ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – After an organization renewed their calls for the removal of three crosses in Elizabethton, members of a community church erected another on private land nearby.
Hunter Memorial Baptist Church, after hearing of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) call to pull religious imagery from public land, began building one of their own.
Standing around 16 feet tall and 7 feet wide, Hunter Memorial’s cross stands fewer than 5 miles from the crosses on Lynn Mountain that have recently become a lightning rod in the community.
While the congregation originally planned to build the structure for Easter weekend, Pastor Doug Hartley told News Channel 11 that they chose to move the date up after learning of FFRF’s renewed push.
“I hope that we can be gentle in sharing Christ and show his love and not be a competition out here of right and wrong,” Hartley said. “People see Jesus Christ through this act. Wherever people are protesting, I pray they do it in love and I pray that they do it so that Christ will get the glory.”
The Lynn Mountain crosses in question can be seen in the upper right corner of this interactive Google Street View image from 2018:
The FFRF originally sent a letter in 2018 requesting their removal after a community member brought the crosses to its attention. The organization’s concern stems from what they argue is a violation of the Establishment clause of the US Constitution’s First Amendment and the legal doctrine that grew out of it.
As a response to the possible removal of the crosses, community members have organized a protest on Sunday at 3 p.m. on the corner of Elk Avenue and Lynn Avenue. Later in the week, members of Hunter Memorial said they plan to distribute their own crosses in a “Cross Crusade” for residents to stake in their own yards.