A couple of days ago, I posted about a large cross that has been sitting on the side of a road in Lake Elsinore, California in honor of a young man who died there a few years ago. The City Council repeatedly said they would remove the cross from public property… but they never did, leading the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center to send a letter warning them about the possible legal consequences for “selective enforcement of its signage ordinance”:
Yesterday, the young man’s mother Ann Marie Devaney told city officials she would take down the cross she put up nearly two years ago:
Ann Marie Devaney arrived at the site early Thursday to mourn her son, hours before she plans to remove the tribute.
“It’s so petty and sad that they have to complain over removing a cross,” said a tearful Ann Marie Devaney. “It’s his personal preference that he was Christian. What’s wrong with having a cross up?[“]
Well… nothing’s wrong with that as long as you do it on private property, and no one was condemning the cross in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy out of respect for the family. But at some point, makeshift memorials like these become yet another way for Christians to establish their privilege — almost certainly, no Islamic or atheist symbol would have been allowed to stay up nearly this long. While people may complain that the AHA’s complaint was heartless, this was never about the mother. This was about city council members not doing their job and being held accountable for it.
The cross will be moved to the Devaneys’ backyard, which I think is a fair solution. No one is suggesting that Anthony be forgotten and there are many ways to honor his legacy besides a religious roadside memorial.