Saturday, October 25, 2014

Supreme Court Rulings Against Kahle Are Positive Sign For Grand Haven Cross Supporters

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at 
Dewey Hill Cross Antagonist Mitch Kahle, exposed by West Michigan Politics as an anti Christian bully who profits from his actions, has been wrong before. 
He claimed that the Hawaii State Senate's Ceremonial Opening Prayer was unconstitutional, and was actually successful in getting them to end the prayer. 

(Not before cashing in on a six figure lawsuit, one of multiple lawsuits he's profited off of while bullying people of faith.) 
But the United States Supreme Court ruled this year that such prayers are indeed Constitutional, and now Hawaii's Senate may bring them back:
"(The) Supreme Court upheld decidedly Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings on Monday, declaring them in line with long national traditions though the country has grown more religiously diverse.
Though the decision split the court along ideological lines, the Obama administration backed the winning side, the town of Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester.
The outcome relied heavily on a 1983 decision in which the court upheld an opening prayer in the Nebraska Legislature and said prayer is part of the nation's fabric, not a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion.

Writing for the court on Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that forcing clergy to scrub the prayers of references to Jesus Christ and other sectarian religious figures would turn officials into censors. Instead, Kennedy said, the prayers should be seen as ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions.
"The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers," Kennedy said."
Of note:
"Kennedy himself was the author of an opinion in 1992 that held that a Christian prayer delivered at a high school graduation did violate the Constitution. The justice said Monday there are differences between the two situations, including the age of the audience and the fact that attendees at the council meeting may step out of the room if they do not like the prayer."
Kennedy also said that 
"In their declarations in the trial court, respondents  stated that the prayers gave them offense and made them feel excluded and disrespected. Offense, however, does not  equate to coercion. Adults often encounter speech they find disagreeable; and an Establishment Clause violation is not made out any time a person experiences a sense of affront from the expression of contrary religious views."
Hawaii Leaders React After Supreme Court Rebukes Kahle's Position, Consider Restoring Prayers:

He also may be wrong about other things-aside from the structure of Grand Haven City government. (Read more here)

Opponents of the Cross on Grand Haven's Dewey Hill said Friday (via Remove the Grand Haven Cross, a Facebook page likely run by Kahle) that the City has four options to consider while dealing with the situation:

"The City (sic) adminstration  has four options in responding to our complaint: 
1) restrict use for government only; 
2) establish a free speech zone open to use by all; 
3) clear the hill and preserve the dune; or 
4) face a costly lawsuit the City can never win."

Actually, a recent Supreme Court decision could provide Grand Haven another option: sell the space on Dewey Hill to a private group. In that case, Congress transferred federal land to the VFW after a lawsuit threatened to remove the Cross memorial. The Supreme Court affirmed the right of Congress to do so.

"The Mojave Memorial Cross is a cross formerly on public land in the Mojave desert that was at the center of the Salazar v. Buono legal case before the U.S. Supreme Court.[1][2][3] The original cross was erected in 1934 to honor those killed in war.[4] The cross has been maintained by volunteers[5] and was reconstructed after being destroyed.[5] It was boarded up after lower court rulings declared it illegal because of separation of church and state constitutional concerns.

On April 28, 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled on Salazar v. Buono in a 5-4 decision sent the case back to a lower court.[6] The high court ruled there was no violation of the separation of church and state when Congress transferred the land surrounding the cross to a veteran's group.[6] Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm"
Kennedy continued:
"The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm. A cross by the side of a public highway marking, for instance, the place where a state trooper perished need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs. 
The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society. See Lee v. Weisman, 505 U. S. 577, 598 (1992) (“A relentless and all-pervasive attempt to exclude religion from every aspect of public life could itself become inconsistent with the Constitution”).See also Corporation of Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v. Amos, 483 U. S. 327,334 (1987) 
The Court has long recognized that the government may (and sometimes must) accommodate religious practices and that it may do so without violating the Establishment Clause,"
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

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