To The Daily Sun,
A recent writer to The Sun wrote that Jesus was not "pluralistic" and that our government is "antagonistic to religious freedom". Whether Jesus was pluralistic or not I do not know, but I do know that the U.S. Constitution permits and even encourages religious pluralism. It also guarantees separation of church and state and religious neutrality. Every American knows that the U.S. Constitution grants us "Freedom of Religion." But, a closer look at the Constitution reveals that we actually enjoy three separate religious liberties: No "religious test," no government "establishment" of religion, and "free exercise" of religion.
The first of these is in the Body ("Articles") of the U.S. Constitution where it reads that there can be "no religious test" for holding public office. I remember photo-shopped pictures of Obama swearing his oath as senator on a copy of the Quran. Although these were faked, it would not have mattered. As long as someone is legally elected it does not matter what their religion — or lack thereof — happens to be. We have had a number of American Muslims elected to office who took their oaths on a Quran instead of a Bible. It is their sacred text. One such Muslim took his oath on a Quran from the library of Founder Thomas Jefferson.
The second and third liberties we enjoy regarding religion are contained in the First Amendment. Government cannot make laws "regarding an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In other words, the Constitution is neutral on matters of faith while allowing the most religious freedom in the "democratic world."
We do not have established churches, but we do allow churches a high degree of freedom and even let them avoid taxation. This tax-exempt status is even granted to religious bodies whose motives may be questionable to many. How is that a "war on religion?"
The "free exercise" clause is very broad. The only real limitation is interfering with another's rights.
Some Christian conservatives blame liberals, the U.S. Supreme Court, the ACLU, or whatever for "removing God from our public schools." As though anyone, even a liberal, had that power.
Actually, many misunderstand what the courts have actually ruled on this matter. Granted, you cannot have prayer or other religious exercises sponsored by a school or its staff. But, students are still free to pray or read religious literature on their own time and many do. Of course, a teacher can ask a student to close the Bible during class and open up the math book. Teachers are allowed to teach about religion or even have a class in the Bible as a work of literature, but they cannot preach or impose a particular religious view on their students.
As far as schools teaching the biblical creation story in public schools, there is no problem as long as it is taught in a mythology or humanities class and not in biology or geology courses.
Parents who wish to give their child a religious education are still free to teach them at home, send them to Sunday school, and even to educate them at home or in a religious school. Our laws regarding this right are much more liberal than in some European democracies. The taxpayers, however, cannot be asked to pay for such religious education.
Our founders in no way founded a "Christian republic" based on "biblical" law. Of course, they wanted a free but orderly and law-abiding society, but the Judeo-Christian tradition does not possess a monopoly on such values. True, most of the founders had some connection to some Protestant denomination as did most Americans at the time and some were indeed Christians.
Many others however, cannot be considered "Christians" in the traditional sense of that term. Some, like Founders Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were deists, a commonly-held view in 18th-century Enlightenment philosophy which influenced our founders much more than Christianity. Deists held that God created the universe but that humans make their own destinies without God constantly intervening in human history. Deists also denied the divinity of Jesus, a belief central to Christianity.
Actually, in spite of some recent letters to The Sun that imply that those who think as I do are anti-religious, I actually take the same position regarding religion as most of our Founders: If your religion makes you a better person, citizen, or neighbor, then your religion is a positive thing. But, if your religion inspires you to bomb an abortion clinic, fly planes into buildings, or to otherwise interfere with the rights of others, then it is probably a very negative thing.
Finally, another alarm I often hear from conservatives is that there is a "war on Christmas." Are you serious? Do you really think corporate consumer capitalism would allow that?
E. Scott Cracraft
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 10:41
To The Daily Sun,
This year's Thanksgiving will be long remembered by many of us, I'm sure. After losing power late Wednesday afternoon, I was one of the three people in the Laconia Middle School Shelter from Thanksgiving evening to Friday afternoon, when my power was restored.
I am truly grateful to the CERT volunteers for their kind and cheerful welcome, as well as companionship. My cat, Galileo, and I were very thankful to sleep in a warm environment after experiencing a cold Wednesday night. All of that trumps a turkey dinner any day.
On Thanksgiving Day, I went to the Gilford Police Station to inquire about a shelter and was very kindly referred to the Gilford Fire Department. There, Tim Johnson, a very nice young firefighter took my information and later called me to let me know about the Laconia Middle School Shelter.
Many thanks to both the police and fire departments. Without their help, I would not have learned of the opening of the shelter. God Bless all of you who made the experience a pleasant one.
Perhaps notification, before the storm occurs, of what to do and whom to contact would be helpful to others in a similar situation. This could be done via radio, TV and newspapers. I'm sure there were many other people out there who could have benefited from the care that I personally received.
Again, many thanks to those "angels" who were there, when I was in need.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 10:09
To The Daily Sun,
Gilmanton Ellis-Geddes-Levitt Unit 102 of the American Legion Auxiliary extends it appreciation to the Gilmanton PTA for hosting the recent Gilmanton Holiday Craft Fair. It was great to see all the crafters and guests who made it out in spite of the recent weather and power outages.
Thank you also to our many friends and supporters who purchased great home-baked items from the auxiliary along with raffle tickets for a chance to win a wonderful holiday/winter themed gift-basket. Ms. Ouellette was the winner of the raffle and was presented with a beautiful basket full of decorations, linen, holiday treats, gifts and home-good items.
As part of our Holiday Fair participation, members also donated and collected non-perishable food items which were donated to the Gilmanton Food Pantry. Fresh home-baked items were donated to the Dump Run Café for their weekly community gatherings.
The Mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to further Americanism and to support veterans, military, their families and community. Fund-raising is essential to the support we are able to provide during the year. The Gilmanton Holiday Craft Fair is a wonderful community event and we were able to raise over $300 to support our local veteran projects.
Please be sure to join us in Gilmanton next year at both the Gilmanton Old Home Day and Holiday Fair. For further information on the American Legion Auxiliary, our Veterans Projects, membership or donation opportunities, contact us at ALA102@ metrocast.net. Wishing you a great holiday season.
Raelyn Cottrell, President
Gilmanton Ellis-Geddes-Levitt Unit 102
American Legion Auxiliary
Last Updated on Monday, 01 December 2014 11:34
To The Daily Sun,
It has now been six months since I lost my dear husband, Frank, to cancer. What a blessing it was to keep Frank with me after all treatment options were exhausted. As the disease progressed so did his needs and care. It was then that hospice came into our home.
When one has experienced the aid of a hospice team, one never forgets their incredibly strong, caring and supportive presence. I refer to those who helped me at this most extraordinary time as "God Sends."
Hospice is a wonderful organization that helps families with the difficult task of caring for their loved ones at the end of life. The journey is daunting, and the very caring hospice team helps and advises you every step of the way. They share your grief and are sympathetic at the time of grieving, at the time of dying, and at the time of death. When you think you are alone, you are not, for the hospice staff and volunteers are always there to assist and comfort. I cannot thank them enough for their professional and compassionate care.
At this time of year, the hospice program offers a very important Tree of Memories celebration. Saturday, Dec. 13, is not only a fundraising effort, but also an opportunity to remember and honor friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. The Tree of Memories is a reminder of the many people that hospice has helped transition into a more peaceful life with God.
I wish to thank all the hospice members for their tremendous service, dedication and kindness in all they do to help every one in our community.
We all have to make choices of what worthwhile causes we wish to support. But I know I can never forget the kindness of hospice at this time of crisis in my life.
Pauline de Ramer
Last Updated on Monday, 01 December 2014 11:31
To The Daily Sun,
Saturday, Nov. 29, was Small Business Saturday. My hope is that many Granite Staters took the time to visit and purchase goods and/or services in our many small-business establishments. These entrepreneurs comprise the backbone of our local and national economy. They also are the most likely sources of memorable customer service experiences. Let me share but one.
When my wife and I moved to New Hampshire in 2006, we purchased several pieces of equipment from Steve Woodbury at Belmont Hardware and Outdoor Equipment in Belmont. One item was an Ariens snow blower. As part of the purchase agreement, Woodbury said that he would service the snow blower annually, including its pickup and return delivery. His performance promise was the major reason we made the purchase.
That fall he did what he said he'd do, and he has done so every year since then. What big-box store does that for you? But, that's not all. This year we were a bit tardy in requesting service. Even so, he went out of his way to make sure that we had our snow blower in working order the morning of Nov. 26 so that we would be ready for the recent snow storm. That's delivering on his performance promise. That level of customer service is truly rare in our experience. Guess where we're going to buy our next piece of equipment?
We believe in honoring the efforts of those who honor us with outstanding service. Let's strengthen our support of the many fine small-business owners in New Hampshire not only on Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday but also throughout the year.
Robert & Diana McElwee
Last Updated on Monday, 01 December 2014 11:08