THE SO-called "separation of church and state" appears nowhere in the Constitution.

It is somewhat implied in the First Amendment by forbidding the (federal) government from adopting an official religion and from prohibiting the free exercise of any and all religions by its citizens.

That's all.

There's no restriction on what state, city and municipal governments may do regarding religion.

The First Amendment is a freedom "of" religion, not "from" religion. You are free not to participate if you so wish. But the First Amendment doesn't grant you the right to neuter the public square of anything religious because you are offended.

Unless, of course, it violates the particular state's written constitution, which almost every state has.

The First Amendment, like all the others, restrains and limits the power of the federal government. They are not limits on the citizens.

Joel A. Schreiber


nolead begins

Empowering Dr. Ackerman

I find this constant rush to judgment of Dr. Arlene Ackerman, who's shown she's willing to take on "the system" in Philadelphia by making changes that will be more inclusive, very troubling.

With 44 percent of the city population African-American, 9 percent Latino and 5 percent Asian, and 80 percent of the students in the School District belonging in one of these ethnic groups, it would seem to be admirable that the leader of the schools would look for opportunities to level the playing field when it comes to how contracts get dispersed more equitably.

It was Ackerman who brought resolution to the 30-year desegregation case that several of her predecessors didn't touch. She continues to take on the hard issues, and one of the hardest issues for this city is one of equitable treatment of minority contracting.

The Urban League has fought for 100 years to bring parity and power for African-Americans across this country. Yet our research shows that in Philadelphia, the equality index is at 72 percent, meaning blacks are only 72 percent as well off as their white counterparts. This reflects the struggle that continues in Philadelphia, with its iconic symbols of democracy and independence.

The irony is that disparities still exist some 200 years after the Founding Fathers constructed the U.S. government, right here in Philadelphia.

Ackerman deserves the

respect and decency afforded others in leadership, and the power to make change.

Patricia A. Coulter, President & CEO

Urban League of Philadelphia