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Separation of church, state still right concept

December 26, 2012
The Alpena News

'Tis the season in various parts of the country for lawsuits protesting the placement of creches on public property, the singing of religious Christmas songs in the public school classroom, and prayer at public school events. (Catholic prayer and Protestant prayer are equally Christian.) There was little objection before the population of the United States grew more diverse and away from all-white and Christian.

The Constitution has not changed. There is no law that prohibits prayer in school. Just no school-sanctioned prayer, please. We have no state church or state religion. But, guaranteed is freedom of personal religious belief, to assemble, and freedom from religion if one wishes.

What we are not free to do anymore is offend, politically, whole segments of the citizenry by disregarding the religious beliefs of those of different faiths from ours. It takes strength of character, rather, to put oneself in another's shoes to try to experience a little of what it's like to be a second-class citizen in one's own country. Race is, indeed, valued, and religions acknowledged, but we know that both religion and race are social/cultural constructs and all humans, actually, are members of the same family no matter their ethnicity or religious convictions.

Christians don't own the season. Evergreen decorations, partying, visiting, and giving gifts, have welcomed the "return of the sun" every Dec. 21, or so, centuries before Christ.

Our country is not controlled by religion - by my church or by your church. By my religious sect or your religious sect, or anybody's. Our government remains neutral and avoids, appropriately, even an appearance of favoring one religion over another. We will rightly be wary, then, of any encroachment and potential for control by the church with its display of piety in public places.

Elaine Thompson




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