Friday, July 19, 2013

Ohio Board Approves Statehouse Holocaust Memorial Over Church-State Objections To Design

AP reports that in Ohio, the state's Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board yesterday approved a privately-funded $1.8 million Holocaust memorial to be placed on the statehouse grounds.  The winning design by famed architect Daniel Libeskind has become controversial after the Freedom From Religion Foundation in June raised church-state objections to the design which includes a Star of David as a prominent part of the memorial.  FFRF wrote (full text of letter and press release) in part:
FFRF believes with the state of Ohio it is important to memorialize the Holocaust. We also believe that the solemnity and import of the task can be accomplished without permanently placing a religious symbol on government property.
As reported by Tablet Magazine (which carries a photo of the memorial's design), long-time chairman of the Capitol Square advisory board, Richard Finan, has also strongly opposed the monument, even ordering a mock-up of the design made from plastic pipes, barrels and a tarp to be constructed at the last minute to show how it will look.  It appears that Finan's original objections to the monument were its clash with the historical Civil War theme of the statehouse grounds.  He also warned that the state might be sued over the monument.  After the Board approved the monument over his objections yesterday, Finan's church-state concerns seemed to increase. Finan told AP that  "a reasonable memorial, something smaller" would have been all right, "but this is just too much to the Jewish religion." Finan has submitted his resignation as chairman of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board effective in October.