Mayor's mandate divisive

 

Like any red-blooded American, I was both devastated and angered by the events of Sept. 11. In the weeks since the attacks, I have struggled to find a fragile inner peace -- one that is both spiritually comforting and morally satisfying.

 

Now the mayor of Elkhart has informed me that my own methods of finding peace are faulty. Instead, I am told that internal strength can only be gained specifically through prayer that is accompanied by fasting. In fact, he has gone as far as to announce that it is my "civic and moral duty" to follow the tenets of his own religion.

 

Forgive me, Mr. Miller, but you are absolutely out of line. My civilian obligations do not include prescribed methods of worship, and my sense of morality transcends whatever doctrine you might personally choose to obey. For you to imply that I am morally obligated to honor the victims within a specific religious context is both divisive and insulting.

 

The freedoms that we are fighting to preserve include the right to live free of religious coercion. That means that all citizens are free to seek a closeness to God by whatever means they choose, be it prayer, fasting, meditation, nature hikes or community service. Our society will honor the dead in ways that cross all boundaries of religion and secularism. But our moral fitness will not be judged according to the religious creeds of our political leaders. That, Mr. Miller, would be un-American.

 

Geoff Trowbridge The Elkhart Truth, 10/15/2001