Update: Ventura, CA Landmark Cross Up for Debate

April 3, 2003

Source: Los Angeles Times

On April 3, 2003 the Los Angeles Times reported that "the 91-year-old cross overlooking Ventura is being targeted by a group that contends the city has run afoul of 1st Amendment guarantees against establishment of a state religion... The cross is on public land in Grant Park, a rambling, sage-studded expanse atop 800-foot-high Mission Hill. The cross will be at the heart of a meeting next week between city officials and an attorney for three Ventura County residents upset by its religious symbolism... A member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, [Stan] Kohls said he volunteered as a plaintiff when he heard that the national group was seeking county residents to challenge the city. If the effort results in a lawsuit, it will join a number of similar actions, including court battles over crosses in San Francisco and La Mesa in San Diego County... In Ventura, city officials deny that a cross on public land and maintained with public funds violates the separation of church and state. Like officials at the receiving end of such lawsuits elsewhere, they contend the Serra cross is a time-honored landmark more than a religious icon... Rabbi Lisa Hochberg-Miller of Ventura's Temple Beth Torah said she isn't particularly bothered by the cross in Grant Park... 'It's not an in-your-face display and it's not proselytizing,' she said... 'There's a historicity to it.'"