Archive for Monday, October 22, 2001

Minority patriot

October 22, 2001

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To the editor:

Hats off to Zachary Falin for having the courage to speak out against anti-atheist bigotry. It should not be a surprise to anyone that not every American believes in God. Let's hope that the current proliferation of stars and stripes does not herald a parade of Santas in our public schools.

I am a patriot because I hold minority views. When a mullah the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or Fred Phelps issues a fatwa against abortion or homosexuality (three generations ago it would have been about dancing and drinking), I have a legal right to reject their decrees and not wind up in jail. I am allowed to express skepticism about a seven-day Creation, the parting of the Red Sea, a three-day Resurrection, and Mohammed as God's true prophet without being hanged in the local stadium.

Although I disagree vigorously with John Bush's rejection of peacemakers (one wonders WWJD in the Oval Office), he is absolutely right about our freedom to express alternative opinions. It was not so long ago that it took courage to express the minority views that Indians have a right to their traditional lands, blacks should not be enslaved, and women should be permitted to vote. The First Amendment and the ACLU seek to protect those very freedoms for which American troops are fighting in Afghanistan.

All of our children have a right to a public education free of religious indoctrination including the assertion that a particular kind of God exists or doesn't. Each of us has a right to a judicial system that does not punish us for beliefs about God that we hold or reject. The Ten Commandments do not belong in our courtrooms and "In God We Trust" does not belong on our coinage for exactly the same reasons that the Taliban should not prevail. Their presence is oppressive to alternative belief systems and worldviews. The fact that our government protects everyone's rights to their own beliefs especially those of religious minorities is the reason my flag is flying.

John W. Hoopes,

Lawrence

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