Mount Rubidoux Cross Controversy Finally Settled After Private Christian Group Buys Land at Auction

A bit of history about the Mount Rubidoux Cross: It’s been there since 1907. In 1963, the wooden cross was replaced with a concrete/steel one. So the current incarnation of the cross was up on the hill for nearly 50 years. The city of Riverside has owned the land since 1955.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State threatened to file a lawsuit if the city didn’t take it down — their argument was that the cross violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Christian groups were flipping out over this because they saw the case as an anti-Christian group trying to take down their Cross.

Today, there’s finally a resolution to the matter and it’s a good one.

The City Council voted to auction off the 0.43 acres of land that included the Cross, turning it from public space into private space, and Christian groups banded together (under the name Totally Mt. Rubidoux), raised $250,000, and paid $10,500 for the winning bid:

Totally Mt. Rubidoux will use the money it raised, minus the $10,500 bid for the cross property, to set up an endowment for future care and maintenance of the cross. Signs will be posted to denote the cross land is privately owned, but no fences will be put up and the land will remain open to the public.

Americans United’s reaction? Yeah, okay, fine, we don’t really care anymore:

“We are satisfied. I think the most important thing is that this cross will no longer be on public property, so it will no longer send a message that the city favors the Christian religion,” Alex Luchenitser, associate legal director for Americans United, said by phone Wednesday.

That’s the perfect reaction. This is no longer an issue for AU because the land is private, even if it’s in the same location. Had the City Council done this decade ago, they would have saved themselves years of trouble.

(via Religion Clause)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.