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(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

Coach’s public prayer was ‘implicit coercion’
With all due respect, I could not disagree more with Laura Adkins’ assertion that she is “glad Coach Kennedy can pray on the 50-yard line” (“I’m glad Coach Kennedy can pray on the 50-yard Line,” July 1).

By definition, Coach Kennedy’s prayer, at the 50-yard line, after a football game witnessed by everybody in the stands and on the field was not “quiet,” even if it was said “quietly.” It was a public demonstration of his faith, a public witness to his faith and, as a respected leader in the community and “father figure” to his students and those he coaches and influences (as all good coaches are), an implicit call to pray with him. You can be sure that some fans, parents, teachers, students and athletes are watching and counting heads to see who’s praying and who’s being “disrespectful and contemptuous” of God and their religion. If that isn’t implicit coercion, I don’t know what is.

Legalities aside, it is disrespectful and contemptuous of those who do not adhere to that faith community — or any, for that matter — by the person who foists this behavior onto others.

If you want to pray, do so privately. If you want to witness, do so individually with those who show interest. You are embarrassing and coercing those who do not share or care to share your beliefs.

As a teenage athlete, playing for my college’s varsity baseball team, I felt compelled if not coerced (as did the other Jewish ballplayers) to join in the coach’s pre-game prayer, “in Jesus’ name.” That was a long time ago when “things were different.”
As an adult, I felt compelled to leave the table when a colleague insisted on giving the “benediction, in Jesus’ name,” before professional dinner meetings attended by many not of his, or any, faith.

It is disrespectful, it is contemptuous and it has no place in a public forum.

Howard Elson
Squirrel Hill

Jabotinsky’s words ring true
“We need to empower our community so our folks know how to fight if they have to,” says Shawn Brokos, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s director of community security. (“Federation Brings Self Defense Training to JCC,” July 22).

When one reads Brokos’ words, one cannot help but be reminded of the prescient words of Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, the man who has more streets, parks and buildings named for him than anyone else in Israel:

“Humanity is a battalion, too, and no one is going to carry you to Jericho. You either march on with all the cruelty to yourself and others that this calls for, or you give up and are swallowed by oblivion together with all your hopes.”

Richard Sherman
Margate, Florida

Democracy is on the ballot
I wonder if there can be any remaining support within our community for a gubernatorial candidate of Doug Mastriano’s ilk (“Local leaders speak out against Mastriano campaign’s use of Gab,” online July 22; today’s edition p. 1).

We knew that Mastriano seeks to return Pennsylvania to the Middle Ages: to severely restrict abortion, civil, voting, labor and LGBTQ rights. We knew that he wears his military service and his purported Christin faith on his sleeve — this as he tramples upon Christian tenets. Now we learn that he has not only an association with Gab, the far right-wing social media site which was frequented by the alleged Pittsburgh synagogue murderer, but that he paid it a $5000 consulting fee and that he is a pal of the individual who owns and operates it.

Mastriano is unlikely to answer any tough questions because the mainstream media is among the many organizations and individuals which he despises. Instead, he is running a stealth Facebook campaign in which he will not have to stand up to scrutiny.

The only thing that I can see standing in the way of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro winning the race for governor is President Biden’s low approval rating and a large level of disenchantment about the path the country is currently on. Heaven help us if Pennsylvania were to elect a governor who would transform our commonwealth into Alabama.

Democracy is on the ballot as it never has been before. Josh Shapiro has been one of the foremost advocates and defenders of it in the country. For so many reasons, he is the right person for the job.

Oren Spiegler
Peters Township

We won’t get vaccinated
I just finished reading your article in the July 22 Jewish Chronicle. My blood began to boil after several readings. As an unvaccinated Jew, I would assume that I would not be able to enter any of the Jewish Community Center facilities. That is pure insanity. Liberalism gone amuck.

I, and my wife and my son are not and will never be vaccinated. The medical data does not support this activity. We are conservative, college-educated Jews who read the facts about this virus and the actions of pushing the vaccination of all by organizations and government. The medical data does not support forced vaccinations.

Ben and Jan Caplan
Allison Park

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