From our readers
Letter to Editor:
Re: Know Your Rights
Can students pray and tell their friends about Jesus at school?
In a 1962 case (Engle v. Vitale) the Supreme Court ruled that schools could not direct and require prayer in the classroom. Some educators and parents think this means religious expression cannot occur in public schools. However, the Court ruled only on organized or state-authorized times for prayer. It did not prohibit students from praying individually or in groups, or from talking about their faith during the school day.
Prayer can be viewed as an issue of free speech as well as freedom of religion. Students are free to speak to their Creator anytime and anywhere they want to as long as it does not disrupt others or interrupt educational activities.
In 1998, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines on students rights of religious expression on public school campuses. It stated, The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment does not prohibit purely private religious speech by students. Students therefore have the same right to engage in individual or group prayer and religious discussion during the school day as they do to engage in other comparable activity. For example, students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray before tests to the same extent they may engage in comparable nondisruptive activities
. Generally, students may pray in a nondisruptive manner when not engaged in school activities or instruction, and subject to the rules that normally pertain in the applicable setting.
Specifically, students in informal settings, such as cafeterias and hallways, may pray and discuss their religious views with each other, subject to the same rules of order as apply to other student activities and speech. Students may also speak to, and attempt to persuade, their peers about religious topics just as they do with regard to political topics. School officials, however, should intercede to stop student speech that constitutes harassment aimed at a student or a group of students.
To view the U.S. Dept. of Education guidelines, go to: www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/religionand schools
Source: Gateways to Better Education (www.gtbe.com), P.O. Box 514, Lake Forest, CA 92609, 1-949-586-5437.
Or contact: Alliance Defending Freedom, 1-800-835-5233 (www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org).
Rev. Jean L. Waldron,
To the Editor:
Re: Facts about the Postal Service
With the New Year underway, the Postal Service will celebrate 238 years of delivering Americas mail. A changing economy has created challenges for our organization, leading to speculation about the future, so here are some facts about the Postal Service.
The Postal Service does not receive taxpayer dollars. The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 transformed the Post Office Department into the United States Postal Service (USPS), an independent agency, and has not received taxpayer subsidies since 1982. We rely on the sale of postage and mail products and services for revenue to cover our costs, and we are at the core of the trillion dollar mailing industry that employs more than 8 million people.
The Postal Service is the most efficient and reliable post in the world. We deliver 40 percent of the worlds mail with 10 percent of the worlds postal employees. Though the number of addresses in the nation has grown by nearly 17 million in the past decade, the number of employees who handle the increased delivery load has decreased by more than 200,000. We were ranked number one in overall service performance of the posts in the top 20 wealthiest nations in the world by Oxford Strategic Consulting. And when it comes to safeguarding personal information, the Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency for six years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.
The Postal Service is green. Our fleet of alternative-fuel-capable vehicles includes electric, ethanol, fuel-cell, biodiesel, and propane technology. We use more than a half billion recyclable packages and envelopes made of environmentally friendly materials. Weve aggressively reduced energy costs in our facilities by making changes in lighting, HVAC and water consumption, generating a 30 percent reduction in energy usage. And we recently received Gold status by The Climate Registry for our leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 5 percent.
These are a few facts about the Postal Service as we continue to adapt to a digital world.
District Manager Dawn Zeitler,
Letter to the Editor:
Re: Debt is Slavery
There are many forms of slavery. We are slaves to our habits, good or bad. As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, we remember the horrors of slavery where stronger powers dominated and decimated Africa. We know that some of our fellow citizens are enslaved to drugs or alcohol or pornography or money or power. But there is slavery that most of us choose for our lives, but quite unwittingly. It is debt, and it has become a personal and a national epidemic.
Its really quite simple to understand, but equally hard to conquer. Think of it this way: Money is nothing more than an expression of our labor. In a bartering economy, I might choose to chop some wood for you in exchange for a pair of gloves that you have made or someone might work for a meal. Say the gloves are worth $10 and I work for two hours. So my labor is worth $5 per hour.
When I choose to go into debt to a bank or company, I pledge my money or my labor to pay that debt over time. When they charge me interest on the debt, things get worse for me. I am literally working to make my lenders money. When my debts increase by my own choosing, I may find myself paying little more than interest by making the minimum monthly payment, because I cant afford to pay any more than that. At that point, Im not much more than a slave unless I can find a way to earn more money or spend less and get out of debt.
Our country is now quickly coming to the point where payment on the interest on our national debt will be the single largest item in the budget, and whoever holds our debt (like foreign governments) will become our masters. Unless we change and budget wisely as families, individuals and governments, we are in for much harder economic times than we have seen so far. There is a way out of this slavery, but it takes guts and firm resolve.
What are we going to do about it?
Why does First Class postage have to go up another penny? Cant the Post Office charge more to charities and advertisers who fill my mailbox with junk mail?
The photo is of six months accumulation of junk mail and there is only one person in this household. Just think how many trees are cut down to be added to the landfill.
Top executives of charities are paid enormous amounts of money. For example: American Heart Association, $995,429; American Cancer, $1,027,306; City of Hope $1,019,751; and UNICEF, $1,200,000 plus Rolls Royce, with less than 5% of the money going to the cause.
All requests for money should include information about what percentage of money collected is used for the cause. Also, all requests should include a place to indicate your name can or cannot be given to someone else.
Sick of junk mail,
Self Defense: An absolute right
I was disappointed to read Bishop Tobins (of Providence, R.I.) opinion piece; Gun ownership: Not an absolute right. (This article was published in the Jan. 18 issue of the Green Bay Catholic Compass newspaper and in the Jan. 3 issue of the Rhode Island Catholic diocesan newspaper.) As a Catholic priest, I respectfully but passionately disagree with nearly the entire thrust of the article in regard to guns.
In general, if more gun control policies were enacted, there would be more, not fewer tragedies such as we experienced in Newtown, Connecticut. Just as drug and alcohol laws fail to keep these substances out of the hands of many, laws against guns will fail to keep them out of the hands of many violent people. They will however keep them out of the hands of law abiding American citizens, making us even more vulnerable.
There were many causes that led to this massacre, first and foremost, the horrendously evil actions of a young man. Another is that guns, practically speaking, have already been outlawed! For example, even if a teacher or parent had a concealed carry permit, they were not allowed to carry in Newtown, as is the case in most schools. And if permitted, there is still a huge social stigma against it. The result is that too often only violent people have guns in our schools and our children are easy targets.
I do not believe in making national policies for our schools on this matter. In accord with the Principle of Subsidiarity, this should be handled locally. The school boards elected by the local people most closely connected to the children, should be given the freedom and responsibility to decide.
However, I would suggest to school boards and other policy makers the following for consideration: Clearly post on the doors that anybody with a concealed carry permit is welcome to carry on school property with the restriction that they are not to show or discuss the weapon publically. Teachers and all other school employees are to be encouraged to learn how to properly handle a firearm and to conceal carry if they so wish, but again not to publicize it. Students are to be instructed not to ask and not to tell which school employees are carrying, making the school more difficult to case out and thus more safe.
It is our anti-gun culture that has to change. Ironically, it is partially to blame for our vulnerability which led to the death of twenty children and six teachers. We have a right and a duty to defend ourselves. Just as we, not doctors, are primarily responsible for our health, so too, we, not the police, are primarily responsible for the protection of our children. In todays world, to be unable to handle a firearm, for many of us, is irresponsible.
We are more than capable of better protecting ourselves from the murderers in our midst, if only the law would permit. I plead with you not only to protect our right to bear arms but to encourage the exercise of that right, a critical means of effectively defending ourselves and our loved ones.
Rev. Joseph E. Dorner
Pastor, Holy Family Parish
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