Man Accused of Nuisance After Erecting Huge Lighted Crosses To Deter Atheists

In Baldwin, Pa., Carl Behr has decided to wage a one-man crusade against unseen atheists in his neighborhood. His solution? Erecting a 25-foot lighted cross on his yard facing his neighbor and another on his roof. I saw this on Reddit and it makes for an interesting nuisance case.

Behr calls it “a measurement of my faith” while the neighbor would call it a nuisance. He insists “[t]he way the world’s coming with all these atheists, it makes me sick to my stomach. If I can turn one soul towards the Lord with my sign, it was well worth all my efforts.” That goal appears to be achieved in this case by depriving his neighbor of the use and enjoyment of her property — and sleep.

City officials have asked Baldwin to turn off the lights. He seems to have skipped Luke 10:25-28 in his Biblical studies:

25And one day an authority on the law stood up to put Jesus to the test. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?”
26What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you understand it?” 27He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.’(Deuteronomy 6:5) And, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ” 28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do that, and you will live.”

However, Behr’s faith does not include treating one’s neighbor as you would have them treat yourself: “I’m measuring my faith to the Lord, that’s basically all I’m doing. I don’t care what anyone else thinks.”

A fight on the question could pit free speech against nuisance protections. Presumably, the only basis for a nuisance would be the actual lights. However, he could cite the fact that Christmas light are not treated a nuisances absent the most extreme lighting. His cross is actually illuminated by Christmas lights.

It still remains unclear how many atheists have been converted by seeing Behr’s lighted crosses or whether he has been able to show that the difference between an atheist and a Christian is usually the absence of a lighted cross.
Source: CBS

91 thoughts on “Man Accused of Nuisance After Erecting Huge Lighted Crosses To Deter Atheists”

  1. I welcome reading what WestboroMan writes no less than I welcome reading anything else. I find that Westboro Baptist Church is every bit as valid as is any other church.

    Even so, I was co-chairman of the Open and AFfirming Committee of Hope United Church of Christ, in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, when it adopted its Open and Affirming Statement and became of of the Open and Affirming congregations within the United Church of Christ.

    As I have neither right nor power nor will to impose my beliefs on any other person, I allow that the teachings of Westboro Baptist Church may very well be correct, and that I will earn my eternal reward of unbearable agony in Hell for my infamy. If that be what I earn through my heretical apostasy, I rejoice that there may be those who do better than I do. It simply is not given to me to know, understand, or decide such judgmental issues.

    I can think of no reason why, if anyone earns an eternity of hellish punishment, I am less qualified than is anyone else for such judgment and resultant reward as punishment.

    As I have no way of proving that Westboro Baptist Church is wrong in its teachings, I leave to those who have the ability which I find I totally lack, the ability to form judgments, to judge. Such is simply not of what is given to me as my actual life.

    That written, I herewith inquire of Chris (WestboroMan), as I live not all that far from Neenah, Wisconsin, will Pastor Phelps be at the scheduled Neenah High School picketing tomorrow, as on the Westboro web site, from 6:15 to 7:00 pm tomorrow, February 12? If so, I am willing to drive, other circumstances permitting, to Neenah to meet Pastor Phelps in person and to do so in a genuinely decent way, without derogation.

    There is no person in this world, with respect to whom, I cannot respect unconditionally. Whether anyone else accepts or rejects that is not within my purview.

  2. Geeze…..I take off one day and this shit is here….Slap that WestbuttholeMan around….

    Buddha….is Westboro a town or just a cult in a neighborhood….

  3. I doubt WB would be moved by the thinking of those saints because, as a good Baptist he would know that Catholics are a semi-pagan cult following the anti-Christ in Rome. But my guess is he is just having a lark here.

    I got my bible around age 7 or 8 and over the next 10 years I read the entire thing, several parts I read over and over. I prayed for guidance and sought the wisdom of my pastor and elders. It spoke to me quite clearly. Over the years I have revisited the book and it still speaks the same message. The message is: “this is all bullshit; ancient ignorance and superstition. If there were really a God He would never allow such crap to be claimed as His true word.”

  4. RE: Gyges, February 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm


    Because it’s what they believe The Bible says to do. Which it does.


    That comment gave me a testable hypothesis.

    I have had, on a shelf above the computer I have been using the actual copy of the bible my parents gave me for my birthday in 1950. It has been there for days, while I have been doing various things in this room, including, some of the time, tapping computer keyboard keys as I am now doing.

    Perhaps my bible was not saying anything because it was lonely on the shelf, so I brought it down and opened it to the first two pages of the Book of Ezra.

    Ezra 1:1, “Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, King of Persia, to issue a proclamation throughout his kingdom and also to put it in writing as follows:”

    All those words, and my bible copy still is not saying anything.

    Come to think of it, my I do not remember my bible ever saying anything.

    Could that be due to its not being a Talking Book?

    I did a Google Search, and found the reason my bible has never said anything. I did not get it through the National Library Service, which I now understand is the supplier of Talking Books.

    I guess I my parents gave me the wrong bible, it never says anything to me.

    Of course, I can read the words and interpret the words I read, but I never know that anyone else will ever interpret the words as I do.

    I love having a bible that never says anything, because it allows my conscience to help me make intelligible sense of the words…

    Thank you, God, for giving me a bible that never says anything. 🙂

  5. [youtube=]

  6. It was excellent, raff. So good it made me take a mini-coma on the couch afterward. Thanks for asking.

  7. Gyges,

    I did not know that “Foreign Export” was it’s own style.

    I always thought it was just marketing.

  8. Suggestion for Behr’s neighbor … a giant “Leg Lamp” only requires a bulb in the leg and one in the shade … saves on the electric bill and the fringe on the shade keeps the crows away.

  9. I’m not a lawyer or a law professor, but I see news articles about “nuisance laws” frequently enough, where the author suggests a possible conflict with the First Amendment, that it seems that US law is still, after more than two centuries, in need of a real standard defining when one person’s self-expression crosses a line which infringes on the basic human rights of others so much that it exceeds the speaker’s right to “free speech” (Constitutionally protected).

    I propose that the practical ability of others not to hear the speaker unless we choose to hear (or not to see unless we choose to see, etc.) is a reasonable standard of speaking so “loudly” that it exceeds the speaker’s Constitutional right to free speech. And I think the reasoning that upholds obscenity laws works on a similar principle. Nobody is outlawing the body, but due to cultural norms that transcend any particular religion or belief system, we all believe we have more right to not see others naked than anybody has to be naked all willy-nilly, wherever they feel like.

    Circa 1776, the means to impose speech on others was unavailable, except to kings and the kings’ agents — soldiers, minor nobles, etc. The free speech of citizens was limited to their natural voice (no megaphones or bullhorns, even) and anybody could decline to read anybody else’s pamphlets. I certainly believe I have the right only to hear people I want to hear.

  10. pete,
    Great clip from a great movie!
    I am not a beer guy, but the Bushmills is good stuff. I just can’t handle these days. I am getting too old and it is too expensive.

  11. You know this story would make a lot more sense if it should turn out that Mr Behr cannot tell the difference between atheists and vampires.

    Perhaps if he moved to Mississippi or Texas, he might find himself in the kind of fact-free, anti-science environment that serves as the traditional Christian defence against atheists. And perhaps he might find himself in the kind of neighborhood where the first thing folks do when you move in is build a huge cross and decorate it with Christmas tree lights spelling out “Welcome to Jesusland.”

  12. Well Mr. Appleton, you did indeed start this silly exchange. Now, didn’t you? I am only trying to spread the word and for this I get assailed by petty exchanges. I hope to see you in MN this weekend.

  13. Mr. Westboro:

    Forget it. I try to avoid getting drawn into purely silly exchanges.

  14. Mr. Appleton,

    How dare you suggest a farce. Are you a farce? When you speak with someone are you farcing them? Please kind sir, wit all of your wit, please tell us.


  15. I hope no one actually believes Mr. Westboro is an authentic representative of Westboro Baptist. His posts suggest farce.

    With regard to the issue at hand, Mr. Behr’s neighbor can put Mr. Behr’s commitment to the First Amendment to a true test by installing a lighted 25 foot male member in his front yard and calling it the Shrine of St. Phallix.

  16. Mr. Gyges,

    We have a Mrs. O’Hara that contributes to the overall success of Mr. Phelps livelihood.


  17. Buddha and Raff,

    O’hara makes a nice Irish stout. I’ve seen it in a few places in CO, but not many.

    I just saw something for Guinness Foreign export in the U.S. which makes me very happy. I love Foreign Export style stouts.

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