Letters to the Editor, June 29, 2011

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Allewalt says thanks
about Commandments

In communities all over the country, the issue of the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings is a familiar one. When I requested the removal of the displays in two of our government offices, I was well aware that in many other counties in the U.S., this type of request is often met with open and active hostility and uproar. So needless to say, I was apprehensive about making the request.
In the seven or so weeks since my request was made and the displays were taken down, I have been incredibly impressed with the way citizens of Shelby County handled the event, and because of that I would like to use this opportunity to express some gratitude.
Two people in the county were immediately thrust into the limelight by my action, and I understand being put in that position was difficult, so I’d like to thank Lowry Miller and Sue Carole Perry for their cordial and frank conversations with me on this issue.  I would also like to thank The Sentinel-News and editor Steve Doyle for hosting a fair and balanced (no Fox News pun intended here) conversation on its public opinion page.
I thank those in the community of faith and those of no faith who personally spoke to me about their support of my action. I too want to thank all the Shelby Countians who wrote and expressed their frustrations and disagreements with me because that is what community dialogue is all about.
During this whole process it became even clearer to me why our founders designed a government free of church/state entanglements. The views expressed by the people in Shelby County just pointed to the fact that religion is a very personal and highly emotional topic.
That is why those delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and the framers of the Bill of Rights made both documents totally secular and free of any mention of a deity or any reference to a particular sect of religion.  Attempts were made by some to insert religious language or nods to religion in these documents, and the vast majority of the founders rejected these efforts. I find that pretty amazing from a group of men who were mostly Christian or deists.
We have strayed far and wide from those original intentions both in our government and in our courts. It is no wonder so many people are confused about the meaning of separation of church and state.  The early Baptists certainly understood that meaning, and for a long time were the central guardians of it.
They knew from personal experience what it meant not to have separation of church and state, as many Baptist ministers were jailed for their objections to paying taxes in Virginia to support the Anglican church.
The reason I bring this up is because my request to remove the Ten Commandments from the walls of tax-supported buildings does not just represent a view of people who do not subscribe to a religion. The very heart of the idea of separation of church and state (or religion and government) came from people of faith.
I remain proud of Shelby County and glad to be a part of it. And, one last point – to those in the community who posted signs on their private property displaying their endorsement of the Ten Commandments – by George, you’ve got it!

Linda Allewalt

Deputy needs

I want to make a comment about the deputy who shot and killed a family pet (“Deputy shoots family’s dog after feeling threatened,” June 22). It is my opinion that perhaps some of these deputies, officers need re-educating. I have a real concern with their use of excessive-force-first mentality. And of course I do not have faith in that if a mistake was made, it would be acknowledged by their chief [sheriff]. Of course they will protect themselves.
However it seems that it would take more time to pull a gun then it would spray or a wand. What is more concerning to me than that is the lack of poor judgment shown. Common sense cannot be taught. but I would think that it would be a requirement at the least.
At the very least, I believe offering an apology or a new pet (although this certainly does not replace the previous one) and re-educating [the officer] would be in order. Some of the pompous, condescending attitudes in the department need readjusting while they’re at it.

Theresa Weibel