Thousands of crosses disappear from visual protest against child poverty

Some 4,500 wooden crosses hammered into a Colorado hillside to protest childhood poverty have mysteriously disappeared.

The foot-tall crosses were set out in the formation of a cross on the side of Chapman Hill, Durango, by First Baptist Church of Bayfield as part of its Crosses Project.  Alongside the crosses was a banner explaining that an estimated 19,000 children die as a result of poverty every day.

The church had a permit from the local authorities to place the crosses on the hillside for one month but on the night of July 9 they mysteriously disappeared and no one knows what happened to them, the Durango Herald reports.

Complaints about religious symbols being planted at the city ski slope were received prior to the disappearance of the crosses, according to Durango Police Sgt Rita Warfield.

"Some people thought it was a religious statement, but it was actually to recognise childhood poverty," she was reported as saying by the newspaper.

"It could be that someone who was really offended by it did it."

She added: "I don't know how you differentiate between putting a cross out to get somebody to go to church or to support a cause." 

Gordie Herrick, a member of First Baptist Church, said the stunt was not intended to proselytise and that the removal of the crosses was "disappointing". 

"Why wouldn't somebody want to help starving children?  I don't know what the motivation was."