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Religion and the State

July 3, 2008
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The opinions of State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Disttrict 12) are rarely of interest to those who are not part of his Western Pennsylvania constituency. But Metcalfe's remarks during the discussion of a meaningless State House resolution recognizing the gathering of a religious minority showed just low some of the denizens of the Harrisburg legislature can sink.

Metcalfe rose to oppose a measure recognizing a meeting in the capital of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a small breakaway Muslim sect that has been persecuted across the Islamic world. His reason: "The Muslims do not recognize Jesus Christ as God."

Then later, when State Rep. Josh Shapiro confronted Metcalfe and pointed out that this sort of talk showed disrespect for all non-Christians, including Jews, he responded by offering to counsel his colleague to convert to Christianity!

Metcalfe is entitled to think what he likes about non-Christians. But when legislators speak publicly in a manner that undermines the basic principle of U.S. democracy, which ensures that we treat members of all religious faiths equally, it should not be taken lightly. Although the majority of Pennsylvanians -- and, in fact, Americans in general, are Christians -- our republic's founders specifically forbade the establishment of any faith.

Wars of religion have no place in Harrisburg. Metcalfe deserves to be censored by colleagues of both parties for injecting religious prejudice into the State House.

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