Christian crosses and other home-made religious road side memorials are typically
used to mark where a family member or
friend was killed in a highway accident.
The situation in Oregon:
In the year 2000, State Senator Marilyn Shannon (R-Salem) promoted a bill to legalize
private roadside memorials. She wanted the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)
to establish some reasonable guidelines so that people can install and
maintain their own memorials. She told reporters: "I believe ODOT
should be filling potholes, not posting memorials...That's not their job."
Apparently in response to this bill, some strange signs mysteriously
appeared along Highway 22 and 99E in Oregon on 2000-JAN-23. The
perpetrator(s) remain unknown. The markers were all crosses with unusual
A Nazi Swastika symbol.
The letters "KKK," apparently a reference to a
infamous anti-black, anti-Jewish, anti-homosexual and anti-communist
A slash mark, which is the international symbol for "do
not" or "none."
The number "666" which is used in the Book of Revelation
in the Christian Scriptures to refer to the Antichrist.
A skull and crossbones symbol, typically used to indicate poison or death.
Letters to the Editor that were critical of the use of Christian were sent to a local
newspaper. The writer complains that crosses are offensive and
inappropriate. The author wrote that the defaced signs were intended
to "memorialize the tragic loss of common sense."
Although the markings symbolized Nazism, racial hatred, religious hatred,
homophobia, hatred of Communists, Christianity, and death,
Senator Shannon allegedly stated that she: "knew all along this
was about atheists not wanting to see crosses on a public right of way."
According to a Statesman-Journal newspaper article by Abe Estimada
"Shannon said she believes the signs are the work of
atheists who oppose the symbol of the cross and the Christian faith it
represents." The atheist theme was picked up by the ReligionToday
news service. They stated that "Atheists and Christians are on a
collision course over roadside memorials in Oregon."
The authorities were unable to determine who the perpetrator was. If the symbols that he/she used are any
indication, he/she/they might be a neo-Nazi, white supremacist, anti-semite,
homophobe, Christian or anti-Christian. The
slash symbol might even indicate a person who supports the separation of church
and state. There were no
indications that an atheist was involved.
Dave Fidanque, spokesperson for the Oregon American Civil Liberties
Union, commented that if the state allows religious memorials it must also
allow markers by atheists or any other group. "Once you open the
door, you open the door to all kinds of memorials...You might not be very
happy with what happens down that road..."
Senator Shannon's bill did not proceed. Oregon now prohibits all roadside
shrines and memorials. 2