The Culture War Will Stop. After the Menorah. December 12, 2008

The Culture War Will Stop. After the Menorah.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s atheist plaque in the Olympia, Washington Capitol building has inspired so many other people to apply for their own private displays to be placed alongside the others, that state officials have put a moratorium on all further displays:

The ban will remain in effect until the Department of General Administration can review its policy for private holiday and religious displays in the Capitol. Everything that’s in place now will stay up, along with a previously approved menorah to mark Hanukkah, scheduled to be installed Dec. 21.

Officials said the agency got far more applications than it was prepared to handle, and they worried the displays couldn’t be accommodated in the space set aside.

“The atheist display really charged up a lot of people,” General Administration spokesman Steve Valandra said. “We’ve gotten a lot more requests then we ever anticipated.”

The battle has been won.

The point has been made.

Allowing religious groups to put their propaganda on government property just opens the floodgates for craziness.

Next year, Washington officials can save themselves trouble by just leaving the government space religion-free.

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  • An amazing parody of the madness was posted at ex-christian. It seems that some Santa worshipers are upset at Jesus’ attempts to steal the show.

  • Richard Wade

    What!? No FSM!? A Moritorium!? Without the Raelian UFO!? This is an outrage! This is unamerican! How dare they close the God Zoo before the Rastas can put up a ganja display! How can they call this a holiday season without Hari Krishna guys chanting in the capitol building!? I want my Gaia statue now! Nam myoho renge kyo, nam myoho renge kyo, nam myoho renge kyo, nam myoho renge kyo… We want the God Zoo! We want the God Zoo! We want the God Zoo! We want the God Zoo!

    If we really make them sick of the whole circus, then they won’t let it start creeping back in a couple of years.

  • GullWatcher

    You all seem to think this is such an easy problem to fix…

    You tell me: what counts as a religious display? Is a simple decorated tree a religious display? Is it a religious display regardless of whether it’s called a christmas tree or a holiday tree? According to the bozos that started this whole mess by suing, it is religious enough that if a tree is there, then their religious display needs to be accomodated too, and the lawyers agreed.

    You tell me: where do we draw the line at decoration? If a tree is religious, what about holly as a decoration? What about other greens with nice red bows, or maybe some lights? What about candy canes? Those are about as christmas-y as it gets, but are they religious? If they are christmas-y, how can they not be religious?

    You tell me: what about marriages? The same policy that allows the nativity also allows marriages to be performed on the grounds of the capitol, on the theory that it’s a public space that belongs to the people and should be available for their use. Those marriages usually have a religious offical performing them, should they also be banned as religious?

    You tell me: how many state capitols DON’T have a holiday display? Are there any? Well, enjoy your tree while it lasts. If you think this isn’t going to happen in your state eventually, think again – we’re just the first state, and we won’t be the last.

    What’s the answer? Beats me, but they will never let it be as simple as you guys make it sound – not as long as there is one religious fanatic and one lawyer left in this state.

    Personally, I’d be in favor of claiming all of December as a secular winter holiday, with traditional decorations that consist of anything cheerful that’s not explicitly religious, but I doubt we will ever get anything as simple and sensible as that.

  • I like what they do here in Austin. They let any group that wants to put up displays in a downtown city park as part of their “Trail of Lights”, and given that it’s Austin, they always get a fun and interesting mix of religions. I even heard about a Greek mythology display one year! I think it’s great. Rather than pretending religion doesn’t exist, I much prefer a free marketplace of ideas.

  • Sock

    Or, instead of not allowing any, they just clearly outline what they will allow, due to what “could be accommodated in the space set aside”. Such as, only a tree and menorah.

    And then what do you do?

  • J. J. Ramsey

    The catch with doing that, Sock, is that the rules for what “could be accommodated in the space set aside” could be rigged to favor certain religions, which would fall afoul of the First Amendment establishment clause.

  • Epistaxis

    A moratorium is temporary. When does it end? Dec. 26? That part could make it unconstitutional.

  • JSug

    @Mike Clawson: I think that’s probably a sensible solution. Just get all the holiday stuff out of the Capitol building and put it somewhere else. Because if they want to keep doing this, the number of requests will probably continue to grow each year.

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