What if the government decided it wanted everyone who wanted one to have a free crucifix?

An outlandish idea? Yes, but I wouldn’t put it past the elected officials who seem to forever be looking for ways to endorse and sponsor religion with symbols and monuments and ceremonial tributes to God. For years, in fact, a 17-foot crucifix — a statue of Jesus on the cross — stood in a public park in Highland, Ind.

For now, though, the free crucifix program is just a thought experiment posed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

The state “could purchase the religious symbols in bulk and distribute them to all takers,” Kagan mused in her dissent to a 5-4 ruling released Monday. “Or it could mail a reimbursement check to any individual who buys her own and submits a receipt for the purchase.”

Of course those kinds of direct expenditure of public funds on objects of devotion would almost certainly run afoul of the constitutional prohibition against government establishment of religion.

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