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Someone's confused

Okay, someone's confused.

For one, the ACLU is not a religion (neither is atheism). The ACLU is an organization that was formed to protect the civil liberties of people of all philosophies (not 'just' atheists).

Secondly, the phrase Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion means exactly separation of church and state, although it doesn't say it in those words. It means no verbiage will be written into law that favors one religion over another.

Atheists' beliefs should be respected, too. The ACLU does not want you to stop practicing your religion, but it does want you to stop cramming it down other people's throats.

Taking out under God in our pledge of allegiance gives meaning to the pledge, for atheists. But taking it out does not diminish the meaning of the pledge for religious folks.

See, the ACLU tries to respect all people, which is more than I can say for some. Its funny, we are trying to eradicate Islamic (grungy looking mountain men with rifles) extremism around the world, while Christian extremists (suit-wearing cowards that hire their guns) run rampant. Go figure, the ruler of the free world is one. ' Ben Harris, Central Point

Consult a dictionary

I am responding to Richard L. Kerr (Jan. 5), who should consult a dictionary before writing.

According to Webster's New English Dictionary, religion is a belief in god or gods. The same dictionary defines atheism as a disbelief in or denial of the existence god. Therefore, to refer to the ACLU as an atheistic religion is illogical.

The dictionary defines Church (n), Capital C, as All Christians. If there is no separation of Church (all Christians) and the state, where does that leave all non-Christians? By Mr. Kerr's logic, I guess the rest are excommunicants.

As to the comment that the ACLU took some of the words of Thomas Jefferson out of context and gave them a meaning he never intended (is Mr. Kerr channeling Mr. Jefferson?) he might want to read the letter Jefferson wrote to the Baptist Association in 1802 where he outlined his views of the Wall of Separation ' which became shorthand for the Establishment Clause. Read the letter at .

Finally, Mr. Kerr again refers to atheism as a state religion. If religion by definition is belief in God and atheism is a non-belief in God, these two terms in the same sentence are incongruous. ' Bob Burgoyne, former Medford resident, Longview, Wash.

More propaganda

Isaac Walker's letter (Dec. 28) about Israel is just more of the propaganda we expect from the radical left. It contains all the usual hyperbole and catch phrases: illegal occupation, war crimes, wrath of Zionists.

A lack of any substance or detailed facts is the hallmark of these letters. Fearing facts that lead to positions against their beliefs, they instead offer their twisted conclusions as a substitute.

Imagine the desperation when one's guiding political philosophy ' powerful is bad and weak is good ' proves to be nothing but a canard. Fact: Israel embraces democracy, women's rights, gay rights, workers' rights, ethnic diversity and freedoms of speech, press and religion.

It is Israel's jealous and hate-filled Arab neighbors who violently suppress these liberties and relentlessly terrorize anyone who promotes them. How tragic for the Israeli people that their children are murdered in their sleep and while they play by savage suicide bombers and Qassam rockets. The radical left could never condemn this, since such facts don't fit their agenda. ' Stan Shulster, Ashland

Inaugural costs outrageous

We are told that George Bush plans an inaugural celebration that will cost millions. Wasting that kind of money (or any money) on such an event when a simple swearing-in is all that is required will be a good test of the man's character and show just how compassionate our so-called compassionate conservative really is. (Of course, we already know that.)

We are being criticized around the world for our miserly pledge of aid to the stricken victims of the Pacific tsunami, but we can, of course, always find money to continue George's War in Iraq. So, spending even a dime on an inaugural celebration would be unconscionable. ' Richard Hart, Talent