Summer Sale Extended! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

Court should rule public prayer constitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Town of Greece, New York v. Susan Galloway is to consider whether Christian prayers at town board meetings are constitutional ("Justices to hear prayer case," Nov. 4). The U.S. Court of Appeals based in New York held that such prayers violate the Constitution because they represent "an endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint."

The First Amendment provides that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof[.]" That amendment prohibits the Congress — that is, the federal government — from establishing a national religion as did King Henry VIII who broke with the Catholic Church and established the Church of England in the 16th century. Note that the First Amendment refers to "an," rather than "the," establishment of religion. By its use of "an," the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from passing legislation to establish something not previously recognized in America; that is, a national religion. Moreover, regarding religion, what provision of the Constitution mandates that "the free exercise thereof" is restricted to the confines of a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, etc.? Religious people live their religion on a daily basis; their religion is not something that is limited only to religious observances on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays at their places of worship.

How is it that the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from regulating religion, has been construed by the federal courts, based on various Supreme Court rulings, to prohibit high school football players from praying prior to a game for the safety of the players, invocations at public school events, a Christmas creche on public property, display of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, prayers at the beginning of town or county board meetings? None of those activities has anything to do with Congress or establishing a religion. It seems to me that the chief effect of such activities on atheists and non-Christians is annoyance or the sense of being slighted, just as many are annoyed by "In God We Trust" on our currency and "one nation under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance.

However, the Constitution does not guarantee anyone freedom from annoyance or from a sense of being slighted. Those perceptions, real as they may be to some individuals, do not trump the First Amendment. Regarding religion in America, the fact is that Christian churches outnumber all others by approximately 200 to one. Government (federal, state or local) endorsement of the Christian religion, or acknowledgment of a divine being, is not synonymous with "an establishment" of religion.

For those who are irritated by the Christian religion, or religion in general, try "live and let live." You are not being forced to participate in any religion or religious activity. You are merely in a situation where you have to listen to something you do not want to hear. Welcome to the club. You are not being harmed in any real sense. As to the Supreme Court, hopefully, it will overturn the ruling of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and render moot those prior rulings on church and state, the reasoning of which have no legitimate connection to the actual wording of the First Amendment.

David R. Holstein, Parkville

-
To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Prayer case reflects intolerance

    Prayer case reflects intolerance

    The recent article about the two woman taking a case to the Supreme Court because they did not like the Christian prayers at town board meetings in Greece, New York perhaps epitomizes the ills of American society ("Supreme Court to hear case on separating church and state," Nov. 2). At a time when...

  • Mfume: Sun is too quick to judge Mosby

    Mfume: Sun is too quick to judge Mosby

    Last November Baltimore elected the youngest prosecutor of any major American city, and Marilyn Mosby has brought a balanced approach and a steady hand to the work of restoring a sense of justice and civility to the city's criminal justice system.

  • Dirt bikers aren't the only danger on two wheels

    Dirt bikers aren't the only danger on two wheels

    The dirt bikers aren't Baltimore's only problem ("A '12 O'Clock Boys' theme park for Baltimore," Aug. 27). There are dangers from some other motorcyclists who display their "skills" on the Jones Falls Expressway, generally late at night or at 2 in the morning. Some of these cyclists must picture...

  • Think the Red Line is expensive? What about all those cars?

    Think the Red Line is expensive? What about all those cars?

    Ben Groff very articulately expressed many of the same sentiments I have about the Red Line and transit in general ("Why killing the Red Line was a mistake," Aug. 25). His emphasis on the negative aspects on car-based transportation is especially significant. I would add that the apparent convenience...

  • Shouldn't we read the Iran deal before supporting it?

    Shouldn't we read the Iran deal before supporting it?

    I find it un-American that your paper and many in Congress can apparently make a decision to agree with the proposed Iran nuclear deal without reading it or knowing what the side agreements the UN made contain. You are all taking the word of people that have a record of distorting the facts or...

  • Why not just give Iran the bomb?

    Why not just give Iran the bomb?

    I have a great idea for an update to the Iran deal that would save a lot of time. We should go ahead and provide Iran with nuclear weapons and also some ICBMs. This will substantially shorten the time necessary for them to develop or purchase them on their own.

  • No more riots, please

    No more riots, please

    Wow. City "leaders" getting ready for protests (also known as riots), thanks for the "heads up" ("City readies for protests," Aug. 27). It's time the law-abiding, taxpaying citizens of Baltimore say loud and clear: "Enough!"

  • Don't coddle dirt-bikers

    Don't coddle dirt-bikers

    I find it amazing that the illegal dirt bikers will probably have a place to ride some day ("City should have zero tolerance for dirt-bikes," Aug. 27). If it is illegal, how will they get to the area that will be provided without riding on the city streets? I guess it will soon be OK for me to...

Comments
Loading
70°