Religious freedom is important part of school 'hex' caseIn...

Letters to the Editor

October 25, 1998

Religious freedom is important part of school 'hex' case

In regard to the article "Student suspended for 'hex' " (Oct. 21), Southwestern High Alpha Academy Principal Earl L. Lee is obviously and admittedly ignorant about Jamie Schoonover's religion. But he goes further and says he finds it bizarre that one of his students admits to practicing witchcraft.

This implies that he expects that anyone practicing witchcraft should keep it a secret, presumably because it is reprehensible. That shows a profound, if perhaps unconscious and unintended disrespect.

I wonder why the Schoonover girl was suspended, given that all she was reported to have done was to lend a pen to a friend. It was obvious from the story that she was singled out because she was honest about her religious affiliation, not because she had done or said anything wrong.

That other students are afraid of her because of their own beliefs is not her problem.

I applaud the Schoonover girl for being forthright about her religious practice, in the face of obvious ignorance and prejudice on the part of her classmates and school administration.

Also, I fail to see the relevance of the sexual orientation (or re-orientation) of the girl's parent, Colleen Harper, to the events of the story.

Is it The Sun's policy to report on the sexual details of all persons whose religious issues make the news, or is such reporting reserved only for those whose religion is deemed open to ridicule?

Steven Cason

Freeland

The principal of Southwestern's Alpha Academy should

investigate Wicca further. As an anthropologist studying Wicca for the past four years, I find the hex accusation leveled at Jamie Shoonover as misinformed.

Effective hex magic requires inordinate amounts of concentration, a multitude of tools, personal effects of the target and a host of malicious intent.

Every good witch knows that hexes spell more trouble for the source than the target, and Jamie, with her White Out pen, had neither the intent nor the tools to harm her hysterical accuser. Magic in Wicca focuses on empowerment rather than power over others.

Most magic focuses on healing, banishing negative habits in oneself and helping friends and family. An explanation of this is contained in Scott Cunningham's "The Truth about Witchcraft Today." In most cases, it is a blessing rather than a curse to know a witch.

Gwen Pfeiffer

Reisterstown

Principal Earl L. Lee states that he needs "additional information about this witchcraft, whether it's a true religion or not."

What criteria is he going to use to qualify it as a true religion? By what authority does he even have the right to make such a determination? If he finds the faith of Colleen Harper and her child not to be a true religion, what is he going to do about it?

The article does not mention what is to become of the student who feared that she had been hexed. Who taught her to fear other religions so much that she became hysterical at almost no provocation? Who taught her and her friends that Wicca and Satanism were equivalent? If Jamie Schoonover had been Jewish or Muslim, would Mr. Lee have acted in the same manner?

Perhaps instead of researching minority religions, Mr. Lee might study religious tolerance and the meaning of the free exercise of religion.

William G. Coffee

Pasadena

Environmental gains came via 'bureaucracy'

It is unfortunate that Peter A. Jay ("Sauerbrey the right choice for this environmentalist," Oct. 20) is unable to acknowledge that so many of the improvements in the environment that he has praised in the past, such as osprey recovery, are results of the "environmental bureaucracy" he derides in his endorsement of Ellen Sauerbrey.

I thought it had become clear to all that, while voluntary compliance with prescribed practices is a nice idea and may work in a few cases, government regulations are far more effective in protecting natural resources.

Leslie Starr

Baltimore

Violence against gays defies Christ's teachings

I am very concerned about the Christian-bashing in connection with the man in Wyoming who was brutally murdered because he was a homosexual.

Being an evangelical, born-again Christian I would like to assure people that this kind of violence and senseless brutality is not condoned by true Christians; neither is violence at abortion clinics.

The highest pursuit of a Christian is to become more Christ-like by surrendering our self-interested will to the will of God.

Christ's actions did not include hate and violence toward sinners. On the contrary, he came to save sinners because we need a savior. The Bible clearly paints a picture of Christ as

loving and compassionate. Turning the other check, the golden rule, the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son are but a few

examples of how Christ would have us live.

It is true the Bible does not condone homosexuality and therefore as a committed Christian I cannot. Persecution, however, is never the Christ-like solution to the problem of sin. Christ forgives us for our sins and teaches us to forgive.

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