Monthly Archives: May 2005

Church and State

The following was adapted from a letter I wrote to the editor of the Aberdeen Daily World in 1996.

One often hears folks say that our nation’s founders intended to create the U. S. as a Christian nation and that the constitutional interpretations of “liberal judges” corrupted this intent. Such a statement is a perversion of historical fact.

Thomas Jefferson explains clearly in his autobiography that at its very foundation our nation was created under God – not under Christ. This is particularly evident in Jefferson’s report of debate in the Virginia General Assembly (the oldest legislature of the U.S.) during its work of reviewing and rewriting the colonial legal code, to a form more appropriate “to our republican form of government”, an undertaking mandated by legislation proposed by Jefferson and adopted by the General Assembly.

A Committee of the Assembly composed of “Mr. Pendleton, Mr. Wythe, George Mason, Thomas L. Lee and myself”, Jefferson wrote, had divided the colonial code into statutes deriving from different historical periods “from the Magna Carta to the present”, to review and recommend appropriate revisions. The Committee (minus Mr. Lee who had died shortly after appointment) reported and recommended 126 different bills to the General Assembly on June 18, 1779, one of which, drafted by Jefferson, addressed religious freedom.

“The bill for establishing religious freedom”, Jefferson wrote, “I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that it’s protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that ‘coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion’, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ’, so that it should read ‘Jesus Christ the holy author of our religion.’ The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it’s protection, the Jew, the gentile, the Christian, and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.”

And so it was Jefferson, perhaps the leading political theorist of his time, who, some 10 years before the U. S. Constitutional Convention, produced a draft of the constitution for the new state of Virginia, which Madison later crafted into the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Jefferson’s Virginia “Bill for Religious Freedom”, eloquently transformed by Madison, became the 1st Amendment guarantees of religious freedom. Madison was the craftsman – Jefferson was the architect.

In the ensuing years the Supreme Court has many times supported its church/state decisions by quoting Jefferson. From Taylor v United States (1879), the Court’s first decision under the religion clause, to Everson v Board of Education (1947), in which the Court used Jefferson’s “wall of separation” metaphor in declaring “The first amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state. The wall must be kept high and impregnable”.

The guarantees of religious freedom for each of us, including “infidel(s) of every denomination”, were the creation of two prominent Virginia planters who chafed under the collar of the state established Anglican church, profession to which, in many colonies, was required for a citizen to vote or hold office, and financial support of which was mandatory and often coerced. Jefferson and Madison worked with George Mason and Patrick Henry and with Baptists and Presbyterians to finally, in 1786, disestablish the state church through the adoption by the Virginia General Assembly of Jefferson’s “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom”. Disestablishment soon spread through the South, and ended in Massachusetts in 1833 with the separation of the authority of the Congregationalist church from that of the civil government.

The facts are clear; some simply won’t allow space within their ridged ideological constructs for even a glimpse, some dismiss them as corruptions of “liberal judges.”

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Dubrovnik


This is the bell tower of a cathedral in Dubrovnik, which lies at the Southern terminus of Dalmatia, near Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece. Upon the hour the little bronze fellow strikes his bronze hammer upon the bell. Dubrovnik has been declared a World Heritage site by the UN; and deservedly so. Split, a ways to the North, has also received such designation.

Those traveling to Europe who wish to avoid the cattle drive tourism scene would do themselves a favor by visiting Dalmatia and some of the 1000 islands that lie off its coast. On the island of Hvar, where lavender is grown and its aroma is pervasive, exists the oldest heater in Europe, built in Shakespeare’s time. The island of Brac contains a quarry of very white stone that has been used in the White House and the UN headquarters. On Korcula you can find Marco Polo’s home. And everywhere you go you will find very intricately carved stone building components, headstones, gargoyles, angels, and monuments. In Split you will find a 40 foot bronze statue of Bishop Gregor, whose big toe has been polished, in hopes of good fortune, by the touches of those passing by.
Posted by Hello

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Satsop Fireweed


This picture, from 1979 or so, is of a group of us who had traveled to Portland to protest the Trojan nuclear power plant Portland General Electric was building in Rainier, Oregon.

The same group, the Fireweed affinity group of the Crabshell Alliance, protested construction of the Satsop nuclear generating station; and in 1979 and 1980 hosted alternative energy fairs at the county fairgrounds.

Many in this picture were also arrested in 1978 for trespassing upon the Satsop nuclear site; during the Satsop Reclamation, when a couple hundred people “occupied” the construction site. Arrangement were made for a show trial, with nationally recognized nuclear experts lined up to testify about the dangers of nuclear power; but the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident occurred and the county prosecutor dropped the trespassing charges. Posted by Hello

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Thank You East Grays Harbor

It was September, 1983 when I began my career in municipal administration by signing a contract with the City of McCleary to provide its building and land use code administration and enforcement services. The following Summer I was contacted by the City of Elma and in July of 1984 entered into a contract to also provide such services to Elma and in October 1984 entered into a similar contract with Montesano.

For two pretty frantic years I worked as a freelance bureaucrat for all three cities. Which meant that, each month, I attended six city council meetings, 3 planning commission two boards of adjustment, and various other evening meetings. It was frantic, but I learned a lot.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of learning just about every aspect of local government administration because the residents of Elma, McCleary and Montesano have employed me for about 16 of my 28 years living in the Middle Satsop valley.

To the residents of East Grays Harbor I wish to say that I am very grateful for the employment you have given me over these many years; which, ultimately, has enabled me to pack in the working world while still young enough to enjoy my geezerhood.

My plan (and my plans, except the leaving part, are always subject to change) is to leave the area at the end of September; fly to Merida, Mexico, located near the North coast of the Yucatan Peninsula; rent an apartment; explore Mayan ruins and beach towns; and decide whether I might want to stay for awhile.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mesa Verde


Ok. Ok. One more time. Please. This is in Mesa Verde National Park, near the four corners in Southern Colorado, which is my all time favorite national park. Visitors are guided down into these ancient villages, sheltered from the elements and enemies but often perched on the lip of a cliff.
Posted by Hello

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Life is But a Dream


By God, I think I’ve got it. This I shot from a row boat in Puget Sound. We followed this whale around for quite some time as it dove to feed and surfaced to breath.
Posted by Hello

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Korcula


Please excuse me, but I’m trying to learn how to post pictures here. Consequently, I will bore you with some of my photos. This is sunset over the Adriatic, shot as I was enjoying a dinner of Spagetti Fruti de Mar while fending off hungry cats.Posted by Hello

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized