The Galllup Independent reports on efforts by Atheist groups to stop the erection of roadside memorial crosses, known in the South West as Descansos.
Descansos, or roadside memorial crosses, have been in New Mexico since before the state became part of the union, but the traditional monuments have been threatened in Utah and nearby states are filing briefs in support of the tradition. (source)
In Utah, the Highway Patrol erects crosses in memory of fallen Highway Patrol officers. Atheists have challenged that practice as a violation of the Establishment Clause. New Mexicans are concerned that the Descansos tradition may come under similar fire.
I am as Atheist as they come, and I believe in a very firm wall of separation between church and state. However, I also think that Atheists can push too far sometimes.
It is quite permissible to use religious symbols when they represent the views of a given individual.
I see no reason why a Utah Highway Patrol officer can not be honored in his own way, even if taxpayer dollars are used. If the UHP mandated that Atheist officers be honored with a crucifix, that would be another story, but I have not seen that allegation.
Church and state must be kept separate. However, we don’t need that wall to be so high that it blots out the sunshine of free expression.
UPDATE: Rogier van Bakel blogged about this last year when it first arose. Is he my philosophical brother, or what?