The “religious display” issue is relatively simple.
If you happen to have art in a courthouse that has a religious overtone to it, but it is not there to promote, nor to seemingly promote a particular religion — then that is constitutional. That is why the frieze at the Supreme Court is fine — even though you can find Moses holding a version of the ten commandments there (f you look hard enough). On the other hand, when some hillbilly idiot decides that this is a “christian nation” and by golly, he’s gonna show us all that is the case, and he then plunks down a ten ton granite block with his particular version of the ten commandments inscribed thereupon, then we have a First Amendment issue.
Here we go again. Below, you’ll find Slidell, Louisiana’s claimed “secular” display.
This bothers me on two fronts. First off, why can’t we just respect the First Amendment? Is that so damn hard? Perhaps the icon is not there to promote christianity (yeah, right). Lets just presume that it isn’t. Isn’t it obvious how a buddhist or a muslim might feel, walking through that doorway? Lets put it another way. What if that picture were a satanist’s pentagram? Would christians feel like they were going to get a fair shake in that courthouse?
Second, if the zealots who push these issues thought about it for a moment — their conduct doesn’t convince anyone to come over to their side. Every time one of these cases arises, christianity gets a bum rap. The intolerant evangelical types, who do not speak for christianity as a whole, become the public face of an otherwise-respectable belief system.
Congratulations Slidell, you probably just created 10 (and counting) new atheists.
Will you get a look at these pork-rind eatin’ slack jawed yahoos?