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Mayor Has Arm of Whiteville Cross Removed

By Meghan Pinkley
By mpinkley@wbbjtv.com

Instead of a cross atop the city water tower in Whiteville, merely part of the cross still stands. A defiant symbol of the city to an outside group demanding the cross come down.

The group wanted the entire cross taken down, and the mayor said he complied without completely giving in.

For more than a year, Mayor James Bellar has been battling with the "Freedom From Religion Foundation", who has urged the town to remove the cross. Saying it does not honor the first amendment to keep religion out of the government. Although, it has been up there for the last seven years.

Mayor Bellar said he knew ultimately if they sued, the city would lose and would have to take the entire cross down, so instead the mayor came up with the idea to cut just one arm off the cross. But it was not easy for the mayor to make that decision.

"To this very day I don't see that one arm missing, it's still up there,"
said Mayor Bellar.

As you drive around town it is hard to ignore the mass amount of crosses proudly displayed in yards and outside businesses, and the mayor says it is not so much a protest as an affirmation of their beliefs.

"To get the message out there of our belief and our convictions that we're going to stand by and we don't feel it's right that anyone can come in and tell us that we can't display what we believe in," said Whiteville resident, Roger Alston.

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