Reader Letter: Religion and the Constitution

There is a more than apparent and perennial conflict between religion and our Constitution that often boils down into whether or not we are a Christian nation. This conflict has driven both sides apart and behind bunkers with a huge swath of no-man's land in the middle.

Yet the solution is simple and readily available to both sides. For Christians, Christ is in our hearts as much as is the Constitution and both point to a common remedy. If there is a practice, a behavior, a morality that is not unlawful, you are free to follow it. There is only one restriction on this gift. We cannot force it on others.

Both Christ and the Constitution are in agreement with this point. While this compromise does not prevent one side from presenting a persuasive argument (proselytizing) to the other, it does prevent one side from forcing adherence to its morality on the other. That is against both Christ's teachings and the U.S. Constitution.

Contraception is an excellent example. The instant fight is over whether the government can force insurance companies to provide contraception to all their insureds without regard for belief. It is not, as formerly put, to force people to pay for something that is against their beliefs. That was a mistake in presentation. All the government was intending to do was to ensure contraception is available to all who wish to use it, which is its job.

Just because it is available does not mean an individual who believes contraception is wrong has to use it. Nor does it mean that those who believe contraception is wrong are able to force that belief on others who believe otherwise. It's called tolerance and the purpose of government is to protect us from ourselves.

Edward Tomchin

Golden Valley