Religion AllowedAs the school year is beginning, this is...


September 04, 1995

Religion Allowed

As the school year is beginning, this is an appropriate time for parents, students, educators and the general public to be made aware of what kind of religious activity is permissible in and about the public schools.

Unfortunately, Louis P. Sheldon's Aug. 18 article does this issue a disservice in alleging that, "President Clinton has not stopped the government's assault on religious freedom . . ." The writer goes on to advocate a "religious equality amendment," claiming that government is "hostile" to religion and discriminates against religious groups.

Actually, we already are blessed with an amendment to our Constitution -- the First Amendment -- the religious clauses of which provide, in a mere 16 words, that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Realizing that this language has created much controversy, often resulting in misunderstanding -- especially in respect to the public schools -- a coalition of 34 religious and civil liberties groups, coordinated by the American Jewish Congress, has prepared guidelines entitled, "Religion in the Public Schools: A Joint Statement of Current Law."

The organizations endorsing this statement span the ideological, religious and political spectrum (ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the National Association of Evangelicals), but they agree on the substance of the statement. They all share a commitment to the freedom of religious practice and to the separation of church and state that such freedom requires.

What is needed is for parents, students and educators to understand which religious activities are permissible and which are not. What is not necessary is another constitutional amendment.

The Baltimore Jewish Council will be distributing an abbreviated version of the Joint Statement to schools and to interested organizations. Anyone may receive a copy of the full statement by writing to "Religion in the Public Schools," 15 E. 84th Street, Suite 401, New York, New York 10028.

William H. Engelman


The writer is a past president of the Baltimore Jewish Council.


Now that the towers of the Lafayette Courts housing project are down, we can all finally get relief from the media's annoying insistence that what took place was an implosion.

What Controlled Demolition Inc. does when it brings down a building has nothing to do with an implosion. What it is, in fact, is an explosion.

The support beams which allow a building to stand are severed by explosions which causes the building to collapse, not implode. According to my Webster's, an implosion is an inward burst, an unrushing of air forming a suction stop.

Trust me: a vacuum does not exist in these windowless structures. And in order to have an implosion, you must first have a complete vacuum.

In the future CDI will be in town again to provide us with more spectacles as the high-rise at the Lexington Terrace, Murphy Homes and Flag House Courts are demolished. My hope is that by the time the next countdown begins, the press learns the difference between an explosion and an implosion.

Allen R. House


Wrong Message

In their Aug. 19 article, The Sun's writers JoAnna Daemmrich and Joan Jacobson provided some details as to Baltimore City's intended replacement for the now leveled Lafayette Courts Towers. There's one aspect of the reported redevelopment plan that appears, if true, to be both absurd and without logical foundation. I refer specifically to the intended occupancy "for teen-age mothers" of 18 of 228 traditional rowhouses.

The article did not elaborate nor discuss the issues accompanying some critical questions as to how many teen mothers and infants would be able to reside in the 18 rowhouses nor whether the fathers (teens or adults) would also be providing responsible support for their contributed creative efforts and societal shortcomings?

The logic of those planning this redevelopment is certainly not clear. If society believes that teens generally are incapable of raising children, just as it is society's belief they are not sufficiently mature to vote, drink alcoholic beverage or buy tobacco products until age 18, why should society support homes for teen age mothers?

The irony of the proposed 18 row house set-aside for teen mothers is that it provides the appearance of rewarding sexually active teens for their misdeeds.

Letter writer Mary McCracken (Aug. 19) hit the nail right on the head when she chided President Clinton about preaching to our young people to stop smoking when "he recently had a surgeon general who was giving condoms to these young people." The message is that "it seems to be all right to have sex, just don't smoke afterward."

I would also add to not become pregnant because the 18 rowhouses now reserved for teen mothers would be more appropriate to accommodate a more responsible segment of our society.

Sy Steinberg


Wu's Crusade

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