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Taking offense where none is intended

Tom Holmes makes an excellent point (“A second opinion on the moment of silence,” Opinion, Nov. 14). I would add a question: Are we better off as a society as religion gets further marginalized? Are we kinder to our neighbors? Is crime declining? Do we treat each other with more or less respect? Are we really more tolerant?

I’m not sure, and I suppose some will be offended the questions are even asked because their presumption is any public display of religion, no matter how loosely associated with a government entity, is, by definition, bad and removal thereof is good. I fail to see the evidence of this.

The folks who file suits to stop things like a Christian song at a school play are usually hostile to religion. They cloak themselves with a self-righteous mantle that they are protecting my rights to be free from hearing “Silent Night” sung at a public school. They claim that we are intolerant of their right to not hear the song. Who is really the intolerant one? Hearing “The Dreidel Song” won’t convert me.

My church attendance is nothing to brag about, but I have never been offended, in any way, by someone taking a moment for a prayer or asking for a moment of silence. A moment for reflection does not constitute establishment of a state religion.

The goal of these self appointed protectors of the Constitution is to shove religion so far off the map, it no longer has any meaningful contribution to make. This is what is really abhorrent. They will file suit to protect the right to wear a T-shirt with an obscenity on it, but ask the same court to ban “Here Comes Santa Clause.” To be candid, I am simply tired of listening to people who look for offense where none is intended. The umbrage brigades.

The First Amendment protects the right to be heard. It protects the speech you don’t like. It is there to insure all voices are heard, it does not require that you listen.

Religion has a right to be a voice at the cultural table. If you’re offended, exercise your right not to listen, don’t deny my right to hear, even the silence.

Paul Barbahen
Forest Park

Undesirable addition

An open letter to Messrs. C. Wessels and K. DeGori:

Please explain why you would want to bring an “adult” business into our community. Are you so enamored with the almighty buck that you would forsake any principles you might have?

You certainly must know that this will bring all kinds of problems into our village. Any legal problems will magnify themselves into expenses to the village, and the certainty of added police protection will add to more expenses. All of the problems resulting from this will ultimately come back to haunt the residents.

It is too bad that we cannot vote on this because you would certainly learn that we do not need anything like this, because it is not something we can be proud of, brag about or consider a good example for those desiring to live here, raise children here, etc.

Al Bucholtz
Forest Park

Good for communities

We are writing in response to Commissioner Tellalian’s letter of Nov. 21 as West Cook YMCA Board members.The new YMCA will have state-of-the-art fire and security systems. We have a well trained, experienced staff qualified in AED, CPR and First Aid. We anticipate a minimum of EMT calls per month for minor injuries associated with athletic activities of our members.

According to records, 98 percent of calls to the Oak Park police and fire departments respond to the needs of our SRO residents. Consistent with the national YMCA’s recommendation, the new Forest Park Y will have no living accommodations.

The West Cook YMCA is not a health club. In fact, it will offer far more services and programs than any health club provides.

The new YMCA, like all Ys across the U.S., is a charitable, not-for-profit, community service organization driven by local community needs. Our primary focus is on building character and values in youth, adults, seniors and families regardless of age, race, creed, gender or the ability to pay. This has been the central purpose of YMCAs across the U.S. for more than 150 years and here for more than a century.

The YMCA helps teens and young adults to avoid drugs, gangs and crime. Its programs build leadership and self-esteem. Our full schedule of high quality, affordable health education, wellness and fitness programs for adults and families of all ages is focused on developing spirit and mind as well as body.

A full schedule of activities and programs that span all age groups–pre-school and school age child care; youth and adult sports; and health/wellness education, fitness and recreation for seniors-will enhance and improve the fine quality of life that Forest Park residents enjoy.

The new Y, situated on more than seven acres in Forest Park, will provide year-round recreational facilities and outdoor green space for the entire community.

Forest Park residents represent 14 percent of our membership-double 2006’s membership ratio. We anticipate this trend will continue.

The West Cook YMCA will collaborate with the Forest Park Park District and local youth sports associations to enhance and expand programs, avoid duplication and develop new opportunities for village youth and adults to use the new Y’s year-round indoor and outdoor facilities.

We look forward to cooperating with the village commissioners, staff and residents to provide quality experiences for all who will enjoy and utilize the new West Cook YMCA in Forest Park.

James Lencioni
August Aleksy
Terry Nash
West Cook YMCA Board of Directors