In Chicago

Dateline: Fri 28 Sep 2007

Big Shoulders beckons.

But until I return Sunday/Monday, does anyone have a strong opinion on whether the airport should install footbaths -- and foot the bill -- for its 80 or so Muslim cabbies? This is a hot potato topic.

Buddy Pete Miesel made a valid and interesting argument to the Star, which this morning endorsed making religious accomodations. Says Pete, in an email to the big cheeses over there:

"To the best of my recollection, the Establishment Clause of the

Constitution prohibits public officials from endorsing one religion over

another, either through actions tacit or otherwise, and especially with

public funds. Your take on the airport spending public funds to assist

the religious rituals of one specific religion implies that the

Establishment Clause should only be invoked if too much money is

expended by the state on behalf of religion.

"Try to remember this editorial in December when your paper is lecturing people about Nativity displays or keeping their religious beliefs to themselves."

Shameless Dan Carpenter/Dennis Ryerson baiting, but all in good fun (and for a higher purpose).

My view? I see no harm in the airport installing the baths; let a million flowers bloom. But I do agree with Pete: not a word, then, about the state selling its "In God we trust" license plates, or the city moving its Creche away from Christ Cathedral and back to the heart of Monument Circle.

Problematic? Your thoughts? Ain't democracy a bitch?

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