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Christian Prayer at Inauguration

January 26, 2001

* Re "Bush Starts Off by Defying the Constitution," Commentary, Jan. 24: Is Alan Dershowitz serious? He won't even allow an inaugural Christian prayer? I thought liberals were tolerant of all cultures, religions and forms of speech? What is wrong with a newly elected president wishing to publicly affirm his religious beliefs at an inauguration? Apparently, Dershowitz, being a good, conscientious liberal, feels religious elected officials must never profess their religious beliefs in public for fear of offending those who hold different religious views or none at all.

But as long as Congress doesn't establish an official government-sponsored religion in defiance of the 1st Amendment, future presidents should feel free to express their religious beliefs, in accord with the 1st Amendment. Apparently, Dershowitz wishes to apply the 1st Amendment selectively, primarily against religious speech.

MARTIN MULVIHILL

Huntington Beach

* This time Dershowitz got it right. As I sat watching the Bush inauguration and heard both the invocation and benediction, I felt uninvited, marginalized and worried. As a Jew I thought, is this what the next four years is going to be about? Only Christians are welcome to the party? Inaugurals aren't exactly "off-the-cuff" events. Lots of thought was given to who was going to say what, and lots of people now at the top approved every word. Vigilance, I guess, will be my watchword.

ROBERT MIRISCH

Los Angeles

* Why bother praying at all, if we are to pray to no one in particular?

GRACE CHIN

San Gabriel

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