Michigan group calls for removal of Jackson County cross

This is the cross at the center of the debate in Jackson County. (Associated Press Photo)

GRASS LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Critics say a large white cross that’s been in Jackson County for nearly 70 years should be removed because it’s on state-owned land.

The Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists received a complaint and asked the state Department of Natural Resources to remove the cross, which has been on Sackrider Hill since 1950, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported.

“What authority did the state think it had to allow a permanent religious symbol on public land?” said Mitch Kahle, co-founder of the association. “We expect the state will remove it. Courts are not favorable to crosses on public property.”

The DNR is reviewing the complaint and consulting with the attorney general’s office, spokesman Ed Golder said.

The cross is the site of an annual Easter Sunday church service hosted by the Grass Lake Ministerial Association. The service will be held as planned this year, said the Rev. Melvin Parker.

“It’s a tradition that’s always been there,” said Parker, president of the group. “It gives the community more unity.”

The civil rights organization doesn’t object to the annual service, Kahle said.

“We have no objection to groups legally filing to assemble on government property,” Kahle said. “It’s the installed icon, and the fact the state granted a permit allowing it that we object to.”

The location of the cross also was criticized in 1992 after a photograph was published in a local newspaper. No violation of the separation of church and state was found at the time.

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33 comments

  • Clucko

    Simply have the state sell the property to John Doe, private individual. Doe’s responsible for maintaining the now private property he owns and if some of his friends help maintain the property, great. Since the property is no longer state land, Mr. Doe and friends can tell Mitch Kahle to go to Hell. Case closed.

    • Bill Ofrights

      It doesn’t work that way. They would have to put it up for auction where anyone could buy it. By only offering it to a single group, it would show special treatment and promotion of that group or cause. This is a violation of our 1st amendment and article 1 section 4 of our states constitution.

      • Clucko

        I’m aware of that. However, I’d wager to say that if the property was auctioned off, Kahle wouldn’t be the high bidder. He’s a very little man with a very little following and it’d show.

    • Clyde Brown

      I vote to leave it where it is and I will donate. Where do I send the money for taking care of a cross that I have never seen. If you have been to as many military cemetery’s as me you have seen many and they all have a meaning. One day I will be under one and hope others never stop observing I was there for them who observe now.

      • Bill Ofrights

        If you want a cross on your grave, that is your choice. No one is trying to take that away from you. If you want to make a difference, donate money to something that matters. Heck, donate money to help the church relocate it.

  • jerry

    hey mitch your a worthless pos find something better to spend your time doing maybe get a hobby or a new wifeor girl friend she must be total b – – ch to live with if this is all you got to do

    • Clucko

      I’d like to see the ‘look at me’ worthless scum go to Arlington National Cemetery and try his show. If he was lucky, he might get out of town alive. But, if we were lucky, he wouldn’t

      • Bill Ofrights

        This isn t about Arlington. Personal graves are allowed to display their faith. You’re having emotional ADD. Please stay on topic.

    • Bill Ofrights

      You have nothing to add to the debate so you go straight for the ad hominem attack. You have no standing. The cross will come down.

  • Kevin Rahe

    This is the same person who thinks a cross on a memorial to a person – of which many are found in thousands of government-owned cemeteries across the nation – violates the Constitution, just because the memorial happens to be on a spot of land where no one else was ever memorialized.

      • Kevin Rahe

        So a “personal freedom” can override the Constitution? I think the people defending this cross could use that. (Not that the cross actually violates the Constitution anyway, unless it was erected by a government body for the purpose of endorsing a religion.)

  • Bill Ofrights

    The law is straight forward. This gives the impression of promotion for Christianity. It holds no historical significance and is a violation of our state and federal constitution. Move it to private land or bring a temporary cross for your service. Petitioning against our constitution will go nowhere.

    • Kevin Rahe

      Unless you have evidence that a government body erected, promoted or is somehow using the cross, or has prevented someone from erecting a symbol of a different religion to be used for similar purposes, there is no violation of the Constitution here.

      • Bill Ofrights

        Article 1 section 4 of our state constitution explicitly states that state owned property will not be used for such purposes.

  • Helen Brinkman

    Summum v Pleasant Grove, 555 US 460 (2009) allows the Township to keep the cross as it is government speech and the government can “say what it pleases”, including posting the 10 Commandments in a park. This is a Christian nation. See Holy Trinity v US, 143 U.S. 457, 471 (1892),

  • Neel Matches

    The legal system has grown into it’s own massive, inbred, and incestuous ecosystem without regard to it’s place in society. Like some secluded self absorbed theologians arguing about how many angels will fit on the head of a pin without pondering how selfish and wasteful their actions are. There is no consideration of the intrinsic motivation for these suits, which amount to “GET OFF MY LAWN”, when someone is merely stepping around a puddle in the sidewalk.