Mary in the public square

Mary in the public square

Peggy Noonan discusses the efforts of some to ban all religious expression from the public square. The Banners either view religion as an inherently private affair that should be kept out of sight, like people’s sex lives (although some people seem to see religion as more deserving of banishment from public view.) Others simply see religion as the problem, that by declaring your adherence to one religion, you are attacking others with different or no religions, that it is an invitation to violence.

Most interesting is her description of the difference in reactions between her Park Avenue neighbors and her Brooklyn neighbors when she put a statue of Mary in her yard. As she says, the rich are threatened by Mary (and probably any Christian symbol) for some reason, while the people of Brooklyn embrace all religious symbols.

This is what I learned: Censoring doesn’t work. Accommodation does. But a particular kind of accommodation.

The answer is not banning religious symbols. This brings resentment and engenders a quiet seething that does not encourage peace and understanding.

The answer is not to banish religious symbols from the public square. The answer—the pro-peace position if you will—is to fill the public square with the signs and symbols of faith. It is not to banish them from the schools, it is to teach them in the schools.

Of course, not all religions are banned from public schools, just Christianity. Certainly, we’ve seen some school systems teach Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, just about anything but Christianity.

I’m not for banning other religions, except Christianity. If there is interest, let them be discussed and examined and in view. But there does need to be a limit. Teaching Satanism in schools as just another religion or allowing its symbols to placed in the public square with all others is accommodating evil. I don’t know how you could get around it in the current legal environment though.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli