Recently a small group of apparently well-meaning individuals tried to prevent the Hamilton County Commission from praying before meetings. Apparently, they were concerned about the separation of church and state as they interpret the Constitution.
I believe that the intent of the Constitution was to protect the "church" from interference by the "state," not to protect the state from the church.
Prior to the American Revolution, we were governed by England, a nation where the church and the state were essentially the same. The church, with the support of parliament, persecuted other religious groups. The monarchy, in turn, collected taxes to support the Anglican Church. Our Constitution attempted to ensure that no such system was implemented in the U.S.A.
Our Constitution intended that we have freedom "of" religion, not freedom "from" religion.
What kind of freedom of religion do we have in this country if we are not allowed to pray in public?
JERRY WOOLEY, Georgetown, Tenn.
I encourage residents of Soddy-Daisy to elect Bryan Hoss judge on Aug. 2. The fact we are able to exercise our constitutional right and freely elect someone to this position is another example of the many freedoms we often take for granted in this great country.
Bryan will approach this position as he does everything in life, with undaunted passion and commitment. The citizens of Soddy-Daisy can expect Bryan to display his vast knowledge of the law on the bench just as he does in the courtroom. Bryan is a natural trial lawyer and has experience with everything from the seemingly most simplistic legal matters to high profile cases in various parts of the country and treats each one with equal commitment.
One of the things that Bryan said to me years ago that I feel sums him up best is "everyone is entitled to a fair trial in the courtroom versus the court of public opinion." This attitude combined with his integrity and knowledge of the justice system highlight a few of the many reasons Bryan Hoss is the right choice for judge of Soddy-Daisy.
Please vote on Aug. 2 and consider casting your ballot for Bryan Hoss. He will serve the community well.
WARREN LUSK, Signal Mountain
Go into thy chamber (a little early) and close thy door; and pray in the name of Jesus.
You don't need an audience to pray. In fact, the Bible says that if you pray to be seen of men, that is the only reward you will receive.
MRS. MARGO DAUGHERTY, Englewood, Tenn.
The "public library" -- what a lie that is. It's really only public if you live in the city limits, otherwise you have to pay $50 a year to use it.
When this policy began last October, I called the interim library director as well as the mayor and county commissioners' offices to complain. All that got me was lots of frustration as everyone blamed someone else for the problem and offered no real solutions.
So now the time has finally come for me, a regular Northgate branch patron who lives in the county -- my library card has expired and it's pay up or get out. I've decided not to pay -- not because I cannot afford it, but in protest of this policy and the politics behind it.
Will anyone in power notice or care? I am sure that they won't, but this is my personal protest. I only wish I could expand my protest by voting to recall Mayor Littlefield and any other elected politician who feels that their political agenda is more important than a true public library is in the life of our community.
ELAINE EDWARDS, Hixson
Many of your readers seem to be ignorant of the nature of our republic: Elected officials are charged with representing and serving all citizens. When they open public meetings with prayer, the implicit message is "only those of our faith will be allowed to participate."
The early immigrants came to North America to escape a government that brooked no religion other than Anglicanism. The nation's founders clearly understood any official religious acts undermine democracy and freedom. And when our commissioners pray to open public meetings, they are clearly acting in their official roles.
What if an official public body was conducting Hindu prayers? What if the County Commission issued the Islamic call to prayer five times a day? What if it they invoked Native Americans' great spirit? What if, God forbid, the commission started with a statement of humanistic principles? Would Christians feel represented? No, they would be upset!
So, if you are a true Christian and American, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and stop excluding non-Christians from government.
GREG LAUDEMAN, East Ridge
I'm proud to support Judge David Norton for General Sessions Court in this summer's general election.
Norton served as assistant county attorney for 28 years, dealing daily with legal issues vital to Hamilton County. Concurrently, he was elected city judge in Soddy-Daisy for three consecutive terms. His experience in the county attorney's office and as a municipal judge have served him well in the Sessions Court judgeship to which he was appointed after Judge Bob Moon's untimely death earlier this year. Norton is making a difference. He deserves to keep the job.
Knowing Norton personally, I saw this self-effacing public servant voluntarily give up a municipal judgeship and a career position in the county attorney's office in order to serve where needed in Sessions Court. He's doing a great job, as evidenced by overwhelming support he received in a Chattanooga Bar Association candidate preference poll conducted last month. Judge Norton is not only committed to Sessions Court but is highly respected by the professionals who rely on a non-partial judgment when presenting their cases. To me, these are high recommendations to keep him on the bench.
Please join me this summer in voting for David Norton for General Sessions judge!
I strongly dissent from the assertion that the Constitution of the United States is based upon biblical tenets. In fact, it owes much more to Montesquieu's separation of powers and Aristotle's Doctrine of the Mean than to either Paul or Matthew.
James Madison, the father of the Constitution, clearly desired a secular document for a civil state, and religion did not figure prominently into the various debates and discussions that took place in that hot summer of 1787. There was no religious test for office holding. The Constitution neither mentioned God or acknowledged the existence of a national creed. In fact, many state ratifying conventions vigorously objected to this state of affairs. In New Hampshire, delegates complained that a "Papist, a Mohomatan [sic], a Deist, even an atheist" could be at the helm of government, and Pennsylvania's convention delegates worried that "with no ties to religion will not the central government become arbitrary and absolute, since it recognized no higher law than itself."
Lastly, when Ben Franklin urged delegates to the Constitutional Convention to pray in order to help find consensus, Alexander Hamilton objected, saying it would make them look desperate. In addition, he is reputed to have said: "We don't need any foreign aid."
MICHAEL V. WOODWARD, Hixson