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Exercise caution when it comes to the intersection of religion, government and ‘old values’

To the Editor:

We all want a better world for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.  We can all agree that honesty, self-sufficiency and security from random violence is desirable.  The science of meteorology can explain the occurrence of super storms.  There are mental diseases and social stressors that can trigger violent behavior.  There are geological precedents for earthquakes.  In a free society everyone has the right to their own interpretation of events.  Should we respond to these events by putting God in public schools and denying gay, lesbian and transgender citizens the same rights everyone else enjoys?
The Puritans fled from Northern Europe to escape state-sponsored religious persecution.  They established communities in the New World where they were the majority religion and proceeded to aggressively persecute every other religion.  This pattern was repeated with over a dozen different religious groups throughout the 13 colonies.
Religion in the colonies was diverse and contentious.  The only way the colonies could unite and establish a common government was to separate the function of government from the practice of religion.
The separation of church and state was perhaps the most revolutionary idea of our founding fathers.  The concept of God and God’s interaction with humanity varies with each religion and even each individual.  You cannot measure or study God like math or science.  Public schools belong to everyone and are not the proper place to teach religion.
The anchor precept of all religions is love (Love thy neighbor).  In a homogenous society there is a common language, race, ethnicity, political philosophy, religion, etc.  We fear people we think are different and violence and persecution are often the result.
The maturation of any religion or personal philosophy is how broadly is defined the commandment of love.  We were all created by the same God.  God planned that there would be differences like race and sexual orientation.  Gays, lesbians and transgenders are worthy of respect and love.
Any government, religion, or individual that believes otherwise is truly practicing old values.

– Dale Stewart, DVM
Richmond

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