Bahai News -- The Indiana Gazette - Why Not Let Things Continue? Letters

Why Not Let Things Continue?

June 05, 2003

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America says, among other things, that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Herein lies the debate; there shall be a separation of church and state but we, as citizens, shall not be prohibited from the free exercise of our chosen religion.

That seems very clear to me and needs no interpretation. Our government will not establish or endorse a national religion and they won't interfere with anyone practicing their religion of choice or no religion.

I believe the majority of the citizens of our great nation would agree. Yet, everyone does not believe as I do.

There is an opposing faction, size unknown, that interprets the amendment to mean that no expression of religion is to be permitted on public property and public property is any property owned by the government, federal or otherwise. They certainly have a right to think this way.

What strikes me as odd, however, is that this debate has but three possible outcomes and the "no religion on public property" advocates, which I'll refer to as the "no-religion" folks from now on, win in two of them.

In fact, they've already won unless the debate is settled in favor of the "pro-religion" folks.

This debate could be settled in favor of the "pro-religion" folks, the "no-religion" folks, or it could never be settled.

Meanwhile, as the debate continues, the courts have ruled that no expression of religion on public property is the order of the day.

So, if the debate is eventually settled in favor of the "no-religion" side, they win. If the debate is never settled, they still win.

It seems to me that, when in doubt as to the interpretation of a law, things should continue as normal, before the law was challenged, until a solution is reached.

Here in the United States of America we were a Christian nation for 200 years before there was an uproar about prayer in schools, a Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn, or an employee of a school district wearing a cross to work.

Why are all these things banned while we argue about the meaning of the law? Why not let them continue as they were until the citizens of this country have made their decision?

And speaking of making a decision, who should make it? I contend a simple majority of the voting age citizens should make the call.

Ask the people and abide by their decision. I don't want our government telling me I have to belong to some special religion, but neither do I want them telling me, or you, we can't show our faith on public property, which, by the way, we own, because a minority says so. That's ludicrous.

Lastly, I wonder if the administration of the school district that forbade the employee to wear a cross to work would have acted the same had the employee been a practitioner of a minority religion and had shown up for work wearing a symbol of that religion.

I wonder if the administration can even recognize symbols of other religions. If a practitioner of Baha'i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, Paganism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism or Vodun, all of which have followers in this country, came to work wearing a pin, necklace, or other symbol of their religion, would it have been recognized and if so, would they have been asked to remove it or be sent home?

If our lives are to be governed, in part, by a vocal minority, at least the rules should be applied with consistency.

Glenn Campbell

©Copyright 2003, The Indiana Gazette (PA, USA)

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