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Your Opinion: Religion in public life

Your Opinion: Religion in public life

January 27th, 2013 by Linda Wenzlick, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

The following is my response to those who want religious displays on public land and prayer in our schools.

I am a Christian and I try to follow the teachings of my faith. These land me as a person. I am far from perfect but I carry on each day trying to do the best I can, as do we all. From grade school on I was taught that every person that practices their faith and lives by its teachings will reach heaven. I know that some teach that only those who follow Christian faiths will see heaven. I don't now and never have believed that.

I celebrate that I live in a country of many faiths; when you live in America you are guaranteed worship of the faith of your choosing, or to not choose a specific faith if you so desire. This is not China or North Korea or Iran.

I am not against public displays of religion but rather public displays of religion on government property. When individuals put religious displays on public land it is akin to staking territory. It says this is a Christian city, Buddhist city, Jewish city, etc. and individuals of other faiths are not welcome to live there. It says we have a government religion. Americans rebelled against the idea of a state religion early on in the making of our nation. We continually reject the idea of religious exclusion in America. Our Constitution protects all faiths in our country - not just Christian ones.

Many lament that we don't have prayer in public schools. Suppose we did. Should we begin each day with a "Hail Mary?" How about a reading from the Koran? Are these not prayer? We don't do this because we don't have a state religion. And last I checked, I don't think we want one.

A contributor asked about the difference between prayer at the governor's breakfast vs. prayer in schools. Attending the prayer breakfast was a choice. Children are mandated to be in school.

In Arlington National Cemetery the valiant heroes buried there are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and more. It's the perfect model for expressing faith in our country. In their final place of rest the fallen have chosen to share with us their deepest held beliefs, as they lay side by side. Should we not follow this example in our own lives?