Religion in Schools: a Line Not to Be Crossed

Advocates of a constitutional amendment to authorize group prayer in public schools (``Prayer in School,'' Nov. 21) overlook the following:

Every student now enjoys the right to pray silently in school whenever he or she pleases and in the manner learned in the home, church, synagogue, or mosque. The Supreme Court's 1962-63 rulings held unconstitutional only prayers sponsored, prescribed, regulated, or managed by some level of government.

Religious leaders know that there is and can be no ``one size fits all'' prayer, that children's values are developed mainly in the home and from TV, and that a dollop of state-sponsored prayer has never been shown to be a positive influence on children in any country.

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School-prayer advocates seem to have a low opinion of individual consciences, families, and religious institutions, as they want government to prop them up.

In our wonderfully diverse and pluralistic country, it is strange that anyone would want any level of government to decide when, where, and how our children will engage in religious expression.

Claims that our public schools are unfriendly to religion are nonsense. Our elected school boards, administrators, and teachers are a cross section of our population.

The Bill of Rights has not been amended in 200 years. It would be most unwise to do so now. Edd Doerr, Silver Spring, Md. Executive Director Americans for Religious Liberty

Keeping up with today's youths

The editorial ``Generation NeXt,'' Dec. 2, need not have been so apologetic. My own research on young Americans - reading four newspapers daily (the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The Christian Science Monitor), plus other publications - indicates to me that the Monitor is far ahead of other presses in publicizing positive activities and trends among young people.

It was in the Monitor where I first read of City Year, long before it became the well-known model of urban youth service. I found articles on conservation corps, challenging young people to become engaged in environmental issues.

Through articles in the Monitor, I watched the evolution of the youth service movement into AmeriCorps. The Monitor has informed me of positive programs for young people in education, internships, and apprenticeships, as well as hopeful programs for gang members, setting up small business projects and pitching in to clean up neighborhoods. Nancy Geyer Christopher, Washington

The line-item veto more efficient

In the opinion-page article ``Congress - Be Wary of the Line-Item Veto,'' Dec. 1, the author demonstrated the danger of offering comments on subjects outside one's area of expertise - in his case, foreign affairs.

He set forth compelling arguments for the line-item veto, while presenting only vague arguments against it. For example, in rebutting the argument that many governors have the line-item veto, he offered the statement, ``A state is not the national government.''

He merely confirmed my opinion that the president should have the ability to veto portions of congressional legislation.

The line-item veto would not really give the president additional power but would greatly improve the efficiency of the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Congress should clean up its act and outlaw the practice of tacking on amendments to important legislation, many of which have little or no relevance to the bill in question.

Instead, offer them as stand-alone bills. Warren H. Vetter, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

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