Let's understand the right to religious freedom

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Regarding your editorial "Whose Prayer? A New York Case Brings the Issue to the High Court" (Nov. 6): Not bad, but you are factually wrong when you state that the Constitution prohibits the endorsement of religion. It does not. What it prohibits is the establishment of religion, and the difference is not one of semantics.

The actual prohibition meant that (1) there would not be a Church of the United States, membership in which would be a prerequisite for holding public office; (2) there would not be a religious test for the franchise; and (3) members of the clergy of that established church would not also exercise political power by virtue of their office, e.g., a bishop or elder of Pittsburgh would not also be mayor or chief magistrate of the city. And that is all it meant: no more, no less.

Supreme courts for nearly two centuries understood this, and I do not see the Warren Court and its successors displaying any "revealed wisdom" to the contrary. Nor did the pillars of the state shake when in my public school days we started with a prayer, or a chaplain of any faith blessed all of us Marines before an assault.

Did this mostly favor Christianity? Certainly, because this country from Colonial days onward was founded as a Christian country; just look at the town squares of the original colonies. Should others today be allowed their own access to public places for the same purpose? Absolutely. But saying "yes" to all does not first require saying "no" to the majority. And if this grates on some people's sensibilities, let them grow up and stop acting like children who cannot always have what they want -- and I say that even though I am not a Christian.

ALAN SABROSKY
New Castle


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