Advertisement
Readers Respond

Prayer — even by a citizen — shouldn't be allowed at Carroll meetings [Letter]

David Holstein's letter accusing the American Humanist Association of suppressing free speech by filing a lawsuit against the Carol County commissioner's for allowing his brother to give a Christian prayer at their public meeting misses the whole point of the First Amendment and the long history of established jurisprudence regarding prayer in state sponsored forums ("Free speech challenged in Carroll," April 6).

The purpose of the First Amendment is to ensure that the government funded with taxpayers' dollars remains an honest broker when it comes to religion and doesn't take any side or show preference to one religion over another. No one is trying to suppress Bruce Holstein's right to express his religious views as his brother David suggests. Both Mr. Holsteins are free to express their religious beliefs in public, at home, or in church. What they are not allowed to do is expend taxpayers' dollars for such a purpose. That is the line that cannot be crossed under the First Amendment.

Advertisement

The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Sorry Mr. Holstein, but that means the state is not allowed to promote your Catholic beliefs to the disadvantage of other religious beliefs. The Carroll County Commissioners' allowing your brother to deliver a Catholic Christian prayer at their meeting was doing precisely that. I bet if the commissioners were Satanists instead of Christians and they allowed a devil worshiper to deliver their benediction calling for the arrival of the Antichrist both Mr. Holsteins would be first in line screaming foul. That is just the point that our founding fathers were trying to make with the First Amendment. Historical records have shown that George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were deeply distrustful of the corrupting influences of established religious authorities, although many of them were personally deeply religious in their beliefs.

No one is preventing David Holstein from leading a Christian prayer session outside the courthouse. He just can't do it inside the courthouse, schoolhouse or legislature in an officially sanctioned capacity. How is that suppressing his right to free speech? Mr. Holstein's argument to the contrary is a fraud meant to divisively fragment our pluralistic society. The great seal of the United States says "E Pluribus Unum," out of many, one. It doesn't say "out of one, many." Our society spends way too much time on these ridiculous fights over religious preference and ignores what is really important like promoting the general welfare and educating our children. Religious fanatics like both Mr. Holsteins are so wrapped up in promoting their belief in Christianity that they miss the most important point Jesus died trying to make; he was taking a stand against the powerful using their influence for profit and personal gain instead of promoting the general welfare of the public as a whole. The Holsteins would command more respect if they spent less time running their mouths about their religious beliefs and more time living it by helping the less fortunate in the community uplift themselves.

Advertisement

Brad Schwartz, Olney

-

To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.


Advertisement