In Lehigh Acres, Florida, a crucifixion display that featured a man dressed as Jesus tied to a cross to honor Good Friday was ordered to be taken down and moved elsewhere. The display, which was set up near a busy intersection, caused traffic problems as passers-by slowed down to see what was going on and some even took pictures.
Lee county sheriff’s deputies ordered the man imitating Jesus, who was covered with fake blood and wounds, to leave as angry drivers and pedestrians remarked that the display could frighten children and should not be in such a public place. One spokesman for the Lee County Sheriff’s office said the display was a public safety hazard, and one of the display’s organizers said someone from the sheriff’s office informed him, “there were a lot of close calls with accidents and traffic back ups.”
The debate featured strong feelings supporting the display; one display organizer said of the man playing Jesus, “This gentleman has had a passion on his heart to do a representation public.” One female onlooker echoed to the organizers, “It’s ridiculous that they’re making you take him down.” A second woman asserted, “I really think we need to recognize and be reminded of what Jesus did for us. I wish it would have stayed … Jesus is appropriate for everywhere.” A third woman, who snapped a picture of her son with the man playing Jesus, said, “Kids need to see how he was born and hung from the cross for us … And I, yes, I honestly do think it’s appropriate.” A fourth woman added, “I think it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve only seen this in books.”
The man playing Jesus was dead serious about the matter, saying, “Easter is not about bunny rabbits and little chicks. This what our Christ endured for us. For our sins. And to hide that, is to not to live to the true faith of what he did for us.”
The organizers said the choice of venue was deliberate. One said, “It’s a very public place out in the middle of town. When Jesus was crucified, he was done so right on edge of town where everyone would come by.”
The man playing Jesus had a response for those who complained about the spectacle taking place in such a public place, asserting, “It’s just one of those necessities.”