Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99

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...

  • Legislators have a mandate, too
    Legislators have a mandate, too

    A recent letter writer was quick to point out that Gov. Larry Hogan was sent to Annapolis to do the voters' bidding ("Hogan stands up to Democrats," April 15). What did the voters who elected members of the General Assembly get? Aren't they sent there to do the voters' bidding?

  • The importance of EMS
    The importance of EMS

    Hundreds of emergency and mobile health care professionals will soon assemble on Capitol Hill to educate Congress on their challenges in providing quality patient care to their communities and in obtaining needed resources to prepare for public health emergencies and other mass casualty incidents.

  • The U.S. is losing big by skimping on foreign aid
    The U.S. is losing big by skimping on foreign aid

    The sharp improvement in U.S.-Cuba relations is being hailed as the long-overdue end of a pointless enmity left over from the end of the Cold War ("The handshake with Castro," April 13).

  • 'Private' schools don't just educate the wealthy
    'Private' schools don't just educate the wealthy

    Benjamin Franklin said that "nothing in life is certain, except death and taxes." In Maryland we can add to that list the annual doomsday warnings from the public school lobby and its friends in the ACLU whenever anyone suggests there ought to be some sort of public aid assistance to families who...

  • Carson can win in 2016
    Carson can win in 2016

    Dr. Ben Carson should run for Maryland's open Senate seat in 2016. He'll win it. Then we'll see about the presidency in 2020.

  • Pills don't prevent STDs
    Pills don't prevent STDs

    This letter is in response to Susan Reimer's column about the GOP's attitude about birth control ("On birth control, young Republicans get it," April 15). I think Ms. Reimer's opinion is very narrow-minded. While I agree that young people often have premarital sex with no desire to procreate, I...

  • Red Line racism?
    Red Line racism?

    Letters such as "Red Line's unanswered questions" (April 12) infuriate me because the historic problem in Baltimore with light rail was always who would use it rather than who wouldn't. By that I mean white suburbanites don't want inner city black people to travel into their neighborhoods. The...

Comments
Loading

55°