Ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a global pandemic on March 11, people all over the country have been gripped with fear. Having never gone through something this dire, many had no idea had to react.
In order to extinguish feelings of despair and uncertainty, a family in Georgia started a movement to erect crosses strung with Christmas lights. The campaign dubbed “Faith Over Fear” gives hope and points others to the Light of the World during this crisis.
As news of COVID-19 gained momentum earlier this year, people decided to leave their Christmas lights up longer than usual. Some even pulled them out of the box to redecorate. This gesture evoked feelings of comfort and peace as a reminder of the Messiah who came to rescue us from sin.
Susan Polhill of Louisville, Georgia, took the Christmas light initiative from the manger to the cross. She planted a cross in her front yard and decorated it with Christmas lights. She is currently giving away bamboo crosses and zip ties and encouraging others to do the same.
Polhill hopes the crosses demonstrate that Christ is the only one capable of helping us through the pandemic. “Through prayer, we come together as a community in faith, asking the Lord to heal our lands and give our leaders and medical people the knowledge they need.”
Conservative radio host Erick Erickson received push back after he posted an image of a cross decorated with Christmas lights in his front yard. Newsweek magazine published an article on Sunday accusing Erickson of “placing a burning cross in his front yard.”
After Erickson published an article responding to the accusation, a commentor immediately berated him.
“Seriously, the first association that came to mind when I saw your lawn snapshot was the KKK and burning crosses,” the comment read.
Another commentor added, “Another southern “christian” downplaying the racism that has shaped their regional history. And the religions slow death will continue.”
Historian Jemar Tisby, who leads The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, suggests focusing on charitable giving rather than “insensitive symbols.”
Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious and African studies, says the “Fear Over Faith” campaign is misguided. She says that fear can actually save you and those around you. “Stay inside,” Butler said. “No one is going to be out at night to see that cross anyway.”
The “Faith over Fears Crosses in Middle Georgia” Facebook page has well over 15,000 members. Other Facebook pages have begun popping up covering areas in Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky. In fact, Shelli Gibbons, a resident of Hart County, Kentucky believes the decorated crosses are a good way to keep our minds focused on God during these difficult times.
“I think placing these crosses in our yards just has kinda given us something to take our minds off of everything and to put our minds and center our minds on God,” she told a local ABC affiliate.
As for radio host Erick Erickson, he’s going to keep his Christmas cross in his lawn for all to see. He may even “take it up a notch.”
“On the internet, pagans are mad because someone prominent has wrapped Christmas lights around an Easter cross to remind people of the light shining in the darkness,” Erickson wrote in his response to criticism. “They’ll try to shame me because of who I am and they will use that to try to silence others. Me? I’m going to buy extra lights to make the cross shine brighter.”