Because God Wouldn’t Love Them If They Only Built Two Giant Expensive Crosses

Crossing Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee is just about to finish construction on three massive crosses, one that’s 125 feet tall and two that are 100 feet tall.

The project only cost them $700,000… which, I guess, is the going price for insecurity:

“We believe the crosses will represent a bold reminder to all who pass by of Jesus’ sacrificial death for their sins,” [Rev. Terry Harris] said.

“We believe it is God’s intention to use these three crosses,” said Harris, “to make a bold statement locally, nationally and internationally of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love for all mankind.”

I don’t really feel the same anger about the cost as a lot of others do — it’s their money (private donations paid for the crosses) and they’re free to waste it as they wish. Yes, it could probably be better spent in other places, but it’s not like I’m really expecting a Christian pastor to suddenly start making rational decisions.

The question we should be asking is: Will the crosses accomplish what the church leaders seem to think they’ll accomplish?

How many non-Christians will drive past the church, see the crosses, and suddenly convert? And how many will drive past it, laugh at the wasteful excess, and be driven further away from Christianity? I think the latter is much more likely.

It would be pretty amazing if that were the case: A church spends $700,000 to push people away from the church.

Forget atheist billboards. We should’ve been investing in crosses.

(Thanks to Doug for the link!)

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.

  • Holytape

    A billboard with the words “We are insecure about the size of our penises” would have been cheaper and just as effective.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Well, you know what they say about people with big crosses.

  • flyb

    In some of my travels around the states, I’ve often seen three large crosses in various places, usually alongside an interstate. One tall one and two shorter ones on either side. Something to do with the trinity?

  • Tainda

    I gasped when I saw $700,000. That’s a lot of full bellies for hungry people

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I hope the didn’t forget to install lighting rods or we might have another one of these.

  • Hugh Kramer

    Nope. It has to do with the two thieves who were crucified, according to the NT, alongside Jesus.

  • baal

    Rev. Bernard Coffindaffer is responsible for a goodly number of them.

  • baal

    Plastering your trademarks all over the place means you’re a big player and that others disrespect you at their peril. Tobacco companies used to use this ‘cultural backdrop’ mode of advertising until it was explicitly squashed in consent decrees.

    It’d be a fun exercise to plaster atheist A’s all over one town somewhere (including a giant granite monument at the court house and on top of the local water tower and a set of three stand along 100foot tall A’s) and then ask the local christians how they feel about the message.

  • Brian

    Giant crosses are great, they give you a clear direction of where to stay away from.

  • Nemo

    I don’t mind this, any more than I’d mind it if people created giant statues of cowboys at the side of the road.

    I’m not sure that an organization that does this should be getting the same sort of tax deduction a charity does.

  • Oranje

    I was hoping they made it so the tops and sides would rotate. That way they could generate their own electricity, too.


  • flyb

    Makes sense. I guess!

  • Oranje

    But building a Corvette that big is even more expensive.

  • flyb

    Big Jesuseses?

  • Oranje

    Maybe there’s something in their background that some autocratic Roman-era ruler could have convened a council to make rules about.

  • flyb

    Cool. Did a search and found this link. Amazing that people will go to this much effort for something so unnecessary.

  • A3Kr0n

    Is that… Butter Jesus?

  • randomfactor

    It doesn’t count unless you also memorialize the UNrepentant bandit.

  • 3lemenope

    Whenever extrenenly sizable crosses come up, I can’t shake the climactic scene in Saved!

    “I just crashed my van into Jesus!

  • 3lemenope

    That image is a pareidolic gold mine.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Some called it Big Butter and others called it Touchdown Jesus.

  • arensb

    any more than I’d mind it if people created giant statues of cowboys at the side of the road.

    There are plenty of those, so I’m glad you don’t mind.

  • Vision_From_Afar

    Thor’s not big on Jesus in his airspace. They have a history…

  • dats3

    I live just up road from Chattanooga in Knoxville. There is a ministry called Mission of Hope that, though I’m agnostic, feel good about giving to because they use the money to buy schools supplies, toiletries and clothing for under priviledge children before school starts. Like you, when I saw the amount they spent I thought “How in the hell can they throw away that much money when there are so many needy families living in their area?”.
    What’s occurred to me time and again and Hemant touches on it is that christians do a much better job at turning people of to christanity than any other group. So maybe there is a silver lining.

  • jj

    I have no use for religion, but your title just turns people off – most crosses displayed for Easter/Resurrection/etc are 3 – Jesus and the 2 thieves. Your article is strong without that title. It helps to learn about what you are fighting so that people (wavering Christians, here?) listen.

  • baal

    I saw it as Amaterasu about to use flame hug attack.

  • EmpiricalPierce

    Why feed the hungry or shelter the homeless when you could instead create more graven images?

  • DougI

    Christians were furious when Atheists spent $5,000 on a billboard. They demanded the Atheists should have spent it on the homeless. It’s good to know the homeless problem has been solved since Joel Klein hasn’t informed me of Christians criticizing the expense of these crosses while social ills persist.

  • Jct47

    It’s a good thing Jesus did on the guillotine I guess.

  • Richard Wade

    “We believe it is God’s intention to use these three crosses,” said
    Harris, “to make a bold statement locally, nationally and
    internationally of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love for all mankind.”

    What, does God have laryngitis? Steel and aluminum copies of death sticks are him making a “bold statement” of his love for all mankind? Take a lozenge and boldly use your giant, super loud, world shaking Charlton-Heston-and-Cecil-B.-DeMille voice and say, “I love you, man!”

  • Mario Strada

    It represents “Jesus and the two thieves” an early attempt from Jesus’ manager to break in the Billboard top 100. Jesus on vocals, Barabba on bass and the other guy on drums.
    Sadly, the lack of electric guitars doomed them to little local success.

  • C Peterson

    Hopefully, they built them close enough to the church that when lightning hits them, they’ll take out the building when they collapse and burn.

    The great affinity lightning seems to show for religious structures and religious groups is almost enough to make me a believer… in Thor, anyway.

  • randomfactor

    Lots of them have lightning rod protection–which tells you everything you need to know about the power of faith.

  • Ducky

    So, which of those poor bastards has to carry that one around?

  • The Captain

    Well, still not as tacky as South of the Border.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Do it in Anderson, Indiana. Tell them it stands for the name of the town.

  • baal

    It tells me that Thor gets real respect from christians and they know in their hearts that he is the one they secretly cherish.

  • Hugh Kramer

    Certainly does. Raising $700,000 to honor two thieves alongside Jesus smacks of truth in advertising.

  • Tainda

    This. I think a pack of Ricola only costs like a dollar.

  • Dave The Sandman

    I wonder what would happen if I owned the land across the road and asked for planning permission to put up three wind turbine windmills so I could generate renewable clean energy…..
    my guess….. no f@cking way would that get approved, and I bet one reason put forward as protest would be that they were an eyesore.

  • VCP

    Just great! More light pollution. I guess god’s stars in the heavens aren’t worth looking at.

  • viaten

    You’d think one cross is enough to say “We’re Christians”. I wonder how many Christians even know what the other two crosses fully represent.

    And as far as the repentant and unrepentant thieves go, Jesus forgives only the repentant thief. But oddly, Jesus forgives the unrepentant soldiers casting lots for his clothes, “for they know not what they do.” I wonder if that included the soldiers pounding the nails. I’d like to see those soldiers somehow represented in such displays. To me it represents the epitome of Christian “forgiveness”.

    Like Jesus forgave the soldiers, I wonder why Jesus didn’t/can’t forgive the unrepentant thief saying, “for you know not what you say.” I guess words count more than actions.

  • sam

    No, it wasn’t the lack of guitars that doomed them. It was when Jesus was caught travelling forward in time (a la Tertullian) to plagiarize off of Paul McCartney to cover a song they titled, “Hey Jews.” Unfortunately, Jesus died on the cross before he could finish the “Na na na na na” part at the end. I saw this on VH1′s behind the music so it’s gospel.

  • Miss_Beara

    Fire make Jesus angry!

  • Miss_Beara

    I just came back from the dentist, mouth numb and very sleepy, and this made me laugh.

    Thanks. :)

  • Edmond

    Ah yes, Christ’s mighty “sacrifice”. A three-day sampler of being dead, followed by promotion to the highest office in Heaven. What a terrible fate, I’m just choked up over how much he “sacrificed”.

  • Dave

    Muffler man is cool.

  • Art_Vandelay

    You know what they say…”Nothing says I love you like ancient Roman torture apparatus.”

    (Apparatuses? Apparatti? Something like that.)

  • nakedanthropologist

    I love that movie. The most memorable scene (for me) is when the girl throws a bible at the protagonist while yelling “I am full of Christ’s love!”. A most excellent demonstration of evangelical ethos.

  • Tainda

    I say apparatus is the plural but Merriam says you can also use apparatuses.

    Either way…everyone loves torture devices!

  • baal

    OT: i keep hearing complaints on how windmills are an eyesore but if the other choice is brown sky smoggy fog…it’s a no brainer. Windmills are fairly pretty. What’s been looking like an eyesore are all the clear channel billboards and all the cell phone towers.

  • Carpinions

    More church cross envy. There’s a big cross out in western Kansas off I-70 somewhere. There’s one in Effingham , IL. There’s the former touchdown-now-hug-me Jesus in Ohio…

    Seriously, this is side-show antics. They can say it’s about their religion all they want. These crosses are just the religious version of the World’s largest ball of twine in the MN, the Cadillacs stuck in the ground in NV, the drive-thru tree cutouts in the Redwood Forest, or those hilariously proportioned metal dinosaurs visible from I-40 in eastern AZ. They also tend to do this more in the midwest than in other places, it seems to me, because they don’t have high places to put symbols on, unlike Our Lady of the Rockies perched in Butte, MT.

  • Devin White

    First the high school in Rankin and now this in Chattanooga. Why is it that everywhere I live gets mentioned on here in the worst way possible?

  • richardchaven

    Actually, when BF was popularizing lightning rod, some did think it was blasphemous to try and avoid God’s judgement (in the form of lightning burning down one’s house)

  • Jabberwock

    Crosses, meh. I prefer very much statues of Jesuses, my country even for a moment has lead the ranking of the biggest Jesus statue in the world, but we lost again… We’ll come on top yet, and shout: “Take that! My Jesus is bigger than your Jesus!”

  • Tezcatlipoca

    I think about big butter jesus and what would happen if these fetishized Roman torture instruments caught fire in the same way…in Chattanooga TN. I’d probably break a rib laughing.

  • b33bl3br0x

    One of the things that worries me is the amount of light pollution all of the spot lights put out. That prevents people nearby from enjoying the night sky.

  • Michael Mock

    This seems like a natural progression. I mean, they named the church “crossing”, so it would only have been weird if they’d spent their $700,000 squaring or pyramiding or something like that…

  • Jim Jones

    … turning people away from Christianity

  • Jim Jones

    > Giant crosses are great, they give you a clear direction of where to stay away from.

    And if you see a giant dog looking for a post to piss on it’s really important to stay well away.

  • Jim Jones
  • Jim Jones

    Wind power mills and cell phone towers seem like they’d go well together.

  • TBJ

    I am still waiting on the inevitable “call to prayer” minaret to be built and the fallout that will come afterwards.

  • Captain Cassidy

    Yeah, I’m trying to figure out where in the Bible Jesus commanded Christians to build ostentatious and useless symbols of their faith. Oh wait, he never did that. He told them to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the bereaved.

    Man, what a wonderful world it’d be if Christians actually did what Jesus’ ghostwriters told them to do.

  • mike

    “You don’t to sell me some death sticks. You want to go home and rethink your life” -Obi-Wan

  • Cattleya1

    $700,000? How many hungry people could have been fed? How many homeless people sheltered? How many children vaccinated? How many battered women protected? All for a gaudy show…

  • cary_w

    I wish the people building these would just admit they are stuck in the Middle Ages and are convicted that God will favor the biggest, fanciest church built in his honor. I mean really, what other reason is there to build something like this? It’s clearly a case of “I’ve got the biggest cross, so I must be the best Christian. Everyone look at me! Look how wonderful I must be to have such a BIG cross!”

    And by the way, wouldn’t the real Jesus have just a simple wooden cross?

  • David

    The crosses aren’t even that much, when you account for the sizes and intricacies of the church buildings themselves.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    “Got lightening?”

  • Astreja

    Yup, it’s a forest of pious lightning rods. If the illustration accurately portrays the surrounding countryside, Methinks that church is a sitting duck for the first big storm that wanders by.

  • ThyGoddess

    Hey, that’s great! I mean, if they spend money on something so frivolous that means that all ills have been cured in the world and everyone who’s poor are now fed and clothed, right?

  • Rooster Freebird

    Only $700,000. They’re being extremely frugal. The group in Kerrville, Texas paid $2,000,000 for its single cross on IH-10 and it’s only 77’7″ tall.

  • busterggi

    So in defiance of one of their own Ten Commandments they have made three huge graven images – no cognitive dissonance there!

  • Without Malice

    He also told them to go into all the world and preach, and that those that believed would be saved; those that don’t believe . . . fuck em, let em roast in hell.

  • Without Malice

    Preachers were none to happy about the advent of vaccines either. Can’t have man going around co-opting God’s right to strike down millions with the plague now can we?

  • Captain Cassidy

    The king of Minas Tirith committing suicide?

  • EvolutionKills

    You know what would makes this even more terrible? Cover it in rhinestoens, like a giant gaudy Paris Hilton cellphone…

  • MD

    It was the Steward, Denethor.

  • Captain Cassidy

    Ah! You’re right. My bad.