- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2002

NEA does not punish people of faith

The article about a recent determination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("NEA ordered to end hassles," May 21) could have benefited from some fact-checking or even some facts. Based largely on a press release from the National Right to Work Committee, the article perpetuates gross misstatements about the disposition, the consequences and even the parties to the case.

The National Education Association was not ordered "to stop violating the religious rights of members who disagree," and the EEOC did not charge the NEA with that or anything else. On the contrary, EEOC called on one of the NEA's affiliates to end an administrative practice that the commission considered inappropriate.

In the minds of most reasonable observers, the commission's finding of an "unnecessary delay in accommodating the Charging Party" is a far cry from what The Washington Times calls "systematically persecuting people of faith." In the same way, most people see a distinction between the commission's intent to "eliminate the alleged unlawful practices by informal methods of conciliation" and the Times' characterization that the agency "said it would sue the nation's largest teachers union if it did not stop forcing teachers to undergo annual written procedures."

We are confident that our affiliate will find a means of accommodating the aggrieved party in this case. We long for the day when organizations acting on behalf of religious objectors stop bearing false witness against their neighbors.



National Education Association


The ancient roots of priestly celibacy

I wish to correct the unattributed statement in "Better left unwed" (Culture, June 4) that "[Catholic] priests were allowed to marry until the 12th century and the threat of their children inheriting Church property was one reason for the celibacy requirement." No doubt unintentionally, The Times has perpetuated a falsehood used by liberal critics of the Roman Catholic Church.

There never was a church promulgation in the 12th century let alone before or since that imposed celibacy on a previously married priesthood. On the contrary, the requirement for priestly celibacy found its first justification in the Gospel of Matthew (19:12), where Jesus counsels His Apostles to renounce marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. (Interestingly, the article cited this verse but summarized it to mean that celibacy is "not for everyone.") In his Epistles, Paul addressed at greater length the virtues of priestly celibacy.

As the church grew in size and influence, it convened councils at Elvira (circa 300) and Ancyra (314) to officially proclaim a celibate priesthood. Furthermore, Pope St. Damascus I (366-384) and Pope St. Leo I (440-461) made strong pronouncements in favor of a celibate priesthood. This was long before the 12th century, which disproves the article's claim that a celibate priesthood was mandated for fear that a priest's children might inherit church property. Because Christianity was illegal in the fourth century, Roman law did not even recognize the existence of church property.

In practice, however, there were priests who flaunted the church's directives before, during and after that allegedly pivotal 12th century. Misbehavior of priests, however, should not be confused with official church teaching not then, not now.


Stafford, Va.

For campaign finance study, the merit is in the methodology

A gag on the 1st Amendment" (Op-Ed, May 3) disparages a series of studies on television political advertising conducted by my organization. Yet its author, Phil Kent, who is president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, doesn't share a single detail about our methodology.

"Buying Time 2000," our study of the most recent federal elections, evaluated every ad that ran in the top 75 media markets in the nation, which air to 80 percent of the national population. All told, our study analyzed 2,871 television ads by candidates, parties and groups, which collectively aired more than 845,000 times. We purchased the data from an independent commercial business specializing in political consulting and reporting, and the data were analyzed in collaboration with a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin who since has published his conclusions mirroring ours in peer-reviewed journals of political science.

The Brennan Center's studies confirmed what both political pundits and the public have long believed: Interest groups that were blatantly engaged in electioneering were exploiting loopholes, undermining the law intended to preserve fair elections and protect our democracy.

We would welcome any study Mr. Kent might produce to prove that no such flouting occurred. We just wonder why he didn't bother to conduct his study or challenge ours in time for Congress to evaluate his evidence as it debated campaign finance reform over the past seven years.



Brennan Center for Justice

New York University Law School

New York

Fight Internet piracy with education, not government

In his June 5 Op-Ed column, "Battlefield of blockbusters," Raymond J. Keating successfully identified the threat Hollywood and the music industry face from Internet theft of films and music. Digital piracy is a serious problem that we in the software industry have been fighting for more than a decade.

I agree with Mr. Keating that the government-mandated technology standards being sought by some movie studios are not the answer. Inserting the government into technology decisions would stifle innovation. Instead, we believe that education, enforcement of existing laws and market-driven technologies hold the best promise for fighting Internet piracy.

According to a recent survey conducted for the Business Software Alliance by Ipsos Public Affairs, more than half of all Internet users who have downloaded commercial software either seldom or never pay for that software. However, 95 percent of those Internet users believe software creators should be paid for their work, and 85 percent believe strong intellectual property protections are crucial for protecting the revenues companies depend on to fund research and development.

Internet users recognize the value of intellectual property. That's why we are committed to continuing our efforts to help Internet users understand that illegal downloads do serious harm to the very companies and developers they believe in protecting. Through education, enforcement and sound public policy, I am confident that we can help change these attitudes and create an atmosphere in which strong online copyright protections can flourish.


President and CEO

Business Software Alliance


Not that flaunting middle-class morality is wrong, but…

Although I enjoy Suzanne Fields' commentaries, the lead sentence of her latest column ("There goes the bride," Op-Ed, June 6) contains a decisive error. She writes, "Long before the Sexual Revolution changed everything in the 1960s, only the overclass and the underclass could flaunt middle-class morality without public recriminations."

Mrs. Fields surely means flout i.e., to show contempt for something. "Flaunt," which means to display ostentatiously, contradicts the point Mrs. Fields attempts to make.


Oak Hill, Va.

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