Monday, September 26, 2005

Not that cross over Las Cruces

Lawsuit seeks removal of crosses from Las Cruces city logo

OK, I am an agnostic, an atheist (yes, they are different), and a Unitarian Universalist. I am against all those Ten Commandments monuments being on Government or public property and prayer in school and the Pledge of Allegiance having “under God” in it. I object to being asked to swear on a Bible and say “so help me God”, being required to believe in a diety to hold public office, and all that kind of related stuff – I am for the separation of Church and State, and freedom of religion or freedom from religion if so desired…

But I’m not so sure about this case. The name of the town is “Las Cruces”. It means “The Crosses”. The logo for the city has crosses in it. They don’t really look like a religious symbol to me, they are stylized and it kind of looks like two crosses, not three. I’m not so sure that this graphic is portraying a religious message that those other previously mentioned monuments and such.

Whether or not Jesus was real, and whether his manner of death has religious meaning (there are also theories that he survived the cross, but that's a totally different topic), we know that crosses existed and that many, many people died on them throughout history. It’s a cold hard fact. There has always been repression, cruelty and war.

It is also a fact that many gravestones were in the shape of crosses, and this practice goes back to the Celts (or even before? I am not an expert on this by any means)

This page provides a brief history of the city, including how it might have been named.

Now that there was a town, it needed a name. People chose Las Cruces but where the name comes from is the subject of some disagreement. The most popular theory is that sometime during the 1700s, a bishop, a priest, a Mexican army colonel, four trappers and four choirboys were attacked near the Rio Grande and only one choirboy survived. He put up crosses at the site and the area became known as El Pueblo del Jardin de Las Cruces, or City of the Garden of the Crosses.

Another theory holds that crosses in the area marked the sites of various Apache attacks. This is similar to yet another theory that holds that in 1830, Las Cruces was the site of an attack on 40 or more travelers from Taos during which none of the travelers survived.

The most peaceful theory is that the name is simply the Spanish translation for crossing or crossroads.

Anyway, this is the least objectionable case I've come across of religious symbols being used on government property or identity, and I'm usually fairly hard-nosed about it.

1 comment:

TLP said...

I'm an athiest, and a UU also!

But I think any group needs to pick their battles, and agree with you that this case is thin.

I say, if the symbols are historic, let them remain. Just don't be puttin' up new religious stuff.