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Letter to the editor: No evidence
By Brian Hill, Tulsa
Published: 1/17/2010 4:40 AM
Last Modified: 1/17/2010 4:40 AM
In a recent letter ("A Christian Nation," Jan. 10) J.C. Leonard states the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution "made no secret they considered America a Christian republic." The letter gives no evidence from either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration refers to a creator, not the Christian god. It was written by Thomas Jefferson, a Deist who rejected the divinity of Jesus. The Constitution says nothing about Jesus or Christianity. The First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
Leonard cites the beliefs of Americans who came after the Founding Fathers. Leonard asserts that 43 U.S. presidents affirmed that America is a Christian nation.
That is a highly suspect statement. John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli, which specifically states America was not a Christian nation. Abraham Lincoln was skeptical toward the Christian faith. Other presidents, while they may have been of varying religious conviction, did not make public announcements of their devotion or endorse America as a Christian nation.
That did not really arise until George W. Bush's presidency. Even Woodrow Wilson did not invoke his Christian beliefs when he took America into World War I or when he promoted the League of Nations.
The quote Leonard gives from Theodore Roosevelt, to the effect that the Bible is an integral part of American civic and social life, is a statement that even an atheist could accept. But it does not support the thesis of the letter.
Letter to the Editor: Keep prayers to yourself
By William Dusenberry, Broken Arrow
Published: 9/27/2009 4:22 AM
The Tulsa World reported that some City Council candidates agreed "that a city known for being intolerant isn't likely to prosper" ("Council candidates decry intolerance," Sept. 21).
One category of council intolerance against those for whom the separation of church and state portion of the U.S. Constitution remains, perhaps, its greatest mandate is the ongoing practice of praying in public just prior to the official opening of meetings.
This clear circumvention of the intent of the Constitution (praying just before the official opening of council meetings) might be sufficient to discourage any American Civil Liberties Union-type challenge, but such continued prayers send the clear message: intolerance when done under the guise of "our" religion is what the voters of Tulsa expect of us; the U.S. Constitution be damned.
And this practice, councilors and candidates, is not only a violation of the U.S. Constitution, but completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus, who is quoted in the Bible as saying: "When thou prayest, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray that they be seen of men. When thou prayest ... pray to thy Father in secret."
So Tulsa councilors, if you need to pray (in order to either tell God what to do, or to ask God to direct you on how you should vote) do so by yourself, and no longer at public meetings.
Your private prayers will have the same effect and then will no longer violate the constitutional rights of others.
William Dusenberry, Broken Arrow
July 4th, 2007
Scooter Libby's adventure began when Joe Wilson went public casting doubt upon White House claims that Iraq was building nuclear weapons. Someone leaked the information that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA officer, thereby "violating law," and endangering her life. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald tried to determine who the culprit was; Libby was uncooperative.
September 30, 2003, in commenting on the Valerie Plame case, Bush declared, "If the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of." (Maugre the constitution, the Decider chooses who, including American citizens, is to be jailed w/o trial, decides that he does not need congressional or judicial approval to surveill/listen to American citizens. And apparently he has not erred--yet! ) There is no need for any of his staff to testify under oath or publicly. According to the editor of Newsweek International (June 11), "we have managed in six years to destroy decades of international goodwill, alienate allies, embolden enemies, and yet solve few of the international problems we face." After a jury convicted Libby of lying to the prosecutor and obstructing justice, the judge insisted Libby deserved a harsh sentence, to show that perjury is unacceptable; someone so highly placed should be expected to set an example, and sentenced him to 2 1/2 years plus a fine and probation. So the Decider did indeed "take care of" Scooter Libby--by seeing to it that he does not serve one day in jail for lying or obstructing justice. Six years of presidential commutations: 1849 requests pending, 4,108 denied, 4 (including Scooter Libby) granted. One of those he denied includes Willie Mays Aiken, who has served ten of a twenty year sentence for selling 2 oz. of crack cocaine. Aiken was a Kansas City Royal, but he is black, and perhaps not Republican or sufficiently high-placed. Commutation means prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald now has no hope of persuading Libby to tell the truth that might perhaps incriminate Karl Rove or his boss, vice president Cheney. Amazing what one president can do to the United States, serve two full terms, and never make a mistake.
Bob Hooper 515 Ross, Fort Gibson. 918-478-4575
On quoting Thomas Paine
In response to the letter from Michael C. Turley ("Older, wiser perspective," July 17), my suggestion is that he revisit the circumstances for the Thomas Paine quote, "These are the times that try men's souls." Paine made that statement in "The Crisis" which was written at a time early in the American Revolution when General Washington was leading a dispirited volunteer army and facing an occupation military which was reinforced by mercenary soldiers. Those words back then could be quoted accurately in context by the citizens of Iraq today.
I encourage Mr. Turley and others to read more of Thomas Paine's writings, in particular, "The Rights of Man". Paine wrote it in defense of the French Revolution in response to criticism by British Parliamentarian Edmund Burke. This can be found in the library or on the Internet. Some quotes from that Paine treatise are:
1) "War is the common harvest of all those who participate in the division and expenditure of public money, in all countries."
2) "It (war) is the art of conquering at home: the object of it is an increase of revenue; and as revenue cannot be increased without taxes, a pretense must be made for expenditure."
3) "... taxes (are) not raised to carry on wars, but ... wars (are) raised to carry on taxes." and, finally,
4) (The warring classes) fatten on the folly of one country and the spoils of another ; and, between their plunder and their prey, may go home rich."
One big difference between wars in the late 1700's and war today is that we cut taxes for political popularity and charge the fraudulent, bloated war expenses to our children, grandchildren, and even later generations if our nation can endure that long. Please do not doubt that Americans are waking up. Thank goodness young soldiers such as Kyle Tibbits are willing to write their eyewitness reports.
Larry Hicks, Tulsa
Jon Harle - 11/07/2006
In all the clamor over Iraq one simple fact seems to be singularly overlooked: people would much rather be very badly ruled by one of their own kind than very well ruled by a foreigner. This was true in the past and it is true now. Xenophobia---loathing of the alien---is endemic in nation states. The current regime in Baghdad is perceived as nothing more than a client satrap of the United States---an extension of the hated American presence. The Iraqi people want us out, and they want us out now. We have inflicted too much injury (650,000 Iraqi dead), and too much damage, while doing far too little to improve the lot of the average Iraqi for us to have continued influence in Iraq. It is time to go.
The argument is specious that if we leave Iraq immediately the country will be plunged into a blood bath. When we do leave, in all probability there will indeed be massive carnage as Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites vie for power. Tragically that is going to be unavoidable. As the United States sowed the wind in Iraq, it now must be prepared to reap the whirlwind.
History sheds some light here. For example, when Britain pulled out of India in 1947, having completely failed to achieve peace between the Hindu and Moslem populations, they simply divided the sub-continent between India and newly created Pakistan, unintentionally leaving the two countries to fight it out between themselves.
Algeria too is an example of moral courage, which should give Washington some guidance. In the 1950's France, enmeshed in the struggle for Algerian independence, brought Charles de Gaulle to power who, despite violent criticism had the courage and wisdom to give Algeria its freedom. That action saved France from civil war. History is replete with examples of nations realizing they made a mistake and withdrawing from a country after failing to control its affairs. Again, people do not want to be ruled, or controlled, by a foreign power. History teaches this absolute truth.
So what does all this amount to? Simply this: we are going to have to get out of Iraq quickly, and let Iraq settle its own destiny. We can't stay there indefinitely because we want their oil. It's time for real courage. We are going to have to admit the war was a mistake, pull up stakes, and go home. This is not the first time we have done this (remember Viet-Nam?), but hopefully we have learned enough not to make the same mistake in the future. Failure to do so will only insure the moral and financial bankruptcy of the United States.
Larry Hicks - 08/18/2006, Tulsa World
A study reported in the journal Science , the premier American journal of science in the US, reported in the Aug 11 issue that America ranks near the bottom of 34 countries for the public acceptance of evolution. Only Turkey ranked lower. Factors identified with America's low score was a poor understanding of biology, particularly relating to genetics. Writers also linked the literal interpretation of the Bible by many Americans and the mixing of science, politics, and religion.
What an embarassment for our country which is supposed to be an enlightened beacon for the rest of the world. Not only embarrassing, it's scary.
Maybe I underestimate many of my fellow Okies, but I would bet that we as a citizenry are close to the bottom in scientific literacy in the US.
Folks who would bring industry and innovation to Oklahoma are certainly not excited when they hear of this scientific ignorance. I as a grandfather with children in our public schools am not excited when I hear of this. Also as a senior citizen looking forward to quality health care and well-trained scientists in our hospitals and labs, I do not welcome the idea that our scientific minds may lag behind, or even not accept, the best of current scientific thought.
In short, I prefer that my physician not pray or chant over me for recovery. I want him or her to be aware of the evolution of pathogens and the responses of my immune system to them. I prefer that the doctor throw superstition out the window and approach my problems with the most receptive scientific mind.
Biology is the study or understanding of life. Medicine is biology. Ecology is biology. Agriculture is biology. Evolution is the unifying theme of all biology and all its disciplines. To deny evolution as the basis of biology is to strip it of all foundations and, hence, the framework for future breakthrough discoveries.
Larry Hicks - 04/02/2006 Tulsa World
Religious are hypocritical
The consequences of major corporate media and our politician's campaign to delude and misdirect the clear thinking of common Americans today is devastating. In Iraq, we are buried in an illegal war, as defined in our national and international treaties and law, and engaged in illegal torture and seizure of another sovereign nation's resources and infrastructure. Yet most decent Americans are unaware of the massive crimes we have and are committing against this planet's other citizens. Our nation's media ignore, at the behest and intimidation of our government, the murderous consequences of our military actions against too many innocents in Iraq and other countries.
I am an atheist, and I find many of the religious of this country to be hypocritical when they can condone governmental war policies that have been shown to be in error, deceitful, manipulative and destructive of innocent human life, and yet they not only do not condemn it, they remain silent as it is waged.
My conclusion is that not only are they are being failed by their media, their elected officials, and possibly, their enlightened religious leaders, they are also guilty of being sheep.
Herb Van Fleet, Tulsa
Mike Jones' "Bible class" (Nov. 6), suggesting that the Bible be taught as "literature" in public schools, reminded me of a query once posed by an old college classmate. "If it's good in theory, but it's not good in practice," he would muse, "doesn't that mean it's not good in theory?"
Yes, the Bible is, among many other things, a great work of literature. But, which Bible? According to www.biblegateway.com/versions/ there are now 18 English language versions for your reading enjoyment (87 if you're multilingual). They include three versions of the King James Bible, two American Standard versions, two English versions, and the New International version. So, which one goes into the classroom? And, why?
In this part of the country, most believe God wrote the Bible. But in ancient times most of his writings couldn't pass theocratic muster. In 90 A.D., leaders of the Jewish faith considered 111 texts for the Hebrew Bible, but settled on only 39. They excluded the remaining 72 texts as non-canonical and called them the "Pseudipigrapha."
And, supplementary to the students' understanding, there will have to be some historical context provided along with short courses on symbolism, mythology, metaphysics and comparative religion.
Other than those few hurdles, plus those mentioned in your article, teaching the Bible as literature in high school sounds like a good theory to me.
Brian Hill - 11/16/2006, Tulsa World.
"Braving stormy weather" (Nov. 7) rakes over the same old discredited coals. Historically, believers have strained to attach theological significance to catastrophic weather. But the Bible is replete with erroneous predictions of the Apocalypse.
Jesus taught that his generation would witness the advent of God's kingdom. At Matthew 4:17, he states, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He miscalculates again in Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27 and Matthew 16:28.
St. Paul says in I Corinthians 7:29, "the appointed time has grown very short." The opening sentence of the fabled Book of Revelation cites Jesus speaking of things that must shortly come to pass.
No viable construction can expand "shortly" to extend to nearly 2,000 years. Would the early Christians have been so willing to face persecution if they had realized how mistaken their leaders were about their collective fate? No telling, but there is no doubt that many of today's believers will continue to ignore biblical passages that disrupt their cherished notions.
Brian Hill, Tulsa
Randy Bradley - 10/02/2005,Tulsa World
Judge Lawrence Karlton's ruling is correct. The phrase "Under God" does violate school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God." I would prefer that Oklahoma officials support the U.S. Constitution rather than gloat that the majority has the power to force its superstition on the rational.
A persistent misrepresentation made by the religious in America is that our Founding Fathers desired to make America religious. That assertion is not true. The framers of our constitution argued vehemently against the governments providing support to religion. Of our first six presidents, none attended an established church. During the term of our second president, the U.S. Senate agreed unanimously, in the Treaty of Tripoli, that the United States was in fact not a Christian nation.
Language cannot be more plain than that used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William Short:
"I have examined all the known superstitions of the world and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth."
Randy Bradley, Tulsa
Kathy Warren - 8/16/05, Tulsa World
Unfortunately, few of us asked the hard questions when it came time to send the Casey Sheehan's to Iraq. Instead, we blindly followed our leader, never once thinking through the unreasoned “facts” that demanded we act so irrationally. Even so, we need to be asking those questions now because they are just as important today as they were when we launched the war.
Once again: there were no WMDs, no Iraqi terrorists connected to 9/11 — although we can be sure there are plenty of volunteers now — and no Jeffersonian democracy within sight. Yet, Bush’s mantra remains the same as the one repeated over and over again during Vietnam: “We are there, so we must stay.”
There are certainly things worth fighting for. And, yes, there are even some worth dying for. But Iraq is not one of them, and Casey’s mother, camped outside Tiananmen Ranch, understands this and sees it as both her humane and patriotic duty to ask those long forgotten questions about this false war we now find in our laps. As both an anguished mother and once proud citizen, she begs us to listen — and question, too — so other mothers can avoid the same sorrow that haunts her so pitifully.
Kathy Warren - Tulsa, OK
Larry Hicks - Tulsa World:
I'm approaching the year I might be considered a sage. So I'm comfortable offering my wisdom gained through years.
One thing I've learned is that at any time, what the majority of people think is wrong. That's it. Majority truths are in error. Famous financial gurus, like Baruch, Soros, and Buffett have made millions recognizing this simple truth, and popular investment newsletters sell millions in subscriptions under the guise of "contrarian" financial advice.
But, that same contrarian principle is also true in both the socio/religious and economic metaphysics of America. Those who believe in the Christian-Judaic-Muslim religious worldview are also wrong in almost every aspect of their belief system. Their concept of a personal God for good and, except for most Jews, a personification of evil called Satan, is foolish, irrational, superstitious and a dangerous concept for the future of human survival. The folks believing that junk are flat out wrong. And, in my old mind, dangerous.
Those who believe that the laboring masses are benefitted by big corporate tax breaks, and "voluntary" regulation deserve picking up the bill to fix "Super Fund" failures. ("By golly, they gave us a job back then, no matter that my grand baby might be brain damaged. And besides, where can you find them now, anyway>").
When a law is passed that is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, look out, working folks. Get set for a screwing. When Ken Lay, George Bush, and others tell you a law or "reform" is needed, guess who's gonna be "deformed".
More majority errors:
1) a bunch of Americans believe in a Genesis account of the creation. They're wrong.
2) Many believe that what's good for GM is good for America, and they're being proved wrong.
3) Most Okies believe that President Bush is a humble man of God working for the best interests of laboring and reverent Americans. And yep, no surprise, they're also wrong.
Larry Hicks - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Randy Bradley - 03/26/2005,Tulsa World
The lawn monument of the Christian Ten Commandments on the Haskell County Courthouse grounds is unconstitutional and should be removed. The monument is another attempt by fundamentalist Christians to force their superstitions on the rest of us. The Declaration of Independence states quite clearly that the power of our government derives from the consent of the governed. It does not say that those powers derive from God.
As far as being reasonable law, I offer the following: The first 4 commandments are specific religious edicts enforcing them would deny the rights of all other religions and the rights of those who hold no superstition. Commandments 5 and 10 are thought crime laws and therefore impossible to enforce. As for commandment 6, the Old Testament offers a confusing example of how it applies
Exodus Chapter 32 verses 26-28
26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
The old testament relates that Moses led the murders of thousands of his tribe on the first day that the decalog was delivered to the Israelites. Christians, your beliefs are preposterous. Do not force them on me.
Randy Bradley - Tulsa, Oklahoma
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