The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sent a letter dated August 24th to the borough asking that council reconsider its vote approving the placement of a “Kneeling Soldier At Cross” wooden memorial at the Roselle Park Veterans Memorial Library (RPVML).
Council this month, by a 3-2 vote, approved to retro-actively accept the memorial – which was donated by Mayor Carl Hokanson as a resident – to be put in front of the library.
The ADL (link) – described as a pro-religion, national human relations and civil rights organization – states that it “advocates for the religious freedom for all Americans, whether in the majority or minority”. On its website, it relates that it fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry in the U.S. and abroad through information, education, legislation and advocacy.
The one-and-a-half page letter contends that the use of a Latin cross in the memorial “conveys the divisive and exclusionary message that the town prefers one branch of Christianity over all the other diverse faiths or religious beliefs of Americans who valiantly serve our nation and the residents of Roselle Park”.
It also advances that the memorial is likely unconstitutional, citing recent court cases where similar memorials were found to be contrary to the United States Constitution.
The group requested that council vote to either remove the memorial or take measures “to ensure that the memorial does not convey an unconstitutional message of religious advancement or endorsement of religion.”
There is no word yet if the offers of separate donations from two residents to place similar Kneeling Solder wooden memorials with the Star of David at the library would be either accepted by the governing body or objectionable to the ADL.
Joshua Cohen, the New Jersey Regional Director of the ADL, closes the correspondence by stating, “[T]his position is not one of hostility towards religion. Rather, it reflects a profound respect for religious freedom and the recognition of the extraordinary diversity of faiths and religious beliefs represented in our nation.”
A copy of the letter is available below for review and/or download: