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Letters to the editor May 18

| May 18, 2023 12:00 AM

Proud of religious freedom

Christian nationalists and TV entertainment shows claim the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation. Some politicians agree. Is there anything in the Constitution that gives special treatment or preference to Christianity? Did our founders intend to create a government that gave special recognition to Christianity? Should our laws then enforce the doctrines of Christianity?

The answer is no. The Constitution is a secular document and refers to religion only in the First Amendment, which bars laws “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and in Article VI, which prohibits “religious tests” for public office.

Our founding fathers, many of whom were believers, were well aware of the dangers of a powerful state backing a religion. They had witnessed first-hand religious wars/persecutions in Europe. During the American colonial period, alliances between religion and government produced tyranny for many of our ancestors who were beaten or imprisoned.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he spoke of “unalienable rights endowed by our Creator.” He used generic language that all religious groups of the day would respond to, not narrowly Christian language.

George Washington negotiated a treaty with the Muslim rulers of north Africa that stated explicitly that the U.S. was not a Christian nation. The pact, known as the Treaty with Tripoli, was approved unanimously by the Senate in 1797 under the administration of John Adams. Article 11 of the treaty states, “[T]he government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion….”

Americans enjoy more religious freedom than any people in world history. We should be proud of this accomplishment and uphold the constitutional principle that made it possible: separation of church and state. Our founding fathers argued that true faith did not need or want support from the government.

— Collin Orton, Lakeside

Respect for all beliefs

Upon reading Sunday’s guest perspective by Sen. John Fuller (Yes, the United States is a Christian nation), on Mother’s Day, no less, I was reminded of my Mother’s favorite proverb 16:18, that “Pride goes before a fall.” Just look at Custer’s last stand.

I was raised in one of those Judeo-Christian families that Mr. Fuller refers to, and with great respect and humility regarding all beliefs, religions and identities. My parents were what is known as a “mixed marriage” so were able to blend their beliefs lovingly and honor their differences with integrity.

I am offended by Mr. Fuller’s arrogance not only in his use of Judeo-Christian beliefs as “the only,” but also in his cataract-perspective of the U.S. being a Christian nation. That may be what you learned in school, but I beg to differ.

May I remind you that the First Nation’s peoples (indigenous peoples) were here long before any Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc., and many of our ancestors raped, pillaged and stole this land from them? Culture wars are a legacy from the beginning of mankind and tribalism. That is not a source of pride for me. I am humbled by this daily.

It is good to know how you feel, however, and also that you are not alone in your myopic beliefs. Those of us who believe otherwise are not the enemy, John, just the change that makes you fearfully fingerpoint with falsehoods in order to maintain some justification for who you bully next.

Amen.

— Sheila Shapiro, Whitefish

Who benefits in the merger?

A recent letter to the editor from Dr. Jim Bonnet asks the question “is the planned hospital merger with Billings in our best interest?”

His question has merit. Presently Logan Health has an affiliation with medical facilities in Missoula, the teaching hospitals in Spokane, Seattle, Portland, Oregon and the universities of Washington and Utah. These institutions are all blue-ribbon facilities and with the aviation equipment available to Logan Health, they are all within an hour flight time from Kalispell.

Billings is about the same flight time but somehow I wonder if the care is on the same level as the facilities mentioned above. Perhaps it is, but I think this kind of decision should be allowed a little more transparency for the community. After all, only a few years ago, and a couple of name changes, we were called a community hospital. But that was $24 million ago.

Dr. Bonnet’s research also included what appears to be a major financial problem for the Billings Clinic. I wonder who will benefit from this merger if that is indeed the case.

— R.A. Fraser, Kalispell