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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.

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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