Letters to the Editor for Feb. 24, 2015

HB 1951 makes sense

I support House Bill 1951, sponsored by Rep. Liz Pike (R-Camas), which clarifies our state law on the use of unmarked vehicles in law enforcement.

Her proposed bill clarifies that county sheriff’s offices and local police departments can use unmarked police cars for official duties. The vast majority of police cars are marked because they’re used in day-to-day police work responding to 911 calls. But not every deputy sheriff or police officer is assigned to patrol. Detectives, support staff, and management drive regular cars.

It just makes sense that people not in uniform, not wearing a ballistic vest, not equipped to respond to 911 calls, should not be driving fully marked police cars.

Our elected sheriff’s and police chiefs should have the ability to manage their vehicle fleets based on their own local needs.

Mike Cooke, Vancouver

‘In God We Trust’ recognizes our nation’s DNA

Recently, Clark County proposed placing the U.S. motto, “In God We Trust,” in the main hearing chamber. Critics have complained this violates the separation of church and state, that it forces the councilors’ religious views on the public, and that it is a waste of time.

Those who have criticized the proposal seem to have lost sight of this country’s theistic foundations.

The United States’ organic laws (those principles forming its foundation) include The Declaration of Independence (1776), Articles of Confederation (1777), Northwest Ordinance (1787), and the Constitution (1787).

The Declaration of Independence claims: “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…compels” the states to “declare the causes” leading to their separation. It declares, “that all men are created equal” and “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights”, that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” So governments secure rights that come, not from men or governments, but from the creator based on our design.

The Declaration ends with the founders “appealing to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions” and “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

The Articles of Confederation ends with “Whereas it hath pleased the great governor of the world to incline the hearts of the legislatures.”

One purpose of the Northwest Ordinance [Section 13] was “for extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these republics, their laws and constitutions are erected.” Article III states “religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Modern-day church-state separationists errantly claim this provides complete divorce of the two realms. However, it only restricts Congress from establishing a national religion. This makes sense given each colonies state religions at the time. It is the non-establishment clause not the separation clause.

Rev. Martin Luther King wrote, “How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”

“In God We Trust” recognizes our nation’s DNA, a turning away from man-centeredness to something greater. That liberty, rights, morality flow, not from men with power but, from a transcendent being, for which even those in power are accountable. As such, this proposal should be uncontroversial.

True to our history, “In God We Trust” does not specify a specific transcendent being – Allah, Yahweh, Christ – but uses inclusive terminology. “God” replaces “creator,” “nature’s god,” “supreme ruler” and “great governor.” It acknowledges a power greater than ourselves.

For as Jefferson wrote in his Notes on the State of Virginia, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of god?”

Clark County councilors serve its citizens well to remind us of this fact and to reconnect us to our history. For even the preamble to the Washington State Constitution says: “We, the people of the State of Washington, grateful to the supreme ruler of the universe for our liberties, do ordain this constitution.”

Larry Rambousek, Washougal