Drivers passing a busy intersection in Lehigh Acres, Fla., were surprised to see a gruesome Good Friday crucifixion display on public property, featuring a live Jesus with bloody wounds, reports Fox News 4.
"When Jesus was crucified, he was done so right on edge of down where everyone would come by," explained an organizer of the display, which featured Lathan Gareiss as Jesus, according to Wink News.
Not everyone wanted to see the bloody exhibition. Deputies arrived on the scene after receiving complaints about the realistic tableau, which caused traffic and "near accidents," according to one of the organizers.
A spokesman for the Lee County Sheriff's office told Fox 4 that "the display was creating a public safety hazard because of traffic danger." Deputies for the sheriff ordered the man playing Jesus to come down off the cross, a decision which angered some supporters.
"It's ridiculous that they're making you take him down," one woman said to the organizers. Another chimed in, "I really think we need to recognize and be reminded of what Jesus did for us."
Gareiss hung from the cross for three hours before he was forced to come down. "This is just something that I was moved to do," he told Wink News.
Good Friday commemorates Jesus' Passion story, which recounts his betrayal, trial, and crucifixion as described in the Christian gospels. Some Christians observe the day by participating in or watching processions re-enacting Jesus' journey to the site of his crucifixion while carrying his cross.
In response to the claims that the realistic blood and wounds covering the actor's body were inappropriate for children and onlookers, a woman commented, "Kids need to see how he was born and hung from the cross for us." Another declared, "Jesus is appropriate for everywhere."
Gareiss agreed that the display was not inappropriate. "Easter is not about bunny rabbits and little chicks," he said. "This what our Christ endured for us. For our sins. And to hide that, is to not to live to the true faith of what he did for us."