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Letters Jul Dec 07

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Your July - December '07 Published Letters

From the December 31, 2007, edition of the Washington Examiner:

Alex Brown (letter, Dec 28) claims that "humanism", which he does  not define, "permeates the public schools". How could this be possible  when 85% of parents, taxpayers, teachers, administrators, and school  board members are Christians of one sort or another?

Mr Brown also ducks the fact that his state's (Virginia's)  constitution, thanks to Virginians Jefferson and Madison in the 18th  century, clearly prohibits any form of tax aid to faith-based schools.  If he doesn't like that wise prohibition, he should urge his  legislators to amend the state constitution, which of course they won't  because they know full well that the voters would defeat any such  measure, as they have in every state where the issue has been on the  ballot.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Md


From the December 26, 2007, edition of the Birmingham News:

Vouchers don't do any good

In evaluating the Cleveland, Ohio, 8-year-old voucher program, the Indiana   University Center for Evaluation found:

Public school students, on average, actually made larger academic  gains than students in the voucher program (although there is not a  statistically significant difference in academic achievement).

African-American students are underrepresented in the voucher  program, even though the program was promoted as a way to help  low-income and minority students.

Students who leave the voucher program have, on average, the lowest  test scores of any students in the study. (It was not determined if  these students left the program voluntarily or were dismissed by the  private schools.)

This study, which was requested by the city of Cleveland, identified no   academic benefit from vouchers.

A Jan. 28, 2006, article in The New York Times reported: "A  large-scale, government-financed study has concluded that when it comes  to math, students in regular public schools do as well as or  significantly better than comparable students in private schools."

The clandestine method of subsidizing religion known as "school  vouchers" has not been a worthwhile method of improving academic  performance.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the December 17, 2007, edition of the Nation:

Re: 'The New Atheists'

We need to differentiate between strident 'atheist fundamentalists',  who attack all religion, and humanists, who see religion as varied and  are eager to work with moderate and progressive Catholics, Protestants,  Jews and others with whom they share many values and concerns, such as  saving our nation and our planet from the myriad threats facing us.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Md


From the December 14, 2007, edition of the TimesDaily:

How to avoid atheists

In her Dec. 7 letter, "Beware of book," Kathy Momic tells us that children should be protected against atheism.

She probably isn't acquainted with an atheist but "knows" that  atheists are possessed by the devil, don't know right from wrong and  don't believe in anything.

There are certain precautions she can take to protect herself and her children from these agents of Lucifer.

She could join an organization that does not admit atheists, e.g.,  the Ku Klux Klan, the Mafia, Christian militia groups. She could join a  God-fearing terrorist group that blows up abortion clinics and  high-rise buildings (Oklahoma City, World Trade Center); or she could  restrict her friends to those spewing venomous hate upon individuals  the Bible says should be put to death, e.g., non-believers and  homosexuals.

To be on the safe side, there are havens of atheism that she should  avoid: Ivy League universities; the Nobel laureate laden National  Academy of Sciences; organizations concerned with the environment or  civil rights; and Scandinavia, where the percentage of atheists is at  least three times that of the United States.

She should stay in the Bible Belt with the highest religiosity (and highest violent crime rate) in the country.

The absurdity of religious myopia was exemplified after the 1997  school shootings in Paducha, Ky. In defense of the young killer who  somebody called "godless," his pastor at the Lutheran Church said,  "Michael Carnael is a Christian. He's a sinner, yes, but not an  atheist."

I wonder if that made his victims less dead or the crime less wrong.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the December 11, 2007, edition of the Idaho Statesman:

BEOWULF: Tale offers a metaphorfor modern struggles

The movie "Beowulf" reminds us of that first true masterpiece in  English literature. For those of northern European ancestry, Beowulf is  all that is left of our Genesis. The epic describes a time before  Mediterranean missionaries arrived with their alien mystery religion  about some mythical pagan vegetable deity who died and rose again.

Reaching across more than a millennium, "Beowulf " speaks to us  today as an allegory for what afflicts our great nation. Just as  "Beowulf" had to contend with the twin demons Grendel and Grendel's  mother, so America is contending with the twin demons Bush and Cheney.

Like Beowulf, America will smite the Bush-Cheney demons next year  when it rises up in righteous anger at the deceitful, treacherous,  murderous usurpers who have brought so much misery to the world.

Sadly, just as in the "Beowulf" epic, there is another, more  insidious monster waiting to confront us. Like the fire-breathing  dragon that attacked "Beowulf," the angry Christian right is assaulting  America with its venomous lies. Will America fall prey to the religious  Reich or is there some Wiglaf who will end the religious war of terror  that has been launched by angry, unemployable televangelists and their  local lackeys?

GARY L. BENNETT, Emmett


From the December 10, 2007, edition of the Tuscaloosa News:

God should not be proselytized

Dear Editor: Pastor Dan Williams asks, 'If there is no God, what is  he [Blair Scott] worried about the students being proselytized to?'  [letters, 12/05/07]. I ask the pastor if he would tolerate  proselytizing for Allah in classrooms. Alternatively, does he believe  Allah has equal standing with his God? Proselytizing about God is  hardly proselytizing about nothing, as he spins it. This is an attempt  to use public schools to influence students to believe in the  Judeo-Christian god described in the Bible and to promote Christianity.

Pastor Williams states. 'If God is nothing, then the Bible  speaks to nothing and points to nothing and nobody.' The Bible  originally spoke to the people who created the Bible, the Hebrews. It  spoke to them about there culture, beliefs and their god, as well as  other gods. This book can be a source of knowledge of a Semitic culture  just as the Qur'an, the Iliad and Norse mythology can be a source of  knowledge about other cultures and their superstitions.

Of course, Pastor Williams is really saying that a person who does  not believe in God doesn't believe in anything and has a life of  emptiness. This is pure nonsense. I want to know, not just believe. As  soon as a proposition is supported by credible evidence, I accept it as  fact. My mind is filled with evidence-supported beliefs. To me, there  is nothing more rewarding, fulfilling and valuable than knowledge.  Belief without evidence is meaningless.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the December 10, 2007, edition of the Washington Examiner:

Nonbelievers deserve their own holiday film

Examiner Columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon bemoans the humanist themes in  the book and film "The Golden Compass" by Philip Pullman. Yet her  harangue appears as ignorant and intolerant as the boycott and protests  by the Catholic League.

Pullman is not a "militant atheist," but philosophically an  agnostic who prefers to avoid labels. And he has said that the  religious impulse "is a critical part of the wonder and awe that human  beings feel."

As for the film, which my family and I saw and enjoyed, it is really  against intolerance and tyranny whether religious or otherwise - and  reaffirms such values as kindness, intellectual curiosity and courage.  Does Ms. Gurdon believe that those messages are wrong just because they  come from a non-Christian author during the holidays?

Please understand that those of us with different ideas enjoy books  and films, have children and celebrate the holidays, too. Can't we have  a holiday film as well?

Fred Edwords
Director of Communications
American Humanist Association
Washington


From the December 6, 2007, edition of the Montgomery Advertiser:

Look what secular minds produced

Kirk Wood should back up his disdain for secular humanists by  boycotting the products of their secular minds. The fruits of quantum  mechanics are: X-rays, CT scans, MRI scanners, ultrasound, laser  surgery, radiotherapy and cyclotron beams for cancer treatment,  transistors, microwaves and optical fibers. The giants of quantum  mechanics have also been the giants of secularism.

Albert Einstein -- awarded the Nobel Prize for his explanation of  the photoelectric effect. On March 24, 1954, Einstein answered a letter  as follows: "It was, or course, a lie what you read about my religious  convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not  believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have  expressed it clearly."

Steven Weinberg -- shared the Nobel Prize for contributing to the  unification of the weak and electromagnetic forces in a single theory.  He stated, "One of the great achievements of science has been, if not  to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at  least to make it possible for them not to be religious."

Richard P. Feynman -- won the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on  quantum electrodynamics. Feynman said, "There is definitely a conflict,  I believe -- both in fact and in spirit -- over the metaphysical  aspects of religion."

Murray Gell-Mann -- received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of  the quark and other elementary particles. He was Humanist of the Year  of the American Humanist Association for 2005.

I wonder why they haven't believed in God -- stupidity or evilness?

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the November 18, 2007, edition of the Utica Observer-Dispatch:

'Anti-Catholic' movie grossly exaggerated

The Catholic League recently called for a boycott of "The Golden  Compass", a movie based on the first of three children’s fantasy books  by Philip Pullman. The author, an open atheist, is accused of trying to  “sell atheism to kids” and “bash Catholicism.”

This boycott is grossly exaggerated and severely misinformed.

The Catholic League says that atheism is “fueled by hate,” further  spreading the prejudiced connotation. Sweeping statements like this are  made throughout this campaign and reveal their intolerance of free  thought and demonization of intellectual curiosity.

At the very least, the protesters must concede that the good and bad  happen with and without the backing of religion. We should teach our  children to embrace stories for the lessons they teach, not for who’s  teaching them. I think that the Catholic League’s time would be better  spent protesting the moral inadequacies within their own church.

Adam C. LaMonica


From the November 17, 2007, edition of the Anniston Star:

Reliance on prayer

Writer Stephen Wade states, "We need to put prayer back in school.  It will teach them to rely on God more than the gun." Unfortunately,  because relying on God has proved to be an exercise in futility, we  have been forced to rely on the gun at times. People have been praying  for peace for centuries, and for centuries armed conflict has shaped  human history. God either thrives on human carnage, is deaf and blind,  doesn.t give a darn or doesn't exist. Those who "rely on God' and call  for prayer tell us that God is the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient  one who loves us dearly. If so, do we really have to clue God in, and  then beg him to keep multitudes of innocent people from being mutilated  and destroyed? Students should learn to take responsibility for their  own actions and spend more time learning about and understanding  worldly events. They then would be better able to solve their own and  the world's problems. We are not in a position to enjoy the luxury of  simplistic solutions. e.g., prayer. Teaching schoolchildren to "rely on  God" does them a disservice.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the November 13, 2007, edition of the Montgomery Advertiser:

'Bible contains contradictions'

Gary Hardin is still waiting to see a biblical error. Each of the  following pairs of biblical contradictions must contain an erroneous  statement:

Our planet is eternal: "The earth abideth forever." (Ecclesiastes  1:4) It is doomed to extinction: "The elements shall melt with fervent  heat, the earth also and works that are therein shall be burned up,"  (II Peter 3:10)

God is visible: "And the Lord appeared unto him." (Genesis 26:2); or invisible: "No man hath seen God at any time," (John 1:18).

God is all-powerful: "For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,"  (Revelations 19:6). He is not stronger than iron: "but could not drive  out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron,"  (Judges 1:19).

The Lord said, "I am the Lord, I change not." (Malachi 3:6) However,  he is not above seeing the folly of his ways and changing: "And the  Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."  (Exodus 32:14)

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the November 11, 2007, edition of the Tuscaloosa News:

'Bible full of immoral acts'

Dear Editor: If 'The Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of  Almighty God,' we need a new god. Here is a small sampling of the  immoral, unethical and violent acts condoned and sometimes promoted by  God and His Bible.

Adultery: Biblical hero Abraham impregnates his wife's servant.

Animal cruelty: Jesus sends 2,000 pigs plunging into the sea where they choke to death.

Anti-family values: Jesus proclaims, 'For I am come to set man against his father, and daughter against her mother ... '

Bigamy: Biblical hero Solomon possessed 700 wives.

Bigotry: God gives Moses the commandment to put all homosexuals to death.

Cannibalism: 'This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat  him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow. So we boiled my son, and  did eat him.'

Child abuse: 'Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against stones.'

Deceit: Biblical hero King David befriends Uriah and then has him killed so he can have Uriah's wife.

Incest: Lot's daughters get their father drunk and both get pregnant by him.

Intolerance, egomania and cruel mindedness: 'He that believeth not shall be damned.'

Slavery: Bible gives rules concerning a slave's obedience to his owner.

Violence: 'And we took all his cities and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones.'

Woman abuse: Biblical hero Moses dictates. 'But all the woman  children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for  yourselves.'

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the October 29, 2007, edition of the Washington Times:

'Overpopulation leads to violence'

Georgie Anne Geyer was squarely on target in her column "Al's  peaceful planet" (Oct 25). Al Gore's film and book "An Inconcenient  Truth" certainly earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Geyer rightly points out that overpopulation and resource  depletion pose serious threats to peace. Interestingly, this was the  conclusion of an important report approved by President Gerald Ford in  1974, the National Security Study Memorandum 200, which was  mysteriously marked "classified"  and deep-sixed until almost the eve of the 1994 UN population  conference in Cairo. The NSSM 200 report, which few people seem to know  about, showed that overpopulation causes political instability and  leads to violence, such as the Rwanda massacre.

The  report recommended immediate steps to make family planning information  and wherewithal universally available. Unfortunately, though the report  was approved by a Republican president, the Reagan and Bush I and II  administrations not only did nothing about it but they did all they  could to see that nothing got done.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, MD


From the October 7, 2007, edition of the Boston Globe:

'Rejecting religion'

As a humanist, I found "The Nonbelievers" to be a refreshingly objective and  inspiring article. As for the temporary differences of opinion reported in  the larger community of reason, I fully expect Harvard University's  effective expression of humanism to overcome them. After all, people who  identify themselves as atheists, agnostics, humanists, and others are all in  essential agreement. Every one of us has experienced the feeling of  liberation that comes when a nontheistic outlook frees us from myth and  dogma.

Roy Speckhardt
Executive Director
American Humanist Association
Washington, D.C.


From the October 5, 2007, edition of the National Catholic Reporter:

'Spain's Catholics'

Re Mary Ann Cejka's article "Defending the faith" (Sept 14), the  question needs to be asked: Why in a traditionally solidly Catholic country  like Spain did most Spaniards side with the secular-trending elected  Republican government and feel animosity toward the church while church  officials sided with Franco's rebels and the Nazis and Italian fascists?

In the first free elections after Franco's death the distribution of  votes from left to right was just about the same as in the Spanish elections  of early 1936.

When I was in Spain in late 1981 I was pleased to hear that the cardinal  primate of Toledo apologized publicly for the Church's support for Franco  and declared that it would not be a sin to vote for the Socialist Workers  Party, which won.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, MD


From the October 2, 2007, edition of Christian Century:

"Advice to atheists ... "

Marty Marty's "Atheism redux" (July 24) was right on target. Those who  loudly proclaim their atheism from the rooftops seem to spend all their  effort denouncing all religion, while failing to differentiate between  militant fundamentalism and the mainstream, -- and who seldom offer positive  alternatives or express interest in working with the religious mainstream to  promote such common values as social justice, peace, saving the environment,  civil liberties, religious freedom and democracy -- should all read Marty's  good-natured essay and "get a life".

Ben Franklin's advice is as sound now as it was over two centuries ago:  "We should then cease to reproach each other with what was done by our  ancestors, but judge the present character of sects or churches by their  present conduct only".

Edd Doerr
Immediate past president, American Humanist Association
Silver Spring, MD  20916


From the September 25, 2007, edition of the Nation:

Re "Big Brother Democracy"

Naomi Klein brings up some excellent points about how the heads of  the states that make up North America believe that allowing protestors  to be "seen and heard" from behind barbed wire while our leaders dine  at the Chateau Montebello with the CEOs of Chevron, Ford, Lockheed  Martin, and Wal-Mart--all who are on Global Exchange's 2005 list of  worst corporations--is actually an acceptable.

I recently authored an article for The Humanist magazine  titled "The Security and Prosperity Partnership Summit, Are Our Leaders  Undermining Democracy?" In it I wrote, "Imagine how we would shake our  heads in pity if we were to read about the heads of state of three  developing countries barricaded in a luxury villa with the wealthy  ruling class elite while the people protested behind the barbed wire.  "If only they could live in a democracy," we would say with a regretful  sigh."

I wish I had been creative enough to refer to it as the "Big Brother  Democracy" it is. The mainstream media (except for Agence France  Presse) has done little more than regurgitate the official press  releases on the summit, so thank you, Ms. Klein and The Nation, for  taking a critical look at what's happening.

Edward Johnson
American Humanist Association
Washington, DC


From the September 16, 2007, edition of the Anniston Star:

Re "Dancing to our DNA"

In an earlier letter, I did not say, "If there is a God, how could  he allow such evil to exist?" I said that I could not revere the cruel,  capricious, vindictive and irrational Judeo-Christian God.

As to moral laws and a moral lawgiver, Plato effectively addressed  this issue more than 2,300 years ago. Socrates asked if a behavior is  good because the gods declare it to be good or because the behavior is  good. If the former, then morality is arbitrarily determined by  capricious gods. If the latter, then a behavior is objectively good and  humans can know right from wrong using the power of reason without a  divine lawgiver.

Reason tells us to protect the well-being of children with laws  against child abuse. God's laws advocate child abuse. "Stubborn and  rebellious sons are to be stoned by the men of the city until they  die." Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

The Golden Rule puts the onus for responsible behavior on the  individual. Exercising reason, you treat others as you want to be  treated. The individual is the moral arbiter, not God. Atheists have no  problem determining right and wrong. Reason does not "self-destruct."

DAVID N. MILES
Orange Beach


From the September 13, 2007, edition of the Montgomery Adviser:

Would omnipotent God need government?

I find it astonishing that Frank Hardy has so little confidence in  his God -- a God purported to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent  and all-merciful.

It is hard to imagine that a being with the above qualities would  merely put his tail between his legs and skulk away when he and his  followers are challenged by the ACLU.

Does God really need the government to ensure that he is  acknowledged? If God's will can be undermined by "a plot afoot today to  hamper and to discourage those who are Christians," I fail to see how  he can meaningfully bless America or protect us from the power of Satan.

If, in fact, God is losing the battle against the ACLU, I can only  conclude that God is devoid of any real power or does not know or care  what is happening on Earth.

However, if I were a devout Christian, I would prefer to believe  that God is concerned with the well-being of all humankind and is not  obsessed with having his ego stroked with conspicuous prayers and  symbols in the public arena.

Possibly, as our deist founding fathers believed when they omitted  God from the Constitution, God does not interfere in the affairs of  man. Maybe God has confidence that the creatures he endowed with  intelligence can follow a path of righteousness by eschewing  superstition and embracing the power of reason.

Thank you, ACLU, for protecting my freedoms from the will of the religious majority.

DAVID N. MILES
Orange Beach


From the September 11, 2007, edition of the Idaho Statesman:

Letter of the Day: So much misery is the result of religion

Today, Sept. 11, marks the anniversary of one of the most perfidious attacks on American citizens.

This was the infamous 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, which has been  described by historians as the worst Indian massacre in American  history - except that it wasn't committed by Indians, it was committed  by ordinary Euro-Americans in a frenzy of religious madness working  under the orders of a deluded, self-styled man of faith.

Fast forward 144 years to 2001 and once again innocent Americans  were murdered by religiously inspired zealots working under the orders  of a deluded, self-styled man of faith.

How can so much misery be the result of religion?

First, one must realize that all religions require their adherents  to turn off their minds. This makes them more easily susceptible to  control by their power-hungry clergy. The Abrahamaic religions go one  step further by commanding that there be no other gods.

From this commandment, as Thomas Jefferson so poignantly wrote,  "Millions of innocent men, women, and children . have been burnt,  tortured, fined, imprisoned."

Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg has concluded that all it takes for  good people to do bad things is religion. Now you know why these  atrocities occurred.

Gary Bennett, Emmett


From the September 10, 2007, edition of the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch:

'Humanism is rich, positive philosophy'

The August 31 Faith & Values article "Against the tide" dealt mainly  with the negative side of humanism and atheism. Humanism is a positive  philosophy or "lifestance" that places the highest importance on reason,  science, compassion, democracy, freedom, and ethics. Humanists share many  values with progressive Catholics, Protestants, Jews and others concerned  with the problems that face all of us, such as global warming, resource  depletion, deforestation, desertification, the growing gap between the  superrich and the rest of us, racism, sexism, xenophobia, deficits in social  justice, civil liberties and democracy. Naturalistic humanism has a rich  positive tradition, while atheism deals only with the absence of belief in a  deity. Journalists and others need to make this distinction more clear.

Edd Doerr
Immediate past president
American Humanism Association
Silver Spring, MD


From the September 9, 2007 issue of the Pensacola News Journal:

'Pray for peace'

During  times of armed conflict there is a crescendo of calls for prayers for  peace. But just what, pray tell, is the causal connection between  prayer and peace?

Individuals and clergy have been praying for peace for  centuries, and for centuries armed conflict has shaped human history.  Either God thrives on human carnage, is deaf and blind, doesn't give a  darn or does not exist.

Those who call for prayer tell us that God is the omnipotent,  omnipresent, omniscient one who loves us dearly. If so, do we really  have to clue God in and then beg him to keep thousands of innocent  people from being mutilated and destroyed?

We cannot rely on simplistic solutions to geopolitical problems. We  must spend more time learning about and understanding world conditions,  and less time attempting to get a free ride from ineffectual deity.

Instead of praying, resort to reason and demand that our leaders do  the same. Divine inspiration has led the president, and hence our  nation, into and not out of turbulent times.

There are Americans with exceptional powers of reason; these are the  people we need in positions of authority. A superstitious leader  engaging in mysticism will surely fail to preserve America's peace and  prosperity.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach, Ala.


From the August 31, 2007 issue of the National Catholic Reporter.:

'Christopher Hitchens'

Christopher Hitchens and I had a half hour "conversation" on July 12 on  the syndicated "Interfaith Voices" radio program hosted by Sr Maureen  Fiedler of the Quixote Center.

My problem with Hitchens is not so much with what he doesn't believe as  with his blanket, uncritical assault on all religion, progressive as well as  fundamentalist/extremist, and his failure to offer any positive alternative.  We are all believers in some things and disbelievers in whatever conflicts  with what we do believe. In a pluralistic society and world beset by serious  problems (global warming, resource depletion, deforestation,  desertification, the growing gap between the superrich and everyone else,  racism, xenophobia, deficits in social justice, civil liberties and  democracy, etc) it is imperative that progressive Catholics, Protestants,  Jews, humanists, Muslims, Hindues, and others work together to the maximum  possible extent to promote the many values we share.

Ben Franklin got it right over two centuries ago when he wrote, "We  should then cease to reproach each other with what was done by our  ancestors, but judge the present character of sects or churches by their  present conduct only".

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Md.


From the August 27, 2007 issue of the Washington Examiner.:

'Congress has low ratings because it's not doing much'

Congress' approval rating is dropping mainly because congressional  Democrats have shown too little interest in doing anything about the Bush  administration's serious damage to our country's economy, civil liberties,  the global warming and energy crisis, national security, armed forces,  international image, women's rights, separation of powers, the federal  judiciary, etc., not to mention the disastrous Iraq war and the neglect in  cleaning up Afghanistan and Al Queda. If the Dems want to win the White  House next year and expand their majority in Congress, they are going to  have to show some results, and sooner rather than later.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Md.


From the August 22, 2007 issue of the New York Times.:

Do You Say "Atheist"? (Re: "I Say 'Atheist,' for Several Good Reasons" HNN Aug. 22, 2007)

Not only did Bobby Kirkhart make a well-reasoned argument in favor of  self-identifying as an atheist, she also pointed out the downside of debates  over which nontheist words are bad for our community. The only thing related  to how we identify that may harm our community is the tendency of some to  attack their allies over how they've chosen to self-identify.

Once members of the general public understand who we are and what we really  believe and don't believe, they tend to lump us together in much the same  way black and gays continue to be stereotyped. If we use our energies to  further separate ourselves and divide the tiny number of us who are "out"  about our minority view, we do more harm than just waste our time, for such  internal battles squander the opportunity before us. With our profile raised  like never before and our leaders cooperating like never before, it's time  set aside divisiveness and start changing people's minds about the  respectability of our common convictions.

Roy Speckhardt, Washington, DC
American Humanist Association


From the August 22, 2007 issue of the New York Times.:

'Graduating From the Electoral College'

Your [Aug 22] editorial on the Electoral College was right on target.  Proportioning the Electoral College would be fair only if all states were  required to do so, and in the same way.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Md.


From the August 16, 2007 issue of the Austin American-Statesman.:

Abortion, immigration

Former  U. S. Rep. Tom DeLay last month told a college Republican audience that  there is a link between legal abortion in the United States and illegal  immigration. Yes, but not the way he thinks.

In the real world, illegal immigration to the United States  from Mexico and Central America is because of overpopulation in that  area, largely because of the scarcity of family planning, education and  wherewithal. Plus, abortion is illegal in most of those countries.

If family planning and abortion were legal south of the border, there would be a lot less illegal immigration.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Md.


From The Nation magazine online Web Letters, Editor's Pick section on August 16, 2007 :

Re: The Gay Presidential Debate by E.J. Graff

I realize that E.J. Graff apparently slept through part of the Gay  Presidential Debate she nonetheless decided to write about (it was  nearing 11, past my bedtime, so I won't be able to give you details),  but has she slept through the first part of the twenty-first-century as  well? It’s insulting to the LGBTQ community to demean the issues of  civil liberties that we care so deeply about and say, “these are [not]  the most important issues of the day” and "Please, let them talk about  something besides marriage." They are important to me, and I am not at  all grateful that most of the candidates danced and ducked the  questions with a “big wink and nod.”

Her tasteless  dismissal of Dennis Kucinich as a “pixie,” when he was the one and only  candidate in the debate to unequivocally support the rights of everyone  in the LGBTQ community, is offensive to everyone who has worked, often  at their own peril, to bring these issues to a public forum. We are  past the point where we have to settle for the “elect-able candidate.”  We got Don’t Ask Don’t Tell the last time we did that, a mistake we  don’t have to make again.

The recent Community Marketing  Inc. survey found that 92.5 percent of gay men and 91 percent of  lesbians voted in the 2004 presidential race--9 out of 122 million.  More than enough to make our collective voice, especially in a  democratic primary, one to listen to. It’s way past time to acquiesce  to "not ready for marriage" or “let the States decide” from the  candidates. I can, and will, ask for the rights I deserve, while Ms.  Graff naps through the most meaningful period in LGBTQ history.

Ed Johnson
American Humanist Association
Washington, DC


From the July 26, 2007 issue of the Montgomery Advertiser:

Letter insulted non-believers

Gene  Dismukes' recent letter, "Atheists cry out for help as well," was both  nonsensical and insulting. In the situation described, a person of  reason would be concentrating on extracting themselves from the  dangerous situation and would not waste precious moments attempting to  communicate with a deity.

Those of faith just can't fathom the fact that individuals who  reject mysticism and supernaturalism and embrace reason and science  will not flip-flop at a moment of personal crisis. Of course, it is  during a crisis when real solutions are essential; and our belief in  reason and science is reinforced and relied upon -- not reduced or  rejected.

When diagnosed with "life-threatening" cancer 21 years ago, I  eschewed prayer and the clergy, placing my faith in medical science and  its practitioners. Miraculously, after radiation and chemotherapy the  tumor disappeared.

If religious faith helps a person through a crisis, that is  wonderful. But don't insult those of us who choose reason as a guiding  force by stating that we will give it up in favor of reliance on divine  help when the going gets tough. That is the equivalent of saying you  will lose your faith in God after enduring a personal tragedy.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the July/August 2007 issue of Liberty (published by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church:

'Devastating'

Todd McFarland ("My Country-Sweet Land," March/April) completely  devastates Eric Lipman's crabbed view of religious liberty and the meaning  of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. As Madison biographer and historian  Irving Brant shows in his book The Bill of Rights, the authors of the  Fourteenth Amendment very clearly intended to make the Bill of Rights  applicable to state and local government and the Congress that approved the  Fourteenth shared that understanding. Unfortunately, it took many years for  the Supreme Court to get the message and start to gradually bring the  Fourteenth to life.

Justice Rehnquist's peculiar stance on the First and Fourteenth  Amendments was ahistorical and simply wrong.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Maryland


From the July 19, 2007, edition of the Washington Examiner:

"Bush administration's failures vastly outweigh its accomplishments'

Matt Lewis (Opinion Roundup, July 17) asks, "Why is Bush unpopular  despite [his]accomplishments?" The answer is simple.

The Bush/Cheney administration got the US into an unnecessary war, built  on lies, that has killed 3,600 US troops, wounded 50,000 more, alienated our  allies, strengthened our enemies, weakened our security, fractured our armed  forces, worsened the mess in Afghanistan, cost US taxpayers hundreds of  billions of dollars, and failed to catch Osama bin Laden.

Further, this administration, the most corrupt and incompetent in our  history, has mishandled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, overseen the  widening of the gap between the superrich and the rest of us, taken  government to new levels of unnecessary secrecy, undermined the rule of law  and civil liberties, ignored the climate and health care crises, promoted  theocratic government, done nothing to prevent the outflow of jobs to other  countries, and embarrassed our nation before the whole world.

Finally, the media have not done their job of adequately exposing all of  these "accomplishments".

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, MD


From the July 10, 2007, edition of the Tuscaloosa News:

Religion used as a political weapon

Larry Logan [letters, July 9] urges us "to vote for a new president  of the United States in 2008 who is truly Christian and always stands  up for God." He is part of a segment of the population that is  convinced we have a choice between a God-fearing Christian and a member  of a political party that dishonors and mocks God by advocating  individual liberties. They feel that no other issues are worthy of  consideration.

The strategy of the Republican Party and Religious Right to use  religion as a political weapon is not new. It almost worked in the  acrimonious campaign of 1800. The religious attack upon Thomas  Jefferson may have been even more irrational and venomous than the  campaign against John Kerry and the strategy we may see in 2008.

One Federalist writer declared that voters had a clear choice: "God  -- And a religious president ... [or] Jefferson -- And no God."  Fortunately for all of us today, the man who placed reason above divine  revelation and who advocated reliance on human solutions for human  problems continued his invaluable public service as our nations third  president.

In 2004 we had a choice -- a choice between presidential decisions  based on reason that would benefit the body politic and presidential  decisions based on personal religious beliefs that pandered to  religious zealots. Now look at the mess we are in. "Standing up for  God" (who apparently Logan feels cannot stand up for himself) doesn't  qualify one as an effective leader. It's time to return to reason.

DAVID N. MILES
Orange Beach


From the July 1, 2007, edition of the Birmingham News:

Evolutionary process ongoing

Evolution suffers from the misconception that it is only a theory  and doesn't have practical applications. This, of course, is nothing  more than a rallying cry from fundamentalist preachers.

The public should understand that the Darwinian process of natural  selection continues up to this moment and has important significance  for medical science. Disease-producing agents, known as pathogens, are  evolving and pose a medical threat. The process of natural selection  has amplified mutant strains of pathogens. Once-effective antibiotics  have lost their potency against these disease-causing microorganisms;  an example is tuberculosis.

Microorganisms are not alone in this rapid evolutionary process.  Many species of insects and agricultural pests have evolved tolerance  to pesticides through natural selection, and even rats are developing a  resistance to poison.

By understanding and incorporating the evolutionary process of  natural selection, scientists are taking measures to stem the  resurgence of deadly diseases. I ask fundamentalists if the Bible can  provide us with the knowledge to defend against mutant strains of  disease-causing organisms.

Science is a dialectical process that continually advances through  trial and error. Beliefs that are etched in stone ultimately fall  victim to enlightenment and lose their credibility.

DAVID N. MILES
Orange Beach

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