Brian Westly was partly correct when he said “Real religious freedom requires that the state remain neutral, by not promoting nor denigrating other people’s religious views.” Public schools teach world/national/state history. When it comes to past wars, I doubt that they remain neutral when they present whatever point of view such as the United States against the British. Public schools could maintain crucifixes in classrooms by allowing other religious symbols in as well.
It is important that our youth understand what the various religions are about instead of isolating or polarizing them. By removing the crucifixes, this indeed denigrates the faith that the majority of Anglo-Saxon pilgrims who came to this country (the US) to establish freedom from religious persecution, free to live out their faith to the extent it does not offend.
Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross regardless of whether someone does not believe that he is God. The school could use that as a historical symbol of what happens when a ruler conquers and interferes with another country’s religious beliefs and practices.
Rev. John Zimmerman
Diocese of Charleston, SC