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Evansville, Indiana
March 26, 1993     The Message
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March 26, 1993

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The Message  for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana March -- Perspective-- - A plea for prayerful listening The music coming from the ceiling speaker was suddenly of- fensive -- not because of strident or vulgar lyrics, but because it was so bland. The song on the system was Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" -- but it was played with an even rhythm and a big string section. Reggae- schlock, I guess you could call it, if you had to call it anything. Thee were lyrics poured out of human experience, uneven words of strange construction. Here was a song that should have had a rough edge. Instead, it oozed out of a background speaker. Here was a song born in Jamaican poverty being played in an office setting. Time and distance have a way of softening even the deepest pain, or even the highest plea- sure. Words of love and war, relationships and revolution -- they all seem to lose their power after one too many mornings and a thousand By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR miles. (Bob Dylan said something like that.) Take the words of the Scrip- tures. Sunday after Sunday -- dur- ing Lent and throughout the year, we hear stories of incredible love: a struggle in the desert, an agony of acceptance, death and resurrec- tion. How is it possible for us to hear such words and not be moved? Have we heard them too often? Where is the shock at the boldness of such a one who loved to be with sinners? Where is the sense of confusion at such one who broke the law to do good? Where is the marvel at the mys- tery of an empty tomb? Have we heard these stories too often? Have the even rhythms of powerless speech taken away the rough edges of real life? Of real death? Have we added an orchestra to hide the simple notes? Have we heard these stories too of story of our salvation at the center of lives? Or has it been reduced to sam ligious background sound designed to cover and blend the daily noises of our inc Have we heard these stories too often? Or i have we just stopped listening? Some of the stories being told today Christian community with great pain. There reports of sexual misconduct and trust -- and certainly there is a tendency us to want to ignore such things, to refuse knowledge such rough reality, to push counts of human failings into We can not cover our ears. As we hear the stories of our Christian munity, we are called to respond. It is us to be joyful when the messenger brings news. It is right for us to express our sorrow pain at the news of human failings. As we pray for all who are hurt, we pray for deliverance from what may be the all failings -- being' lukewarm and indi Washington Letter Church, state separation: An 'impossible one-way By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON {CNS) While "geometrically impos- sible" to build, one rabbi's goal of a "one-way wall" of church-state separation may well be among the clearest ways to define the first of America's First Amendment rights: "Congress shall make no  ':  law respecting:an establish- ment of religion or prohibit- ng the free exercise thereof." For two days in mid- March, educators, attorneys and leaders of civil rights and religious organizations at- tending a conference in Ar- lington, Va., considered the status of religious liberty in the United States. Specifi- cally, they debated the role of religion in culture and public schools and how minority re- ligions fit into the national picture. Rabbi David Saperstein, di- rector of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and a lawyer, said he believes if the figurative wall separating church and state could be built, it should keep govern- ment out of religion while al- lowing religion to filter through and "he a goad to government." I II I The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville P weekly except/ast week/n Oscem  um Ca#ta Pre of E Sm .............. L ....... t Addcess all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, iN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $12.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2r,,d class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Public& tiOn number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of PublicatJon  9sa Prmsa amvwe I IIII II I Though there's a danger in allowing religion to be the only source of authority in a country, in a free society it should play a primary role in how the nation develops, Rabbi Saperstoin explained. "We've never really given religion a chance," he said. "If (religious principles) are injected into American soci- ety it can help preserve;the free marketplace of ideas. *' Few participants at the ses- sion seemed to disagree with Saperstein in theory. But when it came to defining how much religious influence is excessive and who should de- cide the boundary line, there were as many versions as people in the room. Americans are deeply com- mitted to the idea that all dis- cussion of religion is the equivalent of religious advo- cacy, said Austin B. Creel, professor of religion at the University of Florida and president of the National Council on Religion and Pub- lic Education. Only when people accept that religion has a legitimate place in society, especially in academics, and does not nec- essarily have anything to do with proselytizing will the "estrangement" between church and state ease, be- lieves Creel. Religious beliefs  not the avoidance of them -- played a key role in the development of the country, noted Robert A. Destro, director of the law and religion program at The Catholic University of Amer- ica. From the arrival of the Puritans who fled oppression in England, to the settlement of Utah by persecuted Mor- mons, to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Bible-based campaign for equal rights, the United States developed hand-in-hand with religious motivations, Yet fears about keeping church out of government are so pervasive that the only kind of display specifically prohibited in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol is religious items, Destro said. In the last few decades, American society has split into three basic factions, said panelist Steven T. McFar- land, director of the Center for Law and Religious Free- dom, a project of the Chris- tian Legal Society. Debate has been dominated by two of them, he said: the "rein- staters," who would return to a time when Christian bibli- cal beliefs,were a part of pub- lic programs and public school curriculum; and the "removers," who see religion as flourishing ony when gov- ernment in all forms has ab- solutely no contact with it. The third group, which Mc- Farland believes includes "the silent majority" of evan- gelical Christians, would have the nation simply follow the Golden Rule, to treat oth- ers as you would have them treat you. McFarland believes too few college graduates even have a passing understanding of reli- gions. Far iastance he said his office recently employed a clerk from Yale Law school who, despite having com- pleted constitutional law courses, had never engaged in a single classroom discussion of the Constitution's religion clause. Even when educators rec- ognize that a variety of reli- gions and cultures should be included in curriculum, try- ing to accomplish that can be like crossing a minefield. Sharifa Alkhateeb, presi- dent of the North American Council for Muslim Women, said even teachers lack basic knowledge about religions like Islam. For instance, she said she encounters many teachers who don't know Allah is the Arabic name for the same God worshipped by Christians and Jews. R. Thomas Malcolm, super- intendent of the Frederick County, Va., public schools, learned the hard way that the best of intentions in trying to accommodate different reli- gions won't necessarily head off trouble. After hearing complaints from members of fundamen- talist churches that the schools' Halloween celebra- tions were promulgating witchcraft, Malcolm said he consulted with district attor- neys about how to avoid of- fending various religious groups. The district's calendar was changed, renaming Christmas and Easter breaks as winter and spring holidays, to head off possible complaints that the district was excluding children who do not celebrate those Christian holidays Malcolm said. The calendar was accepted without debate, but when he tried to follow up by advising teachers about how to in- clude various religious beliefs in classes and celebrations, his efforts got derailed. Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas wrote that Malcolm was trying to eliminate Christmas and Easter. The school district was swamped by angry calls from around Confronting Thomas conference in calm said he was ins to avoid legal the wake of the Court's ruling last public schools clude prayers "I was trying to not exclude," He told Catholic vice that the part of his: to teachers Thomas to report specifically teachers how t tional Christmas while incorporating of other religions as "I was trying to said. But by course he thou controversy, the County schools became  tional lightning rod for ! sations about secular ism taking over Bishop's The following activities and events are listed 0n:i schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelflnger.