Letters To The Editor


August 10, 2004

Scouts should start teaching about tolerance

As the mother of an Eagle Scout, I found much of what Hans Zeiger said in "Banning Boy Scout literature from classroom hurts kids" (Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 4) to be true. But I must strongly disagree with his conclusion that recruitment material should be made available to students in public institutions.

The benefits of scouting are being denied to boys and adult leaders based on their sexual identity (an identity that has nothing to do with pedophilia), or because they have thoughtfully decided to conduct their life without a belief in a god. But neither of these conditions needs to be contrary to the character-building traits that Mr. Zeiger highlights.

I am a teacher, and I know many youths who have been harmed by discriminatory practices such as those now espoused by the Boy Scouts of America.

I know and respect a great number of atheist or homosexual adults who work with youths and help those children, and they are offended to be considered unworthy of inclusion in any Boy Scout activities. Some of these adults are in the same schools where this recruitment literature is supposed to be handed out.

When the Boy Scouts finally overturn this harmful policy, I think they then should be welcome in public arenas.

Mary Beth Kircher

White Hall

As a whole, the Boy Scouts are a great organization, and I agree with Hans Zeiger that they teach boys many life skills, such as how to be prepared for life and anything that it hands them.

But why can't a person like me, an atheist, join a group that teaches about morals, character, how to be a strong person, friendship, etc.?

And why can't the Boy Scouts also teach children to be open-minded - to understand that while everyone does not have the same set of morals, most people can and do act as moral, loving people, even without believing in God? Why can't they teach also that while not every person has the same sexual orientation, people need to be more tolerant of those who are not like themselves?

I think that the Boy Scouts are letting many young boys miss out on a great experience in their lives because of the organization's prejudice and narrow-mindedness against homosexuals and atheists. And that's a shame.

Let's leave religion where it belongs - in the church and at home.

Lois Bowers


Scouts merit no role in public schools

I, too, was an accomplished Boy Scout and look back with pride on the skills I learned and the friendships I established as a young man. However, the bottom line is this: As long as the Boy Scouts sanction anti-gay and religious policies, they have no place in a school system funded by a government based on the separation of church and state ("Banning Boy Scout literature from classroom hurts kids," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 4).

I would rather my child learn the importance of tolerance and acceptance before camping or canoeing skills.

The problem does not lie with the Montgomery County Board of Education; it lies with the Boy Scouts.

John Dickie IV


God gave Holy Land to the Jews forever

The Sun's editorial "A hold on settlements" (Aug. 8) criticizes Israel for its 10-year-old plans to connect Jerusalem's eastern suburb of Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem proper (they are a 10-minute drive apart) by building additional housing between them.

The Sun has been constantly attacking Israel and its "settlements" on "occupied" land, and this editorial continued that jargon. What was different was that this time The Sun used the phrase "the disputed land" as well.

Now that's a whole different mindset. To fundamentalist Jews and Christians, it is God who gave the Holy Land to the Jews forever, even if others dispute that.

Menachem Kovacs


The writer is director of the Jewish Roots Center.

Many still struggle to get health care

It's odd that the president of the Maryland chapter of the American College of Surgeons believes that "the government and other third-party payers have created in the minds of the public a system of socialized medicine ... in which health care is felt to be an entitlement" ("The health care crunch," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 4).

For those who are lined up at 5:30 a.m. at the front door of Health Care for the Homeless, health care is less an entitlement than a scarce necessity.

They are among Maryland's more than 600,000 uninsured residents, and they suffer in silence from serious illness at rates far higher than the insured population. The Institute of Medicine reported in 2002 that more than 18,000 Americans die each year from the lack of health insurance.

The president of the state's college of surgeons believes there is no simple solution to the health care crisis. We disagree: Simply ensure that every American has the same high-quality health insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office concur: The problem isn't that we don't get enough money for our health care; rather, we don't get enough health care for our money.

Jeff Singer


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