I really need to vent. I am sure some of you will not like what I have to say, but it’s my OPINION from my personal perspective, so that’s the way it will have to be.
I want to talk about nativity scenes. And more directly, a news article I heard last night on ABC. They were discussing the case at the Parker County Courthouse. Volunteers wanted to place Christmas decorations on the courthouse lawn. The courts decided they could not–no decorations at all–and then it was overturned. I have no problem with the city or voluteers for the city putting up non-descript Christmas decorations. Santa Claus, Christmas trees (which are actually Pagan, by the way), lights, ribbons, bows, reindeer…you get the idea. At this day and age, a large percentage of the American population celebrate, in some way, the holiday season. I have a Hindu friend and a Sikh friend who both celebrate the family and friends aspect of Christmas and decorate, even my Jewish grandmother loves the decorations at the holidays, and you have seen pictures of my decorations, but in a public place, particularly and most importantly at a public place of law and government, I think specific religious icons are inappropriate. This building is a sign of the State. And including religious icons on the front lawn bothers me from a seperation of Church and State aspect.
I understand this country was founded by Christians, and I have no problem with “Under God” in the pledge of allegence. That is in it’s broadest sense is an acknowledgement that we are not all powerful and was a historical nod to the Russians to suggest we are not heathens (which we believed them to be during the Cold War). It also expresses the feeling that there is something greater than ourselves out there. The majority of our country believe this in one form or another, save Atheists (not to exclude them, but they are significantly in the minority–and I have yet to decide for myself what is fair to them), so I see no reason to do away with it. But, I am bothered by a courthouse having directly Christian icons on the front lawn. It makes me, as the daughter of a Jew and a Christian, wonder how tolerant these courts would be. Perhaps this feeling is unfounded. A judge is by definition supposed to be non-partisan, but I can’t help but feel uneasy. And that is the problem. It’s not that people want to express their religion in a public way, it’s that in that setting it makes non-Christians (or those of us somewhere in between) unconfortable and less trusting. In a country founded by people trying to escape religious persecution, and set on being tolerant of others religions, symbols such as crosses and nativity scenes on the courthouse steps are not appropriate. Christians have many other venues to express these sentiments, Churches, homes, even businesses if they so choose. But a government building is not right. As many people celebrate Christmas more as a time to be with family, than a celebration of Christ’s birth, holiday decorations seem acceptable to me. I just am having a hard time with the more expicitly religious decorations.
In this same vein, were it to come up, I also do not think a government building should display overtly Jewish or Hindu symbols, for instance. This however, does not seem to be a problem. Although I understand the intentions of those wanting to erect symbols of their faith on the courthouse lawn, and I understand they mean no ill will, it is, in my opinion, highly inappropriate.
Thank you for the venting time.