Category Archives: Letters

Genoa Ohio High School Asked To Remove Religious Sign

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image of Religious Message wall sign similar to one seen in Genoa OH High School
Religious Message wall sign similar to one seen in Genoa OH High School

While watching local TV news on March 21st, during a story about a Genoa Ohio high school student who died in a traffic accident, the station reporter interviewed Cari Buehler, the high school principal, in front of a sign with an ‘inspirational’ message on it. Too bad it was a religious message. Now the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is asking the school district to remove the sign.
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Response To My Letter Supporting Same-Sex Marriage Goes Old School – Still Draws Wrong Conclusions

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created image saying no to Religious Freedom Restoration Acts Last month, as co-chair of the Secular Coalition for Ohio, I had a letter to the editor printed in the Columbus Dispatch about the firestorm over the attempt by Indiana to discriminate against LGBTQ people by using a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Someone who opposed my letter responded to that letter by sending a typed letter to my house. Below is the letter in question and my response.
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Edd Doerr didn’t care for the AHA “No God” adverts

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Seems former president of the AHA Edd Doerr doesn’t like the AHA adverts that say “No God? . . . No problem!”. He not only had a letter in the New York Times he also got one in the LA Times today.

Re “Humanists launch a holiday campaign,” Dec. 7

As a former head of the American Humanist Assn., I am embarrassed by the organization’s rather puerile “good without God” campaign.

Advertising what humanists are for is more important than stressing what is not included in our beliefs. Mere nonbelief is negative — and emphasizing the negative invites blowback and hinders mutual understanding and respect.

In essence, humanism is about ethics, compassion, civil liberties, religious freedom, separation of church and state, peace, women’s rights, protecting the environment, social justice, reason and science and democracy. Importantly, humanists are all for cooperating and working with Catholics, Protestants, Jews and others who share these concerns and values.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Md.

Of course Edd ignores the actual innocuousness of the advertising message. It wasn’t childish and nonbelief is *NOT* negative it is one of the primary principles of a secular philosophy like Humanism. Ignoring nonbelief ignores the reason secular humanism is different from theism.

I thought it was ironic that Edd shares the concerns and values with religious leaders who also stated in the article that the ad was offensive and an attack. He is one Humanist leader who has tried to brush nonbelief under the rug so we can be just like believers as if that would “grow” Humanism. I prefer the small secular humanism tent down the street than Edd’s “big tent” that requires me to hide and belittle my nonbelief.

I like this quote from referring article:

“Why didn’t they choose the summer solstice?” asked Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, a civil rights organization that puts up a Nativity scene every Christmas in New York’s Central Park.

“I guess they have no other time of the year to get out their message except to crib off someone else’s holiday,” Donohue added.

Another letter writer wrote that Donohue forgets that “Christianity has long been the Microsoft of religions — gathering up existing traditions and re-branding them under its own banner” and it ripped off the Roman Saturnalia holiday for Christmas.

Here is a link to the December 7th LA Times article on the ads that Edd was responding to.

Humanists launch a godless holiday campaign

Christian victims? Give me a break

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My heart is in the sanctity of life and marriage and values and defense against terrorism. I support what the president’s doing in Iraq, and if they’re spending too much money, then I’ll let someone else yell about that. But this president — it’s like this Mark Foley thing — that’s not going to discourage any evangelicals I know from voting. We lived through Bill Clinton, and this situation with Foley is minuscule in comparison. So, I really think it’s making a mountain out of a molehill.

Rev. Jerry Falwell on CNN’s The Situation Room 11/02/2006

Yes, Rev. Falwell, defender of the sanctity of life, marriage, and values, doesn’t seem to have a problem with child abuse.

It isn’t real surprising that Falwell said what he did. You can predict what a religious leader will say by just looking at the politics of the object he/she is discussing. I am pretty sure Falwell would put former Congressman Foley’s actions in proper context had Foley been a Democrat.

That is a big reason the current special relationship that religious conservatives and Republicans proves the point that church and state should be separate. Politics not only can corrupt a person but can corrupt your religion. I mean if your political values can allow you to think that child abuse is less of a moral problem than a blow job then you might need some remedial religion classes.

Of course hypocrisy isn’t the only problem with the mixing of religion and politics.

Last month, my local paper did their obligatory conservative-Christians-as victims election season report as if it were a new trend. Conservative Christians feel put upon because their anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-religious freedom, anti-science bigotry isn’t shared by everyone.

“The Christian majority is sick and tired of things like same-sex marriage and the (removal of the) Ten Commandments in the court- house,” he said. “Two people get upset, and the ACLU comes in. People are tired of things like one guy with a lawyer changing the entire face of a government building because of the Ten Commandments. What the hell was it hurting?”

Bob Burney, who hosts a Christian radio call-in program on WRFD (880 AM) in Columbus, hears the complaint a lot.

“It’s the clash of two worldviews,” he said. “Things have been declared to be unconstitutional that have been constitutional for 200 years,” he said. “Evangelical Christians are energized by their very strong perception that those on the left want to remove the Godly heritage that we have and move to a completely secular state.”

From “Enough was enough” Columbus Dispatch 10/09/2006

I wrote a letter to the editor about the article and it was published on October 18th:

I wanted to comment on the Oct. 9 Dispatch article “Enough was enough.” It doesn’t surprise me that conservative Christians would vote for a candidate solely on religious beliefs. We have some voters who choose a candidate simply because they recognize the name of the person on the ballot or because some relative served years before.

Unfortunately, atheists and secular humanists such as myself don’t have that luxury. Since the conservative Christians have invaded the political process, we have a de facto establishment of religion and no atheist or secular humanist candidate can pass the religious test that group has put in place. We have to vote for the whole package that a particular candidate brings into the campaign.

The New York Times reported on Oct. 8 that, since 1989, religious groups have received more than 200 special arrangements, protections or exemptions in congressional legislation, on topics from pensions to immigration to land use to exemptions from federal employment-discrimination laws.

These special arrangements also have come from winning court decisions and federal-agency rule changes. Ninety-eight percent of the special treatment goes to Christian groups. As The Times put it, “As a result of these special breaks, religious organizations of all faiths stand in a position that American businesses — and the thousands of nonprofit groups without that ‘religious’ label — can only envy.”

So forgive me if I don’t shed a tear the next time I hear the myth that conservative Christians are under siege.

Removing the 10 Commandments from public buildings promotes equality by removing the religious bigotry inherent in the Decalogue. Allowing gays to marry gives them the chance to formally share in what it means to commit to the one you love and removes the 2nd class status that comes from not being allowed.

Conservative Christians use politics to force their subjective “values” on others. Politics should be about doing the best for the most people. It should be about promoting shared values that have little to no negative impact on others.

Letter about Reynoldsburg nativity scene is printed

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On Thursday January 5th, the Columbus Dispatch printed my letter concerning the issue of the Nativity scene in Reynoldsburg, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus). Details of the issue can be found in my post from 12/27/05 Reynoldsburg, OH Mayor Ignores Law on Holiday Scenes – Again

Here is the text as printed in the Dispatch:

Reynoldsburg mayor should drop Nativity
Thursday, January 05, 2006

I was quite disappointed in the Dec. 25 Dispatch article “City Hall lawn gets respite from Nativity controversy” concerning the “seasonal controversy” involving Reynoldsburg Mayor Bob McPherson and a donated Nativity scene placed on city property in 2004.

The only “seasonal controversy” is that the mayor continues to ignore not only past U.S. Supreme Court decisions but also the advice of his city attorney. The mayor, in his self-appointed position as arbiter of the front lawn, has decided which religions he will acknowledge when the holiday displays return in 2006.

He has picked a winter solstice and Hindu symbols but the article failed to point out that there are more religions than that. He will also need to select a symbol for Kwanzaa, Jain, Sikh, Witchcraft, magick, the occult, Sumerian, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Islamic, Wicca, neopaganism, Druid, Celtic, and on and on. If McPherson says no to any religious symbol then he is exposing the city of Reynoldsburg to a lawsuit.

I would also take The Dispatch to task for only printing one side of the story. Where was the follow-up with the person who asked the mayor to display the supposed “derogatory” sign in 2004? The article also failed to name the group that complained about the mayor’s actions, yet we get a quote from David DiYanni of the Vineyard Community Church and his view of the issue.

Does The Dispatch always cast those trying to defend their civil rights in such a negative light? Why do it to those who aren’t Christian and want the government out of the religious cheerleading business?


The letter appeared as the first letter in the 1/5/06 edition.

Response to George Will column

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Columnist George Will wrote about the recent 10 Commandments Supreme Court cases in Kentucky and Texas. His column appeared in my local paper on June 29th 2005 and I wrote a letter to the editor which was published July 9th.

Here is the published text of my letter:

Ten Commandments don’t belong on public buildings
Saturday, July 09, 2005

I agree with George Will that the Supreme Court’s rulings on June 27 about the Ten Commandments “rendered two more hairsplitting, migraine-inducing decisions about when religious displays on public property do and do not violate the First Amendment protection against ‘establishment’ of religion (“Court jumps through hoops it has made over the Ten Commandments,” Forum column, June 29).”

It is clear the court was trying to bend its opinion to justify old religious displays, including the Texas monument and the painting of Moses in the Supreme Court chambers, while trying to enforce government neutrality in religious matters.

The whole concept of “ceremonial deism” introduced by the court in the past 30 years is a sham to believers and nonbelievers. It asks believers to accept a state-sanitized version of their deeply held faith and asks nonbelievers to accept words and actions they would never voluntarily accept.

The court ruled that the Ten Commandments is an “instrument of religion” and is clearly a religious message. It seems that the justices don’t know what neutrality means. To most, it means not taking a side. If that is the case, then such displays don’t belong in courthouses or on capitol lawns, because to allow them, the state is taking a side.

Just because the majority of people agree with the text doesn’t mean it’s OK. That is why we have the Bill of Rights to begin with: to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

The most fundamental right we have as citizens is our freedom of conscience — which religion is part of — without undue interference from the state. It would be less intrusive if the state stayed out of religion altogether.

As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in her concurring opinion in the Kentucky case: “By enforcing the clauses, we have kept religion a matter for the individual conscience, not for the prosecutor or bureaucrat. . . . (Government) may not prefer one religion over another or promote religion over nonbelief. . . .

“It is true that many Americans find the commandments in accord with their personal beliefs. But we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.”

If the court had ruled that all such displays were illegal, it would not have removed the Ten Commandments from the Book of Faith for the Christians or any other sect that uses them.