LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Sectarian subsidies offend Constitution

The decisions by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Mayor Martin O'Malley to provide grants totaling $447,500 for a National Baptist Convention event to be held this month in Baltimore is not only a violation of the First Amendment but also a shameless effort to troll for votes ("Support of religious conference criticized," May 27).

Not only that, but the convention will reportedly contain sessions that can only be regarded as tax-subsidized attacks on the religions of other Marylanders.

Politicians of both parties should avoid pandering for sectarian votes.

The practice threatens the religious liberty of all of us, smells too much like the kind of politico-religious extremism that we supposedly oppose in the Middle East, and can only further reduce respect for politicians and the political process.

Edd Doerr

Silver Spring

The writer is president of Americans for Religious Liberty.

All it takes is the prospect of $41 million coming into town with the National Baptist Convention and the establishment clause of the First Amendment is apparently tossed out in the trash.

Worship of the almighty dollar trumps the Constitution.

Rea Knisbacher

Baltimore

Would the Wiccans be equally welcome?

I wanted to applaud the state's decision to spend $150,000 to attract the Congress of Christian Education conference to Baltimore ("Support of religious conference criticized," May 27).

There are those who might argue that this use of taxpayer dollars to promote a particular religion is a clear violation of the separation of church and state.

I would counter that the state is simply trying to promote tourism, not to favor one religion over another.

I'm sure that the state officials responsible would join me in inviting everyone to attend next year's Worldwide Wiccan Convention.

John Monahan

Baltimore

Editorial insulted backers of English

As one of the vast majority of Americans who applauded the Senate's vote to declare English our national language, I take great exception to The Sun's characterization of the bill as a "joke" and "xenophobic" ("Ignorance rules," editorial, May 22).

I take a backseat to no one in my support of immigrants to this country. However, I believe that immigrants have a responsibility to learn our common language.

Law has an expressive function, as we recognize when we institute measures to encourage citizens to quit smoking or graduate from high school.

And it is reasonable to most of us that the law should seek to promote English, which is the language of citizenship and opportunity.

Reasonable people can and do disagree about the wisdom of the amendment passed by the Senate.

But by declaring one side of the argument to be essentially motivated by fear and hate, The Sun's editorial substituted childish insult for discussion.

Its readers deserve better.

Harvey M. Meyerhoff

Baltimore

Ruling forces PSC to do right thing

Hooray for Baltimore Circuit Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr. for his ruling on the Public Service Commission and for Mayor Martin O'Malley for bringing the lawsuit against the PSC ("PSC must review rates," May 31).

Now the public can get some actual facts about Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s exorbitant rate increase rather than having to read and hear the spin put out by BGE and Constellation Energy.

Their spin does little but tell their side of the story in the most favorable manner possible.

The PSC bought this spin, thinking no one would notice or complain. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and other state officials did nothing to force the PSC to do its job, which is to protect the public's interest.

Now, with this court ruling, the PSC will be forced to do what it should have done in the first place.

Ron Parsons

Arnold

Assault-rifle critics confuse the issue

The writer of the letter "Ehrlich's tolerance of guns is relevant" (letters, May 26) describes assault rifles as "dangerous military-style semiautomatic weapons."

It is apparent that the writer, who is a member of the board of CeaseFire Maryland Inc., and others who dislike firearms do not understand that the so-called assault weapons are functionally no different from firearms used for hunting, target shooting and other sporting activities.

These firearms are capable only of semiautomatic operation, firing only one round for each pull of the trigger.

The military firearms they resemble are capable of full automatic operation, firing multiple rounds for each pull of the trigger.

Calling for banning the civilian firearms that resemble military firearms is as logical as calling for banning the civilian Hummer vehicle because it resembles the military's Humvee.

Carl Russell III

Severn

Congress cares only about its privileges

It seems all too characteristic that the present leaders in Congress, having shown themselves largely indifferent to massive illegal spying on citizens suspected of no crime, should be up in arms about a questionable search of the office of a member of Congress who is being investigated (although not by Congress) for alleged activities both illegal and grossly unethical ("Too clumsy by half," editorial, May 31).

Many members of Congress apparently care nothing for the rights of citizens, nothing for the integrity of the institution in which they serve - nothing for anything except their own prerogatives.

Their debased values are an insult to the American people and a danger to the republic.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam

Baltimore

Expulsion of Mid outrageous, wasteful

Outrageous. Absurd. There is absolutely no need for a graduating midshipman who is going to an officer's billet on a ship to be put to a test of his footspeed ("Seconds short, Mid bitter over expulsion," May 25).

Frank Shannon has every right to be bitter over his expulsion after both he and the government spent so much time and resources on his education at the Naval Academy.

I wonder if the brilliant minds who thought up this running test would be able to pass it.

It's time for some serious changes in leadership at the academy.

Paul Cummins

Parkton

The writer is a member of the U.S. Naval Academy's Class of 1958.

Sniper case verdict a chance for closure

I'm glad to see a guilty verdict in the sniper case ("Guilty verdict in sniper rampage," May 31).

I hope this helps Maryland's victims find some closure.

I also hope that Lee Boyd Malvo gets some satisfaction in seeing that the evil man who ruined his life is nothing more than a coward and a buffoon.

Denny Olver

Baltimore

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