An elderly woman in Los Angeles is feeling the heat from her neighbors after they complained that the cross that stands in her front yard is having a negative impact on their community.
Neighbor’s of Laly Dobener say that the nearly 25-foot cross on her lawn is an eyesore, it’s hurting their property values and it’s attracting unwanted attention to their quiet cul-de-sac, The Associated Press reports.
The white cross features faux drops of blood, which are painted near where the spikes would have been driven through the hands and feet of Jesus, a crown of thorns, and a sign posted at the top which reads, “Jesus I trust in you.”
“When you turn down our cul-de-sac, it looks like there is a church on our street,” said Laurie Biener, a resident of the West Hills neighborhood where the cross is located, in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News.
“Many people find it offensive, but people are afraid to say something,” she said.
“I don’t understand what my neighbors are so upset about,” the 72-year-old Dobener told the Daily News. “This cross isn’t hurting anyone.”
She says the cross is a way for her to both express her love for God and show His love to the world at the same time. Dobener’s husband died 15 years ago and her children have moved away, and since that time she’s dedicated much of her time to her Catholic faith.
Dobener says that the cross in her yard is built to the specifications of the Cross of Love movement, which began in the 1980s when a group of church members from Dozulé, France say Jesus appeared to them and gave them spiritual insight.
Dean Broyles, president and chief counsel for The National Center for Law and Policy, provided a general statement about first amendment rights to The Christian Post on Wednesday.
“As a private property owner, generally the presumption would be in her favor, that she can have whatever reasonable structures, whether they be signs or religious symbols, on her property as her First Amendment right of freedom of expression and free exercise of religion,” he said.
He added, however, that he wasn’t familiar with the local zoning and building regulations that affect Dobener’s neighborhood, and indicated that what happens with the cross depends heavily on rules that apply to her specific community.
The Department of Building and Safety says that inspectors will determine sometime this week whether or not the cross meets Los Angeles zoning standards, and whether or not it should be taken down