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Friday letters: Religion doesn't belong in public schools

Religion bills get GOP push | April 21, story

Religion doesn't belong in public schools

Once again the Florida Legislature is treading deep waters with their latest bill which not only allows children to pray in school but also allows their teachers to pray with them.

Being a Christian, I have to disagree with this latest right-wing theory being expounded in our school system. To begin with it is unconstitutional, which they have chosen to ignore. But the other problem that I and many other parents and grandparents should have is that in spite of their desire to bring back prayer, the question is: What kind of prayer?

There are many, many kinds of religions in our country today of the Christian faith, and the Jewish child would probably be in a worse position. When a teacher is allowed to pray with the children, where does she or he go to church? Or what kind of prayers are my children going to be taught? Are they going to be relevant to what they are taught in their Sunday school or church, or what they are teaching in the teacher's church? Young children can be very impressionable and this could be a real problem for some who are exposed to various religions depending on who their teacher is today as opposed to what Mom and Dad are teaching them at home.

When I was a child, my parents told me that any time I felt I needed to talk to God, I could close my eyes and pray silently. That is what any child in a public school can do now without any law saying he can't.

This bill is reprehensible for many reasons and should not be passed under any circumstance. Religion should be taught at home, not in the public schools. And also that is what they have private religious schools for.

June Einboden, St. Petersburg

Bill puts Floridians' religious liberty at risk April 19

Separate is the best way

I support the separation of church and state.

Throughout the centuries, we have witnessed the bitter death and destruction that the confusion between church and state has caused: the Inquisition, Huguenot massacres, Jewish pogroms, and currently the endless Israeli-Palestinian hostilities.

Jesus Christ was clearly for the separation of church and state, given his injunction to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's …"

The separation of church and state prohibits the use of any general revenues from being used to support any religion. For instance, it would be clearly unfair for a Protestant to be forced to support a synagogue, a Muslim to fund a Catholic school, etc. Similarly, the display of religious symbols in and on public property should be strictly forbidden since not all citizens subscribe to these beliefs.

As it stands today, we have de facto public support for religion in that church property is considered nonprofit and therefore not taxed. This means all citizens must replace the resulting lack of revenue through higher taxes. Clearly, all are supporting institutions of the few.

This is not meant as a treatise against the practice of religion, which properly should take place in houses of worship, parochial schools and the home. It is strictly a private, not public, matter.

Dona Crump, Largo

Religion bills get GOP push | April 21, story

Remember our history

"We can lose our freedoms in America very fast," warns Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville urging action on this religion bill. It seems the GOP is not aware of the history that brought about the amendment to the Constitution to keep the state from interfering with religion.

They should go back to school and read of the 44 Baptist preachers who were jailed in Virginia for preaching the Gospel back in the 1700s. Men like John Leland, Elijah Craig and Nathaniel Saunders paid a price for their belief that the state should not interfere with religion. (Saunders is an ancestor of mine.)

Tax money should not support any religious activity, be it Baptist, Scientology, Muslim or Catholic. Ignorance of history is no excuse to propose a law to change our fundamental rights not to support any religion, sect or belief.

Bud Strawn, St. Petersburg

New SPC president is no Kuttler clone April 15

Cause for optimism

I could not agree more with Roy Peter Clark and I share his enthusiastic optimism over the selection of Dr. William D. Law as the next president of St. Petersburg College.

Out of more than 40 candidates who applied to be our next president, Dr. Law quickly rose to the top of the field, and his unanimous selection by the board of trustees confirmed without a doubt that he is the best choice for SPC's next great chapter.

Dr. Law is a person of great character and integrity. Having served as a college president at three different colleges, most recently at Tallahassee Community College, he comes to SPC with a proven record of success in student learning achievement and has an impressive record of respecting faculty.

We are in the midst of difficult fiscal conditions, and our funding from Tallahassee is a moving target. It should be reassuring to our collective SPC family, to have a president who is tested, seasoned, and has proven himself as an entrepreneurial leader with the collaborative and creative skills to take our community's college to the next level.

I encourage your readers to be optimistic about the future of SPC, and to join all of us in welcoming Dr. Law to our great community.

Terrence Brett, chairman, board of trustees, St. Petersburg College

Missing the reality

So gun-rights advocates and militias and all these anti-government activists descended on one of our national parks, carrying their guns openly, to protest their rights being taken away.

The problem with that is it was President Barack Obama who signed the bill allowing guns in national parks, in essence, making their rally possible. He expanded their gun rights and has not taken nor shown any interest in taking their guns away.

Maybe if they turned off the right-wing media, they might learn a thing or two about what's happening in reality.

Anthony Taylor, Tampa

Friday letters: Religion doesn't belong in public schools 04/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 22, 2010 8:58pm]
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