Written by Don Byrd
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in an important church-state case that could profoundly impact the way courts evaluate religious displays on public land. In a joint op-ed for Religion News Service, the Baptist Joint Committee’s Holly Hollman and Marc Stern of the American Jewish Committee offer a powerful explanation of why “[r]eligious voices must continue to advocate for the separation of church and state.”
The two groups have filed a brief asking the court to reject the government’s “absurd claim” that the cross can be a secular rather than purely religious symbol. In today’s op-ed, Hollman and Stern reiterate that opposing governmental expressions of a particular religious perspective is not an anti-religious stance. Just the opposite:
Like other religion cases, this dispute will invite arguments about how best to define the relationship between religion and government. Some will claim – wrongly – that our position somehow amounts to hostility toward religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Religion is fundamental to who we are, and our religious differences should be respected. The separation of religion and government protects our religious liberty. The government’s offensive arguments obfuscating the meaning of the cross in this case prove our point.
The First Amendment protects religious diversity and promotes peace despite our differences. The court should reject government actions that divide citizens according to religion, including any attempt to secularize sacred symbols under the false pretense of honoring veterans.
Read the whole thing.
For more on this case and the brief filed by the BJC and AJC, see this previous post previewing the case, which is full of helpful links. And come back to the BJC blog after the oral argument is posted for highlights and analysis.