A large white cross that's been in Jackson County for nearly 70 years has been taken down after a complaint over the religious symbol standing on state-owned land.
The Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists asked the state Department of Natural Resources to remove the Grass Lake Ministerial Association's cross in March after a resident complained. The cross has stood on Sackrider Hill since 1950. The ministerial association voted to take down the cross after meeting with agency officials. "Basically, it came down to, there was a cross that we didn't own that was on land that we did own," said John Pepin, the department's deputy public information officer. "We worked with the people that owned the cross and they voted to support removing it to a permanent location." The activist group said that the cross's placement on public land amounted to an unconstitutional government endorsement of a religion. "We are pleased with the DNR's action to remove the cross without further controversy," said Mitch Kahle, the activist association's co-founder. A volunteer group, Grassroots Jackson, said this week that it was shocked and disappointed by the removal of the cross. The group started an online petition in March called "Save the Jackson Cross," which gathered more than 2,500 signatures. "Its presence on the hill does not establish a state religion or coerce any person into religious worship," said group member Billie Dawson. He said the group plans to contact the state's natural resources department, attorney general and governor to "ensure the removal was properly handled."