Wisconsin group: Cross must go

'Freedom doesn't want cross transfer
2013-03-28T10:27:00Z 2013-09-12T10:38:13Z Wisconsin group: Cross must goBy Thomas Moriarty, The World Coos Bay World
March 28, 2013 10:27 am  • 

COOS BAY — A leader of a Wisconsin-based watchdog group says the group will oppose any city government attempts to shield a contested memorial cross in Mingus Park from removal.

Annie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said transferring the property containing the cross to a private party would be an admission that local government is trying to defend a religious symbol.

“It’s a contrivance,” Gaylor said. “To divest significant — even to divide significant land — it hurts the taxpayers.”

While the City of Coos Bay has yet to propose transferring ownership of the cross as an option, other contested memorials have been dealt with in that manner.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the National Park Service’s transfer of land containing a contested memorial cross in California’s Mojave Desert exempted the cross from lower court rulings that found its presence unconstitutional.

The cross at the heart of the Coos Bay controversy is part of a Vietnam War memorial donated to the city in 1972 by the Bay Area Jaycees and Western Bank.

The city received a letter from the foundation in February, saying the display of the cross on public property was illegal, and demanding its removal.

Gaylor maintains the foundation is only acting in response to complaints from marginalized residents.

“We don’t interject,” she said. Gaylor didn’t know the exact number of complaints received regarding the cross, but she said it didn’t matter.

The foundation has yet to make any specific legal threats toward the city.

“Our goal is to end the violations without having to go to court,” Gaylor said.

(The World interviewed Gaylor on Wednesday. Foundation representatives were not available for a previous article in Saturday’s World.)

The Coos Bay City Council has scheduled a special meeting at 7 p.m. April 2 at the Coos Bay Public Library to discuss and hear public comments on the fate of the cross.

Reporter Thomas Moriarty can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or by email at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty.

Copyright 2015 Coos Bay World. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. kiliki97420
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    kiliki97420 - April 02, 2013 12:05 pm
    Ms Gaylor co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation: if our cross offends you its simple stay out of the park or close your eyes when you walk by. I would like to know if you your self have actually ever set foot in Mingus Park and layed your eyes upon the cross ? if not find some where close to your own home to get your 15 minutes of fame.
  2. JSTRM51
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    JSTRM51 - April 02, 2013 6:13 am
    I find it interesting that the cross in Mingus Park is offensive but all these crosses alongside the roads are not. They are both on government land. So why are they different?
  3. rockstar
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    rockstar - March 30, 2013 9:02 am
    To resemble the U.S. military cemetery at Henri-Chapelle, Belgium, the city should offer that if anyone wants to use private money to erect a monument for veterans or fallen soldiers, with or without a supposed religiously inspired design, they should be allowed. Restrict the size to not exceed the marker already there. Then post warning signs for the "feint of heart" so that they will not be surprised by the memorials to those who protected their freedoms.

  4. bonz04
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    bonz04 - March 29, 2013 1:32 pm
    how dare you come from Wisconsin and tell people what to think .let the people who live in coos bay decide what stays and what goes
  5. justaguy
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    justaguy - March 29, 2013 10:54 am
    I for one find the memorial to be offensive in that all these so called Christians in the area would scream bloody murder if another group wanted to put up a marker topped with the crescent and star honoring all the Muslims who have died defending this country. For csz....I will continue to go to Mingus Park because it is MY park.
  6. coastgirl_76
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    coastgirl_76 - March 29, 2013 10:43 am
    April 2nd at 7:00 pm in the library in Coos Bay
  7. csz
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    csz - March 29, 2013 9:50 am
    It is all about the respecting of others. To be a personal believer or not is irrelevant. The cross on top the memorial is not solely for those who gave their lives, but placed there for the efforts and love given to community and country by those men and women, when they were alive.

    Annie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. If our memorial in Mingus Park is so offensive to you, don't go to Mingus Park.
  8. Prilistine
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    Prilistine - March 29, 2013 6:40 am
    North Bend Dad- the markers at Arlington and the rest of the national cemeteries are rectangles with a rounded top. On the stone is carved the symbol of the religion of the dead, if there is one. This memorial does not resemble, in the least, any of the Arlington markers.

    I'm a non-believer. I don't care if the cross stays or goes. It doesn't offend me, but I don't need it to memorialize the dead.
  9. kikilongbean
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    kikilongbean - March 28, 2013 1:33 pm
    What time is the meeting?
  10. Handsaker3245
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    Handsaker3245 - March 28, 2013 11:33 am
    I think the cross should stay so the family can remember thier loved one
  11. Handsaker3245
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    Handsaker3245 - March 28, 2013 11:31 am
    I think the cross should stay to remember their loved one
  12. north bend dad
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    north bend dad - March 28, 2013 11:19 am
    4. At Arlington, the usual marker is the Cross because the usual decedent is Christian, but the marker is different should the decedent be of another religion. Coos Bay accepted as a gift a representative marker to memorialize all who died in Viet Nam and not, as alleged, to establish a religion.
  13. north bend dad
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    north bend dad - March 28, 2013 11:19 am
    Several Points:
    1. The First Amendment does not prohibit religion; it states that government shall not establish a state religion.
    2. The Organization states that it has anonymous complainants; the city has a right to confront its accusers which "Freedom from Religion" will not name.
    3. The character of the memorial strongly resembles grave markers at Arlington and other national cemetaries.
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