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LETTERS.

Rejecting Government Handouts

I suspect that large numbers of church-going Americans believe in church-state separation. Therefore, I sent a letter to the editor of our local paper indicating that I will not contribute a dime to my church if it accepts President George W. Bush's "faith-based" charity handout. The letter encouraged all believers in church-state separation to let their pastors or ruling elders know that they intend to do the same.

I would hope your organization will encourage this action as well. Is there any more effective way to vote than with one's pocketbook?

-- Sherwin Kroll Springfield, Ill.

Some Religions Won't Get Help

Not all religious groups will get funding through the Bush initiative. I have direct evidence that for Wiccans this is indeed the case.

As reported in Church & State last year, Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), one of the prime advocates of "charitable choice" and an advisor on Bush's faith-based program, was asked on the floor of the House if Wiccans would be able to receive federal funding through charitable choice. He answered "It is unlikely under President Bush that the witches would get funding."

Wren Walker (www.witchvox.com) now reports that the Feb. 2 episode of John McLaughlin's "One On One" featured Stephen Goldsmith, domestic policy adviser to the president and spokesman for the faith-based initiative. When McLaughlin asked Goldsmith whether Wiccans would be considered for funds, he replied "You can take this to whatever level you want.... I don't think that Wiccans would meet the standard of ... being humane providers of domestic violence shelters."

I'd love to know what exactly he means by this statement. It's clear he has no concept of what Wiccans really believe and has done no research on the matter before arbitrarily crossing them off the list.

As you probably know, Wicca is a 501(c)3 religion recognized by the federal government and has been recognized as such for over 15 years. It is obvious to this Wiccan that we are being pre-judged by certain politicians, including President Bush himself (who has publicly stated at least twice that we are "not a religion" despite the facts), and that we are somehow not as equal as other religions.

Americans are being told that this program will be handled with "even-handedness and neutrality," but this apparently won't extend to groups disliked or misunderstood by those in charge.

-- Willow Polson San Jose, Calif.

A Republican Perspective

I am one of millions of Republicans who share with Democrats and others of all political persuasions one (or maybe more) of literally hundreds of faith systems. Government and politics have nothing to do with our choices or practices or non-practice and never, ever should.

That is certain to happen when dollars begin to flow into and out of President Bush's new Office for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The consequences are writ large in history and today across the world: death and destruction, not to mention the downfall of our nation.

To eradicate this program, we must immediately flood the new office with appeals for money for human service programs (broadly interpreted) from non-mainstream faith-based organizations -- Wiccans, Sufis, animists, etc. Then, let our Supreme Court adjudicate if and when these are turned down. This should be more than a bemusement. It should be formal and serious and now!

-- John L. Heffron Rochester, N.Y.

Completely Un-American

I firmly believe in a separation of church and state, and although I am not a member of your organization, I strongly support your objection to President Bush's efforts to send our tax money to religious institutions.

Part of being in America is having freedom of religion. Directing funds to faith-based organizations would take funds away from non-faith-based organizations. It could create a situation where people would have to go to these organizations to get quality help, even though the organization goes against their personal beliefs. Even worse, people might be turned away from quality help based on their spiritual beliefs. That, to me is completely un-American.

-- Kim Crawford Oceanside, Calif.

Incredibly Frightening Plan

Thank you for being at the ready and opposing President Bush's plan for a faith-based office at the White House. This development is incredibly frightening to me.

When you consider some of Bush's cabinet nominees along with his call for a "National Day of Prayer," I now see that my fear of Bush in office has been justified. I am not against religion. I just think that the freedom principles of this country allow one to choose whether to participate in religion or not.

Thank you for advocating that these principles remain true.

-- Victor de la Rosa Davis, Calif.

Church & State welcomes letters to the editor. Although not all correspondence can be published, readers' opinions are appreciated. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit all letters for brevity and clarity.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Americans United for Separation of Church and State
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Church & State
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Words:803
Previous Article:AROUND THE WORLD.
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