A wooden cross that stood on Monterey State Beach until it was vandalized in 2009 has been mysteriously replaced with a steel version, reports local news site KSBW.com. The new cross was spotted on the beach just before Easter.
— KSBW Action News 8 (@ksbw) March 27, 2016
The original 20-foot redwood “marked the spot where Spanish explorers are believed to have arrived in 1769,” and was built by the City of Monterey, KSBW notes. It was vandalized, however, by being cut down with a power saw.
The city wished to replace it on the spot, but faced objections from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which was opposed to public authorities erecting a religious symbol — even one of historic, rather than simply religious, value.
KSBW notes a number of different local opinions about the restoration of the cross, which remains unexplained:
Seaside resident Janel Spruell remembers the wooden cross well.
“Growing up, I remember as a kid there was a huge wooden statue erected here and I know there was controversy in the past and it was taken down, but I walk out here today for the first time to exercise and I see a new one has been erected and I’m very happy to see that,” she said.
CSUMB student Maya Scott said the controversy in not unwarranted but she thinks a compromise can be found.
“People have done horrible things in the name of Christianity and so this symbol could be hurtful to some people just as so many other symbols that were originally positive have become negative for certain people, and so I could understand where people are coming from but I would hope that they understand where others are coming from as well,” she said.
Religious symbols have been a frequent source of controversy in California. A long-running court battle over the Mount Soledad Cross at a veterans’ memorial near San Diego was only recently settled, and vandals have attacked statues and symbols of St. Junipero Serra, who was recently canonized despite protests by indigenous activists.
Photo: Karol Kyno / Facebook