A 48-foot cross that has stood on a hill over Grand Haven, Mich., for half a century is being turned into a less controversial and more nautical symbol. The city council voted 3-2 on Monday night to convert the cross that stands on city land into an anchor after protests from groups who said promoting Christianity on public land was unconstitutional, MLive.com reports. "You can look up there and see an anchor and think it's a cross in your mind," Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Fritz says. "The anchor is more acceptable in everybody's eyes. We have to move forward." The Grand Haven Tribune notes that the cross hasn't been continually raised since it was first erected in 1964; MLive.com in October reported it had recently been raised 10 times a year in conjunction with Worship on the Waterfront services, and was refashioned into an anchor during the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival.
Council members say they were worried about potential lawsuits from cross opponents, who had requested that displays promoting atheism, gay rights, and the abortion-rights movement also be placed on Dewey Hill. (Noted one council member who voted in favor of the change, "We've spent $12,000 on this and we haven't even gone to court.") The new regulations aim to "limit intrusion on the dune," though the anchor and an American flag will remain. "This council does not so much own the hill as we are the caretakers of it for future citizens," another councilman said. (In Paraguay, workers have been nailing themselves to crosses.)