Cross on Murrieta Hillside Sparks Praise, Complaints

Dan Hollingsworth, whose son is former state senator Dennis Hollingsworth, had a 70-100 foot cross painted on the private property behind his home.

A longtime Murrieta resident and father of a former state senator had a visible white cross installed on his property before Christmas, but he plans to keep it on display all yearlong.

Dan Hollingsworth, whose son Dennis Hollingsworth represented California's 36th State Senate district from 2002 to 2010, had the large cross painted on the rocky hillside behind his house and above Clinton Keith Road. Although city officials have said no complaints have been filed with the city, some neighbors have contacted Patch to express their concerns with it being visible from their homes while many other residents have complimented the cross.

Hollingsworth said he did not need the city’s permission to create the cross and he does not have plans to remove it.

“I was just painting on our rocks,” said Hollingsworth, who has lived in Murrieta for 23 years. “It’s all on private property.”

Hollingsworth had a friend create the cross, which he said is about 70-100 feet tall and 300-400 feet from adjacent properties.

“I thought that if people look up here and see that cross that maybe they’d think about discovering the claims of Christ and understanding that he’s the only way they can have eternal life and get with God,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s through him; he died on that cross over 2,000 years ago.”

Visible from Interstate 215, Hollingsworth said the cross took about a week to paint, was completed the Friday before Christmas and then decorated with lights.

Murrieta resident Doug Laramie said he enjoys seeing the cross when he runs along California Oaks Road in the early mornings.

“What a great time of peace and reflection while running that early in the morning,” Laramie said. “I usually love looking up and seeing all the stars, but I now really look forward to the stretch of my run that includes looking up and seeing that cross.”

Adam Huber, who lives in nearby Greer Ranch, said he first noticed the cross while driving with relatives from Egypt. He said they were “amazed” that someone could erect a cross on their property.

“[The cross] reminded me that I am very lucky to live in the U.S. where freedom of speech/expression is a right,” Huber said.

Others enjoyed the hillside more without the cross.

One neighbor who questioned whether the cross adhered to city code declined to comment for this article.

Nearby resident Megan Cusack, who lives on Via Madrid, called the cross an “eyesore.”

“I have nothing against crosses, but I think it looks like graffiti on the hillside,” said Cusack, who can view the cross from her bedroom window. “If Hollingsworth wants to put a cross on his property, spend a little money and erect a large wooden cross on the top of the hill with proper lighting. Respect the cross and make your display meaningful. If you're going to do it, do it right and with respect to the citizens who are forced to look at it every day.”

While Hollingsworth plans to remove the Christmas lights, he said he has no plans to remove the cross because he hasn’t heard any complaints. Instead, he said he’s only received compliments from friends. 

Scott Tucker January 18, 2013 at 08:55 PM
One thing this whole thing proves is that people in general NEED TO GET A LIFE!!!! Worry about your own crap. Get smart enough to figure out that some people are going to do stuff you don't approve of, no matter how many rules, regulations, City Ordinances or whatever get tossed in the way. You don't like the cross?? Don't look at it!! Simple as that!! Like the cross?? Drive by it every day and sing Hosanna's!! People!! GET OVER YOURSELVES!
One Voice January 19, 2013 at 02:47 AM
I like Scott Tucker, couldn't have said it better myself :)
Dave Bruemmer January 19, 2013 at 04:04 AM
Well that's just it. He went out of his way to make certain that we can't "just not look at it". It's freaking 100 foot long! Stevie Wonder couldn't avoid it if he was blindfolded! Are you so dense that you fail to understand something so simple?
WrigsMom January 19, 2013 at 05:09 AM
Right Dave, and he postioned it so HE doesn't have to look at it! If it means so much to him then put it on his front lawn where he can see it! As I said before he is thoughtless and inconsiderate.
LBV Collins January 19, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Hi Scott, I disagree that if we "don't like the cross," we should simply avert our eyes. When driving around town, it's about as easy to avoid seeing as a traffic light. Both are right there in your face... as intended. And for me, that's what's so obnoxious about this particular cross... Hollingsworth intentionally designed it so that everyone who passes by CAN'T avoid seeing it. An incredibly selfish act on his part. And I have no problem with crosses. Drive by them all the time when I pass churches. Their crosses are tasteful, appropriately sized, and aesthetically appealing. I don't mind driving by the cross east of the northbound 215 freeway just north of Los Alamos. Easy to catch a glimpse of it... even though it's only a few feet tall. And I don't mind at all seeing those small crosses alongside the roadway adorned by flowers and candles and photos left by those grieving the loss of a loved one. Those small crosses are a poignant reminder of how dangerous our roads can be. Nope, I don't mind at all seeing the vast majority of crosses scattered about our town. But I don't like Hollingsworth's 100 foot tall behemoth because it's obnoxious, inconsiderate, and an eyesore.
pv January 21, 2013 at 02:43 AM
so it's on private property and a bunch of you are complaining what does it do for non-christians? No one said its against city code etc. So what. if the property owner likes it so be it.
Paul January 22, 2013 at 06:58 AM
I drove up to the nearest street to see the cross from there. Actually it did not seem as large from that closer view. I posted a set of pictures from three locations on Hollingsworth Dr. Each set has a standard view picture and the camera aimed upward and zoomed on the cross view from the same location.. That rocky area made it difficult to locate a cross that would show up good. It would be difficult to paint. I think the designer/painter did a very good job. If I lived on Hollingsworth Dr. I would be pleased to see the cross there. If I were house hunting anywhere in the city a good view of the cross would be a plus for me whether close up or far4 away. My concern would be that it would be repainted as needed in future years to keep it looking good.. But am concerned about the large rocks all over the upper part of that hillside and other hillsides around this area that might be loosened and rolled down in a strong earthquake. They have remained in place through centuries as more and more sand and soil have been eroded from around them and sooner or later they too will roll down the hills.
LBV Collins January 22, 2013 at 05:51 PM
"My concern would be that it would be repainted as needed in future years to keep it looking good.. "But am concerned about the large rocks all over the upper part of that hillside and other hillsides around this area that might be loosened and rolled down in a strong earthquake. They have remained in place through centuries as more and more sand and soil have been eroded from around them and sooner or later they too will roll down the hills." Humph... I wonder, Paul, if Hollingsworth would consider it a Sign from God if the paint fades or the rocks tumble down the hill (possibly damaging the properties below)?
Paul January 24, 2013 at 07:29 AM
Responding to LBV Colins @ 12:36 PM Tuesday comment Many persons around here are slightly aware of the Elsinore Fault zone through Murriera. It is active but slow. It is considered capable of a major quake, maybe into the 7 range. Most of it's roughly 100 shakes during the 20th century have been minor, but one larger quake circa 1906 did cause a number of rocks to roll downhill, and toppled some local chimneys. Since then there has been more erosion around the bolders, especially during the kind of heavy rainfall that causes floods after the ground is already saturated.
Paul January 24, 2013 at 07:39 AM
The pictures of the cross I posted to this article include zoomed closeups from three locations. They clearly show a much larger number of large bolders near the upper portion of this hill than the soil, rock, and bolders mix lower down on the same hill. These pictures are labeled 1B, 2B, and 3B.
Paul January 24, 2013 at 09:31 AM
Does LBJ Collins question whether I believe the rocks on the hillside by the cross are only centuries old? (Young earth theory). No, I said that erosion has moved the soil away from the large boulders over centuries, and as that erosion continues they eventually will be rolling or sliding down the hill. On the contrary, that hill and many other places in Murrieta are made up of gabbro and quartz bearing gabbro igneous rocks dating from the Cretaceous period. That is the last of the three periods of the Mesozoic Era. Geologists now date that duration from 145.5 million years ago to 65.5 million years.
LBV Collins January 24, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Hi Paul. Not questioning you at all, my friend. I completely agree with your point that, due to erosion, the rocks, "...might be loosened and rolled down in a strong earthquake." My point was whether Hollingsworth would consider the possibility that an earthquake (which caused his cross to tumble down the hill) was a statement of disapproval from God.
LBV Collins January 24, 2013 at 10:14 PM
Hi Paul. Like you, I'm aware of the fault. (It's why I tend to avoid looking at investment properties along the Jefferson corridor. I've seen some mighty tempting foreclosures along that strip of land, but don't want to risk having an earthquake wipe out my investment.) I think you're providing good info, by the way.
Kyle Murphy January 24, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Rowe, as you said stop thinking of yourself only. You have a very adamant and aggressive opinion and your right to express it, but how on earth can you expect people to listen when all you do is complain and degrade someone's work on their private property. In my opinion it doesn't look like graffiti at all.
Kyle Murphy January 24, 2013 at 10:28 PM
How is it being "shoved down your throat"?? It's simply a display of his faith and religion( both are rights protected by the constitution). You do not have to get anything from it, stop thinking of just your own viewpoint.
BDM March 14, 2013 at 01:54 PM
You get a symbol of something you should look into more often - might change your heart and your attitude.
Brandon March 25, 2013 at 04:04 AM
I wonder how Christians would feel if it were a massive pentagram instead of a cross.
Jenna March 25, 2013 at 02:17 PM
The cross is a comforting and peaceful symbol to many. It is on PRIVATE property. Brandon, if you want to put a pentagram on your property go for it. Fortunately, we have freedom of religion and speech, therefore if no zoning laws prohibit it, you can put whatever you like on your property. What really makes this community look "ghetto" are all the vacant houses which have been left sitting for months - even years in some cases with the yards overgrown and boarded up in some cases. THATS what will bring your property values down. A cross on a hill would not prevent me from buying a home in a good area. I am not overly religious but I do not see how anything peaceful in nature can have a negative effect. Maybe there should be more such symbols to counter the evil we are enduring in our society now - evil like senseless murder of a store clerk selling guitars just for one example. Take a look at all the evil acts that have occurred in this community over the past couple of years and tell me how horrible it is that someone has a cross on his own property. You do not have to embrace the religion to be tolerent of others beliefs.
Cathy Neumann-Bearse March 25, 2013 at 02:48 PM
EXACTLY .. in these days anyone who doesn't know GOD .. I feel sorry for you! That cross represents a man who came to earth became one of us and died on that cross and took away all OUR sins. I love it .. please don't remove it .. it reminds who I am!! I am HIS
LBV Collins March 26, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Hi Jenna. I think you make some good points (freedom of religion, property rights, zoning laws, vacant houses negatively affecting our neighborhoods, etc.), but for me, that particular cross is a bit over-the-top. (It can be seen from across the valley while driving north on the 15 freeway through Temecula.) Our communities are dotted with crosses... on church property, along our roads and highways, in people's yards, on car bumper stickers... and to the best of my knowledge, none of those crosses has caused the controversy this one has. I have no issue with Mr. Hollingsworth putting a symbol of his religion in his yard. But does he have to put up one that is so garish and inconsiderate of his neighbors who may find it an eyesore... like me? In my opinion, Mr. Hollingsworth's cross is a symbol of what's wrong with Christianity today: Aggressive, judgmental, intolerant. The opposite of Christ's teachings of love and respect and tolerance.
Follower of Jesus Christ March 31, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Oh, the Cross, the Cross...that pesky Cross -- such an affront to the unbelieving world.  1 Cor. 1:18  "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." The message of the cross is not popular today. “You can be all this and all that in Christ,” but no message about the cross.   We have no message BUT the message of the cross. There is no message that Can save except the message of the cross! Without the cross nothing else in Scripture would mean a thing and we’d all still be lost! God made peace through the cross. Man is at enmity with God and through the cross God made peace. We couldn’t make peace because we were under condemnation.  The cross is the only means of approach to God because it is the only bridge that spans the gap between sinful man and a holy God. The cross is the place of judgment and death—it is also the place of forgiveness, restoration and life. It is the place where we are brought back into fellowship with God.  Fellow Christian, as you share the Gospel, always mention the cross. Without the cross there is no Savior, without a Savior there is no salvation and without salvation there is only a hopeless eternity. To reject the cross is to reject reconciliation to God—to reject the cross is to remain at enmity with God and to remain at enmity with God is to be eternally lost. This is God's teaching through His Word. Take it or leave it. Your choice.
LBV Collins April 01, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Good morning, Follower of Jesus Christ. As I've stated previously in this post, I'm not against people displaying the cross. I just wish this one wasn't so big. It strikes me not so much as an expression of faith, but more like waiving the middle finger at everyone who lives in our community.
Voiceof Reason April 04, 2013 at 04:25 PM
I wish it were much smaller and didn't look like it was claiming the city or all nearby lands for Christianity. Half the US or more is not Christian and putting a religious symbol that large, whether on private property or not, offends and alienates half the community. I'm not Christian, and don't want to have to see a huge cross that is visible from the nearby freeway and half the city every day. And I doubt the Christians would like a 100 foot tall Jewish star or some other religious symbol being put on a hill either. If the symbol were for some other religion, I guarantee you thousands of Christians in the city would be protecting. What a bunch of hypocrites.
Sj Salcido June 26, 2013 at 01:02 PM
I realize I'm late to the party. I landed on this article while looking for glow in the dark paint posts. However, I'd still like to chime in here... I grew up in an era where kids still played outside, parents still disciplined their kids and we all dealt with, and accepted things we didn't like. For example, on my street every house was a different color. We identified neighbors we didn't know by things we could reference, ie: "Pomegranate Man" was the guy down the street who had a Pomegranate tree in his yard and he gave us fruit every October. "Pond People" had a koi pond in their front yard (yes, in the front yard..unfenced, and none of us kids drowned in it). There was the lime green house we all thought was ugly, and houses so full of weeds it looked like a forest. Us kids even picked all the weeds and cleared the yard (for free) before the new family moved into the house. Anyway, my point is that back then we were allowed to express ourselves through our homes. Sometimes we (as individuals) liked what someone did with their house, and sometimes we didn't, but none of that mattered. Our worlds didn't end if we had to look at something we considered to be an eyesore, we just dealt with it and accepted it as a part of life. Nowadays everyone wants conformity, and laws to regulate creativity and in my opinion it's simply absurd that people waste any amount of time complaining about things they see with their eyes that the wouldn't have to see if they merely turned their heads another direction. We have an entire country of whiners and complainers, and people who sit behind a computer screen and type negativity when they could just be outside, enjoying the sunshine, and the birds chirping, and the freedom we have to be ourselves in this country. We need to spend less time worrying about what our neighbor is doing, and more time finding peace and happiness in our own lives. Kudos to the man on the hill who went outside, collected rocks, formed them into a cross, and took the time to paint them. Now if everyone else spent a few more moments outside, there's be fewer people surfing the internet looking for things to complain about.
Pattie Roberts/Save the Animals Today June 26, 2013 at 02:45 PM
SJ way to go. Very well put!
Jenna June 28, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Sj, I grew up in that same era and at the time thought i really hated those lime green houses.....now you look around and everything is the same...some shade of beige, white or brown. Wish we could go back to those times when people were allowed to express themselves without their neighbors complaining
Alek J Hidell June 28, 2013 at 11:31 PM
Well, I left a comment saying that the cross reminded me of some villages in Baja, and the comment was deleted. Who needs to have a brush up course on the American Constitution? As long as we don't use racial epithets or profanity, who is the Big Brother doing the censorship on Patch?
Patricia January 18, 2014 at 04:07 PM
Well I have a comment of Theres nothing wrong with a positive message beautifully designed with lights. On most mountains you see a single letter to display the name of the city its near. I have to say that christians would not disagree with this cross being visible. Many people LOVE this and because of this cross I have decided to live near it to where I can see it light up at night. I gives me peace. Grafetti on the other hand is Ugly and messy and usually has a negative message from gangs and disrespectful people. I pray this cross stays as a positive message thats no different than the signs you see on the freeway that say jesus lives or even the crosses on the church's there is no difference. If you don't want to look at it then dint and move somewhere else! Thank You
Patricia January 18, 2014 at 04:15 PM
I also left a comment saying that I don't see why there is such a problem with it. It is beautiful and no different than a church with a cross on top or a single letter painted on top of a mountain to display the city you are in. This is nothing like graffiti. These complaints are ridiculous.
LBV Collins January 19, 2014 at 11:24 PM
@Patricia: As the old saying goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I've seen a lot of crosses around town... on top of churches, next to roadways, on people's front lawns... and they all look fine to me. But this one? It scars the landscape. It IS graffiti. But as I already said, beauty is on the eye of the beholder, eh? ............... But your remark,"If you don't want to look at it then dint and move somewhere else!" is uncalled for and offensive. I live below that eyesore. I have a beautiful home, and my backyard faces that bloodied symbol of human sacrifice. From my backyard, from my upstairs bonus room, from my family room... from my master bedroom!!! ...when I look north, that damned cross is right there. In plain view. In unavoidable view. As "inspiring" a symbol as those grotesque cell towers. And I DON'T want to move. I've lived in this area for years, well before that atrocity was painted on those rocks.


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