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Letters: Two alternatives to commissioner-led prayer; disagrees about ‘Boss’ Trump; concerned about seriously ill immigrants being deported

Two legal alternatives to commissioner-led prayer

The Board of Commissioners [on Thursday] voted to stop commissioner-led prayers. While I agree with this settlement, I also understand that [former] Commissioner Rothschild sincerely wishes to see prayer at meetings. However, this cannot be done by commissioners, for though they do not lose their rights as private citizens, they are not private citizens when in the role of a governing authority. They are authorities whose endorsement of one religion over another constitutes an establishment.

I suggest two options for moving forward, since I oppose establishments, not religion. The first option may be challenged but has a long precedent in our history: chaplains. Per Marsh v. Chambers, legislatures can elect their own chaplains, so it may be that the creation of a commissioner-elected chaplain’s office would be legal as well. The reason I don’t oppose chaplains but oppose commissioner-led prayer is because chaplains are different: they serve the need of commissioners and are not governing authorities themselves. Thus, they don’t uplift one religion over another by leading a prayer, but merely cater to the commissioners’ needs regarding religion.

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The other solution is that implemented by the town of Greece in Greece v. Galloway. Rothschild frequently [refers] to this case but neglects to note a few key differences: the prayers were offered by ministers, not board members; the town tried to identify and invite ministers from all congregations within it; and the town had “a policy of nondiscrimination,” not refusing any minister who wished to pray. The case is thus not entirely like our situation and the claim that we are being stripped of already won constitutional rights is dubious at best. However, if we adopt a policy like that of Greece, we’ll be on much firmer constitutional ground. I tend to support this because it will expose us to the amazing plurality of religions and denominations within our country.

Even if Rothschild finds religious pluralism unappetizing, both plans will result in “Jesus,” for example, being said much more than it previously was, in the first case because an elected chaplain will most likely be Christian and in the second case because most congregations within our borders are Christian. However, we’d do well to remember that not everyone who prays aloud in public like the Gentiles do or says “Lord, Lord,” will enter heaven. Our behavior is ultimately more important than prayerful words.

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Christopher Shatzer

Taneytown

Disagrees with letter-writer about ‘Boss’ Trump

Denise Hansbrough’s letter on Aug. 29 both saddened and angered me.

No, Ms. Hansbrough, Donald Trump is not the boss. He’s currently president of the United States, not an authoritarian, all-powerful leader. This is still a Democratic Republic, and despite the fact that Trump, and [his followers] favor a strongman in office, that’s not the way it works in this country. Nor should it. It saddens me that [anyone] would want someone like Putin, Kim or Xi to be our president.

After extolling the need for a “boss” to run the country, you invited those who oppose Trump to leave the country. That angers me. Sorry, I was born here and, like all citizens, have the rights enshrined in our Constitution to oppose someone whom I consider to be unfit for the office of president. Maybe you should consider leaving for a country more in tune with your preferences for a “boss.” Perhaps Russia?

Frank Rammes

Westminster

Lives of immigrants with serious medical conditions worth saving

I understand that Donald Trump has issued an edict that would deport immigrant families who have family members, mostly children, who are receiving medical care for serious medical conditions. For instance, treatment for cystic fibrosis that is not available in the country he wants them to return to. This illness results in death if untreated. If I remember correctly this is the same president who abhors abortion because of his undying love for the unborn regardless of the possibility that said pregnancy occurred by rape of incest. The only conclusion I can come to is that this undying love ceases after birth and especially if it results in a never-ending medical procedure and if the child is not a white Anglo-Saxon.

My own son was born with Cytomegalic Inclusion Disease due to a viral infection during my pregnancy. It was predicted he would die within days ... weeks ... months. When that did not occur, insurance stopped paying for his care as it was deemed to be “custodial” in nature. Stephen became age 54 this Aug. 17. He is cared for under the auspices of ARC, Towson, by primarily devoted African-American citizens.

I hope and pray an intervention by the courts will not permit the deportation of these children whose lives depend on the medical treatment only available to them in the United States. Yes, their lives are worth saving.

Patricia Roop Hollinger

Westminster

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