Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Removes Cross from Playground
By Angie Underwood
Christian Action League
October 16, 2015
The question of the day: Have we become uncomfortable with the cross? Yes, the cross.
This week a plastic red cross was removed from a piece of Mecklenburg County playground equipment after a Charlotte mom complained in an email to parks officials that it was inappropriate at a public park.
The mother, Bonnie Kunkel, said “it made me uncomfortable. I felt like it was completely inappropriate.” Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Director, Jim Gargas, responded, saying the presence of the cross was simply an oversight and it wasn’t designed there intentionally. He told the Charlotte Observer that the park was public property and you have to respect other people’s points of view. He said, “[t]aking down the cross was the right thing to do.”
Think of it. The words, “uncomfortable,” “inappropriate” were used to describe a cross – the place where all wounds of sin and life are healed. Removing this cross? Appropriate? How? Why?
I’ve heard the arguments about separation of church and state. But I believe that our founding fathers would roll over in their graves if they knew to what degree fanatics had tried to remove religion from the public square. Separation of church and state was never meant to say we should scrub all references to God, or even the symbol of the cross, from public life.
If we were told that we had cancer we would search for the very best physician. We would choose the one that had the training and ability to effectively treat our cancer. What if this physician had his own symbol for his practice and actually had the cure for it? Would we be uncomfortable with it? Would we deem his symbol inappropriate? No, we would intensely search for his symbol, perhaps spending our very last dime to find him. It would not offend or make anyone uncomfortable to use his name or share the symbol of his practice.
Taking the cross down from a public park was the appropriate thing to do? Appropriate for what reason? Because it offends someone, and in this case, one person who complains? Where is it found in the Constitution of the United States or our State Constitution that references to religion, or more specifically symbols of Christianity, are not allowed in public life because they could offend? The justification given by Mr. Gargas for the removal of the cross is what’s inappropriate.
For me personally, I don’t believe the very symbol of healing, abundant and eternal life could ever be deemed inappropriate. I find it offensive, as well as inappropriate that anyone would want to remove the cross. I believe it belongs on every playground, in every school, in every office, and most of all in every heart. Was anyone concerned that I and others like me might be offended at its removal?
What if I told you there is a Great Physician, Jesus Christ, who not only can cure diseases like cancer, but can also grant eternal life. He died and suffered on a cross. He has all the answers to life. By him life can forever be changed, and we can become new people. We don’t even have to search for him. He is wherever we are – with us.
Why, instead of embracing Him, do we want to remove Him and every single symbol that represents Him? If the cross makes us uncomfortable, maybe, just maybe, it’s because of some unjustified animus we have toward Christ or Christianity in general. Ms. Kunkle might have seen the cross on the playground equipment as an opportunity for kids to pretend they were taking sick people to the hospital under the symbol of the Red Cross. Why would anyone be “shocked and saddened” at the presence of a cross in a public park, unless the offended party entertains hostility toward the One who hung on that cross or what it represents?
One thing is for certain, there is no neutrality when it comes to the cross of Christ. Jesus said, “Anyone who is not with me is against me.” If the cross makes us uncomfortable, it could only be because we haven’t met the Great Physician.
Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation had no obligation to remove the cross on the playground equipment, but each of us must make a decision about whether to receive Christ as Savior and Lord.
To Mr. Gargas, Ms. Kunkle, or anyone else, I take my stand and unapologetically contend that it was the message of the cross that built our great country. There is never any reason it should be deemed as inappropriate, nor should it make others uncomfortable. Moreover, as the old hymn says – “The Way of the Cross Leads Home” – our eternal home with our heavenly Father.
Angie Underwood is the wife of pastor Tommy Underwood of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Raeford, N.C.