Nativity out but other "secular" religious symbols okay, says judge
The rule on religious expression and government property generally works like this: acknowledge one religion, and you have to be open to acknowledging them all.
This is the philosophy the New York City Department of Education used when it set up its holiday display with every possible symbol: a Christmas tree, menorahs, dreidels, a crescent and star, a Kwanzaa candelabra, Christmas wreaths and bells, Santa Claus, and a snowman.
Andrea Skoros, a mother from Queens, noted something missing: a crèche. "I just think that if you're going to put up religious symbols, then you have to respect all religions," she explained. "If you have Jewish and Muslim symbols, then it's not enough for Catholics to have a Christmas tree. We should be able to display the Nativity scene, too."
Ah, but not so fast, said a federal judge ruled yesterday. None of the current displays are religious. The menorah and crescent and star may have a religious history to them, but they "have developed significant secular connotations," Judge Charles Sifton said. Not so with the Nativity, which is "purely religious." (No word on which category the cross would fall into.)
"I don't understand how [Sifton] can say a menorah is not a religious symbol," said Skoros, who had also complained that her sons were taught the story of Chanukah, but not Christmas. "That blows my mind." Not that she expected to win. "I didn't think that a judge in New York state would rule in favor of Christians," she told the New York Post. "It's too liberal. They're worried about hurting everybody's feelings."
Skoros is backed by the Thomas More Law Center, and plans to appeal.
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