Readers Respond

There is no Constitutional protection against feeling uncomfortable [Letter]

Upon reading Dan Rodricks' piece regarding the Supreme Court decision on prayer at public meetings ("A 'frustrating, disingenuous' Supreme Court ruling," May 6), I was struck by several issues. Chief among them is the idea that we, as Americans, should not be made to feel uncomfortable. This is wrong, not just because the everyday actions of others do not have the agency to cause one's discomfort, but because feeling uncomfortable is a perfectly natural part of the human condition. The assertion that simply because people may feel uncomfortable with publicly exercised faith, it should be prohibited in at least one form leads to a precedent which is quite dangerous. After all, if people are uncomfortable around a mosque, then should it not be closed? If the precedent was set that discomfort is an acceptable reason for prohibiting public exercise of religion, then an argument like that wouldn't sound so crazy.

I should also point out that the First Amendment's establishment clause is very clear in what it prohibits, namely that Congress is not allowed to make any law establishing a national religion, nor is it allowed to make any law prohibiting free exercise of religion. This was not even a national Constitutional issue, as first, Congress was not involved, nor did the state legislature pass any laws establishing Christianity as the official religion of New York state. Furthermore, to restrict the ability of local governments to pray in meetings across the nation prohibits an aspect of free exercise of religion, which if it were to be made law, would need to be done so by Congress, and would then, in fact, be unconstitutional. Particularly concerning is the quote from a University of Maryland constitutional law professor who espouses the idea that public prayer isn't protected among the rest of "free exercise" of religion.

Sean Jenkins-Houk, Lutherville

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