Just fed up
A day after reading Mary Anna
Towler's "A God-fearing People" (July 3), the following appeared on my e-mail:
"No God, no peace. Know God, know peace."
At a time when we are "at war," to quote President Bush,
it is a sad commentary to find that we are being censored for using God's name
just when we most need the Mind of Peace.
"Religious folk" are not insecure, just fed up. This is
our country, too! And for that matter, one does not have to be "religious" or
belong to any temple, mosque, or church to know God. There is such a thing as
being innately spiritual.
I take issue with Ms. Towler's statement about using
religious beliefs as a litmus test for appointing judges: "Will he (President
Bush) refuse to nominate a Muslim or a Hindu? Will he next insist that the
judges swear allegiance to Jesus?"
Is this an assumption on Ms. Towler's part that "under
God" does not refer to all of us, or that Muslims and Hindus are less sincere
in their beliefs than others? She is the one posing this question, not
This is not about religious beliefs but censorship. Seems
to me we are a "God-fearing people," since speaking the words "under God" is
what we fear the most.
Jane K. Faust,
Marion Street, Rochester
Mary Anna Towler's
Religious folk (myself included) may be fed up about a lot of
things --- violence, incivility, corporate sleaze --- but no one's taking away
our right to practice our faith. And no one's taking away our right to express
that faith any way we want.
Many of us believe in a deity we choose to call "God."
Many other Americans do not. There's a difference, though, in my choosing to
profess my faith, privately or publicly, and in the government of the United
States, state governments, and school districts formally endorsing religion and
putting that endorsement into something official, which the Pledge is.
Words and action
Imagine this. Rather than
arguing about wording of the Pledge of Allegiance, people could practice what
they want so badly to convey. Men or women of true strength and integrity could
demonstrate their beliefs in everyday life, without imposing them on others.
Words have a lot of power, and so do our thoughts. What
good are words without thoughts and deeds to bring them to action?
"God" is a beautiful word to many people, full of power and strength.
But all who live here do not believe in "one God." A Buddhist or a
Taoist would believe in many (or none at all).
Yes, the majority of people in the US are Christian, but
what about those who are not? They are quiet and unassuming when it comes to
these things. Maybe they are busy practicing life from the heart.
I believe we have a lot to learn from them.
Why do we need the word "God" in anything? Why
don't we just practice well in living and treat others kindly? What good is
saying "God" if people behave with disrespect toward others? What
good is debating about "God" in Washington, when the same people use
the power of words to twist the truth to their own advantage or omit it for
their own convenience?
Anyone can say words, or write them. A man of true high
spirit lives from the heart, and demonstrates the words he speaks to all who he
encounters. Our country values words, and the manipulation of them. To use words
without heart is an abuse of power.
We must practice what we say.
Upton Park, Rochester
In answer to the mayor's call
for ideas about reducing violence, Bob Lonsberry suggests that we spend an hour
or two per week with urban youth through religious organizations or programs
such as the Boy Scouts or 4-H.
When the mayor issued a similar call eight years ago,
2000 of us responded. We were determined to effect change and to make our
community's children safer. For what was historically the most violent month in
the most violent part of the community, we worked to eliminate killings in July
From that experience we learned what works in the short
• Intervention of two forms --- crisis professionals in
emergency rooms (especially on weekend nights) to prevent repeat violence, and
mediators on call in neighborhood safe houses as a resource for officers who
come upon conflicts that might erupt into violence.
• Keeping kids busy. We cleaned streets with hundreds of
kids during the day and played basketball with hundreds more at night.
What I learned through our experience in 1994 is that
volunteering an hour a week won't reduce violence in our community. We need
sustained efforts as described above.
Our question now is not what to do but whether or not we
have the will to implement these efforts as ongoing programs.
Laidlaw, Seneca Parkway, Rochester
(Santana Laidlaw is former moderator of
the Task Force to Reduce Violence.)