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Reason to Nonbelieve

To the Editor:

Thank you so much for your insightful article on those who do not adhere to any faith [“There but for the Grace of God,” Feb. 6]. I am an atheist, and the frustrations I have with our president’s cozying up to religious zealots were beautifully articulated in the piece.

I am someone who believes that religion played a key role in toppling the twin towers, and I am dismayed to see my own government answering this with more religion. I think people need to know exactly how Thomas Jefferson felt about Christianity, and the quote from him featured in the article brought a smile to my lips.

Separation of church and state is being eroded here at home, and overseas the war on terrorism is being turned into a war of Judeo-Christians vs. Muslims.

Since most religions are intolerant of others, I advocate leaving religion completely out of public life. If not for the sake of pragmatism, then for the sake of decency and taste.

I might also mention that I have found numerous chat rooms on the Internet filled with atheists, agnostics, Wiccans and other “heretics.” These chat rooms have taught me that religions do not hold a monopoly on moral behavior or fellowship. In fact, the nonbelievers I know are some of the most ethical people I have ever met.

The article could not have been more topical or timely. Thank you so much.

Dan Ruisi

To the Editor:

I just had the pleasure of reading “There but for the Grace of God” in the Feb. 6 issue. I, too, am a humanist and have come safely out of the closet now that the children have left home to be on their own. Many of the public school teachers in rural Maryland still unofficially support Christianity in the education of the students! The children and I most certainly could not profess a nonbelief and still be accepted. Yes, belief had to be faked to avoid being ostracized.

This article has given me the courage to contact my other humanists to have one of our local papers interview us! There is no reason that nontheists should be hidden in society. Contrary to many believers’ creeds, we do have ethics and care for all human beings, including the believers.

Perhaps when I retire, I shall relocate close to Albany to be close to both my biological family and my humanist family!

Karlen Keto
Knoxville, Md.

To the Editor:

Thank you for the article by John Rodat. Myself being a humanist, I have never encountered any animosity from neighbors or relatives. It may be that I just don’t care, or perhaps that I don’t socialize with intolerant folks. Don’t know. I can say that being a humanist is very satisfying both to the intellect and psyche. Thanks again for the article.

Bill Carroll

That Was Cold

To the Editor:

Advocates for the needy have sought to highlight the impact budget cuts could have on area families [Newsfront, Jan. 9]. However, while much of their focus has been on the state budget, harsh cutbacks that were made by local government at the end of last year have received little attention.

One of the most damaging budget cuts was made in Albany County Executive Michael Breslin’s 2003 budget when he included a million dollars less for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as part of his fiscal plan. While county legislators did make some changes to Breslin’s proposed budget, they failed to add funding to LIHEAP.

By letting the ax fall, Breslin and county lawmakers reduced a budget category known as Energy Crisis Assistance from $8 million to $7 million—a 12-percent cut. As a result, reports have indicated that 1,100 fewer seniors and needy families will receive assistance this winter. Niagara Mohawk’s Jan. 8 announcement that they expect winter heating bills to increase by between 25 and 35 percent underlines just how serious this situation is. It also reminds us that county government should have stepped up to the plate in meeting the needs of families struggling to pay winter heating costs.

While New York’s two United States senators—Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer—want the federal government to pick up the slack when it comes to energy assistance, Albany County has turned its back on this issue. By doing so, county officials have been a big disappointment and made this year’s cold temperatures even worse for many people in our community.

Jamie D. Gilkey
Third Ward Leader

Mural High Ground

To the Editor:

Yacob Williams is a man not only possessed with a blazing artistic ability, he was/is always working to improve his art [“Picturing a New Tomorrow,” Dec. 12, 2002]. While I felt he would go into commercial arts or teaching when I knew him (what did a business/psychology major know?), it was obvious he would follow his own muse at least outside his regular job.

The most interesting part of the article was the discussion of the New Paltz teaching methods. That someone of his ability had to fight against the perception of a hairstyle in addition to their race is just ludicrous.

I am so glad Yacob felt able to strike out in his artistic endeavors and wish him continued success in both his career and the development of the arts and cultural center. I can’t think of anyone more qualified to be leading the way on the project (Yacob and I were roommates briefly at SUNY New Paltz.)

P.S. Unrelated, I also agree with the Hot Tuna Review in the same issue. Jack Casady is one of the most underrated musicians in the history of rock & roll. After another banner year in concerts here (Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, the Damned, etc.), Hot Tuna was the show of the year.

Thank you for the ear and keep up the nice work.

Peter Templeton

More and More Like 1984

To the Editor:

In dealing with the issue of a potential war with Iraq, there are many aspects to consider. There is carnage on both sides that has yet to be publicly justified and also the political currency the idea is generating.

I’d urge a rereading of Orwell’s 1984. There was a controlling state and a real or imagined threat from a real or imagined enemy. So long as the population remained cowed and frightened, they blindly supported the unbridled action of their government.

As citizens, we have to raise our voice and our words to question what’s going on. We are entitled to a voice and we must use it.

“Orwellian” may be a good adjective for these times.

Howard M. Henze

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
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