Letters to the Editor

Volume VII Number 23
June 10-19, 1999

On Calvert’s Prayer Rebellion, No Shortage of Opinion

Editor’s Note: The prayer rebellion at Calvert County’s Northern High School commencement (Commentary June 3-10) has been a flash point, drawing opinions from around the country. Here’s a sampling of the letters we’ve received.

Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:

I read with dismay the story of Nick Becker, who after winning the legal struggle for equal respect of his beliefs about religious involvement in graduation ceremonies, had to experience a community in defiance at his graduation. The government of this country has no business supporting a particular religious belief.

Shame on Calvert County and elected officials who cannot respect differences of opinion and who continue to discriminate on the basis of religion and creed. It is wrong to use the powers of the state to promote religious beliefs.

—Tom Ebacher, Kensington, Minn.

Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:

I just wanted to commend the parents, faculty and students that took part in the prayer for taking a stance for the Lord. This country was started with a foundation in God, we even print "In God We Trust" on all of our currency, but when it comes time to thank and trust God, we are told by our government that we can’t because it might offend someone. In this case thousands of God fearing members of your community were told you can’t pray at this public event because it will offend one of your fellow students. And we wonder what’s wrong with our society!

In any event, I just wanted to say thanks to the community of Calvert. Maybe this incident will cause our politicians to rethink America’s lack of commitment to our Lord and Savior.

—John Barnes, rtfldg3@mindspring.com

Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:

I was shocked and dismayed to read that the police would bar a student from his graduation ceremony, a once-in-a-lifetime event, because he chose not to listen to a prayer. People wonder why our schools are screwed up; well, it’s because of the things like this. You want students to respect you, yet you treat them like criminals for expressing their opinion.

—Chris Yarnell, San Jose, Ca.

Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:

I think something has been lost in the debate about prayers. What about a student’s First Amendment right of free speech? The First Amendment was written to protect controversial statements concerning religion and politics. If the First Amendment doesn’t protect that, then it doesn’t protect any speech.

The First Amendment doesn’t say anything about protecting the right of an individual to not have to listen to controversial speech. It says only that speech is protected. It also says that the government shall not establish one religion for the people, and it’s very clear that all people shall be free to exercise religious freedom.

The spontaneous prayer that started during the requested moment of silence was, in fact, the citizens expressing their First Amendment right. While some may have done it to show support for the right to pray and in support of the young lady who had been denied, others may have decided not to pray out loud out of respect for the request for silence. And still others may have remained silent in protest to public prayer, or they may have just been indifferent to the issue.

The constitution protects the rights of atheists and the press to protest religious or political statements if and when they choose, but the same constitution protects the rights of all people to peaceably assemble and to speak and pray out loud.
— John Douglas Parran, St. Leonard

Editor’s note: Parran is a Calvert County Commissioner

| Issue 23 |

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