There's a battle brewing in Brandon, Miss., over a church's plan to build a large 110-foot cross. Officials claim that it violates local ordinances, but the debate stretches well beyond local regulations. Pastor Scott Thomas of First Baptist Church of Brandon told conservative commentator Todd Starnes that officials may also be basing their objections on fears that the cross might offend Muslims.
The massive cross is being sponsored by Crosses Across America, a group that sponsors placing crosses in locations across the United States. Thomas told Starnes the group was looking for a location for a cross in Mississippi and, considering First Baptist's proximity to Interstate 20, a highly-frequented roadway, the house of worship's land was the perfect fit.
An image being used to advocate for the cross (Image via Crosses Across America)
The "Cross at Brandon," as the project is called, will be used as a multi-denominational location for outside worship services and weddings. But it seems that it may not come to fruition. While the project was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Brandon's city planning commission voted 4-3 against the proposal.
The issue, according to Mayor Butch Lee, is that the cross is considered an auxiliary structure and therefore may only be 20 feet high. If approved, the cross would be 11 stories high and would exceed the tallest structure in the city by nine stories. While the council voted against it, the final decision will be made by the board of alderman, Starnes reported.
Thomas, however, believes that there is more to the story.
"They asked other questions that indicate to me that there’s something else that concerns them. They asked, ‘what if the Muslims, the Buddhists want to build a sign?'" Thomas said.
An image being used to advocate for the controversial cross (Image via Crosses Across America)
Lee said the vote against the cross had nothing to do with theology and everything to do with legalities. The mayor went as far as to say that every individual on the city board and the planning commission were all "100 percent born-again Christians."
He said he plans to stand by whatever the city decides during the Sept. 16 vote, but is hoping that a compromise can be struck to temper the situation. The city did allow the church to build a 50-foot cross, but Thomas said that believers really want to erect a large cross that makes an impact.
"We’ve got Christians calling Christians ungodly. It’s digressing to a sad point rather than both sides being in prayer and seeking compromise," Thomas added.
A Facebook page has been launched by the church in support of the initiative and a petition encouraging people to pray and advocate for it has garnered more than 800 votes.
Read more about this story in Starnes' exclusive report.
(H/T: Todd Starnes)