Mount Rubidoux Cross in Jeopardy

Opponents say the 35-foot symbol violates the separation of church and state because it sits on public land.

By Jacob Rascon and John Simerson
|  Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013  |  Updated 10:30 PM PDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Father Josiah Trenman of St. Andrew Orthodox organized a march that drew hundreds of supporters Tuesday to plead with the Riverside City Council to fight a lawsuit targeting the 35-foot cross at Mount Rubidoux. The legal battle focuses on the cross’ position on public land, which opponents say violates separation of church and state. Jacob Rascon reports from Riverside for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2013.

Jacob Rascon

Father Josiah Trenman of St. Andrew Orthodox organized a march that drew hundreds of supporters Tuesday to plead with the Riverside City Council to fight a lawsuit targeting the 35-foot cross at Mount Rubidoux. The legal battle focuses on the cross’ position on public land, which opponents say violates separation of church and state. Jacob Rascon reports from Riverside for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2013.

advertisement

More than a hundred years after the Mount Rubidoux cross went up, there is a very real possibility it could be forced down – or at least change owners.

On Tuesday, resident John Harris joined some 150 people to march in support of the 35-foot cross. They want the city to fight the legal challenge against the landmark.

"We've been coming to Mt Rubidoux on Easter for years and years," Harris said.

In August, a man from Riverside complained about the Christian symbol to the Washington, D.C.-based group Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS), which then threatened to sue the city if the cross didn't come down promptly.

"We don't think a large prominent cross such as this one belongs on public property,” said Alex Luchunitsur, the legal director of AUSCS. “It violates the separation of church and state.”

"The sole purpose of the First Amendment is to protect minorities including religious minorities," Luchunitsur said.

The city held a final hearing Tuesday on the issue. Next Tuesday, it will decide to either do nothing, sell the land or take down the cross.

"What I'm hoping is that they'll do nothing," said Father Josiah Trenman of St. Andrew Orthodox, who organized Tuesday’s march.

Trenham echoed the argument of many residents that say the cross should stay because it's more than just a symbol of one religion.

"I've had Jews come to me. I've had atheists come into my parish and ask, how they could help preserve the cross," Trenham said.

Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: iPhone/iPad App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Running Dry
Coverage of the California drought. Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out