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Letter: Catholic bishops are not violating the First Amendment

"It seems to me that the freedom of speech applies to the bishops' letter, as well as the ability of the Bishops or members of their flocks to petition the government for a redress of grievances," writes Mark Sornsin of Fargo.

Letter to the editor FSA
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I respectfully disagree with E. Jane Sinner's letter on this subject .

Sinner considers the Catholic bishops' voicing of their opinions to their "flocks" about what they consider to be bad policies at the University of North Dakota a violation of the First Amendment. Her reasoning is that it violates the idea of the separation of church and state.

Unfortunately there is no mention of the "separation of church and state" in that amendment. The Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." I'm not understanding how the bishops' letter causes the government to establish a religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof.

Ironically, she seems to ignore other aspects of the First Amendment, the remainder of which reads: "...or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

It seems to me that the freedom of speech applies to the bishops' letter, as well as the ability of the Bishops or members of their flocks to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

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The fact is that UND has not created the rules in question, they are just being considered . The Bishops, finding the proposed rules undesirable, are encouraging the school to reconsider. Should they choose not to implement the new rules, UND will be no closer to becoming a religious institution, let alone specifically Catholic, than if they choose otherwise.

She is correct in her final statement: UND is under no obligation to recognize the bishops' concerns or any other citizen's concerns.

Mark Sornsin is a resident of Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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