STEUBENVILLE - A group of parishioners from Holy Family Catholic Church in Steubenville have organized a yard freedom cross campaign they hope will spread across the city and the nation.
Don Jordan said the idea for freedom crosses was prompted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation threat to sue the city over an unofficial logo that includes a cross and the silhouette of the Christ the King chapel on the Franciscan University of Steubenville campus.
"We had a number of concerns regarding the foundation that threatened to sue the city. We felt it was an attack on our religious freedom. Our bishops have urged Catholics to pray, fast and take action in response to the attack on our religious freedom. This is our way of taking action," said Jordan. "The Holy Family Evangelization program and our other parish ministries banded together to develop the 'freedom cross' for Holy Family parishioners to place in their yards as a witness to our faith and our right to religious freedom."
"The idea came from the photos from the Sept. 11 attack on the Twin Towers. I will always remember the photo of the damaged girders that had been twisted into a cross. The New York firefighters hung an American flag on the girders. That photo will always remain with me, and it inspired our freedom cross design," said John Miller, a volunteer.
The idea caught fire among several parishioners who have helped create the wooden crosses with the word "freedom" stenciled across the front and a small American flag placed at the top of the cross.
"We are cutting, assembling and painting approximately 200 crosses for our Holy Family parishioners. And we talked to Mark Nelson of the Nelson Fine Art and Gifts business, and he has agreed to create a very similar design for sale to the general public," said Jordan.
"This is about promoting freedom of religion in our country. We have already had requests from several area citizens who want to express their support for our religious freedom." said Nelson.
The freedom crosses also are available at freedomtothemax.com.
City officials have met with representatives from four law firms who offered free legal assistance if the city fights the legal challenge from the FFRF.
"We have taken a threat of litigation by the Freedom From Religion Foundation seriously, so we heard from experienced lawyers on these constitutional issues. We will study our options and take what we believe is appropriate action," City Law Director S. Gary Repella has said.
The Madison, Wis.-based foundation first contacted the city in May regarding the unofficial logo, but council didn't go public regarding the logo until a July meeting. Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci has said his office has received nearly 500 emails, "mostly urging us to fight this challenge."