On Independence Day, Lady Liberty was born again.
As the congregation of the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church looked on and its pastor, Apostle Alton R. Williams, presided, a brown shroud much like a burqa was pulled away to reveal a giant statue of the Lady, but with the Ten Commandments under one arm and "Jehovah" inscribed on her crown.
And in place of a torch, she held aloft a large gold cross, as if to ward off the pawnshops, the car dealerships and the discount furniture outlets at the busy corner of Kirby Parkway and Winchester that is her home. A single tear graced her cheek.
It was not clear if she was crying because of her new home, her new identity as a symbol of religion or, as the pastor said, America's increasing godlessness. But although big cheers went up from the few hundred onlookers at the unveiling, and some people even wore foam Lady Liberty crowns bearing Christian slogans, she was not universally welcomed.
Most of the customers at the Dixie Queen food counter near the church viewed the statue as a cheap attention grab, said Guardia Nelson, 27, who works there.
"It's a big issue," Ms. Nelson said. "Liberty's supposed to have a fire, not a cross." ...
The Statue of Liberation Through Christ, as she is called, stands 72 feet tall from the base of her pedestal to the tip of her cross. She was the idea of Mr. Williams, a very successful pastor whose church, World Overcomers, qualifies as mega: it has a school, a bowling alley, a roller rink, a bookstore and, he said, 12,000 members. ...
"I decree the spirit of conviction on this intersection," Mr. Williams boomed from a podium decorated with red, white and blue bunting. "This statue proves that Jesus Christ is Lord over America, he is Lord over Tennessee, he is Lord over Memphis."
A related aside: Last August, John and I worked on an illustration for a TIA cover story titled "Faith vs. Freedom." We created a pencil rough of an idea that has basically come to life in Memphis, albeit on a much smaller scale (see sketch here). Ultimately the idea was not used because it didn't quite match the focus of the article.
Posted by Forkum at July 6, 2006 05:07 PM