Sympathies go out to religious people I know, since the Supreme Court ( SCOTUS ) determined the Christian Cross and the phrase ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ to be secular symbols. In the case of IN GOD WE TRUST and UNDER GOD in the Pledge, “lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.”. An interesting read from a past SCOTUS Case. Establishment Clause cases are complicated, that’s why they make it to the top of our justice system on a regular basis. It is a gamble to force the government to choose between religion and the Constitution. While it may look like they favored religion, by allowing once religious symbols like the Christian Cross and the phrase ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ to be put on public property, I don’t think religions are going to appreciate having these symbols relegated to historical status. While it is likely that some will be delighted with the additional public exposure, regardless of the cost, I think Religion will realize what a bad deal they got.
The court could have directly upheld the Constitution and recognized the symbols as substantially religious, and erected with the purpose of promoting a specific brand of religion. I suppose in a way, they did uphold the Constitution. They declared the symbols secular, so the issue of religious entanglement was moot. Dilemma solved.
It’s not all bad though. By deeming the symbol and phrase as secular, they helped to maintain the padding around the Constitutional line between religion and government. That means religious institutions can continue to get away with things like not having to report financial information to the IRS and reduced ( if any ) taxes on billions of dollars worth of church property. Well, not bad for Religion, the rest of us have to make up the tax shortfall. This is also briefly addressed in the link above. Like I said, complicated.
If Religion does not want to see its symbols and phrases treated in such a fashion, they could take the bold step of removing these symbols from spaces paid for with public money, in order to preserve whatever meaning they had before the Government was invited in for its 2 cents. There are countless private spaces for these symbols to occupy, in order to preserve their integrity. Or they could leave them up as a public secular symbol of a bygone era. I would advise the former. Either way, Religious symbols no longer on property paid for by all taxpayers.
Sorry for your loss, Religion. But, it is the government, what were you thinking?