Students Carry 4-Foot High Crosses

Two college students are lugging 10-pound wooden crosses to and from class and all around campus to demonstrate their faith and get their classmates to ask about Christianity.

Larry Napier and Wouter Ceyssens started carrying the four-foot crosses two years ago at Augusta State University.

"I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was afraid of being made fun of or looked down upon," Napier said. "But it was amazing to see the difference in myself between the moment that I went in and the moment I came out of class. A lot of that fear was kind of stripped away."

The two men live with their families in Alleluia Community, a religious village in this Georgia city.

It was at one of the community's Christian retreats that Ceyssens said he felt compelled to carry the cross everywhere, much to the embarrassment of his 13-year-old brother, who keeps at least 30 feet away when they go to the mall.

"I couldn't be a Christian and be afraid. That's just not Christianity," said Ceyssens, sitting outside a building on the largely commuter campus of 6,000 students.

Professors said the crosses have not been a distraction in the classroom. Ceyssens and Napier have tried hard not to bump anyone by shouldering them like rifles.

"I don't think anyone's threatened by it," said Mary McCormack, one of Ceyssens' professors. "Wouter is an intelligent young man, a charming young man, and not apt to confront anyone at all."

Many classmates do not seem to mind the crosses.

Muslim student Hannah Alattar said the cross is just an expression of religion, like her decision to wear a headscarf.

"It's almost the same thing as wearing a cross around your neck; it's just bigger. It's not like they're going around and preaching to people," she said.

By Lori Johnston