On behalf of the Council on American-Atheist Relations, I wish to remind you (a) that the vast majority of atheists are law-abiding citizens, (b) those who would engage in acts such as this are part of a tiny minority of extremists who don’t understand “true” atheism, and (c) atheism is an irreligion of peace.

Seriously, if it does turn out to be atheists, we’re going to have to send S.E. Cupp out to do damage control.

The cross’s removal leaves veterans’ groups hunting for clues. Looking at the pictures of the site where the cross once was, VFW chief spokesperson Joe Davis says he is amazed at the serious planning and execution that went into the theft. The cutting of the thick, metal pipes in concrete was a serious undertaking, he says.

The eight-foot-high cross had been perched on a wind-swept rock jutting 30 feet above the Mojave National Preserve 76 years ago by a group of World War 1 veterans. Situated in a wide expanse of arid desert, the cross was about 20 feet off a two-lane highway where perhaps 20 cars pass a day…

When he first saw photos of the vandalized cross site, Mr. Davis says he was “in shock and disbelief…. How could anyone have the audacity to tear down a war memorial to the dead?”

The $25,000 reward is now being offered through the Liberty Institute, which represented the VFW, American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and American Ex-Prisoners of War in an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case of Salazar v. Buono.

Disgraceful. Here’s the tip line. Big Journalism notes that one of the theories being kicked around by cops is, um, scrap metal scavengers:

Scrap metal scavengers?!? Of course! Imagine the confused, head-scratching scene in the Associated Press newsroom when this story broke. Why? Why would anyone steal this cross, they puzzled? On the one hand, you have embittered anti-religious zealots who just lost a years’ long battle costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On the other hand, you have a 7 foot tall cross with a scrap value of maybe $100, which would take at least two men most of a day, a pickup truck, and probably 20 gallons of gas, for the 250 mile round trip, not to mention the long hike to access, cut and remove the cross, leaving a net profit of perhaps $20 each for a day’s work. So, who could it have been – bitterly aggrieved anti-religion zealots? Or economically suicidal scrap metal scavengers? Why, scrap metal scavengers!

There are reportedly rattlesnakes on the hill too, so … yeah, whoever wanted this thing wanted it very badly. Sigh. Exit question: If this does turn out to be the handiwork of the godless, will Nanny Bloomberg jump in with one of his patented gratuitous warnings about a backlash?