Jesus Christ on the beach at the Jersey shore raising a glass of wine
Finally, Jesus is coming to Jersey.

A proposed cross-shaped beach pier in the Ocean Grove community just south of Asbury Park, New Jersey is being called a sign of “Christian nationalism” by some locals, who are concerned that the LGBTQ community will no longer be welcome at the beach.

The pier is being rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore in 2012. It is being built by a local Methodist group, which owns much of the land in Ocean Grove.

After unveiling the new design for the replacement pier, which will be open to the public, they were met with outrage by residents, who say it’s a blatant attempt by the Methodist landowners to Christianize the boardwalk and bully the gay community.

The Methodist group says a cross is a perfectly functional design for a pier. They ask: so what if it happens to resemble the universal symbol of the lord and savior?

God’s Square Mile

You might be wondering how a Methodist organization came to own miles of beaches along the New Jersey coast in the first place. Ocean Grove, often called "God’s Square Mile" by residents, was founded in 1869 as a sort of tent revival community for Methodists.

Fast forward to today, and religious elements still hold a great deal of power in the community; Ocean Grove is a dry county, for example, meaning no alcohol is sold there. 

Most importantly, a Methodist ministry called the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association still owns the land in Ocean Grove. Homeowners in Ocean Grove can, well, own homes – but that’s it. The land itself has to be leased from the ministry.

That means they also own the beach and the boardwalk.

The current pier, largely destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, hardly overhangs the water at all. The pier restoration is long overdue, and after three years of fundraising, the Methodist camp is ready to rebuild.

The fundraising website shows the proposed design of the new pier, which is unmistakably the shape of a cross:

A seaside town in New Jersey is about to start construction on a large pier that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, but...

Posted by Universal Life Church Ministries on Friday, August 26, 2022

Touting a 500-foot length and new “observation angles,” the new pier will be open to the public for generations to come. Because the Methodists own the land outright, the township has no authority to overrule the design.

And while some local Methodists claim it's purely a practical design, others acknowledge that it may have a duel purpose.

"We make no apology for that, we love the fact that it looks like a cross," Camp Meeting Association COO Jamie Jackson told local reporters. "This is a religious town founded as such in Ocean Grove and most people are excited we will be able to have this pier shaped this way for these purposes."

Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that some residents are sounding the alarm.

Cheers, Jeers, and Piers

“Christian nationalism” is how one resident described the cross-shaped pier. “Once this pier is built like a cross, I believe that will be the point of no return.”

A local Presbyterian pastor described it as “Christian bullying,” telling local media that he’s fearful for his LGBTQ friends and neighbors.

For many, it recalls Ocean Grove’s past hostility to the LGBTQ community. In 2007, Ocean Shores denied a gay couple use of the boardwalk for their civil union. In 2012 when a judge found that the camp violated New Jersey’s anti-discrimination laws, Ocean Shores stopped weddings at the boardwalk altogether in response.

Still, despite the protests of some local residents, the project is seemingly moving ahead – for now. 

What do you think? Is the new pier an attempt to impose Christian nationalism on the community, as some residents say? Or is the new design truly “practical, functional and an improvement over the prior design," as the Methodist camp claims?

27 comments

  1. Rev. Dr. G. Waldron's Avatar Rev. Dr. G. Waldron

    I know a lot of Methodists. Generally, they are not Christian Nationalist. If the owners want to put up a cross shaped pier, then it is up to them. Methodists and lots of others put up crosses on their churches, schools, grounds, and wear them around their neck. This is just a whole lot of nothing and just tries to stir up the atheists and far left activists. Yes, there are those on the far left like there are on the extreme right. So I am waiting for the attacks from the extremists.

    1. Canadian Yankee's Avatar Canadian Yankee

      I agree and see little controversy here, so why make a fuss. It is their land, their money and they have the right to do with it as they please within the limits of the law.

  1. Krystina S.'s Avatar Krystina S.

    Ocean Grove is part of the Chautauqua Movement. I have been to both Chautauqua, NY (where Salmon Rushdie was recently attacked while giving a lecture)-the originial- and Lakeside, Ohio Chautauquas. There are a number scattered around the country. Generally speaking, they are Methodist-based, but very open minded, ecumenical, and even interfaith. There are concerts as well as lectures on history, faith (with leaders from different denominations and religions and a weekly theme), nature, the arts, health, etc. I have enjoyed attending these programs for a month in the summer because they are NOT preachy religious or Christofascist. That being said, we had a condo in Florida with a cross shaped pier, and the Lakeside Chautauqua has a pier jutting out to Lake Erie that has a cross section, which protects swimmers (when Lake Erie is not too tainted to swim in.) So there is That. I am against religion in the government, and against the pushing of religion on others. However, these private communities (with gate fees for the public during the summer allowing anyone to participate in various lectures, activities, sports, concerts, and classes as well as free gate pass for church services) are benign and there is no proselytizing. I have enjoyed Jewish, Buddhist and combined faith leaders' weekly themed lectures/discussions in particular. So, though I am NOT a member of a Christian denomination, and enjoy an interfaith life, I do NOT have any problem with this pier. I have a problem with ANY PUBLIC DISPLAY OF ANY RELIGIOUS ICONOGRAPHY, PRAYER, SYMBOLS, etc. This is not that.

  1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

    If the Methodists own the property, then they have the right to construct the pier in any shape they choose.

    They have chosen to make it open to the public so I see no problem. As it would also be considered church property they also have the right to restrict usage where it conflicts with church policy.

  1. Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.'s Avatar Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.

    A "cross-shaped" pier is a pier, not a religious symbol, nor a symbol of Roman torture. Christians do not own every instance of a cross shape. Christians in general show when they mean a cross to be a religious symbol, by putting it on churches, not on the ground to be walked upon.

    It takes a fertile imagination with noting important to do to fantasize that the shape of a pier makes any difference to gays at a beach. Nobody cares if you are gay, Atheist, Buddhist or if you play the piano. All are just another person enjoying the beach.

    1. Ealdormon Piparskeggr Robinson's Avatar Ealdormon Piparskeggr Robinson

      The Boy Scout camo where I spent a few weeks every summer has, from a bird's eye view, 2 docks shaped like the above. It's merely an efficient design for enlarging mooring space.

  1. Rev. Dr. G. Waldron's Avatar Rev. Dr. G. Waldron

    Comment removed by user.

  1. Kevin Michael Zurrin's Avatar Kevin Michael Zurrin

    It really doesn't matter since it's "PRIVATE" property. The LGBTQ community has to get a grip. If they're offended by a cross shaped dock, then they need to look within themselves. The same God loves them as much as anyone else. If they were secure in their relationship with God, there would be no problems with a cross shaped dock, or any other Christian symbol. We also have to understand that Satan's plan is to keep people fighting amongst each other, so they're focused on anything other than God's love for all humans; and Christianity needs to get a grip on that. Jesus died to pay for ALL of the sins of the whole world, so sin is no longer the issue. Which begs the question, why do we fight about anything in God's name?

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo

      'ke zu': You erroneously said God loves the LGBTQ-ers as much as anyone else. You don't know the God of the Bible, do you?

      He 'abhors' he wicked. Romans 1:18, John 3:36 shows His wrath is hovering over them at this very moment! His hatred is toward evil doers - as well as their lifestyle - as shown in Psalm 10:31, 11:5, 5:5, 7:11, Proverbs 6:19. Homosexuality He terms as an 'abomination' in Leviticus 18:22, 'filthy' in Jude7! He calls the practitioners of this disgusting, abnormal, depraved practice . . . . 'Sodomites'.

      BUT, He's provided an escape from this evil and its consequences! His Son, Jesus, Who's sacrificial work on the cross which met the just demands of a holy, righteous, loving God . . . . on our behalf - IF we repent!

    2. Rev. Dr. G. Waldron's Avatar Rev. Dr. G. Waldron

      Kevin, one correction. There are many God believing members of the LGBTQ community. Yes, many have gone astray because of persection at the hands of some "Christians", but there are strong faith based people in the community.

      1. flugo's Avatar flugo

        ' well dun', one correction. Many LGBTQxyz-ers have gone astray because they have CHOSEN to entertain/practice deviant, abominable, and depraved lifestyles.

        Some MAY believe in a god, and have strong faith. but their ONLY rescue from a perilous eternity is to REPENT of their wicked ways and satisfy a righteous, just God's demands . . . . by means of accepting His Son Jesus' sacrificial work on the cross.

  1. James C Riggle's Avatar James C Riggle

    I really think we take some of things far to seriously. It's their property... let them do whatever. Lol!

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    So it looks like a cross does it matter their land their money surely they can spend it how they like.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    Love the picture of the Jesus looking guy drinking wine. Does anyone know if it was a fruity Merlot, or a Cab, etc, when he turned water into wine. Just asking for an alcoholic friend of mine. 🤷🏼

    🦁❤️

    1. Rev. B's Avatar Rev. B

      I believe Jesus only drinks Pinot.

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        I think you nailed it! 🤭

        🦁♥️

  1. Rev. MichaelRS's Avatar Rev. MichaelRS

    They own the land. They are paying for the pier. You don't like it, don't go there.

    There. Issue solved.

    But a Presbyterian minister that has a problem with the symbol of the cross?!?

    Matthew 7:15 2 Timothy 4:3-4

  1. William Dusenberry's Avatar William Dusenberry

    Rev Waldron; Every Christian, of whom I am aware, is a “CINO” (Christian in name only) because none of them even try to follow the Golden Rule; don’t help the poor (unless they’re a part of their own tribe (AKA, their own church) and vote for the likes of the demagogue Trump — because once one can be convinced to actually believe in nonsensical ridiculous mythologies — one is able to accept political charlatans such as DJT.

    Ergo, Rev Waldron is correct.

  1. flugo's Avatar flugo

    ' well dun', one correction. Many LGBTQxyz-ers have gone astray because they have CHOSEN to entertain/practice deviant, abominable, and depraved lifestyles.

    Some MAY believe in a god, and have strong faith. but their ONLY rescue from a perilous eternity is to REPENT of their wicked ways and satisfy a righteous, just God's demands . . . . by means of accepting His Son Jesus' sacrificial work on the cross.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      If you don’t believe in Zeus, flugo, I want you to know ZEUS loves you. I know it true, flugo because I’ve read it in a book, people have written about him, and I’ve felt the spirit of Zeus in me 😇

      🦁❤️

    2. Mark Faulkner's Avatar Mark Faulkner

      Doesn’t Matthew chapter 7 of the Bible teach “Do not judge lest you be judged yourself?”

      How would you know if their ways are deviant , abominable and depraved and they are in need of repentance of wickedness…. Unless you have judged them… as if YOU yourself were God.

      Matthew 7:1-6 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.(B) 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.(C)

      3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

      1. flugo's Avatar flugo

        marner': The Greek definitions of ''judging' are centered around 'condemnation'. One can be discerning without being condemning. You 'judge' on a daily basis: what shirt to wear, what words to use in writing, what to eat; where did that smell come from; what does that facial language imply, etc.

        Jesus told us to 'rebuke' (involves judging) in Luke 17:3; to judge rightly in John 17:24. In I Corinthians 2:14,15 we're told how to judge.

        And, by the say, my initial comments were simply echoing God's opinion of the LGBTQxyzer lifestyle.

  1. Mark Faulkner's Avatar Mark Faulkner

    This is just more hate and division from people with nothing better to do than ruffle feathers.

    A three pronged pier…which resembles a cross… maximizes fishing and ocean viewing area as well as adds strength to the pier.

  1. Jed Gaylin's Avatar Jed Gaylin

    https://www.njspotlightnews.org/video/ocean-grove-gets-federal-money-to-rebuild-boardwalk/

    Hmmm...Some more context in the article above. Ocean Grove seems to have used FEMA money to make the initial repairs on the pier in 2014, arguing that they functioned more "as a municipality." So the issue is bit complicated.

  1. Rev. RJ Levesque Jr's Avatar Rev. RJ Levesque Jr

    Personally I don't care what any of these fringe groups feel or think. They live in America which was founded on Christian values and morals. And this is from a Pagan Priest.

  1. Rev. Gordo's Avatar Rev. Gordo

    I'm betting there are many docks across the USA and I'm 99% sure in other countries that also have a dock in the shape of a cross. What's the big deal?

  1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

    In God we trust!!!

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