A case for religious icons



Jimmy Connors

A debate that exists concerning whether or not religious expressions, such as prayers, slogans, statues, monuments and Christmas displays should be allowed on public property or in private institutions. Some argue that allowing this is unconstitutional and that it violates the doctrine of separation between church and state. I firmly believe that it does not contradict the Constitution and there is no issue with having religious symbols on public property.

According to the United States government, “the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.” The act of having religious symbols on public property violates no part of that. The original intent of that amendment was to ensure that the government would not pass laws giving preferential treatment to any specific religion with no justification, just because it may want to. 

Moreover, the United States is by no means a secular state and much religious activity exists within the population. American religious beliefs should be encouraged, not suppressed or hidden. No one religion holds all of America’s population as its members. The wide spectrum of religions in America should be accepted and celebrated. Multiple religions should be represented when it comes to symbols on public property and in public institutions. 

Some people argue that all religious symbols should be banned from public property because they offend those who don’t belong to that religion or to those who don’t believe in God. However, if there is a Christmas display on government property and a Muslim feels uncomfortable about that because he or she feels that the government is promoting Christianity, there is no law prohibiting that same Muslim to have an Islamic religious expression erected on that same property. I believe that if there is a religious expression on public property, then expressions of different religions present in the country can and should accompany it. Ideally, I would like to see many expressions of varying religions on the same public property to show that Americans are diverse and tolerant of each other’s religion. The argument to permanently ban all religious expressions from public property isn’t a strong one. We are a religious people. Let’s be proud and show it.