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Letters to the Editor, June 15, 2011

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2 views of Ten Commandments issue

Mystified by
 religious comments

I am mystified by the statement of Tia Gaston (“Prayers for Allewalt,” June 8) who has a “profound awareness of why separation of church and state is such a bad idea.”  Really? We should remember some of our history.  When Baptists came to the new world, they were relieved to escape a country where the state and church were one.  Since “Baptist” was not the state-sanctioned church in England, they were persecuted for their beliefs.  Sadly, when Christians assume the power of the state on their side, the result has been about the same as we see in some Islamic Republics.
Thus, the “separation of church and state” in America.  This idea was certainly not a bad idea to early Baptists.  The Baptist Association of Danbury, Conn. sent a letter, dated Oct. 7, 1801, to President Thomas Jefferson, expressing concern that there was no guarantee of separation of church and state in their own state of Connecticut.  There was no protection of religious liberty from the government.  It could have been possible for the government to establish a state church and enforce its own state dogma.
The president replied to the Baptists and said, “Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty – That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals – That no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious Opinions – That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor...”
In 1802 Jefferson wrote these words to the Baptists, “...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”  
As a retired Baptist minister, I apologize to Linda Allewalt for her having to remind us that the courthouse is a public building where religion is not to be promoted.  It is paid for with the tax money of believers and non-believers, religious and non-religious and is obligated to remain neutral in regard to any established religion.  Why can we not just practice the religion of Jesus who said, “Be ye kind one to another.”  “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”  Some of the words from religious people in this paper are not kind and are very judgmental.

Rev. (Ret.) Ronald Ford
Simpsonville

 

This issue is
not about her

Because Linda Allewalt describes herself as a “non-religious person,” I wonder what is so discomforting about walking past a framed Ten Commandments hanging on a wall? Just because it is there does not mean it has to be read or studied when she goes to have her license renewed every 4 years. What particular religion do government tax-supported institutions endorse if they post the Ten Commandments?
Is Mrs. Allewalt so sensitive with her “other-ness” that she cannot handle any form of God in any way? And, if this is the case, why move to the Bible-belt?
Should the majority of Washington DC’s buildings be torn down? After all, the U.S. Supreme Court building displays a row of world law givers; each one is facing the one in the middle, who is facing forward with a full frontal view….Moses holding the Ten Commandments. The commandments are in several places within this building. Bible verses are etched in stone on federal buildings and monuments all over DC.
Mrs. Allewalt was granted her request for the Ten Commandments to be taken down because it is the law. But she also asked her community to support her:
“What keeps coming back to me is how I felt on that very first day in the courthouse driver’s license office which is the heart and essence of this issue.”
As a Christian, I do not believe it has ever been or will ever be the right time or the right thing to do in removing God from our presence. I believe if we abandon God and godly principals, which founded this great nation of ours, then God will abandon us. As a Christian, that is beyond what the word scary describes.
I don’t ask my community to support me, because this is not about me. I do hope with every fiber in me that my community will support their Christian values and principals and never give up in their pursuit in changing the laws.
For those who do not wish to participate in prayer, don’t. For those who are offended by God – well, move away from this community or this state or this country or deal with it! Be offended or uncomfortable, that is not against the law. It is the right thing to do.

Tracy Billingsley
Bagdad