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Letters to the Editor

Feb. 2, 2001

School prayer cheapens religion, is unlikely to convert unbelievers to Christianity

After watching Tuesday's debate between Rep. Rick Green and Dr. Derek Davis, I thought it would be necessary to add to the the important reasons the Supreme Court ruled the way they did, if for no other reason than to appease one or two more confused conservatives:

1. The Santa Fe Independent School District, in order to rectify the issue of a decidedly sectarian prayer at a public school sponsored activity, decided to leave it up to the students to vote by a majority who would give the opening induction to a football game. Unfortunately, this was a very lame attempt to circumvent a judge's ruling that a prayer which directly referred to Jesus was not secular and therefore unconstitutional. When a judge says that something is unconstitutional or illegal or a violation of civil rights, it is not up to a bunch of high-school students to override that ruling, no matter how good their intentions may be.

2. It should always be the duty of the government and its institutions, such as public high schools, to avoid circumstances where an individual or group feels alienated or excluded. As valid and righteous as the doctrine of Christianity is, the belief in one God, a divine Jesus and several other beliefs inherent in Protestant Christianity tend to exclude much of the world's population due to religious convictions.

3. As a struggling Christian, I still believe that prayer serves an integral part in our society. However, the notion raised by some that you can somehow imbue a sense of spirituality into an unbeliever by uttering a prayer, however neutral, or by posting the Ten Commandments, is about as reasonable as the belief that we can inspire patriotism simply by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Christianity is not defined by a set of mystical chants and traditional symbols and practices; it is a faith and a set of beliefs. When people try to argue that a prayer can be made that includes all religions and faiths, the potency of Christianity is only more trivialized and cheapened.

Marcus Johnson

Classics '02

I read with interest your Feb. 3 editorial titled 'BU should help build, run homeless shelter.' I applaud the desire it expresses for the Baylor community to become actively involved in addressing the homeless problem in our city. There are some inaccuracies in the editorial, though, that should be addressed.

Compassion Ministries is the only transitional shelter for the homeless in McLennan County. Transitional means that residents are allowed to stay up to six months in the program. During that time, they are expected to become employed, attend parenting classes (if appropriate) and budgeting and employment skills classes (staffed by community volunteers, some of which are Baylor students).

Compassion also makes referral to health and addiction social services in the community as needed. Nearly 85 percent of our residents at any given time are employed; the others are actively seeking employment.

It is also important to note that Baylor is, in many ways, actively involved with Compassion Ministries. As mentioned above, students volunteer as co-partners in the budgeting and employment skills classes. Other students, from Marlene Tyrrell's computer classes at Baylor, volunteer weekly to help children at the shelter learn computer skills. Compassion also has had student interns from the school of social work, a wonderful benefit to the student and the shelter. Each year at our Giving Thanks, Giving Hope fundraising banquet, many Baylor administrators graciously volunteer to be celebrity wait staff. Other Baylor personnel serve on the Board of Directors.

There is always more that can be done to alleviate this increasingly serious problem. One immediate way the Baylor community can respond to helping the homeless in Waco is through participation in our Jay in the Box fund-raiser.

Jay Charles, popular morning radio show host of 97.5 FM, will for the second year simulate the living conditions of the homeless by living in a box March 27 and 28. Sororities, fraternities, service organizations, academic departments, residence halls and other groups can 'challenge' one another in this fund-raising effort. Donations may be dropped off to Jay in his box, at 314 W. State Hwy. 6 near the radio station, or called in by charge card to 388-5-975.

Of course, volunteers at the shelter are always needed and appreciated and for more information about volunteering, please call the shelter's director, Jill McCall, at 755-7640.

Vicki Marsh Kabat

President-elect, Compassion Ministries Board of Directors

It's good to see that Andrew Clancy is keeping his finger on the spiritual pulse of this campus; apparently he figures we can't do it ourselves. His letter to the editor in Wednesday's Lariat was not only vague, it was judgmental.

Clancy neglects to tell us all what 'the main message of the Gospel or the Bible in general' means. Please advise.

The fact that the provided examples of 'trashy entertainment' were misquotes is a reflection of just how close-minded Clancy and those that share his mentality really are. There's a fundamental danger in attempting to take a stance against something that isn't fully understood. What defines 'trashy entertainment,' and who supplies that definition? No answers are given. By Clancy's song lyric logic, singing a hymn in church should make me a Christian, but only if I sing the lyrics verbatim.

The question of whether or not the media glorifies sex and violence is one that doesn't interest me. Is it really the moral duty of the media to provide a solution to 'illicit sexual activity?' I guess so. The point is, if you don't want to watch or listen to 'trashy entertainment,' don't.

However, the moment you begin to question the integrity of someone who samples the secular world is the moment when you begin to embrace conformity. Just ask a sociologist.

Curtis Scott

CSI '01