Most effective prayer
The writer of the Aug. 24 letter to the editor “Religion prohibition” is confused. There is nothing stopping children in public schools from practicing their religion or praying when they want to, so long as they do it quietly and privately and don’t insist that others do the same or require others to participate.
The latter is protected by government, and rightly so, based on the letter writer’s correct recital of the Constitution.
I am assuming the writer is Christian. How would he react were a public-school teacher to require all students to observe Zen meditation, or Islamic prayer, or Hindu morning rituals? I doubt if he would be comfortable with a publicly funded school — by his taxes — initiating, and thereby endorsing, a group observance of a particular religion different from his own.
In other words, it protects in both directions.
This great country was founded by a group who found coercion by governmental religion in England intolerable. That is why they included this paragraph in the Constitution — to protect against that happening here.
When we mix political or social agendas with religious agendas, thereby bringing God into the equation, we find ourselves mired in power struggles and intolerance that inevitably escalate to hatred of others and ultimately wars. It is significant that Jesus admonished his disciples to pray in a closet, unobserved, knowing full well the consequences of publicly endorsed religion. That is the best kind of praying, the least political, and almost certainly the most effective.
A different scenario
To those who feel the proposed construction of a mosque in Lower Manhattan is “an insult,” I pose this scenario: Let’s say the World Trade Center buildings had been leveled by a Christian, such as Eric Rudolph, the confessed bomber of abortion clinics and the 1996 Olympics. Let’s also suggest that Christians wanted to construct a building in Lower Manhattan several years after the tragedy. Would there be the incredible hue and cry we hear now? I think not.
Aid with energy audits
According to a recent newspaper report, Maine will be receiving an additional $7 million to assist low-income Mainers in weatherizing their homes. But how many people will not be able to take advantage of this or other energy efficiency programs because they are mandated to get an expensive energy audit first?
Energy audits can cost anywhere from $250 to $500. People who are living week to week or barely making ends meet can’t afford that much for an energy audit.
Why not partially, if not fully, subsidize the energy audit? Perhaps you would see more people helped by this and other programs if the cost of an audit was not so high.
Several weeks ago, the RSU 13 School Board solicited suggestions from the public to name the newly created high school due to begin next fall. In the interest of saving many taxpayer dollars, as well as easing the transition to consolidation for students, I sent my suggestion via e-mail to the Activities Committee.
My suggestions did not make the cut, but in the interest of a substantial savings of taxpayer dollars, I will offer my suggestions again:
The high school in Rockland, renamed Rockland District Senior High School, with the mascot remaining Tigers and the colors remaining orange and black. The school in Thomaston, which will house grades eight and nine, formerly Georges Valley High School, be called Georges Valley Junior High School with mascot remaining Buccaneers and the colors remaining green and white.
The money saved in uniforms alone would be substantial and in the difficult economy, I would hope, be more wisely spent for our kids’ education. I would suggest that the process of naming a new school and the selection of colors and mascot be saved for the Many Flags school campus, if and when it comes a reality in the future.
A thread that began in the Aug. 14 BDN with a letter supporting creationism elicited a response that countered that view, citing the Constitution, “which states that there will be a separation of church and state.”
This was clarified by another letter writer who provided the actual wording of the First Amendment and noted the absence of a “separation” clause. That writer did note the free exercise clause which says the government cannot hinder anyone from exercising their right to worship.
Then, yet another letter-writer angrily denounced “the liberal myth of the separation of church and state” and “the liberals’ war against Christianity,” and said the other writer “should get his facts straight.”
The establishment clause and the free exercise clause check and balance each other. In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson said the First Amendment creates “a wall of separation between church and state.” Twenty years later, President James Madison concurred, writing, “The great truth that governments do better without kings and nobles with them … will be doubled by the other lesson that religion flourishes in greater purity without than with the aid of government.”
President John Tyler referred to “the total separation between church and state” in 1843. The United States Supreme Court has referenced the separation of church and state metaphor more than 25 times.
So, while the Constitution does not refer to a separation of church and state literally in those words, a separation has been credibly seen throughout our history.
Janice Bodwell should get her facts straight.
Iraq mission continues
I would like to correct the misconception that the remaining 50,000 troops in Iraq will be training the Iraqis to take over their own country.
My grandson and many other men over there are responsible for clearing roads and buildings of land mines and bombs. They may not be “fighting,” but checking and clearing land and roads and building mines and bombs isn’t what I would call a teaching job.