Letters to the Editor


Church and state

Your Wednesday editorial “Bill on clergy unnecessary” was off the mark.

You wrote: “There’s already a constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, and there are no laws in place that would jeopardize that,” making unnecessary the bill authored by state Sen. Craig Estes to protect clergy from being forced to perform same-sex marriages.

Not so fast. When clergy perform a traditional marriage ceremony, they are wearing two hats – one as a religious officiate, and the other as a state-authorized matrimonial official.

If the U.S. Supreme Court holds that same-sex marriage is constitutional, it would call into question whether the First Amendment exercise of religious freedom would extend to the state licensure of clergy to officiate legally valid weddings.

State action must be constitutional, and state authorization of clergy to officiate legally valid marriages might not be extended to a member of the clergy who refuses to perform a same-sex marriage.

— Todd K. Hulsey, Burleson

The bill on clergy certainly is necessary. It will protect a clergyman from having to choose between doing what he considers sinning and being sued or possibly going to jail if it goes that far.

Marriage was started by God, not the state. It isn’t even mentioned in the Constitution.

Marriages were taken care of by the church until it was decided that the counties needed to issue marriage licenses to make money for the county. Before that, separation of church and state meant that the church took care of marriages.

Homosexuals have a right to “sin” if they want to. But they do not have a right to force you to not follow your Christian beliefs and make you participate in their sin.

— Wylena Raymond, Arlington

I firmly disagree with the pastors who signed the May 3 op-ed “Texas public schools are not Godless environment.”

Instead I agree with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s support of school vouchers as the way for students to learn about God. The pastors’ article attacked vouchers five times.

So public school teachers take God with them into the classroom? Can they talk about God? They cannot. If one student complains, the teacher will be reprimanded. In a voucher school, they can talk without fear. And not all private schools are religious.

God has been kept out of schools since Madalyn O’Hair, an atheist, was successful in 1963 in getting school prayer banned. She was called the most hated woman in America. Is she is a hero to these pastors?

It appears that these pastors believe that saying a prayer in public schools, not of any particular faith, is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed.

— John Byrne, Arlington

I have a question for the Supreme Court: Have you, as a group, become so important and powerful that you can change God’s laws?

If so, does that mean you are greater than God and we are to worship you rather than the God of the Bible?

When anyone or any group challenges God’s laws and decides that such laws can be changed at their discretion, they are treading on dangerous ground. Beware!

— Dan Fowler, Mansfield

Flood planning

The Legislature has a chance to help reduce flood risks in Texas. Rep. Dwayne Bohac has introduced HB 3340, the Floodplain Training Bill.

HB 3340 would require community officials to attend annual floodplain training to learn how to administer community floodplain management programs that reduce the risk of loss of life and damage to personal property from flooding.

The Texas Water Development Board coordinates the National Flood Insurance Program that 1,240 Texas communities participate in.

The Texas Department of Insurance collects a $5 fee per year on the 600,000 flood insurance policies in force in Texas.

However, this fee is deposited in the general fund instead of funding state floodplain management programs such as training and mapping that could reduce flood risks in Texas. The Legislature Budget Board estimates that $500,000 would be required to implement a statewide floodplain training program and funds are not available.

The Legislature is overlooking legislation passed in 2007 (80th Legislature, SB 1436) that created the Floodplain Management Account and transferred $3.05 million per year to be used for education and mapping. Hopefully, HB 3340 will help educate community officials, save lives and reduce property damage from flooding.

— John Ivey, Fort Worth


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