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Atheist organization calls for removal of Star of David from Holocaust memorial

Posted by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:02 PM
  • 112 Replies
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FFRF objects to religious symbol at Ohio Capitol

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July 18, 2013

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, on behalf of its more than 500 Ohio members, is objecting to a religious design on a Holocaust memorial to be built at the Ohio statehouse. FFRF, a Madison, Wis.-based association of 19,000 atheists and agnostics, is a national state/church watchdog.

The design selected for the memorial, created by architect Daniel Libeskind, incorporates stainless steel rectangular structures with the prominent sacred religious Star of David in the negative space. Libeskind's justification for using an overtly religious symbol on government property was, "one cannot separate the Holocaust from the star."

However, semi-finalists Jaume Plensa and Ann Hamilton did just that.

FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor sent a letter June 14, 2013 to former Ohio Senator Richard Finan, chair of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, stating: "Either of Plensa's or Hamilton's designs would be preferable to avoid a potentially unconstitutional entanglement of government and religion. Therefore, the state, in choosing Libeskind's plan using a prominent sacred symbol, knowingly selected and endorsed a design with constitutional concerns."

Before the final design was selected, Finan voiced his concerns about the use of the six-sided star to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I think that the Star of David is a religious symbol, and religious symbols, we have been told on several occasions, are not permissible on Statehouse grounds."

FFRF's letter urges: "The monument could resemble numerous powerful war memorials across the U.S. which do not use any sectarian images, including the national World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Each is secular in nature and without religious reference, which offends no one and is respected by all. The lack of religious imagery within those memorial designs neither diminishes their significance nor detracts from the respect and honor shown for the victims of those conflicts."

FFRF points out that there were at least five million non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust, including gays, Jehovah's Witnesses, Roma Gypsies, the disabled and many others who are excluded by use of the symbol.

"To align the State of Ohio with one religion and its sacred symbol— even a minority religion for a worthy memorial— would dishonor the truest protection our country has against a similar Holocaust on our shores: the precious constitutional principle separating religion from government. Had there been a separation between religion and state honored and enforced in Germany, ensuring the government could not favor the dominant religion and persecute and scapegoat minority religions and other 'dissidents,' there would not have been a Holocaust."

This morning the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Committee approved the plan over Finan's dissent. Finan subsequently announced his resignation from the board. FFRF Board Member Joseph Sommer spoke against the religious design at today's hearing.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.
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by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:02 PM
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Replies (1-10):
snookyfritz
by Platinum Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:03 PM
3 moms liked this

I saw this the other day.  How incredibly ignorant. 

collectivecow
by Gold Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:08 PM

It was already posted a few days ago.

Aestas
by Gold Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:08 PM
5 moms liked this

As much as I respect Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their descendents, I agree with the objections to this memorial, especially the fact that non-Jewish survivors are discounted and ignored by centering the memorial around a Jewish symbol. It's certainly possible to create a memorial which honors survivors (and all the lives lost) that doesn't violate the Constitutional separation of church and State and doesn't exclude anyone who deserves to be recognized.

AlekD
by Gold Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:09 PM
Ah, sorry. I must have missed it.

Quoting collectivecow:

It was already posted a few days ago.

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collectivecow
by Gold Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:18 PM
2 moms liked this

Because Holocaust museums obviously don't talk about other groups that suffered and obviously ALL Holocaust memorials are - ONLY - Jewish related. Riiiiiiiiiight. *Eye roll*

Quoting Aestas:

As much as I respect Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their descendents, I agree with the objections to this memorial, especially the fact that non-Jewish survivors are discounted and ignored by centering the memorial around a Jewish symbol. It's certainly possible to create a memorial which honors survivors (and all the lives lost) that doesn't violate the Constitutional separation of church and State and doesn't exclude anyone who deserves to be recognized.


collectivecow
by Gold Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:32 PM


Debmomto2girls
by Platinum Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:38 PM
I don't think that is what she is saying. If it is being built on a government property, it should not have a religious symbol on it.

Quoting collectivecow:

Because Holocaust museums obviously don't talk about other groups that suffered and obviously ALL Holocaust memorials are - ONLY - Jewish related. Riiiiiiiiiight. *Eye roll*

Quoting Aestas:

As much as I respect Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their descendents, I agree with the objections to this memorial, especially the fact that non-Jewish survivors are discounted and ignored by centering the memorial around a Jewish symbol. It's certainly possible to create a memorial which honors survivors (and all the lives lost) that doesn't violate the Constitutional separation of church and State and doesn't exclude anyone who deserves to be recognized.


collectivecow
by Gold Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:39 PM


collectivecow
by Gold Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:40 PM
2 moms liked this

I don't even disagree with that. What I disagree with is the implication that we Jews ONLY bring up the murder of our own people. It's a ludicrous implication, which I see quite a lot.

My point being that there are plenty of Holocaust memorials that have absolutely NO religious connotation to them.

The assumption that we do account for the 70-80% of our people that were murdered during the Holocaust does NOT mean in any way that we demean the message of suffering others also experienced.

Quoting Debmomto2girls:
I don't think that is what she is saying. If it is being built on a government property, it should not have a religious symbol on it.
Quoting collectivecow:

Because Holocaust museums obviously don't talk about other groups that suffered and obviously ALL Holocaust memorials are - ONLY - Jewish related. Riiiiiiiiiight. *Eye roll*

Quoting Aestas:

As much as I respect Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their descendents, I agree with the objections to this memorial, especially the fact that non-Jewish survivors are discounted and ignored by centering the memorial around a Jewish symbol. It's certainly possible to create a memorial which honors survivors (and all the lives lost) that doesn't violate the Constitutional separation of church and State and doesn't exclude anyone who deserves to be recognized.


Debmomto2girls
by Platinum Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:43 PM
I agree.

ETA: I agree that it is wrong for anyone to imply that but I really do not believe Aestas meant that at all.

Quoting collectivecow:I don't even disagree with that. What I disagree with is the implication that we Jews ONLY bring up the murder of our own people. It's a ludicrous implication, which I see quite a lot.




My point being that there are plenty of Holocaust memorials that have absolutely NO religious connotation to them. The
assumption that we do account for the 70-80% of our people that were
murdered during the Holocaust does NOT mean in any way that we demean
the message of suffering others also experienced.Quoting Debmomto2girls:I don't think that is what she is saying. If it is being built on a government property, it should not have a religious symbol on it.

Quoting collectivecow:

Because Holocaust museums obviously don't talk about other groups that suffered and obviously ALL Holocaust memorials are - ONLY - Jewish related. Riiiiiiiiiight. *Eye roll*

Quoting Aestas:

As much as I respect Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their descendents, I agree with the objections to this memorial, especially the fact that non-Jewish survivors are discounted and ignored by centering the memorial around a Jewish symbol. It's certainly possible to create a memorial which honors survivors (and all the lives lost) that doesn't violate the Constitutional separation of church and State and doesn't exclude anyone who deserves to be recognized.


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