Cross controversy in Floria mirrors past Eugene legal battle over Skinner Butte

New Hope Christian College Cross. (SBG, AF)

EUGENE, Ore. - Separation of church and state is at the center of a controversy bubbling over in the deep south.

A 34-foot cross on public property at Pensacola's Bayview Park in Florida to some stands as more than a religious symbol.

A lawsuit threatens to take away it’s place at the park.

A judge decided the cross violates the first amendment and needs to come down.

Cross opponents who want it off city land, said it's a symbol that means different things to different people.

In Eugene, another cross was a source of controversy for years.

From the 1930s until 1964 private citizens erected numerous large wooden crosses on Skinner Butte.

Standing at 51-feet, a concrete cross stood at Skinner Butte from 1964 to 1997.

Legal action caused its removal.

The courts decided the public property wasn't a proper place for the giant cross.

At that point, New Hope Christian College stepped forward and adopted it.

“We love the cross. Very intentionally, we put it at the highest part of our campus so it draws all eyes to that. It's the wonderful symbol of our faith,” said Mark Kelley, New Hope Christian College Dean.

The college is planning to have a 20th anniversary celebration of the arrival of the cross on their campus in November.

The contractors who helped build and move the cross will be there.

Today, where the cross used to stand at Skinner Butte is a giant flagpole flying the US flag.

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