10 February 2009

Sign of the Times

Over last Christmas break, Boston College placed crucifixes in all the classrooms. Some faculty are apparently offended by it, and one presumes at least some students are as well. When I was a student at Notre Dame, I remember crucifixes were in all the classrooms, and at Georgetown University, where I am visiting this year, there are crucifixes in many though not all rooms. At Yeshiva University, my home institution, there are mezuzahs on all of the doorways.

Despite not being raised a Catholic and not being Jewish, I am not and have never been offended by the displays of religious icons at these institutions. Indeed, I am gratified by them, because it means to me that they take their religious identities seriously. I was also required to say Catholic prayers in high school, but that was okay by me too--it was a Catholic high school, after all.

I have no problem with institutions--religious or otherwise--displaying symbols of and signs representing their mission. As long as they are not coercing others, I think they have every right to make public displays of their beliefs. Indeed, if I am offended by anything, it is institutions that do not have the courage of their convictions. If you believe it, then believe it.

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