Cross To Behr: Owner Refuses Order To Take Down Atheist-Converting Lighted Crosses

We previously followed the controversy over the nuisance created by a man who erected giant lighted crosses to convert or deter atheists, but succeeded in primarily blocking the sleep of his neighbor. Now, Carl Behr is refusing to take down the crosses by citing his duty to a higher law.

What is interesting is that the Baldwin Borough Council just passed the law giving them authority over lighted displays on Tuesday. The new law requires a permit.

However, Behr refuses to comply, insisting “It’s been about the Lord since the beginning and if anyone tries to make me remove them, they will only anger the Lord.”

That does not exactly make him the Sir Thomas More of Baldwin. He may want to focus on more mundane arguments. The timing of the order vis-a-vis the enactment of the law could offer some arguments. Moreover, there remains the question of the status of holiday lighting and whether this can be viewed as a temporary and not a permanent sign. Then there is the question of whether they can prohibit the crosses if he takes down the Christmas lights but leaves up the crosses.

Here is the ordinance: LightingOrdinance

It seeks to provide “light trespass” from any outdoor lighting. Under section 4, “seasonal lighting” is exempted. It is only allowed for sixty days though it is not clear what will constitute the “season” recognized under the law.

Generally, courts reject aesthetic nuisance claims but courts also tend to defer to the government in regulation of signs. Such regulations must however be content neutral. The council insists that this law has been in the works for a long time — before the Behr controversy. Of course, this is not commercial speech. Behr could question whether other people will be barred from putting up lighted religious symbols in an equal protection claim. He may, however, win over even fewer judges than he has atheist converts as a result of his signs.

If those arguments do not work, Behr can go to his final hearing before the Baldwin city council and announce “I live as Baldwin’s faithful servant, but God’s first.”

Source: CBS

Jonathan Turley

26 thoughts on “Cross To Behr: Owner Refuses Order To Take Down Atheist-Converting Lighted Crosses”

  1. AY: “I don’t think that they use electricity as a primary means of illumination…”

    Yes, that’s their whole problem really, they’re stuck in the past.

  2. someone who lives on that street – please build a giant darwin fish with legs and aim it at your neighbor’s cross.

  3. …citing his duty to a higher law.

    I thought we only had to worry about the rampant invocation of sharia law in states in America. I assume this is a big problem because at least two states legislatures are considering outlawing sharia. How do they deal with this bozo putting HIS brand of religious insanity above and before the US Constitution? Sounds an awful lot like sharia, Taliban, islamofacism, etal. to me.

  4. LK,

    I don’t think that they use electricity as a primary means of illumination….call me skeptical… but hey…what do I know….

  5. Elaine M.: “Praise the Lord–and light up the cross!”


    LOL, a sentiment equally at home on the Nathan Forrest thread! 🙂

  6. tomarch:

    I bet if Bill O’Rielly walked by it, he would ask, “How did it get there? How? HOW?!” Then declare that there IS a god because god put it there.

  7. So a doubting Atheist stumbles across this scene. Mr. Behr cries out, “See how big my lighted cross is! Clearly, you should convert to the Irritating Jerk branch of Christianity because this cross is so much larger than, um, other things! That’s what’s important in religion – how big your physical symbol is!”

    The wavering Atheist stands there, clearly wracked with thought, peering up at the large, illuminate cross, then glances to the side. In an instant, he stands up straight, calm and serenity washes across his face. He turns to Mr. Behr and says, “Sure, your cross is very big, but look at how big the vast nothingness standing next to it is! The void to the side is far, far larger and more impressive! I’m staying an Atheist!”

  8. Gyges:

    “On the other hand, I’m a big fan of the Mount Lindo Cross, but that’s because I’m a sucker for a sappy story.”


    Lol – aww, you’re forgiven for being the “sensitive type.” 😀

  9. “It’s been about the Lord since the beginning and if anyone tries to make me remove them, they will only anger the Lord.”

    That’s all fine and dandy so let the Lord smite your neighbor in his good time. In the meantime, take the damned thing down and let them get some sleep before they suffer the Lord’s wrath!

  10. His neighbor exclaimed: “And a blinding light fell across my countenance.” It was the light of irritation, the light that preventeth me from partaking in the fair ointment of sleep. Sleep which the good Lord hath granted all his creatures”

    Personally, I think Mike A.’s solution of a giant lighted penis is a good one. PTL!

  11. Couldn’t the council put a limit on the size of a display and how close it comes to a neighbor’s property? I would think if the display were too tall and too close to a neighbor’s property line, it could cause damage it ever fell over onto the neighbor’s property.

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