Separation of church and state

The editorial "Religious Expression in Public Life," Nov. 21, goes too far in its effort to find a compromise between strict church-state separation and excessive accommodationism.The Rhode Island graduation prayer before the Supreme Court in Lee v. Weisman is neither fish nor fowl. It is a strange hybrid, a prayer offered by a clergyperson who must agree to fit his/her prayer to the rigid specifications laid down by the state. Such a prayer brings honor to neither religion nor to government. Let's face it - it is simply not possible to devise a truly nonsectarian prayer. Our constitutionally mandated separation of church and state does not equate hostility with religion. Its purpose is to protect the religious freedom of every individual. Separation does not exclude religion from public life. It simply keeps government from being involved with religion. Further, the Bush administration's interest in this case is hardly benign. The administration has urged the Supreme Court to scrap the Court's traditional Lemon test for determining whether or not an act of government is constitutional. If George Bush has his way, we can kiss religious freedom and much of the First Amendment goodbye. Edd Doerr, Silver Spring, Md. Executive Director, Americans for Religious Liberty

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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