Regarding your Oct. 25 article "Monumental clash over Ten Commandments": When I was a child in the 1960s, we prayed and said the Pledge every morning at school. There was a Jewish girl in class who didn't participate in the prayer. She was treated badly because of it, and I realize how awful it must have been for her to be singled out like that. In a mixed society such as ours, it is unfair to ask someone to participate in a religion different from their own. At the same time, it is impractical to have a prayer for every religion in class.
Let's face it, whether one believes in God or not, the rules are always the same: It's wrong to kill, or steal, or lie, etc. These lessons have to be taught when people are young because that is when we establish our life patterns.
In view of school shootings and other recent violence, we must consider what we, as a society, can do to effect change. I suggest we establish classes in school that actually teach right from wrong and encourage kids to be good. I really can't imagine what we would have to lose. This could only improve our chances of living in a civilized society.
Garry F. Baker
San Antonio, Texas
In response to your Oct. 24 article "Wave of ballot measures this fall veers left": What makes compassion for animals exclusively liberal turf?
Liberals have painted conservatives as a cold and uncaring group. The Oklahoma initiative would enforce laws against animal fighting and close the loophole that allows roosters to be pitted to fight until death for the sake of illegal gambling and entertainment. The Florida initiative would ban gestation crates to stop the practice of confining pregnant sows, who are kept in these crates for as many as eight to 10 pregnancies.
There's nothing partisan about showing kindness and compassion for animals. And conservatives, who have as much heart as anybody else, should not want there to be such a divide.
Student Animal Rights Alliance
Regarding your Oct. 21 article "For Army, a new primer in chemical war": In basic training at Fort Carson, Colo., in 1957, I learned about mustard and nerve gas attacks and protection, and was exposed to the gas while using a mask.
I lived in Germany during World War II when, upon entering the war, authorities issued each household gas masks, and we carried them to school in our backpacks. Air-raid shelters were built, without which I would not be here to write this.
More civilians were annihilated than military personnel. We must realize that any war will bring more destruction and chaos to the unprotected families of those who wear military armor. This is how an enemy will break an otherwise invincible military machine.
Ralph E. Eissmann
Regarding your Oct. 21 article "Probing religion's role in economic success": When referring to a study's conclusion that "educated people are more scientific, and thus more inclined to reject religious beliefs based on supernatural forces," you are not, I am sure, including Sir Isaac Newton in his "educated" coterie.
In his "General Scholium," this esteemed and venerable scientist wrote that "this most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." This dictum is shared by many who merit the title of "educated people."
Costa Mesa, Calif.
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