Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
NewsOpinionReaders Respond

Court should rule public prayer constitutional

Laws and LegislationNational GovernmentFitnessU.S. Congress

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 © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
Laws and LegislationNational GovernmentFitnessU.S. Congress
  • 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...

  • Maryland's gun law is working
    Maryland's gun law is working

    The gun lobby's lawsuit against Maryland's life-saving Firearm Safety Act described in Saturday's front page article does not challenge the constitutionality of the key provision of the act — requiring handgun purchasers to first obtain a fingerprint based background check and license...

  • Turn hazing on its head
    Turn hazing on its head

    In response to Carrie Wells' article, "Hazing at Md. colleges includes humiliation, coercion, hospital trips" (Nov. 22), just imagine what a different story we would be reading if instead of a week of drinking and hazing all the fraternities and sororities spent a week doing as many acts of...

  • 1934 telecom act is up to the task of regulating the web
    1934 telecom act is up to the task of regulating the web

    I appreciated Greg Ottensmeyer's op-ed on net neutrality ("Keep the net open, free," Nov. 22), as Mr. Ottensmeyer presented a unique and concise perspective on recent communications history.

  • Revamp of UM athletic facilities is great, but what about the dorms?
    Revamp of UM athletic facilities is great, but what about the dorms?

    As a parent of a sophomore at the University of Maryland, I was thrilled to learn of Kevin Plank's most generous gift toward refurbishing Cole Field House. ("Under Armour CEO vows gift to UM," Nov. 21) Certainly athletics contribute to the quality of campus life and a robust sense of school...

  • Ebola and the ethics of nursing
    Ebola and the ethics of nursing

    Nurses from West Africa to California have gone on strike to make their concerns about the Ebola crisis known. But what are the ethical considerations that come into play when nurses take such actions while their patients may be dying?

  • Health commissioner: E-cigarette bill isn't perfect but is a step forward
    Health commissioner: E-cigarette bill isn't perfect but is a step forward

    Recent legislation regulating the use of electronic smoking devices passed by the City Council and expected to soon be signed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is a step in the right direction to protect Baltimore's children and adults from the harmful effects of e-cigarettes ("Don't fall for...

  • Turning anger over Ferguson into positive action
    Turning anger over Ferguson into positive action

    The images on my television from Ferguson, Mo. and around the country following Monday's grand jury announcement were, to say the least, troubling.

Comments
Loading