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
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.
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
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
“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
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.
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.
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
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.