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The War Against the Cross
by Hans Zieger
21 September 2003Crucifix

The message of the Cross is foolishness to the perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God.

If the “illegal” Ten Commandments are not the symbol of Western Civilization and morality, the Cross of Jesus Christ is. It too is considered a dangerous figure in public and in private. Recent attacks on the cross have been channeled through city councils and churches alike.

First, the City of Ventura, California is under fire for displaying an historic cross that was erected 221 years ago by the missionary-explorer Junipero Serra. Serra established the San Buenaventura Mission in 1782, naming it and Ventura after the Franciscan Priest St. Bonaventure. Today, Serra’s mission is a registered state landmark.

A group of three atheists called the Freethinkers of Ventura became offended by the historical cross and threatened to file a lawsuit against the city. Last week, the Ventura City Council voted to sell the cross along with an acre of land around it. On September 22, the city will accept bids to purchase the cross.

Unsurprisingly, there is discussion amongst anti-Christian interest groups in the city to purchase the cross and to remove it from public view or destroy it. City council members who are opposed to dismantling the cross are considering selling the icon conditionally to someone who will maintain it with respect and reverence. “I would rather fight it in court than sell it under those conditions [to someone who would destroy the cross],” said City Councilman Jim Monahan.

And it appears that such a court battle is approaching. Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the California First Amendment Coalition have threatened a lawsuit on behalf of potential cross-destroyers if the city blocks their bids.

To make matters worse, the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) held a conference in New York last week to promote the removal of crosses from Christian Churches. ACLC was founded by the cultic Rev. Sun Myung Moon to eliminate barriers between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Earlier this year, ACLC reported that over 285 Christian clergy “directly affirmed the taking down of the cross” and 123 churches have removed crosses so far this year.

Sounds like something you’d hear glorified at a meeting of the Freethinkers of Ventura rather than a gathering of “Christian” leaders. According to the Apostle Paul, both the atheists and the ACLC are equally misguided: “The message of the Cross is foolishness to the perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God.”

Archbishop George Augustus Stallings of the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. exclaimed, “We have realized that, as expressions of faith, there are certain symbols that have stood in the way. The cross has served as a barrier in bringing about a true spirit of reconciliation between Muslims and Christians, and thus we have sought to remove the cross from our Christian churches across America as a sign of our willingness to remove any barrier that stands in the way of us coming together as a people of faith.”

Contrary to the word of Archbishop Stallings, the Word of God says that the Cross is unifying. “[Christ] has broken down the middle wall of separation . . . that He might reconcile [Jews and Gentiles] to God in one body through the Cross, thereby putting to death the division.”

And if Archbishop Stallings himself was a “person of faith,” he might have defended the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Jesus Himself said, “He who does not take his Cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” Instead, Stallings said the history of the Cross is one of “religious intolerance, forced conversions, inquisitions and even racism used by white supremacists.”

It is true that the unreformed church has been corrupt and evil. But the heinous abuses of Christendom have consistently occurred when the church has forgotten the essential Cross of Christ, not when it exalted the cross.

Rev. Phillip Schanker of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification told the ACLC conference that churches must do more than remove crosses. Schanker said they must overcome “the religious arrogance, the religious chauvinism, the narrow-mindedness, the judgmentalism that often comes from insecurity.”

I don’t dispute that the Cross has much to do with murder and sin and intolerance and hatred. Those hideous parts of our nature were the driving force that nailed Jesus to the Cross and that made His suffering all the worse. Thus the Cross has much to do with grace, because there on the Cross, Jesus Christ the Lord was sacrificed for all of the sorrow and shame that ever was. There on the cross is all of the justice that is demanded by an eternal God, and all of the mercy that is needed by a dying people. 

The Ten Commandments are gone in Montgomery, but we can’t give up. Its time for the Law and the Cross to be restored in America.

Hans Zeiger, 18, is a columnist, speaker, and activist. An Eagle Scout, he is president of the Scout Honor Coalition.

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