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Letters to the Editor 2/27

February 27, 2002


Founders came here to escape religious overbearance

To the editor:

In the few months since moving here, I frequently read letters, like Mr. Newcomer's, filled with religious bigotry, prejudice, and factual inaccuracies.

Often I become outraged that this paper would print such inflammatory letters, but then remind myself that a free press and thought, and the exchange of ideas is fundamental to our society and form of elective representative government. However, I feel that statements made in this particular letter need correction.

First: Our country was not established upon our faith in God. It is more accurate to say that our country was established by men, largely Christian, with a firm belief in God. However, those beliefs were varied and often in conflict with one another. The mere existence of so many Protestant denominations is testament to the fact that Christians do not agree on all doctrinal issues. The majority of these founders did publicly state that a religiously devout populace is essential to good government by the people.

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Second: The government does not have any laws prohibiting the free exercise of religious beliefs, as Newcomer states. In fact, such laws are expressly forbidden by the Constitution. The Constitution also prohibits the government establishing a religion for its people. Therefore, our courts have ruled that no government institution can do anything that would indicate a preference for one set of religious beliefs or practices over another.

Remember, Mr. Newcomer, our Founding Fathers often came to this country to escape religious persecution simply because they believed differently than the government-established churches in their homelands.

They understood that freedom from such persecution was vital to individual freedom. Reading the Bible or reciting the Lord's Prayer in public schools would constitute government sanction of a particular set of religious beliefs, and therefore is prohibited by the Constitution.

Third: I, too, am frightened by your reference to Daniel. Remember, Daniel was in a foreign country and refused to practice the government-established religion. I fear that could happen here, if the ACLU and other organizations like it, were not around to help me protect my rights from religious bigots.

David Davis

Hagerstown




Warriors a proud mascot


To the editor:

As a graduate of Boonsboro High School and the father of a BHS senior student-athlete, I was saddened to see the article in the Feb. 21 Daily Mail regarding the controversy surrounding the school's "Warrior" nickname.

Richard Regan, an American Indian activist, charges that the use of names such as "Warriors" and "Indians" mocks American Indian people, tramples on their tradition, demeans their culture, and equates them to an animal species. These are quite serious charges that I feel demand further consideration.

First let me state that I am opposed to racism and prejudicial behavior of any kind, against any people or organization. If I felt that the "Warrior" name stood for any of the things Regan alleges, I would certainly support his efforts at having the school's nickname changed. However, this just isn't the case.

Former BHS athletic director Dwight Scott, whom I know to be a very decent and honest man, says the nickname was chosen to represent "courage, dignity and strength." Who in their right mind would choose a demeaning or offensive nickname for their school or team?

Are there any schools or teams with the nickname "Idiots," "Cowards" or "Derelicts"? Of course not.

I ask each reader to stop and think of what comes to mind when you think of the term "warrior," shown along with a respectful image of an Indian chief in full headdress. For me, words like "honor, strength, and respect" come to mind. How many of you came up with an image that was negative?

The fact is, despite what many purveyors of political correctness in the media would have us think, not all Indian people and their leaders feel such terms are wrong or demeaning. For example, in New York, the Seneca nation tribal council passed a resolution supporting the Salamanca High School Warriors, while in Florida, Seminole tribal leaders have endorsed the name "Seminoles" by Florida State University.

If you look long and hard enough, you can find someone who will be offended by almost any name of any organization. Does this give those who take offense, who are usually a small but vocal minority, the right to force their opinions upon others?

Finally, I must express considerable disappointment in Mr. Regan's use of the same kind of demeaning and discriminatory tactics that he purports to be fighting against. In one broad stroke he labels Washington County as "the poster child for racism," a place "where diversity has not taken root" and says that the many good people of Western Maryland are "nonprogressive" in their thinking.

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