For 200 years we have been a practicing republic of capitalistic endeavors. This has made us the country where people from all over the world want to come and seek their fortune and emulate us.
Why would we want to change and follow people with socialist leanings? For a great example, look at North Korea and South Korea.
The north, a socialist dictatorial country with the upper establishment of leadership living the life of luxury while the common people live in dire need for the common necessities to sustain life, produces nothing but misery. This is what you eventually get when you depend on the government for your every need. They will control your life and death.
South Korea, a capitalist practicing nation (we helped set free), is a thriving, freedom-loving people and an industrial nation that creates products that are sold throughout the world.
Our forefathers worked hard to build this nation; they did not sit around and wait for the government handouts to take care of them. Let's get back to doing what we do best, being hardworking Americans, not a nation of freeloaders. Put country before party. Vote!
What is happening when Christian prayers are offered in the commissioners' meetings after a request that they be stopped in order to respect the religious practices of others?
Does forcing others to listen while we pray aloud make anything better? Is the commission strengthened in any way? Do the members care for each other any more than they did? Are members more concerned about the community they represent?
I believe the answer to all of those questions is "no." So what is the purpose of verbal prayer in public when others aren't consenting? It certainly isn't preserving religious freedom. That freedom must be for everyone. It isn't because verbal prayers are more powerful, or more likely to be heard, than silent ones.
We must consider that when we insist that everyone believe the same theology that we believe and practice religion the way we want it done, we are simply saying "I and my way of doing things are more important than you or what you think, or feel, or believe." How would that sound if someone said it to you? How would you feel if a member of another religion did the same to you?
Mineral Bluff, Ga.
"One nation under God" supporters should realize that Baptist minister Francis Bellamy did not write these words into the 1913 patriotic Pledge of Allegiance. They were put there in 1954 by an act of Congress at the height of the Cold War.
In the 1950s days of "massive retaliation" and "brinksmanship," the "godless Communists" of the Soviet Union had recently divided Europe with an "iron curtain" into "free" and "Communist" regions. They had successfully detonated and were continuing to develop atomic weapons. A war against Communist aggression in Korea had claimed 50,000 American lives. The most populous country in the world, China, had successfully revolted against a corrupt nationalist regime and had become Communist. Americans were frantically searching for Communist infiltrators during this "McCarthy Era," and the Rosenbergs would be executed for espionage.
The "under God" part of the pledge was a political expedient emphasis, yet another divide between "us" and "them."
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and our closer ties with China, the "us" has become "us good Christians" versus various "thems" -- most often Islamic fundamentalism but too often for many "good Christians" simply Isalm or other non-Christian faiths, or "sin" and "sinners" in general.
The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal Jan. 17 to hear a case involving a North Carolina county's policy of relying on Christian prayers to open its meetings marks the end of a five-year legal battle initiated by a Unitarian Universalist in Winston-Salem, N.C. Janet Joyner, a member of the UU Fellowship of Winston-Salem, was the plaintiff in the suit, Joyner v. Forsyth County. The case centered on the practice of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners opening its twice-monthly meetings with Christian prayers. In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled 2-1 that the county's use of sectarian prayer is a violation of the separation of church and state. The case was brought by Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the North Carolina ACLU.
Why does the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners feel that they should be exempt from this ruling?
JOHN D. BECK
This letter is to express our strong disagreement and great disappointment regarding the article "Lost in Translation" in the Perspective section of the newspaper June 3. The article distorts holy Scripture and Christianity as a whole.
We are long-time customers of the Times Free Press. However, if this article represents the direction that your newspaper intends to follow, we will feel forced to cancel our subscription. We represent only one family, but we feel certain that the majority of families in the greater Chattanooga area would agree with our position.
Thank you for the opportunity to express our concerns.
DEWAYNE AND TERESA GLASCOCK
A recent letter to the New York Times proposed a simple, common-sense solution to the same-sex marriage controversy. First, get the government out of the marriage business, where it has no business in the first place. The federal government has never enacted marriage laws, not even against polygamy.
Marriage is more a religious rite than a civil function. Each individual church should decide whom it will marry and whom it will not. Historically, governments tend to exercise control over marriage in nations having an established religion. Ours never has.
The various state governments, if they so elect, could sanction civil unions that would confer certain rights and privileges on a couple irrespective of gender, such as rights of survival, inheritance, emergency decision-making, etc. Marriage as a religious covenant wouldn't necessarily exist. People against same-sex marriages could continue to oppose them through their respective religious organizations. But if a religious ceremony is important, same-sex couples, as many do today, could find churches that would marry them.
The only problem I can see with this arrangement is that it is based on reason rather than emotion, and we do not seem to make decisions on that basis anymore.
GEORGE B. REED JR.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation went to a County Commission meeting to ask praying at meetings to stop because of separation of church and state under the Constitution. Reality check: The U.S. Constitution does not say anything to the effect of separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, saying "... 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."
The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." So separation of church and state does not have anything to do with praying before a meeting. It has to do with the government making laws for or against religion and the free exercise thereof. Separation of church and state means people can freely exercise their right to religion without being told by the government that they can't. Why can't the County Commission pray before a meeting if they want; that is their right as per the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment.