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Natural beauty being scarred

Re: Putting trends to work, story, March 8.

The article spoke of up to 33 new home developers moving into northern Pinellas and Pasco counties. It expressed the love of the "sparkle of morning light on the Gulf of Mexico" and admiration of a "stand of live oaks draped with Spanish moss." The article also indicated that "concrete and drywall, insulation, shingles, nails and wiring make a house." However, "these priceless natural gifts all around us make this area home."

We are, or were, snowbirds and fell in love with the area. In fact, we purchased a home site with US Homes located in Oldsmar. The reason we were so impressed and decided to purchase was that our property had a beautiful old Spanish oak tree on or right in front of our land. Unfortunately, we just found out that the oak tree was torn down. Needless to say, we were both grief-stricken, as we felt we participated in the death of this beautiful old oak tree. The tree was not diseased, as we have pictures and video of the tree taken less than a month ago.

We spoke with a representative from the city of Oldsmar and she confirmed that indeed US Homes destroyed the tree. We asked how this could happen, as the Spanish oak is a protected tree. She replied that "US Homes can pretty much do as they please, as they are a land developer."

It's too late for the tree we fell in love with, but we plead with your readers who may purchase property with land developers to insist on leaving the older trees standing tall and proud around the communities they are about to build.

In addition, our elected officials must be held accountable for the preservation of our unique Florida environment. We left the concrete jungles and white blizzards of Chicago to enjoy the natural beauty and white sand of Pinellas County. However, it seems as though we will not be able to escape the uncaring or unconcerned mindsets of developers who equate progress with the large-scale destruction of our natural resources.

Monica and Jim Merhalski, Largo

Prayer not government's problem

I am still in a quandary regarding our commissioner, Tom Osborne. He apparently has not enough to do but to start trouble. His mission in life must be to just be an agitator. Reference the remarks at the March 6 commission meeting when he said people might be offended by the invocation at the beginning of each meeting. Who? I would like to ask. Why don't those who do not want to hear the prayer just stay home? Perhaps they could just stand in the foyer or go outside during this time. It doesn't really last too long. John Hubbard says the prayer as quickly as humanly possible.

It appears that this commissioner has a big problem. It took one person to remove prayer from school, and we all know what has happened to the schools. Why this aversion to prayer? He can stay in the back room if he needs to so he won't be offended.

This is where things get started, removed and never to return. I do hope the rest of the commissioners just disregard this inane idea. With all the problems in the city, state and country, we should have more prayer. Perhaps that's what's missing in our lives.

Geale H. Miller, Dunedin

U.S. not founded under a god

Re: Osborne should listen to prayer, not ban it, letter, March 17.

The letter writer has been totally misinformed regarding the subject of religion. Our nation was not founded under any god, as most of the founding fathers were deists. Even Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to the Danbury Baptists explaining that our Constitution was intended to ensure a wall of separation between church and state.

The words "In God We Trust" were not originally on our currency but were added later as a result of pressure by Christians whose peculiar morality permitted them to ignore the law of the Constitution in order to get some free advertising.

In the Bible (book of Matthew), Jesus instructs the people to pray by going into their room in private and shutting the door, not to be like the hypocrites who love to be seen praying in public. Christians who teach otherwise are defiant hypocrites to their own professed belief system.

Instead of being in a "decline," our society has made great improvements from the enslavement of blacks, the subjugation of women, burning of "witches," the near-annihilation of the American Indians, forced segregation, etc. Anyone who considers our current status a "decline" apparently approves of our horrendous historical past with its multitude of human rights violations, all committed under the banner of religion (particularly Christianity).

We should all deplore the intrusion of religion in tax-supported institutions. I would never attempt to force my views on anyone, and I resent those people who would impose their religious beliefs on me (especially in places supported by tax revenue).

Hal East, Clearwater

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