I am aware of the fact that you are a Rhode Island based writer - er, cat - so I am certain that you are aware of the whole prayer banner debacle in the city of Cranston. I think it is utterly ridiculous that the time and money of our court systems is being wasted on such foolishness!
The banner - which is actually a painting, not a physical banner - has stood as a piece of artwork for decades with no complaint from anybody. Now some 15-year-old girl who claims to have "known" that she was an atheist since the age of 10 is having her will upheld over the majority. What 10 year old is certain of their religious convictions? Heck, what teenager is certain of their dogmatic convictions? Years from now, this little snot will have moved on with her life, but the ramifications of what she leaves behind will still be felt.
Am I - and the vast majority of those who speak out on this matter - in the wrong? Or are we right to believe that our collective voice is stronger than the shenanigans of this kid?
Dear Falcon Forever:
Your letter was one of three that I received on this subject just today; and it was the only one with language I could print.
You are correct that I am a Rhode Island based cat, and that I have heard of the debacle over the prayer banner in the auditorium of one of the local high schools. [Ed. Note: The mascot of the school in question is a falcon]. I am printing your letter because it is socially relevant, not because it is something on which I wish to give an opinion.
The question of separation of church and state is one that is settled in the U.S. Constitution, which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
How this amendment is interpreted has been the stuff of legal wrangling for decades. There are those who believe that Thomas Jefferson's figurative "wall of separation" between church and state is the standard by which we all should live; and there are those who believe that tolerance for the majority rule is more in keeping with our American system of democracy.
Although I will choose not to weigh in with an opinion on this matter, I will comment on the tone of your letter: it is disrespectful. I realize that you are angry and that you feel your civil rights have been violated; but the very wording of the prayer asks for "Help...to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win" as well as spiritual guidance to "always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West". You mock the very prayer you seek to defend. A civil discourse should remain thus. I welcome comments from my readers - across Rhode Island, across the United States, and across the world.
This letter was received on 1/12/12 and printed as an extra edition due to its time-sensitive relevancy. --TK