Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Do these clauses prohibit a private group from displaying a religious symbol in a national park? That is the issue before the Supreme Court. The case involves
This might seem to be a messy issue, since the precise definition of "establishment of religion" or "free exercise thereof" is not obvious.
a small plywood box, set back from a gentle curve in a lonesome desert road. It looks like nothing so much as a miniature billboard without a message.
But inside the box is a 6 1/2 -foot white cross, built to honor the war dead of World War I. And because its perch on a prominent outcropping of rock is on federal land, it has been judged to be an unconstitutional display of government favoritism of one religion over another.
But here is a simple resolution: get rid of national parks. Government has no compelling interest in this activity, so it should return all the land to private ownership. This allows markets forces to determine whether these lands are best used for private parks, grazing, timber, condominiums, or golf courses.
And then the constitutional issue is moot.