Religion

Decade Old Community Cross Called Into Question

| by Mackenzie Fleming

A cross standing on a bluff above La Crescent, Minnesota, for decades is now being called into question. The Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin has brought forth concern about the structure that has been a part of the community for anywhere from 35 to 40 years, according to Houston County News. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison recently approached the La Crescent City Council with issues regarding the separation of church and state, claiming that the cross violates the Establishment Clause. 

The cross, as well as a star, stand in the same area on La Crescent city-owned land.

At a council meeting Tuesday, July 14, the details and history of the structures the land they stand on were reviewed. The facts according to Herald County News included:

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The cross, as well as a star, are both located on a piece of property purchased by the city in 1977. Both structures stand within a fenced in area. 

The balance of the property on Stoney Point was purchased by the city in 2014, equaling about 60 acres. 

La Crescent Lions Club maintains both the cross and star, including making payments for the cost of electricity to operate the lights on both structures. 

Additionally with those facts, Freedom From Religion contacted the city council, also citing an alleged local complaint regarding the structure. In the form of an email written by its staff attorney, Rebecca Market, the group called for the removal of the cross and star, Houston County News reported. Market also listed in the email, several instances of case law backing up the request for removal. 

The cross and star, which are illuminated during Christmastime and the Easter holiday according to Houston County News, have some locals feeling passionately about the issues being raised against it. Lions Club treasurer Dewey Severson called the site a “civic landmark.”

“It’s been there for a lifetime for a lot of these people,” Severson said.

According to Severson, the cross and star were originally installed for local residents decades ago.

“We bought it for the community as a community gesture for the holidays,” he said. 

He added that the club’s non-Christian members have not had an issue with the structures. 

The council is set to debate the request and consider the issues raised by the group, over the coming month.

Source: Houston County News

Photo credit: Flickr