Religious beliefs expressed on Capitol Hill cannot be limited to Christianity

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki blesses the manger on display in the Rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol during a ceremony hosted by the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee in Springfield, Ill. On Tuesday, November 30, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

I write about the December 1 article in which Bishop Paprocki defended the right of Christians to display a manger in the Capitol Rotunda, but asserted that a display by a satanic organization should not to have its place. As a lawyer who advises on exhibits that can be erected in the Capitol building, I am flattered that Bishop Paprocki grants me the power to assess the legitimacy of religious beliefs. But I respectfully decline such authority. I don’t want to be able to tell someone that their beliefs are offensive and cannot be expressed in the Capitol building, nor do I want to live in a country where government officials have such power.

Following: Bishop Paprocki: Satanic demonstrations “should not have their place in this Capitol”

More than ten years ago, I indicated that a crèche could be erected in the rotunda of the Capitol, because it is a public forum in which religious organizations have the same rights as others to express their beliefs. But when I later informed that anti-religious exhibits could be erected, people who celebrated the right to exercise their First Amendment rights were outraged that non-believers could exercise those same rights.

I suggest that the good bishop think a little more about his desire to live in a country where governments can rule on the legitimacy of religious beliefs. There are a number of such countries in the world and in many of them Christianity is prohibited.

Nathan Maddox, Springfield

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: First Amendment Allows Variety of Religious Postings on Capitol Hill

Ruth R. Culp