The Crèche and the First Amendment

The agenda of the few who are still tilting at the crèche on the Green is not the beautiful message that a crèche itself represents. Rather, it is an attempt to challenge the First Amendment by imposing a narrow religious view on all of us.

Bending the Constitution to suit one's agenda is an American tradition, but invoking the First Amendment in support of state-sponsored religion goes too far. Why "state-sponsored" when the crèche is put up by private citizens? Because, once we allow religious structures on public land, we must decide which to allow. A crèche? A star of David? A Wiccan pentacle? We can best follow the letter and spirit of the First Amendment simply by keeping all religious structures from public land.

This does not violate our First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, since we are free to practice religion anywhere and build religious structures on private land. It does not violate free speech: I can carry a sign on the Green, but I cannot plant it there. Once planted, it's no longer my voice; it's the Green's. Ironically, the revolution that started on that very Green was fought partially against the establishment of the Church of England in the Colonies.

Many of the pro-crèche on the Green voices have shouted against overrides in the past. Now they want to drag their own town into an expensive legal battle (with the free assistance of the so-called "Citizens for the Preservation of Constitutional Rights") over exactly what is an "unattended" structure and other such silliness. Apparently the First Amendment is not one of the Constitutional Rights these folks want to preserve.

The supporters of the crèche on the Green refused offers by nearby churches to host the crèche. Their agenda is clear.

When we see a crèche on the lawn of a church this Christmas, but not on the Green, we will still see a beautiful Christian symbol of peace, joy and hope. But we will also see that Lexington, while predominantly Christian, is nonetheless not officially Christian. We will be reminded that Christians, Jews, Moslems, atheists etc. are equally welcome here. That's what the First Amendment is all about.

Jonathan Dreyer