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Letters to the editor – Wednesday (7-16-08)

Jefferson’s intent was quite clear
In a July 14 letter to the Post, Jackie Shaw asserted that Thomas Jefferson’s phrase affirming “a wall of separation between Church and State” was “a casual reference in a personal letter written to a friend by Thomas Jefferson.” On the contrary, the available evidence shows that Jefferson’s letter was carefully constructed and intended for the public.
The Baptist Association of Danbury, Conn., sent a public address, dated Oct. 7, 1801, congratulating Jefferson on his election as president of the United States and thanking him for his consistent support for religious liberty. Congregationalism remained the established religion in Connecticut until 1818. The Danbury Baptists deplored established religion and hoped that Jefferson’s sentiments would “prevail through all these States and all the world till Hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the Earth.”
Jefferson coined the much-debated phrase in his reply to the Danbury Baptists, dated Jan. 1, 1802. Jefferson endured sharp criticism because he refused to proclaim public days for fasting and thanksgiving, which he viewed as governmental intrusion into religion. His note to Attorney General Levi Lincoln, written on the same day as the letter to the Danbury Baptists, proves that he used his letter to respond publicly to his opponents. (All three letters are available online.)
As for Shaw’s claim that “no such ‘wall’ was intended by our nation’s founders,” certainly Jefferson must be counted among our nation’s founders, so at least one of them thought it was a good idea.
Finally, Shaw argued that “the phrase is not found or implied in our Constitution.” Perhaps; but the United States Supreme Court declared, in Reynolds v. United States (1878), that “it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment.” Until the court overturns that interpretation, Jefferson’s “wall of separation” remains.
ó Kendal P. Mobley
Salisbury
Dissenting views
Ms. Shaw, “of” simply means “from.” Yet this never seems to mean the same thing in “various situations” to those predictable souls like you. The Constitution’s First Amendment appears to be too vague for those who want their own values to be the ruling factor of American life. Predictably, those who don’t share your point of view are “weak in their faith” and “undecided about a world view.”
Ms. Shaw, the language of the First Amendment simply means the founding fathers wished to be “free of” ó from ó religious persecutions, and that no one religious faith is to be endorsed by the government. Surely, there’s no statement that there’s a “wall between church and state,” but it’s clear in its intent. Predictably, you ó and others like you ó don’t want to hear it any other way, so those who disagree with you “waver and respond unpredictably when faced with various situations.” What you’re stealthily implying is predictable; those who don’t agree with what you, and others like you, believe simply “dont understand.” Only you, and those like yourself, can understand. Anyone who thinks differently than you can’t be trusted without your guidance in the “right way.” Your idea of “voting responsibly” translates into “vote ultra-right wing” or you will “lack understanding,” be part of the problem, suspected of being anti-American and anti-religious, too.
I’m not a supporter of Obama or McCain, proof that I’ll fall under someone’s sway and choose the “wrong candidate.” I didn’t think there’s such thing as a “wrong candidate” in a democracy, Ms. Shaw. That’s an interesting way of “thinking” you have there, showing your “depth” in varying situations. I can see the bull through the dust.
ó Butch Young
Rockwell
Rigid recycling rules
In Rockwell city limits, we just started with a new garbage service. The cans and bins are fine, but their rules are ridiculous. I have recycled for three years. I have lots of plastic soft-drink bottles. I have always washed the things, but now they say I have to remove the labels also, no lids, and only newspapers, no magazines.
I do all my work at night, and during the day I run errands for friends and have a son, husband, two cats and a dog I must tend to. So I guess no more recycling for me; I simply do not have the time. Also, I have heard several complaints from older women that only have one bag of garbage a week and some of them simply “cannot” roll those cans out. I personally will help anyone that needs help, but I think there may be a better solution to this issue. I really respect the company that took over, but surely there has to be some leeway; after all, we all must give a little in life to help others. God bless you all.
ó Kathleen Harwood
Rockwell

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