Whiteville, Tennessee Responds to Atheists Threats to Water Tower Cross

The cross after its arm was removed (Image Credit: WREG)

Remember the controversial cross on a water tower in Whiteville, Tennessee? Earlier this month, the Blaze reported that Mayor James Bellar was planning to cave to atheists’ demands and have the religious symbol moved to private land.

Bellar, who defended its presence, claimed that the town could not afford to pay for an expensive legal battle with Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) — the “freethinking” group seeking its removal. Thus, moving it to a nearby highway seemed like the best possible solution.

In its new location, Bellar said it would be seen by an even larger audience. But rather than make good on this plan, the mayor decided to voice his protest to the atheists’ demands.

Whiteville, Tennessee Responds to Atheists Threats to Water Tower Cross

The cross before its arm was removed

Instead of taking the symbol down and moving it, he ordered one of its arms be removed. So, the cross (minus one of its arms) is still standing on the top of the water tower, essentially serving as a reminder of what FFRF forced the town to do.

“This brings to close a sad chapter in the history of Whiteville that can best be described as terroristic, cowardly and shameful!,” Bellar wrote in a letter to Nashville lawyer Alvin Harris. “The fear and terror caused our older people here is shameful. So shame on your client and your firm!”

Technically, without one of its arms, the cross is no longer, well…a cross. The FFRF has called off its plans to sue Whiteville, but has dubbed the mayor’s actions “bizarre.” Of course, the group promises to continue watching to see what happens next.

The community, though, is emboldened, with residents supporting the mayor and joining in the fun. WREG has more:

Many people in Whiteville are responding to the removal of the cross on city property by placing one on their private property.

“You can’t go down one street without seeing at least two.  You can go down any of these streets and you’re going to see a cross. There no way you can go through Whiteville and not see one,” said Sarah Knight.

Hundreds of crosses of all sizes have been placed around the city.


This battle is yet another religious freedom fight sparked by the FFRF, America’s largest organization of atheists and agnostics. While the organization claims that a resident in the town complained about the cross, representatives refuse to release the individual’s name.

In the end, it seems like a partial win has been secured for Bellar and the local community.

(H/T: WREG.com)