Letters to the Editor

RELIGION: Public prayer isn't always appropriate

Re: “Founders didn’t separate religion from public life” (letter, 11-4).

The letter writer defended the exercise of religion in public life, including prayer before the U.S. Senate.

Violation of the First Amendment? No.

Violation of the principle of separation of church and state? No.

Appropriate? Also no.

As a pastor in McLean, Virginia, I was invited to offer the prayer in 1980 for the opening of the U.S. House of Representatives by a congressman who was a member of our congregation. That certainly was an honor. And because we had six congressmen as members of our congregation, I got my picture taken with all six plus Tip O’Neill, the speaker of the House.

Heady, but I wouldn’t do it again. Only a tiny smattering of representatives were present. The rest were in the hallways conversing, being lobbied, etc. Only when a bell rings, that says “something important” is about happen, such as a vote, do they come in.

Prayer should be important and appropriate, or not take place. Also, it’s not “wrong,” but inappropriate, on the 50-yard line of football games.