No prayer in schools

Regarding the Opinion page column "School Prayer Gets a New Day in Court," March 20: The author seems to be saying that the majority of Americans want "voluntary" religious devotions in the classroom, and therefore the Supreme Court should go along.

James Madison and the other drafters of the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights approached the issue of religion differently. To them, religious practice was a personal and private choice, entirely exempt from the meddlesome control of government. No government had the right to coerce the religious practice of any individual. Even if a blandly generic prayer is used, some students will always be excluded by officially sanctioned devotions in public schools.

The real issue in the Rhode Island prayer case now before the high court is not voluntary prayer, but whether our nation will continue to uphold the protective wall of separation between church and state. Robert L. Maddox, Silver Spring, Md., Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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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