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Our Constitution is a secular document

Ads tout religion in government | July 21, story

Constitution is a secular document

The separation of church and state is not a "lie." Rather, it is the current, reasoned interpretation by the Supreme Court of the first part of the First Amendment to the Constitution, based on numerous court cases. Contrary to Christian activist Terry Kemple's view, our Founding Fathers did not establish "a Judeo-Christian foundation" for our country. They established a Constitution, based more on the Magna Carta than Judeo-Christian principles (such as those embodied in the Ten Commandments). None of them are in there.

Further, our founding document did not establish or proclaim a need for Christian governance and laid no claim "that America's government was made only for people who are moral and religious." To the contrary, it specifically prohibited any religious test for any "office or public trust" (Article 6). Indeed, the Constitution is a secular document for all citizens, be they moral, religious or whatever.

Stephen M. Feldman, Valrico

The wisdom of separation

Our Constitution allows its citizens freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Anyone who thinks that state and religion should not be separate is not thinking clearly and has limited knowledge of world history or American history.

They must think that only their religion would prevail. What if another religion prevailed? What if people were publicly lashed or stoned for minor offenses? What if public stoning were your only entertainment as television, dancing, card playing and alcohol were abominations? What if the religion was male-dominated and education for women was unnecessary since women couldn't work and couldn't vote?

But the big question is, "What does religion have to do with morality?" Take a look at all of the religious, churchgoing people who are in prison for all kinds of criminal and immoral acts. There is no correlation between morality and religion. Non-religious people are just as moral as anyone else. Anyone who thinks religion should be a part of government has not paid attention to history or current events.

Gloria R. Julius, St. Petersburg

Render unto Caesar …

Good grief! Fake quotes from George Washington to support the Community Issues Council's position? How about a real quote from Jesus: "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

These folks need to be reminded that the separation of church and state is fundamental to our Constitution. It is based on the First Amendment in both the antiestablishment and free exercise clauses, and was extensively debated and expressly approved by the very people inaccurately quoted by these wing-nuts.

As for Katherine Harris' assertion that "God is the one who chooses our rulers," we are a democracy and a republic. We choose our own "leaders." We haven't had a "ruler" since George III.

Thomas W. Carey, Esq., Clearwater

The unspoken agenda

Those who promote no separation of church and state are already free to worship and believe as they wish. Their agenda is to use the government to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us. Our Founding Fathers were wise enough to understand that free worship is vital to a free society. They did this even though they were mostly men of faith. I wonder if God had a hand in that?

Janet Graber, St. Petersburg

A shaky foundation

This story was about billboards with religious quotes from early American leaders. It said other billboards "carry the same message but with fictional attribution, as with one billboard citing George Washington for the quote, 'It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.'

" 'I don't believe there's a document in Washington's handwriting that has those words in that specific form,' Kemple said. 'However, if you look at Washington's quotes, including his farewell address, about the place of religion in the political sphere, there's no question he could have said those exact words.' "

Apparently misleading the public, many of whom will take these fictitious quotes as fact, is for the "Christian good." If you need to lie to get your point across, then you're standing on weak ground to begin with.

Darren Clauws, Tampa

Time to back Obama

The article notes that "Former Secretary of State Katherine Harris, while campaigning for the Senate in 2006, called separation of church and state a 'lie we have been told,' adding that 'God is the one who chooses our rulers.' "

Since God chose Barack Obama as our new leader, perhaps the Republicans and Christians should start showing their support, lest God bring down his wrath.

Michael Willett, Seminole

A cure for what ails us | July 19, story

Americans deserve to have a decent health care system

Thanks so much to the St. Petersburg Times for Sunday's front-page coverage of the most ignored and underreported topic in the U.S. health care debate, namely single-payer government-run health care. I hope Susan Taylor Martin's piece on Canada's version of single-payer is only the first in a series that covers in depth other examples of state- run systems in other industrialized countries.

Warts and all, single-payer systems are still far superior in outcome and efficiency to the U.S. non-health care system. It will be the political crime of the century if Congress doesn't pass a viable publicly financed and run health care system that will cover all uninsured and underinsured Americans.

Congressional testimony by Wendell Potter, former Aetna and Cigna executive, has broken open the dirty secrets of how the pressures from Wall Street have driven the medical-loss ratio of private insurance to below 80 percent. That means at least 20 percent of all of the health care premium dollars goes to overhead, investors and executive bonuses instead of paying for our health care.

Sunday's article starkly laid out the other major driver of our health care costs, the overhead born by our providers to deal with the complexity of 10 or 100 different payers (insurance companies). Personally I want 100 percent of my family's health care dollar, whether in the form of increased taxes or employer contributions, to go to my health care providers and not to a middleman's 401(k) or bonus.

It is completely asinine to continue to rely on a system that is more motivated to deny payment of our health care costs vs. providing for our care.

Ken Cooley, Tampa

A slanted approach

I felt after reading your piece on Canadian health care that your "facts" were heavily slanted toward influencing readers to adopt the same system. It was a complete and totally one-sided presentation.

If Canada is so great, why are so many patients and doctors coming to the United States to learn new techniques or to receive treatment that they could get back in Canada? Or even Britain for that matter? Could it be our doctors are more numerous and our system of medicine is better than theirs? Could it be that many Canadians and Britons have to wait months, even years, for treatment? It's something to ponder.

America was founded as a land of freedom, based upon the work principle. Equality of opportunity is what was offered, not equality in all circumstances.

The true lover of personal freedom embraces the idea of advancement and improvement through hard work and individual achievement, while the "statist" believes it's okay to confiscate and redistribute the fruits of another's labor to give to those who have not earned it by the sweat of their brow.

Joseph O'Neill, Safety Harbor

A cure for what ails us? | July 19

A sound model

Thank you for this article. It finally tells the truth about how really good Canadian health care is and explains that the problem does not lie with the plan but more so with its limited resources of doctors and nurses. The plan would work here in the United States and we should consider modeling our plan after theirs.

It would be worthwhile for a copy of the article to be sent to the president and every senator and congressman. Stop the lies about the Canadian system and begin to model a system for us after it. It works. Don't reinvent the wheel.

Lastly, maybe we need to look at a 2 percent increase in sales tax across the United States, and divide that between Medicare and a new health-care plan, which would simply solve how to pay for these programs. We certainly would not feel 2 cents on each dollar we spend.

Clarice Deslauriers, Port Richey

A cure for what ails us? | July 19, and Canada cares for homeless and saves | July 20

Fine articles

I found your two articles on Canada's health care and its comparison to ours of great interest. I have saved these copies to show some of my friends. Although Canada's health care may have some flaws, it clearly rises above our own, especially the fact that Canada's doctors make less money but need only one aide to take care of their paperwork and don't have to hire a staff of eight or 10.

The fact that every industrialized nation but ours has health care coverage is enough to make us wonder. I thank you for your fine articles.

Sergio Billy Delgado, Tampa

A lifesaver

How many of the readers who denigrate the British and Canadian health care systems have actually experienced them for extended periods?

Patients with deep pockets will always find their way to the many fine hospitals and doctors in the United States for specialized treatment. But for the average person, the much-maligned tax-supported care available in almost all countries is a lifesaver.

Why does virtually every industrialized nation operate some form of national health plan? Because it saves money, it saves lives, and the people love it!

Nick Hobart, New Port Richey

Key parts of health care overhaul | July 23

Excessive subsidies

I was shocked to see that both the House and Senate committee drafts of health care legislation include government subsidies for families of four making up to $88,200 per year.

What happened to government's goal of "helping only those truly in need"? That income level is solidly in the middle class, and we don't need anymore government waste or intrusion in our lives. Folks at that salary level, even those without company-paid health insurance, can still obtain affordable catastrophic / high-deductible coverage.

Many of us prefer to pay our own way, watch our diets and exercise regularly because it's the responsible thing to do. Holding one's hand out to the government, expecting your neighbors to pay your insurance bills, isn't.

Peter Ford, Tierra Verde

Republican scare tactics

Sunday's article about national health care was excellent, and I have concluded that a government health care system is not nearly as ominous as the health care industry and Republicans would have us believe. A higher sales tax such as in Canada to pay for health care is a small price to pay considering we would no longer be paying health insurance premiums or a deductible, let alone the entire bill for those who have no insurance.

As the Republicans have always sided with the big money of the health care industry, it is no surprise they are against the Democratic plans being presented. Their scare tactics are wearing thin, and by now many are seeing that the health care system needs to be changed if costs are to be prevented from dramatically increasing as they have for years.

Mike Angel, Valrico

Canada cares for homeless and saves July 20, story

More potential savings

This article states that Canada's homeless shelters are part of a program that is saving millions of dollars by keeping homeless drunks and drug addicts out of the hospital.

What a great idea! We work on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg and regularly see people passed out on the sidewalks. Many times they fall and injure themselves. This necessitates the police, EMTs and an ambulance showing up. The same people are carted off to the hospital over and over. One guy currently has three hospital "bracelets" on.

Wonder how much these trips are costing us?

B.J. Mitchell, St. Petersburg

Health care fight flares | July 21

Too Puritanical

The profit motive is behind all the fuss and furor against providing adequate medical care for all U.S. citizens. Too much of the information we get against universal health care is propaganda.

All other developed countries have medical care for all. We are still too Puritanical, that is, power-controlling organizations sit in judgment over others while self-aggrandizing, via profits.

Nadine Duke, Oldsmar

Inept government

I urge anyone who is anxious to have the government more in control of their health care to read the story Awaiting Answers on the front page of Tuesday's Tampa Bay section. It concerns a veteran who has been awaiting answers from the VA concerning a botched operation done by the VA in 2006. If the government treats one of our veterans by ignoring his concerns, what chance do the rest of us have?

Ed Finch, Palm Harbor

Neighbors find coyotes are wiley, yes, and moving in | July 21 story

Protect coyotes

My house in the Shore Acres area of St. Petersburg abuts a heavily wooded area. Around 7 a.m. about four to six weeks ago, my brother and I saw a coyote come out of the woods in our backyard and walk down the edge of the woods through other backyards also along the edge of the woods.

The first thing I wanted to do was shoot it — with my camera! We live in a state that has long been filled with wildlife until humans thought "they have more rights than animals do."

I find it hard to believe Jo Hastings wants to first blame her cat's disappearance on coyotes and not on the fact that she let the cat run free. I'll bet more cats are killed in a day by cars in the St. Petersburg area than a year's worth of coyote kills. If her cat was killed by a car, would she want to shoot the driver to avenge her cat's death?

With the ever-increasing encroachment by humans, coyotes will be seen more. Until I read about them jumping fences and killing animals or biting people, I will always feel they should, if anything, be more protected than they are now.

Jim McKechney, St. Petersburg

A cat problem

The problem with the coyotes eating the cats lies with the cat owners. For some reason they feel that they have inalienable rights to let their cats roam free. By law they don't.

If they would keep their cats in their homes two achievements would be realized: The cats would not be killed and their neighbors would appreciate not finding cats defecating in their yards, paw prints on their cars and cats yowling in the night.

Robert C. Freeland, Seminole

Our Constitution is a secular document 07/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 6:57pm]
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