Stanley Fish puts his finger on why I am ambivalent (at best) about “civil religion” in any form:
It has become a formula: if you want to secure a role for religious symbols in the public sphere, you must de-religionize them, either by claiming for them a non-religious meaning as Kennedy does here, or, in the case of multiple symbols in a park or in front of a courthouse, by declaring that the fact of many of them means that no one of them is to be taken seriously; they don’t stand for anything sectarian; they stand for diversity. So you save the symbols by leeching the life out of them. The operation is successful, but the patient is dead.
Like Rod Dreher, it’s hard for me to get worked up about these kinds of issues one way or another. I accept that America has a pervasive (albeit usually quite shallow!) Christian heritage, and I don’t see any point in expunging crosses and other religious symbols from city seals, or changing the names of cities like Corpus Christi or Sacramento. Still, the kind of logic that tells me a cross is acceptable precisely because it doesn’t communicate any religious content seems to me a slap in the face of Christians everywhere, and I can’t conceive of why any true disciple would be happy with this decision.