Skip to comments.Anderson County judge: giant Christian cross must come down
Posted on 11/22/2004 4:03:34 PM PST by TERMINATTOR
For more than two years, Rev. Jim Potter has fought Anderson County officials for the right to leave up a giant Christian cross he erected near I-75. On Monday, a judge sided with the county, ordering Rev. Potter to remove the cross.
County officials argued that the cross, located on private property near exit 122, violated building and zoning regulations.
But Rev. Potter said he believed that because of the significance of religious structures, his cross should be exempt from the zoning regulations.
"I think it (the cross) should bring to knowledge the fact that Jesus Christ did die for us on a cross, and that's His cross. It ain't mine," Rev. Potter said after hearing the judge's decision.
He added that he believes the court's decision violates his constitutional right to freedom of religious expression.
"When it comes to Christian work, they try to smother it, I reckon," says Potter.
But Anderson County Building Commissioner Curtos Perez says religion has nothing to do with the dispute.
"The County's not objecting to any religious structure," says Perez. "What they look at is that all structures are the same. It doesn't make a difference between them."
Because the judge attributed ownership of the giant cross to Potter, the preacher will face a fine of $50 per day until the structure is removed.
A clear violation of the First Amendment - "free exercise thereof".
I have a feeling that the zoning reg. is just a front to remove the cross because it is a cross and might offend somebody, somewhere, at some time.
It doesn't look so structurally unsound as to blow down in a wind and take out a school bus full of orphans... wonder what they're thinking... on private property?
More info copyright the OakRidger (at http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:n5asR4r5IgAJ:oakridger.com/stories/102103/new_20031021049.shtml+%22anderson+county%22+cross+%22jim+potter%22&hl=en):
County to sue man over cross
CROSS: County Attorney David Clark will be filing a lawsuit against James Potter, who erected a cross near Interstate 75 in Clinton.
By: Donna Smith | Oak Ridger Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
CLINTON - Anderson County commissioners have decided to sue Oneida resident James Potter for setting up a concrete cross on land next to Interstate 75 in Clinton because he allegedly violated a county zoning law. But two commissioners disagree.
Anderson County commissioners have decided to sue James Potter for setting up a concrete cross. "I see no reason whatsoever to attack this cross," Commissioner Jerry White said, adding that it was in a good location, served a good purpose and was hurting no one. Both he and Commissioner Doug Haun voted against filing the lawsuit.
Commission Chairman Mike Cox said there was no reason to have zoning laws if everyone didn't have to obey them. He called attention to County Attorney David Clark's statement earlier in the meeting, held at the Anderson County Courthouse, that he was talking with officials of the windmill farm atop Buffalo Mountain near Oliver Springs so that their windmills would obey the "fall zone" requirement.
The cross was constructed on land Potter leased. However, county zoning laws call for tall structures such as cell towers, radio towers - and crosses - to be placed so that if they fell they would not fall outside the property leased or owned and cause a potential public safety problem. Potter's cross allegedly does not meet this fall zone requirement.
Commissioner Kathy Moore said county officials had offered to help Potter move the cross so it would meet the fall zone requirement, but he had not taken them up on the offer. County Mayor Rex Lynch said Potter has leased enough land to meet the fall zone requirement if the cross was placed in the appropriate spot.
Oak Ridger Dick Jernigan, Anderson County Board of Zoning Appeals chairman, said Potter could better use his money for "religious fervor." He said the cross issue was more the result of Potter's fantasy than evidence of religious fervor.
Commissioners Rodney Archer, Jerry Creasey and Harold Jernigan were absent at the time of the vote.
Previously, both the Commission and the county Regional Planning Commission denied Potter the permit to build the cross. When he went ahead with construction, he was served with a stop-work order but continued. He was brought to court over the matter, but District Attorney General Jim Ramsey chose not to prosecute, saying the matter should be dealt with through civil actions.
Potter, a preacher, has erected several crosses throughout East Tennessee.
Potter had suggested to commissioners that the state of Tennessee Department of Transportation had waived the fall zone requirement for building the crosses near the interstate. In a letter to commissioners, Clark said he'd contacted TDOT lawyers and they said this was not the case.
"The Rev. James Potter of Oneida, Tennessee, is being sued by Anderson County officials for violating zoning codes and a stop-work order and proceeding to set up a 50-foot cross beside an interstate highway in his area. Associated Press reports that the property owner, who is leasing to Potter the land beside Interstate 75 on which he erected the cross, is also named in the lawsuit. According to the complaint filed against them, the owner and the preacher have discussed extending the cross to 90 feet high and adding electric lighting to illuminate it. Potter, who previously erected a similar large cross next to I-75 in Loudon, Tennessee, told the Knoxville News Sentinel newspaper that he is glad the authorities are suing him. He claims they, not he, are the ones violating the U.S. Constitution. According to reports by The Oak Ridger, Potter's has repeatedly attempted to get official permission for his cross construction project from zoning board officials and County commissioners, but has been met with repeated rejections. After one public discussion, he appealed to local law, citing the section of the Declaration of Rights in the Tennessee Blue Book that states "all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience; ... that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience."
"Tell them to start making all Federal Govt employees go to work on religious holidays, see how far that one goes."
I like that idea.
Ping to above.
The above is not a photo shop. It is off I40 near the Oklahoma border. When I drove past it, I could still see it from a distance of 12 miles.
Photo of friends?
border stateline. Poor choice of words, sorry.
from 2nd article...
"Commissioner Kathy Moore said county officials had offered to help Potter move the cross so it would meet the fall zone requirement, but he had not taken them up on the offer. County Mayor Rex Lynch said Potter has leased enough land to meet the fall zone requirement if the cross was placed in the appropriate spot. "
Comply with the law, pretty simple.
Terrrrrraaza being bit by a tarantula? COOL!
Damn, thats an ugly bunch! I hope they're not relations.
TAR & FEATHER first - then take up the SECOND AMENDMENT to protect the FIRST AMENDMENT!
This scumbag LAWYER (aka "judge") needs to be gone!
is this the same giant cross by I-75 that's right next door to a porn shop? North of Knoxville?
LOL. It's a garden variety zoning and building code violation, but no doubt a bunch on this site will get into a bunch over it.
ANDERSON COUNTY JUDGE MUST COME DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anderson County Tennessee is a VERY unusual county. THE Oak Ridge, of nuke fame, is in Anderson County and as one would expect Oak Ridge has a very highly educated population. Oak Ridge also has among the highest (if not the highest), property taxes in Tennessee and is has strict zoning regs. The rest of the county is pretty much what you would expect to find in a rural East Tennessee County. The County thus has a split personality, neither gets along with or understands the other. There are all sort of weird and bizarre courthouse politics and open hostilities between elected officials. No behavior seems to result in an official being thrown out of office.
Sounds like you're familiar with the area. I used to live in Oak Ridge. Family moved there in 1967. Graduated from ORHS. I agree - the county is an interesting mix of rural and high-tech PhD's.
That's so cute.....You think that there is such a thing as "private property."
I know those crosses. They are beautiful. I love to see them on a misty or foggy night, such as tonight. Since you live in Memphis, you can relate to the aforementioned timeframe. I hope and pray the ACLU never touches them. Being Catholic, I applaud those at Bellevue Baptist Church for erecting them. I am so not offended. If someone is, tolerate it. Those crosses are there to stay.
Moral Absolutes Ping. Okay, exactly how against zoning violations is this cross? It would be interesting to hear the preacher's side of the story.
Remember when the Taliban bombed the ancient, giant statues of Buddha?* See any connection?
To people who hate God (and the Taliban do hate God - if they really loved Him, they wouldn't be hateful demons!), there's nothing as loathesome as any kind of symbol, name, holiday, book, or any other object that reminds them of God. Worst of all is someone speaking God's truth.
Let me know if anyone wants on/off this pinglist.
*I am not claiming Buddha to be God (although he is reverenced kind of as though he were around the world). But Buddhism is a kind of borderline philosophical "religion" in a sense, and even that was enough to rouse the ire of the Taliban. Since leftists in the US have often faddishly embraced what they think is "Buddhism", Buddhist statues don't offend them.
Too bad they don't actually follow Buddha's teachings - they'd all be mendicant vegetarian monks, wearing one cloth and owning nothing.
=== is this the same giant cross by I-75 that's right next door to a porn shop? North of Knoxville
Funny ... I thought of that one too.
I wonder when we'll get to the point that broadcasters fine or otherwise go after those who position naked blonds wearing nothing but a Christian cross such that the entirety of the nation's football fans risk offense.
The judge's name isn't even mentioned, for fear of a lynch mob.
Neither is the state mentioned! I'll bet there are quite a few Anderson Counties out there.
I wonder if Potter first tried to get a variance from the zoning restrictions?
I know this looks "anti-religious," but I sure wouldn't want something like that looming over my home or backyard.
And if there are no nearby structures or throughfares that it would have endangered, then Potter very likely could have gotten his variance.
Instead, he chose the path of maximum publicity.