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Sent over from a Midlothian Yahoo! Group :

When I read the columns by Duff Hale, I'm generally impressed with his knowledge of history and come away feeling better educated. While I agree with his perspective on gun ownership, I take exception to his opinion that the idea of keeping government and religion separate is "ludicrous". I'm sure there could be, or has been, an entire article on this point by Mr Hale, but I'm going to toss this out here.

With respect to using the 14th amendment to apply Thomas Jefferson's interpretation of the 1st Amendment, the well known "Wall of separation between church and state", I consider allowing the states to determine if they want to be governed by religion considerably more dangerous than allowing them to decide if all law abiding citizens can own guns, and with proper training, carry them.

Allowing state governments to pick a religion and then create laws and policies that use that religion as guidance, is just asking for trouble. Trouble for those residents that are not of that religion and will have to make the choice whether to stay till the next election cycle when it could get better, or worse, or move to another state that would be subject to the same whims of the electorate. Trouble regarding elections that would have no choice but to have religion as a key component. Trouble, since eventually they will want to apply literal interpretation of scripture to governing. Those that have read various religious texts, may realize that interpretation is a powerful thing. What happens when a state decides to restrict commerce based on religion? Would you really want to take a driving trip across America? I wouldn't. I imagine there are states that want to dictate a particular belief system to those within its borders through state sanction, but don't want the federal government doing it to them.

With regard to the idea that Jefferson's interpretation is used to keep all religious observance out of our schools. I think it's just religious propaganda. Government and public schools have an obligation to respect religious views by staying neutral. Citizens are not prevented from expressing their religious views as long as they are not disruptive. Privileges and opportunities should be available to all regardless of religion. This simply means that the government ( public employees ) should remain neutral with regard to religion in their public duties and especially if you they have control over opportunities and privileges of the public, especially students.

Would I censor religious graduation speeches? No. Would I care if someone brought Christmas cookies during the holiday season with a religious message? No. Do I care if religious groups gather at school for prayer? No. As long as any other group, religious or otherwise is offered the same opportunity. A graduation speech that puts humanity at the top of the ladder? Candy canes that say Zeus is god? How about devil worship. It appears the devil killed way less people in the Bible than god did. How many kids know that?

If religion were taught in a completely neutral fashion in school, ie comparative religion, it would be clear it is an individual choice of belief and not for the schools to take sides. People could observe whatever they wanted to observe, within reason. The schools, and hopefully the community, would treat them equally. Everyone would realize it is simply one belief among many, which is what religious freedom is about. They will see the many religious beliefs that have come and gone, how they were alike and different, and what the supporters and detractors had to say about them. When they know their history and make choices based on knowledge, the schools will have done well. They may even realize they don't have to choose any of them. That is, if true religious liberty is the goal.

Honor religious freedom and the 14th amendment is not an issue.

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Nelson Propane

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