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.

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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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