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May 21, 2010

Government Shouldn’t Fund Discrimination

Nathan Diament’s argument that religious freedom is jeopardized if the Supreme Court refuses to allow public funding of a Christian club at a public school is deeply flawed (“A Tale of Two Cases: Why A Christian Club Matters More Than a Desert Cross,” May 14).

While Diament is right that people should be able to freely choose with whom they pray and associate, it is an extraordinary leap from there to conclude that student fees at a public university should be used to fund clubs that exclude students from full participation.

The University of California’s Hastings School of Law has a very reasonable non-discrimination policy — if a club wants to use school funds to support its activities, it must allow all students to participate fully. It is a good policy, supported by the law. A club remains absolutely free to meet with or exclude whomever it wants, but it must decline school funding to do so.

The Anti-Defamation League rejects the theory that government-funded discrimination should be permitted in schools, in employment and in the distribution of benefits. We are confident that the Supreme Court will, too.

Finally, while Diament correctly points out that the ADL does not believe that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mohave Desert cross case will have any significant legal impact, one element of the decision is deeply troubling: The plurality drew a far-reaching theological conclusion when it determined that the cross is somehow a universal symbol that commemorates the deaths of soldiers of all religions, not just Christians. This broad pronouncement should be problematic for people of all religions.

Robert G. Sugarman
National Chair
Anti-Defamation League
New York, N.Y.

An Inapt Analogy

I was dismayed by Leonard Fein’s May 14 column “That Which Is Great and Good, and Obscured by Scandal.” While it may be fair game to criticize Israel for some of its policies in the West Bank, it is inappropriate to draw any comparison with the clergy sexual abuse scandal that is rocking the Catholic Church.

Even if you call the situation in Israel an occupation, it grew out of Jordan’s declaration of war against Israel in 1967 and Israel’s response. Whatever flaws there may be in Israel’s actions in the West Bank, they are not in the same league as clergy members forcing themselves on young boys. Most importantly, the boys in the Catholic Church are not sworn to the church’s destruction, whereas many Palestinians express grave hostility toward Israel and act upon it. Catholic boys also do not fire rockets into the confessional.

Rabbi David Lerner
Lexington, Mass.

At Kent State, More Than a Coincidence

I commend you for your article on the Kent State killings, and for highlighting that three of the four victims were Jews (“Remembering Kent State as an American Tragedy With a Jewish Face,” May 7).

But instead of depicting this as a mathematical oddity, why not at least acknowledge that at such an anti-war protest at a university, Jews might have been disproportionately represented, both as participants and bystanders? And why not tell us something about what the politics of Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause and Sandra Scheuer actually were?

David Margolick
New York, N.Y.


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