The town of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, is inaugurating a cross-shaped pier Saturday to express its “Christian mission,” a move applauded by Christian leaders nationwide.
The cross should still be a “part of the American fabric… even in public spaces,” the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association president, Michael Badger, told Fox News in reference to the new boardwalk, which replaces the former pier Hurricane Sandy destroyed in 2012.
“We can’t hide our faith,” Badger said. “It’s something we live out day to day, and I would be concerned if there ever came a day when that wasn’t allowed.”
Ocean Grove was founded by a group of Methodist ministers in 1869 as a Christian vacation community, and the town is still owned by Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.
Badger said that he and his team sought to build the “best pier” possible, which providentially turned out to be cross-shaped.
“It’s functional,” Badger said. “But it became obvious to us that it is in the shape of a cross — and how fitting it is for our Christian mission.”
“So this is just a culminating of a design process that sought to create an optimal pier — and we do see the blessing of God’s hand in this,” he said.
The new pier, whose donor-funded construction began in September 2022, measures some 500 feet in length and 24 feet wide at the cross.
The design of the pier has not been without its critics. The New Jersey Monthly said some members of the LGBTQ+ community are concerned that the pier’s design “represents a renewed effort toward religious coercion.”
“There are some people who feel that, in this day and age, Christians should take the crosses and move them inside their buildings and close the doors,” Badger noted, adding that “that’s not a sentiment that we agree [with].”
On Friday, leading evangelist Franklin Graham weighed in on the project, telling his ten million Facebook followers that the move merited congratulations.
“The town of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, is opening a beautiful new pier—and it’s in the shape of a cross!” Rev. Graham wrote. “What a great landmark for their town. They said they wanted to build the best pier possible, and that’s what they did.”
Graham said Michael Badger was correct in saying that the cross should still be “part of the American fabric.”
“I congratulate them on a job well done and their bold witness,” Graham wrote.