Unholy writ

Carroll County: Public recreation facilities should be used Sundays, not closed by religious intolerance.

May 12, 2000

LET US pray that the audacious order of the county commissioners banning scheduled recreation activities on Sunday mornings will be rescinded.

For the information of Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, this is not a "Christian nation" subject to the tyranny of whatever "majority" claims divine right of power. It is a nation of religious freedom and tolerance, of respect for differing beliefs and practices, of official separation of church and state.

Admittedly, there is a cultural tradition in Carroll that consciously, practically limits official activities on Sunday mornings because many residents may have a conflict with worship services.

But that is not the issue raised by the directive of the commissioners to the recreation department (and county recreation councils) forbidding scheduling of events for county fields and facilities before 12:30 p.m. Sundays.

It is a disturbing attempt to impose a religious code on official practice and use of public facilities that is unwelcome and unwarranted. Shades of Puritan New England.

These are public fields and facilities, supported by all taxpayers, and they should be available for appropriate use at reasonable times without regard for the opinions of one sect or another.

Given the great demand for times to use these public amenities, it's sensible to allow their use on Sunday morning (just as it is to allow their use on Saturdays and Fridays, when other residents hold religious observances). That's something we'd expect the zealous guardians of the public purse to encourage.

Some activities, such as weekend camp-outs and walkathons, have to use facilities on weekend mornings. Preparations for events that begin at noon Sunday involve morning use of facilities. Hours of Sunday services vary widely, allowing flexibility for congregants with other morning plans.

This decision will be challenged in court. It draws disparaging attention to the county.

It must be withdrawn immediately.

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