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Letters to the Editors

Group kicked out of library undermines our society

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 9, 2002

Re: Tarpon library wants to oust meetings, story, Nov. 27.

Some would say that the Americans United for Separation of Church and State was treated unfairly by the Tarpon Springs Library Board's decision to remove the group's meeting room privilege.

The AU is a political organization. What else would you call a group trying to undermine our Constitution by claiming it separates church from state? No such thing! It merely prohibits the establishment of a national church (the reason our founding fathers left Europe in the first place) and guarantees freedom (not separation) of religion. The only thing they have proven is that if you tell your story loudly and long enough, people will begin to believe it -- even members of the media and judiciary, who certainly should know better.

The phrase "separation of church and state" comes not from the Constitution but a metaphor in a private letter of Thomas Jefferson. As president, Jefferson held church services in the Capitol and had the Marine Band over to provide music. Does that sound like separation? But some years back the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, abetted by the American Civil Liberties Union, started this separation theory.

This irresponsible, narrow decision by the Supreme Court -- abetted by the AU, ACLU and their ilk, including some ultraliberal judiciary -- have succeeded in taking God out of our schools and are working hard to get him out of our governments. Witness the debacle in Alabama about the Ten Commandments in the courtroom. As the first statute in the western world, they belong there as much as in church.

The devil must be chortling: Look at what has happened to the morals of our society since this notorious Supreme Court decision in the face of the Constitution, which is designed for majority -- not minority -- rule.

Ours was founded as a Christian nation, with prayer beginning all government meetings. We veer from this at our own peril. Other nations have separation of church and state -- Cuba, for instance. The AU should be right at home down there, except the rest of it isn't too good. If a group tried to undermine the constitution there, mere denial of a meeting place would not be on the agenda.
-- H. Scott Parrish Jr., Tarpon Springs

Meeting rooms could be put to good use

Re: Tarpon library wants to oust meetings, story, Nov. 27.

With all the problems in education, I would think it would be a no brainer on how to use our library meeting rooms.
-- Ray Caswell, Tarpon Springs

Don't water down public prayers

Re: Prayer at Trot didn't apply, letter, Dec. 5.

I must respond to Douglas Morrison's letter, in which he takes the Times to task for allowing a prayer at the Turkey Trot made "in Jesus' name."

Had a rabbi offered the prayer, I would have expected him to say a Jewish prayer, rather than compromising his faith to use a "generic" prayer. Likewise, if a Muslim had been asked to pray, I would expect that he would use a prayer from Islam.

I am an evangelical Christian, and I pray both in private and in public "in Jesus' name." Fortunately, our Constitution allows for freedom of religion, rather than freedom from religion. Any religion (or prayer) watered down to the lowest common denominator so that it is acceptable to everyone ceases to be religion and becomes secularism.
-- Robert E. Thomson, Clearwater

Jesus invoked properly, to bless run

Re: Prayer at Trot didn't apply, letter, Dec. 5.

This is in response to the letter objecting to the name of Jesus in the prayer at the Turkey Trot.

When a Christian prays in the name of Jesus, he does so because he knows that Jesus loves everyone -- including every single soul who was at the Turkey Trot, whether they believe in him or not. He also knows the Bible instructs us to pray in Jesus' name if we want our prayers to be answered. For him to pray in Jesus' name was to give of his best in a blessing to the people in the race.

He was also using his right of free speech and right to practice his religion, guaranteed by the Constitution. If a rabbi had been the one offering the prayer, I would have been shocked and amazed if he had prayed in any way different from what he does in the synagogue. And I would have listened politely, thankful that in America he has a right to do so, and would have silently said my own prayer for him -- in the name of Jesus, who loves him.

The history of the Jewish people is a tragic tale of times when their freedom of religion was badly abused and they abused with it. It amazes me that, in a country that offers more freedom than they have experienced anywhere else, a noisy handful of them insist on wanting to limit other people's freedom.
-- Anne M. Garris, Clearwater

Wal-Mart could set dangerous precedent

Re: Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor.

This is the third request for a zoning change (on this property) from recreational to commercial. Our objection is encroachment -- changing from "residential" or "recreation" to "commercial" in residential areas abutting Lake Tarpon.

We have no problem with the commercial-zoned corridor along U.S. 19; but in order to build a supercenter, it is necessary to encroach back to residential lake properties.

The lakefront strip of 10.78 acres is targeted for 120 residential units, which also require zoning approval. A third zoning change from "commercial recreation" to "commercial parkway" for 3.33 acres on the north side of Rita Lane (north of Wal-Mart's proposal) is being applied for. If Wal-Mart's application is granted, it sets a precedent for all these zoning changes to "commercial."

We, as residential lake owners, are affected by these zoning changes. We could have commercial property abutting our side boundaries.

Please drive by a Wal-Mart and notice the trash bins, crates, trucks, pollution, blacktop, etc., and ask yourself the following questions:

Would you like a Wal-Mart Supercenter abutting your property on the lake?

Would you want a Wal-Mart Supercenter so close to the lake and thereby set a precedent for other zoning changes to properties abutting the lake?

Would a Wal-Mart help preserve the natural beauty of Lake Tarpon?

How can all residential property owners be protected from big commercial business encroaching on residential boundaries?

How can a few residential property owners be protected when Wal-Mart has a full-time employee at its Palm Harbor store with a petition to sign requesting this zoning change?

What happens to the many empty stores?

Would you like a traffic light installed after it was previously rejected by the state Department of Transportation because it is too close to the light at Klosterman Road?

We need your help!
-- Rich and Thelma Samuelsen, Tarpon Springs

A happy ending for a woman and her dog

The St. Petersburg Times wrote such a heart-wrenching article that could have been a tragedy but turned into a beautiful story (A neighborly check led to woman's rescue, Oct. 29). It is about a woman and her Labrador, Shadow, and their fall into a ditch in the woman's back yard. They were unable to get out for 51 hours until her neighbor checked on her and found them. The woman suffered a broken leg, and her 11-year-old dog also suffered injuries. Both were hospitalized.

What the paper failed to do is update us on this story. So I decided to call the SPCA of Largo and find out how the two were getting along. It was such wonderful news that I felt it should be shared.

The woman is still hospitalized as of the date of this letter, and the dog is still under the care of the vet. The good Samaritan who found them will keep the dog when it is released until the woman comes home and they can be reunited.

I was so afraid that the dog would be put down, as it was old and sick, but the wonderful people at the SPCA of Largo sent Shadow to a vet for treatment. I am sure the woman would have been devastated if she couldn't have come back to her beloved animal.

I want to take my hat off and thank the people at the SPCA and the vet who made this happy ending. I just love happy endings, don't you?
-- Meredith Brown, Palm Harbor

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