Separation of church and state a difficult decision

April 27, 2013

Commissioners made the right call this week when denying use of the courtroom for commemoration of the National Day of Prayer.

The reason we bring this up is not because there’s anything wrong with the prayer endeavor, which will be televised to millions of viewers in more than 200 countries.

We bring it up because it presents ethical issues that might be uncomfortable for some of us to confront.

Three members of the Commissioners Court voted down the use of the courtroom at what they knew was political risk.

After all, what hand-shaking, back-slapping politician wants to give even a hint of being anything but God-fearing?

It’s fine that the local organizers asked to use the courtroom. As County Judge Darrell Cockerham stated, a lot of people like it.

The courtroom is majestic, especially after the recent restoration done in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission.

Court members were right when they warned that the courtroom – or any other room in a building built by taxpayers – should not be offered to one group if it’s not going to be open to all groups.

What would happen if an organization that promotes racial supremacy wanted to use it? Or Muslims?

Being an elected official is tough sometimes. So is putting out a newspaper. Many of us here are no stranger to prayer or a church pew, although our pews are in churches of varying denominations.

We support the Commissioners Court in its vote. We also support those who pray for our nation. But we also support the rights of groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation to question the constitutionality of the government officially declaring a National Day of Prayer for a country in which not everyone is of the Christian faith.

Being tolerant of the rights and opinions of others is something this country was founded on.

And it’s that very type of acceptance that is the basis of the Christian religion.

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