Vulgar lyrics are OK, but prayer isn't?The Supreme Court...

the Forum

July 15, 1992

Vulgar lyrics are OK, but prayer isn't?

The Supreme Court recently handed down a decision that outlaws public prayer, religious or secular, in schools, at graduation ceremonies and at public events. This is much ado about a nothing issue.

Those who stand against prayers in school have won. One could be led to believe that even neutral prayers could bring down our nation -- a nation founded on the tradition of prayer.

What is the harm, especially in these times, in observing a moment of silence in schools each day?

At such times a young person can become introspective, get in touch with good thoughts, an awareness of his or her own being, or that of his or her neighbors, and perhaps even find a measure of spirituality. It seems to me that wouldn't diminish human values but elevate them. It certainly wouldn't foster immorality.

Surely the influence of some public entertainers like Ice T, Sister Souljah and the performances and ugly language of some rock 'n rollers, whose freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, would have to be called into question. What is their influence on the attitudes and conduct of the young people today? Do they enhance human values or diminish them?

Oh well, perhaps some day the Supreme Court may decide to ban the phrase "How are you?" in public places because the question could be an invasion of privacy.

Hildegard Coley


Coerced prayer

Contrary to Robert Woodworth's assertion (The Forum, July 6), the Supreme Court did not rule in the recent case of Lee vs. Weissman that prayer is not a protected form of free speech. The court did rule that state-sponsored prayer at a public school graduation violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

I do not believe that Mr. Woodworth would wish to legislate mandatory church attendance on Sunday mornings. Why then would he want to force those attending public events to listen to a prayer?

It does not require much sensitivity to recognize that such prayers are offensive not only to non-believers, but to many jTC believers who find such generic prayers objectionable.

We live in the most religiously diverse country in the world. Our diversity stems from our tradition of separation of church and state.

Pray in your homes, churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. If you wish, say a silent, private prayer at graduation ceremonies. However, do not transform prayer into a divisive, meaningless ritual by coercing everyone to participate.

Kenneth Marsalek


Civil rights hero

The death of Juanita Jackson Mitchell, a redoubtable, passionate, gentle and unwavering stalwart in the struggle for human and civil rights leaves a deep void throughout the community and nation.

I recall with immense pleasure and delight the opportunities I had to interact with her and to discuss strategies and techniques past and present, to extirpate racism, sexism and religious bigotry from the American body politic.

Her capacious and perspicacious mind, engaging and infectious spirit of civility and collegiality, fervent and implacable commitment to the rule of law and world of ideas, solid support of family and her unshakable belief in human possibilities constitute a living memorial.

Her death evokes the poignant and comforting thought expressed by William Wordsworth: "Thoughts which lie too deep for human tears." Mrs. Mitchell will be sorely missed.

Samuel L. Banks


Stop speeding

I am a 14-year-old very concerned about the well-being of people. A couple weeks ago my favorite pet's life was abruptly taken by a speeder recklessly driving.

As if that wasn't bad enough, that very same day I saw an accident caused by speeding, and the day after that three people were rushed to the hospital.

That's where I drew the line. I decided to start a group of people to go against such thoughtless acts.

I thought of all the people who are being careful and following the speed limit, but still getting hurt by others who just don't care.

If you speed, you aren't just endangering yourselves, but the lives of others around you. Stop speeding, if not just for yourselves, for the people around you, whom you could hurt.

Please stop speeding.

I know many of you speed to get somewhere faster, but the more you speed the more chances you have of not getting there at all because of causing an accident.

Noelle McKay


Charm city

As guests of the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel, my companion and I took a cab over to a city market to buy fruit. On leaving the market, we couldn't catch a taxi to get back to the hotel. Confused and concerned, we asked a young couple where to catch a cab, whereupon the husband attempted to find one for us -- with no success.

Then they had a quick discussion and offered to take us back themselves. We gratefully accepted, thinking afterward that such an offer isn't easy to come by, nor to accept, in these troubled times.

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