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May 27, 1994     The Message
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May 27, 1994
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Perspective--- P Send a personal letter, express your views My sister sent me a letter a lit- tle while ago. I wrote back, some weeks after she had written to me. She had written to tell me about what was happening in the life of her family. I was glad to hear from her. She was always better than me at keeping in touch with her brothers and sisters. I always seem to begin my let- ters with something about how sorry I am that it has been so long since I have written. If I wrote let- ters more frequently, more consis- tently, more regularly, I would not have to start out every one of them with an apology. I could learn a lot from my sister. She writes a lot of letters, a lot of good letters, and I am sure she does not feel the need to begin with an apology. When is the last time you received a personal letter? Did you read it? When is the last time you received a pre- printed advertising brochure, sent to "occupant" and delivered by bulk mail? The human touch, the individual expression By PAUL IL LEINGANG EDITOR -- that is what makes the differ- ence in human communication. So it is, in family letters and in letters expressing Your opinions. I have a file full of photocopied "Letters to the editor." We don't publish photocopied or mass-pro- duced letters to the editor. Letters considered for publication are writ- ten about a specific topic. They are written to the editor of the Mes- sage -- not to some unknown, im- personal reader of photocopies. With a full understanding of the importance of individual atten- tion, I urge you do write some let- ters that will make a difference. As universal health care is being considered by the House and Senate, your letters expressing your views can make a difference. A thousand post cards from the same printing press may not be as impressive as a single hand-written letter. Please write such a letter. Write to this address: The Honorable Richard Lugar, United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510. Write another letter, to this address: Th orable Dan Coats, United States Senate, ton, D.C. 20510. If you live in the eighth district write to this address: The Honorable Closkey U.S. House of Representatives, ton, D.C., 20515. If you live in the write to The Honorable Lee H. Hamilton, I House of Representatives, Tell them that abortion is not l Tell them that abortion destroys : :: dren and divides the nation. Tell them that about your views health care. Tell them that you can not in con" science pay taxes to provide abortion. Tell them that the people of the need health care reform that dignity of all of the people of the Write in your own words. Write to your tors and your representatives ters. Write today. There is no need to apologize sooner -- if you write right now. You will able to apologize to the unborn will be lost -- if you don't do all you them. ------ Washington Letter Prayers at graduation: A nation-wide patchwork of do's and By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) When Jennifer Green gradu- ates from high school June 10, she wants to thank God for helping her during her years at Mandarin High School. At the Jacksonville, Fla., public school, someone from Miss Green's class will take two minutes during the gradu- ation program to say a few words -- probably of prayer -- that have not been reviewed by administrators. That will sat- isfy Miss Green's desire for a prayer, and a federal dis- trict court says it would be constitutional. "To me, prayer is a sacred honor," she said. "Besides it's been a tradition here as long as I can remember." Two years after the Supreme Court ruled that public school employees may not be involved in arranging for prayer at graduations, around the country lower cotrts, administrators and students are still sorting out what, if any, religious com- ment might be constitutional TheMESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly llewspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Publisher .............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Editor ............................................ Paul Leingang Production Manager ........................... PIll Boger aoo ........ ,. ........................ Amy Housman Ad.::: ....... : .......... : ............. Paul Nevand St ,'titer ............................ Maw Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 , - Subscription rate: $15.00 per year SingJe Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2rid class matter at the post office in Evansville., IN 47701. Publica- tion nr S43800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication CopyltgN 1994  Press d Evansvile in commencement exercises. Miss Green's Duval County School District at least for the moment has prevailed in per- mitting graduating seniors to use two minutes during the ceremony for uncensored speech approved by the class. The U.S. District Court in Jacksonville ruled May 5 that the school district's two-minute message policy is constitu- tional. The American Civil Lib- erties Union, representing stu- dents opposed to any prayer in schools, was appealing the decision. Meanwhile, students in New Jersey have been prohibited from including student-led prayers in their graduation ceremonies at the order of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Ap- peals. In Virginia, a U.S. Dis- trict Court also said a policy permitting student-led prayers was unconstitutional. But in Idaho, a federal judge followed the lead of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas a year earlier and said nonproselytizing and non- sectarian graduation prayer approved b students is per- missible. Since the Supreme Court's 1992 Lee vs. Weisman opinion prohibited school authorities from even arranging for a speaker to present a prayer, lower courts have stitched to- gether a patchwork of rulings about whether students may bring prayer into their own ceremonies. The result is some schools permit graduating seniors to include prayer while others forbid it. A handful of states, mostly in the South, have passed laws permitting reli- gious speech at student- planned events. Legal challenges from both sides of the debate abound, yet the Supreme Court so far has declined to expand on Lee vs. Weisman. Without comment last year the jus- tices let stand an appeal of the 5th Circuit ruling that permits student-led prayer. One of 11 Mandarin High students pressing for the right to their two minutes to pray in Florida's Adler vs. Duval County School Board case, Miss Green is adamant about retaining the tradition of prayer at graduation. "I'm not saying I want to get up and tell everyone to change their lives, but for me, not to be able to proclaim my beliefs would be an injustice," she said. An active member of the First Baptist Church in Jack- sonville, Miss Green said she jumped at the chance to join the case that last year had the entire senior class choosing up sides in the prayer/no prayer debate. This year, there's been less in-school discussion, but the seniors have already taken a vote. The majority of the class supports using their two minutes for a prayer, she said. The attorney representing the students as they side with the school district thinks the Duval district constructed a clear, constitutional way for students to include prayer if they want to. Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, a civil liber- ties legal organization, said many attempts to permit stu- dents to include prayers have been poorly worded from a legal standpoint. The school district memo- randum at issue in Adler is dif- ferent because it puts all the decisions in the hands of the students, he said. "It allows them to choose to have or not have two minutes," Staver explained. "It doesn't mention prayer and the school can't censor what the students say." "The more you put into the student arena, the better the constitutional footing," he said. With Staver on that point, though they don't agree on much, is Steven K. Green, legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which op- poses attempts to permit what it calls "corporate" prayer at public school ceremonies. Green said although the school district's standards in the Adler case are "not as of- fensive" as other attempts to permit student-led prayer, it still goes too far. Letting stu- dents choose by majority vote who will speak for all of them and what type of speech they will offer "is giving students power to make majoritarian decisions," he said. The Duval school district's policy "is about as hands-off as I have seen," the Americans United lega! director conceded. "It's possibly going in the right direction." If he were writing a policy his organization would find ac- ceptable, it would permit stu- dents to choose speakers but not dictate in those "If the to give a his own deci( make a might be Legal there more years ings before agrees to might give "The SuP happens w: this," said Charles M. University think it w: across the S see a real way or another' Bishop's sch The following activities and events schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettel