- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2006

Freedom to pray

“In 1854, when the office of chaplain in the Army, Navy, at West Point and in both Houses of Congress was attacked, the House of Representatives responded by stating, ‘In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity. … That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.’

“However, many today protest acknowledgments of Christianity because of ‘religious diversity,’cultural pluralism’ or a perceived duty of ‘government neutrality’ toward religion. Citing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, they work to remove any reference to Jesus Christ in public prayer.

“Such opposition misses the critical point: that liberty of conscience is a central principle of the Christian faith. Before he became our fourth president, James Madison proposed the First Amendment and was known as the ‘Father of the Constitution.’ …

“Madison recognized that Christianity is a religion of freedom and not coercion, and that we each answer to God if we abuse the freedom of others.

“Nevertheless, the recognition and encouragement of Christianity was not an abuse of the role of government.”

—Roy Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, writing on “Where’s the ‘tolerance’ for Christianity?” Wednesday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Johnny can’t write

“Most of the students staring back at me last week, the first week of Fall classes at the State University school at which I teach, were born in 1988 — six years after I began teaching remedial English to college freshmen.

“As usual, this semester’s crop will spend the entire first session in a state of hurt and bewilderment. How is it possible, they’ll wonder, that after 12 years of elementary, intermediate and high school English classes, they still screwed up an English placement test that requires them to demonstrate only a minimum proficiency in reading comprehension, grammatical correctness, and paragraph structure?

“There’s plenty of blame to go around: Some belongs to the students themselves who don’t read newspapers or magazines, avoid books like Dracula avoids sunlight, and whose only regular writing consists of text-message shorthand and ‘freestyle’ poetry. More blame belongs to their teachers who reward formless, cliche-ridden expressions of adolescent angst and victimology but neglect the fundamentals of reading and writing in order to pump their students full of self-esteem — an attribute which, ironically, correlates more closely with criminality than with high test scores.”

—…Mark Goldblatt, writing on “Screwing Up,” Monday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Common phrase

“Militants attempted to hurl hand grenades over the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday. During the siege, the attackers cried ‘Allahu akbar!’ or ‘God is great!’ Last week, a group of Western tourists in Amman were gunned down by a man shouting the same phrase. When else do Muslims say ‘Allahu akbar?’

“All the time. The phrase … turns up again and again in religious contexts. For example, the call to prayer begins with four repetitions of ‘Allahu akbar.’

“Muslims can use ‘Allahu akbar’ to express general approval, or even as an exclamation of surprise. …

“Militants on suicide missions often say ‘Allahu akbar’ because they believe they are committing a righteous act and because it’s good form to die with praise for Allah on your lips.”

—…Daniel Engber, writing on “God Is Still Great,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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