- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2003

FBOs work

The article "Progress seen on faith-based agenda" (Nation, Thursday) highlights how the Bush administration, in the face of partisan opposition to legislative reforms, has used executive orders to advance constitutional values in matters of faith and government. The bullet-ridden bill that recently staggered out of the Senate sought simply to end decades of religious discrimination by the government, promising equal consideration to faith-based applicants for funding help. No favoritism is being advanced, just equal access.
Opponents of faith-based initiatives would have us believe that the First Amendment mandates a "wall of separation" between church and state. Actually, the First Amendment stipulates that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Our founders clearly sought to protect equal rights and freedoms for individuals of all faiths and beliefs not to discriminatorily drive every last vestige of religious faith from government.
While politicians and pundits wring their hands over "separation" anxiety, faith-based organizations are working in the trenches, ministering to individuals in crisis whom society has deemed worthless or beyond help. They are providing built-in networks of caring and compassionate folks who offer literal helping hands and welcoming arms to those in need. They do so because they are motivated by God's love and see His reflection in each individual.
Objective studies show that faith-based programs for drug addicts, underserved patient populations and criminals often prove more effective than secular programs. Why? Because they minister to the whole person body, mind and spirit while opening the door for a lasting heart change.
Such effective programs, typically run by underpaid, yet dedicated staff, and with severely limited financial resources, need and deserve government support. It's time to tear down the wall of discrimination between church and state.

JONATHAN IMBODY
Senior policy analyst
Christian Medical Association's Washington Bureau
Springfield

Morning-after myth

James Madison University President Linwood H. Rose said the "morning after" pill "cannot terminate a pregnancy" ("JMU students pursue new birth-control ruling," Metropolitan, Wednesday). Mr. Rose sounds like former President Bill Clinton explaining the definition of "is."
Mr. Rose is correct if he defines the beginning of pregnancy as implantation of the human embryo in the mother's womb or at some point after implantation. Like Mr. Clinton, however, he is disingenuous. He distorts the word "pregnancy," for a new human being begins life at the moment of conception.
The "morning-after" pill frequently acts to prevent implantation of an embryo into the mother's womb. Conception takes place days before a new human being, complete with DNA, attempts to implant in the womb. Snuffing out a prenatal human being's life at any point is not contraception. It is an abortion.

NANCY WELLS
Potomac

Debunking 'medicinal' marijuana

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is on the right track with his concern for youth and for breaking "the cycle that leads to a life of crime," as the reporter wrote in "Youth agency changes name" (Metro, Wednesday). We must go still further by preventing young people from getting into that cycle in the first place.
Drugs are a fast track to crime, and marijuana is the leading gateway drug. Mr. Ehrlich needs to counter the dangerous myths that marijuana is harmless, that smoking pot is a civil liberty, and the even more bizarre idea that this complex, carcinogenic and frequently mold-contaminated substance could be "medicine."
We must help the public understand that there is a small but well-funded group that would like to legalize all drugs, not just marijuana. These are the folks who have so successfully misled the public, including many Maryland legislators, into believing smoked marijuana is a "medicine." This misunderstanding is not accidental. Since the 1970s, there has been an aggressively orchestrated effort to use this issue as a ramrod to legalize marijuana.
People in the medical-marijuana movement are putting on white coats and expressing concerns for the welfare of the sick. People who truly are concerned about those suffering from serious illnesses need to see this movement for what it is: a hoax.
It is easy to see that the advocates of smoked marijuana as medicine are not sincere. They universally decry the use of the purified chemicals found in marijuana as medical treatments. They only support "smoked dope" as a "medicine." This simple fact unmasks their hoax.
As a nation, we are not helping either our youth or sick people by circumventing the standard rules governing any medicine to be prescribed by physicians. Medicines need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective. Smoking is not accepted as a route of administration for any medicine because it is an unhealthy and unreliable drug delivery mechanism.
I agree with Mr. Ehrlich that we must save these young people at whatever stage we recognize their need. There should be no disagreement that we must first make sure they understand the truth about this dangerous drug. Many young people in detention for crimes were involved in drugs before their arrests. We can all do better.

DR. ROBERT L. DUPONT
President
Institute for Behavior and Health Inc.
Rockville

Wrong response to HIV

I am writing in response to a letter written by Carl Olson of Woodland Hills, Calif. ("Does HIV belong on the quarantine list?" Monday). Mr. Olson apparently has no idea of the purpose of quarantine. Quarantine, in modern society, is used for those infected (or possibly infected, until proven otherwise) with deadly diseases that can be quickly spread through incidental or casual contact with others. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an excellent example of a condition for which an individual could be quarantined. HIV/AIDS is not.
HIV is spread through an exchange of certain bodily fluids, not through casual contact or via the respiratory system. As a matter of fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIV has never been spread through contact with tears, saliva or sweat. In the United States, HIV is primarily spread through unprotected sexual contact and intravenous drug use. Therefore, HIV/AIDS is preventable because it is usually acquired through reckless behavior.
Mr. Olson's ignorance of how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and what is required to prevent it, is a shining example of why widespread HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted disease (STD) education is so desperately needed. That being said, and with the fact that the majority of the new HIV infections in the United States are people under age 25, the education needs to be appropriate and effective, and President Bush's abstinence-only sexual education policy is not going to cut it.
While abstinence is the only guaranteed method to prevent spread of STDs, it is a fact that half of all 17-year-olds have had sexual intercourse. We simply are not going to be able to stop teenagers from having sex. Thus, contraceptive education, to include medically accurate instruction on the use of condoms, should be included in sexual education.
Research shows that teenagers who receive sex education that includes discussion of abstinence and contraception are more likely to delay sexual activity, to use contraceptives when they do become sexually active and to have fewer partners than those who receive abstinence-only messages.
By writing this letter, I hope to inform people such as Mr. Olson of the facts concerning the spread of STDs, including HIV/AIDS. It is not my intention to bash Mr. Bush or any political party, as I am a Republican myself. It is my intention to ask our lawmakers and president to use common sense and take heed of the facts when passing legislation and making policy about STDs and sex education. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 93 percent of Americans support comprehensive sex education in high schools, and it is time our lawmakers hear their constituents on this matter.

JOSHUA J. PHILLIPS
Terre Haute, Ind.

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