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Diverse Christians unify for the cross

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The week after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, gun and ammo sales surged! We’ve seen similar surges now that President Biden has raised the standard of “amending” the 2nd Amendment. Another similarity between the terms of the two Democrat presidents is the surge of Evangelical prayers and petitions!

A group of Christians here in Starkville has organized a movement to erect a giant 120-foot cross beside one of the major highways going through our town. Other Mississippi towns have erected similar crosses close to highways.

Like most Southern cities, Starkville boasts a large number of diverse Christian churches. The label “Christian” encompasses the largest range of diversity of any faith. To that point, the group organizing this project have attracted a diverse membership to its unifying goal of erecting the cross. The cross should unify all those who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation.

Starkville, home of Mississippi State University, is arguably the most progressive or “woke” city in the state. Residents and students include people from nearly all 50 states and dozens of other countries. Thus, Starkville enjoys more religious groups than most small southern towns.

Symbols have become “offensive” particularly to woke folks. What does being woke mean? Woke people are “alert to injustice in society, especially racism.” A cross is an offensive symbol here even as a piece of jewelry, much less a 120-foot cross. So, the effort to erect the cross has evoked a lot of negative reactions, including “hostility” from local officials.

Crosses have always been offensive. The Bible says Jesus despised the shame of the cross. I believe God chose the cross to show us His utter disgust of sin. That’s the dark side of Christianity. The bright side of Christianity is the empty tomb and Jesus’ return! Since the 2020 election, we’ve heard a lot more Christians praying that Jesus would come soon!

Woke folks apparently believe we can rid the world of any and all things that offend them. They also apparently believe they are not offensive in any way except to those who are intolerant. Don’t you just hate intolerant people?

Woke folks are also fond of the either-or fallacy that limits one’s choice to two. For example, in the case against the Starkville cross, concerned citizens have suggested “christians” should use the money ($200,000) for needs of the poor, sort of what Judas sneered when the woman wasted all that perfume on Jesus’ feet days before His crucifixion. While the fallacy falsely limits the choice to helping the poor or wasting the money, the truth asks why don’t we do both! It’s never about the money; it’s always about the offense.

What impact will the cross have on those who drive past it? Who knows? Years ago a friend and I would meet regularly to discuss what’s going on. He’s an atheist, and we enjoyed bantering back and forth. He told me when he stayed in hotel rooms he would steal Gideon Bibles and destroy them! He said he would never patronize a business that had any Christian symbol.

Will the cross inspire or offend? Yes! It always has and it always will. The group of Christians organizing this effort are unifying believers of all races and socio-economic status. That’s a good thing, right?

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Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville, MS. You may contact him at PJandMe2@gmail.com.