Thursday, October 14, 2010

Supremes Should Tell Fred Phelps He Can't Impose His Religion on Other Faiths' Funerals

The gist of most of the coverage of the Supreme Court's questioning of the Fred Phelps clan October 6th was that most of the justices, conservative and liberal, seemed sympathetic to the family of the deceased soldier harassed by the anti-gay hate group at their son's funeral and wanted to find a way to rule against Phelps--but the justices seemed to be grasping for a way to do so that would not stifle legitimate free speech.

In a letter to the Houston Chronicle October 12th, a reader gave the justices an excellent rationale. Stephen W. O'Driscoll of The Woodlands, TX, said the issue should be freedom of religion, not freedom of speech: funerals, which are almost always conducted by a religious official of one kind or another, should be considered protected events under the First Amendment's freedom of religion clauses--so that no one has the right to disrupt them, and especially when they're trying to assert contrary religious claims against the mourners. The text of the letter follows:

No right to disrupt

Regarding "Justices not blind as they hear appeal," (Page A3, Thursday), the Supreme Court case involving the disruption of the burial of a fallen Marine is actually simple to decide.

Any burial can be considered a private and religious rite since a religious figure, such as a priest, rabbi, minister or other, is normally involved.

To say that anyone has the right to disrupt the service would lead to wholesale disruptions in churches, mosques, synagogues and any other places of worship.

I will leave it to the Supreme Court to decide if such disruptions should be considered as hate crimes.


The Woodlands

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