LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - A look at public religion, private religion

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I believe the Rev. Koonz has done well by introducing a topic of public religion into what traditionally has been the purview of private religion in the Union-Bulletin's religion column.

The word "religion" has many connotations, spiritual and non-spiritual.

One's private religion, guaranteed by the Founding Fathers, consists of one's personal faith and beliefs. It is mainly spiritual.

However, America has what Benjamin Franklin called a "public religion." This public religion is an appeal to godliness and goodness without requiring a confession of faith in a particular understanding of God. It allows religious values to shape our behavior and morals. Overall, it is nonspiritual.

President Theodore Roosevelt described public religion as "...service to one's fellowman rendered by following the great rule of justice and mercy, of wisdom and righteousness."

It's a habit of heart and mind that makes us both tolerant and reverent, making a claim on the moral sense of America. A public piety, if you will.

Concern overburdening our grandchildren with debt is a very valid debate of public religion. It's a question of justice. It's a moral issue.

Yet, General Electric pays no corporate taxes and is now outsourcing its X-ray division to China. This, too, is a moral issue. It's a question of fairness.

Perhaps our national problems would be better served by addressing them within the framework of public religion. Private religion grounds us in public religion. America's public religion is, for me, a reflection of my spiritual faith. It is not a substitute.

Sadly, neither religion seems to be helping us much these days.

Susan J. Day

Walla Walla

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