Helpful hint to the legions of Democratic strategists who read this (I hear I’ve got a huge following in — no, wait, that was my stomach rumbling):
When Scalia says that there’s no material difference between legislative proclamations invoking God’s name and putting up the Ten Commandments, he’s (intentionally or not) setting up a trap. He’s absolutely correct, too. I’ve written about this before; Cambridge City Hall has a keystone which explains that the Commandments are the source of the law and which is just as religious as anything Roy Moore did.
So if you say “Yes, thus those legislative proclamations should be banned as well,” you wind up pissing off people who are serious about their Christianity. Should they be pissed off? Enh, it’s a fruitless argument. What is true is that they will be, and once again the Democrats wind up getting framed as the anti-religion party.
On the other hand, if we instead say “There’s nothing wrong with paying our respects to religion in the public space,” and start lobbying for Islamic, Jewish, and Buddhist images and writings to go side by side with the expressions of Christian religion — you still piss some people off, but you put those people in the position of having to be the ones who say “No.” Nobody likes a nay-sayer. “Geeze, buddy, you got something against Buddhist pacifists?”
Heck, start smaller. I think that Roy Moore used the Catholic Ten Commandments, but that seems a little biased. I think if we’re going to put the Ten Commandments up, we should try to put up multiple versions. Hopefully we can respect Catholics as much as we respect Protestants.
I don’t mean any of this ironically. I don’t think a little religion in a public space is a bad thing. I think that religion in the service of greed and personal power is a bad thing, and it’s important to figure out what it is we’re worried about before running off and protesting everything.
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