Virginia AG tells cities: creches and other religious monuments OK

I live in Virginia, so it’s a little embarrassing to report that our attorney general, who’s been a dream come true to the state’s active Christian right since taking office in January, is at it again – in a way that will undoubtedly impact Jewish groups across the state, not to mention my tax bill.

Ken Cuccinelli has elicited both bemusement and anger with actions like his effort to cover up a bare breast on the official commonwealth seal showing Virtus, a Roman goddess – a seal designed by a Declaration of Independence signer, for pity’s sake – and his legal rulings on gay rights and immigration.

Now he’s telling local governments around the commonwealth that it’s fine for them to display sectarian religious scenes on public property.

That means nativity scenes, images of Jesus and the like; such displays, he argues, are all about government accommodation of religion.

As a Virginia taxpayer, I’m wondering if this isn’t more about spending public money to support his private religious views, but then I’m just picky, I guess.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State agrees with me; the group is warning that by “encouraging local governments to wade into a deeply controversial arena of the law without adequate guidance,” Cuccinelli is inviting lawsuits up the wazoo (well, that’s not exactly how they put it).

Still more government money down the drain, right? Isn’t it interesting how some conservatives like Cuccinelli rage against government spending – but are perfectly willing to spend oodles of public money it to support their religious views?

But then, they can always blame those silly church-state separationists and Jewish groups like the ADL for wasting money by using the legal system to support – gasp – the Constitution.

I’m guessing the ADL and other Jewish groups will wade in if local governments take up Cuccinelli’s suggestion and erect creches, crosses and images of Jesus, thereby inviting lawsuits.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.