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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 6, 2008 at 1:52 PM

Deck the Capitol building

Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times

After a press conference was held where Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, from Madison, Wisc., put up a winter solstice sign in the state Capitol, a few people hang around to check out the sign, which is meant to counter the Nativity scene (at right).

We all need a little reconnecting

Editor, The Times:

What does the word “religion” mean [“Deck halls with controversy,” Times, News, Dec. 2]? It has its root in the Latin verb “ligere,” which means “to connect,” the English word “ligament,” which means “that which connects muscle to bone.” So, “religion” means “the business of reconnecting.” But reconnecting what?

The great human dilemma is that, at the core of our being, we have a deep need for relationships, from the most personal to the most global. Sadly, also at the core of our being, we have a diabolic tendency to destroy that for which we have this deepest need.

The problem is pandemic, from preschool to the pulpit, from the bedroom to the boardroom. We desperately need to restore broken relationships of all kinds, to “reconnect.”

Some of us believe that this is best done by application of human reason, education and strength of character. Others, like me, believe we cannot accomplish the task by our own human effort, so we find resources from a source beyond ourselves.

During this festive season, whether we worship at the altar of human reason, or at the manger of the Great Re-connector, or elsewhere, we seek to do the same thing, to reconnect and repair the relational ruins all around us.

We would do well to remember that this kind of reconnection is what wise folk seek, and to season with grace the ways we strut and display the symbols of our reconnection in public places.

— Mel McIntyre, Bellevue

Take it down

We have been told for seven years now that Islam is a peaceful religion — not the violent crew that is terrorizing the world. I believe that.

The line “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds” belies that belief. The line is found in the display by the Freedom From Religion Foundation located at the state Capitol in Olympia. It tars all who have religious beliefs with a broad brush of intolerance.

There is no room for the inclusiveness and respect shown for others with belief found in most churches. It is flat out wrong to represent those with religious beliefs falsely.

The message throughout the last half of the 20th century brought by churches here and abroad has been tolerance and acceptance of the beliefs of others, including those who profess agnosticism or atheism.

The sign in the state Capitol is wrong. It is hate speech. The sign by the Freedom From Religion Foundation is intolerant of any belief not their own. It is amazing that it is still on display given the Legislature’s professed desire to respect the beliefs of others and its policy of inclusive nondiscrimination. The sign should come down.

— Bob Barren, Seattle

Have we not learned?

By now I think everyone can see what a slippery slope the presence of religion in government can be.

As much as I appreciate the Freedom From Religion Foundation placing a display that represents my view, it should now be clear to everyone that the best solution is to keep religion out of government. The controversy regarding religious symbols at the Capitol building could have been avoided if the establishment clause of the First Amendment had been strictly followed.

Keep religion out of government and out of the Capitol.

— Don Van Valkenburg, Woodinville

Keep your stones

to yourself

I am a Christian and my faith is not shaken by others’ beliefs. I am happy to celebrate anyone that has a belief.

What I want to know is why [TV pundit] Bill O’Reilly, along with the people who follow his lead, has so little faith in his Christianity that a sign in the Washington state Capitol can give him fear; he must not have a faith that is worth his weight in salt.

This is the country that demands the separation of church and state; this is why we all have the right to openly practice our faiths. The slippery slope is not the sign in the Capitol building — it is in the willingness of religious zealots to restrict others’ right to support their own beliefs.

World, grow up and stop thinking about throwing stones at others.

— Marc Hill, Renton

What do you choose?

On one side, we have those who believe in Christmas. Their display is a pastoral scene of a small baby laying in a manger, surrounded by his mother, father, angels and shepherds. It’s the symbol of a story of a loving God who becomes a man to walk in his shoes and accept the punishment for man’s sins on Earth.

This God shows man how to live a virtuous life, and teaches man to love one another. As documented in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, it’s a richly woven, highly detailed, yet amazingly subtle and nuanced story of love, redemption, hope and peace.

God promises that those who love each other and believe in him will make the world a better place and have the reward of eternal peace and love in heaven. It’s an offer of hope for a better world and eternal love. But it is an offer made with the acknowledgment that man has free will. All of the hope and promise of this biblical story is contained in the simple display of a baby in a manger.

On the other side, we have a poster board from a local office-supply store, with an insult written on it.

I think the two displays, side-by-side, are perfect.

The message comes across clearly and effectively. It’s a choice.

— Mike Martucci, Sammamish

Merry Christmas

Atheists have a right to display their beliefs, as do others. Had their display said, “We celebrate winter solstice; we celebrate naturalism; we celebrate humanistic philosophy,” that would have been fine.

However, they criticized Christians and Jews on this most sacred holiday. Their display denigrated the beliefs and values of the majority of Americans. Their display was disgusting, ridiculous and petty.

— Tommy Delzer, Federal Way

Comments | More in Religion, Washington Legislature


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