Something to Get Passionate About
Let's you and us take a stroll down memory lane for a moment. Don't worry, we're not going far; just a few months back, in fact. If memory serves correctly (and that's a crapshoot), the City of Chicago got itself into a bit of a flap during the holiday season over a Christian-heavy movie trailer. Some people were rather surprised, seeing as Daley Plaza calls itself home to the Christkindlmarket, which we take to have more than a slight religious leaning.
Initial reports claim the rancor was inspired by the pushing of one faith over another, but such was not the case. And if you look at the Plaza now through Sunday, that becomes strikingly clear. On Wednesday, a permit was obtained to erect a 19-foot cedar cross on government property. The symbol went up Friday and will stay up through Sunday for a sunrise service on Easter.
Needless to say, some people are not happy. There's no (legal) debate about whether or not religious symbols can be displayed in Daley Plaza; that dispute was settled in 1989 when a nativity scene was ruled acceptable. No, the rub amongst leaders of different faiths rests in the Sunday service. Chicago's executive director of the American Jewish Committee, Emily Soloff, states she's "uncomfortable with holding something that is essentially private worship there." Christian backers, including the lawyer who applied for the permit, trumpet both the cross and service as freedom of expression, protected by the Constitution. Rev. Gerald O'Reilly, who plans on participating, says that "if [people] don't come to church, the church will be brought to them," and if other people don't like it, they can stay away on Easter.
It's just not that simple. We agree with Ms. Soloff; it's private worship on public property. Turning the other cheek won't erase that. Color us atheist, but we thought churches were built for just such an occasion. Why risk the justified ire of non-Christians with this gratuitous ceremony?
Image courtesy of wallyg.