The Baltimore Sun

Nonprofits protect prosperity, values

Thank you for putting "Nonprofits add jobs" (July 1) on the front page of The Sun's business section.

As the report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies and the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations notes, nonprofit agencies strengthen Maryland's work force and increase productivity in ways that benefit our overall economy.

But nonprofit groups - from understaffed anti-poverty agencies to big employers in health care and higher education - also contribute to the quality of life in important ways that the market economy cannot support.

Nonprofit groups are often the voices of positive values that enhance our neighborhoods and balance the negative, destructive values and messages often promoted in the entertainment world or in the Enron- or Bear Stearns-style predatory corporate world.

The staff, volunteers and boards of directors of nonprofit agencies are important from a labor market perspective.

But nonprofit groups deserve our highest appreciation and support for their necessary but often unglamorous work on behalf of the values and virtues that make our lives, and those of generations to come, so much better.

Don Mathis, Washington

The writer is president and CEO of the Community Action Partnership.

No proof that porn damages families

Pastor Allen Harris of Columbia Presbyterian Church states that "pornography is a major destroyer of marriages in Howard County" ("Paperbacks redefining area adult bookstore," June 30).

On what data is this statement based? Are we to believe that Pastor Harris has investigated every failed marriage in Howard County?

No one is being forced to enter this establishment at gunpoint.

If the local elected officials have resigned themselves to the store existing peacefully on Route 40, the local clergy should do the same thing.

Richard Crystal, Baltimore

Lurid headlines unfit for children

I agree with the final sentence of David Zurawik's article "How to be very, very popular: Get pregnant" (July 1): "It's troubling to see [Disney's] Hollywood storytellers spinning such an attractive tale about teen pregnancy."

But what I find even more troubling is the front page of Tuesday's Today section, which featured larger-than-life headlines saying "Labor of Lust ... a couple in Colorado decide to have sex for 101 straight days" and "How to be very, very popular: Get pregnant."

I read both of these articles and found neither one offensive. However, as a parent of young emerging readers, I have to be concerned that these headlines are plastered on the front page of a section of the newspaper.

It's bad enough that they see such headlines on tabloids at the grocery store, but I'm able to rationalize that by telling them, "It's trash, don't pay attention. They're just trying to sell their magazine."

But when the same sort of headlines appears on The Sun, I have to wonder about the integrity of this newspaper's journalism.

Jane McCaul, Baltimore

Features extol the wrong values

Have people at The Sun lost their minds?

First The Sun touts a book by a woman who has been married 11 times ("Exes and Uh-Ohs," June 24), and now it gives us, as family fare, an article about a couple who want to make money off their sex lives ("Labor of Lust," July 1).

What's next? How low is The Sun willing to go?

Francis J. Sinek, Woodstock

Immigration raid a good first step

Kudos to law enforcement in Anne Arundel County for being proactive in enforcing the laws against illegal immigration ("46 held in immigration sweep," July 1).

Nearly four dozen people remain in federal custody after one of the biggest illegal immigration busts in Maryland in recent years.

Federal and county officers raided 15 houses in search of illegal aliens who have been working for Annapolis Painting Services Inc.

Of course, Casa de Maryland responded to the raid with a protest ("Advocates rally after raid, arrests," July 2).

But Anne Arundel County did the right thing. I hope that Montgomery County will now take a cue from its neighbor and do its job by enforcing the law and ridding this sanctuary for illegal immigrants of some of those immigrants.

Al Eisner, Wheaton

A narrow victory for Bill of Rights

By only one vote, the Supreme Court, in effect, left in place an amendment to our Constitution ("Justices back gun owners," June 27).

What if the vote had gone the other way?

What if the court had been considering the 13th, 15th or 19th amendments instead of the Second?

Think about that.

Mark Allen, Thurmont

Officers don't need prompting to pray

The writer of the letter "Midshipmen minds are free to wander" (June 30) misses the point about the American Civil Liberties Union's protest against the government-organized lunchtime prayers at the Naval Academy.

The point is that the midshipmen have always enjoyed the right to pray whenever, wherever, however and to whomever or whatever they please. They do not need admirals or chaplains to lead them in prayer or to tell them when, where or how to pray.

Government-sponsored public prayer leads to hypocrisy and disrespects the voluntary nature of religious expression, which is supposed to be protected by the Constitution that military officers swear to uphold.

As the father of a Navy officer, I see no need for the armed forces to do more than simply provide chaplain services for those individual sailors and soldiers who want them.

Edd Doerr, Silver Spring

The writer is president of Americans for Religious Liberty.

Uphold the right to eat in peace

One reader wrote that midshipmen are adults whose minds are free to wander during mealtime prayers ("Midshipmen minds are free to wander," letters, June 30). She views the controversy over mealtime prayers at the Naval Academy not so much as a church vs. state issue but as a failure of imagination.

I'm sure that the Naval Academy is full of young Christian men and women whose imaginations are as active as those of anyone else. But many people would object if naval officers were forced to exercise this imagination while being compelled to stand while a Wiccan or Muslim or Buddhist read a prayer.

The Navy's young men and women are being asked to defend, and possibly die for, the Constitution of the United States. And some of them may be members of religions other than Christianity.

It would be nice if we could uphold their constitutional right to eat in peace.

John Monahan, Baltimore

Why didn't Ehrlichs challenge the caller?

Every point made by Richard E. Vatz in his letter "Democrats accept some racial slurs" (June 26) is valid. The hypocrisy demonstrated by the Democratic politicians he cites is shameful - just about equivalent to the hypocrisy daily demonstrated by Republican politicians.

I guess the point to be taken is that almost by definition, politicians, regardless of political stripe, are, on some issues, at some times, hypocrites.

However, with all that as a given, Mr. Vatz's letter still neatly sidesteps the primary issue posed by Laura Vozzella in her column "Can't we just get along?" (June 22): Why did former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Kendel Ehrlich (and Mr. Vatz) make no on-air response to the hateful suggestion by the caller regarding a possible race war if Sen. Barack Obama is elected president?

Never mind hypocrisy - what about demonstrating a bit of common decency by taking on the caller and denouncing that implication?

Harris Factor, Columbia

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