Letters to the editor (12/12/12)

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Writer’s opinions are different, but the same
Editor:
Halloween was the perfect day for two of the letters published in that day’s edition of the VCNB.
Halloween is traditionally a day for telling scary stories; the letters by Sylvestre Sisneros and Terry Mehaffey are spooky indeed.
Both letters tell of the evil actions of the imperious Republicans and equally nefarious Christians. But it is not the fairy tales told which are so scary; the scary part is that their expressed opinions are widely proclaimed and rarely contended despite the fact that these opinions are demonstrably erroneous and devoid of honest exploration for the truth.
Mr. Sisneros claims to have come away from Mass offended, presumably (based on the tenor of his complaint) due to some presentation during Mass which encouraged parishioners to vote against proponents of abortion and gay rights.
(I was not at the Mass, so I admit to being ignorant of what was actually said, but would be happy to be educated if this is in error.)
Mr. Sisneros intimates in his next paragraph that the offense he felt was, at least in some measure, related to “the founders (mandating) the strict separation of church and state.”
While it is true that religion is mentioned in the Constitution, it is not that the freedom of religion is limited by the First Amendment — the freedom of religion is secured.  Religions (all followers including leadership) are free to act (exercise their religion) in whichever way they wish so as to remain true to the convictions of their religion.
The First Amendment says that the federal government cannot interfere with this free exercise. Our popular culture, built as it is on selfishness, has sought to turn the meaning of the amendment upside down so as to prohibit the church from offering criticism of the social and political strongholds which have been built to provide the sustenance which sustains the selfishness.
One of the most contentious of the strongholds is the “right to abortion.”  Both writers express dismay that someone  might stand in the public square in opposition to killing babies (Mr. Sisneros — the church, Mr. Mehaffey — Republicans and the “would-be Taliban.”)
This same position is seen nationwide as the Catholic Church is denounced as “anti-woman” because, believing abortion to be killing, the church has sought to avoid having to pay for abortions as is required under Obamacare.
Republicans are involved in a “war on women” because they, believing that such a conviction is not limited to a particular church, or even religion at all, have sought the same reprieve for the population at large.  Abortion rights advocates use such language to vilify the pro-life stance then use this “separation of church and state” Sophistry to marginalize any response.
It is vanishingly rare to see support for the pro-life stance in any major media. Why? Because the pro-life position is one which demands personal responsibility.
Media, by and large, is selling the idea that “freedom” means freedom from consequences to people who agree with this idea and are seeking affirmation of their beliefs.
As Mr. Obama said during his last campaign, “If they (his daughters) make a mistake, I wouldn’t want them punished with a baby.” Or, as Mr. Mehaffey’s bastion of honor, Margaret Sanger said, “the most merciful thing a large family can do for one of its infant members is to kill it.”
While no one has to go any further than the Oct. 31 edition of the VCNB to find the calls for Christians to keep their religion to themselves regarding abortion and see them vilified for their conviction, Mr. Mehaffey’s “would-be Taliban”; support for true freedom of religion is scarce … even amongst the leadership of the church.
As to his claim that the church should also speak out on the positive things the “party” has done: social justice (which has nothing to do with justice), “Social Security, Medicare, programs for the poor,” etc., Mr. Sisneros must have just not been paying attention.
On April 16 of this year, the Catholic bishops actually did come out extolling the virtues of such social programs, and denouncing the budget proposed by Mr. Ryan because of potential reductions in growth of these programs. Of course we didn’t hear much of a cry from the left that the church should shut up and be quiet about this announcement.
Mr. Sisneros is right about one thing. Based on the Johnson Amendment from 1954, churches stand to lose their tax exempt status if they openly campaign for or against a particular candidate (actually the amendment does not mention political parties).
But the fact that churches adhere to this rule is more of a black mark than it would be if they ignored then opposed it.  If one candidate is a proponent of values which parallel the convictions of the church (say pro-life) and their opponent is a proponent of policies which are clearly antithetical to the convictions of the church (say favoring partial birth abortion) — the church should be silent because it might lose money? Really?
The church’s silence on moral issues can be bought? Submitting to this rule brings shame to the leadership of the church.
But Mr. Mehaffey does not stop with condemnation of those who are pro-life, he also makes the claim that the legislature is working “feverishly for aspirin between the knees contraception.” This is just not true.
There is no legislative action trying to limit women’s access to contraceptives. The claim is merely a lazy, unfounded reiteration of a lie promulgated by statists looking to scare the gullible by demonizing their (the statists) political foes. Mehaffey’s condescending plea to the “ladies” suggests he believes he might just know who the gullible are.
Statists believe that the government is the cornucopia from which all bounty flows. Thus Mr. Obama’s “You didn’t build that” claim with regards to personal accomplishment and the left’s claim that a desire amongst conservatives that they not be forced to pay for other people’s contraceptives is “limiting access.”
However, the government can’t be the cornucopia because it has nothing. All the government can do is take from one group and distribute to another.
This is the danger deTocqueville warned of in studying the American government in 1835. It is this progressive push towards redistribution, the continued demonization of success, which is being used to drive a wedge between Americans.

Dana Davis
Los Lunas

Three women have our futures in hand
Editor:
The election of 2012 was also about three women, Sandy, Tammy and Maria Juana.
Sandy entered the election with a fury. Like a bull in a china shop, her message was clear, Mother Nature has more power than any of us.
Yes, the oceans are rising. Yes, the planet is sick. Global warming is real.
If we continue to deny it, unthinkable devastation lies ahead for the human race. Our survival depends on eliminating not expanding our addiction to oil, coal and gas.
We must rethink our response plans to natural disasters. These catastrophic events will continue to increase in frequency and force. Sandy’s message is get to work. The time to start is yesterday.
The embattled state of Wisconsin sent Tammy our way. Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin, our nation’s first lesbian senator. At the same time, they rejected Paul Ryan and his extreme right-wing views on a woman’s right to make choices affecting her health and well-being.
Tammy is one of 20 women U.S. Senators. This number will continue to grow as an unstoppable reflection of the truth. In fact, women are the majority group nationally and globally.
Women, not men, are the intuitive housekeepers. Our national house is a mess. Tammy’s promise is that our house will be cleaned. The task is enormous and our women must by physically fit to lead the way. The time to start is yesterday.
Finally, with bold defiance, Colorado and Washington challenged federal law. On Nov. 6, both states legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
The laws will go into effect on Jan. 5, 2013. Marijuana will have the same status as alcohol.
The majority of Americans support those efforts. Legalization is seen as a sensible alternative to the failed war on drugs.
Maria Juan’s message is that we can no longer afford to waste money and manpower on losing battles. We need to spend our money on things that matter, such as good, well-paying jobs.
Our national house is a mess. Our problems will continue to increase. There is a mountain of work to be done. All that work means jobs.
We can start by telling others about Sandy, Tammy and Maria Juana. Their messages collectively are break the silence. The time to start is yesterday.

Marie Foreman
Belen

More information for incorporation
Editor:
January is just around the corner, and residents of Rio Communities are being asked to vote to become a city.
As things now stand, we are being told, a la Nancy Pelosi, “First you have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it”.
I have asked twice for a copy of the budget information the incorporation committee has developed. I was told that it would be emailed to me in both cases. I have not received it.
The committee alleges that incorporation will not increase taxes. They appear to be relying on state help to achieve this.  But, will the state support us forever? How long will the state support last?
At an earlier meeting, a representative of the committee presented some of the activities that would be covered, including 24/7 police protection, planning and zoning among them.  Nice, but without supporting budget information it’s not possible to judge the tax impact or the value of incorporation.
I believe that the city of Belen has rejected the idea of annexation based upon their conclusion that the added revenue in taxes would not compensate for the costs.
I’m still open to voting in favor of incorporation, but only if convincing financial information is made available to voters.
Otherwise it’s a pig in a poke. One with no lipstick.

Robert Sanders
Rio Communities