To the editor:

(Re: “Opposition to recent school speaker was rooted in fiction,” May 2, 2013) [Reporter Aaron] Becker’s piece in the “Education” section of last week’s paper is filled with inaccuracies about the concerns over the event of Rev. Eric Timm.

First, Becker said that concerns were “rooted in fiction.” That’s false.

The concerns were reasonable and justifiable. Upon seeking legal advice, the school district pulled the funding because of the religious entanglement problem.

Additionally, the linkage of the event to the Hillside Assembly Church remains of concern. Why are churches sponsoring events in our public schools? ...

I believed Timm; I took him at his word. After all, who wouldn’t trust a reverend? Should I have instead assumed he was lying about his own motives?

No one can know the future, of course, so the opposition from weeks ago could not possibly have been about the actual presentations’ as-yet-nonexistent content.

What would you have us do, Mr. Becker? Wait until after the problem happens, as it did a few years ago with a similar situation (Bob Lenz), or try to prevent the problem? ...

Second, Mr. Becker presents a flawed argument about the law, suggesting that because the exact phrase “separation of church and state” is not found in the Constitution that somehow this means the idea is also absent from our nation’s laws.

I also can’t find the exact phrase “innocent until proven guilty”, yet I am confident that it’s a foundational principle of the Constitution.

Likewise, the principle of avoiding religious entanglement is indeed in the Constitution, and, because of this, the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that government (i.e., public schools, in this case) cannot sponsor (i.e. pay for, in this case) or show preference towards religion.

Third, we can quibble over “of” or “from,” but suffice to say that one person’s freedom OF religion necessarily entails freedom FROM every other possible religion (including the many different interpretations of Christianity). ...

None of this is a “tired argument” nor was it a “phony controversy” (those were Becker’s words). Becker’s article misrepresents the real reasons that Tim Lyke, Dan Mitchell, Joan Zei, and others, including myself, have raised concerns publicly, and why many other Ripon residents are also concerned, even after this event.

I’m disappointed by Becker’s dismissals of, and disparaging remarks towards, sincere citizens.

— Steve Martin

629 Woodside Ave.

To read the entire letter, see the May 9, 2013 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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