To the Editor

February 14, 2012

By Contributor

Good Samaritans

Good deeds happen throughout our midst

Good Samaritans abound in Issaquah. We needn’t look far to find them. He might be the man who steps aside allowing you to enter the market first. Or the teenage boy who smiles and politely responds to a question. And when one salesperson’s been rude, another might lift your spirits with a cheery, “Enjoy the rest of your day.”

These gestures may seem trivial, but they go far in alleviating daily stresses that simmer beneath the surface. Kindness attracts kindness and the ripple effect is felt throughout our community.

Marilyn Ottinger first came to my attention in a news article that ran several years ago in The Issaquah Press. For those in need of a warm meal during a power outage, Marilyn served up soup from a grill set up on a town sidewalk. Her act of kindness remains etched in my memory. So when I heard that she was instrumental in organizing regular meals at the Community Hall for folks desiring hot food and the company of others, I knew I wanted to help.

Since last year my husband and I have volunteered on an as-needed basis in providing home-cooked dishes. We’ve also helped to serve whenever possible. It was rewarding for us to do so on Christmas Day when our daughter was home visiting.

Our family agreed that celebrating Christ’s birth in the service of others was the most heart-warming holiday we‘d ever enjoyed. We received much more than we gave. It was abundantly evident in our only child’s delight at seeing what a difference generosity, kind words and smiles did for those on the receiving end.

Thank you, Marilyn, and all of the other good Samaritans who go about their business with quiet humility.

Millie Vierra

Issaquah

First Amendment

Where is the separation between church and state?

Have you noticed how some public schools turn into churches on Sundays? Some school grounds are covered with church banners, signs and sandwich boards.

The church that uses Grand Ridge Elementary School even covered the school’s official reader board with a Timberlake Church sign, as if it owned the place. After complaints, the church got creative and parked a big truck in front of the school with the church name on the side.

But the pushy signs (and pushy attitude) are a minor complaint. The main issue, which would exist even if there were no signs, concerns the Constitution. Many people cannot think of a more blatant violation of the separation of church and state than a state school being used as a church. They should be separate, not one and the same.

Like many, I was under the impression that Congress’ ill-advised Equal Access Act forced school boards to let churches rent schools for worship services. However, two months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a decision by a federal Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed the New York City Board of Education to prohibit churches from conducting worship services in their schools.

The court wrote: “The board had a strong basis to be wary that permitting religious worship services in schools, and thus effectively allowing schools to be converted into churches on Sunday . . . exposes the city to a substantial risk of being found to have violated the Establishment Clause.”

In addition to concerns about violating the U.S. Constitution, the practice clearly violates our state constitution, which says: “No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship.” The Supreme Court has now given school boards the green light to comply with our state constitution.

I just spoke about this at an Issaquah School Board meeting and have received no response as of the writing of this letter. However, given that our state constitution clearly prohibits public schools from being used for worship services, I trust the board will do the right thing and abide by that constitutional mandate.

Matthew Barry

Issaquah

Plastic bags

The product is dangerous; not using them would save animals

The Seattle City Council’s decision to ban single-use plastic bags from supermarkets and other retail stores — and to make people pay a 5-cent fee for the use of paper bags — will help save countless animals.

In Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book “One Can Make a Difference,” Rebecca Hosking, who made the riveting documentary, “Hawaii: Message in the Waves,” explains how plastic bags often end up in our planet’s oceans, where they can remain for years, since plastics can take centuries to decompose. Floating plastic bags are deadly to fish, birds, sea turtles, dolphins and other marine animals who come in contact with them. More than 100,000 animals die every year after they mistake plastic bags for food and eat them.

And according to the National Co-op Grocers Association, approximately 14 million trees are used annually to make paper bags for Americans. When forests — which absorb greenhouse gases — are cut down, wildlife habitats are destroyed and countless animals are displaced. Reusable tote bags are a humane and inexpensive alternative to harmful plastic and paper bags.

Learn more by reading “One Can Make a Difference,” available at www.peta.org.

Heather Moore

PETA Foundation

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Comments

2 Responses to “To the Editor”

  1. M. Miller on February 15th, 2012 11:09 pm

    Using schools on Sunday for church services is in no way against the Constitution. Just to be clear, the phrase “separation of church and state” does not exist in the US Constitution. Look it up. Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase “separation of church and state” in a letter he wrote explaining the intent and meaning of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause found in the 1st Amendment. The intent was to prevent the United States from adopting a State endorsed religion, like England…not to prevent the free exercise of religion. The recent rulings in Washington DC just illustrate how important it is to elect officials who read and understand the Constitution. Frankly, I think it’s smart business to rent the schools out and i think it sends a clear message that the Issaquah School District is not religiously intolerant.

  2. Doug on February 18th, 2012 3:41 pm

    If PETA is so worried about plastic in the water why just pick on something as small as plastic bags? Why not demand use your voice to tell our state legislators to introduce bills requiring a deposit on all plastic bottles instead? In this economy people would return plastic bottles in droves to get back a nickel apiece. The roadways would automatically become cleaner because some people would start picking up discarded bottles to collect a deposit.

    If the US government had any brains at all they would legalize the production of hemp which could be used for making paper and other goods. The use of paper bags then wouldn’t neccesitate the need to cut down millions of trees and we could again use them instead of plastic bags.

    Don’t just treat the wound, heal it instead.

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