Monterey, Calif., officials plan to move a large redwood cross from a public beach to religious property.
The cross has stood on Del Monte Beach since 1969, after being erected to mark a spot where a colonial expedition led by Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola is believed to have arrived in 1769. But a controversy over the cross ensued after vandals cut down the 20-foot cross last September.
Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union didn’t buy the historical significance argument, claiming the cross was unmistakably religious. ACLU attorneys objected when city officials considered replacing the central symbol of the Christian faith.
After the constitutional debate broke out, a decision was made to erect the replacement cross at a prominent spot in San Carlos Cemetery, which is operated by the Catholic Diocese of Monterey.
The Monterey County Herald proclaimed the compromise “a victory for those twin freedoms – freedom of religion and freedom from religion.”