I received an e-mail from a friend today passing on a message, variants of which have apparently been circulating for years, claiming the ACLU wants to remove cross-shaped grave markers and end prayer in the military. I replied as follows (plus I've added here some biblical references I used in responding to some websites publishing the same "information"--such websites mainly belong to conservative Christians but also include one run by KKK sympathisers):
Thank you for thinking of me when you sent this. I do pray for those in military service, many of whom put themselves unselfishly in harm’s way and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, as some of them, unfortunately, are called on to do.
Happily, the ACLU has NOT filed suit to have military cross-shaped headstones removed. As far as I know the other suit (to end prayer completely) is also a complete fiction. For information on this false rumor, see http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/cemetery.asp (Snopes tracks down and evaluates all sorts of rumors, including, for instance, the rumor that the LDS Church owns the Coca-Cola company: http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/mormon.asp ).
I’m sure there are many other ways to verify the falsity of these rumors. (For instance, see http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/a/aclu-markers.htm , http://hubpages.com/hub/Everything-Under-the-Sun , and http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/jul/02/chain-email/no-aclu-lawsuit-over-cross-shaped-headstones/ --this last one including information from the ACLU itself, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and from the American Battle Monuments Commission.)
I will not be passing the e-mail message on to others for two reasons. First, I believe it’s wrong to knowingly present false information as if it were true—and I am confident in this case that the information is false.
Secondly, the reference to “the retched [wretched] ACLU and our new administration” does not seem to me to express a Christlike attitude (see http://secret-memo.blogspot.com/2009/07/instruments-of-lords-peace.html ). The reference to our president and to an entire branch of our national government seems to me inappropriate given the 12th Article of Faith and especially Doctrine and Covenants section 134, verses 5 and 6 (“We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside. . . . We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such. . . ."). [See also 1 Peter 2:13-14 & 17, & Romans 13:1-7. Also Exodus 22:28, Eccl. 10:20, Acts 23:5, 1 Tim. 2:1-3, etc.]
It also seems to me to contradict the attitude President Monson and other Church leaders have invited us to take (see http://www.mormontimes.com/around_church/general_authority/?id=5918 , http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/church-leaders-attend-president-obama-s-inauguration , and
Thank you, though, for the reminder of the need for and the power of prayer.