September 19, 2014
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Time to practice tolerance

To the Editor:

Here we go again, and it begs the question, where will it end?
Asking for the removal of a war memorial because it has a cross on it is absurd. Will the atheists next ask for the removal of the stones at the Veterans Cemetery in Exeter because they have a cross inscribed on them? Or will they ask for the removal of all the stones at Arlington?
I don’t believe the court did any justice to the people of Rhode Island when it ruled to remove the banner from Cranston West.
When prayer was abolished in the school systems, I understood. It simply was not fair to force students to pray if they did not practice a religion. But the banner did not force anyone to do anything. The banner did not ask people to respect any specific established religion, and reading it was voluntary.
When the banner was hanging, everyone had the right to read it or not read it, and the right to agree with it or not agree with it. But when it was removed, these simple rights were taken away.
The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Our founding fathers created the First Amendment to prevent the government from forcing one religion on the citizens and to allow us to worship or not worship however we feel is appropriate to our beliefs.
Religion is a specific set of beliefs.
Atheism is a belief that there is no existence of a God.
Therefore, I can conclude that atheism is a religion.
That being said, it seems to me that removing anything that may seem religious from the public could be taken as an attempt to establish the religion of atheism. Since the banner did not have a religious purpose, try to force a religious view, involve any kind of aid to a church; I feel the court should have voted against the removal in order to stay secular.
The ruling favored the atheists’ beliefs over any other belief and now it seems the atheists are trying to remove anything they deem “religious.” Allowing this to go on would certainly violate separation of church and state by enforcing the beliefs of a religion on all citizens.
It is time that the citizens of Rhode Island and the United States started practicing tolerance; simply accepting and respecting each other as individuals. We can all have our own beliefs and practice them as we deem appropriate and live together, working together and helping each other day to day. It’s a simple idea that has been around for many, many years. Treat others as you would have them treat you.

Linda Cote
Richmond


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