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Tuesday, September 14, 1999

Peggy McCracken


By Peggy McCracken

Granny D getting closer to

her goal in Washington, D.C.

Granny D. crossed the Mississippi River west of Memphis, Tenn., Tuesday, marking the 2,000th mile in her trek across the country in support of campaign finance reform. That's two-thirds of the 3,000-mile trip from California to Washington, D.C.

You may remember that Granny D, aka Doris Haddock, a feisty 89-year-old widow from Dublin, N.H., stopped in Pecos back in the spring and spoke at the Relay for Life sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

She told me then that her purpose is to memorialize her late husband and a friend who died last year by arousing the American people to rid Congress of "soft money," campaign contributions from corporations that erode our one-person, one-vote democracy.

I looked up the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform bill that was supposed to be debated in the House last week and in the Senate in October, but I couldn't understand it. You know, most of those representatives are lawyers, and they write bills that are so full of legalese it is hard to figure out what they mean.

But as I understand Granny D., she wants the laws changed so that big contributors don't control the votes of our representatives. That seems a worthy goal, and I admire Granny for putting feet to her prayers.

Granny walks 10 miles a day, rain or shine. She gets up early to get in as many miles as she can before the heat of the day, and quits about 11. Along the way, individuals and businesses have provided lodging and meals, either in their homes or in motels. Some people drop what they are doing and walk a little way with her. I noticed on her web site that a 14-year-old boy whose family put her up in their motel was so excited, he walked with her two days. Another drove 200 miles to see her in person.

"People bless me with their hopes for America," Granny said while in Texas. "They are not bitter, but they are disturbed. They are Americans, so they are relentless in their determination to be the free citizens of a beautiful democracy."

Can you imagine anyone with arthritis and other pains of old age getting up at 5 a.m., putting on walking shoes and a bright vest, then heading into the sunrise to plod 10 miles down the road? Every day? Six days a week?

Granny told me she didn't want to sit in front of the TV and eat bon-bons for the rest of her life. She aims to walk into our nation's capital on her 90th birthday, Jan. 24, 2000, one year and three weeks after leaving Los Angeles. If I were a gambler, I would bet that she makes it.

Editor's Note: Peggy McCracken is a reporter and webmaster whose column appears monthly. E-mail your comments to

School Prayer belongs in schools

Prayer belongs in American schools.

It belongs in the class room at the beginning of the day and it belongs on the grid iron when coaches and players invoke the Lord to watch over them.

It belongs.

However, it is not the place of the local school board to defy state law and expose the school district to the costs of litigation.

It is the school board's job to act in the best interest of the school system and it has done so.

None of this, however, makes the ban on school prayer right and certainly doesn't relieve us of the duty to fight this backward interpretation of the First Amendment prohibition against establishment of a state religion.

The First Amendment reads in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."

That is then entire clause upon which the ban on prayer is based.

A quick glance back in history clearly shows that this part of the First Amendment was written as a protection against an official state church. It was written in response to the official Church of England and the taxes levied by the government to support that church.

It was a prohibition on the state founding a church, compelling worship, and compelling support of that church through taxes.

That is the original intent behind this portion of the First Amendment.

And nothing more.

The authors did not intend to completely divorce religion from government and realized that such a divorce was impossible.

As it is, we are simply substituting state supported agnosticism/atheism for Christianity.

For now, we are faced with this ACLU-supported, fools' interpretation of the First Amendment.

Is the war over?


But the first shots have been fired and those that feel this prohibition on prayer is wrong need to organize and fight back.

Asking our school board to defy the ban and allowing our school system to bear the brunt of this fight is foolish. That is a battle the school system must loose in a court of law and is similar to cutting off your nose to spite your face.

But there are ways to fight smart.

This interpretation of the First Amendment is nothing more than a product of the government we have elected and the judges that government has appointed over the past decades.

It is an interpretation by people who are willing to corrupt the Constitution in favor of their own beliefs rather than going to the trouble to amend it. (Or perhaps they realize that they cannot gain the support needed to amend, so corruption is their only option).

And just as such people can be elected and appointed, different people, those willing to abide by a common sense interpretation of the Constitution, can be elected and appointed.

In other words, vote. Write your elected officials. Call them. The Enterprise prints many of their phone numbers on this page every Tuesday. Organize.

Work to elect congressmen, senators and a president or governor who will support the Constitution rather than bending the words to fit their own beliefs.

Form a political action committee. Solicit funding and contribute to political campaigns.

Or just disobey. Civil disobedience has been the trump card of the ACLU for years often for just and righteous causes. This time the ACLU is wrong, but that doesn't mean its tactics are invalid or ineffective.

This is how the no-prayer faction got where it is. It didn't happen overnight. It happened over the course of decades.

There is no quick fix to turn this tide. If prayer is to come back to Texas schools it will be through the sweat and sacrifice of individual citizens fighting for what is just.

Your Views

The people of Pecos have done it again! They really pulled for us this year and helped make the 1999 Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon a winner with $53.1 million in pledges and contributions!

By taking part in local MDA events, by calling in pledges to the Telethon broadcast on KWES-TV, Channel 9, by helping "my kids" in other ways, Pecos Enterprise readers have made a huge difference for families throughout Texas and across the nation.

They've helped speed MDA-funded research and around the globe. Moreover, they've helped maintain the national network of clinics that resulted in MDA becoming the first organization honored by the American Medical Association with a lifetime achievement award "for significant and lasting contributions to the health and welfare of humanity."

For making the 1999 MDA Telethon a bell-ringer, thanks, Pecos!



National, Chairman, Muscular Dystrophy Association
Tucson, Arizona

Oasis of West Texas proves to be a success

Greetings from Balmorhea "The Oasis of West Texas". I just wanted to thank all involved in making this year Labor Day Festival a resounding success. It is hard work but the satisfaction comes from watching friends and family have fun. In today's E-World it's important that we connect as family, friends and community. The Oasis of West Texas Labor Day Festival is our once a year connection bonanza. We hope you enjoyed it.

Back to the E-World, if you have suggestions or comments contact me a or P.O. Box 53 Balmorhea, TX 79718.


P-B-T just following law on prayer ban

Mr. Matt Williamson's address to the P-B-T School Board concerning prayer at Football games was nothing short of thugery and bullying. For a professed Christian who publicly chooses to follow the Lord, his tactics and methods were unchristian. In fact, they had all the flavor of barspeak (The loose, rude, belligerent and boastful and lying variety.)

He and his group failed to find the facts regarding the issue. The truth is that neither P-B-T board members, administrators, employees, nor students are involved in the law suit which gave the State of Texas the ruling that prayer was not to be allowed at Football games. This is not opinion, but law. Local School Boards throughout Texas were not polled nor was consent given by any School Board outlawing prayer. Unlike, Mr. Williamson, I have polled our Superintendent, our School Board members, many of our professional and para-professional staff and students. No one I spoke with is in favor of this ruling. Another fact that Mr. Williamson failed to recognize is that the School Board as a governing body and Superintendent as its chief administrator are bound by an oath to obey all the Federal, State and Local Laws, regardless of personal opinions. This, I believe, is a very Christian value.

As Community leaders, we must set the standard. I do not believe it appropriate that those we have elected to assure the enforcement of all the laws take it upon themselves to break those laws they disagree with. Such behavior when it relates to our children smacks of disobedience and disrespect. Again our kids get that same message from adults; Do as I say, not as I do.

Yes, I believe in prayer to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. I pray to Our Blessed Virgin Mother, and to the Saints. I believe that everyone should be allowed to pray when and where they want. Sadly, the Federal Courts and I are at odds on this issue. And no amount of self-serving sermonizing is going to change the facts.

Count me as a believer of Prayer and Petition as the mightiest tool at our disposal. Ask me to join in prayer asking God to remove all obstacles to allow the Law to reflect what is in our hearts. I'll gladly join. Try to bully me. I'll ask you to meet me behind the bar or cantina of your choice.



Board should not be held liable for new law

For at least several reasons, I don't believe that the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah School Board has the authority to act on school prayer. In our society the government works for you and me, not the other way around.

It is not the prerogative of our government to act apart from the will of the people. Right now we are telling our School Board (through our court systems) that we don't want prayer in our schools.

If we really want prayer, then we need to let the folks who establish law, and the folks who interpret the constitution know, in no uncertain terms, how we feel and what we will accept.

Personally, I feel prohibition of public prayer in a school system or any other government system violates my right to free speech (I have a right to the public expression of my viewpoint) and, ironically, ominously, establishes a state sponsored religion (The state, in restricting public expressions of faith, is establishing an appropriate civic religion where one thing with respect to faith is appropriate and another is not. See the case of Lee et al. v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992).

Finally, it would be convenient to ask our School Board to stick their necks our on behalf of prayer, while we, the general public do nothing. I've heard of no legal defense fund being set up, or any call of boycotts, or have heard of no parent pulling their child out of extracurricular activities or even out of school over the lack of prayer. Calling for the School Board to act in this case is akin to cheering Jesus on his way to the cross, thanking him for what his sacrifice means to us, and then refusing to pick up our own cross and follow him.



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