Spirituality is very important to me -- I'm an active church member and do a ton of interfaith work.
I also am also a strong supporter of the first amendment prohibiting the government from supporting one religion over another. I read with interest the debates over Christmas displays in the state capitol building. But it wasn't until I walked through the building that I really saw how incongruous and out of place these displays are.
The nativity scene is accompanied by a sign that reads: "This Nativity Holiday Display was provided and erected by private citizens of the State of Washington to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, which is celebrated by Christians around the world."
Just to the left is a Jewish menorah, accompanied by an explanatory sign about Hanukkah. What's the benefit to the public of having these displays here? Is this balance?
Hanukkah, as I understand it, is a relatively minor holiday on the Jewish calendar. Will the capitol be hosting more religious displays for the High Holy Days? For Diwali? For Ramadan? For that matter, what would the "private citizens" think about adding to their sign that Jesus is recognized as a prophet within Islam? I'd love to find out!
I'd prefer to see a display at the public library, with rotating information about cultural and religious holidays from many traditions. The library is a natural place for being exposed to new ideas, and has the resources for those who want to learn more.
Anyway, have a look for yourself: