Fund Recreation for Disabled

At Tuesday's weekly meeting, the Calvert County commissioners voted to approve the 2000 budget but included an amendment proposed by Mr. [Patrick] Buehler: In two weeks, they will look at funding for either a sheriff's deputy OR a therapeutic recreation specialist. The two sides have two weeks to gather data showing who is most worthy. Who might be stronger in such a battle, the sheriff's department or the disability community?

The issue seems to depend on statistics. How many people would a therapeutic recreation program serve versus how many deputies do we need for the increasing population? Can the disability community provide statistics without a fancy, funded study? Even if it does, remember its members are a minority. Without statistics, we know the sheriff serves more people.

How do we choose? Why must we choose? The people of the county need to be safe AND the people with disabilities have a moral and legal right to the same services as the rest of the people.

Commissioner [Barbara A.] Stinnett spoke strongly about the many types of people who would be included in county services by simply hiring a therapeutic recreation specialist: people, young and old, with different levels of ability and disability. People with challenges caused by things like attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, spinal injury, autism, hearing impairments and brain trauma. She understands how much these people need a structured program, and [Commissioner John Douglas] Parran supports the program, too.

Commissioner [Linda L.] Kelley stated that only 25 to 50 children and only severely disabled children would take part -- this is wrong. How could she have misunderstood so much, even though she heard the same speeches and read the same letters and petitions?

A therapeutic recreation program will serve many Calvert County residents of all ages and with all types of disabilities. At a minimum, the 1,700 children receiving special education services in the county school system would be part of the program. Then, add any adult who has graduated from the same special education system in perhaps the last 30 years. And do not forget both the children and adults with physical disabilities. Then, you have many more than 50 people.

Why don't our commissioners all support such an important program for the well-being of so many people? Although they may forget their moral responsibility, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires the county to provide services equally to all. . . . The community of people with disabilities is generally a quiet group and has been ignored; I think it is time to yell.

DIANE SHAW

Huntingtown

Put Church Before State

On June 17, the House of Representatives voted 248 to 180 to allow the public display of the Ten Commandments in schools. . . . I am amazed and disturbed that any representative would be against this bill. They are all either Christian or Jewish and the Ten Commandments is a major part of those two religions.

Separation of church and state is the reason often cited for opposing public display of the Ten Commandments, prayer in schools, etc. That separation is an impossibility, since both the church and state are concerned with what is right or wrong, good or evil. . . .

There are three possibilities for a separation of church and state to exist. First, the church and state are separate but have equal authority. Second, the state is greater than and is a higher authority than the church. And third, the church is greater than and is a higher authority than the state. If you believe either of the first two, then you have just broken the first Commandment . . . .

Some people, including some politicians, insist that religion belongs in the home, church, synagogue, etc., but not in public. . . . That is opposite to what Christ told His followers. In Matthew 28:19, He gave us the Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . .. It seems some people . . . would rather disobey a direct command from Christ than offend atheists, Muslims, etc.

Elected officials have a difficult job because they serve two masters, church and state. . . .

Each of us, including presidents, congressmen, congresswomen, Supreme Court judges, etc. have to decide for ourselves who is the highest authority in our lives. . . . Keep in mind that at the last judgment, we will each stand before God and not the government to decide whether we spend eternity in heaven or in hell.

ROBERT BOUDREAUX

Waldorf

Religion Is Private Matter

The Ten Commandments should not be posted in public schools. Although it is understandable that much of the public would not object to the Ten Commandments, it amazes me that so many of those in Congress (especially conservatives) would support this notion, for it violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The First Amendment says, in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The first four of the Ten Commandments are, paraphrasing from Exodus, Chapter 20 and Deuteronomy, Chapter 5: (1) thou shalt have no other gods before me; (2) thou shalt not worship graven images; (3) thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain; and (4) thou shalt remember the Sabbath (seventh) day and keep it holy. These Commandments establish the most basic principles of the Jewish and Christian religions and, therefore, should not be posted in government buildings where they will be taken as being statements of government policy or preference.

I am neither anti-Christian nor anti-God. I believe that an individual's religious beliefs and practices should be instilled by the teachings of his or her parents, family and church, not the government. I believe that God exists within each individual and has not and cannot be banned from the individual, the classroom, or anywhere else by government decree. . . . And I believe that no one has the right to force their religious beliefs or practices on me. . . .

I have no problem with the other six Commandments, which require honoring parents and which forbid murder, adultery, theft, perjury and covetousness. They do not deal directly with God and form the basis of a moral relationship among people. These Commandments, and other appropriate rules for society (such as the Golden Rule), are very appropriate as public school topics. Topics promoting ethical behavior and social interaction should be in the curricula from kindergarten through high school and should be as familiar to schoolchildren as readin', writin' and 'rithmetic.

BRUCE KIRK

La Plata

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