US Supreme Court - cross is now a secular symbol
By RUSSELL BLACKFORD - METAMAGICIAN AND THE HELLFIRE CLUB
Added: Sat, 01 May 2010 23:00:00 UTC
The US Supreme court, by a 5-4 majority, has held that it is okay for the government to use a cross as a "secular" symbol in the context of a war memorial. In that context, the cross is now de-Christianised, according to the majority, so no question of separation of church and state arises.
This will not please American secularists, and who can blame them? It gives the government much more authority to spray the landscape with Christian symbols, and of course many Americans don't read the cross as merely a secular symbol of the deaths caused by war. Thus, Derek Araujo at the CFI says: âThis endorsement of a sectarian religious symbol for purportedly non-religious purposes should disturb religious and secular Americans alike.â
Well, yes. Quite right. But that's the way a lot of these cases are now going to be decided, by de-Christianising the Christian symbols and interpreting them as "just ceremonial deism" or even as symbols that have, in context, taken on a secular meaning. Once you do that, you can avoid some of the hard questions about separation of church and state, because you assert that such-and-such a Christian symbol or practice is no longer "the church", but now has some non-religious meaning in American culture.
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I enjoyed reading Mike LaBossiere’s post entitled “Church & State: Immaculate Contraception”, but I can’t resist the impulse to add a post of my own – perhaps because I lack free will in the matter, but mainly because I devote an entire chapter of Freedom of Religion and the Secular State to this sort of issue (so it is kind of on my mind), and certainly because it has become even more topical than usual.