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This wall does not need a bridge

There has been a lot of talk recently about religious freedom. As Malory Nye, University of Stirling, Scotland, wrote: "Religious freedom is a concept that receives more notice when it is violated than when it is observed."

Our religious freedom is being violated, mostly by well-meaning Christians. The First Amendment of the American Constitution allows the free exercise of religion. It is a moral and legal right for individuals to freely practice the religion of their choice. Such are our rights as long as our actions do not infringe on the rights of others.

This principle has evolved out of the experiences of the past. The State should not favor any one religion and the Church should not expect special treatment. The Church is a spiritual, not political, influence on local and national government.

The government is supported by all the people through taxation and such tax dollars are not to be used in any way to support religious projects. For example, Church tithes and offerings support church and religious projects. Tax dollars support public schools. It is clear as day. This is sometimes called the "wall of separation between church and state."

Today there is a growing attempt to circumvent this accepted practice. A few outspoken, though uninformed, people would like to turn the "wall" into a "bridge." These misguided citizens doubt the importance of keeping church and state separate.

Such voters are showing this in promoting "vouchers" for parents of children in public schools to switch to a church school. The parents then pay the church school with my tax dollars to educate their child. Giving parents vouchers to use where they like is the same as giving the money directly from the government to the church school.

Texas Governor George W. Bush and his advisors are certainly among the ill-informed on this subject. He told a California political rally that if a public school fails, then stop throwing good money after bad. Taking tax monies away from public schools leads to more problems. The public schools have enough problems as it is without having their own budgets slashed because some parents and politicians want a quick fix to the problem of education. Americans tend to speed on freeways and bridges. Stop at the wall and consider the importance of the principle.

Governor Bush's brother, the governor of Florida, has already gone into action to kill the public school system there. Rather than trying to improve the public schools, his actions will bring on a lingering death to the public school system as we know it. You would think as well-educated as these Christian governors are they could figure out more creative ways to help today's children get an education.

I was amazed to read Gene Deason's column a few weeks ago that 53 percent of Brown County residents were church members and only 25 percent of them attend church regularly. I don't think the 47 percent non-church members or the 75 percent of non-attending members want their tax dollars to be used for church schools.

When informed of the true situation church members and non-church members will quickly see the value of the "wall" over the "bridge" in this instance. They will probably go along with what Jesus said so long ago: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21) -- Oct. 8, 1999


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