It's not about church and state

By Arianna Huffington

Published March 22, 2001 9:00AM (EST)

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It is rather shocking to me to find Arianna Huffington, who is so often an insightful and thoughtful voice, claiming that recognition of some higher power represents an advancement of civilization. The brutish heathens amongst us realize that these "higher powers" have been prodding individuals and nations to war and atrocity time and time again throughout recorded history. Real human empowerment comes when one casts aside the divine crutches and realizes, perhaps for the first time, that humanity, in and of itself, is worthy; that we need not prostrate ourselves before meditating, kneeling, nailed-up or any other man-made god-idols in order to be whole.

I had an imaginary friend when I was 4 or 5. Then I grew a little and didn't need it anymore. Humanity has had thousands of years now to divest itself of this nonsensical, mythical mental baggage. When will we grow up?

-- Dan Gunga

I think it's awful that you would publish Arianna Huffington's recent article on faith-based charities. In that article, she states: "Of course, there will always be people who believe there is no God, just as there continue to be flat-earthers, convinced that Copernicus had it all wrong." As an agnostic, and a frequent visitor to your site, I am offended. Comparing a belief in a flat earth, belied by all scientific fact, with the refusal to worship a God or gods that one has no proof of whatsoever is intellectually dishonest at best. While I have little doubt that a belief in a higher power helps people to change their lives, that doesn't mean that there is a higher power any more than believing a remote control works on magic makes that the case. While I don't have any objections to a properly regulated faith-based charity system, that was a needless potshot at a group of people who have at least examined their faiths.

-- Daniel Liepold

Before dragging Alcoholics Anonymous further into the controversy over putting taxpayer money into religious organizations, Arianna Huffington might do well to read the "Twelve Traditions" of AA. Tradition No. 7 says, "Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions." Tradition No. 10 says, "Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy."

-- Karl Fleming

I am more than a little dismayed by Arianna Huffington's assertion that an atheist, like myself, would essentially be impossible to save from the depths of addiction or poverty. I certainly don't think the religious people of the world would appreciate being likened to flat-earthers, a description that from my perspective applies aptly to people who require belief in some all-knowing entity in order to be at peace with themselves. In a less personal light, I thought her article simply missed the point.

I have no serious beef with "faith-based" initiatives; I simply wonder why they must be promoted at the expense of secular programs. Why can't we have an Office of Community-Based Initiatives that could coordinate funding for nonprofits regardless of their religious affiliation? I worry that the present emphasis on religious programs will mean a continuing decline in funding for established, secular programs around the country.

-- Leigh Thompson

By Salon Staff

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