Many of the residents wanted to preserve the historic structure of the building. From WesternJournalism.com:
The church, formerly known as Holy Trinity Catholic Church, was built about a century ago by German immigrants. The church closed four years ago, and its parishioners merged with a nearby congregation. Those opposed to the removal of the crosses, however, contend the act would amount to defacing the property.
A nonprofit group called the North Side Learning Center paid $150,000 for the property and, since taking ownership of the church and school, director Yusuf Soule has been a public advocate for turning it into a mosque.
In order to worship in the space, he contends, the crosses must be toppled. Leaving them up, he said, would violate the faith’s ban on worshiping idols.
Several residents addressed the board this week, expressing their desire to see the architecture preserved. Others spoke in favor of stripping the building of the crosses.
Before board members could even vote on the matter, Chairman Don Radke warned them that they were prohibited from interfering with a group’s religious freedom. In the end, the decision fell on the side of the Muslim group.