Letters to the Editor: February 17 – 23, 2011


Founding Fathers’ Religious Beliefs Were ‘Complicated’


Nicholas Benton’s column “Obama’s ‘Prayer Breakfast’ Blunder” certainly reflects his normal intolerance of those whose religious beliefs are more conservative than his.

Mr. Benton states, “After all, the National Prayer Breakfast is very exclusively right-wing Christian, an event where Moslems, Jews, or anyone else need not apply.” An interesting comment, since the final comments and prayer last week were delievered by Capt. Mark Kelly, the husband of Jewish Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. On the internet I found that his prayer was one offered recently at his wounded wife’s bedside by a rabbi.

Regarding the religious beliefs of the founders of the country, the facts don’t seem to support the idea that “to a man, virtually all the U.S.’s founders were not religious,” nor the statement “at best, they could be called ‘deists’ who believed in natural law, but not in an authoritarian religious system or any religious claim to control over citizens’ lives.” David Holmes, in his excellent book “The Faiths of the Founding Fathers,” wisely states “to discuss the religion of the founding fathers means to discuss religion in the United States of their time.” He does a good job of explaining Deism as understood at that time, and that it can’t be defined in one sentence but needs to be understood in the various contexts of each man’s beliefs. And regarding Mr. Benton’s assertion that “they shared the sentiments of the fiery Thomas Paine in their passionate disdain for religious superstition and manipulation of followers,” Dr. Holmes specifically states that John Adams “…rejected Paine’s views of the Bible and Christianity, criticizing him for the antagonism he displayed.” Historian David McCullough, in his biography of Adams, quotes Adams’s rejection of Paine’s thoughts here as well. Holmes’s explanation of George Washington’s beliefs–of particular interest here since Washington was once a local member of the ruling board (the vestry) of The Falls Church–show that the founders’ beliefs need to be carefully examined, since they are complicated and don’t readily fit into the definitions we often use today regarding religious beliefs.

Peter Byrd

Falls Church


Says Estate Sale Companies Dump Too Much


To companies who run estate sales: Please become better citizens of the communities in which you operate and, in keeping with the spirit of recycling and Freecycle, allow someone to rescue good, useable items that you now insist must be treated as trash.

Perhaps you don’t think you can sell the item or you don’t have time to give it a needed washing. Let someone who can give it a further useful life do so. I’ve been appalled to see trashed good/useable rugs, towels, clothes, sand paper, spools of never used string, leather gloves, sewing notions, etc.

The apparently most active such company in this area lost a potential client because the company insisted on throwing too much out. The client went with another company and had a delightful ‘all you can put in a box for $20′ sale. Some companies have occasionally (but not nearly often enough) used techniques as on the last day of a sale “all chemicals are free” or “everything in the carport is free.” This makes a very good impression on customers. Let’s hope that more prospective clients will ask how their deceased loved one’s things will be treated before they sign a contract.

Rebecca Prather

Falls Church


Good Story About Good Kid, Reader Says


Thanks for writing the article on Jordan Culbreath.

Good story about a good kid.

Kevin Weeren

Via the Internet


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