Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court

The editorial "Religious Freedom," Aug. 15, says observers detect an "antipathy toward religion" in recent Supreme Court rulings. But the so-called "conservative" coalition which has recently been permitting government interference in the practice of minority religions is not secular, but devoutly religious. Their war is only on other people's religions.The most secular members of the Supreme Court have been the most careful to observe the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment. They might have been accused a few years ago of taking the establishment clause to extremes and thus moving against religion in general. But they are no longer in control of the court. The editorial cites a decision which denies protection to the ancient native American religious practice involving the mild drug peyote. Does anyone doubt that the Roman Catholic justices who were in the majority would have ruled differently had the case involved the use of wine (also a drug) in the Christian mass? The justices who are in control know that major religions such as Catholicism and fundamentalist Protestantism are safe from most encroachments by the democratic nature of the other institutions of government. Thus these justices are free to hide behind the pretense of judicial restraint in their opinions, knowing that the legislatures will repress only smaller denominations. Theodore S. Arrington, Charlotte, N.C.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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