- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Separating church and state

In his column “Explosive facts” (Commentary, Tuesday), Thomas Sowell notes that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution. OK, but the principle is implied because the Constitution does not give government any power to meddle with religion.

In 1802, President Jefferson, with the concurrence of Attorney General Levi Lincoln, wrote that the First Amendment erects “a wall of separation between church and state.” As early as 1879, the Supreme Court agreed with Jefferson, as did Supreme Courts from 1947 on. Further, nearly all state constitutions contain church-state separation provisions. And in 1952, Congress approved the Puerto Rican Constitution, which declares, “There shall be complete separation of church and state.” In 1959, Congress approved constitutions for the new states of Alaska and Hawaii, both of which include the separation principle and specifically bar the use of public funds to aid faith-based schools.

America is supposed to be about freedom and liberty, not government restrictions on our basic, hard-won liberties.



Americans for Religious Liberty

Silver Spring

Clarifying the Declaration

Two otherwise fine columns ran recently that gave somewhat misleading interpretations of the meaning of equality in the Declaration of Independence. Edward Hudgins, in his Monday Commentary column “Birthday blips,” equated equality with free will. He wrote: “Therein we find our real equality. We each have a free will and rational capacity to direct and take charge of our own lives.”

On Tuesday, Jay Ambrose in his Commentary column, “Iconoclasts and the Fourth,” equated equality with freedom generally. He writes: “By ‘equality,’ we are told, they did not mean that our abilities were equal, but that no one was entitled to boss anyone else around without his say-so.”

Actually, both men make the mistake of reading more into the phrase “all men are created equal” than is appropriate. The authors of the Declaration of Independence simply meant that no one should have special rights or privileges before the law or in dealing with the government because of who their parents were.

Though the intent of the phrase was not complicated and was crystal clear to all 18th-century readers, it nevertheless was revolutionary in that it proposed eliminating class distinctions based on birth. In a society like England’s with sharp distinctions between nobles and commoners, it was a shocking idea.

One practical application of the concept of equality is found in the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, which calls for criminals to be given “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury…” Note that it does not say a jury of their peers. Because all Americans are equal, the term peer has no meaning in the U.S. legal system.



Special pleadings and illegal aliens

“Irish crusade” in the Embassy Row column (World, yesterday) says P.J Bradley has “stumped the halls of Congress, dropping off letters at offices in both the Senate and House, and pleading the cause of illegal aliens from Ireland.” The issue here is this: An illegal alien is an illegal alien. Neither the ethnicity nor the country of origin should have any bearing on whether an individual should be allowed to remain in the United States in violation of U.S. law.

Mr. Bradley’s use of the hyphenated designation “Irish-American” engenders no sympathy from me, an American of Irish descent. I have never been an Irish-American. If a question of my ethnicity ever arises, I am always an American of Irish descent.

Ireland is no less a foreign country than, say, Mexico. If people from either country are in the United States in violation of our laws, they should face the appropriate punishment. The fact that Sens. Edward Kennedy and John McCain are sympathetic to Mr. Bradley’s entreaties carries no weight. Messrs. Kennedy and McCain support the Senate’s proposed illegal alien citizenship gift legislation, which does not recognize the rule of law, U.S. sovereignty or territorial integrity.



The dark side of health care

The article “Reimbursement cuts said threat to doctors” by Kara Rowland highlights an important issue in access to health care (Business, Saturday). However, the article fails to address two major components that contribute to insurers’ costs and patient care and accessibility.

Medical errors and hospital-acquired infections cause millions of injuries and deaths and account for tens of billions of health-care dollars per year. Though Medicare and Medicaid are paying the lion’s share of these physician- and hospital-caused tragedies, commercial insurers are footing a significant part of the bill as well.

T. Michael Preston, executive director of MedChi (the Maryland State Medical Society) cites an Institute of Medicine report on the issue but makes no reference to the institute’s report on medical negligence and the 100,000 lives lost every year as a result. Nor does he mention the additional estimated 100,000 yearly deaths and 2 million injuries from diseases spread to patients in hospitals.

Physicians do indeed deserve to be paid well for their important services when they are competently performed, and most are.

Health-care workers, with their generous benefits and healthy salaries, are among the most privileged in our society, and they enjoy high esteem from most of us. The same cannot be said of countless other essential professions.

Though insurance industry greed should not be discounted and definitely should be reined in, those in the medical fields who wish to cast that stone must first address the glass house in which they live and where many patients suffer needlessly. Addressing the issue of dwindling insurance reimbursements to doctors without completing the picture will not contribute to better health care or accessibility.



The Coalition for Patients’ Rights


Global warming and the ‘big lie’

In his letter to the editor “Cooling the global-warming scare” (Saturday), Joseph Hudson slimed those who hold doctorates for not rebutting the greenhouse theory of global warming. Where has he been? Seventeen thousand of us signed our names to a petition on the Web opposing the Kyoto Protocol and disputing the validity of the greenhouse theory. (I hold a doctorate in air sanitation.)

Most if not all of those 17,000 scientists and engineers have written rebuttals, but in vain, for we do not have a platform, as Wes Pruden does. However, we agree with him on much of what he writes.

It is a big lie that scientists support the global warming theory; most do not. It is journalists who support it, including some who write for The Washington Times. There are plenty of rebuttals from doctorate holders; you just have to look for them, as few journalists will print such things (Mr. Pruden and a few other bright minds excepted).

Not even one of the four requirements for the greenhouse theory has been proved scientifically. It would be relatively easy to prove the greenhouse theory of global warming wrong. It is impossible to prove it is right, but that is where billions are being spent.


John Day, Ore.

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