Tolerating religious traditions.
Monday, December 29, 2003
We have all seen the stories this Christmas season--they are not new, they are only more so--of the local struggles between what I suppose might be called the forces of modernity versus the forces of faith. Tussles in schools and townships over the Christmas display, the prayer, the T-shirt, the cross, the statue of Mary. It's all a continuation of what Michael Kinsley once sardonically referred to as the crèche menace. But it has moved beyond the crèche: It is increasingly a movement to ban on all public property--and pretty much in public, period--the signs and symbols of a religious holiday that roughly 90% of Americans celebrate. It doesn't even have to be Christmas-related. Last week there was the story of the Florida housing group that banned a statue of the Virgin Mary from the front of a house in the community.
They are very busy, The Banners. They seemed to have calmed down after 9/11, when half the country exploded with spontaneously put-forward religious symbols (crosses, votive candles, cards with saints' faces), and it was somehow . . . allowed. Shock shook The Banners into reasonableness; tragedy concentrated their minds; they retreated. But now they are back, and it is the meaning and actuality of 9/11 that has receded.
Read the entire article on the Wall Street Opinion Journal website.