Don’t distort the facts |

Don’t distort the facts

Dear Editor:I have no desire to enter into a religious dispute, and I do respect each person’s freedom of religion, but I cannot let misinformation about American history go uncorrected. Am I the only one who noticed, in the letter from Ruth Perry (The Aspen Times, March 10), one egregious error and two statements with implications which could be easily misconstrued?Contrary to what Mrs. Perry wrote, the Bill of Rights was passed in 1791. No matter what was written to Thomas Jefferson in 1802, it could not have influenced the First Amendment. Jefferson was the author of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, written in 1776, in which he states “… no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That is all it says. If you are a Christian, an atheist, or one whose god lives in an oak tree, our government cannot interfere, nor can it force you to accept or support any religion.Founded long before the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights, Harvard, Yale and Princeton were established in the colonies by the early Protestants, because they believed that their ministers should be well educated. Schools founded by religious denominations, primarily for the education of their clergy, would, of course, insist on knowledge of the Scriptures. (I understand Harvard and Yale were Congregationalist schools and Princeton was Presbyterian. None of the three is now noted for its religious conservatism.) Her implication is that these were secular institutions.Ms. Perry also makes reference to what our “founders fought and died for.” To imply that the American Revolution was about religion is almost ludicrous. While religious freedoms varied from colony to colony, there were many different sects and denominations represented in our early history. In many years of reading American history, I have never seen religion mentioned as a cause of the revolution of 1776.An individual’s religious beliefs are his own; however, American history belongs to all of us. Please do not distort the facts.Gretchen WeberOld Snowmass

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