Sound off: Religious expression
How did the Lawrence Arts Center hold a religious ceremony for a group of Tibetan monks this month since it’s publicly funded? Is it a violation of the establishment clause?
According to Richard Levy, the J.B. Smith Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at Kansas University, “There is no establishment clause violation if a public entity like the Arts Center allows private individuals to engage in expressive activity on equal terms and some of them engage in religious expression. In fact, it would be unconstitutional to deny people the same access just because their expression is religious.” Sharon Tate, CEO of the Lawrence Arts Center, said the facility “exhibits work by artists of all religious and political affiliations as well as those with no affiliations at all. At this moment, we have bronze sculptures of Moses and a burning bush created by Eldon Tefft in our front gallery around the corner from the Buddhist mandala. In another gallery, Cima Katz, an artist who defines herself as a post-Holocaust Jew, is installing her exhibition about the sacredness of memory. Shin-Hee Chin, whose work is influenced by ‘Christian spirituality that is deeply embedded in (her) life, addresses the complex issues of the female body, creativity, motherhood, feminine identity, and art in (her) work,’ opening this Friday. Art and religious iconography or ideas are rarely entirely separate.”