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2000 Candidates

May 09, 1999

* I was chagrined to read some of the comments by Republican presidential front-runner George W. Bush (May 1). Bush essentially wants to transfer from government to religious institutions the authority to deliver social services to the poor, such as job training and drug counseling. For government to start delegating any part of its authority to religious institutions would be a grave violation of the separation of church and state mandated by our Constitution. Bush also says that he wants to expand the availability of prayer in public schools. Any child can voluntarily pray in school at any time.

What Bush really wants is for the government bodies that run public schools to officially endorse and sponsor prayers. He wants the nonbeliever to be officially designated as a second-class citizen.

Thomas Jefferson said, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are 20 gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." How alarming and how sad it would be if the president we elected in 1800 will turn out to have been more progressive and more tolerant in the area of religious diversity than the president we elect in 2000.

EDWARD TABASH, Chair

National Legal Committee

Americans United for Separation

of Church and State, Beverly Hills

* It's easy to be cynical about today's politics of sound bites. That's why I was impressed with Sen. Bill Bradley's speech to Town Hall (April 30). Here was a presidential candidate moving beyond politics as usual to tell us of his deep commitment to improve race relations. He called it the defining issue of our time. He said that addressing it would be the centerpiece of his presidency. His vision was clear: Let all of us work together on a national project to address the needs of children born into poverty. This joint effort will lift us from our insular lives and bond us across racial divides.

I was disappointed by the coverage in The Times. You were still looking for sound bites.

JIM BLOMQUIST

Los Angeles

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