First Amendment protects freedom of preachers, too

Re: "Did you hear about the 1,000 preachers breaking the law?" Oct. 12

If churches are classified as religious organizations for tax purposes, it is reasonable to forbid their leaders from advocating the election of specific candidates for public office. However, so long as the pastor is able to link his "political" sermon to specific Bible passages, he is perfectly within his legal First Amendment rights to publicly address the social evils of our time.

For example, the Ten Commandments' "Thou shalt not kill" is justification for sermons opposing abortion. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's possessions" is justification to condemn the politics of envy from the pulpit. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" is good grist for condemnation of any glorification or deification of any things or people we admire too much.

America should remember that the initial impetus to abolish slavery in this country came from Christian churches whose leaders saw the practice as abominably immoral. John Brown referred to Deuteronomy 23:15-16 as the moral springboard of his anti-slavery crusade. Indeed, we should all shudder in abject horror at the prospect of declaring man, not God, to be the final arbiter of right and wrong.

Lawrence K. Marsh


D.C. needs affordable, well-managed public university

Re: "Does D.C. need UDC?" Oct. 10

Harry Jaffe misses the point. D.C. residents need affordable general education programs. Howard, Trinity, Catholic, Georgetown and American are all excellent options -- but only for those who can afford them. Chronic mismanagement at the University of the District of Columbia does not obviate the need for a public university offering an array of educational opportunities. So yes, D.C. needs UDC just like other cities need their public universities. We just need to manage it better.

UDC's graduation rate has been historically low because of two main factors:

1. The open admissions policy accepted students who required remedial courses. They would rarely, if ever, graduate in four years; and

2. Many students enrolled for a limited number of college credits or a certification required to get a job or to advance in their careers. UDC's affordability made this possible. Those students never intended to graduate with a degree, yet their partial attendance drove down UDC's graduation rate.

As a 1999 graduate of UDC, I also take issue with Jaffe's assertion that UDC diplomas are of little value. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions we faced during the devastating budget cuts in the 1990s, I received a first-rate education from dedicated professors alongside students equally determined to achieve their educational and professional objectives.

I graduated in four years with a degree in journalism because I was ready for college and I intended to receive one. After earning a law degree at the Howard University School of Law, I worked at one of the top Wall Street law firms as a securities litigator. I also litigated education and voting rights matters at the premier civil rights law firm in the country and now serve as assistant general counsel of Pepco Holdings Inc.

UDC prepared me to do all of these things, and I value my diploma. More people deserve the same chance.

Marc K. Battle


Obama's, Biden's lack of humility is troubling

I'm a Canadian who is closely watching your presidential election. I was disgusted with Vice President Biden's atrociously rude and condescending demeanor during the vice presidential debate. He showed disrespect for his opponent, Paul Ryan, and the right ofAmerican voters to hear a fair debate on critical issues without constant interruptions.

I equally detest President Obama's mocking style of speaking on the campaign trail. As an experienced leadership development consultant, I consider humility to be a key component of leadership, not the arrogance and hypocrisy the president and vice president regularly display.

Dennis Willer

Barrie, Ontario