‘Exclusionary Religious Symbol’: Atheist Group Battles Planned Holocaust Memorial’s Inclusion of the Star of David

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist-activist non-profit, is known for going after perceived violations of the separation of church and state. This in mind, the organization has a new target: a Holocaust memorial.

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The group is combating the inclusion of a Star of David in a proposed statehouse monument that is being planned in Ohio. Its leaders’ opposition to the religious symbol is rooted in the belief that it would violate the separation of church and state.

The FFRF holds that the inclusion of the star, which is associated with Judaism, would be problematic, although non-theist leaders said they have no problem with including a Holocaust museum at the capitol.

Atheists first noted their opposition in a June 14 letter that was sent to Richard Finan, chair of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“Permitting one permanent sectarian and exclusionary religious symbol…would create the legal precedent, for instance, to place an equally large or larger permanent Latin cross on Capitol grounds,” Don Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-presidents — and husband and wife — wrote in the letter (read it here).

A press release published on the organization’s website notes that architect Daniel Libeskind purposefully included the star, while other designs that almost made the cut did not have any religious sentiment included; the group noted that it was possible to select an entirely non-religious option. Despite Libeskind’s contention that “one cannot separate the Holocaust from the star,” the FFRF firmly disagreed.

“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,” the letter continued. “Each is secular in nature and without religious reference, which offends no one and is respected by all.”

The organization contends that non-Jewish groups, including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the disabled and others are left out by the inclusion of the star. In the end, though, the board approved the design on Thursday, despite the FFRF’s intense opposition.

Interestingly, the FFRF claims that Finan, a former state senator in Ohio, ended up expressing doubt over the star’s inclusion in the design after he received the letter. Following the monument’s approval, the politician allegedly stepped down from the board.

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(H/T: Columbus Dispatch)