In what will surely be touted as yet another example of the "war" on religion, Easter decorations in the St. Paul, Minnesota, city council offices were taken down after questions were raised about whether it was appropriate to recognize the Christian holiday.
A toy rabbit decorating the entrance of the St. Paul City Council offices went hop-hop-hoppin' on down the bunny trail Wednesday after the city's human rights director said non-Christians might be offended by it.
The decorations — including the stuffed rabbit, Easter eggs and a handcrafted sign saying "Happy Easter," but nothing depicting the biblical account of Christ's death and resurrection — were put up this week in the office of the City Council by a council secretary.
Now before people get totally bent out of shape, let's point out that nobody complained; the city's human rights director simply raised the question of the display's appropriateness, and they decided it was not. This is a case of trying to be sensitive to other people's beliefs, not caving to pressure or litigation.
We should also acknowledge two other things:
1. This is not a constitutional issue. A bunny and a "Happy Easter" sign put up by a municipal worker without city money or approval doesn't really amount to establishment of religion.
2. The sensitivity issue was overblown, inasmuch as there was expressed concern that a non-Christian might be "offended" by the display. I'm sure someone could get offended by it, but I don't think such a person would meet the "reasonable person" standard so common in law.
All that said, taking down the display was the right thing to do. It's not a matter of law; it's a matter of simple human courtesy.
Religion is a part of society. It has no more and no fewer rights than any other form of expression. A municipal worker who is allowed to put up a "Go Vikings!" sign in their cubicle is equally allowed to put up a "Jesus Saves" sign.