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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 19, 1975)
shouldn't mix at UNL
Those little, white religious preference cards tucked in with
UNL registration packets seem so innocent. Besides being a good
way for the shepherd to keep track of the flock, they're cheap,
strictly voluntary and, of course, harmless.
Or are they?
A decision last week to stop mailing the cards seems not so
much the result of administrative streamlining as, at least, the
realization that religious preference cards don't belong in
registration packets and, in fact, stick out like sore thumbs.
Directly following a study of the cards by ASUN Senator Doug
Voegler and growing controversy over the NU Board of Regent's
religion policy, the decision to drop the cards has brought religious
leaders out of the woodwork to defend what they apparently think
is a God-given right to free postage.
One editorialist, also a registered lobbyist, has been quoted as
saying, "1 probably will bring this to the Legislature, which has an
interest in the funding of the University, and if necessary, to the
NU Board of Regents."
Such a reaction, while it should probably be expected, is out of
proportion to the question. Implied threats of running to the
keeper of the University's purse strings smack of an overeagerness
to bite the hands that have been kind enough to feed the churches'
desire for an inexpensive way of doing their duty.
The first step should be the NU Board of Regents. If that body
is unwilling to draw on its resources and come up with an opinion
on the legality of mailing the cards, then and only then would a
trip to the Legislature be in order.
Under the regents' present policy, if it exists in succinct enough
form to allow interpretation, the preference cards are not the
violation some claim them to be. While mailing the cards does use
University resources, it does not constitute worship, testimony or
the encouragement of any particular faith.
What it does represent, however, is something the regents have
neglected to ban explicitly-University support of religious
By what right should the campus ministries be allowed to use
the registration process to proselytize for free? Why shouldn't they
pay their own postage?
The usual argument is that the churches somehow contribute so
much to a student's education that they earn the rights of a
University department. They provide a service to students, their
proponents say, and so are entitled to some sort of gratuity.
But that justification lacks something. It can also be argued that
insurance companies provide a service to students, and the
University is not about to start mailing insurance preference cards,
even if they were "strictly voluntary."
Separation of church and state does not require the University
to oppose religion. Nor should it be expected to give handouts to
churches in the form of free mailing.
If the campus churches must depend on the state to keep their
pews filled and the flock in line, they are in sad shape. The decision
to stop mailing the preference cards is the correct one. The
churches should get the necessary information on their own or pay
the University handsomely for doing their recruiting for them.
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"-And him at his age, a drive-in movie with that plump little secretary in the mini-skirt,
the one with the dimple in her knees and him being married and all don'tcha know-"
LBJ had his moments, too
Ir should be. comforting to supporters of
Richard Nixon who were shocked to hear the
quality of language that frequented the Oval
Office to know that Lyndon Johnson had his
The new investigation of domestic spying by
the CIA and FBI is finding that the White House
was the scene of happenings during the Johnson
years that show even more clearly what the term
"national affairs" means today.
J. Edgar Hoover, then head of the FBI, played
politics with tapes about sexual activities of
prominent Americans. Keeping the hottest items
in his private safe, he often leaked such
information to LBJ to damage those he opposed.
Johnson, for his part, enjoyed the juicy gossip
these materials supplied and the potential such
material held for embarrassing his rivals.
Hugh Sidey reports that when a Johnson
assistant once defended Martin Luther King's
anti-war activities, LBJ exploded: "Goddammit,
if only you could hear what that hypocritical
preacher does sexually." And LBJ should have
known, since he had tapes of King's bedroom
activities which read "like an erotic book."
While publicly denying that the FBI was
making prying wiretaps and continually
denouncing illegal bugging, Johnson was
receiving bugging on U.S. Senators and other
From this, it should be clear that Nixon did
not invent illegal bugging and misuse of the FBI
and CIA, but merely used them for his own
slightly different purposes.
It seems that with Nixon we reached the crest
of a flood of paranoia that developed throughout
Originally such operations were justified by an
appeal to some shadowy entity called national
security. However, once paranoia allowed such
operations to gather momentum, the distinction
between the needs of national security and illegal
bugging became blurred.
Beginning clearly with the Johnson
Administration, the politics of paranoia began to
stretch the needs of national security to include
U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, newsmen
This creeping extension of domestic
surveillance in the interests of national security
ultimately led to the Ellsberg break-in, the
Pentagon Papers trial, the bugging of Democratic
National Headquarters, enemies lists. . .
The legacy of ten years of the politics of
paranoia is not ended now that LBJ and Hoover
are dead and Nixon is in forced retirement.
Americans may smugly believe that, with Gerald
Ford in the White House and Nelson Rockefeller
hot on the trail, the dangers of internal espionage
are past, but such is not the case.
rhymes & reasons
The politics of paranoia goes beyond acts of
wiretapping and bugging-it is a state of mind.
This state of mind grows from and feeds upon
Americans' long-standing fear of dissent.
Americans always seem to grow paranoid
when doubts about the actions or viability of
their beloved social system are voiced. Whatever
the reasons that we are so sensitive about our
system, for the most part we do react strongly to
those who criticize it.
Regardless of whatever new controls may be
placed on domestic espionage in the wake of the
present investigation, we should not smugly
suppose that the threat to personal liberty posed
by domestic spying will end.
It seems that the politics of paranoia and its
inherent threat will continue to haunt us so long
as Americans continue to view dissent as an evil.
It seems slightly unfair to expect more restraint in
our leaders than we are willing to exhibit in our
own lives. It may be that condoning is a matter
of degree and position more than anything else.
MORE, IT DOESN'T
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Wednesday, february 19, 1975
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