Wall of SeparationAn article Nov. 28 by Lyle Denniston and...


November 29, 1994

Wall of Separation

An article Nov. 28 by Lyle Denniston and Holly Selby on school prayer includes a quotation taken from Cardinal William Keeler.

"In principle," he had said, "we would be interested in school prayers as long as they are coupled with religious instruction so that people of all faiths can get instruction in their faith."

In 1964, a minister then in the Washington area, I represented the Unitarian Universalist Association before the House Judiciary Committee. The committee was considering the Becker Amendment on prayer, which we opposed as a threat to the separation of church and state.

The First Amendment scholar, John Sexton, whom I cited, had said, "Religious commitment imposed by the state is democratically unsound and theologically vacuous."

It seems obvious that in this conflicted time, before sectarian differences begin to tear us apart over this fundamental consideration, all of us should remember that the separation of church and state and the First Amendment to the Constitution as interpreted by Jefferson and Madison are unique to America.

They account for the unprecedented good health of both our religious and political way of life, in a world increasingly seared by sectarian strife.

Throughout our history, government has been protected from intrusion by the churches, and the churches from intrusion by the government. Thus both are protected to fulfill their separate roles.

For reasons such as these, in 1982 the Senate voted overwhelmingly against a proposed amendment to permit public schools to set aside a time for silent prayer.

Let us hope our good sense returns as we continue to be faithful to our founding.

Robert L. Zoerheide


The writer is minister emeritus of First Unitarian Church.

Serb Aggression

The Sun continues to hope that peace in Bosnia can be achieved by putting faith in the United Nations' ability to broker HHTC peace, even a peace that would be unsustainable.

You fear that lifting the arms embargo will widen the war as if the war has been somehow limited.

No one likes war, but the intense and understandable desire for any peaceful solution has only resulted in a policy that has continued the war.

The Bosnian war is a war by an aggressor against a sovereign country recognized as such by the United Nations. It is an ugly and unpleasant fact.

And, although officially recognized in U.N. resolutions, it is denied through the practice of even-handedness.

Why? Because the Western powers have been unwilling to face up to the consequences of that reality. Yet, it is hard to imagine what further evidence is needed to recognize how bankrupt the U.N.'s policy of even-handedness has been.

Even when the U.N. finally acts, it goes to ridiculous extremes not to tilt the balance in favor of the Bosnian Muslims. Witness the ineffective air strikes we saw recently.

Bombing runways and not planes! Really, they should at least have had the sense to get it the other way around.

So what should the policy be? Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose moral compass is true, proposed shifting the advantage against the Serb aggressor by carrying out air strikes that would inflict serious damage to Serb military hardware and positions.

This approach, together with the lifting of the arms embargo, might result in convincing the Serbs that they had nothing more to gain and much to lose.

The Serbs must be made to understand this simple calculation. Otherwise, they will continue on their current course. This policy is not without its own risks, but they are risks that must be taken in order to achieve a sustainable peace.

Oz Bengur


Not Same Thing

I was wondering how long it was going to take the anti-abortion crowd to come forward about Susan Smith killing her two children and start comparing apples and oranges (letter, Nov. 11).

I voted for "the most liberal abortion law" in Maryland two years ago and would do it again without blinking twice. Righteous fools continue to compare a fetus to a living, breathing, active child.

If Susan Smith had decided on an abortion years ago instead of carrying these two beautiful boys to full term, we wouldn't even be talking or reading about this horrible tragedy.

What about the women who for whatever reason have babies and then dump them in trash bins or turn around and kill these babies because (A) they didn't want them to start with; (B) they couldn't afford an abortion; or (C) they couldn't afford the baby?

Abortion should not be the answer. Abstinence and birth control are the answers.

But until we are all better educated, I would rather not hear about another mother killing her newborn baby just because she could not end her pregnancy.

Maria Alvarez

Ellicott City

Good Business

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