An atheist group has targeted a memorial erected by U.S. Marines in honor of comrades killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. The memorial, consisting of two 13-foot crosses, was placed by seven Marines in a remote part of California’s Camp Pendleton in 2003 to honor their fallen comrades. Three of those seven soldiers were later also killed in action, and after a wildfire destroyed their original memorial, other Marines, along with widows of some of the late soldiers, erected new crosses to replace those that were destroyed.
But after a news story about the memorial went public in a human interest story, a group calling itself the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) contacted Pendleton officials and demanded that the memorial be dismantled because of the religious symbols involved. “These Christian crosses need to go to a private Christian instillation [sic] and we need to stick to things that honor everyone equally and maintain neutrality towards government,” declared MAAF president Jason Torpy.
Reported Fox News: “For 10 years, the crosses have stood on the hill without complaint, but the MAAF says if they don’t come down soon, it will file a lawsuit and possibly hold protests outside the Marine base gates. Torpy says the original Marines, while good-intentioned, overstepped their bounds by building a shrine without approval or notice from the Corps. ‘These Marines were abusing their access to the installation when they went on to it and starting building things,’ says Torpy.”
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