I read Mr. William Bertolette’s letter to the editor in Tuesdays paper about the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing prayer at public meetings. I found it quite disturbing. Mr. Bertolette quoted the First Amendment, which I will repeat: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof ...” I give him credit, because, unlike most people who oppose religion, he did include the second half of the amendment. He completely forgot about it after that, though. Then he demonstrated a breathtaking misunderstanding of it.
This amendment does two simple things: It keeps the government from instituting a state religion, and it allows that anyone can both publicly and privately practice their religious beliefs free from persecution. Nothing in the Supreme Court decision that Mr. Bertolette is railing against violates either one of those ideas. No one is forcing any one to pray in a way they find objectionable, and no one is being kept from praying. This decision applies to all religions. It does not say only Christians can pray.
If the people at any public meeting want to abstain from praying, they can. If they want to invoke the Wiccan right of blessing, they can. Mr. Bertolette sounds as if he won’t be happy until all religion has been banished and hidden. He sounds as if he wants people to hide there beliefs and be afraid to show them in public. Historically, people who wanted that have been bad for society. There is nothing wrong with majority rule. Last time I checked that was one of the founding ideals of democracy.
We have checks and balances in the law and the Constitution to protect the minority. They’re not always perfect, but nothing is. The concept that if but one person gets their feelings hurt, we must all suffer is ridiculous. If Mr. Bertolette is so insecure that something like a prayer scares him, then he really needs our prayers.