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Letters to the Editor

March 15, 2009

National Day of Prayer under attack



To the editor:

More than 50 years after it was made official by a joint resolution of Congress, the National Day of Prayer is being threatened by a national group of liberals.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit, saying the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and creates a "hostile environment for nonbelievers."

The Alliance Defense Fund will defend the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

The lawsuit will not keep us from responding to our call to ask Americans to intercede in prayer for our nation's leaders and their families.The chairman of the NDP Task Force in Mason County said that "We pray without fear of retribution."

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The National Day of Prayer falls on the first Thursday of May - May 7 this year. Millions gather across the nation in stadiums, schools, town halls, state capitols, nursing homes and prisons. Each year the Mason County prayer observance is held on the courthouse steps.

The National Day of Prayer is one more reminder to the enemy that we are not willing to give up our nation.

Kevin Theriot, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) faces an uphill battle. People of faith throughout America will not give up this freedom to pray.

The National Day of Prayer is something that has been done for years. The Supreme Court has said that prayers don't violate the Constitution.

Local Prayer Forces will be asking Christians to sign a petition encouraging President Obama to support NDP by issuing a presidential proclamation - something every president since 1952 has done.

The petition reads: "Dear President Obama and the Department of Justice:

"I'm writing to encourage you to support the annual National Day of Prayer and its observance in the Nation's Capital on the first Thursday each May.

"Appeals to the Almighty on our nation's behalf have proven indispensable throughout the history of this great nation. The National Day of Prayer truly brings people of all faiths and backgrounds together in a day of unity.

"Please continue this great American tradition with annual proclamations calling upon all Americans to pray. Thank you. May God guide you in your decision making, and may God guide and protect America."

For further information, please contact me at 2875 Chestnut Ridge Road, Mount Alto, WV 25264, for a copy of the petition. You may also visit the Web site for the National Day of Prayer at www.ndptf.org.

Alice Click
Mount Alto, W.Va.




School, pension funds must be secured to keep Md. schools No. 1



To the editor:

With the national economy in a deep funk and government budgets increasingly tight, you might think education funding is the only issue on the Maryland State Teachers Association's lobbying agenda for 2009. Certainly, without adequate resources it will be much harder to push the reforms our students and public schools need.

But the MSTA, the state affiliate of our local Washington County Teachers Association is busy researching, analyzing and discussing with lawmakers other important pieces of legislation.

Some proposals would help strengthen student achievement and school employees' voices while others could impact the way locals fund public education.

However, as the 2009 legislative session progresses, the association's No. 1 priority, in light of current economic and budgetary restraints, must be protecting school and pension funding.

As a result of the economic recession, next year's projected state budget gap has now risen to a whopping $2 billion - with things likely to get worse.

As a result, state employees have been furloughed, and the governor has proposed 700 layoffs and $1.2 billion in budget cuts.

With Maryland recently being named the No. 1 school system in the nation by Education Week, public education did remain a top priority in the governors budget compared to other areas - state aid to education would go up $68.3 million, an additional $260.3 million would be designated for public school construction and renovation and teacher pension costs would not be shifted to local governments.

Nevertheless, legislative leaders are still considering cuts to education and other areas, as well as possibly shifting to local governments a portion of the state's pension costs for educators.

MSTA's leaders and lobbyists continue to be fully engaged in discussions with state officials to prevent or minimize the impact of any cutbacks or cost shifting on students, educators and public schools.

It is important that we at the local level continue to emphasize our message to our delegates: If the counties are forced to pick up the pension costs, local support for public schools and educators, our state's No. 1 ranking, and the progress we are making in raising achievement levels across the state will be in jeopardy.

This seems to be a point that Del. Christopher Shank already understands and I was pleased to hear him oppose shifting the cost of pensions onto the counties recently.

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