Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Church and State, and Silliness: Last year, in a discussion of church/state boundaries, I asked:
If the presence of a monument to the ten commandments is enough to create an intolerable mixing of church and state, what of a town like San Francisco, named unambiguously for a Catholic saint? Surely the person disturbed by the commandments monument should be concerned about living in a town founded on a purely religious name, for there is no secondary meaning to the name itself, as there is, arguably, a secondary meaning to the commandments (i.e., the sanctity, tradition, and enduring of the law). But even if not, what if the town of San Francisco memorialized its namesake with a monument in a public square, a statue to Saint Francis? Surely this does no more to "establish" religion than the naming of the town itself. That is, if the town is clearly named for a Catholic saint, what exactly is made different by, in essence, personifying that name in stone on the common? If you don't think the statue should stand, it's a bit hard to argue that you can abide the name.
I noted my general skepticism for slippery slopes, but also that the way church/state jurisprudence was trending, nothing was out of the question.

As it turns out, nothing is out of the question.

No comments: