Letters to the Editor

Church, state and private school vouchers

Students enter their first grade classroom at Morningside Elementary School in Fort Worth.
Students enter their first grade classroom at Morningside Elementary School in Fort Worth. Star-Telegram

Church and state

Amen to the excellent opinion piece by Brent Beasley and other pastors opposed to legislation that would divert public tax money to private schools. (See “Pastors: Texas public schools are not ‘Godless environment,’” May 3.)

Based on more than 50 years of combined experience as teachers in publicly supported educational institutions, we agree that our public schools are not godless institutions. Those who say otherwise are either ignorant or pandering for votes from the religious right or both.

Each student or teacher is free to believe or not believe in God and/or to belong to the religious organization of his or her choice.

Public education definitely needs improvement. Lack of adequate funding is one of the primary problems. Diverting tax money and related support from public to private schools will be detrimental to far more young people than it will help. Let’s fix public education, not destroy it!

The venerable Sam Rayburn is reported to have said: “It takes a carpenter to build a barn; a jackass can kick it down.” We urge all thinking citizens to oppose legislation that would harm our schools and/or erode the separation of church and state.

— John and Peggy Mitchell, Hurst

The pastors who signed the commentary opposing the diversion of public funds to private schools through vouchers or tax credits are in the very best tradition of religious leadership in America.

They see, as did Founders Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, that religious liberty for all requires that government refrain from forcing all citizens to support religious institutions, either directly or indirectly.

This church-state separation principle is enshrined in the Texas Constitution in Article I, Section 7 and Article VII, Section 5.

Religious freedom and our heritage of free public schools should not be tossed away by politicians in Austin or Washington.

— Edd Doerr, president, Americans for Religious Liberty, Silver Spring, Md.

It’s not often that I find two such well-written articles (not by journalists) on the Opinion page as those in Sunday’s paper: “Pastors: Texas public schools are not ‘Godless environment’” and “Yes, Texas has some green Republicans.”

I thoroughly enjoyed both of these articles and hope that the congregants of the pastors of the first article and followers of the second will take these messages to heart and help elect people of stature and statesmanship to right the ship of Texas.

The Tea Party seems to be the tail wagging the dog in recent years — not a majority, but nevertheless effective in its unyielding dogmatic approach to politics. We wouldn’t find ourselves in this mess were it not for this highly vocal, ideological minority, all of whom seem to be proficient in memorizing their talking points.

It would be nice if the majorities shown by various polls in Texas would actually show up and vote when it really counts. We have major problems, not the least of which are schools and the environment.

— Doris Bivens, Granbury

How refreshing to have read recent opinion pieces by Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders in our community: “Faiths require trust, understanding” (Feb. 3) and “People of faith must take a staunch stance against evil” (April 30).

This approach represents a multitude of opportunities for interfaith gatherings where respectful communication not only educates but leads to friendship.

One example is the Daughters of Abraham groups throughout the Metroplex. Hundreds of women of the three faiths meet monthly in four areas. These gatherings are not short-term superficial experiments, but long-term friendship-building groups.

New participants frequently join, but some of the original members have participated since shortly after 9-11. The goal is not to lash out, but to reach out. The result is genuine love and understanding.

Daughters of all three faiths strongly lament the frequently opined anti-Muslim sentiment in our community. The truth is that nearly all Muslims seek peace and justice, just like Christians and Jews.

Sadly, Christians also have their Jim Joneses and David Koreshes. None of us should judge a faith group by its few radical and evil representatives.

— Janice Harris Lord, Arlington

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