A lakeshore community is facing a constitutional battle over a large cross on township property.
The cross serves as a monument to a key figure in Michigan's history.
It's placed at the site on Pere Marquette Lake where it's believed in 1675 Father Jacques Marquette was buried.
Marquette was a Jesuit missionary and explorer. The site is a Michigan Historic Site.
The white metal cross at the top of a hill along South Lakeshore Drive is visible for miles, even from Ludington just to the North.
The Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists is asking Pere Marquette Park to remove the cross. The MACRA says the cross is unconstitutional and violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The group is threatening legal actions if the cross is not removed.
It's been in the same location since 1955. Ownership of the land where the cross sits has changed hands several times over the years--at one time it was city of Ludington property.
In 1993, the land was deeded to Pere Marquette Charter Township according to township Supervisor Paul Keson,
The complaint from the MACRA arrived at the township hall in October. The township is seeking legal advice before responding to the request.
"We basically took that letter and handed that over to our attorney," said Keson.
The letter claims a Pere Marquette resident finds the cross "offensive and distracting."
Currently the Father Marquette Shrine is undergoing foundation repairs.
The work is being paid for with township funds and was approved before the township was asked to remove the cross.
On Dec. 28 the township's attorney is expected to meet with township trustees in a closed session. After that meeting the township may have a response to the request.
The township may hold a public meeting on the cross sometime in January.
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