Two parts of the brief comments made by state Rep. Sue Burmeister and reported Jan. 19 raise concern.
First, she wants to protect public observance of religion because "this country was founded by Christian Pilgrims." The Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas, they did not allow the display of religious symbols and they were fleeing a brand of Christianity that was too much favored by legislation. Embracing our Pilgrim heritage - giving up Christmas as a public holiday - would sadden me, but not really scare me.
What does scare me is Burmeister's next line, "... these people that have no religion." That is the mentality that makes government-endorsed religion a threat. All of us who prefer to keep the sacred distanced from the secular and commercial are now "these people." All of us who celebrate Hanukkah, or worship in other ways, or in no observable way at all, are now "these people."
I still have hope that the quote was taken out of context, and our state representative has not intentionally drawn this line that creates an "us" and a "them" - with the "us" being those whose religious bias makes them alone worthy of protection and favor under the law.
Cameron Bentley, Augusta
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