An atheist group is protesting the retention at the site of the World Trade Center of a steel beam in the symmetrical shape of a cross that had been found in the wreckage. They are considering bringing suit on the grounds that “[m]any people who died on September 11 weren’t Christian … This is a Christian religious advertisement, and allowing it to stay there is an insult to everyone who doesn’t believe in that particular religion.”
It’s a puzzling point. Should everything that expresses anything whatever be banned from public spaces, on the grounds that otherwise people who reject whatever is expressed will be insulted? And if that’s done, will people who find the exclusion of everything expressive from public spaces to be itself expressive of official nihilism have a legitimate complaint on which they can bring suit? Where does it all stop?
It should be obvious that every society and every government is based on some understanding of man and the world, and such understandings are essentially religious. The atheists want public spaces to reflect atheism. Assuming that’s legitimate, why should the law give them a leg up? And why is official atheism less divisive than official Christianity?