Letters to the Editors
Silent prayer, if any, best at meetings
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 29, 2001
Editor: The Interfaith Council of Citrus County is deeply concerned with the young people and school system of our community, especially in view of the disunity precipitated by the heated discussions regarding prayer before School Board meetings. We feel prayer is needed and is a practical way the community can support our children and school personnel. We also firmly believe in supporting the laws of our land.
Our country is a great country, in large part because the individual's right to freedom of religion is honored along with the guarantee of separation of church and state. We would never deny the right of anyone to pray, nor can we or anyone else stop another from praying. We do feel strongly, however, that in order to obey the laws of our land and to express respect and love for our neighbor, who may hold different religious beliefs than ourselves, that silent prayer is best at the public School Board meetings.
We would ask you to ponder a few points that have helped us come to this conclusion. In the book of Matthew, Chapter 6, verses 6-8 from the Revised English Bible, Jesus Christ says, "But when you pray, go into a room by yourself, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. In your prayers do not go babbling on like the heathen, who imagine that the more they say the more likely they are to be heard. Do not imitate them for your Father knows what your needs are before you ask him."
Also, St. Paul states in I Corinthians 13:13 "There are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of the three is love."
The Interfaith Council includes many, lay and clergy, who believe in Jesus Christ as their savior. Indeed, none of us is asking believers to deny their faith, but asking that those who feel the need to openly profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior do it in an appropriate setting. The public school system should be a place where citizens of all religious beliefs feel included as vital, respected parts of a diverse community.
Last year in our county we had an excellent example of a teacher whose faith in God helped her peacefully resolve a potentially violent situation when a student brought a weapon to her class. She did not openly profess her faith or openly pray, but the fruit of her prayer speaks volumes.
We are concerned the School Board lose no more time in this controversy or endanger our community with an expensive lawsuit by insisting that Christian prayer open the public School Board meetings. We trust that reason will prevail and there will be a moment of silent reflection, or meditation, or if one chooses, a prayer acceptable to all faiths, to bless our community and school system.
The Interfaith Council welcomes everyone in the community to join in its goal of fostering goodwill among those of all faiths.
Arrogance attacks non-Christians
Editor: This letter is intended for Patience Nave and the other fundamentalist Christian members of the Citrus County School Board.
Your arrogance in opening meetings in Jesus' name is an insult and a deliberate attack on the non-Christians in this community, of which there are many. You act as though Christianity is the one and only way toward our creator.
You are wrong. All the other religions have our creator's ear and have as much right as you, except they do not cram it down the throats of other believers in their religion.
I will do everything I can to get out the word to get you people voted out of office.
Widening on 491 a danger to elderly
Editor: I am very surprised the St. Petersburg Times did not get a story from one of your reporters about the big problem we have in Beverly Hills on the widening of County Road 491 to six lanes for a short distance in a very popular area.
This is a retirement place with elderly people and disabled people in electric wheelchairs that go up, down and across this section of highway.
We have started a petition for anyone to sign to say "No" to the widening of this area and have more than 2,000 names now, with more to come. We started this petition in the Beverly Hills Hardware Store and extended it to Inverness Bank, Amsouth Bank and a few other stores.
We have had many accidents in this area that now has four lanes.
We would like your help and if you want more information, go to the Beverly Hills Hardware Store on County Road 491, 3888 N Lecanto Highway.
This could be a very dangerous situation for us.
Aquifer storage plan innovative, not reckless
Editor, Aquifer plan is downright reckless, April 19 column by Jeff Webb:
The Times recently printed a column criticizing an innovative state plan to provide an answer to Florida's water crisis and help restore the Everglades by making aquifer storage and recovery technology, already in use throughout our state, more accessible to local water management districts.
I was extremely disappointed the Times would try to scare its readership into thinking there was anything "reckless" about the state's plan to use a proven technology to help solve Florida's severe water shortages.
The truth is the ASR initiative is supported by the very agencies and public officials who are responsible for protecting the public health and environment in Florida: Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health, the Senate, the state House of Representatives and Gov. Jeb Bush. It is ridiculous to think the people responsible for protecting the welfare of Florida's people and environment would do anything to jeopardize it.
The ASR initiative will protect public health through a series of strict requirements for permitting and additional safeguards. For instance, all water-quality requirements on the federal Safe Drinking Water Act will be met and ASR wells will not be allowed in any aquifers used now or in the future for drinking water. Furthermore, each permit for an ASR well will be individually reviewed by a task force of scientific experts to ensure that it is in appropriate geology. An important part of the permitting will involve development of a detailed, site-specific monitoring plan. If compliance problems are found, the bill provides for an immediate closing of the facility and cleaning of the water.
Upon recovery, the stored water will be retreated and disinfected to meet federal safety standards before being made available for consumption.
Another critical point is that the Department of Environmental Protection will include the federal Environmental Protection Agency in developing the rules to administer the ASR program, in order to make sure it will fully comply with federal law and ultimately be acceptable to EPA.
Developing a broader use for ASR technology is crucial to the success of two major programs in Florida: Everglades restoration and water supply development at the local level. Because of its extreme importance to preserving the environment and helping local communities, the people of Florida should support the ASR initiative and not be dissuaded by the unsubstantiated claims of unqualified people.
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