Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Is There a Cross on Public Land in Your Town?

San Francisco has many hills, and the highest of them - Mt. Davidson - hosts a large cross. While Mt. Davidson is a public park, the spot of land the cross stands on was given to a private organization, with the obvious intention of gaming the system and keeping the cross standing where it was. For years prominent Bay Area atheist Dave Kong fought to have it removed, but despite his efforts, the case was eventually turned down.

It's not the first time it's happened in California. Mt. Soledad in San Diego is the home of another big old cross on a hill. Despite that it is on unambiguously Federal land, and the efforts of a local attorney working pro bono with the ACLU, it was ruled that it could stay. I had personally looked into the legality of the cross on top of Albany Hill in the East Bay (near San Francisco), but it's on a slice of private land, and I saw how Ray Kong's case went.

Of course these cases aren't just in California. There's a controversy just starting in my hometown. There's a cross that's been lit up on the side of a tower at Easter for fifty years - but getting used to something doesn't

Now my hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania is having its own cross-on-the-hill-controversy. One of the main arguments is that we pro-separation people should just relax, and the cross isn't a big deal - so I've been asking people back home if they would be as accepting if the city put up a big stone Qu'ran with their tax dollars. But these are tough fights to fight, and they've happened before, and we're sometimes successful. So let's pay attention to what's happening elsewhere in the country and take advantage of history.


Dan said...

So...in addition to letting the ACLU work its mojo, why not invest in some private land and put up some atheist or humanist symbols? Oh wait, most of those are fairly complex, or at least difficult to recognize.

Ah, screw it. Just put up another cross, but put Bozo the Clown on it.

Or perhaps, just this:

T H O R ! )

Elliott said...

As I may have told you, I am originally from San Diego, and I remember quite well the Mt. Soledad cross controversy. Of course, at the time it was going on, I was on the 'keep the cross' side of the issue.

These days, I wish it were taken down for my own spiritual reasons, but also, it's just plain tacky. It's a nice mountain, and the cross is an eyesore.

Michael Caton said...

If I end up moving down there for school I think this might be the first hill I take a little run to, to experience the controversy for myself I guess.