Citizens voice opinions on Father Marquette Memorial.

January 23, 2018

Resident Phil DeVries addresses the Board of Trustees.


Citizens voice opinions on Father Marquette Memorial.


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — Over 40 people expressed their opinions about what Pere Marquette Charter Township Board of Trustees should do about the Father Marquette Memorial on Buttersville Peninsula. The purpose of the public meeting, held Tuesday at L.F. Peterson Auditorium was to give the public an opportunity to speak in response to legal action that was threatened last fall by Muskegon resident Mitch Kahle and his group, the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists. Kahle claims the township is violating the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Kahle claims the large cross is a religious symbol and does not belong on government-owned land.

The memorial is located on the Buttersville Peninsula, at the place where it is beleived that Father (Pere in French) Jacques Marquette, a French missionary, died in the 1670s. While a memorial has existed at the site for many years, the current memorial was built in the 1950s. At the beginning of the meeting Township Supervisor Paul Keson explained that the controversy began when the township decided to restore the cross at a cost of about $75,000, money that has been set aside for several years. The cross is currently undergoing the restoration.

While the intent of the meeting was to allow members of the public an opportunity to voice their opinions about the memorial, no legal action has been taken against the township at this time. 

Of the people who spoke, not one person suggested that the memorial should be taken down. A few people suggested that the memorial would be better served if the property were private, rather than public. The majority of those who spoke referenced the historical nature of the memorial rather than its religious symbolism.

Keson said he believed the meeting went well. “It was a chance for our community and our residents to express their opinion.” He said the township board will continue to consult its attorney on the matter.

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