Madison County Opinion...

 October 25, 2000

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
October 25, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Drug counseling program should not receive government money
The first clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." It is this clause that creates the principle of separation of church and state.
Several questions arise from this simple statement. By "Congress" does the rule prohibit only the U.S. Congress, or does it apply to all legislative bodies, including state legislatures and local boards? Does granting of funding, or contracts for services to a church-based organization violate this rule?
Answers to these questions apply to the legality of the Madison County Board of Commissioners funding a church-based drug treatment program. I believe that they do.
The board of commissioners cannot directly contribute funds to any private organization. They can sign a contract for such organizations to provide service to the public. For example, each of the 11 volunteer fire departments receives county funds. In return, they have a contract to provide fire protection to the county.
The board agreed to a contract with a local drug abuse organization, which has now been returned. One of the arguments against this effort is the religious basis of the organization. Now some people involved with the effort are trying to divorce it from direct religious connections.
I think there is a better way. I like the statement that charity begins at home. That means to me that the federal government has no proper role to play in providing personal services to the public. State and local governments have only a minimal role to play. The majority of efforts to help those in our community who cannot help themselves should fall on faith- and service-based private organizations.
We Americans are a generous people. When we have an opportunity and the means to do so, we will make sure that anyone needing help will recieve it.
The problem today is that government takes far too much of our income in the form of taxes. A large portion of this tax money is used to build massive, inefficient bureaucracies that spend far more on staff and offices than they do on the needy.
The best way to provide services to our unfortunate citizens is to get government out of the welfare business, eliminate the taxes used to pay for these wasteful programs and allow the citizens to support those private programs that prove by their efforts that they deserve support.
Local volunteer agencies have the ability to determine who needs help and who is trying to rip off the system. They can function with few overhead expenses, allowing them to devote nearly all funds to helping others. They do not have to deal wth destructive partisan politics.
In an ideal world, every person would have the ability to take care of themselves and their families. They would not need to beg for charity in order to live. Most of us, given the opportunity, can do that. The few who cannot deserve our help and support. But that help should come from family and community, not government.
One way to restore and preserve our freedom is to return to us the responsibility for our lives and those of our family and neighbors. Freedom cannot exist unless government is limited to its essential duties, and we are allowed to be responsible for ourselves.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at

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By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
October 25, 2000

In Other Words

Raiders silence doubters
I'll admit, my "Raider glass" was "half-empty" as I rode to Danielsville Friday night.
And while I've never been accused of being an eternal optomist, I felt Madison County's unbeaten record warranted some serious concern as I sped down Hwy. 29 before the Raiders were set to tangle with also-unbeaten Wesleyan - one of the most intriguing homecoming matchups in Danielsville in years.
The foe - 6-0 in a region schedule, ranked seventh in class A, with 67 players - boasted a lineman who will have his bags packed for Tallahassee next school year, the land of Bobby Bowden's Seminole powerhouse.
"Not like anything these boys have seen this year, no sir," I thought to myself, pre-analyzing the game as the stadium lights neared.
As a sportswriter, you always have to look at things with a skeptical eye.
Well, maybe my skeptical eyes need some contacts. The men in red and gray proved Friday that while they can wipe the floor with the patsies without breaking a sweat, they can also dispose of the big boys and look darn convincing doing it.
While I don't want to call Madison County's 28-18 triumph over the private school from Gwinett County monumental in Raider history, I do think it was a defining moment. Defining the character of the team, defining the goals of the program. Madison County knew they were going to win that football game (in my opinion at least).
Why were they going to win? Because they did it seven other times this year. It's amazing what winning can do for your psyche, no matter who you beat. And that was my main knock on the Raiders this year.
While I definitely thought this year's bunch was a greatly improved, solid group of tenacious, hard-hitting guys with a down-to-earth blue-collar mentality, I didn't really believe they had the credentials to knock off Wesleyan. Who had they played?
First-year programs Apalachee and Union Grove were basically glorified JV teams; 0-8 North Hall probaly had to add a third digit to their score board to count all the points their opponents were ringing up; Jackson County is well, Jackson County; 0-7 Warren County gave the Raiders all they could handle; and the Raiders had a tough go at it with 2-5 South Forsyth.
The thrashing of 5-2 Class A Jefferson was the lone feather in the cap of the 2000 season thus far. The wins were nice and good for morale but some seemed to lack substance.
However, they built an air of confidence in a program so used to losing to squads with dominant numbers. And the substance showed Friday night.
The Raiders played like a possessed team on a mission. They ran right at the ranked squad, pounded the ball between the tackles, held their blocks longer, hit with more force.
They knew that they would fight harder and the scoreboard would smile down on them in the end because this was the formula that worked all year.
And it did, much to the suprise of sports-writers like me who never played a down of football and study records and compare scores to assess a game - haven't we learned games aren't played on paper?
For the Raiders this was a steppingstone game for the program. Had they lost, people in the area may have dismissed them as forging their way to an eye-catching record with a bunch of pushovers.
I'm sure Madison County proved more than one person wrong when they sent Wesleyan home with a notch in the loss column for the first time this year. I didn't predict that my alma mater would lose, I just had a lot of doubts and the Wesleyan game would provide me with answers.
Well I don't have any more questions.
May the Madison County football program continue to prove me wrong in the future.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.
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