By: Dean Weiner
A proposed 500 foot long, 1.3-million-dollar pier is being built in New Jersey. Ground has just been broken this week for its. Instruction and it is already mired in controversy.
Dean Balsamini of The New York Post reports, An Ocean Grove beach pier destroyed during Superstorm Sandy is being rebuilt, but the proposed design is shaped too much like a religious cross, LGBTQ and secular residents charge.
Presbyterian Pastor Douglas Grote, who has lobbied state and local officials for divine intervention, likened the rebuild underwritten by the powerful Methodist Ministry Camp Meeting Association to “Christian bullying.”
“I fear that my faith’s lovely cross may soon become as toxic as a Trojan horse for Ocean Grove, Asbury Park, and all of New Jersey,” Grote wrote in a guest column for NJ.com on Aug. 23.
New Jersey news station News12 reports that the group’s COO, Jamie Jackson told News12, “We make no apology for that — we love the fact that it looks like a cross. 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.”
Michael Badger, president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, told The Post, “Our hope continues to be that people of varying points of view will enjoy the peace of a stroll out over the Atlantic on the new pier.”
According to The New York Post, the seaside community of 3,100 — located just south of Asbury Park — was founded in 1869 as a Methodist summer camp. The Camp Meeting Association owns all the land in Ocean Grove, including the beach, boardwalk and the area where the pier will be built. No government funding is required to rebuild the pier.
The group is not requiring anyone wishing to visit the pier when it is completed pay an entrance fee or have any sort of permit. Badger said the CMA did not receive complaints about the design during the public comment period and noted that the plan has been available online for three years.
In opposition to the pier and its religious overtones, Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster, two longtime residents of Ocean Grove, told The New York Post:
“Ocean Grove is a diverse community including LGBTQ residents and people of various religious affiliations, who are never asked for input about the OGCMA projects that impact all of us. … The problem is not solely the pier in the shape of the cross, but the total lack of regard for their tenants.”
“These same progressives would probably celebrate if the pier looked like a Crescent and Star, to them Christianity represents Republicans and conservatives, nothing to do with religion, these people are mentally ill” a local NJ resident told TJV.