It’s about the Constitution

Q: Should the White House, whose residents serve all Americans, display a crèche or a menorah or any strictly religious … Continued

Q: Should the White House, whose residents serve all Americans, display a crèche or a menorah or any strictly religious symbols during the holidays?

The members of the Obama family ought to be able to observe their own faith traditions as they choose in their private residence. In the public areas of the White House, however, every American ought to feel at home, not a guest. The display of a creche makes a religious statement and is as out of place as…well, as a chanukkiyah (menorah) that is kindled according to Jewish ritual requirements.

I am not a person who believes that my religious freedoms are endangered by the sight of a tree or a devotional tableau. This question is not about “what harm could it do” — the answer is, “not much.” Instead, the question has to do with what is consistent with the principles of the Constitution, and a creche in the East Room of the White House isn’t.

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  • kekc

    According to the Supreme Court, displaying a creche on public property is consistent with the Constitution. See Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984). The publicly-sponsored Pageant of Peace has contained a creche for years.The Court has also ruled that the public display of a Chanukkiyah is permissible. See County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573(1989).You are free to agree or disagree with those decisions, but the Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution, and it has spoken in this area.

  • cato42

    Religion is mentioned but twice in the U.S. Constitution: first in the context of public office, prohibiting “religious tests” for same. The second, and last, is that of the First Amendment, in which one reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”I fail to see how this does or should preclude the placement of a creche–or any other religious item, for that matter–in whatever room of the White House the President and his family might choose to place it.One can argue that since the relevant provision was passed, its meaning has become broader, but that way lies insanity. The meaning of the amendment has not changed. The ways in which some wield the First Amendment as a blunt object against their foes is often excused by such claims, but it’s stated too clearly for any reasonable controversy. This is NOT about the Constitution. And fluttering around the point by saying it’s about what is “consistent with the principles of the Constitution” doesn’t work. The principles of the document are clearly laid out within itself.That said, it should not automatically be assumed that such an action is without political meaning and possible repercussion. But that’s why we have elections every now and again–to boot the bums out should they too greatly sin in the public’s mind.