Letters to the Editor

Message called for touch of tolerance

In a letter to the editor ("Europe, not America, known for wave of religious persecution," June 2), Debi Ortagus said that she saw a bumper sticker that read, "The last time we mixed politics and religion, people were burned at the stake." She was apparently amused by this statement and said that we have had separation of church and state since our Constitution was enacted, and that no one has ever been burned at the stake in America for their religious preference.

Well, she was right about our Constitution and about never burning people at the stake in America because of religious preferences. If the bumper sticker referred to the Salem witch trials, it was somewhat in error of fact but not meaning.

The 1692 Salem witch trials resulted in the hanging, not burning, of 19 people who were accused and convicted of consorting with the devil (witchcraft) because they were different. Between four and 13 more people died in prison after being convicted. Their accusers were their devout Christian friends and neighbors of Salem, Mass.

I believe the bumper sticker's real meaning was to warn us of the consequences of not adhering to our constitutional provisions for the separation of church and state.

The Salem witch trials are merely one example of the devastation caused when this concept is ignored. The Romans persecuted Christians on the basis of religious preference. During the various inquisitions of the Dark Ages, thousands were tortured, burned, hanged or a combination of all three because they were accused of "heresy" by a dominant religious power.

In our own time, just look at Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. They don't call the wars they've been fighting among themselves for centuries "jihads" because they could not agree on a common economic policy. They were, and are, fought for the total power and domination by one religion or religious sect - leading to autocracy, not democracy.

The bumper sticker's real message - beware of intolerance!

- Mike Bence

Sugar Hill

D.A. shouldn't bow to outside pressures

Much is being made of District Attorney Danny Porter's decision to prosecute the runaway bride and not prosecute the deputies involved in the tragic Taser death of Frederick Williams.

Because I have zero interest in the first case, I can only opine that I fully support him in his decision to not pursue criminal charges against the Gwinnett County deputies. One may second-guess the appropriateness of using a Taser while subduing someone or whether it made contact with the deceased once, twice or more.

But do we really want a district attorney who would bow to outside pressures and activists who are able to command publicity? I think every benefit of the doubt should be afforded those law enforcement officers who were using a perfectly legal device while in the performance of their duties while in the midst of a violent struggle with only seconds to decide.

If you want to fight to outlaw Tasers, fine, but don't be so quick to sacrifice the career and possible freedom of men we have placed so much responsibility with.

- Johney R. Friar