To the Editor:
Poor Governor Chafee. He tries to institute the principle established by Rhode Island’s founder, Roger Williams, of freedom and equality of religion and what does it earn him? Vituperation.
When Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, he did so to escape regimented religionists who insisted he worship the way they believed, whether it suited him or not. Williams sought religious freedom and offered those who followed him the opportunity to worship whoever they wished in whatever manner, without government interference. This tenet was adopted and incorporated into the Rhode Island and the national Constitution, guaranteeing that everyone would be treated equally, with favoritism shown to no one.
Too bad those who claim the highest allegiance to our Constitution wouldn’t read and understand this better. Christopher Curran is dismayed that the governor inaugurated a Rhode Island Day of Reason, which was celebrated at the same time as the National Day of Prayer. Through some miscomprehension, Curran believes that the Day of Reason supplanted and abolished the Prayer event. This mistaken notion has severely disturbed Currans’ universe to the point where he assails Governor Chafee mercilessly for Chafee’s audacity at attempted unity. Let’s ignore the fact that the governor can’t unilaterally abolish a national celebration he didn’t begin. Nor can he prevent anyone from celebrating a day of prayer (prayer that Jesus says you should do in private and not ostentatiously and pridefully in front of everyone). Consider there are many different religions in the state. Which prayer should we use for the Day of Prayer? Catholic? They’re the state’s major religious group. But that would offend the Protestants, Mormons, Scientologists, Jews, Hindus, Shintoists, pagans, and Humanists. I imagine Mr. Curran would reject a Moslem prayer, since he’s upset that we have a “holiday tree,” rather than a “Christmas tree,” in the State House (a tradition harking back to many Republican governors but which is now a sore point since Chafee is an apostate right-winger).
But, really, does Mr. Curran require the government or anyone else to tell him what day he must pray, that he must have an occasion designated when he can seek divine guidance? Must he depend on a calendar, if his pastor hasn’t indicated the time to pray has come? More importantly, why must the National Prayer Day be so closely entwined with Republican politics? Almost every speaker at the national event used the occasion to pillage the president, to the point where a Democratic legislator actually walked out during one partisan prayer.
Most intriguing is that Mr. Curran has conflated the naming (or renaming) of a tree, and the start of what to him is an odious celebration, into a perception that the governor is unable to govern properly. Treating every citizen with proper respect is apparently anathema to Mr. Curran. In Mr. Curran’s world, religious intolerance seemingly trumps Roger Williams’ ideals.