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Speaking to power

Regarding the articles that appeared March 2 ("Mikey's mission," cover) and March 9 ("Mikey's army," news) about the evangelical movement at the Air Force Academy: I have great admiration for Mikey Weinstein and the Independent. You have helped to expose the powerful evangelical movement at the academy. Thank you very much for your diligence!

Richard B. Reinman

Albuquerque, N.M.

The religious wrong

As a retired Air Force member with a wife serving in the Air Force Reserve, I wholeheartedly support Mikey Weinstein's efforts. The Religious "wrong" are dragging this country into a civil war, and I for one will stand by the Constitution of the United States; the one I swore to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

David L. Richards,

MSgt., USAF (retired), BS

Huber Heights, Ohio

Oozing intolerance

Mikey Weinstein himself displays the religious intolerance he accuses others of, and his irrational hatred of Christian conservatives just oozes from Cara DeGette's March 2 article.

He frequently mentions the Constitution, but apparently can't remember that the First Amendment makes no mention of a "wall of separation" between church and state, but does clearly state that the government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. It makes no exception for people wearing military uniforms.

Jesus told Christians to proselytize (Matthew 28:19), but Weinstein's position is that the government should tell Christians how to practice their faith, i.e., don't obey Jesus' command if you serve in the military. Yeah, I realize some Christians can be jerks in carrying this out, but most adults learned how to deal with jerks a long time ago. Weinstein apparently hasn't.

P.S. I served seven years in the Marine Corps, and didn't mind being proselytized by chaplains or my fellow Marines.

Tom Neven

Colorado Springs

Cut it out

Sorry, folks ... Mikey Weinstein's right. If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, your No. 1 let me say that again in case you missed it your No. 1 allegiance is to protect the U.S. Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. You don't fulfill that obligation by beating others over the head with Bibles. Cut it out right now. Shame on you.

Chris Swanson

U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, 1993

Colorado Springs

My taxes, and yours

I was under the impression that the Air Force Academy was an arm of the U.S. military. As such, it is supported by government funds,some of which come from my taxes. Why are my taxes, and yours, being used to support an organization that mixes religion with its military mission?

The First Amendmentstates that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The First Amendment then states that we the people may "petition the government for a redress of grievances."

I am aggrieved thatyoung cadets are apparently subjected to brow-beating by uniformed and commissioned missionaries whose purpose is the "establishment of religion." Shouldn't cadets be learning how to protect and respect those with whom they come in contact?

If Christian indoctrination is the mission of the Air Force Academy, perhaps they should split off from the government, rename themselvesSky Pilots, seek grants from Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, Colorado for Family Values, and other such non-profit groups, whichpay no taxes and must have loads of cash for such an enterprise. Don't we have another Air Force that could take over what they're supposed to be doing?

Barbara Martin

Manitou Springs

Blood libel explained

I applaud the Independent for having the courage to publish Mikey Weinstein's comments. I just want to clarify the meaning and import of the phrase "blood libel" that he uses several times throughout the article.

The blood libel refers to the accusation that Jews employ the blood of Christians in making matzah for the Passover holiday. Such accusations were widespread from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, and generally resulted in mob violence and the massacre of Jewish innocents.

A sad irony is that observant Jews are not allowed to consume the blood of any animal. It is not kosher. After the slaughter of an animal for meat, the blood must be removed entirely before it can be eaten. One common method is to draw the blood out of the meat using coarse salt, which is sold in supermarkets as "kosher" salt. This does not mean that the salt itself is kosher salt is always kosher but that this salt can be used to render bloody meat kosher.

Harry Katz

Woodland Park

Salud to mezcal

My wife and I have visited Oaxaca, Mexico, several times in the past few years for up to two months at a time. From the mountains to the Pacific Ocean, there is so much to do and see. The food, people, history and the mezcal are all great! We hope to return later this year, as we are organizing a two-week long guided mountain bike trip. We'll have plenty of good food and mezcal along the way.

The Feb. 23 mezcal article by David Torres-Rouff ("Make mine mezcal," Appetite) left so much out and read like an ad for the mezcal mentioned. Too bad!

The indigenous people of Mexico did not have a distillation process, and, in fact, had a centuries-long "ban" on liquor. When the Spanish invaders, who were hard drinkers, arrived in Mexico, some type of hard liquor had to be made. Within months of their arrival, primitive stills were working.

Around 20 years after the conquest, Spanish landowners, who stole the land from the locals, were complaining that Spanish mine operators were getting the farmhands drunk on mezcal in order to shanghai them for labor in the mines.

Mezcal is a way of life for many in Oaxaca. It not only produces income; it is also used at many celebrations. Locally (in Oaxaca), mezcal is also produced in many different flavors, with vanilla and chocolate (Oaxaca is where chocolate came from) being some of our favorites.

The mezcals mentioned are overpriced marketing examples of gringo economics. Mezcal bought in Oaxaca, even the very best, is never more than $40 a bottle.

For proper mezcal information, including its history, visit ianchadwick.com/tequila/mezcal.html.

Andy Bohlmann

Colorado Springs

Second-class citizens

The politicians in South Dakota who legislated an abortion ban are grossly out of step with mainstream America. Polling consistently shows that the majority of Americans support a woman's right to choose.

Why are women being forced to go back to the dark ages after we have fought so long and so hard for equality? Being second-class citizens is one thing, but being reduced once more to chattel and servants is unacceptable. What is this saying to the rest of the world about the home of the brave and the land of the free? How are we able to spread democracy if we are totally losing it in our own country?

If women lose the rights over their own bodies, our country is no different than the terrorists we are at war with and supposedly trying to bring freedom to. Think about this logically. Would men allow the government to take control over their bodies?

Sharlene White

Colorado Springs

Not a piece of property

I am a Republican. I am steadfast and loyal to the United States of America, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. I believe in minimal government because too much government destroys our liberties and freedoms. I oppose excessive taxation because it leads to corruption. I despise a government dictating to me how to live, work, worship or speak my mind.

Let me set the record straight on my rights under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. My individual liberties guaranteed to me under the Constitution state that I am not a piece of property owned by any man or any government.

The current slate of Republican candidates' campaign platforms proposes destroying women's rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Their platforms deny women rights to religious freedom. Their platforms commit our bodies to becoming property of men and government control. Anyone who says they support the Constitution and, in the second breath, argues that a woman should forfeit these inalienable rights is a hypocrite.

If these candidates can argue against women's rights, they certainly will not fulfill their oath of office to the Constitution or the Bill of Rights when there is a call for such courage. They will give up when it suits them and their political agenda. These are not people with courage or integrity to stand up to adversity.

As a Republican, I refuse to vote for Republican candidates who champion the opportunity to make me a piece of property of the state.

Kit Roup

Colorado Springs

Real story

I was surprised to hear that Mr. Jay Bennish, a teacher at Overland High School in Aurora, had been suspended for commenting on President Bush's recent State of the Union address by saying, "Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say ... "We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward and our job is to conquer the world.' "

A student secretly recorded the classroom session and then turned an MP3 player over to a "conservative" radio station, which proceeded to make hay out of the material.

I am surprised this has caused so much of a stir. Is Arapahoe County so remote that it is completely out of touch with common knowledge?

Mr. Bush's political rhetoric sometimes does sound like the simplistic statements that Adolf Hitler made.

Just as in World War II, the media repeats its role in present-day America.

One of the children denounced his teacher, and the teacher was removed from the classroom.

That used to happen in Nazi Germany.

That's the real story, don't you think?

Alfred Brock

Canton, Mich.

City plays, we pay

Recently, I went to a Colorado Springs Utilities meeting for citizens to get an explanation of anticipated stormwater charges.

We were looking at large pictures of torn pieces of cement walls strewn around certain areas of town, caused by floodwaters. But it seemed to me that those were pictures of destruction that the city never kept up fixing over a long period of time.

They said the stormwater fee will be added to our utility bill the last quarter of this year. In the meantime, they have to go out and assess every rooftop's footage, the size of the lot and how much water might run off each area. That's a lot of wasted time and manpower, and costly on top. Depending on their decision, we will be billed. If they do this, that is a tax, and not a fee. City lawyers conveniently finagled and call this a fee.

So, people get ready to pay an average of $7.50 or more every month. Incidentally, the average family in Denver, a bigger city, only pays $4.42 monthly, Pueblo $3.50, Woodland Park $2. Colorado Springs residents will have to pay more because of the negligence of our City Council over the years; the city did not keep up with flood damage and let the builders get away with ripping off every inch of ground here.

We voters should have input on this subject. This is taxation without representation.

E. Little

Colorado Springs

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