The town of Grand Haven sits on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. For half a century Dewey Hill, which overlooks the town, has been home to a 48-foot cross–a highly visible landmark along the banks of the Grand River.
The cross was erected in 1962. However, according to the Grand Haven Tribune, the cross has most recently only been raised on the hill for the summertime Sunday evening Worship on the Waterfront services, which are sponsored by First Reformed Church of Grand Haven and held across the river at Waterfront Stadium.
But now the Grand Haven cross, which sits on city property, has met with opposition. Perhaps fearing a lawsuit, Grand Haven officials have approved plans to convert the iconic cross to an anchor, which will not offend non-religious persons. By a 3-2 vote on Monday, the Grand Haven City Council approved a resolution to change the display. The Grand Haven Tribune explains:
The decision comes following requests to the city from the “Remove the Grand Haven Cross” group — via Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for the Separation of Church and State — that they be allowed to erect displays of their choosing on the hill, or face a lawsuit.
The group — consisting of Norton Shores resident Mitch Kahle and his partner, Holly Huber, and Grand Haven Township residents Brian and Kathy Plescher — claims the cross promotes Christianity on city-owned property, which they believe contradicts the U.S. Constitution.
Mayor pro-tem Michael Fritz looks at the loss of the cross with a shrug: “You can look up there and see an anchor and think it’s a cross in your mind,” Fritz said. “The anchor is more acceptable in everybody’s eyes. We have to move forward.”
So that’s that.
In addition to obliterating the Christian message on the hill, the Council voted to limit access to the Dewey Hill property. Dewey Hill has been called a “critical dune” and city leaders recommended the new policy to “limit intrusion on the dune, protect vegetation, limit erosion, reduce debris and litter, and generally preserve the dune from adverse impacts.”
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But who is this Mitch Kahle, who led the protest and whose letter of complaint prompted the Grand Haven Council’s action? According to a West Michigan blog, Kahle is “nothing but a belligerent bully who is now trying to bring his disturbing, ruthlessly hateful agenda to Grand Haven.”
Brandon Hall, the blogger, researched Kahle’s history and reports that his anti-Christian activism has its roots in Hawaii. There, Hall reports:
Kahle has successfully fought for “the removal of church descriptions from the official Honolulu city website, the removal of crosses from various locations around O’ahu, and limitations placed on the use of nativity scenes in the annual Honolulu City Lights program.”
Such actions caused Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris to label Kahle “the Grinch who stole Christmas.”
Brandon Hall goes on to report that Kahle successfully forced the cancellation of a school charity concert to benefit poor kids in Africa. The award-winning orchestra students from Moanalua High School have raised $200,000 for Mercy Ships over the past six years through their holiday concert. In 2014, however, the concert was cancelled just hours before the show, because of a threat by Kahle, founder of Hawaii Residents for Separation of Church and State. Brandon Hall reports that Kahle wrote a letter to the Department on Education on December 3, using stationery from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, demanding that the concert be stopped. His charge was that the public high school was working in alliance with New Hope Christian Church, one of Hawaii’s largest churches.
“…protested the police department using the words “so help me God” in their oath of office, and got the Honolulu Police Department to remove the words from the oath in September 2002.He has intimidated Senate leadership into cancelling its daily prayer during the 60-working day session.He’s pushed the Honolulu City Council leadership into cancelling only prayer a month typically held before its monthly meeting.And when loved ones lost their family members on Mothers’ Day, May 9, 1999, during a tragic land slide at Sacred Falls park, and they posted eight small crosses by the roadside in remembrance, Kahle insisted the state remove them from the public sidewalk.Kahle also takes credit for getting Boy Scouts programs and oath restricted on public school campuses in 2002,Getting the phrase “I believe in God” removed from Navy youth cards…Getting “God Bless America “removed from the tax department and health department facilities shortly after the 9-11-2001 terrorist attack on America…Kahle, in front of thousands of children, tried to shout down the Buddhist and Christian religious leaders offering prayers ahead of a tree lighting.”
And there’s more. Here is a video of from Hawaii news station KGMB, delineating some of the atheistic controversies which Mitch Kahle has introduced into American public life: