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Hawaii's diverse faiths have God in common

In his "Price of Paradise" article, Mitchell Kahle mentioned that most people in Hawaii don't believe in God since the majority practice different faiths ("Removing 'God' assures religious liberty and justice for all," Star-Bulletin, Oct. 6). I disagree. Whether it's a Muslim Allah, Buddhist Bahaulah or a Hawaiian god, they all have one thing in common: God.

Kahle failed to justify why the word "god" is unconstitutional and therefore should be removed from public oaths and pledges. His argument, reinforced by quotes from the Constitution, was brilliant but lacks backbone. Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention that using "god" in a public life or government speech is illegal or violates one's rights. So why fix something that is not broken?

Amanzio Elieisar

Kahle mistaken about court's 'Lemon Test'

Mitch Kahle errs greatly when he states that the Supreme Court would use the "Lemon Test" to decide matters concerning government endorsement of religion. In fact, the Supreme Court would use the Endorsement Test, authored by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (which has been in use for some time now), to decide such matters.

The phrase "under God," as used in the Pledge of Allegiance, is cited in that Endorsement Test as an example of "de minimus" references to religion that cannot be construed as government endorsements of religion. For this reason, the phrase "under God" will remain in the pledge, and our policemen and firemen need not be manipulated by busybodies like Kahle.

Steve J. Williams

We need not think alike to love alike

Part of our republic's greatness involves honoring traditions, without shunning progress. While some, though by no means all, of our nation's founders were Christian, they purposely did not structure our republic as a theocracy, and thus we do not live in a "Christian nation." If we did, and adhered to Biblical edicts, then besides having "thou shalt not kill" embodied in law we might well require the stoning of adulterers, as well as anyone who failed to keep the Sabbath. At the same time, we might continue to permit slavery, and we would condemn the man who "covets his neighbor's wife," while ignoring it when a wife covets her neighbor's husband (there being only condemnation of males specified by the Commandment).

Language is an important part of our culture. Maintaining references to specific deities or the divine in official documents, pledges and so forth serves to marginalize those who have beliefs other than those of traditional Judeo-Christian religions and sects. It effectively discounts the beliefs of Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, Hindus and millions of others who make up a majority of the world's nations.

I am not writing from an irreligious viewpoint. I was raised as a Lutheran, attending Lutheran grade school and college. I served two years as a Sunday School teacher on the mainland, have been attending church regularly for many years and am honored to serve on my church's Religious Education Committee.

If we are to show the world that the United States truly embraces diversity, then we would do well to eliminate references to any supreme being from taxpayer-supported institutions, oaths or pledges, regardless of our personal religious beliefs.

To quote a phrase often found in the Unitarian Universalist church programs, "We need not think alike to love alike."

Konrad E. Hayashi
Pearl City

Free speech, but only in selected areas

We are blessed to live in a country where we have freedom of speech. Or do we? Free speech is something that can be said or written only in certain places. If it has the word God in it, it can't be used in government because people misinterpret the phrase of separation of church and state.

I am fortunate to have a nonprofit organization called "Hug Me Bears" that sent out decorated bears and two poems I wrote for the Sept. 11 anniversary. The poems were given to firehouses in New York City. One poem, titled One Day At A Time, has the word "God" in it. We received a card from one firehouse thanking us for what we had done with the poem.

I sent one of the poems to a fire chief asking if I could give one to each of the firehouses on the island. I received a letter from the fire chief stating that "they can't put (the poem) up because they are waiting on a legal opinion from their Corporation Counsel regarding the separation of church and state."

Isn't freedom of speech grand, that a handful of people can dictate how and what others think and feel? Then where does the freedom of religion come in? I don't believe our forefathers meant it to be that way. Where is my freedom of speech and the firemen's and policemen's freedom of speech? God bless America.

Rose Pamatigan

Lawmaker's religion overrode people's will

It's a sorry fact that Rep. Joe Gomes lets his religion govern his decisions over the will of the people whom he offered to represent ("It's impossible and ill-considered to erase all references to the divine," Star-Bulletin, Oct. 6).

This was seen in his opposition to the Death with Dignity bill, which 72 percent of our citizens stated they favored; however, Gomes, because of his personal religious beliefs, opposed it. Separation of church and state lets all people make a choice, but no one should be allowed to proselytize, as do the statements "one God," "under God," "with God's help" and "so help me God."

'Andi' van der Voort




Price of Paradise
The Price of Paradise appears each week in the Sunday Insight section. The mission of POP is to contribute lively and informed dialog about public issues, particularly those having to do with our pocketbooks. Reader responses appear later in the week. If you have thoughts to share about today's POP articles, please send them, with your name and daytime phone number, to, or write to Price of Paradise, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana, Honolulu, HI 96813.
John Flanagan
Contributing Editor

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