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Letters to the Editor

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History lessonAlthough I agree completely with all of Mr. Mazzuca’s sentiments about the ACLU, I must also take exception to many of the points made in his commentary regarding the religiosity of the United States and our founding fathers.Government facilities paid for by taxpayer revenues should not be used for religious purposes because such practices inevitably result in either the appearance of impropriety, or blatant favoritism towards one religious sect or another, and it utterly tramples the rights of non-believers, who are by the way, also American citizens protected by the Constitution. If religious institutions insist on meddling in politics, they must pay taxes like everyone else. And while not a reference to military chaplains, James Madison did denounce congressional chaplains: “The establishment of the chaplainship to Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of constitutional principles.”American currency did not always carry a religious slogan; it carried the national motto: “E Pluribus Unum.” It was not until the mid-1950s during the McCarthy era that the secretary of the treasury unilaterally decided to print “In God We Trust” on all our Federal Reserve notes. No one objected, so now we’re stuck with it. Currency existed in 1776; if the nation’s founders had considered the appearance of such an expression appropriate for our currency, don’t you think they would have included it? They did not because it would have contradicted one of their basic tenets.The Pledge of Allegiance is another ornament added to American society well after the nation’s founding. As with our currency, the phrase “Under God” did not exist in the pledge before 1954, when the Knights of Columbus lobbied to add it during the McCarthy era. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy for his cousin Edward Bellamy’s popular family magazine, The Youth’s Companion. The pledge was part of a marketing campaign to sell American flags to households across the country, and was timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World. The original pledge made no reference to God, and its author, Francis Bellamy, was a Baptist minister forced to leave his church because of his socialist sermons. There is no constitutional requirement for a pledge, and the founding fathers didn’t have it, so why do we need it? (Incidentally, I have no objection whatsoever to pledging allegiance to the USA.) This nation is founded on the Constitution, which makes no references to anyone’s notion of God, and the Constitution is in no way based on the Bible or the Christian religion. Passed during George Washington’s presidency, the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams and ratified unanimously by Congress states: “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Our Constitution makes two references to religion, and both explicitly prohibit religion and government from meddling in each other’s affairs. The only government document to reference a “creator, the laws of nature or nature’s god” is the Declaration of Independence. These somewhat peculiar terms are the language of deism, not Christianity. Many of the founding fathers were self-proclaimed deists, as Benjamin Franklin asserts multiple times in his autobiography. Deism is not synonymous with Christianity. George Washington attended church with Martha but never took communion, and Thomas Jefferson created his own Bible, omitting all the mystical mumbo jumbo. Providing further clarification of the intent of our Constitution, Jefferson remarked that “an amendment was proposed by inserting the words, ‘Jesus Christ … the holy author of our religion,’ which was rejected ‘by a great majority in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindu and the infidel of every denomination.'” Yes, infidels, too, are protected under our Constitution. For Jefferson, any form of government control, not only of religion, but of individual mercantilism, consisted of tyranny. He thought that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry. Fortunately for us all, the majority was in agreement with him. Jefferson also said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.” And he said, “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.” And, “I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.” And, “In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to liberty.” And, “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” And, “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” And, so much more, Jefferson was no advocate for religion, but I am certain he would be equally disgusted by the ACLU.Religious references engraved into architecture are more a proof of the religiosity of the architects than of the men those structures memorialize. The Washington Monument was begun in 1848 and completed in 1884, 85 years after George Washington’s death. The National Archives building in Washington, D.C., was completed in 1935, over one and a half centuries after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Ground was broken for the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on Dec. 15, 1938, the 147th anniversary of the adoption of the American Bill of Rights. Could the architects of these monuments or their benefactors perhaps be posthumously injecting their own bias? As for Abraham Lincoln, the president also said, “The Bible is not my book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma.” Lincoln was a great president, but again it seems the architects of his memorial were not disposed to presenting a fair and balanced perspective of the man. Mr. Mazzuca acknowledges “the separation of church and state is essential to our republic.” However, prayers directed by public school officials, or supplications before sporting events conducted in the same venues, and the words “under God” interjected into the originally secular pledge all certainly do suggest a theocratic propensity. Freedom of religion absolutely does mean freedom of and FROM religion – freedom from religious persecution, oppression, even favoritism and forced subsidizing of the religious beliefs of others. Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” Other than these few objections to this one piece by Mr. Mazzuca I agree wholeheartedly with his sentiments and enjoy reading his commentaries.Thomas AndersonBird’s eye viewMy hat’s off to Joe Ryan, pilot for that now-famous little red biplane that has recently begun gracing our valley’s skies, for the breathtaking adventure recently. Even though I’ve lived in this valley for 15 years, seeing the views from the open-air plane, of the Sawatch Range, Mount Holy Cross, the Red Gates, Beaver Creek, and everything in between, gave me an entirely new perspective on the special beauty of our area! It is difficult to describe the feeling of being in the cockpit, looking out between the red wings of a 1935 (reproduction) aircraft, and zooming over groves of aspen and pine, horses and cattle grazing in the green pastures, even seeing the Holy Cross Wilderness from above! Joe, also the owner of Rocky Mountain Biplanes, is so accommodating that he’ll ask if you want to fly over your house, which is a treat even for the rest of the family or friends not with you! What a magical memory to cherish, and one day, I’ll relive it with the video he makes of each flight. We’re glad you’re here, Johere! Celena OldenEagle Vail, Colorado


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