There is a cross with the word “worship” emblazoned in all capitals along its brick frame that has stood on a traffic island in Middleborough, Massachusetts since 1959. Put up by the Middleborough Kiwanis Club 53 years ago, the cross is now the subject of a Constitutional controversy.
A Boston attorney recently complained about the religious monument to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) after driving by it, according to CBS, claiming the 12-foot tall statue is in violation of the separation of church and state.
According to Boston.com, one of the arms of the cross hangs over MassDOT’s right of way by about half a foot. The rest is on town owned land.
It wouldn’t have made a difference had the Kiwanis Club had the foresight to plant the cross a few inches to another side because the town, like the state, is beholden to the same principles upheld in the first amendment.
“Even if they moved it over slightly, it’s on town property. The town faces the same legal issues,” Sarah Wunsch, staff attorney at ACLU Massachusetts, told BostInno.
The argument for the statue’s continued presence on the traffic island off Route 28 is based upon the fact that it is a historic landmark and “a symbol of all faith,” as Wunsch put it.
“I think that’s crazy,” she added. “This is a very Christian symbol with the word ‘worship’ on it.”
It is silly to argue that a cross is supposed to symbolize general faith. The cross has very specific meanings and connotations that not all people of faith can relate to.
Right now, the problem seems to be the exclusive nature of the brick crucifix as it has sole possession of land rights.
“Especially since they don’t allow anything else, they have favored Christianity,” said Wunsch. “This is effectively an endorsement of a particular religion.”