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Farce to say founders didn't want Christian values to be of influence

To The Daily Sun,
I appreciate Steve Earle (letter May 12) for setting up James Veverka (letter May 13) for my response. I know that wasn't his purpose, not withstanding, thank you Steve.

Now let's get this discussion to where it belongs. First off, Jim's writings are merely a smokescreen to take the focus off of the government oppression going on right now, coming from liberal administrations. Yet seeing that Jim put it out there and I do love history, I'll take the bait. Which brings us to, secondly, what the discussion of the U.S.A.'s Christian roots should be about. Jim gives us a bunch of sources but has no idea of their significance or what they mean. Again his intent is not to understand history and to learn its lessons, but to rip off quotes that he figures will buttress his world view.

Jim talks about Constantine the Great and Theodosius making Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. That's what Roman emperors did. Before these, Christians were martyred for not participating in emperor worship. But this change took place to fulfill the prophet Isaiah, "enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited." (Isaiah 54:2-3)

Tyranny is a temptation for humans in authority. Our Founding Fathers understood that. Jim would have you think that it is a Christian virtue or un-virtue. He consistently wrongly attributes human vices and usurpations as coming from Christ's teaching or the influence of Christianity on government when the issues actually spring from human weakness and all humans' inclination toward sin. In fact in the millennia that he refers to, relief from oppression actually came from the church through the Chivalric codes, the Peace and Truce of God and some righteous men.

Jim cites violence between Protestants and Catholics during the reformation as evidence against the Christian religion. In doing doing so he leaves the path of trying to understand the causes in history to promote his anti-Christian agenda. To be honest the history of war and the history of mankind are almost synonymous. War and violence are a human thing, not a Christian thing. They stem from our sinful human nature not the Christian religion.

Here's an experiment in critical thinking. If you will, look at this as a technician troubleshooting an automobile or a electronic system. Examine war and violence in the world. If you find that it only comes from Christian or for that matter religious populations, then it would be reasonable to assume that Christianity or in the broader argument religion is the problem; but if it is present in non-Christian and non-religious systems and populations as well, then it is a human problem and stems from our humanity. I will not get into spiritual entities here as Jim does not believe that they exist.

I wish well meaning people would stop trying to present our constitution as a Christian document it really is a secular document — though it could be argued that a Christian understanding of human nature lead the framers to see the wisdom in the separation of powers — yet its framers never intended it to be used to stamp Christian influence out of the public sphere. You see, our Declaration of Independence clearly shows us to be in the dept of the providential care of the Judge of the whole world, our creator.

Jim throws around the enlightenment as though you can assume anything that came out of it was anti-Christian. This was not the case. I think he under estimates the influence of the Reformation on enlightenment thought. Nor was every idea that came out of the enlightenment good. Neither is the study of Greek and Roman thought foreign to Christians. Christian doctrine is not based on them, but they serve as a rich source for political thought for one who studies and understands it.

If Jim was trying to understand the sources he quotes, he would understand that our Constitution was written for a religious people with a common set of values, a people who understood the importance of Christian virtue — for we were a Christian nation — for the survival of our republic. Jim's own evidence for Christian Sharia testifies that our nation was a Christian nation. State and local laws reflected the Christian nature of our republic. The First Amendment was added in response to a fear that the new federal government might interfere with the free exercise of religion. (The free exercise of religion is the freedom to act out your faith not merely the freedom to believe what you want.) The federal government was already secular.

It's a farce to suggest that the founders did not intend Christian values to inform federal policy, let alone state and local governance; that divorce of Christianity and state was an evolution, a corruption that grew out of, the then as yet to be established public school system. This evolution has lead us to where we are today, with a government that more and more makes moral judgements from the point of view of a non-ecclesiastical religion and is now seeking to use the force of law to coerce compliance to this new "morality", and seeks to restrict the free exercise of true religion.

John Demakowski

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State pension system must be brought under control before raises

To The Daily Sun,

This next week in Concord the Legislature will take up the contentious issue of approving the funding for possible wage increases for N.H. public employees. While we realize it has been tough sledding for these employees vs. increases in take home pay, they have been taking the taxpayers to the woodshed over he last three years with near 20 percent annual average increases by the employer to the State of N.H., to their previously grossly underfunded pension plan in exchange for the retirees giving up COLAs in their entirety. So with a compromise worked out by former N.H. House Speaker Bill O'Brien in a previous legislative session, N.H. state reps agreed to these funding INCREASES to try and get this pension fiasco out of the hole with these significant annual increases to the state employee's TOTAL BENEFIT PACKAGES. Unfortunately some of the new fundings that have contributed to that pension trust rising from less than a 56 percent funding, ending in 2012, to at least some progress toward the 60+ percent funding ratio most recently reported by NHRS, have come from the state growing active participants by near 10 percent over the last five years. So while against AARRs this is a small positive, it also significantly increases the out years liabilities.

I would urge our Belknap County legislators to take a very hard look at funding a settlement with the state employees on wages from a TOTAL BENEFIT PACKAGE increase perspective, and how much we are proposing increasing THAT, so that the constituency does not get the same old bamboozling about how woefully underpaid state employees are. I would also point out that while progress is being made on NHRS Trust funding, the fund still remains woefully under funded vs. the 80 percent funding most think tanks (i.e. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College) regard as the minimum funding ratio to give a pension trust a healthy rating. Beyond that the OPEBs medical benefits etc. for retirees are still not even 10 percent funded.

I would also appeal to Senator Hosmer to examine the inherent fairness and propriety of the top 20 percent pensioners by pension amounts taking more than 50 percent of the gross annual distributions from NHRS whilst those lesser paid with generally smaller pensions in the public education industry continue to be providing the lion's share of NHRS funding and that financially unhealthy underfunding continues on at NHRS. Given that situation, it is time For Senator Hosmer, his Democratic allies in the state Legislature, and State Employee's SEA/SIEU President Gulla to step up and propose and back legislation to cap NHRS future distributions to NEW pensioners at near $90K/Yr with a 2/3rds of the cost of living incremental increase to administering such a cap. That is, create a cap and then raise the cap by a COLA and not provide any restitution of general COLAs which are COLA CREEP raids on the NHRS trust by those in the top 20 percent by distribution amounts. The portions of pensions that are attributable to failed AARR's simply are not portions of pensions earned by defining them beyond what is earned over and above the contributions inside these retirement trust funds. Once we get this pension situation under control and financially healthy we can then consider "more fair "salary increases in the total benefits increases for state employees.

Tim Sullivan


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