The Supreme Court heard the case of the Mojave War Cross in 2009 and recently ruled in a narrow opinion that the cross could stay. The cross in question was first placed on Sunrise Rock by Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1934, to honor WWI troops. A former park employee sued, arguing that the cross was a religious symbol and was an unconstitutional government endorsement of Christianity. In order to attempt to save the memorial, Congress transferred the piece of land the cross stood on into private hands.
The issue was debated on CNN's Lou Dobbs in 2009, as shown here:
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the cross could stay where it was until further proceedings were completed. Then, on May 9, the cross was stolen in the middle of the night.
By Thursday, May 20, it was back again. Except that it wasn't. It was some sort of replica, or perhaps you might even say, a counterfeit cross. It is unknown who stole the cross or who put the new one up. But there it is.
The Justice Department has ordered it to be removed as an injunction prevents a new cross from being displayed.
Veterans groups have offered $125,000 in reward for recovery of the missing cross. It is unknown whether a replica cross is eligible for the reward, but it's doubtful.
The Wall Street Journal interviewed Wanda Sandoz, who with her husband, has acted as caretaker of the cross for 25 years. "It just gets crazier and crazier," said Sandoz.
As the Press-Enterprise reports, an investigation is underway that already has a significant lead. A local newspaper received an email containing details of the cross theft -- supposedly from the person who stole it. At the moment, the paper has not turned over the email, though the text itself was published. The text said that the cross was taken as a response to the decision by the Supreme Court.
- The Mojave Cross: A Strange Case Gets a Whole Lot Weirder (WSJ)
- Mojave Cross replaced, then removed (Press-Enterprise)
- Supreme Court Rules Mojave Cross Memorial May Stay (FindLaw's Decided)
- Mojave cross case: a signal on religious symbols (AP, FindLaw)