Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cross: Christian or civic symbol

Thanks to Chris Duckworth for retweeting the following blog's link. But it is a fascinating question for us. Cathy Lynn Grossman writes on Faith & Reason, USA Today's religion blog. She mentions today the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that may allow the use of a cross as a national war memorial in "Is the cross a sign for Christ or just civic sculpture?"

While I am undoubtedly swayed by Justice Stevens' comment in the article, "The cross is not a universal symbol of sacrifice. It is the symbol of one particular sacrifice, and that sacrifice carries deeply significant meaning for those who adhere to the Christian faith." The use of a particular religion's symbol by the state is problematic.

The separation of church and state is important for a number of reasons, but most of all for maintaining clarity of the church's mission. If we promulgate the belief that we live a nation where the cross begins to represent all (even though it does not), then there is certainly room for people to believe that simply living in this nation makes them a Christian. We continue the notion that religion is something merely to be assented to, a system of rules to follow for us all to get along.

But the mission of the Church is about inviting people into a relationship with the crucified and risen Christ. We are not just a social organization that does good works. We are about proclaiming the gospel. If the government is able to utilize any religion's symbol (here the cross) as its own, then when our proclamation of the gospel runs counter to the governing authority's declaration, the question arises "Who is authentic?" It is inevitable that people will exchange the gospel for something else.

The Church should rise up against the use of the cross as a general symbol. Not for pluralism's sake, but for clarity of mission.

1 comment:

Father said...

I couldn't agree more. Scalia, incidentally, has rarely been further off-base than he was in this case. And that's saying something.