27th Jul 2011
Many of my clients and friends know that I took my undergraduate degree in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology. In my reading and travels, I always pay attention to stories about antiquity and culture.
Recently I was in Scotland where I visited the world famous Roslyn Chapel. While there I learned that the Chapel had been defaced and the altar destroyed at the time when the majority of the country was turning away from Roman Catholicism to Presbyterianism, in an effort to erase the evidence that the chapel had been built as a Roman Catholic church.
Roslyn Chapel, Scotland:
While flying home from Scotland, I found an article in the July/August 2011 issue of Archaeology concerning the destruction of two massive statues of Buddha, 125 ft. and 180 ft. respectively in Afghanistan, blown up in 2001. They were intentionally destroyed by the Taliban government to remove the evidence of Buddhism that had stood since the first century A.D. at Bamiyan.
The now-empty niche at Bamiyan, Afghanistan:
In recent years, here in the United States, an assault on Christian symbols has been taking place, cleverly hidden behind a First Amendment argument. This argument supposes that a cross on hillside, that was erected over a 100 years ago by persons long deceased, will somehow create a state sponsored religion and thus violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Often successful, these attacks result in the removal and destruction of these historical significant symbols from our culture.
The famous case of the cross on Mt. Helix in San Diego was brought by one person who was “offended” by a cross on a hill that had stood for decades, originally on private land, and then on government managed property.
Fortunately, the cross was preserved by a legal settlement that took it out of the government’s care. I guess the idiot who brought the original case is still offended because it can be seen across the skyline to this day.
The Mt. Helix cross:
I believe that the law can be used to to impart justice, but it can also be the tool of zealots who have a bigoted agenda to carry out. We as a country, of course, don’t think we are like the stupid bigots of 18th Century Scotland, or like those horrible Taliban extremists. But when we destroy our own cultural and historical icons, aren’t we just like them?
Dwight Edward Tompkins
Attorney at Law
This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction.