In Washington, the Alliance Defense Fund lobbied the Governor, Christine Gregoire, to allow the Nativity scene in the state capitol. After the Nativity scene was approved, other religious symbols like the Menorah were also placed in the state capitol. Then a group of Atheists lobbied to have a sign in the state capitol.
Governor Gregoire, in an apparent attempt to show tolerance, allowed this sign by the Atheist group to stand next to the Nativity Scene.
This set off a surreal debate. On one side were those that saw this as free speech, expression and religion issue. (unfortunately, the unbelievably anal author of the piece I just linked didn't feel the hyperlink was enough so here is the link
Reading O’Reilly’s column article, I am actually appalled at his reasoning. Granted, I believe in Jesus Christ, believe in his birth, ministry, death, resurrection and the Gospel Message he preached unto those of his time. And, much like any true American, I uphold the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Thus, what right does O’Reilly have to decry and speak for me, as a citizen of Washington State? He has no right to. I can speak for myself (and am due to the writing of this blog).
On the other side were those that saw this sign as nothing more than an inappropriate attack on Christmas.
Now then, the legalities seem fairly clear to me. Gregoire is on firm legal ground in allowing this sign, however she would also have been perfectly within her right to remove it or at least place it in a different portion of the Capitol. Not only is this sign hateful and inappropriate, but the Nativity scene, the Menorah, and the Kresge are symbols. This sign is no symbol. This is an attack on religion. It's one thing for the Capitol to allow all points of view, and quite another to allow any and all statements no matter how ridiculous or hateful.
Governor Gregoire appears to have wanted to show how tolerant and open minded she is. Furthermore, Washington is one of the more secular states in the Union. She may have believed that in her state such a stance would not have much backlash. She was wrong. This has set off a serious battle in the Culture War. It has also set off political theater that will ultimately damage her significantly. Dan Springer recently reported that all sorts of groups are rushing to the capitol with their own signs including one group that had a satirical Festivus sign, a reference to an old Seinfeld episode. Furthermore, there will be a significant rally of religious leaders on Sunday.
There is a line between being tolerant and allowing all speech, and then there is allowing everything in a government building, appropriate or not hateful or not. Governor Gregoire stepped over the line and now she will feel the political bite.