Protect religious integrity

I resent the suggestion by critics of recent Supreme Court decisions on religion that a strict separation of church and state amounts to hostility to religion. As a Southern Baptist minister, I believe the Supreme Court's decisions on religion are not only faithful to the Constitution, but they ultimately protect religion. By striking down certain forms of government aid to religious schools, for example, the Supreme Court protected the religious integrity of church schools. It is a cardinal rule of political science that government regulations always follow government money. Churches could easily find that they are so dependent on government money for church schools that they lose their autonomy, their ``souls.''

In one program struck down by the Supreme Court, church schools were required to take down crucifixes and other religious symbols from the classrooms. If that's not compromising religious integrity, what is?

I do not want my children reciting prayers in school so generic as to be meaningless. Nor do I want children of minority faiths made to feel uncomfortable or under pressure to conform because classroom prayer time excludes them.

I much prefer a government that remains neutral to religion to a government that promotes religion. Critics of the Supreme Court's religion decisions have yet to explain how this conservative court, made up of justices who are quite religious themselves, could make decisions so ``hostile'' to religion.

They have also not explained why the leadership of most mainline religious denominations favor the court's religion decisions.

We are confident enough of our faiths that we do not want or need government to promote religion. Dr. Robert L. Maddox, Executive Director Americans United for Separation of Church and State Silver Spring, Md.

Having recently driven from Boston to San Diego, the vast miles of unused land, some of it federal land, are impressive as a means for balancing our budget. Government reserves could largely get into the hands of Americans who would develop income. Will there ever be a greater need for these lands? Hazel McConnell Wright Laguna Hills, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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