The debate of sacred over secular has gone to a new level of absurd in Boston. Esther Weissman, who is Jewish, just wants to display the Menorah along side the Christmas wreaths at Boston City Library. She isn’t asking for the wreaths to be taken down — she just wants the space shared so that the Menorah can be displayed as well.
But she is running into all kinds of opposition — and lots of funny arguments about what is and is not legal.
“The only thing I am asking for is inclusion. I’ve never complained about the wreaths. It’s not about getting rid of the wreaths. The wreaths are lovely,” said ?Esther Weissman, a longtime Back Bay resident. “I just want you to remember that there is a Jewish population of residents here in a city of everybody. And we also need to be represented — it’s our holiday also.”
For more than two years Weissman has led the fight. But the opposition she runs into is that the library’s board of trustees — backed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and his team of city lawyers — argue that the Menorah is religious while the wreath is not.
Weissman says the wreath is Christian. The Board argues it is a secular symbol that doesn’t represent any religion.
“The wreaths are a seasonal display; they are secular symbols and do not represent any religion,” Walsh spokeswoman Kate Norton said in a statement. “Decorating public places with such secular images as wreaths remain within the boundaries set by the Establishment Clause, as outlined by the Supreme Court. We refrain from all religious holiday displays at the Boston Public Library.”
The Board of Trustees for the Library are wrong on several levels.
First of all, the Constitution doesn’t have ANY boundaries for Christmas set within the Establishment Clause. The Establishment Clause merely states that Congress will not establish a state Church. Putting up ANY religious seasonal decorations is not unconstitutional.
Second, Weissman’s argument that the Christmas wreath is a Christian symbol has merit. If it were not true why is it that you don’t see Muslims decorating for Christmas with wreaths? Christmas wreaths, Christmas trees, Christmas candles, anything with the colors red, white, green, and gold are inherently Christian. The Library Board seems to have appointed themselves experts in this case. We recommend they look in their own library to learn they don’t know what they are talking about.
Massachusetts is famous for fighting over Nativities and such. This one should head to court because a Menorah — or a Festivus tree, a Satanic Temple display, or an Atheist placard embracing Winter Solstice — should be allowable as part of ANY holiday display on public property.