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City is right to stand up...

City is right to stand up for ‘Jesus’

Over the past months, readers have written that the city is making

a serious mistake in continuing to pursue its legal right to open a

City Council session or government event with a prayer. Activist Irv

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Rubin took issue with a Mormon bishop’s thanks to “Jesus Christ”

during an invocation before a Burbank council meeting. Rubin sued and

won an injunction against sectarian invocations on the grounds that

they breach the separation of church and state.

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Readers often cite the ongoing legal costs, the spirit of

tolerance or the constitutional issue as reasons the city should drop

its defense, thereby eliminating public prayers altogether. However,

the city of Burbank dropping this suit would be a serious mistake for

the following reasons:

Prayer and religious speech are protected under the 1st

Amendment. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the

government from “abridging the freedom of speech.” This prohibition

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was applied to the states via the 14th Amendment’s protection of

fundamental personal rights and liberties. It is a fundamental

proposition of constitutional law that religious speech is protected

by the 1st Amendment.

Public prayer does not violate the separation of church and state.

Separation of church and state cannot justify suppressing private

speech since the Establishment Clause forbids the government only

from “establishing religion.” The Supreme Court has recognized that

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“there is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing

religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech

endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses

protect.” Private citizens, therefore, can engage in prayer in public

without fear of violating the Establishment Clause.

In response to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, many government

officials and agencies participated in prayer events. President Bush

declared a National Day of Prayer, and at many of these events

“Jesus” was a commonly referred-to deity. This recognition of, and

participation in, voluntary prayer events does not cause a violation

of the Constitution. It is also well established that prayer at the

opening of a legislative session by a chaplain does not violate the

Establishment Clause.

The question of “tolerance": The vague ideal of “tolerance” is the

supposed standard with which many judge today. However, are we only

to be tolerant of those we like? If it’s true tolerance we want, how

can we single out Christians and tell them they can’t refer to their

specific God when praying in public? The same is true for those of

other faith traditions. “Tolerance” cannot be used as a weapon to

silence those with whom one disagrees.

Regardless of whether individuals have a personal religious faith,

much of society’s benefits today, like the rule of law, hospitals,

the university system and more, are the result of religious ideals

and vision. To discriminate against these people today would be to

eliminate a vital and significant population group in Burbank. This

is the time for our citizens of all faiths -- and no faith at all --

to join together and challenge those who would chip away at the

freedoms we all enjoy, and I applaud the city for rising to the

challenge. Remember: In this case, our freedom won’t be taken, we’ll

be giving it away.

PHIL COOKE

Burbank

Library bond would make our lives better

“Some voters won’t vote for anything that raises their taxes” is

the typical cheapskate mentality that fails to recognize that “you’ve

got to spend money to make money.”

By your computations, Measure L would add about $36 a year to the

property tax bill of the typical homeowner.

What people should realize is that every capital improvement to

city landscapes and facilities adds 100 times that amount to the

value of every home in this city. Why? Because anybody looking to buy

homes wants a “nice” place to live. This means not only the home

itself, but the community parks, schools, libraries, etc.

Since the biggest asset most people possess is their homes, this

is a better investment than stocks, bonds or bank accounts.

MAUDE HAM

Burbank

Sports stories should only be positive ones

In response to Jeff Tully’s unsolicited opinion in the Jan. 18

edition of the Leader: As a lifelong resident, I believe the only

stench in the city comes from the sports department of your paper.

Repeatedly over the years, the sports writers have tried to debase

the Burbank High School athletic teams. Mr. Tully’s articles in

particular are often interlaced with misquotes, misinformation,

incorrect statistics and inflammatory accusations that show his lack

of journalistic professionalism. His demeaning tone has done more to

humiliate the Burbank High School basketball team than any incidents

that may or may not have happened this season. I do not understand

why he feels the need to embarrass and degrade a fine group of

athletes.

I believe the emphasis of the sports articles should be placed on

the positive strengths of the individual players, not on the

sensational, tabloid-like, behind-the-scenes happen- stances. And to

correct one of your most blatant errors, last year’s Burbank High

School varsity basketball team did indeed make it to the playoffs.

LYNETTE BALLAS

Burbank


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