- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 7, 2005

Teaching the Bible

As a retired high-school English teacher, I want to shout for joy because of the opinion of my colleagues: The Bible must be taught in our high schools so that students can appreciate allusions in literature, art and music (“Top English teachers see value of teaching Bible as literature” Page 1, Sunday). American history teachers would have to concur that most of our nation’s founding documents are based on the Bible. James Joyce’s works are nearly impossible to appreciate without knowledge of the Bible. Without the Bible, Shakespeare’s works are a thorny stem without the rose.

However, the wonderful news is that the Bible has been taught in public high schools in America for the past 10 years — using the Bible itself as the sole textbook.

The curriculum for this high-school elective was developed by Elizabeth Ridenour of Greensboro, N.C. No legal challenge has ever been made, for the Supreme Court has never ruled that the Bible cannot be presented for study in public schools.

The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools has provided its curriculum to 300 school districts in 35 states; more than 200,000 students already have taken this course.

BARBARA J. MACHEMER

Annandale

Liberals are clueless

Thank you for Jon Ward’s article “Liberals gather to plumb depths of Christian right” (Nation, Tuesday). I found it very enlightening: In short, the liberals are trying to find ways to manipulate Christian voters ? without having a clue what we’re really about.

How typical ? and how pathetic. Obviously, they still don’t understand that their insincerity and manipulative tactics are exactly what have fed up many voters (including many non-Christians). Voters are tired of being exploited by liberals to further their “social reconstruction” agenda.

Truly, these folks are blinded by their own ideology.

DIANA CLARK

Tyler, Texas

A second chance at life

It was disappointing to see a letter from David J. Undis (“Go to the head of the donor line,” April 26) commenting on the generosity of heroes such as John Klopfer Jr., who give the gift of life through organ and tissue donation. When there are so many people in the Greater Washington area alone who will die without a donated organ, the last thing waiting patients need is misinformation.

Ann Geracimos, the reporter who wrote the Klopfer story (“A death can give ‘gift of life,’” Metropolitan, April 19), did a wonderful job, using appropriate language and current statistics on donation. Not only did she tell a truly uplifting story, but she also honored donors, their families and recipients with her accurate reporting.

Mr. Undis is correct in saying that there should be more heroes like Mr. Klopfer, but his idea of how to achieve that goal is not supported by our country’s donation and transplantation system.

Under federal law, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) runs the national organ-allocation system and waiting list. This system allocates donated organs first to the waiting patients who are the best medical match and also, in the case of most organs, to those who are the sickest. When someone agrees to donate, UNOS and only UNOS will be able to make sure the best match is found on the waiting list.

It should be made clear that no organ-recovery agency in the country contacts any organization other than UNOS to find suitable matches for a donor. It also should be made clear that someone who signs up with Mr. Undis’ LifeSharers may not be on the national waiting list and may not be medically the best recipient for any donated organ.

Additionally, those who indicate that they wish to donate through his organization may not do so anywhere in the country unless an exact recipient’s name is given. Bypassing the UNOS system, as he suggests, wastes precious time and could rule out the medical viability of those organs for transplant. That means people would die waiting and a donor’s last wishes would go unfulfilled.

Washington Regional Transplant Consortium is the federally designated nonprofit organization for the D.C. metropolitan area and works in conjunction with all local hospitals to facilitate the wishes of those who choose to be donors. We work with UNOS to make sure a patient’s second chance at life is not wasted.

For correct information on organ and tissue donation, please visit www.beadonor.org or www.unos.org or call 866/BE-A-DONOR.

CINDY SPEAS

Director of community affairs

Washington Regional Transplant Consortium

Falls Church

The good guys follow the rules

The Commentary column “Interrogation modification” by Cal Thomas (May 4) was eloquent and interesting, but I disagree with him on the use of force in interrogations.

I’m an American soldier. I want to go forth each day in the certainty that I wear the “white hat.” Just like in the old Western movies. I don’t doubt the historical examples of America, American people or American soldiers doing bad, unjust, wrong or evil things, but I think we have done much more good.

Referring to America’s terrorist enemies, Mr. Thomas wrote, “These people are evil to the core.” OK, I’m with Mr. Thomas there. Then he went on to write, “The only way to protect ourselves is to extract information they might have by whatever means necessary. This war won’t be won (at least by our side) if we impose on ourselves restrictions that the terrorists do not impose on themselves.” I strongly disagree. I don’t want to win “by whatever means necessary.” I think we should have restrictions that the terrorists do not impose upon themselves. They are, after all, terrorists.

Sure, there are gray areas. Everything is not clear-cut. There are exceptions to the rule. It’s not all good and bad, black and white. But the standard that we live by, our guiding principles, our American values should not be based on a system of varying shades of gray and situation-dependant morality.

If I ever suffer the misfortune of being captured by a foe of the United States, I don’t want my interrogation to consist of being stripped, placed in “stressful positions,” provided limited food, having dogs used against me, and being subjected to sleep deprivation. That is what bad guys do. We shouldn’t do that.

The rules are different for good guys. Standing tall is hard. It carries a heavy burden. Sometimes, doing right costs a lot. I know that this might seem naive, idealistic or foolish, but we should wear the white hat. America should try to be the good guy in the world.

TIM JOHNSON

Camp Zama, Japan

The interrogation scenario in “24” is based on the same flaw that haunts most of the similar real-life cases. We assume that someone knows that the suspect has the information we need. How does anyone know what the suspect knows? I surely that hope the decision to torture someone is not simply based on “intelligence” from our hapless spy agencies.

Cal Thomas writes, “These people are evil to the core.” Which people? All Arabs? All Muslims? Anyone we choose to torture? Short of catching them in the act (which does not apply to most of our detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo), how do we identify “these people”?

The prohibition against torture is not about the Arab world hating us. Torture should be prohibited because of what it does to us: to our interrogators, to our soldiers, to our leaders who encourage this and to all of us.

R. BALZHISER

New York

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