First, after the transfer it would continue to appear to any reasonable observer that the Government has endorsed the cross, notwithstanding that the name has changed on the title to a small patch of underlying land. This is particularly true because the Government has designated the cross as a national memorial, and that endorsement continues regardless of whether the cross sits on public or private land. Second, the transfer continues the existing government endorsement of the cross because the purpose of the transfer is to preserve its display.[italics mine]Effectively, Stevens would have to block the actions of the Continental Congress, and the framers as individuals:
[Calling for a day of thanksgiving and prayer for the victory at Saratoga] "Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received . . . [to offer] humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot [our sins] out of remembrance . . . and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth 'in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.'"
-Continental Congress. Journals of the Continental Congress at Vol 18, p. 950.
"I do by and with the Advice of the Council appoint [11 Dec. 1783] to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the People may then assemble to celebrate . . . that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the blessed Gospel; . . . That we also offer up fervent Supplications . . . to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish . . . and to fill the World with his glory."Here, John Adams promotes religion in all areas of society:
-John Hancock. Proclamation from Boston, November 8, 1783, from an original in the Evans collection, #18025, by the American Antiquarian Soc.
"Religion and virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in all the combinations of human society."These justices make the error equating government endorsing religion with an establishment of a particular sect. Common sense dictates prohibiting the latter.
-John Adams, August 28, 1811. The Works of John Adams-Second President of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1854), Vol. IX, p. 636.