“What Do These Stones Mean to You?”
Updated: Jan 2, 2020
When the Israelites miraculously crossed the flooded Jordan River on dry ground, they were instructed to set up twelve stones. Each stone, representing a tribe of Israel, was to be taken from the banks of the Jordan and combined with the other eleven to build a perpetual memorial. As Joshua affirmed:
This may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, “What do those stones mean to you?” Then you shall tell them. (Joshua 4:6-7)
A “memorial” is defined as “something that keeps remembrance alive” or “something that commemorates.”[i] Throughout the Bible, memorials, altars, and even wells were used to remind and teach future generations of what happened in the past.
The US Supreme Court is currently deciding the fate of such a memorial in Maryland. Referred to as the Peace Cross, it honors 49 local residents who gave their life in World War I. Erected in 1925 to honor these heroes, it is in the shape of a cross—a universally and internationally-recognized symbol of peace and hope.
But the American Humanist Association wants this war memorial demolished,[ii] and a federal court of appeals has agreed with them.[iii] But citizens disagree. In fact, when national pollster George Barna asked Americans about this, only 2% want the cross destroyed.[iv]
The Constitution’s clauses on religion were written to ensure that Americans would have a constitutional guarantee for the freedom of religious expression, not a freedom from it. As Constitution signer George Washington affirmed, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”[v]
Our Founders recognized the importance of openly and publicly acknowledging God. Reflecting this, the Maryland constitution declares, “Nothing shall prohibit or require the making reference to, belief in, reliance upon, or invoking the aid of God or a Supreme Being in any governmental or public document, proceeding, activity, ceremony, school, institution, or place.”[vi]
The US Supreme Court is now deciding whether it will protect this war memorial or side with the lower court and order it torn down. Let’s pray that the Supreme Court will preserve this cross-shaped memorial, which is a common symbol for many war memorials commemorating the dead, including in nearby Arlington National Cemetery.
“The cross…is the power of God…” 1 Corinthians 1:18
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[i] “Memorial,” Merriam-Webster, accessed at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/memorial
[ii] Miller, M. (2014, March 06). Why We Sued Bladensburg, MD Over a 40-Foot Cross. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
[iv] Barna Research. (2019, January 28). Survey Data- Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
[v] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: American Stationers’ Company, 1837), Vol. XII, p. 119, “Proclamation for a National Thanksgiving,” October 3, 1789.
[vi] Maryland Constitution, Article 36.