Mt. Soledad Cross Bill Advances In U.S. House 

The House Committee on Natural Resources has approved a bill intended to keep the Mt. Soledad cross standing on public land in San Diego.

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) introduced H.R. 290, which declares that religious symbols are suitable for war memorials. It passed the committee unanimously on May 25.

For years, the courts and Congress have gone back and forth regarding the fate of this 43-foot cross.

Most recently, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the cross violates church-state separation. The panel rejected the argument that the cross, though the preeminent symbol of the Christian faith, is not religious but rather a secular marker for war dead.

But Hunter, in order to bypass this ruling, introduced the War Memorial Protection Act, which would legalize the inclusion of sectarian symbols on war memorials.

Similar language was also attached as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which passed the House and is now in the Senate.

This is the latest round in the long-running battle over the Mt. Soledad cross, which was erected in 1913 by a private group. The original cross was knocked down by bad weather, as were two other crosses that came after it.