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Mount Rubidoux cross' fate on hold in Riverside

November 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
For more than 100 years, a cross has stood on Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, but the historic landmark now has an uncertain future.

A group is threatening to sue the city of Riverside if it's not removed. Some residents said they can't believe it.

"I think it should stay up there, it's been up there forever. People enjoy going up there on Easter. It's just a great symbol for the city," said Riverside resident Ester Ricon.

Still, the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State disagrees, saying, "Display of a large cross such as the Mt. Rubidoux cross on public property sends a message to residents of the city that the city favors, endorses, and prefers the Christian religion over other religions, and this can make residents who are not Christians feel like they are outsiders or second class citizens in the city."

One possible solution the city may consider would be selling the land that the cross sits on, meaning people who hike up Mount Rubidoux would be on public land, but once they reached the cross, they'd be on private property.

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, selling the land was among the top options to avoid a costly legal battle.

"I ask you to decline to sell the land surrounding the cross on Mount Rubidoux and instead do the right thing and remove the cross from the city park," said Justin Nelson of Riverside. "Fundamentally, that cross hovering above downtown Riverside sends only one message: that Riverside is a city first and foremost for Christians."

It's an argument that some people find frustrating.

"It's ridiculous. That's what this country was founded on was freedom of religion. I really hate to see it. I think the cross needs to stay right where it's at," said Jim Powers of San Dimas.

So if the cross is going to stand the test of time, then the city will likely have to sell the property it sits on to a private entity. It's a decision the city will wait to take up next year.


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