Email Letters: August 3, 2017

City Council should not have taken the devil’s bait

Saint Ambrose of Milan said: “The devil’s snare does not catch you, unless you are first caught by the devil’s bait.” It is unfortunate that the City Council took the bait.

I attended Wednesday’s City Council meeting for one purpose: to safeguard my right for religious freedom. I am quite simply appalled that the City Council allowed a Satanist to deliver the invocation and allowed him to invoke the name of the evil one. Christian invocations are not allowed to invoke the name of Jesus Christ according to the council’s invocation guidelines. From my understanding, the Christian invocations honored this guideline, but like the Father of Lies does, he cannot follow guidelines and I had to listen to the evil one being hailed.

According to the council’s literature, which was verbally repeated at the beginning of the session, “the invocation is offered for the use and benefit of the City Council.” One purpose of the invocation is to “encourage recognition of what is worthy of appreciation in our society.” What conceivable part of Satan is worthy of appreciation in our society? People have the right to worship what they want to, but lines do have to be drawn. There are plenty of forums for divergent beliefs, but not at a council meeting that makes decisions for the safety and well-being of the town’s residents. Satan is not interested in either and, in fact, wants nothing but destruction, death, and chaos.

I can appreciate the council’s desire to be open to a variety of viewpoints and beliefs. But if these beliefs are in opposition to the council’s own declarations, then why would they approve of such? Moreover, why would the mayor remain standing throughout the invocation? I question where this city is going and to whom it is claiming allegiance. If someone has misdirected beliefs, is it our responsibility to support and condone those beliefs? The battle between Jesus and Satan ended on Calvary, and Jesus Christ was the victor over sin, death, and Satan. This is the truth that needs to be proclaimed, not what was stated about Satan in the guise of being an invocation. Wake up City Council and align yourselves to the truth, not to the lies; do not take the bait again.

CAROL SCHNEIDER

Grand Junction

City Council’s religious invocations long violated the Constitution

In his letter about having to tolerate “unsavory” selections for invocations, former City Councilman Gregg Palmer failed to mention that council’s religious invocations had long violated the U.S. Constitution by the time Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers brought it to the city’s attention in 2008. The city attorney agreed council had violated the law for decades by hosting almost exclusively Christian prayers at their meetings and compelling the audience to remain standing and pray in the name of “Jesus Christ.”

U.S. law mandates that government remain strictly neutral in matters of religion. The city attorney explained this to council, but council wanted to keep things as they were, so they crafted the current invocation policy that lets them squeak by with keeping prayers to “Jesus Christ” on the docket, as long as they tolerate people of religions they like less giving an invocation every now and then.

Mr. Palmer also failed to mention the Ten Commandments tablet on City Hall grounds violated the Constitution as well. After citizens pointed that out to council, council turned down a free way to remedy the problem by giving the tablet to the church across the street, which offered to take it and display it prominently. Instead, council spent $64,000 of taxpayer money to do an end run around the Constitution by putting up the “Cornerstones plaza” in front of City Hall.
City Council needs to obey U.S. law and reclaim its gravitas with a moment of silence.

ANNE LANDMAN
Board member and founder, Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers
Grand Junction

Consider supporting children in our community as a CASA volunteer advocate

As we near back-to-school time, many children get excited to see their friends from school and share their amazing summertime stories. But some children have a different perspective. While away from the structure and safe-haven of school, they lived their summer in uncertainty, often lacking food, and have even witnessed or experienced violence. Those children are happy to return to school because, for them, it is a place of safety, consistency and normalcy, with teachers and school friends.

I have been an educator in Mesa County for many years and have seen some of those children removed from their homes and placed in foster care for their own safety. I have also had the opportunity and privilege of working alongside several Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteer advocates as they have supported those children. CASA volunteers work with families, agencies, and our court system to ensure that children placed in foster care have their voices heard as decisions are being made about their lives.

I’ve seen firsthand how CASA volunteers work side by side with school staff to support children who have experienced trauma and help them overcome the emotional challenges, giving them a chance to feel safe enough to learn.

I have seen how the advocates spend their time talking with teachers, families, and most importantly, the child, making certain that their voices, and hearts, are heard in court. Children who have suffered abuse or neglect and are forced to deal with the resulting trauma can have better outcomes when all those involved work together for the child’s best interest.

As we embark on a new school year, I hope you’ll consider supporting children in our community as a CASA volunteer advocate. You can learn more at the next Volunteer Info Night, Thursday August 24 at 5:30 p.m. To register, go to AChildsVoice.org.

TRISHA GIALLANZA
MCVSD 51 Teacher
CASA Board Member

Grand Junction

A cyclist tax could address issues of safety and convenience

This letter comes from a cyclist who tours, commutes, and shops from the seat of a recumbent bicycle.

There has been talk of taxing cyclists to have them “pay their fair share.” I personally am not against fees and registration of bicycles, tricycles, quads, and Velomobile, but it should be a well-thought-out plan that addresses issues of safety and convenience.

I would like to see the laws that are on the books for cycles enforced and fines levied to cyclists who commit traffic law infractions. If this were done, good things would happen for cyclists and drivers. This action would help remove the ill will many motorists have towards cyclists and would make the world safer for cyclists.

I caution all involved in this decision to be cognizant of the fact that cyclists do not do near the damage to the environment nor the roadways that motorized traffic does. Fee amounts should reflect that. I would also remind all involved of two more factors: bicycles are the most efficient way to transport human beings on the planet, and bicycles are sometimes the sole form of transportation available to some of the working poor.

Personally, I would jump at a chance to pay a federal registration fee, would be willing to submit to a safety inspection, and would welcome a requirement that there needs to be certain safety equipment on every road-using cyclist. I would welcome these things if it enabled me to use the interstate roadway system.

I would welcome a certain level of local fees if the fees in part went to the maintenance and development of multiuser pathways.

WILLIAM CLINE
Grand Junction

City should not have invited Satanist to give invocation

Well, Grand Junction invited a Satanist to invoke his god.

Benjamin Franklin, when he called for prayer at the Convention of 1787, did not call for prayer to Satan. He did not quote the satanic verses a half dozen times. He did quote the “Sacred Writings” including “We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build it.”

Grand Junction created policy to invite such disorder. They offered the invocation to anyone diluting the purpose and the value of the invocation. Satan is not my God. I cannot agree with the rebellious who invoke Satan. Pity the city that embraces such.

ROBERT JAMES BURKHOLDER
Fruita

The ‘middle’ moves ‘left’

Given its unfortunately declining circulation among local “conservatives” – as noted by Peter Hessler in The New Yorker (“How Trump Is Transforming Rural America,” July 24, 2017) – the sanguine sophistry of the Sentinel’s Wednesday editorial (“The middle strikes back”) is perhaps understandable.

First, the Sentinel’s editors wistfully credit Donald Trump with maneuvering the health care debate so as to “encourage middle ground solutions,” when every available fragment of objective evidence suggests that Trump has no grasp whatsoever of health care policy.

Second, the Sentinel blithely regurgitates the familiar talking point that the Affordable Care Act was “passed the wrong way – with no Republican support,” while conveniently forgetting that the ACA was originally a “conservative” proposal and that Republicans participated in months of public hearings and amended the ACA over 100 times (including adding the end-of-life counseling provision which precipitated Sarah Palin’s infamous “Death Panel” meme that Republicans then cynically embraced).

The Sentinel’s resurrection of this “false equivalency” also disregards the fact that the absence of Republican votes had little to do with the substance of the ACA (which had already proven its merit as RomneyCare in Massachusetts), but rather was an integral element of their avowed obstructive strategy to “deny President Obama a second term.”

Third, and contrary to the Sentinel’s conciliatory canard, it matters very much “how we got here” – because the failure to learn from that history leaves the door open for more Republican chicanery. For example, the ACA itself has always provided for interstate compacts, but the contiguous “Red States” that would benefit the most from pooling their underserved rural counties are the same states that refuse to expand Medicaid and whose Republican-appointed insurance commissioners still jealously guard their parochial prerogatives.

In sum, regardless of the ACA’s admitted flaws as a premise for the health care dialectic, Republicans’ Faustian antithesis – as reflected in their seven years of falsehood-based opposition to and sabotage of the ACA while offering no credible alternative – has now been exposed as an utter fraud. Therefore, it is at best intellectually dishonest to credit the latter with “encouraging middle ground solutions” when the eventual synthesis will be much more attributable to growing support for the former and principled rejection of the latter.

BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction


COMMENTS

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Amazing how many are opposed to freedom of speech and religion for others, but are the first to complain when they feel their own is being violated.

Ms. Schnieder, you have written a letter based on your beliefs. Has it ever occurred to you that it is only one of many world views and, although you are a true-believer that somehow we should give special consideration to Christian dogma, others are deeply offended by that perspective. You are free to live in your own little bubble if you choose to but not to try to impose it on others. It is that way in the constitution and GJ is not free to ignore it. Nor any current or former office holders.

Carol Schneider’s complaint—“I can appreciate the council’s desire to be open to a variety of viewpoints and beliefs. But if these beliefs are in opposition to the council’s own declarations, then why would they approve of such?”—Shows her total lack of understanding of the First Amendment.

Freedom of speech is not in place to protect only the speech that you or Council members like. It protects all speech, and in particular speech we don’t like. That is what sets the U.S. apart and makes it such a unique country. That is what makes this country great.

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