Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

In Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a controversy has erupted over the construction of a cross-shaped pier by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. The decision by the Christian special interest group to build the pier in the shape of a Christian cross has sparked anger among many residents, who feel that their religious freedom is being infringed upon.

The Association has defended its choice, stating that they “make no apology for the fact that [they] love the way it looks like a cross.” However, thousands of Jersey Shore residents have expressed their dissatisfaction, fearing that they may be pressured into participating in unwanted Christian worship.

The project to build the cross-shaped pier comes after the destruction of the original pier during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The Association, driven by religious beliefs, aimed to resurrect their Christian ideals by constructing a pier that symbolizes their faith. The privately funded pier, which will be accessible to the public, did not undergo an official approval process due to the use of undisclosed funds. This has raised concerns about the encroachment of Christian values into state affairs.

Critics of the project argue that the $1.3 million, 500-foot long cross-shaped pier represents an act of “Christian bullying.” Worried about the potential implications, these individuals have urged state and local officials to intervene before construction is completed. The opening date for the pier is scheduled for December 7, 2022, but there is a possibility of delay if opposing groups wielding government power succeed in obstructing progress.

One outspoken critic, Presbyterian Pastor Douglas Grote, has described the pier as a “pathetic example of ‘Christian bullying.’” In a guest column for NJ.com, he expressed his concern that the beautiful symbol of his faith could become a divisive force in Ocean Grove, Asbury Park, and all of New Jersey.

Pastor Grote intends to address the issue during the upcoming meeting of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association on September 24, 2022. He plans to propose a vote to halt the construction of the pier until a thorough investigation is conducted, all citizens are consulted, and the approval of the cross-shaped pier is obtained, if at all, in a democratic manner.

The controversy surrounding the cross-shaped pier in Ocean Grove highlights the delicate balance between religious freedom and the principles of a secular society. As the community grapples with this issue, it is crucial to foster open dialogue and respect for diverse beliefs.