- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2001

'Workability' good standard for faith-based initiative

The Rev. Pat Robertson's questioning of the inclusion of certain minority religions in President Bush's faith-based initiative seems to keep reappearing in print ("Faith-based role is seen for gay churches," Aug. 2). Perhaps it is time we laid Mr. Robertson's comments to rest.

I agree with Mr. Bush that workability is the standard by which any social-service program should be judged. I have had the opportunity to work with several programs in the local area during the past 23 years, including Applied Scholastics, Narconon and Criminon.

From personal observations and from viewing many international statistics, I am thoroughly convinced that these programs are far and away the most effective programs available in the fields of education, drug education or rehabilitation and criminal rehabilitation. They also are very popular.

What do they have in common? They are all secular applications of the works of L. Ron Hubbard, who also is the founder of the Scientology religion. Because these are secular programs, with their own organizations and funding independent of the church, it is clear that the church would not be seeking funding to support them. However, from Mr. Robertson's comments, it also is clear that those who see this issue from his point of view would be unlikely to make that distinction.

It is vital that we all support programs that work and get results no matter whether they are faith-based, secular or government-sponsored.



Israeli attacks perpetuate circle of violence

Regarding the Aug. 2 story in the World section, "Targeting Palestinians with missiles is defended": How can Israel expect the Palestinians not to resort to violence when they themselves are violent?

Israeli officials claim that they have to retaliate against the accused suicide bombers to prevent more Israelis from being killed. However, their inane policy has infuriated Palestinians, and more violence will be the result. Inevitably, Israel will again retaliate and blame the Palestinians for everything. In this manner, the cycle of violence continues. Is another World War II or Holocaust needed to make people realize that this must stop?



Founder's legacy mischaracterized

In the July 15 Commentary Forum column, "Gift of a Founder," Gary Aldrich and Katherine Seaman make the misleading assertion that Patrick Henry "would break from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson when he insisted that our new Constitution include the right of free speech coupled with the right to bear arms."

Henry was not a member of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, but, along with George Mason, opposed ratification of the proposed Constitution in the Virginia convention because he distrusted the federalist system orchestrated by James Madison. The Constitutional Convention took place when Jefferson was in France, although the Constitution had Jefferson's support, based on reports from Madison. Washington was the president of the convention but had no part in the later campaign for adoption of the Constitution by the states. Most of the states ratified the Constitution on the explicit condition that a bill of individual rights be added.

Henry, as a member of the Virginia ratification convention, also opposed the later adoption of the Bill of Rights, on the basis that the amendments did not go far enough to protect the people from the central power created by the Constitution. While Jefferson and Washington both supported the Bill of Rights, neither was a member of the Virginia convention that debated and ratified these amendments. There are numerous statements and actions from both, prior to and in their long public careers, in support of freedom of speech and the individual right to bear arms.

Patrick Henry is a fitting symbol for the opposition of centralized government power. There is no basis to imply, however, that he championed the right of free speech coupled with the right to bear arms while Washington and Jefferson opposed these individual freedoms.


Clifton, Va.

Brennan wasn't Supreme Court saint

In his July 30 Op-Ed piece, "Killing as a way of healing?" Nat Hentoff condemns capital punishment, using the opinions of "devout Catholic" Supreme Court Justice William Brennan as his authority. This is somewhat problematic.

Indeed, Mr. Brennan may have shared with Mr. Hentoff the belief that "the most base criminal remains a human being possessed of some potential, at least, for human dignity." Nevertheless, Mr. Brennan voted with the majority in Roe vs. Wade, a Supreme Court dictate that, in essence, declared unborn children to be "nonhuman" and, although entirely innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, not entitled to the fundamental protections contemplated by the Constitution.




Unfortunately, a corrected version of my Op-Ed piece was not used in Tuesday's paper ("On thin ice: Florida voter discrimination claims groundless," July 31). If it had, part of Abigail Thernstrom's letter would have been unnecessary ("Clarifying commission dissent to Florida voter discrimination findings," Letters, Aug. 2). With respect to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the piece should have read: "Despite promises last month to the Senate that the minority report would be disseminated by the commission, that has yet to happen, and the majority has now threatened that it will publish the minority report only if it omits any references to the research that I had done." No final decision has been made by the commission.


New Haven, Conn.

John R. Lott Jr. is a senior research scholar at the Yale University Law School.

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