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Letter: High school is not the place for public prayer

The original Monitor article about Lizarda Urena praying at Concord High School was deeply disturbing because she had received Principal Gene Connolly’s permission (“Concord High mom prays outside school for peace each day,” front page, May 18). Openly practicing faith on school property was so clearly wrong. I hoped the coverage would propel someone to put an end to Urena’s daily prayer vigil.

After several weeks, a complaint was filed with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The group responded by contacting the district’s superintendent, who resolved the issue by rescinding the erroneously issued permission. An article with that news appeared a few days ago, followed closely by two letters in support of Urena, both citing her First Amendment rights.

What about the rights of those at the high school? Not everyone is a Christian, and no one should be forced to witness religion being practiced. But because she was doing it on public property, there was little choice.

Religion is a personal decision. Our First Amendment rights, which both letter writers cite as providing Urena protection and defense, also provide for the separation of church and state. This includes the right to practice the faith of our choice without hindrance or persecution and but also without government sanction. The Supreme Court has upheld the importance of that separation time and time again. By no means are Urena’s rights being denied; she is free to pray, just not on school property. If she feels her prayers are fundamental in protecting her children or others at the high school, she is free to appeal to her God – but on her own time and not where those who may not be like-minded are subjected to it.

SEPTEMBER FLANAGAN

Concord

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