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April 4, 1997     The Message
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April 4, 1997

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana --Taking the time to make a difference-- The price of belonging By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR I remember "Tommy" from the fifth grade. "Let's all have funny names," he said one day. He wanted all the boys he knew in school to join with him in a kind of club. Everyone would have a new name. The new name would iden- tify each one as a member of his group. His idea of a "funny" name was  J one that I knew my parents would not like. All of the names Tommy suggest- ed referred to various body parts or functions. The fact that parents and teach- ers would be upset with such language made the entire process much more attractive, as far as Tommy was concerned. Rebellion was not a big part of his plan -- but secrecy was. I did not become a member of the club, but there were times I wished I could be part of it. Today I would describe my feelings as ambivalent -- a word I didn't know then. The sense of belonging to a group seemed to be a good thing. Having to adopt a "funny" name was not. The confusion of feelings I felt then came back to me as I read and re-read the news reports about the late March mass suicide in southern California. Words and pictures filled up the front pages of our newspa- pers. On the television screen, images of a mansion in.a spectacular location were sharply contrasted with gruesome shots of row after row of body bags. What are we to make of this? New details may be discovered to provide some kind of explanation for this horrible event, but no expla- nation will ever completely answer the questions Which rise in my mind. How could people do such a thing? Perhaps this is too simple of an answer, but it is the only one that comes to me today: People need to belong. For some of us, the need to belong is more power- ful than the ability to reason. More important than what others think is right or wrong. But it is far too easy to judge another. It's too easy to say, I have faith, while you are a fanatic. Or even though I know that I am willing to do my duty, it is too easy for me to judge that you are just guilty of blind obedience. $ $ ," Where is the line between faith and fanaticism? Duty and reason? Take the time to examine your loy- alties. If there are children in your home, discuss with them the groups in which they "belong." conditions of belonging? Talk with family or of belonging. What clubs ties have attracted you? Have you ever felt betrayed by t taken by a group? By a sports By the voting patterns of your Who provides the which you belong? : Take the time today to ships. If you find there are which conflict with your action to resolve that conflict. If you have children, cussing the pressure or that. If your civic against a segment of the son because of race, take a practice. If your political party fiicts with your principles, Take the time to make a Comments about this column are or th P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. : -----Washington Resurrected: School prayer amendment and anita By PATRICIAZAPOR Supporters of the Religious would continue to discuss the Istook said courts "have gone und Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) Good manners used to dictate that people in polite society avoided discussing religion or politics. With the reintroduction of a proposed constitutional amend- ment, a doozy of a fight is shap- ing up on Capitol Hill that will demonstrate how pairing reli- gion and politics may be even more disruptive than the man- ners mavens ever suggested about the two subjects individ- ualb: The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville ,4 I, q, 996-- Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Put.her ............. Ishop Gera A. Geger Edttor ........................... : .......... Paul R. Lngang Pmductn TechncJan ............... J Detnch lvefng ................................ Paul Ner Staff Wrtt ............................ y Ann Hugt Address all commun3ations to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 E',e, IN 4"tT0t  number 8438 PosYrer Fn POD k'ms 3579 !o OK:e o! Cooy:J! 19o6 Cao Press o Eva Freedom Amendment say their bill will restore rights -- partic- ularly prayer in schools -- that have been usurped by activist, anti-religion courts and exces- sively secular school adminis- trators and governments. Opponents, on the other hand, dismiss the amendment being introduced by Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., as unnecessary and call it a thinly disguised attempt to allow schools and governments to require partici- pation in religious activity while opening a back door to federal funding of church-run schools and programs. The U.S. Catholic Conference has so far pointedly stayed out of the fray, despite efforts by both sides to win the backing of the Catholic bishops. While the USCC generally stays out of school prayer debates, a clause in the pro- posed amendment seems to open the door to government funding for students who attend religious schools, a cause the U.S. bishops advocate. The entire amendment as Istook prepared to introduce it reads: "To secure the people's right ' to acknowledge God: The right to pray or acknowledge religious belief, heritage or tradition on public property, including public schools, shall not be infringed. The government shall not com- pel joining in prayer, initiate or compose school prayers, dis- criminate against or deny a benefit on account of religionl The closest thing to a public statement from the USCC on the issue came in a letter from Msgr. Dennis M. Schnurr, USCC general secretary, to Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., during the 104th Congress. Msgr. Schnurr noted that the issue is of great interest to the U.S. bishops and lauded efforts to clarify ques- tions and public application of laws about religious rights. He saidthe U.S: bishops had and specific proposals then on the table, but that they had not reached a conclusion about whether to support them. From all indications, the bishops and the staff at the USCC are no more interested in either supporting or opposing this year's version of the amendment than they were in the last Congress, or, for that matter, the last time school prayer amendments made it to a Senate floor vote in 1984, when two were defeated. But many of the other promi- nent players in religious rights issues in Washington are choos- ing up sides over the Religious Freedom Amendment. They staked out their territory at March 24 press conferences, scheduled one after the other at the Capitol. Supporting the amendment are the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council, the National Clergy Council, Focus on the Family and the American Family Asso- ciation. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R- Texas, both issued statements of support. Executive Director Ralph Reed said at a March 24 press conference that the Christian Coalition will spend up to'$2 million organizing backing for the amendment and would use the issue as a benchmark for candidates in voter guides for the 1998 election. Reed said passing the Religious Freedom Amendment would be the orga- nization's "top priority." Also among the amendment supporters is William Murray, in whose name the Supreme Court ruled in 1963 that hools may not require student participation in prayer. Several years ago, Murray declared he lad t,come a Christian and denounced the work ofkis tamous atheist moth- er. Madalyn Murray O'Hair. to removo religion from the public sqtlaTP. In 1995, : far beyond outlawing prayer in many public school settings. They have aided a systematic campaign to strip religious sym- bols, references and heritage from public view." gious At the second press confer- Similar ence a few minutes later, the the U.S. lineup of opponents of the tion were amendment included the .district in National Council of Churches, J. the Baptist Joint Committee, counsel several Jewish organizations, ( Americans United for Separa- incidents tion of Church and State and a the Interfaith Alliance. who was: David A. Harris, director of governmental and public affairs another for the American Jewish Con- n't pray gress, called the amendment"a the purely political effort" that of weak would cast doubt on every court interpretation of the Establish- ment Clause of the First Amendment of the last 50 years. Several speakers said the problems giving rise to the per- ception that a constitutional us to amendment is necessary could Statem' adequately be addressed under existing law if people better istratOr: Bishop's The following activities and events of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: A Joint Law" was { Confirmation, April 5, 5 p.m. CST. " Confirmation, t. April 6, 9a.m. EST. Coniirmatio 6, 3 p.m. EST. Confirmation, April 8, 7 p.m. CDT. Religious Redeemer, Evansville, Bishop's staff ] April I0, 8:45 to 11:15 a.m. Confirmation, April 10, 7 p.m. CDT. Anniversary of vlle, Friday, April 11 (