Do we need open season on dogs?



Being a dog lover and a dog owner for most of my life, it hurts to write about this subject. However, the problem of dogs running loose (whether wild or not restrained) has been a problem for some time and is getting worse.

We have all heard the news stories about children being attacked and severely mauled. We have cried for those children who lost their life being ripped to shreds by a neighbor’s dog or a “stray” dog.

There have been numerous dog attacks in my home county and neighboring county (Florence and Darlington County, SC) over the past few years.

Just two weeks ago a resident in an upper middle-class neighborhood in Florence was attacked and mauled by a neighbor’s dog that was left unattended in the dog owner's yard. The bulldog ran across the street into another yard. Some think the bulldog was initially after the woman’s pet puppy. Whatever the reason the bull dog charged is not the issue.

The facts are the bulldog charged, jumped and grabbed hold of the victim’s right arm and would not let go. It shook and growled while grinding its teeth into the woman’s arm ripping the triceps muscle. After falling to the ground the woman was able to briefly get away from the bulldog’s vicious grip. As the dog charged at her again she was able to kick the beast through a gate opening and the shut the gate.

At the Emergency Department (ED) stitches, staples and bandages held together and protected the arm. 

Nothing can protect the victim from the recurring thoughts of the attack. Nothing can repair the scars on her arm or her thoughts. There are hopes the partial paralysis will disappear, but there are no guarantees. The injury was to the right arm and she is right handed.  She is (actually hopeful to continue being) an avid tennis player.

Sadly, she can be described as a lucky victim.

Not long before this attack a male senior citizen, a former elected official, was attacked and severely injured. For weeks there were doubts he would survive. He did. But again, he will not be the same man.

What would happen in both of the above cases if the injured party was a five year girl or a two year old toddler? Chances are they would not have survived.

In less than two years a several children have been mauled and killed in SC by dogs.

I find it unbelievable that people believe it is okay to let their dogs run free. While pets these pets are “animals”. Yes, they may be loving pets. They may have never shown any aggression. But they are animals with animal instincts.

Animals know no boundaries. They see something they want they go after it. It is instinctual.
It is up to the owners of these animals to protect neighbors, friends and loved ones from being attacked.

It is up to the pet’s owner to keep them behind a fence, in a cage, their home or on a leach.

According to a report released from Dogsbite.org from 1982-2013 there were 4,117 "reported" dog attacks resulting in injury in this country. Of that number 1839 children, 2278 adults were attacked. 466 of the attacked resulted in death!
South Carolina has a modern dog bite statute which makes a dog owner strictly liable for damages suffered by a person who is "bitten or otherwise attacked." The statute is unusual in a single respect, because it sets forth the provocation defense. Here is the text of South Carolina Statutes section 47-3-110:

SECTION 47-3-110. Liability of owner or person having dog in his care or keeping.
Whenever any person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping, the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked. For the purposes of this section, a person bitten or otherwise attacked is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping, when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this State, by the ordinances of any political subdivision of this State, by the laws of the United States of America, including, but not limited to, postal regulations, or when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner of the property or of any lawful tenant or resident of the property. If a person provokes a dog into attacking him then the owner of the dog is not liable.

If owners cannot, or will not take responsibility for the pet obey laws that are on the books perhaps we should have open season on all dogs that run free.
I know that is a ridiculous comment. Besides being ridiculous if a human being attacks a dog it is considered inhuman/animal cruelty and will land you with a huge fine and possibly jail time.
I know I will have friends and neighbors spitting fire at me for making the above comment. But folks, child and adults alike are at risk when your dog runs free.

This nonsense has to stop. 

I challenge our lawmakers to pass some laws (pun intended) with some teeth. If a dog attacks a human being, without provocation, that dog should be put to death and its owner prosecuted for reckless endangerment. If a dog running free attacks a human being and results in death, the dog gets put down and the owner of that dog should be prosecuted for voluntary manslaughter. 

Oh, I can hear you now. "Bill, those penalties are harsh and ridiculous." 

Ask the victim of the mauling, or the parent of the child who was killed how ridiculous and harsh they feel about the injuries inflicted to their loved ones.

Below, adopted from information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are some things to remember when and if you have a pet...

HOW CAN DOG BITES BE PREVENTED?

Before you bring a dog into your household:
Consult with a professional to learn what breeds of dogs are the best fit for you and your family.
Dogs with histories of aggression are not suitable for households with children.
Be sensitive to clues that a child is nervous or fearful around a dog.
Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it and be extra cautious and use proper supervision when bringing a dog into a household with a baby or small child.

SAFETY TIPS

Do not approach strange dogs.
Do not run from a dog or scream.
Remain motionless when approached by a strange dog.
If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and be still.
Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
Immediately report strange dogs or dogs acting strangely to an adult.
Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
Do not disturb or attempt to play with or move a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

Immediately report dog bites or scratches to an adult.


Speak up and be heard


If you do not believe the 2014 Political Season is not upon us you have either been on a deserted island, have your head stuck in a hole in the sand, wearing blinders and ear protectors or do not listen to the radio, watch TV, participate in “social media” or go out in the public.

We all know there is a difference knowing about something and doing something about it. In politics there are a lot of things that need to be done if you are going to participate in the election process as a voter.

I am going to share a the very easy and traditional method of explaining actions if someone (you) want to be an effective voter. I want you to SPEAK UP.

image by missouricom
S is for speak. If you have concerns or issues you want addressed tell the  candidates. Now is the time to address your issues with the candidates. The Primary is perhaps the most under rated election in this country. The reason is the primary is the time to narrow the field or “weed out” the want-to-be candidates from the candidate that the people feel has a chance of winning the General Election for their party or for the independent voter.

P is for pay attention.  I know you find it hard to believe but there is a lot of bologna thrown around in the primary races. You can learn a lot about a candidate’s honesty, integrity and personality during the primary race. Listen to interviews. Watch how their staff members do their jobs. How they talk and act usually reflects the nature of the candidate.

E is educate yourself. If you do any research on topics that concern you I guarantee you will know as much, if not more, than the average candidate. If a candidate gives you noncommittal answers to questions, if the candidate speaks in circles without addressing the issue chances are he/she does not know the answer. Do not settle for generalized answers. Ask for details. I hope you can get them.

A is ask questions. It is during the Primary race that you should really be taking a look at each and every candidate. Drill them with questions, expecting answers. This is the time to learn about their backgrounds in business, education and experience that makes them a viable candidate. If a concern, find out about the candidates’ religious beliefs and any other person issues that may concern you.

K is know what your real concerns are and the kind of person you want in office representing you. Do some soul searching. What are the issues and concerns that really bother you?  Do you just listen to fifteen second bits and take them as facts? Have you bothered to “get the rest of the story” when you hear all of the rhetoric from the campaign trail, main stream media and social networks? Do you listen to others concerns and make them yours?

U is for use the tools at hand. The same tools the candidates and their staffs use to pull you in and be used by you to get more information. I hate it when I hear people say, “I never use the computer.” Or “I don’t waste time on Facebook, twitter or those other silly things. Folks, it is a new era and technology is here to stay. If you do not learn to use it, it will be used against you. Listen to main stream media. Read various newspapers and magazines. Yes, they are rapidly becoming entertainment outlets, but they occasionally have some news and information that you can use.

P is for participate in the system. You do not have to run for office to make a difference. You do need to work for the candidate of your choice. You need to work with your local political party if there is an organized party where you live or work. Don’t blame the party for their short coming. Blame yourself for not helping to make them better, Keep informed. And by all means get out and vote!

Filing date for all candidates in South Carolina begins Sunday, March 16, 2014. Filing ends on March 30, 2014.

Do not think for a minute that the race has not begun. Many of the names you are hearing right now are trying to get support to validate their reason to file to be an actual candidate. Many will fall along the wayside because people did not show interest in their campaign or they were unable to get sufficient funding support. Either reason will eliminate many from the actual Battle of the Primary. The survivors, the ones who actual pay their filing fees and have garnered enough support from their constituency will enter the arena for the final political fight. You can be the one who determine his/her political fate.   



If you dare to complain, dare to do something about it. 

Get involved. 

Speak up!

A warning not taken to heart



I find it somewhat disturbing the way so many people throw around the names of our “Founding Fathers” and tell us what they meant when they sat down to come up with the document entitled the Constitution of the United States of America. Seriously, some of these people sound as if they were sitting right there beside them.

A few days ago I was reading a commentary by Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, in which he described in his own words an event that took place in the summer of 1787…




“In the summer of 1787, a crowd gathered around Independence Hall to learn what type of government their

representatives had formed for the new nation. When Benjamin Franklin walked out of the Constitutional Convention, Mrs. Powel could wait no longer. Franklin was one of the best known of the “Framers” working on the new US Constitution. Powel ran up to Franklin and asked,

“Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin turned to her and said what are perhaps the most chilling words uttered by any Framer. He said, “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Folks, do you understand what Franklin said, “A republic if we can keep it.”

Never have seven simple words said so much; seven words that could be considered a forewarning of things to come of this very young American nation who just won its independence from the English Crown.

As Turley wrote, “Freedom is not something guaranteed by any parchment or promise.”

I am here to tell you freedom is something that each of us, every member of every generation, must maintain a constant vigil with the awareness it is our duty to protect and defend at any costs.

Back in the days of the old USSR (United Soviet Socialist Republic) and today in the Middle East it was and
still is said, “America will fall from within. The American people will destroy themselves. All we have to do is take advantage of the Americans’ own destructive ways.






However, long before Russia and the Middle Eastern countries boast of our ruination, our sixteenth President shared a vision...




All political parties have contributed to our downward spiral. They have either taken steps to figuratively burn the Constitution or have set on their backsides fiddling while the Constitution is ripped apart and used as kindling. The Democrats say the Republicans are going to destroy America. The Republicans say the liberal Democrats are going to destroy America. Republicans, such as Jim DeMint, say the GOP is going to destroy America.

What I want to know who is going to save America?

For years we have been heading down the path of destruction. But the path has gotten wider and the pace has quickened since January 2009. Obamacare (aka Affordable Care Act), actions of the NSA, Supreme Court rulings, and IRS scandals are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The President has made it quite clear the Constitution means nothing. His ink pen and his willingness to use it is all that matters.


All you have to do is turn on the boob tube and watch what we call news. Report after report of what this
administration has done and plans to do are spoken on every news program, radio spot and in print of major newspapers and news magazines. 

Gone is any expectation that the American citizenry has any rights to privacy.

Gone are the days that one can assume the Constitution protects the right to bear arms (unless you get permission to do so from the government that the amendment is to protect us from).

Gone is the very idea of protecting our borders. Gone is any hope in letting the Border States protect their own borders.

Gone is the Constitutional protection for freedom of the press. The Obama Administration has put journalists under surveillance in an assault on one of the very institutions our forefathers expected to keep our government on the straight and narrow.

Today, you and I are considered a terrorist threat until proven otherwise. We must be searched, scanned,
x-rayed, probed, fondled and watched by hovering drones wherever we go. Our Facebook pages, text mail, telephone calls and conversations are monitored and cataloged.

I sometimes feel we need to have a “Non-Watch List”. It would be much shorter and easier to read.

Whatever happened to the Constitutional law a budget is to be submitted to Congress by the President on time?

In the meantime, Congress sits back on their laurels and play tic-tac-toe on issues that are going nowhere.

How dare they stand up to tyranny? They do not want their names on “a list”.

People, it is up to you and me to save this country. We can do so by becoming more involved; by running for office; by shouting at the top of our lungs “Enough is enough!”; by getting to know our political candidates and supporting them at the polls.

Who knows how long we will have the rights to do these issues?

Turley concluded his commentary by again quoting Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Thank you for joining me "In the Pickle Barrel".






We are still at war: Invasion USA

The following was originally a three part series “In the Pickle Barrel”. While some of the numbers and statistics may be just a little different, the issues have not changed. Since immigration is back as a “major issue” I want to refresh your memories on why we should be concerned.

There are several battle fronts in the invasion of our country.

WHO ARE THE INVADERS?

1. The horde of "illegal aliens" entering and living in this country is only one of many fronts to the invasion. It is estimated that 12-20 million illegal aliens are residing in the US at any given time. Obviously, it is hard to determine an exact number because they are illegal and don't want to be counted. Census 2010 made a joke of this when they asked all illegal aliens to participate in the current census campaign. "Hey, count me. I'm an illegal invader."

Most of the illegals come to this country for the same reasons we cherish being Americans. They want the opportunity to have a decent life. The illegals want gainful employment. The illegals want to live in a safe environment. The majority of illegals are seeking nothing more than to provide for their families.

The difference, they are here illegally, they are taking jobs from citizens and those aliens that are here legally. On the darker side, many illegals are fleeing their country to escape criminal charges. Many illegals are involved in drug and human trafficking and other illegal activities. Let's not forget that many illegals have been and are potential terrorist.

2. We are also being invaded by nonviolent armies. These invaders are the countries that are involved in unfair trading and buyers of American property and companies. These countries include many that hold the largest amount of our nation's debt.

According to the US Treasury (as of April 2010) Mainland China holds over $900 billion in US Treasury Securities. The current number is about $1.2 Trillion! Oil Exporters hold another $257 billion and Russia holds $$113 billion. What may surprise you is that our neighbor to the south, Mexico, holds over $33 billion (currently $60 billion) of US Treasury Securities.

In 2011 foreign countries held over $4.5 Trillion of the highest rated debt in America, US Treasury Securities.

Not only are we handing over our country in the form of debt, we are losing the trade war. In 2009 (the most recent statistics available), the US trade deficit with China was a whopping $227 billion. Unfair trade policies, manipulation of the Yuan (China's currency), and unfair labor practices greatly contribute to this invasion.

3. The USA is also under attack by home grown invaders. Many of these people do not realize they are doing more harm than good. Some, I fear, know exactly what they are doing.

I am all in favor of the capitalism and the free market system. You will not find a stauncher supporter of the free enterprise system. However, corporate and union greed has contributed to our trade situation. Americans want cheap (affordable) products. We have to face facts; these products are being manufactured overseas.

Don't believe me? I challenge you to go to any department store and randomly pick up 12 items. How many are "Made in America"?

4. Other American contributors to the invasion are those who employ illegal aliens. Falling into this category are those who allow let people employ illegal aliens, our own government(s), State and Federal. Companies would not continue to hire illegals if there were sufficient penalties and if the penalties are enforced.

5. Our government is complicit when they ask illegals to report companies that do not pay them fair wages. Yes, it is illegal to pay illegals illegal wages?

And what is the idea behind not getting our borders secured?

For decades our Border States have asked Washington for help in controlling the illegal alien invasion. What have they done?  Not much.  

A few miles of fence was put up along with a few more Border Patrol Officers, drones and a bunch of talking. The Feds sued the State of Arizona for wanting to protect its own borders (since the Feds will not do it).

President Obama did "promise". More than once, to send in 524 National Guardsmen to assist is surveillance and to repair 22 miles of fence. And let's not forget the signs that have been posted warning Americans not to travel in certain parts of America because of the danger that exist from illegals and the drug cartels.

Job well done, Mr. President. I'm sure everyone feels more secure.

Something is indeed wrong with the system.

It is very easy to identify the "invaders". It is difficult to know just what to do about them, or is it?

WHAT DO WE DO

Let's take a look at our trade deficit/imbalance first. There was a time when the USA was without a doubt the #1 manufacturing and industrialized country on earth. Depending on who does the statistics we may be clinging on to this title or we are now #2 behind China.

Personal and corporate greed, outsourcing, companies moving manufacturing facilities overseas and so on are greatly hurting our economy.

If we are to recover and once again become the great country of opportunity, we must remember what made us #1.

We must get back to "building things". We can no longer allow our automobile manufacturers, the textile industries, the manufacturers of heavy equipment along with appliances and electronics to take their businesses overseas. We must create a climate that entices these companies to keep their manufacturing plants and employees in the US.

I am a strong advocate of the free enterprise system and I a new Industrial Revolution must start with companies and unions realizing we are all in this war together. They must find ways to give "fair" compensation and benefits while keeping product pricing at a level that will make consumers buy American made products.

The federal government must let the system work. They must stop thinking that taxing business is the cure all for deficit spending. Instead of robbing business to fund every program imaginable, let's first determine if the programs are viable and still warrant existence.

How many millions, perhaps billions of tax dollars are going to outdated, non-constructive programs and agencies? It's time for a complete and honest assessment of every agency, department, and social program to determine if they are needed and to what extent. If there is no justification for them, get rid of them.

It's time to look at the wasteful spending by the feds. We have all heard of $150 hammers that can be purchased at any hardware store for $19.00. We have witnessed contractors getting paid for work not completed or not satisfactorily completed. We there are so many instances of waste by politicians and support staff in travel expenses. And the list can go on forever.

Whatever happened to the concept of a balanced budget? How many people do you know who can continually write checks on accounts that have no money. It seems that this should be illegal (for the common citizen it is).

I found it appalling a when a sitcom about an American manager taking over a telephone boiler room (customer service) location in India hit American TV. How could anyone find this funny? I for one refused to watch the show. I found it offensive and in bad taste. I'm sure all of the American workers who have lost their jobs found no humor in the show.

We must make our job market more competitive so we don't have all of these jobs going overseas. Why is it that American companies can save so much money that it is cost effective to outsource jobs to such places as Germany, India, China, Japan, etc.?

We must increase exports. This will come naturally if we can just get competitive in the manufacturing sector. China is our largest customer of exports. They are hungry for the "green technologies" and environmental protection products that we produce.

Almost every country on earth is interested in our high tech products. We must find a way to make these products available. WARNING: We must be careful with the so called "duo purpose" technologies. These are products that can be used for civilian and military purposes.

When dealing with China, we must insist that they stop artificially forcing the value of the yuan below that of the US dollar. This practice has a huge effect on our trade imbalance and the true costs of goods. We must enforce inspections of goods imported to the US. We must require the same standards for products produced overseas as we require from manufacturers at home.

Our system of “trade tariffs” is a joke!

I find it interesting that we do not trade with Cuba because on Human Rights issues, but we have this "need" to trade with China who has some of the worst Human Rights issues.

We must cut our need, or gluttony, for foreign oil. Stop playing politics and get this done. Period!

It would be a fool to say any of the above issues will be cured without some pain and sacrifice by corporate America, the unions, the American work force, and local, state and federal governments. It takes a bigger fool to say nothing needs to be done or can't be done. America and its people have always found a way...when they want to.

The alternative, we lose the war.

It should be understood that I am not opposed to immigration. Except for the 100% pure blood Native American, all of us have an immigrant heritage. Immigration is good for the people, it is good for America.

The issue is not about Mexican, Chinese, Canadian, Cuban, Russian or any other single nationality. The issue is illegal aliens.

Yes, Justice Sotomayor, I said ILLEGEL IMMIGRANTS!

The issue includes companies that employ illegal aliens, the money it is costing the American people in lost jobs, law enforcement, free medical and education services and a government that has let all of this happen and in some ways encourages it to continue.

Next to economic issues, many people feel the illegal alien problem is perhaps the largest single concern in America. Except for "Obamacare", aka health care, no other issue is more emotional and divisive.

So what do we do?

WE MUST CONTROL OUR BORDERS

Folks, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you have a leak in a bucket, you have to plug the hole. Why is so difficult to understand without control of our borders, there is no solution. All it takes is for someone to say "Just do it!"

Our own federal government repeatedly sued States because the States felt it necessary to protect themselves since the federal government will not do their job. My only concern is why the Border States and others wait so long to act?

There needs to be an all-out lock-down of our borders and all ports of entry. We can do this. We can, we must gain control of our borders. All it takes is for the government to decide they are ready to do their job and "Just do it!"

Want to put people back to work? We need thousands of new border patrol officers, we need a strong "National Guard" to assist in border control, we need more police officers and we need highly trained people to use modern technology for surveillance and the list goes on.

Next to controlling our borders and ports of entry, enforcement of existing laws is absolutely the easiest and most practical way to fight the battle. Many feel if we just enforce laws which are already on the books, we could eliminate as much as 70% of the illegal alien problems.

Without any chance of work and nowhere to live many potential illegals would never enter the country and many of those already in country would return home. A simple, but fair example: If you knew speeding laws were not going to be enforced, how often would you speed and how fast would you drive? If you knew that there was no tolerance (not even five miles per hour over the posted speed limit) would you slow down? Well, those laws are also ignored, but you know what I mean.

As bad as I hate to say it, with 12-20 million illegals in this country right now there is no way to send them all home. We absolutely must figure out a way to have the "undesirables" sent home. The undesirables are the criminals, druggies, domestic abusers, etc. We have enough of our own who we must keep.

It disgusts me, and I know it will disgust many of you, but we may need to considered a so-called “path to gain citizenship” or other forms of legal status.  

Under no terms should a straight out amnesty be given.

Let me repeat, No straight out amnesty for anyone!

I really don't see how we cannot consider some type of plan. It will be impossible to track down and send 10- 20 million illegals home.

We must admit to ourselves that many of these people have been here for decades. Many lead productive lives and contribute to their communities and to this country.

Many of the illegals have American spouses and American children. I would insist that all "normal investigations and protocol" involved in the "legal immigration" process be adhered to.

This is a terrible pill to swallow; however, if we want to cure the illness, we may have to take our medicine.

What do I think about so-called "sanctuary cities"? Complicit participants in committing a criminal act! Treat them as such.

Instead of producing a two thousand page document which will never be read, I will offer the following basic steps as an overall plan to get our illegal alien problem under control. It's up to the federal AND state governments to work out the details and to get the job done:

1) Secure and control our borders and ports of entry using state and federal law enforcement agencies along with National Guard troops with the authority and equipment needed to do their job;

2) Enforce all existing laws;

3) Continue E-verify

4) Penalize all first time offender companies $10,000 per illegal alien employed, $25,000 for second offence; cancel their business licenses on third offense;

5) Require and encourage all local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to enforce all immigration laws. (Repeated on purpose. They must get the point.)

6) Require and encourage all local and state law enforcement agencies to turn over all illegals with a criminal background to federal enforcement agencies (example: I.C.E.)

7) Require proof of citizenship or other legal status to obtain a driver’s license;

8) Require proof of citizenship to obtain a voter registration card or any public assistance card;

8) No public assistance or social services for illegals that are not mandated by law;

9) The courts (judge) should not give bail to illegals who have committed a violent crime or "social crime" including but not limited to DUI, child and/or spousal abuse or neglect;

10) Prohibit property owners and landlords from renting or leasing property to illegals. Penalties to be the same as hiring an illegal;

11) Prohibit all federal and state funding going to so-called "sanctuary cities" and organizations;

12) Hospitals, clinics and other caregivers receiving public funds should be prohibited from providing services except for life threatening illnesses and accidents. No elective services should be provided.

Twelve steps that are controversial, not easy, each a political mine field; each with risks of their own.

We must face reality.

To turn the tide of Invasion USA we must be willing to fight the battles. Win the battles we can. Realize all battles in a war are not won. Ultimately, we must stop the invasion!



Prayer in Schools


 There is a movement gaining steam in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, especially in Darlington and Florence counties, to get open prayer back in public schools. The movement, PUT PRAYER BACK, is a group various church members and concerned citizens who believe it is a Constitutional right and a moral obligation to have open prayer in our schools.

Before proceeding, let’s have a short history lesson.
Remember when this was the norm?
Many people do not realize the “discussion” of religion in America really heated up on April 29, 1609 (this is the date of the first Anglican Church was created by the European people who would eventually be called Americans).

As with any action, it was just a matter of time that people with different views, opinions and beliefs started new churches with their own religious practices and ceremonies.  

Belief it, or not, even in the early days of this nation there were those “unbelievers” who felt they and their families should not be forced to participate in “religious superstition and ceremony”.

Yes, even way back then there were those who had a problem with prayer and religious training being “forced upon” themselves and their children.

Moving forward more than a century later, our so called forefathers drafted a piece of paper entitled “the Constitution of the United States of America”. In this document lies what people say is the guarantee and freedom of religion and the right to practice that religion as an inalienable right.

Once again, let us jump forward a few years to the year 2014. Four hundred years have passed and nothing has changed.

“PUT PRAYER BACK” and similar organizations across the country are gathering momentum and taking their cause to State lawmakers and courts to compel them to create State Laws to allow prayer in public schools.

These organizations say banning prayer in school trespasses on the student and staff right, or freedom, to express their beliefs. They say the absence of prayer and moral training contributes to the violence, rudeness and immoral actions of the students and staff. They say one’s beliefs should not be checked at the school doors.

Those who oppose school prayer say the job of schools are to teach students by giving them a basic education and to prepare the student for a future in college or the job force. The job of public schools is not to be centers of religious teachings and ceremony. They profess by allowing, or forcing, students and staff to participate in school prayer infringes on the rights of the individual not to participate in religious activity.

As it is right now, both sides are right and this is the problem. As we like to say, “Where do my rights end and yours begin?”

Sitting in a South Carolina House committee is H.3526. This bill would require school staff members, predominately teachers, to lead a moment of silence to start off the school day. The bill will also allow the staff member to lead (deliver) a prayer. The bill also allows students who wish not to participate in the Morning Prayer to leave the room.

What I find interesting about the bill are the supporters. One would think the “religious right” would be the main force behind such a bill. In reality, most of the bill’s supporters/sponsors are Democrat Representatives (Wendell Gillard, Joseph Jefferson, Carl Anderson, Robert Williams, Bill Clyburn, Lonnie Hosey, and Robert Ridgeway III). The Republicans onboard are Liston Barfield, Don Wells and Heather Ammons.

There are several items that concern me about this issue.

The Constitution does not give freedom of religion. The Constitution simple says the government will not impede on individual religious beliefs. Therefore, it would stand to reason individuals have the right to practice their religious beliefs and ceremony, as well as, not to practice any form religious related practices.

This imposes several questions.

If prayer is allowed in the classroom, which should leave the room, those wishing to pray, or those not wishing to pray? Should anyone be allowed to leave?

What prayers should be allowed; Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, any and all religions?

Here is what several people in Darlington, Florence and across the country have told me…

David from Virginia: “A moment of Silence should be allowed. A teacher or student who volunteers should be allowed to announce the moment of silence.”

Ken from Hartsville: Leading a class in a Christian prayer promotes the Christian religion.

Amie from Florence: I want complete control of what my children learn about religion. I don’t want teachers in public schools with absolutely no religious training teaching my children to pray.

Stephanie from Florence: I absolutely support school prayer.

Cliff from Hartsville: Not only to I believe in school prayer I am fighting to get it back in schools.

Heidi from Darlington: I support school prayer. We need it back as soon as possible.

Linda from Darlington: We need prayer not just in our schools but in our homes. Our children are losing sight of morality; what is right and wrong.

Joe from Patrick: Bring it on. It is way past time to get prayer back in school.

Judy from Hartsville: No school prayer. Not verbal. Not silent. No kid should be embarrassed for walking out of the room.

As you see the question is far from being answered. Controversy remains. It will never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

Whatever happens, I am sure the ACLU will be banging on the doors of the courts if  H.3526 is passed.

Contact your State Representative, State Senator and School Board member and let them know how you feel about this issue.