Last month, I posted about a giant hydraulic cross that goes up several times a year atop Dewey Hill in Grand Haven, Michigan:
You can read the history of that cross here but the question is whether this constitutes government promotion of religion.
Earlier this month, atheist activists Mitch Kahle and Holly Huber,began challenging the Hydraulic Cross. With residents Brian and Kathy Plescher and attorneys from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, they requested that the Cross be used to promote their own views… including, for example, decorating it to celebrate LGBT pride, the winter solstice, reproductive rights, and atheism.
Hilarious. And a perfect response to anyone who claimed the Cross wasn’t really about promoting religion. (No word yet on the city’s response to that letter.)
On Saturday, there was a rally in defense of keeping the Cross Christian — which I thought was exactly the connection city officials were trying to avoid — and the people who attended showed that they don’t understand the law at all:
“We are the majority. We are here to stay. So is the cross,” said Rick Phillips, a local realtor and Vietnam veteran.
A veteran who doesn’t give a damn about the rights of religious minorities. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it…?Rally organizers asked for the Hydraulic Cross to be raised for their event, but city officials, to their credit, said no.
Here’s a real picture from the event, by the way:
That would be (fake) machine guns protecting the Christian symbol… not creepy at all.
Before you get the idea that all Christians feel this way, Rev. Jared Cramer, a local pastor, wrote an essay for the local newspaper urging other Christians to let this issue go:
After all, the most important message I, as a Christian, want anyone who disagrees with the cross to get is this: God loves you. I love you. And if your background, if your journey, makes this symbol difficult to see on public land, then I absolutely support taking it down. Because what matters to me is that non-Christians see followers of Christ as people of grace and mercy, people who value relationships over symbols on public land.
True, it may hurt to see a symbol of our faith removed from public land. But fundamental to the Christian ethic is not that we display the cross on public land for all to see. Instead, Christian discipleship is, at its core, a willingness daily to take up the cross in our own lives, to be willing to die to self, believing that the “other” has deep value to God.
That’s what I’d like to see, I think. Let’s take the cross on public land down and let’s encourage believers instead to take up the cross in their own lives, to be people of love and generosity, who value others more than their selves.
I don’t think Cramer understands: If everyone can’t see public displays of Christianity, the Culture Wars will be over and Baby Jesus will cry!
(Portions of this article were published earlier)