Monday, December 15, 2008

Relgious Pluralism in the 21st Century

I have to admit that I've been laughing at this story all weekend.
The Department of General Administration, which oversees the Capitol grounds, declared a moratorium Friday on any pending and future requests to put up displays in the Capitol building....

The department declared the moratorium because it received far more requests than it anticipated and that could be accommodated in the display area on the third floor of the building, Valandra said.

The furor over the displays began early this month when an atheist group, reacting to a Nativity scene set up by a private citizen, put up an anti-religion placard. Several pro-religion displays followed.

This week, the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church applied for permission to put up a "Santa Claus Will Take You to Hell" sign, which includes lines such as "Santa's to blame for the dead soldier's fate."...

The moratorium applies to Westboro's application, along with pending requests for a Buddhist display, a Jewish banner, a mannequin of Satan holding a statement against atheists and wishing them a merry Christmas, an aluminum pole in celebration of the invented holiday of Festivus, and a "Flying Spaghetti Monster Holiday Display."

Now I'm a huge fan of letting everyone share their beliefs. I think that is a much better option than the French version where all religious displays in public are banned. However, this has gotten a little out of hand with everyone trying to prove a political point.

If I were to re-write the guidelines, I'd say that religious themes are acceptable. Displays must come from an organized religious group of 500 or more people and only one display per religion.

So what should the new guidelines contain? No displays? Displays for all? Displays that have no overt religious theme? Some hybrid?