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Letter: Secular law must be reached through secular means

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In response to the letter submitted by Rachel Humeniuk (“Thousands of lives saved through prayer,” Oct. 22), I want first and foremost to make this clear: We live in a nation where the church and state are separate and where the freedom to practice religion (or not practice) is guaranteed to all citizens.

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I also want to state that while you may intimate my personal views on abortion, they are irrelevant to this letter.

Two issues need to be clarified. First, Ms. Humeniuk and others seem to believe that demonstrations are only deemed protests when they are violent, disruptive or otherwise harmful to persons or property.  In truth, a protest is “an event at which people gather together to show strong disapproval about something” (Merriam-Webster).

Violence or lack thereof is no factor. Rather than avoid what seems an unsettling but appropriate description, perhaps participants in the vigil should self-reflect on why they are uncomfortable with the word “protest”. Do they need to own up to the fact that while they may not perceive their actions intimidating, others may? After all, by making this vigil public, it can’t be denied that the intention is to intimidate — sorry, persuade — by presence.

But there is a second issue. Many of those who identify Christian reasons for their objection to social policies can cite specific examples in the Bible right down to the verse. Given the public presence that this prayer vigil intends to achieve, what are the Biblical motives behind the actions of the participants? In Matthew, Jesus is quoted as saying, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

The participants in this protest aren’t praying in secret; they are praying on the street and holding signs. This is activism prayer, and there is a designated outcome: the imposition of one faith’s tenet on people of all other faiths or lack thereof. This may be the moral direction that the nation should follow, but secular law must be reached through secular means.

Sutton Stewart

Bemidji

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