December 2, 2004

Did I violate the Establishment Clause by putting the Christmas cases before the Christmas break? I mean, the winter break.

In my "Religion and the Constitution" class, I deliberately put Lynch v. Donelly and Allegheny v. ACLU last because they deal with Christmas decorations on public property. Lynch and Allegheny both involve creches (only one of which is held to violate the Establishment Clause), and Allegheny also involves a Christmas tree/Menorah combination (which is held not to violate the Establishment Clause). It seemed fitting to end the course that way. But why did it seem fitting? I wonder how many times in the long semester of talking about religion I said something that could be characterized as a violation of the Establishment Clause. Proposed exam question: if you had to argue that one thing about this course violated the Establishment Clause, what would it be? [Note to classmembers: that's not really the exam question!]

It's the lunch hour here, and I look out the window and see the first snowflakes of the season. Snowflakes are the theme used for the lamppost decorations on State Street. How thoroughly devoid of religious imagery can you get for your "winter holiday" theme? Maybe I'll go out and take a walk up to the Capitol Building, where there is a Christmas tree, which we officially call a "holiday tree." Tomorrow, a lighting ceremony takes place, but I'm going to assume the tree is up and in a condition to be photographed.

ADDED: A picture of the lamppost snowflake:

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