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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: News

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

I find it outrageous how some are twisting words and twisting history to make their point. The reason the Founders established freedom of religion was to prevent a national church, such as the Church of England in the UK, from being established. They did NOT oppose religion. John Adams was a Christian Deist; look it up. Please read The Founders on God and Government and quit making attacks on people trying to set the record straight. Many of the Founders supported days of prayer and thanksgiving (Washington issued several such proclamations, despite not being a communicant in the Episcopal Church). Most of the Founders believed in some degree of Christian thought (what is now considered cultural Christianity), because the overwhelming majority of people in this country in the 1790s believed in the Christian religion. And the fact is that 65% of people in Greece are Roman Catholic and ought to be given more consideration than a handful of disgruntled atheists who do not have the right to run roughshod over the majority. While people of faith (like ME) respect the rights of non-believers or others, such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc., it doesn't mean we should have to listen to nonsense about their not being respected. In many countries, not being the official religion results in prison, torture and death. If people don't want to listen to Christian prayer at a meeting of mostly Christians in a heavily Republican and Catholic town, they should try putting cotton in their ears or arriving AFTER the invocation. Do what Washington did when Communion was served in the Episcopal Church: Leave along with the other non-communicants and return for the invocation. Leave while the prayers are going on or come after them. Or sit respectfully like people once did, keep your mouth shut and bear it.

10 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by steve on 07/10/2014 at 11:33 AM

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

Steve is correct in pointing out the many government bodies who begin sessions with invocations. While I strongly favor elimination of all this superstitious nonsense within our government, there are several things that make the situation in Greece especially troublesome. First, as I said in my previous post, the invocations in Greece have gone off the rails. These are not invocations that convey any respect for those present who are not practicing Christians. You can listen to a sample at:… . The replay of the invocation begins some 5 minutes into the program.
Second (a point made in the court's dissenting opinions), a town board meeting is not at all like a legislative session. Regular citizens are coming in to make their case to their town government, "to petition for redress of grievances". Imagine you are a non-Christian coming to one of the meetings to speak, to try to persuade the board members to weigh your concerns in making their decisions. First thing you are confronted with is a highly sectarian prayer. You can either pretend to be one of these Christians, or else you need to identify yourself as an outsider, not of this club. Of course, as a resident of the town, you are not an outsider. but the invocation certainly stamps you as one. The board members all "amen" right along with almost everyone else. So are you now made to feel like you've got a prayer (pun intended) of your views being considered impartially?
None of the Christians I know would condone the intolerance being expressed in these invocations. I can only hope that a large contingent of attendees at these gatherings start walking out for each and every one of these invocations. C'mon Grecians, how 'bout standing up (and walking out) for what's right!

4 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Sanity Monger on 07/10/2014 at 10:30 AM

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

"The U.S. Senate and House start their sessions with prayer every day."

But they shouldn't. Prayer before a session begins is not establishment of religion. Prayer as part of opening a session is, and that is illegal per Amendment I.

"The President of the United States has participated in the National Prayer Breakfast for the last 61 years."

But shouldn't participate as President, only as a private citizen. The National Prayer Breakfast should not be sponsored by government . That is establishment of religion, prohibited by Amendment I.

"There are chaplains in every branch of the armed forces to tend to the spiritual needs of its members."

In due keeping with freedom of religious practice, also under Amendment I, yes. But these should be provided at the expense of their respective religious or philosophical organizations, not at government expense. That is establishment of religion, i.e. illegal.

"Law enforcement, fire departments and hospitals have chaplains as do public universities."

See above, these should not be provided using public funds, nor should their ministries be part of any official activities. That is establishment of religion, illegal.

"Many of the Founding Fathers such as John Adams were Deists"

Adams certainly was not a Deist. He believed in miracles and Jesus as the redeemer of humanity.
"The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the blackguard Paine say what he will."
(Adams's diary entry for 26 July 1796, in response to having read Paine's Deistic criticisms of Christianity in his book _Age of Reason_ )

"Thomas Jefferson wrote his own version of the Bible."

Which excluded all reference to any supernatural trait or event. Jefferson actually was a Deist, though he didn't identify himself as such. However Jefferson also wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and in fact considered it one of his greatest accomplishments, even more so than his Presidency since the Statute is included in his self-chosen epitaph while his Presidency is not.

Some choice quotes from that Statute: "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical"-- "forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness" -- "our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry" -- "to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty" -- "all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities"

"86% of the people in Greece according to the Census are Christian."

Which means exactly nothing in this context, according to Amendment I.

"An overwhelming 65% are Roman Catholic."

Also meaningless here.

"Majority rules in this country."

But not absolutely, nor even within the framework of the law, which seeks to secure the liberty of all, minorities very much included.

"The fact that a small handful of shrill atheists"

It doesn't matter who the minority is or how shrill they are. Replace 'shrill atheists' in this sentence with 'uppity blacks' or 'stingy Jews' or 'bra-burning feminists' and you may realize how bigoted it is.

"want to ram their opinion of a Godless world down everyone else's throat"

In case you don't know, this is called a 'straw man' -- a lie told to distort the perception of something or someone you oppose -- it's simply not true that atheists opposing 'official prayer' are trying to force their opinion on others, what they're trying to do is get government to follow the actual letter of the law per Amendment I in keeping with the important reasons it exists.

"doesn't mean they should be allowed to run roughshod."

The people really running roughshod in this matter are the Christians of the town of Greece. That's the whole point, which you seem to have missed entirely.

9 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Bill Haines on 07/10/2014 at 10:01 AM

Re: “The Buffalo blues

"Morelle says that while Buffalo has received more state financial aid than Rochester, it's not much more. When you add the money that the city's received for Eastman Business Park, Midtown, the University of Rochester, and Rochester Institute of Technology, he says, Rochester's financial aid is almost on par with Buffalo's.

Sorry Joe, but that is a lie. Buffalo has gotten more projects than these, in addition to the Buffalo Billion. Buffalo has traditionally gotten up to 10x as much as us for equivalent projects. Buffalo waterfront $300 million-Rochester waterfront $14 million. $7 million of our own money from selling Hemlock and Canadice lakes. $100 million for the Richardson towers renovation. $240 million for 2 football stadium renovations. Buffalo got to keep the 716 area code, costing our businesses millions and then they help create laws that keep all of the Federally funded hydro power away from Rochester.

I've been reading the Buffalo newpapers for decades, and believe me, we have gotten scr---wed.

Joe Morelle is a politician that "represents" us. Please tell us how sending our money to the city next door helps your constituents. A Brookings Institute study said it perfectly--Kodak, Xerox and B&L were so robust that our government never had to do anything about economic development. Over the last few years when the big 3 started losing ground, our government was sitting on their hands. The shame is, they still are.

11 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by johnny on 07/09/2014 at 7:52 PM

Re: “The Buffalo blues

I would agree. Buffalo needed a lot more help so he started there, its only a matter of time for Rochester.

Buffalo will always be a town full of blue collar mentality, Buffalonians embrace their simpleton ways. Rochester thinks bigger and you find people in Rochester think a little bigger. Rochester is slower to change and adapt than larger cities, but every small city is like that. Of course Rochester has a blue collar portion (the entire West Side) but it isnt all encompassing like it is in Buffalo.

Buffalo will always beat us on a few things, gorgeous old architecture (they had no urban renewal, there were no businesses in Buffalo and no money there from the 50's-80"s when urban renewal was highly regarded) and major league sports. But if the owners of the sports franchises were smart, they would make the Sabres and Bills regional teams like the New England Patriots. It would make them far more money.

4 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by MrRochester on 07/09/2014 at 5:53 PM

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

The way many of us see it, it's not Freedom of Religion, but Freedom FROM Religion. While the founding fathers may have wanted to protect the rights to practice any religion, the overarching point is that there would be no national religion established.

The point is to protect us from ever having an Inquisition here.

The point of separation of church and state is to prevent us from being asked to bow our heads and close our eyes in a room where all parties should have their eyes open, and focused.

13 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by rebeccarafferty on 07/09/2014 at 5:11 PM

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

Steve - you are misinformed about the constitutional purpose in guaranteeing freedom of religion. The fact is that freedom of religion was SPECIFICALLY put into the constitution to protect minor religions from the predations of major religions like Christianity. That specifically large orthodox churches of various denominations could not jam THEIR Christian beliefs down others throats. The freedom of religion clause specifically forbade the government from adopting a single religion of any sort as their "base" religion. In that way the very people you named guaranteed that people like yourself could not - even if they were in the majority - dictate what religion people were exposed to as part of government. In the case of freedom of religion the majority most certainly should NOT rule.

6 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Lee Drake on 07/09/2014 at 4:16 PM

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

Too bad that Dan Courtney is going to deliver an inclusive invocation. This will demonstrate absolutely nothing about the principle at stake here. If Greece had been hosting inclusionary invocations, there would have been no court case. I heard samples of these invocation on 1370 Connections -- WOW!!. I wish I could find transcripts of them to point you to, because until you hear what was being said at these invocations, you cannot get to an informed opinion on the matter. Most callers into Connections said that they were in favor of the invocations until they heard the tapes. These invocations trashed non-Christian religions and their followers in the most blatant and insulting way. That the Supremes could have ruled in their favor without at least a scolding for allowing such divisive hateful utterances is evidence of just how UNrepresentative these guys are -- this Gang of Five white, Catholic guys, with their ridiculously idolatrous view of the Founding Fathers.
I believe the Town of Greece is viewed in the nation kind of like Dayton Tennessee was following Scopes. I really hope it doesn't besmirch our whole region.
So glad I don't live in an intolerant place like Greece NY.

8 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Sanity Monger on 07/09/2014 at 4:11 PM

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

The U.S. Senate and House start their sessions with prayer every day. The President of the United States has participated in the National Prayer Breakfast for the last 61 years. There are chaplains in every branch of the armed forces to tend to the spiritual needs of its members. Law enforcement, fire departments and hospitals have chaplains as do public universities. Many of the Founding Fathers such as John Adams were Deists who believed that religion was good for one's moral character, even if they rejected the orthodoxy of religion. Thomas Jefferson wrote his own version of the Bible. 86% of the people in Greece according to the Census are Christian. An overwhelming 65% are Roman Catholic. Majority rules in this country. The fact that a small handful of shrill atheists want to ram their opinion of a Godless world down everyone else's throat doesn't mean they should be allowed to run roughshod.

11 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by steve on 07/09/2014 at 2:43 PM

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

Greece; Critical Thinking Rediscovered

Thank you Dan Courtney…for reminding us that men and women are capable of critical thinking to make moral decisions without relying on the god's to determine (let alone agree upon) what’s right and wrong.

Len Simms

10 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Lenton Simms on 07/09/2014 at 1:34 PM

Re: “Disappointment in medical marijuana law

Joe Morelle is "mindful" ? Since when ?????

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by NYS needs to wake up !!! on 07/09/2014 at 11:41 AM

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

I would like to call out our good friends at the Greece town board. They claim to universally accept faiths, and indeed spent (how much?) money taking a claim to the supreme court to support their stance that prayer belongs at a governmental meeting. Their claim was that they allow "all faiths" to offer up a prayer and yet they ridicule faiths such as Paganism and Pastafarianism in the public media claiming they're not going to allow members of those faiths to provide opening prayers. Apparently they get to decide what are "serious" faiths. I am an ordained pastafarian minister, and yet they didn't even deign to give my application to offer up a prayer a reply. Another friend with pagan beliefs got a similar shrug off.

Freedom of religion does not mean free to be Christian or not religious. It means ALL religions are treated equally - whether YOU happen to believe in them or not. This is a lesson the Greece board still needs to learn. Their insistence at being inclusive of religion in the town of Greece, means they must be inclusive, not exclusive. ALL religions, regardless of their "seriousness" in their eyes.

13 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Lee Drake on 07/09/2014 at 11:29 AM

Re: “An atheist in the Town of Greece

Hurrah! for Dan Courtney offering an Atheist invocation at a Town of Greece monthly Town Board meeting, though it might be just as well if there were no invocations of any kind at any of our governmental meetings. I’m not a Justice Scalia, but from my readings of the US Constitution there’s a clear desire by our Founding Fathers to separate church and state.

If our mass interest in faith were any measure of our collective judicious processes, you’d think the moral imperative to solve Climate Change would rule, but it doesn’t--at least on any scale that will matter. The poor of our nation and the nations that didn’t cause Climate Change are going to get hit the first and the hardest by Climate Change and yet when we try to address this profound immorality, like in the previous 20+ Climate talks, we tend to fail.

Squabbling about who gets to say what before a governmental meeting is a tempest in a teapot. Rather we should focus on the decisions taking place at these governmental meetings and if faith has any merit at all it should shine through.

7 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Frank J. Regan on 07/09/2014 at 10:49 AM

Re: “Disappointment in medical marijuana law

CBD = Can't Be Done (republican code)

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Immortal Illumined on 07/09/2014 at 10:48 AM

Re: “Disappointment in medical marijuana law

the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

ENLIGHTENMENT...i was a brainwashed evil, mean, christian conservative until i tried it at 17 years old...i hated gays, immigrants, women's rights, blacks, marijuana, i was Rush Limbaugh's #1 fan....until i smoked marijuana, changed the world....hope the EVIL POPE is enjoying the marijuana revolution around the globe, keeping the flock brainwashed and against marijuana, gays, and women's don't deny ease from pain and suffering for billions of people unless you are PURE EVIL...

1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy...#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed...

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states and NEW YORK, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
Deaths by Tobacco: Millions

Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade

Deaths by Guns: Millions

Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions

Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever


4 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Immortal Illumined on 07/09/2014 at 10:48 AM

Re: “Disappointment in medical marijuana law

The New York State Legislature has declared that marijuana is a medicine, defined the afflictions that it is to be prescribed for, who will grow it and dispense it, and the form in which will be administered. Our legislators will instruct medical doctors on how it is to be prescribed. I wonder when anyone in New York government earned degrees in medicine that makes them expert enough to write medical-related laws? I recall a TV commercial in which an actor says “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV” That would seem to apply here. I didn’t hear anything about the NY legislators consulting with the American Medical Association or any other physician organizations on their opinion of “medical” marijuana. No pharmaceutical companies were consulted that I am aware of. It makes me wonder what else our legislators can define as “medicine” - magnets? mineral water? mushrooms? Tic Tacs?

8 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Bart on 07/09/2014 at 6:24 AM

Re: “Downtown's patron saint

Very disappointing that Mr. Glazer subscribes to the fallacy that parking in suburban areas is "free." It's not free, it's just bundled into the cost of the development. If tenants or residents or employees of suburban development had to pay the $2,500-$3,500 land and construction costs PER SPACE for surface parking lots, the thinking on "free" parking might be very different.

It's very disheartening to hear Mr. Glazer say that without parking "you have almost nothing to give people." That's an extremely pessimistic view of the city, in my opinion. Without parking you still have the architecture, art, culture, streets, parks, history and community of the city, things that don't exist to the same degree in auto-oriented suburban areas with "free" parking.

Parking may be, as Mr. Glazer says, "a fact of life" here and now. But unless progressive developers seek to change that and help nudge the market in a different direction by offering mobility choices (unbundled parking costs, developer or employer paid transit passes, bicycle storage rooms and shower facilities, car sharing arrangements, etc.) this community will perpetuate the vicious cycle of more parking, leading to streets that people don't want to walk down, leading to more people driving and demanding parking at the front door. Downtown becomes nothing more than a handful of nicely rehabbed buildings appended to parking garages.

Some of Mr. Glazer's apparent views on downtown reminded me of a conversation I once had with a real estate broker who said "I get calls from clients all the time that want to be downtown. They just want cheap, convenient parking." Well, then, those clients don't really want to be downtown. They say they do, but they really have no clue about how real urban places truly function. I feel like that mentality is frustratingly pervasive in Rochester: people say they want downtown to succeed, but when it comes down to the details and the sacrifices they might have to make, like maybe taking the bus, or parking a few blocks away from their destination, or interacting with people who might not be the same class, race, or mental health status as you, people from this region just get lazy and find the McMansions of the P towns and the office parks of Victor too easy.

4 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Urban Explorer on 07/08/2014 at 2:52 PM

Re: “Downtown's patron saint

Patron Saint of downtown? Seriously? Could this interview be any more one sided?

When I saw the cover of City Newspaper I was stunned. I thought sure, this is going to be a puff piece. .

It is hard to get the true story out of corporations but I think it is time for developers to pay their own way rather than sucking up our diminishing resources.

There is nothing in this piece about all the money that Buckingham Properties taken from the city, county and NYS. There is nothing about the purchase of valuable real estate from the city for pennies on the dollar, if that. Nothing about the failed job development that caused Buckingham Properties to have tax incentives taken away by NY State. Most companies don't hire new employees when they move they just shift them around from place to place and get tax breaks.

Fair and balanced article? I think not.

The city and all the taxpayers are paying for a lot of these projects in the city.

Below is an excerpt from the article in The Rochester Business Journal with the link to the article included below.

The board's thumbs-down came May 4, upholding regulatory changes included in then-Gov. David Paterson's 2009-10 state budget. The decision was backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of the Empire State Development Corp.

"The Cuomo administration has been clear that it views the Empire Zone program as a waste of taxpayer dollars, and we moved aggressively to eliminate the program," Adams said in a statement. "Therefore, I am pleased with the decisions by the Empire Zone Designation Board not to overturn the original decertifications by the commissioner."

Adams, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State Inc. from 2006 through 2010, was recruited by Cuomo to lead the ESDC in January 2011, replacing Pittsford resident Dennis Mullen.

"Applications were reviewed in a thorough and open process, and now a final decision has been reached by the board to affirm the decertification of businesses that were not in compliance with the requirements of the Empire Zone program," Adams said.

The three Buckingham Properties sites were among those decertified three years ago by the ESDC.

"We've been fighting it since 2009," said Laurence Glazer, Buckingham Properties CEO, of the ruling. "They were in place. They were halfway through, or two-thirds of the way through, the whole program."

Tax breaks for the 33 entities were quashed after they were decertified by the ESDC for failing to meet newly imposed requirements for job creation and capital investment.

All Empire Zone participants were reviewed by the ESDC in 2009 to determine whether workers and/or real estate were transferred to a business with similar ownership and whether investments met program standards.

Manufacturers were required to generate $10 in wages, benefits and capital investments for every $1 in tax credits to be accepted into the program, the 2009-10 budget stated. Non-manufacturers in Empire Zones were required to show a projected ratio of $20-to-$1.

7 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Dorothy Paige on 07/03/2014 at 3:37 PM

Re: “Downtown's patron saint

An optimist among nay sayers, what a breath of fresh air. Thank you for refreshing the minds of Greater Rochester of the incredible central cities in America. Rochester's potential can be seen 60 miles to the west.
Your understanding of risk, (which our region is often adverse to), remains an important component of change. Downtown has left the starting gate of a new future lets hope the crowds cheer and join in the race. I certainly will!

8 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Stephen Karl on 07/03/2014 at 8:03 AM

Re: “CSI: invasive species

According to some sources, the Erie Canal (or in its earliest incarnation, the canal, or Clinton’s ditch) issued the sea lamprey to the Great Lakes. There might be more invasives that made their way to the Great Lakes via the canal, but I don’t think the canal is just “taking on a new, undesirable role as a pathway for the spread of aquatic invasive species.”

Note: “It is not clear whether it is native to Lake Ontario, where it was first noticed in the 1830s, or whether it was introduced through the Erie Canal which opened in 1825.[”

More on Invasive Species in our area:…

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Frank J. Regan on 07/03/2014 at 7:36 AM

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