WMBF News South Carolina reports that a man appears to be hanging from a cross on the grounds of the First United Methodist Church located off North Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. Curious onlookers stopped to take pictures of the man. Bruce Davenport, the associate pastor and friend to the man on the cross, was there to answer questions.
“There’s a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, so this visual is to help communicate, and hopefully give dialogue,” Davenport explained to WMBF News.
Davenport explained that the man has been doing the reenactment now for three years. Davenport is from Langston Baptist Church in Conway and is thankful the First United Methodist Church let this display happen.
“Some will be supportive, and he’s had some that will sort of heckle and say you need to get down from there,” Davenport remembered.
Davenport explained that to this man, it’s never been about how many people his message affects.
“Even if it was just one or two, that’s enough for him,” Davenport said.
This practice is not an isolated incident. In the Philippines, dozens of men yearly subject themselves to be “crucified” as a way of appealing for atonement.
On Good Friday, 18 men walked through the streets, whipping their backs, splashing onlookers with flecks of blood, and allowing themselves to be nailed to a cross in honor of Jesus Christ. Unlike the man in South Carolina, these Catholic faithful use real nails and suffer real pain during the Passion Play.
Yahoo! News reports that this grisly Easter ritual persists despite Church disapproval. Foreign and local tourists flocked to the outskirts of the city of San Fernando, a 90-minute drive from Manila, to see the annual spectacle.
While the 18 men chose to be nailed to the cross, other participants lashed their backs with cloth and bamboo whips, doing penance for their sins. The devotees commit to undergoing the mock crucifixion in exchange for a gift from God, such as the healing of a sick loved one.
“I am used to it already,” said Alex Laranang, 58, who was nailed up for the 14th time.
Laranang, who sells baked buns to bus passengers, said, “It is just like a needle going through my hand. After two days, I am ready to go back to work again.”
Other participants were not as hearty. At least two of the men hung on crosses had to be carried away on stretchers after being taken down.The mock crucifixions have been going on for decades despite official disapproval from the Philippines’ Catholic bishops.
“The bishops have been saying for a long time they disapprove of this. But people make such vows. They sacrifice themselves for others,” said Father Francis Lucas, executive director of the Philippine bishops’ media office. “We have so many crosses to bear in life. We don’t need to bear a real one.”
The mock crucifixions provide more than atonement. It also boosts tourism. San Fernando City conveniently listed the locations and schedules for the mock crucifixions on its tourism website, complete with a map so visitors could follow the action.
Want a more gentle way to celebrate Easter? Click here.