Am writing in response to Reverend William "Ed" Nicholson's commentary regarding school prayer and Bible reading in the July 3 edition. I consider myself, first and foremost, a Christian. I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic Church. I was taught for twelve years by nuns. I believe that when Jesus Christ said, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am," he meant it.

Be that as it may, we live in a democratic society made up of taxpayers from many different faiths, beliefs and backgrounds. Reverend Ed describes many of those faiths. All citizens, as long as they obey the laws of our land and respect their neighbors, deserve a voice as to how our society functions. This great land of ours, America, has a foundation based on Judeo/Christian principles, but not anyone church or faith. Therefore, although it might be a noble thing to have Christian prayer and Bibles in school, we are a democracy and not a theocracy. We were given a clear separation of church and state. As long as your spiritual beliefs and actions break no laws and respect the rights of others, you are, thankfully, free to do so.

I head several committees involving volunteer work. Although being a devout Christian, I feel sorry for anyone attending the various programs in our organizations when someone gives an invocation that can only be described as a Christian prayer. It doesn't offend me, but what about everyone else? Many volunteer organizations are going begging for members. Could this be one small reason that other good citizens are not showing up? If I am asked to give an invocation, I ask basically and briefly that each member pray that their god bless our comings and goings and that our work is blessed as we proceed.

Whether your god is The Father, Allah, Buda or Harley Davidson for that matter, if you are breaking no laws, being a good citizen and neighbor, you are doing what our founding fathers asked you to do.

We are living in changing times. Seventy five years ago we were living in a society that was not as diverse as today's. Prayer and bibles had a better fit, although not a perfect one. Look around. There are many, many folks from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It's just not possible to go back to a place we once were. We must see, and I make no apologies, we must embrace the conditions that we have. As citizens of the world, we can only change things within our own sphere of influence.

If you feel that Christianity should be spread, show your faith by example wherever you go. Just maybe someone might want to follow you. Public demanded expression of religion in any form is reserved for a theocracy and not a democracy.

I have not earned a degree, as Reverend Ed has, but may I humbly ask: God Bless America.

Robert Barth

Perryopolis

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