TERRE HAUTE — Quick quiz.
How many times does the U.S. Constitution mention God?
How many times does it talk about the Bible?
In what sections does it address Christianity?
The answers: None, none and none.
As for religion, as physicist Ellery Schempp recently observed, the Constitution “mentions religion just twice, and both times the word ‘no’ is attached.”
I met Schempp last month in Madison, Wis., and listened with keen ears to his speech to the annual Freedom From Religion Foundation convention. The national organization of state-and-church separationists honored him with its “Champion of the First Amendment” award.
(The group gave awards to several other folks, too, including best-selling author Christopher Hitchens and me. More on that another day, but everyone’s speech and information about the foundation are at www.ffrf.org.)
Schempp, now 66, is one of the most reasonable, sanguine and thoughtful people I’ve met in awhile. He is also an atheist, as were many of the 750 or so convention attendees. In addition to atheists there were agnostics, secularists, humanists, pagans and theists like me: people who practice a religious faith but do not want ours — or any religion — to be allowed to wreck one of the greatest things the United States has going for it.
“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
That sentence is in the First Amendment to the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights. The other reference to religion, as Schempp pointed out, is in Article VI, which states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
For an atheist, Schempp knows his Bible very well. (Come to think of it, he knows it better than many Christians I’ve run across.) He’s studied it along with the holy books of other faiths which, he likes to remind people, are viewed by the U.S. government as equally worthy of protection to exist.
TERRE HAUTE — Quick quiz.
Living the dream
Earth Day receives its share of under-your-breath criticism.
EDITORIAL: Pondering the jail problem
Our compliments to Vigo County Councilman Mark D. Bird for taking the time and investing the thought and energy into writing his detailed letter to the editor on the topic of the county’s jail, published in this newspaper on April 13.
FLASHPOINT: Newspapers and baseball: Two great institutions are evolving
There are few aspects of American life that are the same today as they were 100 years ago. Two of them are newspapers and baseball.
Readers’ Forum: April 20, 2014
Testing still best way to measure
Addressing issues of inequality
Perfect blend of attributes
An outstanding choice for judge
No excuses for Benghazi tragedy
RONN MOTT: Spring activities settle into northside park
Some say young love blossoms like the flowers in the spring. It must be spring, because we witnessed the first wedding ceremony performed in the Collett Park gazebo on a recent Saturday.
EDITORIAL: Get smart with 911
Worst-case scenarios when emergency service are needed are not things people like to think about. But focused attention on details in advance could make a life-changing, even life-saving, difference in the future.
FLASHPOINT: Heading in the wrong direction
A study released last week by the Tax Foundation reported Indiana taxpayers saw one of the sharpest increases in tax burden since 2001. Dig deeper and the numbers are more alarming.
RONN MOTT: They didn’t make it!
The “One and Dones” done went and didn’t! (I know this is grammatically incorrect, but I want those folks down in Kentucky to read it.)
EDITORIAL: Dealing with eroded trust
Our neighbors in Putnam County are understandably concerned, even outraged, over problems in their sheriff’s department. People have a right to expect their chief law-enforcement agency — one of the most important public institutions in any community — to operate professionally and effectively.
Readers’ Forum: April 17, 2014
• A blessing from our young folks
• Confidence in judge candidate
EDITORIAL: Preparing for voting changes
The primary election, during which Hoosiers will traipse to their polling places to select party candidates to fill the ballot for the general election, is now three weeks away.
Readers’ forum: April 16, 2014
• Mott’s rant on global warming
• Salvation through the Indian way
RONN MOTT: Royce Waltman
In recent days the papers have been full of good things about Royce Waltman. Not a lot of puffery, but more like Royce himself… straight, true and right at you.
LIZ CIANCONE: Not much peace since war to end all wars
My jaw dropped the other day when I read that this year, 2014, marks 100 years since the start of World War I. No, you wise guys, I wasn’t there personally.
Readers’ Forum: April 15, 2014
Sound choice for county judge
Giving your car the care it needs
Park restrooms should be open
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news (Honors for outstanding women)
Honors for outstanding women
Sprucing up around the wetlands
You can say that again
Reader Poll results
Readers’ Forum: April 14, 2014
Alternatives to ‘injustice’
EDITORIAL: Teaming up to fight the ugliness of graffiti
Graffiti hurts the Terre Haute community. It deflates property values and local pride. It literally paints an image of carelessness on the city.
MARK BENNETT: It’s (Not) So Easy
Arctic air bled into the Wabash Avenue post-hippie-era diner-pub every time the wooden door swung open.
ERIC SCHANSBERG: The 1040 tax form turns 100
The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution brought us the federal income tax in 1913. A year later, the 1040 tax form was born.
Readers’ Forum: April 13, 2014
• An attack of hypocrisy
• New jail not a good idea
• Thinking about the next election
• Being positive a tremendous asset
• Work status a matter of value
FLASHPOINT: Time to fix government
In 1965, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Wilbur Mills, brought legislation establishing Medicare and Medicaid to the floor of the U.S. House. That was my first year in Congress, and I remember vividly the moment when Mills came to the Democratic caucus to explain his plans.
Death Notice: April 13, 2014
GUEST EDITORIAL: Despite high court ruling, big money may not guarantee election success
The Supreme Court has taken the predictable next step in the wake of its 2010 Citizens United decision in which it lifted the limit on donations wealthy donors can make to certain political entities.
RONN MOTT: Pondering our planet’s future
I watched a TV show recently and the subject was global warming.
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts for Waltman
When Royce Waltman left Indiana State University as its head basketball coach in 2007, there was a sense of disappointment in the community that covered a broad spectrum.
Readers' Forum: April 11, 2014
• An appeal for organic farming
• Kesler best choice for judge position
RONN MOTT: Bits & Pieces
I don’t know about you, but I get a total sense of helplessness when I realize 239 people died in one airplane crash. And to make it worse, if that is possible, the loved ones left behind can’t close. Maybe this week.
EDITORIAL: Road work season requires motorists’ undivided attention
Spring’s budding flowers, trees and grasses are not the only colorful eye candy popping up on the west-central Indiana landscape. Those orange barrels and pylons common to construction areas are appearing as well.
Readers' Forum: April 10, 2014
• Appreciation for writer’s views
• Amazed by policy on birth control
- More Opinion Headlines
- Living the dream