Church to Spend $232K to Build Giant Cross

I guess these folks take a certain interpretation of Matthew 26:11* much more seriously than they do all the Biblical admonitions to care for the poor and needy.  Seems the pastor of Hunter’s Chapel Holy Church of Christ saw a big cross in Tennessee and decided Walker County needs one too.  The Christian version of keeping up with the Joneses.  So he talked his congregation into supporting the idea of constructing a 100-foot cross, with a price tag of $232,000, that will be visible to drivers on the not-yet-built I-22.

“We’ve had a lot of negative things that people remember Walker County for,” [pastor Dale] Hyche said. “We just got through all the bingo stuff, and I think this would be a positive for people driving through Walker County.”

Yep, a giant cross will counteract all that bad publicity. But wouldn’t it be even better to raise funds to help the people who are so desperate for jobs that they welcome new bingo parlors with open arms? For a little perspective, The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham set up a $200,000 Housing Stability Fund in 2009 to help families facing eviction or foreclosure.  That money kept over 200 families (some from Walker County) from losing their homes.  That’s what $200K can do when it’s used to care for the least among us.  You know, these people.

I doubt there’s any shortage of visible crosses in Walker County.  It’s just as much a part of the Bible Belt as the rest of Alabama.  To my mind, asking people in the community, many of whom are suffering economic hardship, to pony up that much cash to build another one doesn’t glorify God.  It makes a point, I suppose — we’re Christians, yay for us! — but it doesn’t actually help anyone.  Being the hands and feet of Christ in the world isn’t about building monuments to Jesus.


* When the woman in the Biblical passage anointed Jesus with expensive ointment, she was providing comfort to a fellow human being who knew he was about to face a horrific death.  Not the same, as far as I’m concerned, as building a giant cross.

17 Responses to “Church to Spend $232K to Build Giant Cross”

  1. Renee says:

    Yeah for your New Year’s resolution to blog daily!
    Love this one.

  2. Kathy Freeland says:


  3. Andy says:

    Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 6:5-7 comes to mind


  4. Helen Rivas says:

    Speaking of helping, today Kimble read from James 2:1-9 before talking about current tax unfairness in this state, where the top 3% benefit from a tax break unavailable to the other 97%.

  5. Don says:

    This brings to mind the countless Alabama politicians who campaign more on what they claim are their religious convictions than they do on their qualifications to get on the payroll of taxpayers.

  6. Kathy says:

    Thanks, Kathy. Andy, indeed. Helen, I thought of James too when I read this story. Don, it irks me no end to listen to politicians trot out their religious bona fides on the campaign trail only to ignore all the Biblical admonitions they claim to support once they’re elected. Except when they’re twisting scripture to demonize gays, of course.

  7. ASDKids2 says:

    Reminds me of the big Jesus statue in Rio that primarily seems to serve as a backdrop in end of the world movies. My church had a huge fight right before I joined about spending even more than that on a pipe organ. It did a lot of damage to the community, and I’ll bet there are people in this church, too, who are disgusted and/or leaving over this.

  8. Joe says:

    I’m not sure why you feel entitled to pontificate on how other people spend their money.

  9. Bill says:

    I’m not sure why you feel entitled to pontificate on what other people write on their own blogs.

  10. Falconer says:

    I know of two large crosses in Tennessee, both along I-75, one north of Knoxville, one south; the northern one is within a couple hundred yards of Adult World XXX, but I’m not sure if there’s a similar store near the southern one.

    I wonder if either one of these were the one this pastor saw?

  11. Kathy says:

    I know of two large crosses in Tennessee, both along I-75, one north of Knoxville, one south…

    The story says they were on a trip to Gatlinburg, so it could have been one of those.

    ASDKids2, it does seem like that statue collapses a lot. At least fictionally. :)

  12. Del says:

    Our church spent a LOT more than that on a pipe organ. I suppose the principle is the same, but at least an organ does more than just stand there being big. Although I suppose these folks might argue that the sight of their magnificent cross will uplift and inspire passing motorists.

    I can’t help but think of that comedian’s routine about “what if Jesus had died in some way other than crucifixion?” I believe it ended with the phrase “Church of the American Standard.”

  13. Helen says:

    While being skeptical of grand religious gestures, and annoyed by sectarian prayers at official events, I try to respect sincerely held beliefs. Sadly there’s often little reciprocity–not even tolerance, which is sometimes ignorance, sometimes not.

    The news story also reported that there will be a garden for reflection or something at the base, so a place of rest for travelers is not a bad thing.

    Fifteen or so years ago a teacher at a West Jeffco middle school told me that her students had to be reminded regularly that it was not appropriate to ask classroom visitors if they had been saved. She added that they defined “Christian” as being a member of their congregation–period.

    Do you think the state would benefit if we could send about 10% of the population to live elsewhere for a while and experience difference as just that, not something bad? When nice church ladies whisper ‘liberal’ convictions on social issues in my ear, I thank them for sharing and ask if they would share those with family and friends, who need to know that ‘good’ people have such thoughts.

    Don, I was no stranger to cynical political rhetoric, having lived in Central America; but really learned the meaning of political hypocrisy shorty after moving to Alabama 29 years ago. Two memories running through my mind right now are of school children in DeKalb County screaming the Lord’s Prayer at the son of a vice principal who’d spoke out against missionary work in public schools and of Fob hugging an orthodox Israeli Jewish boy while a family in Randolph County was being persecuted for holding that same faith.

  14. Kathy says:

    Yes, I’ve heard a few wags ask if people would be willing to wear miniature electric chairs on chains around their necks. I suppose the reality that the cross was the electric chair (or lethal injection) of its day — far more brutal, of course — has gone from the public consciousness.

    ETA: Sorry, Helen — no idea why your comment went to moderation. It does seem Alabama has a special affinity for “talking the talk” without “walking the walk”.

  15. Helen says:

    I’ve had that thought about other symbols of killing, too.

    I also think that loss of public awareness about the reality of death through separation from the actual deed has not been a good policy decition.

    No problem about being ‘moderated.’ There are times when it might have avoided some embarrassment or led to clearer writing.

  16. Felton Lichtersnaczj says:

    You seem well versed on the needs of the poor and indigent in that area. Maybe you could stop carping about the religious zealots and put your pocketbook where your own big fuckin’ yap is.

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