Bus driver's lawyer says her prayers were OK I am the...

Letters

April 07, 2002

Bus driver's lawyer says her prayers were OK

I am the attorney for Stella Tsourakis, the school bus driver ultimately dismissed [after] praying with students on her bus. I am responding to Mary M. Davis' misguided, sad letter ("Fired bus driver wrong to claim a right to pray," March 24).

Ms. Davis surmised that one goal of the Alliance Defense Fund, or ADF, is to assert the Body of Christ in our legal system. She misstates ADF's record. ADF has been very successful in stopping the ACLU and government officials from persecuting Christians in this country. Despite Ms. Davis' assertions, however, I am not an employee of the ADF. I am a former Maryland assistant attorney general, currently an adjunct professor at Mt. St. Mary's College, called to work for free. ADF does not pay my fee.

Ms. Davis' miscomprehension of the First Amendment is predictable. Of course, "government-fostered prayer" by a "government official" is unconstitutional under the current (flawed) case law. However, Ms. Davis assumes a bus driver is a "government official." In fact, Ms. Tsourakis was an employee of a private contractor and had no disciplinary/instructional authority over students. Furthermore, no child was required to stay on the bus for the short prayer. Essentially, bus drivers are no more a "government official" than is a chaperone on the bus for a field trip. Certainly, a chaperone could pray with the students, and it follows that bus drivers can also.

Ms. Davis also believes that the Constitution requires a "separation of church and state." The Constitution only requires that the state not establish a religion. Further, Ms. Davis seems to believe that other, non-Christian students are somehow protected from being "offended" or "feeling uncomfortable." Woefully wrong again, Ms. Davis! There is no Constitutional protection against being "offended" or "uncomfortable." Instead, the First Amendment guarantees that some will be offended. I suggest that Ms. Davis and others instill the fortitude in their children to simply leave if offended. Anyway, to the extent prayer and Christ's Gospel are offensive, I will fight to offend everyone.

The current trend toward a radical separation of schools from religion is the recent fanatical creation of post-modern liberals. Only in the 1960s was prayer in schools deemed unconstitutional. In fact, in this country's infancy, Congress enacted legislation (Northwest Ordinance) encouraging religion in schools. I am aware of numerous citations showing that the constitutional framers supported Christian prayer and education in schools. Ms. Davis unfortunately, yet predictably, is unaware of the Constitution's historical scope. This sort of knowledge is not often taught in schools, universities or law schools by the liberal (allegedly) elite in charge of those institutions. In any event, bus drivers and students are still guaranteed the right to pray by the Constitution, even under the current, tortured interpretation foisted upon America by the socially divisive, spiritually void and intellectually dishonest.

Constitutional muttering aside, I ask Ms. Davis why a wartime prayer with students bothers her? Perhaps Ms. Davis joins other unwitting pawns in a spiritual offensive against the Body of Christ. If she'd like to pray with me for discernment and for Christ's help, I am available to her.

Steven L. Tiedemann

Westminster

Bureaucracies strive to achieve perfection

I would like to respond to Crispin Sartwell's vented spleen regarding government bureaucracy ("The bureaucratic beast spits out only stupidity," Opinion

Commentary, March 18). Having worked 14 years in the private sector and 21 in the federal, I have seen the issue from both sides. First, let me agree with Mr. Sartwell in his outrage over the Mohamed Atta visa farce. It is truly an example of the foolish capabilities of bureaucracy.

With that said, I must disagree with some of his other points. He paints all government bureaucracies with the same broad brush as lumbering tributes "to human ingenuity in making our lives impossible."

I'm sure that he would see a lot of nodding heads if he voiced that opinion in a crowd. My children heard similar opinions in their high school class on U.S. government. They were puzzled at the description of the agencies and their employees, which seemed at odds with what they knew of their father, so they asked me, "Why?"

The answer I gave them is this: The essence of a bureaucracy is to attempt to achieve perfection in an otherwise imperfect world. To that end, chief bureaucrats promulgate rules to attempt to prevent or correct all errors that might occur or have occurred. (I recall a line from a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, "We don't have common sense. We have rules!") The problem arises due to the fact that people who follow the rules stay employed, while people who don't follow the rules get the opportunity to seek a new career elsewhere.

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