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Reader feedback: Gone too far

Re: Catholic Church hopes for three new treaties with Vatican, By Martina Pisárová, Vol 8, No 42, Nov 4 to 10

Dear Madam,

The constitutions of both the United States (Amendment 1) and Slovakia (Article 24) both guarantee freedom of religion. However, the difference in the interpretation of these provisions is striking.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that, since a primary purpose of the first amendment is to ensure that no state religion will be established, there must be a "wall of separation" between church and state. Thus, prayer in public schools is prohibited, as are most forms of direct aid to parochial schools and institutions. Even displays of Christmas creches and crucifixes and the singing of religious holiday songs have been banned in government buildings.

In sharp contrast, as your article points out, here in Slovakia the government pays the full salaries of priests and other "religious servants" and even part of the bishops' office expenses. With regard to education, the only debate is whether the state should pay all or just part of church schools' costs, and under the new treaty the Catholic Church will have the right to lecture children "on the Christian faith in all state schools".

The relationship between church and state is a controversial topic all over the world, and emotions run high on both sides. Perhaps the US and Slovakia have each gone too far in opposite directions.

Bill Dzurilla

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