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  • croft@optihumanist.org
    David Croft [david@croftsoft.com] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com. (Page at:
    Message 1 of 26 , Sep 2, 2007
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      ======================================================================

      Letters: 'Under God' in Texas pledge
      09:03 AM CDT on Saturday, September 1, 2007




      Founders fought for separate church, state
      Re: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, 'one state under God,' one and indivisible -- Those four words are new to the state pledge of allegiance, and, despite protests, they should stay, argues Greg Abbott," Wednesday Viewpoints.
      Staff photo Takara Rose, a Cedar Hill student, says the Texas Pledge.
      Attorney General Greg Abbott points out that our nation's founders were religious and that justifies the inclusion of "under God" in the Texas and U.S. pledges of allegiance.

      What Mr. Abbott fails to mention is that many of our forefathers had been persecuted in their home countries for their religious beliefs. They decided to leave their native countries and the state-sanctioned religious oppression to which they were subjected.

      They fought wars to gain the freedom required to create this country, in which the government would never be able to impose any religion on its citizens.

      They choose to create a nation based on tolerance, in which the state would never be able to use its power to impose religion on its citizens, and no one would ever have to suffer through the religious persecution they lived through.

      Peter Lowegard, Richardson
      Thanks to judge for stopping pledge challenge
      Re: "Couple wants 'God' out of Texas pledge -- Dallas: Atheists say new wording harming their kids; injunction denied," Wednesday Metro.

      Thank you, Judge Ed Kinkeade, for denying the request of David Wallace Croft and his wife to stop the Texas pledge. Some folks seem to confuse freedom of religion with freedom from religion.

      Just because Mr. Croft does not wish his children to say the pledge is no reason for my grandchildren not to be allowed to say it. This country was founded on the basis of the majority rule.

      Sandy Jarvis, Holly Lake Ranch
      Baptists treasure freedom of conscience
      My church history professor would be rolling over in his grave. Texas Baptists have backslid so far as to allow those yahoos down in Austin to undo generations of progress toward religious freedom by pressuring schoolchildren to pledge allegiance to God.

      Freedom of conscience is a hallmark of Baptist tradition, and any interference in religion by government is a step in the wrong direction.

      Bob Sheaks, Irving
    • croft@optihumanist.org
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      Message 2 of 26 , Sep 7, 2007
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        ======================================================================

        Mary Stanfield of Highland Village: Wrong about rights
        Teens don't seem to understand free speech
        09:05 AM CDT on Friday, September 7, 2007




        Either my voice carries incredibly well, or an epidemic of eavesdropping is plaguing America. Chronic, involuntary eavesdropping (CIE). I wonder where the star-studded public service announcements are.

        I was sitting at the lunch table rambling away when two of my friends got caught up in an argument with the people sitting across the round table from us. One of the girls was ordering us to stop our conversation, because, she said, discussing religion in a public place is against the law.

        Needless to say, this came as a shock to us. When we reminded her about the First Amendment to the Constitution, she confidently told us, "That doesn't apply to the law."

        The conversation degraded from there and, after a few exchanges I'm glad an assistant principal didn't overhear, we simply turned around and continued where we left off.

        Such is the state of America's youth, many of whom will be voting in the next presidential election. They don't know their own rights, much less the rights of others. The sad thing is I can't really blame them.

        We're being raised in the time of "separation of church and state" on steroids. Instead of everyone being able to express opinions without prejudice, no one can. With all the focus on protecting diversity, we've managed to kill it.

        And with people to look up to like David Wallace Croft, the crusader against a moment of silence in public schools, I'm fearful of the day when my generation takes over the country. He and others like him try to trample others' rights in order to remove all traces of religion from schools. That helps breed ignorance about the law. He has every right to be an atheist and to raise his child according to that (lack of) belief. But that doesn't mean he has the right to expect everyone around him to be an atheist as well.

        That's especially true in a state and country with such religious roots. We can debate all we want on the beliefs of the founding fathers -- in fact, informed debate on all these issues is exactly what we need -- but we can't ignore the history of the Christian majority in this country. Or the simple fact that most Americans belong to one religion or another.

        The Legislature recently felt the need to pass a bill clarifying students' right to express religious views on any topic on which they are normally allowed to express secular views. It seems like a pointless rewording of the First Amendment, but I'm starting to see that the message is needed. Not just to protect the religious views that hold such an important place in many students' lives, but also to foster the expression of a variety of opinions -- both secular and religious -- on all issues.

        It's the cornerstone of a functional democracy, and I don't want to be the generation that causes our democracy to fail.

        So, for the benefit of my peers, here are some things the school system doesn't seem to teach anymore: Religious speech in public is not illegal. People talking about their religion in our vicinity is not an attempt on their part to convert us. It's much easier to mind our own business than it is to invade someone else's conversation and censor the content.

        And until someone finds a cure for CIE, maybe sufferers could better spend their time learning the laws of the country we're to inherit.


        Mary Stanfield is a senior from Highland Village at Marcus High School in Flower Mound and a Student Voices volunteer columnist. To respond to this column, send an
        e-mail to voices@....
      • croft@optihumanist.org
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        Message 3 of 26 , Jan 5, 2008
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          ======================================================================

          Texas schools' moment of silence upheld after Carrollton couple's challenge
          Judge says law doesn't mandate prayer
          08:46 AM CST on Saturday, January 5, 2008
          By STEPHANIE SANDOVAL / The Dallas Morning News ssandoval@...



          A Carrollton couple's court challenge to Texas' requirement that schoolchildren observe a minute of silence has failed.

          David and Shannon Croft had sued Gov. Rick Perry and the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district, alleging that the law was unconstitutional and amounted to required prayer.

          But U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn in Dallas upheld the statute this week.

          She said the law -- amended in 2003 to add the word "pray" to "reflect" and "meditate" as options for students' use of the minute -- does not promote an "excessive entanglement between government and religion."

          "The Legislature amended the statute to provide a period of time for the full panoply of thoughtful contemplation," Judge Lynn said. "The primary effect of the amendment is not to advance or inhibit religion."

          Dean Cook, attorney for the plaintiffs, said he was disappointed in the opinion but respects the judge.

          "Whether we're going to appeal at this point, we're going to have to discuss that and see what we want to do," he said.

          Meanwhile, he has another case pending in state district court, in which the Crofts have sued the governor over the addition of "one state, under God" to the pledge of allegiance to the Texas flag.

          Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, said she wasn't surprised by the ruling. But she expects more challenges to similar statutes around the country.

          "Secular students, atheist students, are not happy with this, and they're going to challenge it in every way possible," she said.

          She said students who want to pray can do so by their locker or at their desk at any time, and there's no reason to stop the school day.

          "Basically, what it is is a way to silence everyone else while those who want to pray can pray," she said. "Everyone knows what this is all about, and we pretend that it's not what it really is. It's really about starting the school day off with prayer."

          Judge Lynn said in her ruling that there is no doubt that some legislators, including the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, had expressed a desire with the bill to put prayer back in schools.

          But she said it was also clear that the Legislature intended to draft a constitutional law and that the addition of the word "pray" was not an endorsement of religion or prayer in the classroom. That finding is further supported by a catch-all provision that allows students to engage in any kind of silent activity or thought during that minute, she said.

          Lisa Graybill, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said her organization was not involved in the case but had watched it closely.

          "I think we might disagree with the outcome of the analysis had we been part of the case, but we were not," she said. But she said that the judge did a thorough job of reviewing the legislative history and the intent of the law.

          "I think it's a really thorough opinion," she said.

          Because the judge acknowledged that her decision was a "close" call, Ms. Graybill said, she is interested in seeing whether the plaintiffs will appeal.

          And though the judge ruled that the law itself is constitutional, that won't prevent someone from filing a lawsuit alleging that a school's implementation of it is unconstitutional. An example of that might be if teachers or school administrators said the moment of silence was specifically for prayer.

          The governor said in a written statement that justice was served in the ruling.

          "I am proud that Texas' children will continue to be able to have a moment dedicated daily to their innermost thoughts and contemplations," Mr. Perry said.

          Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also praised the decision.

          "Particularly in an age where children are so frequently confronted with violence and disorder, 60 seconds of quiet contemplation at the beginning of each day is not too much to ask," he said in a statement.

          The Crofts have repeatedly failed to return phone calls from reporters. But over the years, Mr. Croft has fought several signs of religion at Rosemeade Elementary, which his children attended.

          The family successfully asked that "Silent Night" be dropped from a holiday program and objected to an "In God We Trust" poster on the wall.

          On his blog, Mr. Croft wrote that the minute of silence is a waste of educational time and has no secular purpose.

          Liberty Legal Institute, a Plano-based legal organization that protects religious freedoms and First Amendment rights, called the court ruling a "great victory."

          "The ultimate intolerance is someone attacking a moment of silence because they are worried others will decide to pray in their free time," chief counsel Kelly Shackelford said in a written statement. "This is a victory for everyone who believes in freedom."

          The school district was dismissed from the lawsuit in August because the plaintiffs were challenging the constitutionality of the state statute, not the district's policy.

          But Carrollton-Farmers Branch school officials expressed relief at the news Friday.

          "Our perspective was this is primarily a state law," school board President John Tepper said. "As a district, we and our employees, teachers in particular, were just doing our best to comply with the state's requirements there. We're pleased they didn't find any problems on our part in that regard."

          Schools superintendent Annette Griffin said that every morning, after the pledges of allegiance to the U.S. and state flags, each campus calls for a minute of silence. She said students are free to do what they want during that minute, as long as they are quiet and don't interfere with others' thoughts, contemplation or prayers.

          "During that time, you can pray, you can not pray, you can pray to whoever you want to, or you can just be silent," Dr. Griffin said. "They can use that moment to think about whatever they want."
        • croft@optihumanist.org
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          Message 4 of 26 , Jul 3, 2008
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            ======================================================================

            Former state science director sues over intelligent design e-mail
            05:20 PM CDT on Wednesday, July 2, 2008
            By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning Newststutz@...



            AUSTIN -- A former state science curriculum director filed suit against the Texas Education Agency and Education Commissioner Robert Scott on Wednesday, alleging she was illegally fired for forwarding an
            e-mail about a lecture that was critical of the teaching of intelligent design in science classes.
            Also Online Document: Lawsuit filed by Christina Comer

            Christina Comer, who lost her job at the TEA last year, said in a suit filed in federal court in Austin that she was terminated for contravening an unconstitutional policy at the agency that required employees to be neutral on the subject of creationism -- the biblical interpretation of the origin of humans.

            The policy was in force even though the federal courts have ruled that teaching creationism as science in public schools is illegal under U.S. Constitution's provision preventing government establishment or endorsement of religious beliefs.

            "The agency's 'neutrality' policy has the purpose or effect of endorsing religion, and thus violates the Establishment Clause," the lawsuit said.

            Ms. Comer also said in her complaint that she was fired without due process after serving as the state science director for nearly 10 years.

            Her lawsuit seeks a court order overturning the TEA's neutrality policy on teaching of creationism and declaring that her dismissal was unconstitutional. The suit also seeks her reinstatement to her old job.

            The theory of intelligent design holds that the origin of the universe and humans is best explained by an unknown "intelligent cause" rather than through evolutionary processes such as natural selection and random mutation. Critics -- and at least one federal judge -- contend that intelligent design is nothing more than creationism and has no business being taught in science classes.
          • croft@optihumanist.org
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            Message 5 of 26 , Aug 4, 2008
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              ======================================================================

              Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district dropped from lawsuit over moment of silence
              06:51 PM CDT on Monday, August 4, 2008
              Associated Press



              A school district has been dropped from a lawsuit challenging the daily moment of silence in Texas classrooms.

              Shannon and David Croft's 2006 lawsuit initially named Gov. Rick Perry and the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, where the couple's three children still attend. They sued after they said an elementary teacher told one of their children to keep quiet because the minute is a "time for prayer."

              But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday dropped the district from the lawsuit.

              A 2003 law allows children to "reflect, pray, meditate or engage in any other silent activities" for one minute after the American and Texas pledges at the beginning of each school day.

              In a brief filed Friday with the 5th Circuit, the state said the law is "clearly secular -- to promote patriotism, thoughtful contemplation and nondiscrimination." The state also said that allowing students to pray during the moment of silence protects religious freedom, which is a constitutional right.

              W. Dean Cook, the Crofts' attorney, today called the state's arguments a "smoke screen." He is appealing on the Crofts' behalf after a federal judge in January threw out a challenge to the state law as unconstitutional.

              "No one knows how it would promote patriotism," Cook said. "It's just a way of trying to get prayer into public schools."
            • croft@optihumanist.org
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              Message 6 of 26 , Aug 19, 2008
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                ======================================================================

                Prayer clash continues in Wylie school district
                12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, August 19, 2008
                By HOLLY YAN / The Dallas Morning News hyan@...


                It was supposed to be a bond committee meeting to discuss the future of Wylie's growing school district.
                (PHOTO: Mikki Lewis opens school supplies Monday at Dodd Elementary. She was surprised to hear a school board member open a meeting with The Lord's Prayer a month ago. That set off a debate over the role of religion in the school district. ">JUAN GARCIA/DMNMikki Lewis opens school supplies Monday at Dodd Elementary. She was surprised to hear a school board member open a meeting with The Lord's Prayer a month ago. That set off a debate over the role of religion in the school district.
                )But just a few seconds into it, controversy erupted. School board member Ralph James stood up and led an invocation with The Lord's Prayer. He was barely able to finish the words "Our Father" when committee member Mikki Lewis interrupted. "I popped up and said, 'Excuse me!' because it wasn't on the agenda, and it surprised me," said Mrs. Lewis, a mother of two in the Wylie school district. "I wasn't there to pray or practice my religion," she said. Mr. James said he was flabbergasted, as was most of the room.So the committee resorted to a moment of silence instead. But the silence wouldn't last long. The prayer debate still continues a month after that meeting. Wylie ISD superintendent H. John Fuller has offered to meet with Mrs. Lewis to discuss "the concept of se- paration of church and state," though a date for a meeting had not been set. According to the Texas Municipal League's Web site, many Texas cities and other governmental entities open meetings with a brief prayer known as "legislative prayer," which is considered legal. Mrs. Lewis said the school district should allow representatives of diverse religions to open meetings -- not just Christians. She said she represents other parents who agree with her but are too afraid to speak up."I felt very alone and very scared, and scared for my family," Mrs. Lewis said. "But this is four years that I've been trying to do something."Reading materialsIn recent years, she said, Wylie school officials have allowed The Gideons International to place Bibles on a stand in Cooper Junior High and offer them to children. One of Mrs. Lewis' children attended the school.Dr. Fuller said Gideons Bibles have been available for years."The Gideons have, for several years, used a limited forum whereby Bibles are placed on a table at our junior high and intermediate campuses where students may choose to pick one up or not pick one up," the superintendent said in an
                e-mail. "The Gideons have not physically been on campus when students are present for several years."Mrs. Lewis said she asked about setting up a table with other literature, such as the Quran. Dr. Fuller declined the offer, she said, because it might cause unrest.But Dr. Fuller said Ms. Lewis never approached him that request. "No one has asked me about distributing similar literature using this limited forum or any other means of distribution," he said.Dr. Fuller said he's open to distributing materials other than the Bible. It depends on the organization and whether its distribution plan follows school district policy, he said.Mrs. Lewis comes from a religiously diverse family. She is Jewish, her husband is Catholic and her father was an atheist whose parents were Orthodox Jews.Bible BeltShe said the district is losing sight of Wylie's increasingly diverse population. "I know this is the Bible Belt, and I respect that," Mrs. Lewis said. "But this is a growing, changing area."Mrs. Lewis
                e-mailed the superintendent and the school board president after her prayer protest at the bond committee meeting. She quickly received a response from school board member Sue Nicklas."I must share with you first and formost [sic] that there are many people who are praying for you," Ms. Nicklas wrote. "In ten years as a trustee of the Wylie school board, you're the first parent to complain about a prayer, and the very first person in my 68 years that has ever had the audasity [sic] to interrupt God and one of His children in prayer."Ms. Nicklas said Mrs. Lewis "doesn't set the agenda for meetings. We are elected by the people ... in the community."Wylie is a Christian community, Ms. Nicklas said."You go with the culture and customs of the community," she said.Dr. Fuller said he's committed to trying to find common ground."As superintendent of schools in WISD, I believe that public schools should neither inculcate nor inhibit religion but become places where religion and religious conviction are treated with fairness and respect," he wrote. "I further believe schools have an obligation to uphold the First Amendment by protecting the First Amendment rights of students of all faiths or those with no faith."
              • croft@optihumanist.org
                David Croft [david@croftsoft.com] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com. (Page at:
                Message 7 of 26 , Dec 21, 2008
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                  ======================================================================

                  AIDS data may end Dallas County's ban on condom distribution
                  10:17 PM CST on Sunday, December 21, 2008
                  By KEVIN KRAUSE / The Dallas Morning News kkrause@...



                  The number of Dallas County residents living with HIV and AIDS has steadily increased during the past five years.

                  But county health workers still are not allowed to distribute condoms in high-risk neighborhoods because of a controversial Commissioners Court policy passed 13 years ago.

                  At least two court members, however, are hoping to reverse that policy.

                  "I can't continue to join the ostrich head-in-the-sand group given the numbers," said Commissioner John Wiley Price, a Democrat who raised the issue during a recent meeting.

                  Dallas County had the highest HIV rate in Texas last year and in 2006, state officials say, although the reported number of new cases has been decreasing.

                  The number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases is up, according to county statistics.

                  Before 1995, county health workers routinely ventured into local communities to hand out condoms and needle sterilization kits to those with the greatest risk of infection. But that year, a narrow majority of commissioners voted to end the practice, saying it encouraged illegal and immoral behavior.

                  The commissioners also approved regulations requiring county health programs to emphasize abstinence. It gave Dallas County the distinction of having the only public health agency in the state that barred condoms in education and prevention programs.

                  Texas leads the nation in abstinence education spending, with $17 million laid out last year in public schools.

                  "'Just say no' hasn't worked with too many things," said Mr. Price, who voted against the condom distribution ban in 1995.

                  Mr. Price, who is black, said he is alarmed by the number of AIDS cases in local black communities and said he doesn't want to see the numbers continue to increase "under my watch." Local Hispanic communities also have been hit hard, mirroring a national trend.

                  Better treatments have led to an increase in the number of people living with AIDS, federal health officials say.

                  In Dallas County, condom availability is not a question of money.

                  The Texas Department of State Health Services provides free condoms to all county health departments in Texas. The county Department of Health and Human Services has condoms available in its clinics to those who ask for them, director Zach Thompson said.

                  But many people at risk of contracting the disease will not necessarily come to the county health department building, off Interstate 35E just north of downtown, AIDS awareness experts say.

                  "Any barrier to receiving condoms needs to be eliminated," said Raeline Nobles, executive director of AIDS Arms, a Dallas nonprofit. "It's better to go in the communities that are high risk because they may not come to you."

                  Community organizations like hers have advocated for a change in the county's policy for years. She said she's thrilled that it's finally up for discussion and believes it will be changed.

                  Mr. Thompson said his department has a mobile medical clinic that visits neighborhoods with people who have a high risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It offers screenings, treatment, testing, counseling and referrals -- but no condoms.

                  County Judge Jim Foster, a fellow Democrat of Mr. Price's, said it's time to end the ban on condom distribution.

                  "For the cost of one dollar we can save a couple hundred thousand dollars in medical bills," he said.

                  "A lot of people thought a lot of these diseases would go away."

                  It's not clear whether Mr. Foster and Mr. Price have enough votes to reverse the county's condom policy. Two of the court's three Republicans -- Kenneth Mayfield and Mike Cantrell -- voted for the condom distribution ban in 1995.

                  They could not be reached for comment.

                  Commissioner Maurine Dickey, one of the newer Commissioners Court members, said she wants to study the issue before forming an opinion.

                  "I want to listen to the discussion and see what the situation is," said Ms. Dickey, who is seen as a moderate and potential swing vote on the issue.

                  Shortly after commissioners enacted the 1995 ban, they agreed to a compromise under which privately donated condoms would be available in county health clinics.

                  Local medical professionals blasted their decision at the time, saying it would endanger public health. Federal and state agencies cut some grant funding to the county for disease prevention and education efforts.
                • Jerry Weiss
                  David - 1.  I m not sure why you sent me this article. 2.  The religious aspect aside, what s the actual research on results of giving out condoms in
                  Message 8 of 26 , Dec 22, 2008
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                    David -
                    1.  I'm not sure why you sent me this article.
                    2.  The religious aspect aside, what's the actual research on results of giving out condoms in various communities besides Dallas? 
                     
                    Happy Holidays,
                    Jer

                    --- On Sun, 12/21/08, croft@... <croft@...> wrote:
                    From: croft@... <croft@...>
                    Subject: [dallasbrights] dallasnews.com article from David Croft
                    To: dallasbrights@yahoogroups.com
                    Date: Sunday, December 21, 2008, 11:58 PM

                    David Croft [david@croftsoft. com] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com.
                    (Page at: http://www.dallasne ws.com/sharedcon tent/dws/ dn/yahoolatestne ws/stories/ 122208dnmetaids. 8ca83a8.html? npc)

                    ============ ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= ====

                    AIDS data may end Dallas County's ban on condom distribution
                    10:17 PM CST on Sunday, December 21, 2008
                    By KEVIN KRAUSE / The Dallas Morning News kkrause@dallasnews. com

                    The number of Dallas County residents living with HIV and AIDS has steadily increased during the past five years.

                    But county health workers still are not allowed to distribute condoms in high-risk neighborhoods because of a controversial Commissioners Court policy passed 13 years ago.

                    At least two court members, however, are hoping to reverse that policy.

                    "I can't continue to join the ostrich head-in-the- sand group given the numbers," said Commissioner John Wiley Price, a Democrat who raised the issue during a recent meeting.

                    Dallas County had the highest HIV rate in Texas last year and in 2006, state officials say, although the reported number of new cases has been decreasing.

                    The number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases is up, according to county statistics.

                    Before 1995, county health workers routinely ventured into local communities to hand out condoms and needle sterilization kits to those with the greatest risk of infection. But that year, a narrow majority of commissioners voted to end the practice, saying it encouraged illegal and immoral behavior.

                    The commissioners also approved regulations requiring county health programs to emphasize abstinence. It gave Dallas County the distinction of having the only public health agency in the state that barred condoms in education and prevention programs.

                    Texas leads the nation in abstinence education spending, with $17 million laid out last year in public schools.

                    "'Just say no' hasn't worked with too many things," said Mr. Price, who voted against the condom distribution ban in 1995.

                    Mr. Price, who is black, said he is alarmed by the number of AIDS cases in local black communities and said he doesn't want to see the numbers continue to increase "under my watch." Local Hispanic communities also have been hit hard, mirroring a national trend.

                    Better treatments have led to an increase in the number of people living with AIDS, federal health officials say.

                    In Dallas County, condom availability is not a question of money.

                    The Texas Department of State Health Services provides free condoms to all county health departments in Texas. The county Department of Health and Human Services has condoms available in its clinics to those who ask for them, director Zach Thompson said.

                    But many people at risk of contracting the disease will not necessarily come to the county health department building, off Interstate 35E just north of downtown, AIDS awareness experts say.

                    "Any barrier to receiving condoms needs to be eliminated," said Raeline Nobles, executive director of AIDS Arms, a Dallas nonprofit. "It's better to go in the communities that are high risk because they may not come to you."

                    Community organizations like hers have advocated for a change in the county's policy for years. She said she's thrilled that it's finally up for discussion and believes it will be changed.

                    Mr. Thompson said his department has a mobile medical clinic that visits neighborhoods with people who have a high risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It offers screenings, treatment, testing, counseling and referrals -- but no condoms.

                    County Judge Jim Foster, a fellow Democrat of Mr. Price's, said it's time to end the ban on condom distribution.

                    "For the cost of one dollar we can save a couple hundred thousand dollars in medical bills," he said.

                    "A lot of people thought a lot of these diseases would go away."

                    It's not clear whether Mr. Foster and Mr. Price have enough votes to reverse the county's condom policy. Two of the court's three Republicans -- Kenneth Mayfield and Mike Cantrell -- voted for the condom distribution ban in 1995.

                    They could not be reached for comment.

                    Commissioner Maurine Dickey, one of the newer Commissioners Court members, said she wants to study the issue before forming an opinion.

                    "I want to listen to the discussion and see what the situation is," said Ms. Dickey, who is seen as a moderate and potential swing vote on the issue.

                    Shortly after commissioners enacted the 1995 ban, they agreed to a compromise under which privately donated condoms would be available in county health clinics.

                    Local medical professionals blasted their decision at the time, saying it would endanger public health. Federal and state agencies cut some grant funding to the county for disease prevention and education efforts.


                  • David Wallace Croft
                    Jerry, I forwarded it to the list because it seemed related to a blog entry I recently wrote on abstinence-only sex education here in the Dallas area:
                    Message 9 of 26 , Dec 22, 2008
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                      Jerry,


                      I forwarded it to the list because it seemed related to a blog entry I recently wrote on abstinence-only sex education here in the Dallas area:
                      http://david-wallace-croft.blogspot.com/2008/05/anti-condom-message-in-school.html


                      --
                      David Wallace Croft / (214) 636-3790 m
                      http://www.CroftSoft.com/people/david/

                      --- On Mon, 12/22/08, Jerry Weiss <docdoer@...> wrote:
                      From: Jerry Weiss <docdoer@...>
                      Subject: Re: [dallasbrights] dallasnews.com article from David Croft
                      To: dallasbrights@yahoogroups.com
                      Date: Monday, December 22, 2008, 9:26 AM

                      David -
                      1.  I'm not sure why you sent me this article.
                      2.  The religious aspect aside, what's the actual research on results of giving out condoms in various communities besides Dallas? 
                       
                      Happy Holidays,
                      Jer

                      --- On Sun, 12/21/08, croft@... <croft@...> wrote:
                      From: croft@... <croft@...>
                      Subject: [dallasbrights] dallasnews.com article from David Croft
                      To: dallasbrights@yahoogroups.com
                      Date: Sunday, December 21, 2008, 11:58 PM

                      David Croft [david@croftsoft. com] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com.
                      (Page at: http://www.dallasne ws.com/sharedcon tent/dws/ dn/yahoolatestne ws/stories/ 122208dnmetaids. 8ca83a8.html? npc)

                      ============ ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= ====

                      AIDS data may end Dallas County's ban on condom distribution
                      10:17 PM CST on Sunday, December 21, 2008
                      By KEVIN KRAUSE / The Dallas Morning News kkrause@dallasnews. com

                      The number of Dallas County residents living with HIV and AIDS has steadily increased during the past five years.

                      But county health workers still are not allowed to distribute condoms in high-risk neighborhoods because of a controversial Commissioners Court policy passed 13 years ago.

                      At least two court members, however, are hoping to reverse that policy.

                      "I can't continue to join the ostrich head-in-the- sand group given the numbers," said Commissioner John Wiley Price, a Democrat who raised the issue during a recent meeting.

                      Dallas County had the highest HIV rate in Texas last year and in 2006, state officials say, although the reported number of new cases has been decreasing.

                      The number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases is up, according to county statistics.

                      Before 1995, county health workers routinely ventured into local communities to hand out condoms and needle sterilization kits to those with the greatest risk of infection. But that year, a narrow majority of commissioners voted to end the practice, saying it encouraged illegal and immoral behavior.

                      The commissioners also approved regulations requiring county health programs to emphasize abstinence. It gave Dallas County the distinction of having the only public health agency in the state that barred condoms in education and prevention programs.

                      Texas leads the nation in abstinence education spending, with $17 million laid out last year in public schools.

                      "'Just say no' hasn't worked with too many things," said Mr. Price, who voted against the condom distribution ban in 1995.

                      Mr. Price, who is black, said he is alarmed by the number of AIDS cases in local black communities and said he doesn't want to see the numbers continue to increase "under my watch." Local Hispanic communities also have been hit hard, mirroring a national trend.

                      Better treatments have led to an increase in the number of people living with AIDS, federal health officials say.

                      In Dallas County, condom availability is not a question of money.

                      The Texas Department of State Health Services provides free condoms to all county health departments in Texas. The county Department of Health and Human Services has condoms available in its clinics to those who ask for them, director Zach Thompson said.

                      But many people at risk of contracting the disease will not necessarily come to the county health department building, off Interstate 35E just north of downtown, AIDS awareness experts say.

                      "Any barrier to receiving condoms needs to be eliminated," said Raeline Nobles, executive director of AIDS Arms, a Dallas nonprofit. "It's better to go in the communities that are high risk because they may not come to you."

                      Community organizations like hers have advocated for a change in the county's policy for years. She said she's thrilled that it's finally up for discussion and believes it will be changed.

                      Mr. Thompson said his department has a mobile medical clinic that visits neighborhoods with people who have a high risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It offers screenings, treatment, testing, counseling and referrals -- but no condoms.

                      County Judge Jim Foster, a fellow Democrat of Mr. Price's, said it's time to end the ban on condom distribution.

                      "For the cost of one dollar we can save a couple hundred thousand dollars in medical bills," he said.

                      "A lot of people thought a lot of these diseases would go away."

                      It's not clear whether Mr. Foster and Mr. Price have enough votes to reverse the county's condom policy. Two of the court's three Republicans -- Kenneth Mayfield and Mike Cantrell -- voted for the condom distribution ban in 1995.

                      They could not be reached for comment.

                      Commissioner Maurine Dickey, one of the newer Commissioners Court members, said she wants to study the issue before forming an opinion.

                      "I want to listen to the discussion and see what the situation is," said Ms. Dickey, who is seen as a moderate and potential swing vote on the issue.

                      Shortly after commissioners enacted the 1995 ban, they agreed to a compromise under which privately donated condoms would be available in county health clinics.

                      Local medical professionals blasted their decision at the time, saying it would endanger public health. Federal and state agencies cut some grant funding to the county for disease prevention and education efforts.


                    • croft@optihumanist.org
                      David Croft [david@croftsoft.com] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com. (Page at:
                      Message 10 of 26 , Feb 4, 2009
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                        David Croft [david@...] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com.
                        (Page at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/carrollton/stories/020309dnmetschoolmoment.1640c66a.html)


                        ======================================================================

                        Texas officials ask federal appeals court to uphold schools' moment of silence
                        04:57 PM CST on Tuesday, February 3, 2009
                        The Associated Press



                        NEW ORLEANS -- The Texas attorney general's office asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to uphold a state law that allows schoolchildren to pray or meditate during a daily minute of silence.

                        U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn upheld the constitutionality of the law last year, throwing out a lawsuit that David and Shannon Croft filed against the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district and Gov. Rick Perry. The couple claims one of their children was told by an elementary school teacher to keep quiet because the minute is a "time for prayer."
                        Also Online Link: David Wallace Croft's blog
                        Dad crusades against God in school

                        The Crofts, of Carrollton, appealed Lynn's ruling.

                        On Tuesday, a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments from lawyers on both sides of the case. The court didn't immediately rule.

                        In 2003, state lawmakers amended an existing law that already allowed schools to hold a moment of silence to specify that students can use the time to "reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student."

                        W. Dean Cook, a lawyer for the Crofts, said the new version of the law is an "endorsement of prayer."

                        "By including the word 'prayer' in there, that shows a non-secular purpose," he told the judges.

                        Texas Solicitor General James Ho, who handles appeals for Attorney General Greg Abbott, said lawmakers included the word "prayer" to avoid confusion.

                        Judge Fortunato Benavides said advocates on both sides of the issue tend to distort the implications of laws governing school prayer.

                        "I can see why the Legislature might think that it might be important to let people know what they can do and put it in the form of a statute," he said.

                        A total of 26 states have moment-of-silence laws, but Texas' is the only one that calls for the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited before students observe a minute of silence at the start of each school day, Ho said in court papers.

                        "These opening exercises give students the opportunity to start each day on a proper footing," he wrote. "Some will take time to prepare mentally for the day ahead. And others may use this opportunity to exercise their faith through silent, nondisruptive prayer."

                        Ho and Cook both cited prior rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court to support their positions. Cook said the justices struck down an Alabama law that mirrors Texas' minute-of-silence statute.

                        "By amending (the law) to include the word 'pray,' the Legislature, whether intentionally or otherwise, has advanced religion," he wrote in court papers.

                        Ho said Alabama lawmakers had enacted their law "for the express purpose of defying the U.S. Supreme Court," whereas sponsors of the Texas law wrote theirs in a way that would pass constitutional muster.
                      • croft@optihumanist.org
                        David Croft [david@croftsoft.com] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com. (Page at:
                        Message 11 of 26 , Feb 4, 2009
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                          David Croft [david@...] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com.
                          (Page at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/carrollton/stories/DN-silence_04met.ART.State.Edition1.4c5d1e3.html)


                          ======================================================================

                          Texas schools' moment of silence case centers on use of 'prayer'
                          12:00 AM CST on Wednesday, February 4, 2009
                          FROM WIRE REPORTS The Associated Press


                          NEW ORLEANS -- The Texas attorney general's office asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to uphold a state law that allows schoolchildren to pray or meditate during a daily minute of silence.U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn upheld the constitutionality of the law last year, throwing out a lawsuit that David and Shannon Croft filed against Carrollton ISD and Gov. Rick Perry. The couple claims one of their children was told by an elementary school teacher to keep quiet because the minute is a "time for prayer."The Crofts appealed Lynn's ruling. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments from lawyers on both sides of the case. The court didn't immediately rule.In 2003, state lawmakers amended an existing law that already allowed schools to hold a moment of silence to specify that students can use the time to "reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student."W. Dean Cook, a lawyer for the Crofts, said the new version of the law is an "endorsement of prayer.""By including the word 'prayer' in there, that shows a nonsecular purpose," he told the judges.Texas Solicitor General James Ho, who handles appeals for Attorney General Greg Abbott, said lawmakers included the word prayer to avoid confusion.Judge Fortunato Benavides said advocates on both sides of the issue tend to distort the implications of laws governing school prayer."I can see why the Legislature might think that it might be important to let people know what they can do and put it in the form of a statute," he said.A total of 26 states have moment-of-silence laws, but Texas' is the only one that calls for the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited before students observe a minute of silence at the start of each school day, Ho said in court papers."These opening exercises give students the opportunity to start each day on a proper footing," he wrote. "Some will take time to prepare mentally for the day ahead. And!
                          others
                          may use this opportunity to exercise their faith through silent, nondisruptive prayer."Ho and Cook both cited prior rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court to support their positions. Cook said the justices struck down an Alabama law that mirrors Texas' minute-of-silence statute."By amending [the law] to include the word pray, the Legislature, whether intentionally or otherwise, has advanced religion," he wrote in court papers.Ho said Alabama lawmakers had enacted their law "for the express purpose of defying the U.S. Supreme Court," whereas sponsors of the Texas law wrote theirs in a way that would pass constitutional muster.The Associated Press
                        • croft@optihumanist.org
                          David Croft [david@croftsoft.com] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com. (Page at:
                          Message 12 of 26 , Mar 28, 2009
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                            David Croft [david@...] has sent you a story from dallasnews.com.
                            (Page at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/032709dnmettexaspledge.78988d59.html)


                            ======================================================================

                            Judge dismisses parent's lawsuit over 'one state under God' wording in Texas pledge of allegiance
                            08:03 PM CDT on Friday, March 27, 2009
                            By KATHERINE LEAL UNMUTH / The Dallas Morning News kunmuth@...



                            A judge has dismissed the claims of an atheist parent who sought to remove the words "one state under God" from the Texas pledge of allegiance.

                            Parent David Wallace Croft had argued that the insertion of the words in 2007 by legislators was unconstitutional and amounted to a violation of the separation of church and state.

                            Public school children recite the pledge every morning after the U.S. pledge.

                            U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade on Thursday upheld the pledge as it is worded: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible."

                            In his opinion, Kinkeade wrote, "A voluntary recitation of the Texas Pledge of Allegiance simply does not coerce students in the same way a school-sponsored prayer might."

                            He noted that the U.S. pledge and four other states have similar pledges that make reference to God or divine grace.

                            Dean Cook, Croft's attorney, said he is considering appealing the decision.

                            "The insertion of the language 'under God' shows that the Legislature did not have a secular purpose," he said. "It would be just as inappropriate if they inserted the language 'this is a state under no God' or a 'state under Vishnu.' It doesn't maintain the proper neutrality between the state and religion."

                            Attorney General Greg Abbott also issued a statement.

                            "The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that patriotic acknowledgments of the Almighty are constitutional," he said. "Texans can rest assured that we will continue defending their children's ability to recite the state Pledge of Allegiance each morning."

                            In addition, the judge noted that parents have the right to excuse their children in writing from reciting either pledge.

                            Croft, whose children are enrolled in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district, also has unsuccessfully challenged the minute of silence Texas children observe every morning after reciting the pledges.

                            Cook said he is considering asking the Supreme Court to consider taking up the moment of silence case, since the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his arguments earlier this month. He also said he and his client have received many
                            e-mails because of the cases, some of which are threatening in nature.

                            "I'm beginning to see that living in Texas, it's not surprising the way it went," he said of the decision.
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