News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Decatur community made hurricane evacuees feel welcome


I write this letter to commend the people of Decatur for their generosity of spirit and action. My family and I evacuated the Mississippi Gulf Coast before Hurricane Katrina. We found welcoming, nurturing arms in Decatur. There are many instances of both large and small kindnesses that people extended to us. A few brief examples follow.

While we waited in line to get prescriptions filled, an elderly lady insisted on giving us money to help out. When we found that one prescription could not be filled at that pharmacy, a local man offered to lead us to the next one. At that pharmacy, Steve Sandlin went out of his way to get prescription information so he could get my mother the medicines she vitally needed. Another local citizen, Ruby Newby, called our hotel because she had read in your paper that evacuees were there from the same area on the coast where her granddaughter lives. We had dinner with her family and felt very welcome indeed.

Our hotel was truly a home away from home. The staff always helped us conduct necessary business, let us know that meals were coming, asked about our homes and loved ones. The manager, Sherri Smith, even called after we got home to check on us. To me, that showed true caring. We also received gift baskets, gift cards and many, many home-cooked meals from these wonderful Christian people.

We cannot thank you all enough. We tell everyone we share our experiences with about the wonderful people of Decatur. We pray that God will grant you all the power to continue your missions.

Mary Gobert

Diamondhead, Miss.

Religion-based government is as dangerous as terrorism


I am disturbed when President Bush has to cite "religious" assurance to conservative Christians on his Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. This situation is a sad commentary on constitutional law, which prohibits "a religious test" for public office. What is really happening in America? Must a candidate for public office reveal his or her religious beliefs before any confirmation is approved? Where is the outrage? Red flags should be raised by freedom-loving citizens concerning the blatant violation of the Constitution, which is being disregarded, eroded, and undermined by well-meaning citizens.

The alliance between politicians and religious leaders seems to be accelerating to a point where this faction desires to make Bible religion the ruler in the nation. In essence, this faction will promote and execute the so-called laws of God's kingdom. Our Constitution is so clear in recognizing every person's religious belief stands equal under the law.

One fact is plain: Any religious-based majority becomes a tyrannical threat to the individual just as much as all the threats from terrorists. Whenever church leaders have obtained political powers, they exercised the hostility and intolerance toward dissenters from their doctrine as appeared during the Colonial period.

The worst bigots, the cruelest scoundrels, and meanest extremists have often come in religious garb — sheep's clothing.

Isaiah J. Ashe


Decatur mayor and council are ignoring the will of the voters


The city is currently debating the second budget under Mayor Kyle's administration. From these discussions, Decatur citizens are hearing no proposals to repeal the one-cent sales tax that was passed in 2001. The major issue of the 2004 election was the one-cent tax and there is no doubt that is why there are new faces in City Hall. The 2004 election was the mandate from the people of this city for the current mayor and council to make the cuts necessary to repeal the one-cent tax.

Despite what is being said in the current discussions concerning how difficult it will be to make a budget, the fact is that the tax could be, and according to the voters should be, repealed. This is painfully obvious since Decatur functioned normally for many years previous to the tax hike and could well do so again.

I want to see our city leaders do what we elected them to do. Lip service and maintaining the status quo is not good enough. They signed up to do the tough work left behind by previous mismanagement. I don't want to hear all of the myriad ways there are to spend money. We've had too much of that for the last eight to 10 years.

I want to hear about the budget cutting that is being done to achieve repeal of the tax. I want to walk in the mall and not see so many empty storefronts. I want Decatur to be known as a place to shop, and if not that, then at least be seen as neutral.

The higher sales tax is a black eye for us, and it is not our wish to have it.

Michael Waugh


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