The New York Sun, being a conservative paper, is bad on religion–maybe not as bad as Christian conservatives, but you’ll get the occasional column from a rabbi giving the religious justification for war in Iraq, or an offhand comment in an editorial saying that the Jews’ right to be in Israel derives from their religion.

Monday’s paper contained an unsigned editorial praising Hillary Clinton for saying that she has relied on prayer as her “primary source of help”:

[T]he moment that struck us most –and that probably did the most to help Mrs. Clinton win over the independent, middle-American voters that she will need to get elected president in 2008–was when Ms. Walters asked Mrs. Clinton about her faith and how it helped her during her difficult times….

[I]t is an amazing thing to see a liberal icon such as Mrs. Clinton speak so publicly, and in such a positive way, about her religion…. Yet if Mrs. Clinton keeps challenging the liberal conventions on prayer and finds some other issues with which she can pleasantly surprise sensible, centrist voters, she may just make some inroads in 2008. [June 9, 2003, New York Sun]

and an even worse lead editorial defending providing public facilities for religious purposes:

On Friday,a three-judge panel of its judges held, two-to-one, that New York City cannot lock out the Bronx Household of Faith Church from public school facilities used by other groups because such an action would constitute “viewpoint discrimination.” In doing so, the circuit court reversed its own decision of 1997, to conform with Supreme Court precedent from the intervening years….

There is a holdout, however, in Judge Roger Miner, who issued a dissent that smacked of hostility and defiance….

Judge Miner’s churlishness, we suppose, is of little consequence given the outcome of the case. America sided with the Bronx Household of Faith in a brief filed by the Department of Justice…. Meanwhile, the people of the Bronx and the rest of New York have won a famous victory–one that will enable the religious persons among us to stand on a more equal footing with others in access to our public spaces. [June 9, 2003, New York Sun]

I had the following letter published Wednesday in response:

There is no relevant difference between forcing an individual to contribute more to a candidate than he would voluntarily offer, and forcing an individual to contribute more to a religion than he would voluntarily provide [“Faith of the Bronx,” June 9]. Both are violations of free speech. That the coercion is accomplished through taxation, or that the money supports all positions equally, make the action no more voluntary.

There is no “viewpoint discrimination” here: The state has no business providing public facilities or tax money to promote any system of ideas–atheistic, religious, communist, capitalist, democratic, or fascist. Cognition never results from coercion. Law, and the police power of the state, are properly concerned only with people’s actions, not with their ideas. [New York Sun]

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