Markle Report

Letters to the editor

March 29, 1992

A number of readers have asked to see State Special Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli's report on the Hickman-Markle investigation.

As apublic service, The Carroll County Sun has a copy available for public viewing (sorry, we cannot provide individual photocopies) during our normal business hours, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, at 15 E. Main St., Winchester Exchange, Westminster.

DON'T SHUT OUT RELIGION

From: Rev. Shawn N. Hill

Westminster

I want to respond to Jeff Griffith's commentary, "Former NFL star should be flagged for speech," which appeared in the March 22 Carroll County Sun.

In the piece, Griffith strongly criticized a recent series of talks offered inseveral Carroll County schools by former NFL pro, Herman Weaver.

One of Griffith's main complaints was that Weaver specifically told his young listeners that Jesus Christ had changed his life, including helping him say "no" to alcohol.

Griffith suggests that such a presentation, with any religious content, in a public school violates the U.S. Constitution, particularly the "separation of church and state."

First, I am very saddened that our young people, and evidently our adults, believe that the notion of "separation of church and state" is actually in the Constitution. It is not.

While the Constitution does prohibit the establishment of an official state religion, italso seeks to protect the free exercise of religion from state interference, not vice versa. Attempts to eliminateany and all "religion" from the public sector is a relatively contemporary interpretation ofthe Constitution, and is, I believe, often a clear infringement on the free exercise of religion.

Griffith also rightly states that any such messages, "with the implied endorsement of the school . . . come across with tremendous impact." Again, he is correct.

Our children and teen-agers are extremely impressionable. That is why they areso easily seduced by the lure of drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity and other degrading and dangerous activities.

Our young people arebombarded by negative influences on their lives. We must attempt to present positive alternatives to our young people. This must occur athome, at places of worship and in school.

Religion has played a significant role in the development of our nation. Religion and faith are extremely important parts of life for many, many Americans.

Personal faith in God has helped unnumbered people to be happier, healthier and whole. What is wrong with our children knowing that?

To hide these facts from our children is to cheat them of one real and practical option for their young lives.

We cannot continue to attempt to shape the minds of our young people and to instill some positivemoral principles in their lives, all the while pretending that religion and personal faith in God do not play an integral and positive role in the lives of many families and individuals.

LINE IS NOT DEFINED

From: John A. Gebhardt

Westminster

In response to Mr. Jeff Griffith's column of Sunday, March 22, 1992, let me identify myself as the father of one of the East Middle students addressed by Mr. Herman Weaver, former NFC punter.

Mr. Griffith alleges that Mr.Weaver "stepped over the line" and had "run afoul of the U.S. Constitution."

Mr. Griffith fails to identify whose "line" Mr. Weaver stepped over and what that "line" delineates.

As to running afoul of the U.S. Constitution, I have just reviewed the document and I find no specific language in this document that substantiates Mr. Griffith's allegation.

On the contrary, the very first amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees Mr. Weaver the right to freedom of religion and toexpress himself freely through speech. It seems significant to me that both of these freedoms are identified first and together.

I do not agree with every message addressed to my child at school. Therefore, I exercise my obligation to review the information that the school mails directly to me, the information my child brings home from school and my child's thoughts, ideas, opinions and feelings about the school experience.

Then I attempt to respond as a responsible, loving parent.

Based on my child's reaction to Mr. Weaver's address, I'd support the Carroll County Board of Education, should it decide toinvite him back.

A STUDENT RESPONDS

From: Tara Gebhardt

Westminster

I would like to discuss Mr. Jeff Griffith's article about Herman Weaver on March 22, 1992.

I attend a Carroll County middle school and totally disagree with Mr. Griffith's comments.

After being reminded of the Constitution by my father, the First Amendment states (rights to) freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Mr. Weaver had the right to talk about God in our schools, and we had the right tolisten.

As for those students who don't care to listen, they won't trust me, I know, but at least they have an option.

As for the cards, we didn't have to write our address or check if we wanted to besaved or not. In fact, we didn't even have to see them at all if we didn't want to.

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