Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, June 28, 2002

How can Pledge of Allegiance be connected with religion at all?

One of the many things that still surprises me after emigrating to the United States from the United Kingdom are the pointless arguments as to whether things like reciting religious beliefs at school is unconstitutional.

What I don't understand is this: How can reciting the Pledge of Allegiance be construed as persecuting someone's religious beliefs? As you may be aware, the courts have decided that this is indeed the case in nine western states, and is therefore illegal to utter in a school.

I still don't fully understand what part of the government a particular school is. Are there now three houses -- the Senate, the House of Representatives and the School? Simply being paid federal dollars does not make you part of the government. If so, then any business with a

federal contract would equally be a part of the government, and it would be equally illegal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in those businesses.

So if pledging your allegiance to the United States is now religious persecution, why isn't letting kids have a holiday at Christmas also persecution? The words "one nation under God" are far more vague than the term "Christmas," and atheists should be even more offended by this, because even if you don't call it by that name, by taking it, you are still celebrating at least one of the religions those dates coincide with.

Anyway, I was under the impression that in order to be persecuted someone must act against you in some way or force you to do a particular thing. Surely being banned from being religious on government property more aptly applies here. And what about not being able to recite a prayer out loud? Freedom of speech, anyone? I don't believe there is a "freedom of quietness and not hearing anything that offends" clause in either the Bill of Rights or the Constitution.

I do understand why forcing someone to follow a religious belief is not right. But simply seeing or hearing something with a religious connotation is not persecution. Stopping someone from saying or doing something religious, however, is persecution. And laws stopping people from doing such things would, therefore, be government persecution of religion.

Oh, I could extrapolate further, but why bother, because if what I am saying is rubbish or offensive, then remind me what the point of that part of the Constitution was about. Was it about not being offended on government property, or was it about stopping the government from setting up a "State Church" that had the power to kill and torture people that didn't believe quite the same way as they did?

Well, I suppose I just don't understand, seeing as I wasn't born here, but even though I yawned my way through countless religious recitals in English schools, I don't remember feeling persecuted. Bored yes, but not persecuted.

Finally, despite the rant about religion, I don't really see how being patriotic and pledging your allegiance to your country is in any way an act of religion, and I don't see how a few words that rankle atheists make it so. If this were true, then by the same logic, all American money should be banned from school property, because it is equally a form of religious persecution.

Andrew Bright, Soldotna

Even those who don't live here benefit from government services

Just a few of the reasons we need to pay borough taxes and city taxes, even though we don't live there: The city provides an atmosphere for industry, namely for one, the grocery store. In order for this grocery to operate and be a successful entity, it must have streets for John Q. Public to get there. These streets have to be maintained by the city equipment and city employee. The city provides us police protection, so it is safe to walk the streets. The borough provides us with medical and educational facilities. Our children and grandchildren can be educated locally. I personally don't have to drive 200 miles to a hospital.

There are endless reasons why we should support our local governing bodies. The most important reason: You can buy it here!

Carol Braun, Kenai

Kenai River Classic organizers should consider canceling event

This letter is for Brett Huber, the Kenai River Sportfishing Association and all others who support the politicos and other elitists who participate in the Kenai River Classic king salmon fishing extravaganza, being held this year July 2 and 3.

This year marks a historical first for the Kenai River. Never before has the Kenai River been closed entirely to king salmon fishing and, based on the current trend of kings entering the river and being counted, the early run minimum escapement goal of 7,200 will be about 1,200 fish short on June 30.

Arbitrarily, the second run of kings is deemed to begin July 1. Then, magically, the early run is forgotten and everyone can use bait and all caught kings can be kept! The only "wrinkle" this year is the river is closed to king fishing above the Soldotna Sterling Highway bridge. So, this July, not only will you have all those boats, as in previous years, jamming the lower river, but, in addition, you will have all the boats that normally fish above the Sterling Highway bridge on the lower river, too. Couple that thought with the Kenai Classic and the first few days of July ought to make for a real fun outing on the river!

Here is the challenge for "Mr. Catch-and-Release" Brett Huber, Joe Connors and all other participants of the Kenai River Classic. Now is the time to impose one of two actions: Just cancel the Classic this year in the name of fishery health and conservation, or, failing that, announce this year's Classic fishing competition, in keeping with KRSA doctrine and setting an example for others, will be no bait, single hooks and catch-and-release for all fish sizes. That will keep the caught fish mortality rate to about 7 percent.

In the first case you would be doing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game a big, big favor by taking off the political pressure to keep the river open the first few days of July just to appease the elitists. Unless the current, decreasing trend of relatively few fish per day entering the river dramatically reverses itself and is sustained in the next few days, there is no logical (or any other) justification for the river to be reopened for fishing at all.

In fact, unless a lot of new fish show up in the next few days, it is probable that most of the fish that will be caught and kept the first few days of July will be from the early run of kings; in other words, those that entered the river in all of June and most of May when the river was closed to all fishing for conservation reasons.

Now, Mr. Huber, you have made this "catch-and-release shoe" (in the name of fishery conservation) and we all know it fits you. The question is: Do you have the courage to wear it? We'll see soon enough.

Richard Hahn, Soldotna

Too few jobs in Alaska for number of professionals who go to college

As to the letter regarding Fran Ulmer working for our university system's funding, the funding formula is a statute and must be changed in the House and Senate and then approved by the governor. Our schools send out students into the work force every year with very few possible opportunities for employment. There are not enough jobs in Alaska to accommodate all the professional people turned out every year from our colleges. New teachers have a hard time getting a job in Alaska. Hundreds of instrument techs were trained at Kenai Peninsula College with very little possibility of a job.

What has the industry of Alaska got to do with more funding?

Funding is for improving the schools but that does not guarantee a job in a small market. As a parent and concerned citizen, I watched my children over the years search for work in a very closed job market. You had to know somebody who knew somebody to get a job. The colleges don't teach that kind of skill. You learn that the hard way.

There are not a lot of white collar jobs to find. We need to focus on teaching entry level jobs and blue collar jobs as well. These could be the plumbing trades, electrical workers, pipe fitters, computer techs, building trades, heavy equipment operators and iron workers. This list could go on and on, but this is just an example. These people need just as much respect as any other profession, yet they get very little attention from the regular educational system.

Violet M. VinZant, Soldotna

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