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Church-and-State Debate

March 01, 2003

Kudos to Jonathan Turley for clearly outlining the foibles of mixing church and state ("Raze the Church/State Wall? Heaven Help Us!" Commentary, Feb. 24).

American citizens who truly believe in live-and-let-live -- and value the diversity we Americans enjoy -- should be very concerned about the Bush administration's blurring of the wall between church and state. Turley is correct in asserting that we are moving toward government-funded proselytization and, no matter how one interprets the 1st Amendment, this concept would surely make Thomas Jefferson and James Madison weep.

Ellen Brown

Americans United

for Separation of Church

and State, San Diego


As a professor of law, Turley should know that Jefferson was not a framer of the 1st Amendment, as he was in Paris at the time of its drafting and passage. However, the congressmen who did draft and pass the 1st Amendment also created the paid positions of congressional and military chaplains as well as entering into treaties that called for publicly funded religious schooling of Native Americans.

Thus, the framers of the 1st Amendment did not adhere to the strict wall of separation between church and state that Jefferson spoke of -- over a decade after the amendment passed.

Aaron Smith



I read Turley's commentary with interest. He is right in his views, but he has been too kind. Let me paint a more realistic picture: Al Qaeda is a result of government policies that advocate public support for faith-based organizations. Look where we find ourselves now: fighting a global war against terrorism.

For those who think this could not happen in America, with all its checks and balances already in place, let me remind you of the abortion clinic bombings, Waco and Jim Jones, the Ku Klux Klan and many others. For those who still think those and other such examples are merely at the level of individuals or organizations, or are aberrations, and that anti-secularism could not lead to countrywide behavior in the "Christian world," let me kindly remind you of faith-based ethnic cleansing campaigns brutally carried out in Bosnia and Kosovo by Christian Serbia between 1991 and 1995 and simultaneously in Karabakh and Azerbaijan by Christian Armenia between 1988 and 1994.

Anti-secularism is a very slippery slope. Once you step on it, there is no telling where you will end up. From clinic bombings to ethnic cleansing, everything is in the game. Even the thought of all this is enough to send cold shivers down anyone's spine.

Ergun Kirlikovali

Santa Ana


The creation of an office dedicated to assisting faith-based organizations in securing federal funding seems to be the culmination of a process started during the Reagan administration. Both presidents Reagan and Clinton abrogated the federal government's responsibility for the less fortunate among us, leaving them to the kindness of churches, the United Way, local agencies and governments. Reagan through his war on the poor, and Clinton through the Welfare Reform Act.

The 2000 election saw the ascendancy of the religious right into the Oval Office, and so the blurring of the lines between government and religion was inevitable. What next? Perhaps a Christian-nation amendment? Religious tests for government jobs or public assistance? Better study up on your Bible, fellow Americans. Bush has put us on a slippery slope.

Joseph Gius

Los Angeles

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