Does Freedom of Religion Apply Even to Crosses?

Now that the Ground Zero Victory Mosque has suddenly inspired in liberals a reverence for freedom of religion and property rights, no doubt the establishment media will begin screeching insults at anyone who opposes the Downings of Vermont:

To Richard and Joan Downing, the 24-foot-tall cross on a hilltop on their property is an expression of their faith. To a state commission that regulates land use, it is out of character with the natural beauty of the rural neighborhood and should come down.

It’s a conflict that has cropped up around the country, pitting religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution’s First Amendment against the local zoning authority and state land-use control laws.

The Downings, lifelong Roman Catholics in their late 70s, own about 800 acres outside the village of Lyndonville. In 2005, they opened a chapel on their property to serve their family: seven children, three of them adopted, and the 35 foster children they raised, mainly at their other home in Sherborn, Mass.

Their website makes clear the chapel is open to the public, however, offering “those seeking peace and spiritual growth a sanctuary of grace and beauty.”

Wherever grace and beauty dare to raise their heads, Big Government stands ready with a mallet. Arguments are ongoing as to whether the cross will be permitted.

Eric Rassbach of the Washington, D.C.-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said the religious person’s burden is usually weighed against a claim by the government that it has a “compelling interest,” such as public safety, in restricting a specific behavior.

That settles the Victory Mosque case. What compelling interest could the government possibly have in preventing an America-bashing radical like Imam Faisal Rauf from raising a 13-story shrine to terrorism at the edge of Ground Zero? It’s not as if such an outlandish provocation could lead to violence — whereas a cross out in the country threatens public order.

vermont-cross.jpg  september11.jpg
One of these pictures makes our liberal rulers mad.

On a tip from Ferrell Gummitt. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.

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