Kentucky City Fights to Save Cross on Water Tower After Atheist Group Demands its Removal

Cross has been on water tower for four decades

Wilmore Kentucky water tower
October 15, 2015

Residents of a Kentucky city are pushing back against an atheist group that is attempting to have a cross removed from a water tower with the help of like-minded Christians from across the nation.

A Pro-Cross Rally is scheduled for this upcoming Saturday in Wilmore, Ky., a small city with a population of 6,000. Hundreds of white crosses this week have appeared on residents’ front lawns throughout the city to show support after the Freedom From Religion Foundation demanded that the city remove the cross and a picture of the water tower from the city’s website. The group claims that the cross "unabashedly creates the perception of government endorsement of Christianity" and "has an exclusionary effect, making non-Christian and non-believing residents of Wilmore political outsiders."

The cross has been located for over four decades on top of a water tower on Asbury University, a Christian school. The city owns the water tower, but the university pays the electric bill for the cross.

Harold Rainwater, the town’s mayor, told a local newspaper he does not plan to remove the cross, and several attorneys have offered to represent the city in its fight against the foundation if it files a lawsuit.

When asked for comment, Rainwater said in an email, "My attorneys have advised no further discussion on this topic at this time."

Residents said they are banding together in this fight.

"I don’t understand why anyone would want to remove the cross," said Jody Brock, a resident and business owner in Wilmore. "We’re a close-knit family and we want the cross to remain."

Brock said he found it "sad that someone is telling us to remove it." She said she wished the foundation "would spend their money on doing good, on the poor, or abused children."

Brock said she is praying for the atheist group. "Let’s pray for these people and pray for a good solution to this problem. We pray that our cross isn’t removed and we get to keep it."

One resident, Sheila Nagy, started making wooden crosses this week, and many have been placed throughout the city. Nagy said if the group disliked one cross, they would dislike hundreds more.

"We call ourselves the city under the cross, because the water tower sits above us," said Nagy. "We’re tired of Christians being pushed around."

She made 130 crosses in two days. Nagy was able to make an additional 282 crosses with the help of two men who showed up from more than 100 miles away.

One of the men, Rick Jones from Whitley City, drove two hours to help Nagy.

"I was watching the news, and God spoke to me," Jones said. "These people need help and the Lord laid it on my heart to help."

Jones said he did not think it was right for an atheist group to pressure the town to remove its cross.

"I think it should stay," Jones said, adding he believes Christianity is under attack in America.

Nagy and Jones planned on making more crosses today.

"We’re banding together as Christians and citizens to get the cross to stay," said Nagy. She added that Wilmore is a Christian-based town and has a seminary.

"No more, we’re not got going to take it. We’re going to stand together, united for Christ," Nagy said. "We are Christians, we support our mayor, and we support our town."

Regarding the atheists, she said, "if that’s your bible, that’s fine, we’ll respect that. But respect us." Nagy added, "I wish they would just read the Bible because God always wins and he’s bigger than any atheist group."

The residents of Wilmore are not alone in their fight to save their cross. Many on social media from across the country have weighed in. Some from as far away as Arizona have asked Nagy whether they could purchase a cross.

Published under: Religious Freedom