Thursday, October 30, 2014

Grand Havenders Unite to "Keep The Grand Haven Cross" With Facebook Page

Original photo via Rick Phillips

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

Yesterday, WMP wrote that Grand Haven isn't divided, and this isn't about equal access. Cross Critics are also frequently wrong about the Constitution.

Nowhere is the unity of Grand Haven more visible than on the "Keep The Grand Haven Cross" Facebook page.

The page, with almost 10,000 likes, has been the epicenter for Pro-Cross Grand Havenders to fight for the Cross and vent about frustrations with Anti-Cross antagonist Mitch Kahle, exposed by West Michigan Politics as a bully who profits off of bullying Christians.

The page is run by Jeff Grunow, a Grand Haven native currently living Arizona. 

He, like a number of Grand Havenders, are extremely passionate about the issue.

"The cross to me is a sign of HOPE for the community-NOT just christian values-but human values."

Grunow wanted the Grand Haven City Council to know what the tradition of raising the Cross on Dewey Hill means to people around the City, and to visitors. So he started a petition drive.

"The petitions are being circulated to tell the City Council that the citizens of the City and our friends across the State and Country want them to defend the cross and support keeping it on Dewey Hill," Grunow said.


Grunow's Dad was part of the original grout that first displayed the Cross on Dewey Hill in 1962.

"My father, Otto Grunow, was part of the group of friends and citizens that planned the Dewey Hill projects back in the 60s," Grunow said. "My 92 yr old mother tells stories of the time, "when all the "men would be in the basement at our house on the east side of Grand Haven, making their plans.""

Grunow is troubled by Kahle's tactics.

"I don't think it's just christian values he is going after," Grunow said. "He seems to pick out "easy" locations, places where they might not "fight" his demands...And his tactics are very nasty, no requests, only demands.That does not sit well with anyone anywhere, even the atheist community.

 Grunow thinks Kahle's views on the Constitution are questionable.

"He twists words to suit his mind set-the interpretations of the constitution he has are convoluted at best."

Residents have expressed thanks to Grunow for his efforts.

"Keep up the fight - we needed someone like you to stand up," wrote Jenny Forner.

"It's always hard being the leader or a fight," wrote Rhonda Terpstra, an active Cross proponent. "Think about all those that went before you tackling issues that no one else wanted to. Keep strong. Call on your faith and know that no matter what the outcome, you stood side by side for the Lord and did not allow Satan to beat you down! Draw strength from that knowledge! Thank you for caring enough to get this going."

Grunow said he the debate is only beginning, and a presentation on the history of  Dewey Hill and the Cross, as well as the establishment clause and Separation of Church and State court cases from a local lawyer is in the works.

"Stay tuned," Grunow said. "We are just getting started!"

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Grand Haven Isn't Divided, And This Isn't About "Equal Access"

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

After a comment by someone on the "Grand Haven Informed" Facebook group, I started to do some thinking.

The Tribune has said Grand Haven is "divided," but I wholeheartedly disagree.

 In fact, Grand Havenders of all political stripes, as well as gays, Jews, and many Atheists have spoken out against Mitch Kahle's effort to bully Grand Haven.

Grand Haven is united. One liberal friend quipped that Kahle is the "Westboro Baptist Church" version of Athesits.

Grand Havenders know a bully when they see one, and Mitch Kahle has a proven track record of bullying and hateful statements.

It's well documented. 

Yesterday, I was accused by fellow GHAPS Board of Education candidate Nichol Stack of "witchhunting" Kahle and told that this situation is all about "equal access."

Nichol Stack: "To answer your question as to whether or not kahle has an anti christian agenda: how the heck should i know??? i have never met him. i am not a part of his facebook page. i have had zero communication with him in my lifetime. all i know is what i've read in the papers: that he's brought before the board a request for equal access to the hill. PERIOD. i agree with equal access. PERIOD. 

If you want to witch hunt kahle because he supposedly hates christians- go nuts...but that has nothing to do with me. you can do whatever you want with what you've dug up about this man. BUT stop trying to imply that those of us that agree with equal access are inextricably linked to kahle. we are not...he just happened to be the guy that brought it to the council. he is a stranger to me -please do not ask me to judge him again....just to be clear, the motion for equal access isn't is unapproved. i choose to have faith in our council that it will ultimately be approved."

I find her post to be very interesting, and it also exemplifies what many of those hostile to the Cross on Dewey claim: this isn't about Mitch Kahle, it's about equal access.

I had asked her and some others if the hateful statements from Kahle listed HERE were in fact hateful. (Warning: Explicit Content Within) 

They wouldn't say.

Let us be perfectly clear: this case has EVERYTHING to do with Mitch Kahle. This is no witch hunt, and he doesn't supposedly hate Christians, he does.

Kahle is the one starting all of this. Kahle is the one comparing Cross supporters to Klansman. Kahle is the one who profits off of actions like this.  Kahle is the one who will have his name on the lawsuit-and yes, there will be one. And Kahle is the one who was recruited by Americans United For Separation of Church and State to come to West Michigan and instigate trouble. Without Kahle, none of this is happening. PERIOD.

(The group sent a letter in winter of 2012 to Grand Haven City leaders, then seemingly dispatched Kahle to West Michigan to find residents who they could co-opt. enter the Pleschers. Kahle has been associated with he group for years, profiting while terrorizing Hawaii families with his ruthless tactics.)

No one has filed a complaint about the Cross on Dewey Hill during summer worship services in the 52 years they have occurred. 

That Cross was originally erected for Christmas-not to promote Christianity and intimidate people of other faiths as Kahle claims.

Also, the only group that has ever been denied access to Dewey Hill was ArtWalk, the art festival in Grand Haven that coincides with ArtPrize. That was because of environmental concerns with Dewey Hill-the same reason Council banned the "Coast Guard City USA" sign-later restored after a public uproar.

The cross is displayed while Waterfront Stadium is rented out every Sunday during the summer. The service is completely voluntary. 

City Manager Pat McGinnis has made it absolutely clear that the space is open to all faiths who would like to use it-Buddhists, Muslims, Jews-whomever. The City passed a resolution in 2013 that facilitates that process. No religious group has ever been denied access to the hill, nor has one ever requested such assess.

For over 50 years, the Cross has been a part of Grand Haven. It's interesting that many of those who preach diversity and tolerance have no interest in putting up a symbol of their own, they just want to destroy the Cross and turn Dewey Hill into a politically charged billboard for their far left causes.

Kahle has been wrong before. He claimed that the Hawaii State Senate's Ceremonial Opening Prayer was unconstitutional, and was actually successful in getting them to end the prayer. 

(Not before cashing in on a six figure lawsuit, one of multiple lawsuits he's profited off of while bullying people of faith.) 

But the United States Supreme Court ruled this year that such prayers are indeed Constitutional, and now Hawaii's Senate may bring them back:

"(The) Supreme Court upheld decidedly Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings on Monday, declaring them in line with long national traditions "

And In an editorial blasting Mitch Kahle, a Hawaii newspaper said Kahle was completely wrong in his attempt to remove crosses from the scene of a tragic mudslide inside of a Hawaii State Park on Mothers Day of 1999. If only the Tribune had such guts.

"CONSTITUTIONAL separation of church and state does not mean that government property must be devoid of any manifestation of religion. Eight wooden crosses memorializing the victims of the 1999 Mother's Day rockslide at Sacred Falls in Windward Oahu were an expression of First Amendment rights, not a violation of the same amendment's prohibition of government establishment of religion. The crosses, which were erected by a grieving relative of one of the victims, should be returned."

They continued:

"Mitchell Kahle, president of Hawaii Citizens for Separation of Church and State, complained last month that the crosses created "the appearance of a government preference for the Christian religion." Kahle's deduction was mistaken, as far-fetched as concluding that a cross seen at the location of a fatal traffic accident is anything more than the sign of a family's expression of grief."

They are also wrong in many instances about the scope of the Establishment Clause.

Let Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion of the Supreme Court in the famous Mojave Cross Case, clarify some things for you:

"The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm. A cross by the side of a public highway marking, for instance, the place where a state trooper perished need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs.

The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society. See Lee v. Weisman, 505 U. S. 577, 598 (1992) (“A relentless and all-pervasive attempt to exclude religion from every aspect of public life could itself become inconsistent with the Constitution”).See also Corporation of Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v. Amos, 483 U. S. 327,334 (1987)

The Court has long recognized that the government may (and sometimes must) accommodate religious practices and that it may do so without violating the Establishment Clause,"

Kennedy also said in the case ruling Christian prayer at government meetings were Constitutional that:
"In their declarations in the trial court, respondents stated that the prayers gave them offense and made them feel excluded and disrespected. Offense, however, does not equate to coercion. Adults often encounter speech they find disagreeable; and an Establishment Clause violation is not made out any time a person experiences a sense of affront from the expression of contrary religious views."

Kennedy also said:

"Nor did the Court imply the rule that prayer violates the Establishment Clause any time it is given in the name of a figure deified by only one faith or creed. See Van Orden, 545 U. S., at 688, n. 8 (recognizing that the prayers in Marsh were “often explicitly Christian” and 
rejecting the view that this gave rise to an establishment  violation). 

To the contrary, the Court instructed that the “content of the prayer is not of concern to judges,” provided  “there is no indication that the prayer opportunity has 
been exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief.” 

That nearly all of the congregations in town  turned out to be Christian does not reflect an aversion or  bias on the part of town leaders against minority faiths. 

So long as the town maintains a policy of non discrimination, the Constitution does not require it to search beyond its borders for non-Christian prayer givers in an effort to achieve religious balancing. The quest to promote “a ‘diversity’ of religious views” would require the town “to

make wholly inappropriate judgments about the number of religions [it] should sponsor and the relative frequency with which it should sponsor each,” Lee, 505 U. S., at 617 "

>>>Why anyone would think a City with an equal access policy that has never discriminated against any religious group should have to be bullied by a shakedown artist into allowing a political sideshow on a sensitive dune area because it rents out space for a voluntary religious service no residents have ever challenged is beyond me.

And does Kahle plan on paying the City as Worship On The Waterfront does? And private donors pay for Cross maintenance-I saw no mention of any type of payment plan in the "demand letter."

We have work to do to make Grand Haven more inclusive for all of our families, but make no mistake: removing the cross will help no one except a few people trying to cause trouble and procure media attention. It will create far more angst and useless drama than anything else.

Grand Haven won't be bullied by the PC Police, and those who are offended merely by the display of a cross would do well to find something worthwhile to get fired up about. 

As long as the Tribune continues to give Kahle a free pass, WMP will continue to speak out.

Because "a bully is a bully, no matter how tall." (Kahle is almost 6'4)

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

Breaking: Meekhof Has State Police Throw Out Reporter, Chief of Staff Attacks SOS Johnson On Facebook

"Senator, do you need guards to protect you from our questions?"

>>>That's what a Detroit reporter asked  State Senator Arlan Meekhof when Meekhof had the State Police throw him out of his office after some tough questions. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

(Meekhof refused to respond to his inquiries, so the reporter went to his Lansing office.)

"Instead of answering our questions, the Republican Floor Leader told us he didn't have any time, then called for back-up. "Can you press security please?" Sen. Meekhof asked his assistant. "Have these gentlemen removed. 

Within seconds, four armed Michigan State Police officers were summoned to have a WXYZ reporter and photographer thrown out. When Meekhof finally left minutes later, he did so with another security guard, keeping a reporter at bay. "

Michigan law says that individuals can donate to certain groups-who engage in blatant political activity under the guise of "educating" voters-and keep their names a secret. But as the story shows,

"Michigan’s Secretary of State tried to change that. Ruth Johnson announced that while she can’t stop ads like these, “...we can make sure the public knows who is paying for them.” Senator Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) didn’t like that idea, and went to work to stop it.

While at a hearing in Lansing, Meekhof slipped language into Senate Bill 661 that would keep those donors secret, forever."

Meekhof Chief of Staff Bob DeVries, defending his boss on Facebook, attacked Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, comparing political speech to religious speech and even invoking the Federalist Papers.

"So Meekhof is for constitutionally protected free speech and Ruth Johnson is not? Good thing Meekhof prevailed."

So much for "Unity!" (That's the popular establishment buzzword they whip out while attempting to get grassroots folks to forget about all their BS. My "untiy fix" has been filled by Gov. Snyder and Terri Land)

 Here is the conversation:

  • Bob DeVries Every restriction the liberals put on political speech today is a restriction they'll put on religious speech tomorrow.
    14 hrs · Like · 1
  • Bob DeVries Thanks to the GOP for resisting liberal restrictions.
    14 hrs · Like
  • Monte Blachford "Michigan’s Secretary of State tried to change that. Ruth Johnson announced that while she can’t stop ads like these, “...we can make sure the public knows who is paying for them.” Senator Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) didn’t like that idea, and went to work to stop it.

    While at a hearing in Lansing, Meekhof slipped language into Senate Bill 661 that would keep those donors secret, forever. Even Governor Rick Snyder—who warned of the dangers of dark money— couldn’t resist signing the bill into law, and allowing secret money to flow in with no limits."
    14 hrs · Like · 1
  • Bob DeVries So Meekhof is for constitutionally protected free speech and Ruth Johnson is not? Good thing Meekhof prevailed.
    14 hrs · Like
  • John C O'Brien Constitutionally Free Speech IS: My Name is John C O'Brien and I think Arlen is off his rocker! ( slight Sarcasm, but I do disagree on this)The whole point of the first amendment is to live without fear to put your actual name on a document. If you are too chicken manure to be honest with people maybe is just shouldn't be said!
  • Bob DeVries John C O'Brien, so what your saying is you support restrictions on speech. The constitution doesn't say anything about anonymous speech doesn't count. In fact, the people that wrote the constitution engaged in constitutionally protected anonymous speech on a regular basis. The federalist papers--arguably some of the most important political speech in history--was anonymous speech.
    12 hrs · Like
  • Monte Blachford Equating Constitutional debate with Political mudslinging? smh
    12 hrs · Like · 1
  • Bob DeVries So Monte Blachford is the judge for which speech gets protection and which speech doesn't. I'm glad that the Supreme Court thinks otherwise.
    12 hrs · Like
  • John C O'Brien Bob DeVries If Thomas (Paine)published his book Common Sense in England he would have been sent to prison and given a trial by the King and Executed. He lived in the United States of America where we Protect your right to freely say what you mean. While there are some areas I disagree with Mr. (Paine), he made a great case for our country. Somehow you are missing the point. The Federalist Papers were written BEFORE our country existed! Learn some history please.
    11 hrs · Like
  • Bob DeVries and yet Thomas Paine published Common Sense anonymously.
    11 hrs · Like
  • Monte Blachford Common Sense was published anonymously AS IT would have been deemed Traitorous to publish such things at that time! 

    The Federalists Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers ALL were anonymous as to NOT influence the outcome w/ personal figures.

    Meekhof covering for his Cronies is NOT anywhere in the same hemisphere as your examples. - - - - AND YES, I am Judge ... Jury, and Executioner!

Rumor has it Meekhof will devate Sarah Howard tonight in Spring Lake. We'll see if he finds the time. He can't have the State Police remove Howard if she says something that doesn't fit his narrative. 

Sarah Howard and Family