There Will Be No 11-Story Cross in Brandon, Mississippi; Church Decides Issue is Too Divisive

Last night, supporters of the planned 110-foot cross that was to go up in Brandon, Mississippi, were sorely disappointed by this message that appeared on the Facebook page dedicated to the initiative:

After prayerful consideration, the Pastor, Staff leadership and Deacons of First Baptist Church Brandon have elected to immediately withdraw the churchʼs application for a variance from the City of Brandon Zoning Ordinance to allow construction of a 110 foot cross on church property. The decision to withdraw the variance application and end this controversy is motivated by our churchʼs love for our community and our deep desire to effectively minister in the Name of Jesus to our community. First Baptist Church of Brandon believes that our ability to minister to our community, our Jerusalem, is a priority calling that no amount of controversy or negative exposure should be allowed to damage. This decision is not a reflection upon our belief in the merit of the cross project. We steadfastly believe that the symbol of Godʼs plan of redemption, the symbol of His unmerited favor, the symbol of His sinless substitute for sinful man, should be raised and displayed in as many places as possible.

In the comments, Pastor Scott Thomas refers obliquely to a “family dispute” within the church (he means his own religious tribe, not an actual blood-relations family), which I suppose is good news, as I interpret that to mean that even some local Christians were vocal about opposing the zoning-law defying structure.

Others still don’t get it:

Many supporters juxtaposed the church’s voluntary decision with Brandon’s voters’ recent thumbs-up to liquor sales, arguing that this means the “evildoers” have won.

Most likely, the prospect of litigation had something to do with the revocation of the plan, but I appreciate the fact that the church does not lay the blame for the death of the project at the feet of godless outsiders.

In any case, this is a win for constitutional restraint, and possibly a win for Brandon’s poor and destitute; with any luck, some of the approximately $100,000 that the cross would have cost will go toward helping them, rather than toward erecting a bizarre and prideful giant replica of an ancient torture instrument.

(Thanks to Lorinda for the link)

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • the moother

    the symbol of Godʼs plan of redemption

    Is, as far as christians are concerned, a place for you to get nailed to and bleed to death. Nice people!

    • allein

      Oh, it’s much slower and more painful than bleeding to death!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion#Cause_of_death

      • JSC_ltd

        Interesting reading at that link. According to it, crucifixion was used for capital punishment in Japan beginning around 1470, coinciding with the introduction of Christianity. Yet another example of Xians spreading their god’s abominable “love.”

        • allein

          Lovely. I didn’t read the whole thing; I was just looking for how crucifixion actually causes death. I remember reading it is due to asphyxiation but I wasn’t sure if that was true (or the primary cause). As it turns out, it’s even more fun than that (for the sadistic person watching, at least)!

    • Graham Martin-Royle

      So why a cross, the early christians used a fish as a symbol.

      • the moother

        Awful to get crucified on one of those!

  • viddy_well

    Wait, we have to follow the same zoning laws as everyone else? PERSECUTION!

    These people have the reasoning abilities of a ten-year-old.

    • flyb

      Reading through those FB comments is depressing. I’m fucking embarrassed to be a human.

      • Lorinda Pike

        Sad, really. But it’s everywhere here (I’m right next door in Jackson, MS) and they truly do not have any way to get their collective heads around the fact that not everyone thinks as they do…or as they don’t, as the case may be.

        Most are “good people” but it’s like trying to explain quantum physics to my cat. There is nowhere to start.

        • Jeff

          But…..without a cat, would we even have quantum physics?

          • the moother

            We can never be certain about that.

            • Jeff

              Bravo. Worthy of two bravo’s.

              • the moother

                One Bravo to Jeff for the assist.

          • Lorinda Pike

            Jeff, you win the intertoobz today. ;-D

          • islandbrewer

            Schroedinger’s pangolin doesn’t have the same ring.

        • DelAnaya

          This baffles those of us who do not live in the South.

          Is it actually true that this attitude of cannot “get their collective heads around the fact that not everyone thinks as they do” is noticeably more prevalent than in the rest of the country? Or do we just imagine it?

          • Lorinda Pike

            I’ve traveled a bit, and yes, I don’t think you imagine it. New England is full of churches, but religion doesn’t seem to permeate everything as it does here. You cannot escape; you just deal with it.

            • DelAnaya

              I have a work colleague, originally form New York, who worked near Knoxville, TN. Her profession took her there. She stuck it out for quite a few years, but finally couldn’t stand the in-your-face Christian crap and moved back to New York. She said that if you weren’t born again, you were an alien and just not part of the in-breeding. Too bad for you.

        • Archer

          I live in a small Texas town filled with good people cemented into their evangelical beliefs from head to toe. They find contentment in their insular lives, and contentment, not truth, is their objective.

        • Bitter Lizard

          I have a feeling your cat wouldn’t cry persecution or call atheism a religion or say “you can’t prove He isn’t real” or say evolution doesn’t really happen because dogs don’t give birth to cats. I have yet to see a cat that stupid.

        • Isilzha

          Oh, they understand not everyone thinks as they do, but it doesn’t matter. These xians want to impose their religion on everyone. Many of them are out to create a theocracy. What else are they saying when they make such statements as “we have got to take this country back.”

      • Claire

        I’ve banned myself from reading comments on public Facebook pages in an effort to preserve my goodwill toward the rest of humanity.

    • the moother

      If they had the reasoning abilities of an 11 year old, they’d all be atheists.

  • Brian

    They should put up 110 one foot crosses on their property, because God sucks at math.

    • Artor

      Or they could have an 18″ Stonehenge.

      • islandbrewer

        “The druids. Nobody knows who they were, or what they were doin’!”

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Could be a calendar of sorts, it does line up with the solstice sunrises…

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    Wow. According to the article I’d read, the zoning commission agreed to a 50-foot cross a while back. Was that not good enough, or would the sponsoring organization (Crosses Across America) not go for it? Either way, I’m glad they dropped it. Not everyone wants to see huge, ugly crosses when they’re traveling.

    The idea of putting up big divisive symbols on private land along the interstate seems to be becoming a trend. I noticed a while back that there’s a group putting up a humongous Confederate flag along I-95 near Richmond:

    http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Confederate-Flag-Proposed-to-Fly-Over-Interstate-Draws-Ire-From-Chesterfield-Va-Democrats-219923051.html

    You have to figure people like this just want to tick everyone off and get some publicity.

    • allein

      Somewhere between New Jersey and Washington DC (I forget where we were, exactly) there is a giant metal Mary statue (I think it was Mary). It’s rather hideous but I guess at least the ones with the best view of it are those passing by at 65+mph on the highway, so maybe it’s not so bad for the neighbors.

  • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

    I’ve never understood why Christians worship that horrific torture device, optionally equipped with a bloody and tortured human being. Pretty morbid if you ask me, especially for organizations that claim to be about love.

    • LesterBallard

      It’s a death cult.

      • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

        True that. You ever tried to explain that to a believer? That they have been brainwashed by a cult? It doesn’t go well. They can’t construct an argument to differentiate their religion from a cult, so they just resort to fighting and name calling.

        • PNW

          I didn’t grow up going to church and really could not see a difference between the things people called religion and what they called a cult. I remember being really young and thinking that the romans must have thought of the christians as a cult and that the only way something became a religion was time and the amount of people that followed it.

          • Stev84

            Depending on which definition you use, you can make a distinction. In most churches people can simply walk away when they don’t like it. And while the preachers may make detailed rules, people follow most of them voluntarily. Cults use a lot more direct control to force people to comply. They also isolate their members from the outside world a great deal and often withhold knowledge about the cult from them.

            Where it gets tricky is cult-like churches such as the Mormons or a lot of small fundamentalist Protestant churches in America. They aren’t necessarily full blown cults, but they use some of the same techniques to varying degrees in order to control their members.

        • Pofarmer

          Or crying about being persecuted.

      • Tim Hoblet

        More than that, it’s a cannibalistic death cult.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          and a bit vampiric — “this is my blood, drink of it.”

      • The Other Weirdo

        There is a scene in the novelization of the “Galactica: 1980″(yes, I am that old, having read it the ear it was published) in which, upon hearing a description and history of Christianity, Commander Adama says, “It sounds like death-worship to me.” The Earth girl they had kidnapped to help them sort through some problems replied, “It isn’t, but we don’t have time now to get into it. I’ll explain later.” Those aren’t the exact quotes–been decades–but it’s pretty close. They never did address why it’s not death-worship.

    • Agonizing Agnostic

      The late comic Bill Hicks did a great piece about this. He said wearing a cross is like going up to Jackie Onassis with a rifle pendant on. “Just thinkin’ of John, Jackie.” (Holds fingers up like a gun, and makes a clicking sound)

    • Michail ‘Gorbachov’ Schmulian
    • Stev84

      They didn’t always. In the first few centuries they had different symbols. Probably because there was a cultural aversion to depicting someone’s crucifixion in the Roman Empire. To do so was insulting.

      • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

        I wonder why?…

  • LesterBallard

    Now try building a fucking mosque on private land in that town . . .

    • Intelligent Donkey

      No, it would have to be a non-fucking mosque.

      Perhaps a masturbating mosque?

      • LesterBallard

        Is waxing the carrot allowed in Islam? I’m sure women aren’t allowed.

  • Dan Weeks

    You know, they could still erect a cross on church property. It’s not like they’re being prevented from doing that. It just shouldn’t be so obnoxious an eye-sore as to invite the ridicule of the entire world, is all.

    • Tweenky D

      The cross was going to be on church property. The problem was that it violated the city rule that auxiliary structures could only be 20 feet high. The city offered a compromise of 50 feet but the church refused. It was either 110 feet or nothing.

      • Dan Weeks

        Right, that’s what I’m saying. Does it have to be suspiciously overcompensatingly huge? 50 seems big enough to not completely obliterate something in the next wave of tornados.

        • fnorgby

          “My god has a bigger cross than your god.”

        • Len

          But a 50 foot cross surviving a tornado wouldn’t be so impressive as a 150 foot cross surviving. Because it would have survived, obviously.
          [/sarcasm]

  • Eliot Parulidae

    “First Baptist Church of Brandon believes that our ability to minister to our community, our Jerusalem, is a priority calling that no amount of controversy or negative exposure should be allowed to damage.”

    OUR JERUSALEM. Nope, not arrogant at all.

  • A3Kr0n

    The 60′ cross put up in my city was divisive enough to have the local paper shut down comments on the article, and the next day they had an article by the pastor explaining how generous they were, and how the cross was their gift to the community. He said they were also prepared for any challenge. They built the cross, and I get blessed to see it to and from work every day. It looks like a cross shaped pole barn IMHO.

    • Katwise

      What if they built a bunch of those crosses and some ingenious person used them as bases for windmills?

      • L.Rainken

        What is the cost for constructing the cross? Why not do some real missionary work in Brandon and other surrounding cities and help poor families,out of work veterans,homeless people,starving children,the elderly,and others who need Christian folk willing to actively do God’s work. Put all that effort into the lives of people and not symbols.

        • L.Rainken

          That was funny & interesting Katwise :)

        • Agonizing Agnostic

          Use the money for, dare I say, education? They ARE at the bottom of almost every study, in this country, on the subject…

        • Intelligent Donkey

          I bet “real missionary work” would translate into giving bibles to the starving children in Africa.

  • Edmond

    Maybe one day it’ll occur to them that it’s the RELIGION which is divisive.

  • jdm8

    What I mainly see from their reactions: That not getting special exemptions to zoning laws because of Jesus: everyone’s going straight to hell!

    Proclaiming a ginormous execution device just doesn’t strike me as a good way to push a religion anyway, and I think their texts speak against crass displays of piety, not that they’d recognize it as that.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I cannot wait to read the comments over at The Blaze tomorrow when this update hits.

  • allein

    You mean you can get more accomplished if you don’t piss off the entire town?

  • Robster

    They can sell liquor for the first time in this town? What sort of place is Brandon? It’s 2013 for chr*sts sake. Do they have phones there or television? The land of the almost free.

  • Dave The Sandman

    “Many supporters juxtaposed the church’s voluntary decision with
    Brandon’s voters’ recent thumbs-up to liquor sales, arguing that this
    means the “evildoers” have won.”

    What the hell is it with right wing bible basher Baptists in the US and the 1920s?

    Creationism/The Scopes Monkey Trial vs evolution teaching that still rumbles on and on

    Baptist churches that refuse to marry mixed race couples, then refuse to have uppity black people working as front door greeters as it may scare off the good god fearin’ white folks

    now its Prohibition/Volstead Act vs evil liquor sales in town

    Jesus Christ On A Bike…. buy a frickin calendar you troglodytes !

  • bananafaced

    “Thank God” it won’t be installed!!! (Pun intended. I live in Brandon, MS)

    • Bitter Lizard

      I feel for you.

    • Simon Kaffe Myers

      I’d say MOVE as SOON as you can! But on the other hand… props for staying there, having “controversial” ideas. So… I guess it is better for people to move in, rather for the good folks to move out. :p

  • Pithecanthropus

    Looks like their Facebook page has gone missing…

  • Alexis

    “In any case, this is a win for constitutional restraint, and possibly a
    win for Brandon’s poor and destitute; with any luck, some of the
    approximately $100,000 that the cross would have cost will go toward
    helping them”. Not a chance. This money will go to erect a 110 foot tall xtian phallus in some other town. The money will undoubtedly revert to the sponsoring organization Crosses Across America.

  • busterggi

    “In any case, this is a win for constitutional restraint, and possibly a win for Brandon’s poor and destitute; with any luck, some of the approximately $100,000 that the cross would have cost will go toward helping them, rather than toward erecting a bizarre and prideful giant replica of an ancient torture instrument.”

    Not a snowball’s chance. The churchies would never allow the poor to profit when that knid of money can be wasted on a different religious theme boondoogle.

  • The Other Weirdo

    “They were led by the Holy Spirit to seek a location in Mississippi,” Thomas told FOX, referring to Crosses Across America, the organization that sponsors the building of giant crosses all over the country, some costing upwards of $100,000.

    So, in the original story on this issue, the Holy Spirit led them a location in Mississippi.

    But in this post, however, it states, as follows:

    After prayerful consideration, the Pastor, Staff leadership and Deacons
    of First Baptist Church Brandon have elected to immediately withdraw the
    churchʼs application for a variance from the City of Brandon Zoning
    Ordinance to allow construction of a 110 foot cross on church property.
    The decision to withdraw the variance application and end

    So, the question I have is this: was the Holy Spirit trolling them with “Thy God commands thee, go build it in Mississippi and they will come”, only to switch later to, “Nah, it’s totally cool if you don’t want to step of anyone’s toes ’cause all three of us are totally down with that”? Why the two different results from prayer? I do not understand.

  • Crowtalk

    Often I wonder what will transpire if, as Stacy Irby Trest says, we “take this country back.” Who will enforce the Christian laws? In Mississippi it would be easy to find Christian cops to bust the infidels, but in, say, the Northeast? The Northwest? I am an apostate, a willing and vocal unbeliever. Who will come after me when I oppose the establishment of religion in the public place? Just wondering. Probably won’t happen. Maybe.

  • Goape

    This is horrible news. Now how are we going to re-crucify Jesus if he comes back all attack-of-the-fifty-foot-demigod style.

  • newavocation

    The bigger the Godzilla cross is, the smaller church attendance must be on Sundays.

  • William Hudson

    Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! (Luke 12:51). The Cross of Christ will naturally bring division, and that is a good thing. After all, our eternal salvation depends on our choice to accept a blessed life of salvation in Christ or to reject Him in favor of the world, suffering eternal separation from God. That is what offends so many about the public display of the Cross. Many unbelievers simply do not want to face Truth, and many Christians will avoid controversy at all cost–even the cost of their childrens’ and grandchildrens’ futures. Thank the Lord that there are still communities such as Florence, Mississippi who are willing to stand up for the Truth in the face of intimidation.

  • William Hudson

    Terry Firma is the delusional one. I’m sure there are Christians who claim to possess superior moral standards. However, most of us well understand that without Christ, our standards are filthy as rags. The Christian’s standards are based on absolute truths given by God in His Holy Word. His Truth is written on the hearts of everyone, even atheists, and because of this, we all know the difference between right and wrong. Herein lies the gulf between God’s Truth and truth according to the atheist. As I said, God’s Truth is absolute and eternal, and if followed results in the fullfilled life for which man is constantly searching. To the atheist truth, by his own admission, is relative, changing with the times and conditions. Therefore, things such as the murder of an unborn child can, at one time, be taboo and, at another time, be just hunky-dory. It all depends on what best suits the atheist’s agenda at any given period of time. The atheist has no true north, as would not the Christian without Christ. Terry Firma should find some terra firma on which to stand, however, he is probably better off doing that of which he is most capable–poking fun.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X