Sometimes political scientists will refer to issues unrelated to the economy or an ongoing crisis as "luxury issues". That means that no matter what public policy is set on these particular issues, they are unlikely to have much of an impact on most people's overall quality of life.
For example, posting the Ten Commandments in a public school is unlikely to convert any students to Christianity, nor is it likely to improve the behavior of the students. Likewise, forbidding the Ten Commandments from being posted is not going to create a hostile enviroment for Christian and Jewish students. Rather, it is an issue designed to get you all hot and bothered. The proponents of posting the Ten Commandments know that it will not pass constitutional muster. It is designed to get those who feel strongly about it to send in their contributions. Likewise, organizations that oppose the posting of religious documents in government buildings can have use it to get their own supporters alarmed enough to send money.
The same goes for issues like flag buring and gay marraige. One would think that a person opposed to gay marraige should be quite content with the status quo, since it is illegal on the federal level and in most states. Nevertheless, the Senate had to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment even though it had zero chance of passing.
Typically luxury issues are brought up during times of relative prosperity. Gay marraige was not discussed as much in the months immediatly following 9/11. Nor was flag burning discussed much during the recession that took place during the early 90's.
Politics is fueled by drama. Even when things are swell politicians need to find ways to pit voters against each other. Now, with public interest in the war waning, both Republicans and Democrats are trying to find new things for us to be upset about. We don't need issues to be upset about. We have politicians to be upset at.