Eagle Scout Memorial Honoring Veterans Threatened With Lawsuit For ‘Jesus’ Reference
Michael Carlson started planning his Eagle Scout Project 2 years ago and raised funds to build it. Now, it's under fire for its inscription.
An Eagle Scout Project honoring America’s veterans is under fire for mentioning Jesus Christ on a memorial in Monument, Colorado.
Sixteen-year-old Michael Carlson’s family has a proud military history. He wanted to incorporate that into his Eagle Scout Project.
He created the memorial as a tribute to his grandfather, who was a World War II veteran and for his own father, who served in Vietnam.
Carlson fundraised and planned out this project for two years. He even sketched it out. The memorial is in a cemetery in Monument, Colorado. And, private funds paid for the project.
“Michael saw veterans were underrepresented here. He didn’t go to the government and say ‘Fix this.’ He decided to fix it himself and asked the government to help. … His leadership and patriotism has bettered our community,” Mayor Don Wilson remarked.
Eagle Scout’s Project Targeted
The Town of Monument helped move the project along by digging up land for the memorial and removing the grass around the flagpole. The family purchased the plots for the memorial.
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The memorial includes a sculpture of the Battlefield Cross, a small stone half-circle wall and a stone monument embedded with the six challenge coins bearing the emblems of the branches of the U.S. military.
An inscription reads, “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American soldier. One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom. We honor those who made freedom a reality.”
1/6 This morning I took my children to bring flowers to this veteran memorial in Monument, CO, in support of a 16 year old who built this awesome memorial for his Eagle Scout project. As an Eagle Scout myself I know what it takes to get the project portion completed. pic.twitter.com/FJSUhDN11p
— Veteran Sheepdogs of America (@VetSheepdogsUS) April 2, 2021
Objection To Inscription On Memorial
This is what incensed Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Michael “Mikey” Weinstein. While many veterans are honored to see such a tribute, Weinstein takes objection.
He wrote a letter to the mayor stating, “The obviously and incontrovertibly sectarian, Christian proselytizing message of that Veterans Memorial would be absolutely fine in a private cemetery, but in a publicly maintained and controlled cemetery, as in this instant matter, it is quite unconstitutional and illegal.”
He also claims the teen’s use of challenge coins is in violation of Department of Defense trademark licensing guidelines. It appears to be of no concern to Weinstein that the object of his verbal fire and threats is a teenager.
He claims the own of Monument “weaponized Christianity, at least this version of it” by permitting this Eagle Scout Project.
He demands the monument be removed entirely or at least the mention of Jesus be erased.
If Weinstein took a walk around any cemetery, he would notice that many of them have religious words on them. With all that is going on in the world, Weinstein felt the need to target this Eagle Scout, his project, and the Town of Monument.
He believes it is a violation of the separation of church and state. Weinstein is looking to file a lawsuit.
Eagle Scout Project Privately Funded
An organization called First Liberty vowed to defend the teen who is facing Weinstein’s public threats and bullying. They offered to represent the Town of Monument and give guidance on how to respond to the “threat from Mr. Weinstein,” said general council Mike Berry.
“Remember…the memorial was privately funded and planned by Michael’s own efforts. That means the headstone inscription referencing Michael’s religious beliefs is private religious speech,” First Liberty said.
“The religious reference in no way suggests that the government is discriminating, excluding, or failing to honor military veterans of all faiths—or those of no faith—for their sacrifice. Also, while located in the town’s cemetery, Michael’s family purchased the plots where the memorial sits, ensuring that the town does not own the memorial and is not responsible for its maintenance.”
Michael Carlson simply set out to honor veterans with his Eagle Scout Project but ended up becoming the target and focus of a bullying campaign.
You can watch a local news story about this in the video below.