West Michigan Towns Riled By Atheist’s Crusade


Grand Haven Cross

I think I’m with the atheist on these matters.

Contrary to what Matt Kooienga, associate pastor of Harvest Baptist Church in Hudsonville says, this is not a “Christian place”.   A whole lotta Christians here, churches on every corner, but this, Mr. Kooienga, is the United States of America.

I’m a Christian.  I love the Lord and His Word, but bring down the cross in Grand Haven and keep the sign down in Hager Park.

As a Christian, I don’t want Christian zealots putting up billboards all over the public square.  If it’s public property, there should be NO religious expression in the form of religious symbols or signs.  Yes, the First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion, but that’s why we have churches and synagogues and mosques.  If this atheist, Mitch Kahle, were posing a threat to our ability to attend worship services then it would be a whole different thing, but he’s not.  It’s attention people like this crave so let’s not give it to them.  Preemptively take this stuff down.

I’ve been to Hager Park a few times and never noticed the sign. If I had, I would have probably been offended and I can sympathize with those who believe differently and pay taxes to support parks.  It’s not right.

You wanna make a public statement about your faith?  Put away the bumper stickers and billboards and giant crosses and get busy loving your neighbor and becoming a living epistle:

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3

For a long time in places like Jenison and Hudsonville and Zeeland and Holland, the majority has held sway over such things.  Christians can be found on many boards and commissions in this area.

What we need to watch out for, and Ottawa County might be one of the last to experience this, is the day when Christians are no longer in the majority.  The day may come when followers of Islam fill the boards and council chambers and mayors’ offices.  Then the shoe will be on the other foot and Hager Park will have a sign with a verse from the Q’uran and a giant statue of Mohammed will be erected in Grand Haven.

I believe these public square battles are culture war nonsense that waste our time and energy.  I think many Christians look to these things like the Jews looked to their temple – missing the larger point.  I think the reason these symbols are coming down is because attorneys for the various municipalities realize they will ultimately lose in the courts.  If they had a leg to stand on, they would probably stand on it.

These are my opinions and the debate is interesting and has been going on since this nation was founded.

My wife and mom disagree with me and we had a bit of a heated discussion this morning about this.

Heated discussions are good, especially in January in West Michigan.


Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


West Michigan towns riled by atheist’s crusade

[Excerpts from the Detroit News piece]

Norton Shores – — What is an atheist doing in the heart of Michigan’s Bible Belt?

Raising hell, for one thing.

Mitch Kahle, who moved to this lakefront community in western Michigan a year ago, has quickly made his presence felt.

He convinced Ottawa County to remove a religious sign from a county park, persuaded Grand Haven to turn a 48-foot cross on city land into an anchor, and got two school districts to stop a minister from continuing to hold lunchtime programs at schools.

On Tuesday, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners will decide whether to return the sign bearing Psalm 19:1 to Hager Park near Jenison.

Park sign under discussion

In Kahle’s latest battle, the Hager Park sign was removed Dec. 1, the same day he complained to the county.

He had learned about it from two residents who felt it didn’t belong in a public park.

The sign, which said “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork,” was erected in 1947 at the behest of a businessman who had donated the land for the park.

After a public furor over its removal, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners discussed the issue during a monthly meeting and work session earlier this month.

During the two sessions, 15 people spoke about the sign, virtually all wanting it to be returned. One compared its removal to the Holocaust. Another worried the next step would be the county supporting gay marriage.

One of dozens of people writing letters of complaint said its removal was an omen that an end-times prophecy was coming true.

“Everybody knows this is a Christian place, not a Muslim place, not a Hindu place,” Matt Kooienga, associate pastor of Harvest Baptist Church in Hudsonville, said during the Jan. 13 work session. “We don’t have to lock our doors. The reason for that is we’re Christians.”

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