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Letter: Religious Public School Calendar

I would like to comment on the recent letter to the editor regarding religious holidays being called just “recess” and our schools taking federal money with “In God We Trust” on it.

I believe the logic that the Port Washington school board had with respect to omitting the religious names on days when the school is closed as recess is due to the fact that we are a multi-religious community. Days which the Port Washington schools are closed are either American holidays, such as Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Thanksgiving, etc., or days of major religious significance to the vast majority of Port Washington residents, such as Christmas and Yom Kippur.

This is taken within the context of the First Amendment which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Since Port Washington schools are funded by tax dollars of people of all religions, and of none having holidays for some religions and not all is in affect the establishment of religion and against the First Amendment. As our community, like the rest of the United States, becomes more religiously diverse, other religions should have representation for school holidays too. Why should we only have Christian and Jewish holidays? Why not Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and other religions? I am sure the students would not be against more holidays whatever their religion is or even if they do not follow any religion.

In order not to have tons of religious holidays and in respecting the First Amendment in the establishment of religion, I believe the school board decided to call the religious holidays just “recess.” Although I do think that Winter Recess in December/January would have been more appropriate.

As for the school accepting money with “In God We Trust” printed on it, I would believe they would also accept money that did not have In God We Trust printed on it too as would everyone else. In fact, In God We Trust was first printed on our paper currency only in 1957 during the Cold War as a way to show the communists that we believed God was on our side. Since communists do not belief in God they could care less that we trust in God our almighty dollar. Our currency also worked fine before 1957 and what is really absurd is that the root of all evil is said to be money, and ours has In God We Trust on it.

Paul S. Waters