As readers may remember, last spring the City of Neosho received a letter from an atheist organization, Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wisc., requesting that the city remove the cross in Big Spring Park.

As readers may remember, last spring the City of Neosho received a letter from an atheist organization, Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wisc., requesting that the city remove the cross in Big Spring Park.
 The letter urged the city to take action but the official statement from the City of Neosho stated the cross will remain.  The cross has been a local icon for more than 50 years and an earlier cross was on the same site.  Both crosses were once part of an annual Easter Sunrise Service held in the park.  
The Neosho Daily News sought reader viewpoints as the debate about the cross continues, here in Neosho and nationwide.  All opinions are those of the individual and permission was given for publication.

Travis Henry:
The U.S. Constitution's establishment clause is clear, the use of public funds to maintain or erect a monument promoting one religion over another is a violation of the law. The people who are offended by the request for removal simply do not understand what the establishment clause really says and therefore view this, incorrectly I might add, as a personal attack upon their religion. All religions should be included, or no religion should be included. The argument that it's been there since the 1930's is irrelevant.

Mark Whitley:
My question is this. Do all crosses that sit on this American soil represent Christ? So I bring this question up because I have been thinking about it as well. To me no. The cross is an important symbol to the Christian faith yes. Jesus die on a cross but the story does not end there nor can it the real victory for Christians in my thought is the resurrection of Jesus is the important part of that not happen he would have just die on that cross. No I'm not taking any disrespect away from the cross. My real question is if the cross in the park does not have any labels that tie it to Christians than is it just not a cross that can mean anything. We use the cross for grave sites for markings. For all kinds of things. Is the the big spring cave that is right there not a grave site for civil war soldiers I do believe. My point being remove or not what you should ask yourself is what does it mean to you. Is it just a grave symbol for some or is it the cross of Christ. If it's a grave than we have to go to the military site in Arlington. We use the cross for those graves and they are maintain with tax dollar money. Should we take them down and just put stones cause that is meant for Christians only. No we should not. We have to come to common ground and understand in our life that we don't live here alone we all have belief and thoughts in life and there is a lot of things to fight about in life that are much bigger. A cross in the park in pretty small to what some people are going through in life.

John Wallis:
As a citizen of Neosho, there is always a sense of pride in the historic nature of the city. I am utterly surprised that the FFRF would be asking to remove such an artifact from our city. I do, however, wish that some Neosho citizens who are supportive of keeping our cross in its place would tone down the rhetoric. Some of the responses I’ve seen to the FFRF have been extremely negative, and I am put off by those who tend to be more radical about the issue. The city should do what it deems best for its citizens, but I would suggest that other religious symbols be considered for display in the park (i.e. the Star of David, the Wheel of Dharma, the Star and Crescent, or the Taijitu). Greater inclusivity of religions and the celebration of diversity is what we need right now. An expensive legal battle could be diverted by including different religious symbols that would show a sense of great pride for people of all religions. After all, America is one big melting pot.

Kelly Oxendine:
My name is Kelly Oxendine I was born in stella, mo. And have grown up in Neosho my whole life except for a few years I moved away as an adult and I lived in Columbia Missouri. The cross has been in Neosho as long as I can remember. I think it should stay it is a Historical land mark as far as I am concerned and being a non-going church person I do not see the harm in it . It is in my opinion apart of the history of Neosho as well as that of Missouri. For the record I think they should have left the pledge of allegiance in schools as well. Just Leave our cross alone. I am 52 years old.

Amy Bellairs:
In my opinion,it seems unfair that the opinions of 5 unnamed individuals is deemed more important than the rest of the citizens of Neosho who value this flower garden outline in the shape of a cross as a part of their park since 1928.. A solution might be to donate this structure to the St. John's Episcopal Church adjacent to the park for display on their property, that way it could be still visible to park goers who love it and be on private land as well.

Kimberly Schafer
Gritten:
 think that a public park should represent the local community. Therefore, I believe that only local residents should have any say about the features within the park. There are several features within the park that I treasure. The archway, the amphitheater, the flower garden with the big clock, the wading pool, the beautiful landscaping throughout, the stone marker listing the "sister cities", the fish pond, the waterfall, the creek, and, YES, the cross. I consider some of these features amenities, others memorials, and some are gifts of nature. There are some with plaques stating the purpose or donor of selected features while others are simply there without any apparent explanation. I believe that if any of the features in Big Spring Park disturb or offend you, you are welcome to enjoy other local parks and recreational sites. However, I also believe that it is blasphemy to use the cross as a symbol of intolerance or to try and force another person's adherence to any faith tradition.

Laura Terry:
When I was a teenager I believed in God I prayed I read my bible and went to church...something very bad happened to me and left me with several issues with God and Jesus and many questions to this day I still have some issues but I believe God exists I don't believe in the way a lot of people do I don't pray
I don't go to church I feel a lot of religion is full of hypocrisy. Now I will not be disrespectful to religion or anything that stands for it. I still believe in somethings I won't push my belief or nonbelief onto someone else. If I don't like it I stay away from it. That cross in big spring park to me is a symbol of hope, strength, and peace  It stands for a lot of things for different people we latch on to the cross to help us feel safe in dangerous situations to feel closer to our loved ones we have lost and to bring us closer to our guardian angels. The cross is not a symbol of hate or disrespect it's not threatening in any manner. For some it's just a design a shape but for others it's a lot more than that and we cherish it for different reasons. The cross has been there since I could remember and should not be touched or moved. If a group don't like being there they can either stay away from it or leave the town. Its that simple