Memphis church building Christian Statue of Liberty

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A Memphis church will unveil this weekend a 72-foot-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty, except this Lady Liberty holds a cross instead of a torch.

World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church is planning to unveil the statue that mixes Christian and American themes during a special Fourth of July ceremony at their 12,000-member church.

The Statue of Liberation also replaces the famous inscription with the lines "Give me your tired, your poor..." with Roman numerals representing the Ten Commandments.

Church pastor Apostle Alton R. Williams said that the seven spikes on her crown - originally representing the seven seas of the world - now signify the seven redemptive names of Christ.

A tear falling from her right eye represents her concern for America, Williams said. Church members said that the Statue of Liberation shows "America belonging to God through Jesus Christ."

"People don't talk about Christ anymore and our morals are gone," Williams said. "People cannot drive by our statue without thinking about their relationship with God."

But the $260,000 statue isn't a welcome sight for the entire community. Evelyn Douglass, 11, said she walks the long way home to avoid seeing the "big green thing."

"The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of the United States of America. The cross represents a specific religion," Douglass said. "It's not right that they are mixing the two. That church is trashing the meaning of America."

Across the street from the statue, Mapco Express manager Mary Preyer said she is looking forward to seeing it unveiled completely.

"I like the idea of the Statue of Liberty holding a cross representing freedom through Jesus Christ," Preyer said. "I just think its funding could have been put to better use for the neighborhood. It's definitely got people talking."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)