The Raincross Solution
This is an opinion piece. All of my writings on this blog are opinion pieces. In this article I am arguing for an even-handed, moderate solution to the Mount Rubidoux Cross dispute, a solution that results in a general feeling of all of the city’s citizenry being treated with respect and being considered in the city council’s deliberations.
Some people will be offended by my observations, of course. They may even fill my comments section with hate mail. But please keep two things in mind; 1. I moderate all comments. 2. I am not required to argue with people who insist on being hateful, irrational, and/or wrong.
My recent enhanced awareness of the City of Riverside’s Raincross symbol has been augmented by a local civil fight over the very large and dominating cross sighted on the peak of Mount Rubidoux. Since Mount Rubidoux is on land donated to and owned by the city, one group of citizens wants it removed, because it is an apparent government sponsorship of a particular religion, a theological bias. The fight over this issue has recently become quite a brouhaha.
I’m fairly neutral about this fight and can understand both sides of the argument. Middle path, you know. I don’t want to see a solution that mandates the addition of all major religious symbols, which would nearly cover the ridgeline with ever more erections that further break up and ruin the landscape views.
Who is going to pay for the Star of David, the Crescent Moon, and the stature of Krishna? And though Buddhism is not strictly a religion, since the Buddha never mentioned the gods, the philosophy should have its own symbol. Who is going to pay for the 36 foot tall statue of the Buddha? Since all of the symbols will obviously have to be of a size equivalent to the Cross, should that be measured by height or mass or a combination of the two? Will a Henge be built for the Pagans? What will be done for the Sikhs and the Jains who have a smaller number of adherents, but are equally legitimate, as far as religions go? Shall we include statues of Odin and Zeus? What about Ishtar?
One of the most bandied-about arguments for the retention of the Cross is that it has historical significance. I agree. It does have historical significance. But I submit that witch burning, the Spanish Inquisition, slavery, Nazism, and Apartheid also had historical significance (considerably more than that of the Mount Rubidoux Cross), and historical significance alone was not a valid reason for the continuance of any of those movement’s activities or continued promotion of the symbols associated with them (please note that I am not writing about the relative merits of those movements, just their historical weight).
The most reasonable solution I’ve heard is the conversion of the cross into a Raincross, the symbol of the city. This idea is apparently annoying to a number of people and a number of dodges are being discussed, most notably the idea of selling the property that the Cross is standing on, so a non-government entity can maintain it. Selling the property in that manner is an underhanded, deceitful idea. It would leave the symbol of one religion in a dominate, prime location (it can be seen for miles), and leave the other religions, philosophies, and counter-religions without the possibility of the same prominent, nearly free advertising. It is an exclusive idea, not an inclusive idea. It is “us against them”. It will not solve the legitimate underlying concerns of the group that would like to have the Cross removed.
I would like to see an all-inclusive solution to this problem, a solution that doesn’t discriminate against anyone, rather than promoting the self-serving agenda of one group. It seems to me that the only reasonable solution is to convert the existing Cross into a Raincross. The new Raincross would be a visible symbol of enlightenment, a symbol of the even-handedness of the city’s citizenry. A visible sign of a citizenry promoting the idea of all-inclusiveness, a tolerance toward everyone.
The Cross has been standing in place since I arrived in the city in 1971 (and long before). It didn’t magically convert me. It didn’t magically push me away from the Middle Path. If it was suddenly gone, I doubt that the Christians in the city would be magically compelled to convert to Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, or Buddhism. There is, in fact, no real threat to that group, except that their acquiescence to removing or altering the Cross to avoid the appearance of a violation of the principle of separation of church and state might make them appear to be a group of enlightened individuals who value the idea of all-inclusiveness.