A Look at Church and State


In the Jan. 13 issue of Steamboat Today, there is an AP news article titled "church-state separation questioned."

The first paragraph states, "Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia complained Sunday that the courts have gone overboard in keeping God out of government." A further paragraph starts out quoting Scalia saying, "It is a Constitution that morphs while you look at it like Plasticman," and then concludes, "contending that the framers of the Constitution did not intend for God to be stripped from the government." Actually Scalia is right on target and correct in his various statements.

The phrase and idea "separation of church and state" does not appear in the Constitution of the United States nor in the Declaration of Independence. The idea does appear in a letter that President Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in the early 1800s.

The Danbury Baptist Association was a group of about two dozen churches in the Connecticut Valley. These Connecticut Baptists were definitely a religious minority in that state. The Danbury Baptists had written to President Jefferson expressing their fears that a larger established religious group would obtain favor with the government, and thus the Baptists would lose their freedom of religious rights.

The Baptists did not want the state or government to grant any favor to one certain religious group, church or denomination. President Jefferson, in his reply to the Danbury Baptists, addressed their concerns that there must be a sure and certain wall of separation between church and state. Thus, the phrase "separation between the church and state" means the state or government would not intrude into the affairs of the church. It does not mean the church would have no influence or say so about religious values in the affairs of government and national life.

Jefferson's letter was in agreement with the Constitution of the United States, which became effective years before in 1791. Article 1 of the Bill of Rights states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..."

Some folks have the false idea that we should not mix religion with politics. Benjamin Franklin said that we should. "We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel."

Proverbs 14:34 says, "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."

I took my first pastorate of a Baptist church in 1952. Since that time I have watched the issue of separation between church and state come to the attention of the public again and again.

Dr. Arthur Houk


Equal access

My name is Jon Allee, and I am in my senior year at Steamboat Springs High School. I have lived the last 20 years in a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy. For the past eight years I have been a part of the Steamboat community.

I am very excited to be graduating from high school in the spring and have worked extremely hard to become as independent as possible. In order to maintain my independence, it is essential that the city and local businesses fulfill their obligation to provide handicapped access for me throughout town.

Right now, I have to go from the high school to work every Thursday afternoon. Since winter began, this trip has been difficult and dangerous because of sidewalks that are not properly cleared. The area of greatest concern is where the snow from the plows piles up on the sidewalk ramps. This, beyond being incredibly frustrating and discouraging, has caused my safety and mobility to be jeopardized. In order to maneuver around the snowbanks, I have had to drive my wheelchair on main street and have also been forced to use side streets that don't provide the safety of a sidewalk. These options put me at risk in many ways, but my greatest concern is that I am left vulnerable to being hit by a car.

I am sure that the businesses and the city of Steamboat Springs agree that the town area should be as easily accessible to me as it is to everyone else.

Jon Allee

Steamboat Springs

Parents' choice

The separation of church and state is a part of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

There is an important difference in contacting and attempting to recruit students by the Winter Sports Club and the Boy Scouts on the one hand and by any church organization, including Young Life, on the other.

I agree completely with Tom Miller-Freutel and Jeff Troeger that religion is a matter that should be left to parents and their children.

Jerry Rudolph

Steamboat Springs

Thanks, team

On Sunday evening, Dec. 29, 2002, -- the day of the plane crash -- Sheriff John Warner, Sandy Witte and others at the Routt County Search and Rescue provided invaluable assistance to my daughter, her husband and his two sisters. These four individuals became lost while telemarking from Rabbit Ears Pass into Pleasant Valley.

Late that afternoon, my wife and I and my daughter's father-in-law arrived at the Search and Rescue facility on Yampa Avenue. Both Warner and Witte gave us immediate attention and were very helpful and reassuring to us. In spite of being very busy with and exhausted from working on the plane crash, they conducted themselves in a most professional manner. Thankfully, our four skiers found their way to a house at the base of Rabbit Ears and were able to telephone us before the sheriff decided to activate a search team.

Our family has owned a home in Steamboat Springs for several years, but this is our first experience with the Sheriff's Office and Search and Rescue. It is very comforting to know that the community has such a helpful and professional group of individuals who are so willing to be of assistance.

We are indebted to them and thank them very much for their assistance.

Richard L. Mathias

Winnetka, Ill.


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