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Suit brought down Army's large cross at Kolekole Pass


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POSTED: Sunday, August 30, 2009

QUESTION: Whatever happened to the large white cross that stood at Kolekole Pass on Schofield Barracks when I served there 30 years ago?

ANSWER: The Army took the cross down in 1997 in response to a lawsuit. Hawaii Citizens for Separation of State and Church filed suit in federal court charging that the Christian symbol, built with taxpayers' money on government property, was a "blatant and obvious violation" of the First Amendment clause protecting religious equality.

The 37-foot white steel cross was erected in 1962 at a cost of $4,413, according to information provided by the Army. Earlier versions of the cross were built as far back as the 1920s at the site which was formerly used for Easter Sunday sunrise services.

In 1997, the Army said the cost of fighting the lawsuit and the fact that it cost $60,000 a year to maintain the structure led to the decision to dismantle it.

Similarly, the Army dismantled a 65-foot cross at the entrance to Camp Smith in 1988. In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Jewish War Veterans, the federal court ruled that the Camp Smith cross violated the constitutional separation of church and state.