12/21/2005 04:29 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Reading The Pictures: Home Of The Wise Men


"We thought the White House would be too partisan...."

--- Richard Land, Southern Baptist Convention

The AP has a nice article about this year's Christmas card from the political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Richard Land, the president of the organization's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and friend of President Bush, said that the group typically chooses a Washington scene for it's holiday greeting. In spite of the impending confirmation hearing for Samuel Alito, however, Land claims the choice of the Supreme Court for the card was apolitical.

The picture is a nostalgic scene of the court building on a quiet, wintry evening. Snow is on the ground and a solitary figure, holding a red umbrella, is strolling by.

Dr. Land may claim innocence, but just by putting this image on its Christmas card, the fundamentalist organization can't help but offer the building as religious iconography. The purity of the setting has a similar effect. Associating the building and the institution with nature and serenity not only disconnects it from the District of Columbia, but suggests that the court is less an instrument of man than it is beholden to a more venerated world.

For more of the visual, visit

(image: Mark Humphrey/A.P. December 2, 2005. Nashville, Tennessee. A.P.)