2012 at 05:14 PM
LBV - No bro, that's not what I was insinuating. What I mean is that people who have chosen to embrace the values of the world are who caused Christmas to be what it is today. I'm not saying Capitalism is bad. It's a good thing - when practiced correctly. I guess I miscommunicated (sp? it says I'm wrong on that word but I'm pretty sure I'm right... lol) my point. My brain is offline this morning because my daughter was up all night ralphing her brains out so I'm running on very little sleep. To be continued.... lol
DB November 09, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Christian = Christ based faith......If I read the fable from the novel known as the Holy Bible, Christ was tortured and killed on a cross. IF Christ were to come back, I wonder what he or she would think about looking around and seeing all these torture devices? If it were me, I would get as far from them, as possible......just sayin'. Right back to the Heavens I would go, warp speed....... That said, I am a veteran, 3 tours in combat, I am also a Pagan that was educated in a Catholic school system (yeppers, I believe in all kinds of weird stuff, but mostly, let people believe whatever gets them through the day and do not judge them) and am very good at ignoring what I do not like. So, as a Pagan that is a veteran, it does not bother me either way.......and I most likely will pay it no attention no matter what they do with it......
LBV Collins November 09, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Sorry to hear about your daughter, BG777. Hope she gets better soon. (I have three daughters... all adults, now... who would occasionally keep me up all night when they were ill. Heck, one time I was so exhausted the day after a long night in the emergency room when one of them had an earache, that I fell asleep in the middle of a presentation to a big client! Fortunately, they were sympathetic.) Regarding your point that "...people who have chosen to embrace the values of the world are who caused Christmas to be what it is today," I have to say that I agree... at least to a certain point. Here again, capitalists are focused on generating revenues, not necessarily celebrating Jesus' birth. But the concept of gift giving at Christmas... i.e. Christ's Birthday... actually started on Christ's birthday with the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh given to baby Jesus by the three kings. True?
BLUESGUITAR777 November 09, 2012 at 06:10 PM
LBV - Thanks for the expressed concern my friend. I do agree with your point and see where you're taking it with the gift giving. I guess all I'm saying is, like the article, people who have chosen to not follow Christ seem to want to take the fun out of it for those of us who do. I understand your right to choose not to believe, but does it really "hurt" you if the cross goes up? I mean... really? The same is applicable to Christmas to a certain extent. People have taken Christ out of the equation and it has become a day off from work and all about the day itself as opposed to the true meaning behind it. Anyway, have a good one.
CB November 09, 2012 at 06:10 PM
God bless Lake Elsinore. God bless America. And God bless the brave defenders of our country, and the freedom to publicly worship and honor Him, for which so many of these gallant souls we honor have given their lives. Let us joyfully praise God's name -- not banish Him.
LBV Collins November 09, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Hi BG777. Well, I for one do not want to take the fun out of Christmas for Christians, and, no, it really doesn’t bother me personally if the memorial has a cross on it. It’s just that when someone expresses a point of view as Jason Torpy has (that we shouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to promote a particular religion over others), then I feel compelled to embrace the spirit of the First Amendment and support their view. Anywho… good discussion. I enjoyed it. (Now… go take a nap before you fall asleep in front of a client.) ;)
BLUESGUITAR777 November 09, 2012 at 07:09 PM
What?! Poop-eye is back?? Tooooonnniiii!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol
The Teller of Truth November 09, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I believe that Mr. "ROTFLMAO" & "remove the wasted fat group" has lost credibility on here. I believe theres some sort of a mental deficiency involved, just sayin.
The Teller of Truth November 09, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Trying real hard to tie your message into any thread aren't you? Well good for you. Keep plugging away.
The Teller of Truth November 09, 2012 at 07:17 PM
@LER, why do you keep posting the same thing over & over? We are not like you, we got it the first time. Posting the exact cut & paste 20 times over, does not make your views any more believable, just annoying. I'm glad you're learning more tricks on your computer, but try to realize that your redundancy is not making you any MORE relevent. Just a suggestion.
The Teller of Truth November 09, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Some people just like to argue for arguements sake. Now that the election is over, its just on to the next controversial thing for them. This monument would not even be an issue for some, if it weren't for sheer boredom & trying to be relevant. Foolishness is still alive and well it seems....
The Teller of Truth November 09, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Marfa, you should just stick to Wildomar politics. (We all see how that turns out for ya!)
Balance November 09, 2012 at 07:33 PM
I'm for having no philosophical/religious symbolism on the memorial and I also agree that the downtown park is a better location.
William Horn November 10, 2012 at 12:51 AM
The question I have is this, is the memorial meant to honor all veterans or just Christian and Jewish veterans? If the answer is all veterans, then the action required is obvious. If the answer is just Christian and Jewish veterans, then I believe the memorial ought to be privately funded by those religious groups, not funded by the local government.
Constant Comment November 10, 2012 at 01:01 AM
This monument is not intended to make a religious statement. It is an accurate historical depiction of a WWII era soldier kneeling at a gravesite overseas. The memorial in question is a soldier or marine from WWII. He holds in one hand a rifle called an M1 Garand. In his other hand he holds an M1 helmet. These are both WWII and Korean Conflict issue. Because the soldier or marine is kneeling at a cross, that would place the engraving in the WWII era. He could not be from the Korean War because all those killed in action during that conflict were returned to the U.S. for interment. In other words, they were not buried in cemeteries in Korea with rows of crosses. The cross shaped gravestone is readily recognized from that era as representing those killed on foreign soil. I recommended the monument have a Star of David added to it, as that also more accurately depicts a gravestone from this era. ...By MELISSA MELENDEZ.....
Constant Comment November 10, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Theres really no need to keep copying & pasting the same thing over & over...is there? You do realize that saying something over & over, doesn't necessarily make it so? Do you ever get out of the house? Have you ever held a job? Who do you want to write back to you? }~)
William Horn November 10, 2012 at 08:15 PM
With all due respect to Assemblyperson-elect Melendez, this sounds like a rationalization to me. If this is meant not to be a religious symbol, then why backtrack and add the Star of David? If the image is necessary, I think the choice of an image memorializing America’s Greatest Generation is a good choice. There are secular images from World War II that would suffice, if an image is required at all. If the memorial must proceed with the image, then one of the pedestals surrounding the image, or perhaps a plaque on the reverse side should make clear that the memorial is an accurate depiction of a WWII scene and is dedicated to all U.S. Veterans regardless of their religious beliefs. Lacking that acknowledgement, I reiterate that religious groups should fund the memorial, not the government.
David Pereira November 12, 2012 at 04:20 PM
You're so hatable. Do you realize that nobody on here likes you? How does that make you feel? I know you'll say you don't care but if you really didn't care then you wouldn't post so much. I get it, you want to be heard. I'm sure in your pathetic life you have nobody that'll listen to your garbage and this way people at least respond to you. You're probably tired of people walking away from you mid-sentence huh? And I mean it, I'm not just saying for shock value, I really can not stand you. You are a huge annoyance and if you don't get some people skills you're going to be as alone as Martha Bridges and Ken Mayes.
Dennis Michael Hainey November 13, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Michael49 I am a Viet Nam vet and I am also a Christian. I feel that if any changes are to be made then have him kneeling before the helmet on a rifle with dog tags with a pair of boots at the base. THATS what alot of vets have at one time or another have knelt before. Its not about religion but about the sacrifice that was made for our country so that we are FREE to practice whatever religion you choose to.
Julian Villalobos November 14, 2012 at 08:56 PM
There are more i mportant things in the world to be haggling over than this monument thing. It is what it is so let it go at that. Doesnt matter what you put on it,everyone is different. We are not all the same. Guaranteed everyone will look at this monument differently no matter what. On another note, what about the streets of Lake Elsinore that need reparing why is nobody coplaining about that or the trash in the hills of country club heights that seems to go unoticed by the city of Lake Elsinore? Anyway just saying.
Steven Hewett November 16, 2012 at 01:55 PM
City Council, I would ask that you consider that soldiers come from all faiths, non-faith and serve our country not under the banner of a one religion but the banner that unites us as one nation, the American Flag. On our uniforms we wear no religious symbols but the symbol of our country, the American Flag. When we kneel, we kneel before a fallen comrade’s Boots, Rifle, Helmet and Dog Tags. Not before some religious symbol such as a cross, but the symbol of a Soldier! Please consider the fact we Honor Service and Sacrifice to our Veterans not religion. I would ask that you consider the attached statute which represents “All” soldiers and a symbol of a fallen comrade in arms that is located not only at Ft. Hood, TX but at hundreds of other memorials to soldiers. http://sites-of-memory.de/images/forthood4thdiv03.JPG To place the kneeling soldier of a cross implies that we are all of that one faith, which we are not soldiers, we are of many faiths and some none at all. Please respect us “All”. Sincerely, Steven Hewett Afghanistan Combat Veteran


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