Michigan group calls for removal of Jackson County cross

Posted at 11:38 AM, Mar 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-24 11:38:53-04

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.