Congratulations to the Inquirer for its informative and needed 12-part series on the Bill of Rights, after 225 years of being our nation's guiding principles. My only quibble is that the "interpreters" for the First and Second Amendments were just a trifle biased: Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, writing of his meaning of freedom of religion ("A moral grounding in faith," Dec. 11), and David Keene, the former president of the NRA, explaining why everyone has a right to carry a gun ("Heller ruling is just a start on gun rights," Dec. 13).
In contrast, National Constitution Center president and CEO Jeffrey Rosen's historical background for the Fourth - no unreasonable searches or seizures without probable cause - left no doubt of the reasonableness, indeed, the necessity for its inclusion.
|Marlene Lieber, Medford
A discussion of the amendments in the Bill of Rights is laudable, especially at this time of government transition. Your choice of someone to write about the Second Amendment, however, is incomprehensible. Instead of a noted and nonpartisan political scientist to give an evenhanded historical analysis, you give us a piece of propaganda by an extremist advocate of unregulated gun rights. This is a public disservice.
|Paul Selbst, Philadelphia, email@example.com
As senior minister at Main Line Unitarian Church, I have enjoyed the daily history lessons from your series on the Bill of Rights, yet one of your introductory columns, "A Moral Grounding in Faith" by Archbishop Chaput, presented more of a lesson in irony than in history.
Arguments from "natural law" are usually used to defend the rights of the vulnerable against the powerful. Yet the archbishop turned these arguments on their head to portray conservative Catholics as the victims of religious persecution when they are prohibited by law from practicing discrimination.
Religious freedom is the right to believe and practice your religion as your conscience dictates; it is not the right to impose your religious beliefs on others. If your church hierarchy opposes abortion, don't have one. If your religious dogma teaches that homosexual marriage is a sin, don't marry someone of the same sex. But your freedom to live as you choose is the same freedom that allows others to live as they choose.
Natural law instructs us that all human beings, whatever our color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation, have equal rights and equal worth, even when an ecclesiastical official implies otherwise.
|Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, president, Americans United for Separation of Church & State, Devon, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Second Amendment says nothing about a citizen's right to have a gun to protect his or her household. The purpose of the Second Amendment was to protect the young country from a sudden, unexpected attack by a foreign power or other adversaries. Its purpose was to form a militia of citizens to protect the country, if that happened. It was written long before automatic weapons were developed. It was written long before the nation had a national guard, an air force, radar, and satellites.
Japan has strong antigun laws and virtually no citizens' deaths from guns. The United States has tens of thousands of deaths per year from guns.
|Robert Mezey, Philadelphia, yezem2@Verizon.net
The commentary about the Third Amendment was bizarre ("Safeguarding citizens' rights closest to home," Dec. 14). It was written by someone with strongly held and totally ludicrous convictions regarding the Second Amendment. All you have to know about those views is that the writer, Hans A. von Spakovsky, is "a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation." The Inquirer could have saved all that space by simply saying, "Gun nut."
|John J. Donohue Jr., Philadelphia, email@example.com
How do you write an entire article about the Fourth Amendment ("4th Amendment all too relevant in the digital age," Dec. 15) without mentioning electronic intrusion by the U.S. government, the Watergate break-in to Democratic headquarters, the murder of Illinois Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in a raid by Cook County officers, and the harassment of
the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by the FBI?