On December 13, a life-size crèche, paid for by the Catholic League, was erected on the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue, right in the heart of New York City.
There is much confusion about this issue. The courts have made it clear that the display of religious symbols in a municipal building, or on a courthouse lawn, must be accompanied by secular symbols. But if the property is a public forum, then the government cannot prohibit the display of privately funded religious symbols, even when they are not accompanied by secular ones. That is why the New York City Parks Department allows Catholics and Jews to display their religious symbols (absent secular ones) in Central Park—it is a public forum.
We hope that public officials across the country take note of these differences and understand that if we can put a crèche in Central Park, then there is nothing to stop them from doing likewise in a similar spot. Significantly, the public overwhelmingly agrees.
We extend our thanks to Ernie Chirico, Joe Agosta and Mike Goldberg of Cross New York for erecting the crèche. Their kind help is much appreciated.