Article twists facts on church and state role

[Editor’s note: Dr. Richard Laird is an associate professor of mathematics at Missouri Southern.]

Dear Editor,

I would like to reply to the editorial, “Church and state role has been twisted,” of Sept. 5 by Julie Lybarger. There is much that is left out of her article.

The Supreme Court case from Kentucky (McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky) was reviewing a case from the Sixth Circuit Court which had decided, based on precedence, that the display of the Ten Commandments in this case was unconstitutional. The appeal asked the court to reformulate or abandon the “Lemon test” which came from a case heard by the court in 1971 (Lemon v. Kurtzman). The Lemon test detailed the requirements for legislation concerning religion. It has three prongs:

The government action must have a secular legislative purpose.

The government’s action must not have the effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion.

The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

If any of these are violated the government’s action is unconstitutional. The actions of the McCreary County government did not pass the Lemon test. So the case had nothing to do with the people of Kentucky being able to post the Ten Commandment, it just said the government could not post them when their purpose was religious in nature.

It should be noted that the same day the court handed down this decision; they ruled that a display of the Ten Commandments in Texas (Van Orden v. Perry) was constitutional. Both decisions were 5-4.

Prayer has never been outlawed in school. Anyone can pray at any time in school. State sanctioned prayer is not allowed. How would you feel if the teacher started every class with “HAIL ZEUS…”? Do you really want the state using your tax money to teach someone else’s religion to your child?

Thank you,

Rich LairdAssociate Professor, Mathematics