Yes, America was founded by Christians
David Persuitte's letter asserting that "this nation was not founded upon the Christian religion" (Forum, Jan. 2) is historically ignorant. What does he think the religion of the Puritans was, Zoroastrianism? Of course not. They were Bible-believing, Protestant, Calvinist Christians.
The founding of our country predated our Constitution by 150 years. And at the time of our war for national independence, officially established Christian state churches existed in nine of our 13 colonies, including Maryland, which recognized the establishment of Anglicanism.
Indeed, as late as the 1840s, when he visited the United States, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that in our country "Christianity reigns without obstacles, by universal consent." And in 1892, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Church of the Holy Trinity vs. United States that ". . . This is a Christian nation."
In fact, even some of our secular publications have, grudgingly to be sure, acknowledged the Christian nature of our origins. In a Dec. 27, 1982, cover story on the Bible, Newsweek declared: "Now historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document."
Mr. Persuitte's statement that many of our founders were Deists "who rejected the Bible and used reason to find truth" is also misleading. In his excellent and well-documented little book, "A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution," M.E. Bradford of the University of Dallas shows that with no more than five exceptions, and perhaps no more than three, our 55 founders were orthodox members of one of the established Christian communions.
Approximately 29 were Anglicans, 16 to 18 were Calvinists, two were Methodists, two were Lutherans, two were Roman Catholics, one was a lapsed Quaker and sometime Anglican, and one was an open Deist Benjamin Franklin. And even Franklin attended every kind of Christian worship, called for prayer at the Constitutional Convention and contributed to all Christian denominations.
Last October, I was facing the prospect of an enforced, unpaid vacation. Congress could not agree on a budget, and President Bush was threatening not to authorize any new government spending in effect, shutting down the government. Federal employees faced a possible layoff or furlough.
Congress did not leave bad enough alone. In response to congressional scandals, it passed a law that raised its salary and barred its members from collecting honoraria. The law Congress passed not only prohibited its members and all federal employees from accepting honoraria, which includes not only $1,000 breakfasts with lobbyists, but also any writing or speaking for a fee. Federal employees may not supplement their income by writing or speaking on any subject. Teaching or tutoring for pay, at any level, is prohibited. (Local colleges that hire federal employees for part-time positions may find themselves short-handed for the upcoming semester.) This is an outrage.
Federal employees must pay for congressional excesses not once, but twice. We are required to avoid honoraria but without the 25 percent pay raise our bosses voted themselves. Most members of this Congress may convert their campaign funds into private fortunes. And the next Congress will likely hold our jobs hostage come next October. It's funny. Congress misbehaved, and federal employees are punished.
I take issue with a recent article about the increasing homeless problem in Baltimore because people are unable to pay the high rents. The article stated that the average Baltimore rental is over $500 per month.
The article gave the impression that the culprit for this situation is the greedy landlord. But the real culprit for this situation is Baltimore city and the tax assessors. Property taxes in Baltimore have risen so high that the landlord has to pass it on to the tenants. Not only can Baltimore city claim the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates in the country, but the 4 percent cap on assessments that Mayor Schmoke and the City Council just passed affects only homeowners, not apartment dwellers.
City officials should open their eyes to the fact that the more people we force out in the streets, the bigger the drain on city resources.
It is interesting to note that City Council President Mary Pat Clarke has not called for Atty. Gen. Curran's resignation even though he, like state Insurance Commissioner Donaho, concluded that Maryland's insurance code permits insurance companies to use geographic location as a legitimate automobile insurance rating factor.
Perhaps Ms. Clarke will now support meaningful insurance cost reductions, through no-fault and medical-cost containment, which will truly help to stabilize and lower automobile insurance costs, rather than seeking to have suburban and rural Maryland citizens subsidize the insurance costs of Baltimore city's drivers.
John A. Andryszak
The writer is vice president of U.S. Fidelity and Guaranty Company, government and industry affairs department.