Over at USA Today’s Faith and Reason blog, a suspiciously told story of a high school graduation ceremony held at a public auditorium . . . err, megachurch. The organizers say it doesn’t look churchy enough to violate the separation of church and everything else. USA Today thinks “five crosses greeting visitors” makes the case pretty clear. Amidst other speculation about what makes a church a church, legally speaking, the voice of Faith and Reason seems to think it’s all a subtle attempt by pesky Christians to infiltrate public life:
First Cathedral is a showplace of what’s known in evangelical circles as “relational evangelism.” You don’t clobber people with the message. You befriend them. You draw them into Christian activity circles and setting and then slowly begin your witness. Their web side mission statement is, like most evangelical churches, about reaching the world for Christ. It’s vision: “To win souls, make disciples and create A Church For All People so that everyone will experience God’s love.”
Sounds like a conspiracy to me—perhaps even Dan Brown material. Then again, one church member sounded relatively commonsensical with this observation:
Religious centers have always taken seriously their role as community resources. Traditionally, they have been a sanctuary in times of natural and human disaster. How many newcomer clubs meet in local churches? How many synagogues host day care centers? Should Christians stop exercising at the Jewish Community Center? Or Jews stop sending their children to YMCA camps? Should Jews, Muslims or others avoid going to St. Francis, a Catholic hospital, when ill? Of course not.