Ocean Grove, New Jersey was founded more than 150 years ago as a religious retreat for Methodists. A place along the Jersey Shore where people of faith held summertime revival meetings.
Back in 2012 their giant pier was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy.
And for the past ten years the Camp Meeting Association has been planning to replace their pier.
Ocean Grove, referred to as God’s Square Mile by some of its residents, is a seaside community of roughly 3,000 residents located just south of Asbury Park. It’s technically not its own town — Ocean Grove is a small section of Neptune Township, set aside with a unique charter.
It was founded more than 150 years ago as a summertime, tent-revival religious retreat. It was governed by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist ministry, as a religious enclave for 100 years until the New Jersey Supreme Court declared its charter unconstitutional after a series of lawsuits.
However, the Camp Meeting Association still owns all the land and has enormous influence on the community and its residents. When buying a home in Ocean Grove, residents must enter into a land-lease agreement with the camp, meaning while residents and businesses can own buildings in Ocean Grove, the Methodist group owns the land.
The camp’s authority also extends to the beach, boardwalk and all its associated staff and activities.NJ.com
But the cross-shaped design has caused big problem with gays who live nearby.
They say the cross-shaped pier is offensive and one local resident said it was a form of Christian bullying.
“Members of the small seaside town’s LGTBQ+ community and allies are saying the cross crosses a line, but many are afraid to voice their grievances with the Camp Meeting Association,” retired minister Douglas Grote told NJ.com. “The cross-shaped pier feels like Christian bullying.”
Spoken like a truly woke preacher.
“I am so deeply concerned,” he said. “And I am so concerned from my neighbors who are scared and bullied.”
Attorney Shane Martins – who happens to be gay – said the cross-shaped pier is a sign of Christian nationalism. He told the newspaper that people are being hurt by the design.
“Once this pier is built like a cross, I believe that will be the point of a no return,” he said. “To say that (cross-shaped pier) doesn’t represent Christian nationalism — anyone who says that isn’t being honest.”
It takes a special sort of ignoramus to conflate Christian nationalism with a giant fishing pier shaped like a cross. And anyone who says otherwise is not being honest.
The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association says they are proud of the cross design and they don’t seem too bothered by critics.
“We make no apology for that, we love the fact that it looks like a cross,” chief operating officer Jamie Jackson told News 12 New Jersey. “This is a religious town founded as such in Ocean Grove and most people are excited we will be able to have this pier shaped this way for these purposes.”
They also point out the pier is technically on private property along a private boardwalk on a private beach.
So if somebody gets triggered — they are more than welcome to take a long walk on somebody else’s short pier.