Since 1950, a white cross stands atop Sackrider Hill in Michigan, the highest elevation in Jackson County. On Resurrection Sunday, the residents gather to worship around the cross in celebration of our savior, Jesus Christ, a tradition that dates to the mid-1930’s. Unfortunately, The Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists (MACRA) founded in 2014, has written a letter to the state Department of Natural Resources to petition that the cross be removed from public land.
The cross is located one mile north of I-94 on Mount Hope Road, in the Waterloo Recreation Area. MACRA’s letter commanded that the government “take immediate action to remove the offending cross.”
“What authority did the state think it had to allow a permanent religious symbol on public land?” asked Mitch Kahle, MACRA co-founder. “We expect the state will remove it. Courts are not favorable to crosses on public property.”
Christians in the community won’t let this dampen their celebration of Christs resurrection this Sunday.
“This year’s sunrise service, hosted by the Grass Lake Ministerial Association, will go on as planned on Easter Sunday, April 1,” said the Rev. Melvin Parker, association president.
“It’s a tradition that’s always been there,” Parker said. “It gives the community more unity.”
When the tradition began in the 1930’s, the cross was carried to the top of the hill on Good Friday and removed after Easter. MACRA says they would have no problem if that practice resumed.
The battle over the cross has taken place before. In 1992, “No violation of the separation of church and state was found then, according to the stories, which quoted State Parks Chief Russell Harding as saying the cross ‘has been a traditional use on the hill that is compatible with uses in state parks.'”
The DNR even issued a permit to the Grass Lake Ministerial Association allowing the installation and maintenance of the cross so long as the association continued to exist.
MACRA has received copies of that permit and a letter from the then Waterloo Recreation Area park manager to which they say,
“The letter and permit are disturbing because they demonstrate significant entanglement between religion and government,” Kahle said. “Without regard to the permit, it is always unconstitutional for the state to appropriate, authorize, approve or otherwise allow the erection and maintenance of sectarian religious symbols on public property.”
Michigan residents don’t seem to agree with his statement. On the MACRA Facebook post regarding this topic, commenters objected.
One said, “It has been there for almost 70 years. Leave it alone and go find something better to do with your time.”
Another questioned why the cross was bothering MACRA saying,
“Why is the cross bothering you? Why don’t you take on a cause that could help humanity? I guess instead of taking on a stupid cause like this you might want to say…help the homeless. But instead your just going to be ignorant Leftists!!”
Though the cross may stand alone on the hill, it isn’t the only one under attack. The monuments that represent our history as a nation are under siege, whether it be a local monument or one states away, we must all stand for their preservation as those who attempt to remove them wish to erase history. For the cross on Sackrider Hill, that history exists in a town tradition that has taken place since the 1930’s with the purpose of creating unity. What good could come from removing that?