Some of My Best Friends are Religious
(Sent to the Towanda Daily Review on 2/22/98 and printed on 3/1/98.)
Hell, I'm not against religion. Some of my best friends are religious, but I don't hold that against them. I even started my own religion, The Church of the Profit($), and I'll be speaking again at the Courthouse (of all places) for this year's National Day of Prayer in May.
So I certainly don't want religion "removed from public places," as written by Frank Leeland (Review, 2/22/98). I merely want it where it belongs: in a church, in a synagogue, in bed (where God's name is frequently used), in the closet if so desired, in an airport, in your home, in the street, at work (non-government of course), in the forest – anywhere except where its presence would give the impression, real or otherwise, that it is sanctioned by the state.
Leeland is correct that the phrase "separation of church and state" is nowhere to be found in our Constitution. He is also correct that it was taken from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson. However, his assertion that it is used "out of context" is incorrect. The phrase has been referenced many times in Supreme Court decisions to emphasize the intent of our Founders for the First Amendment. There is absolutely no doubt of their intentions; they wanted church and state as far apart as possible – with a "wall of separation" between them. Any intermingling would further corrupt both.
Leeland wrote of the Constitution, "A recent poll found that most people have never read it in full and that is the reason it is used to deceive those who are easily fooled." I would say exactly the same thing about the Bible. I recommend that both of these documents be read and understood. However, be careful when you read the Bible – it contains vivid descriptions of rape, murder, and abuse of power. Keep it out of the hands of minors, the easily fooled, and politicians.
Leeland concluded that I would like Christians to "stay in our closets and out of their sight and hearing." Absurd. As a matter of fact, I love to see and hear religious people. Make an appointment by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at 306 York Ave., Towanda, PA. We can have dinner. It may even be clothing-optional. Bring your Bibles. I have several myself.
And be prepared for a vigorous debate about which there will probably be little agreement. But it should be interesting.
John L. Ferri