by Inlander Readers & r & Happy, uh, Christmas & r & You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Christmas is a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Why, then, shouldn't you be able to say "Merry Christmas" or to even use the term "Christmas tree" in a public display?

Christians, Jews and Muslims all to some extent revere Jesus as a holy man, and people professing adherence to their respective religions should have no qualms about celebrating this holiday in his name. Through their own core belief system, Buddhists and Hindus show utmost respect to others and what could be more respectful than honoring a great man during his holiday? If all the great religions of the world can come together and recognize the need to put Christ back in Christmas, these politically-correct do-gooders who want to make Christmas just another three-day weekend at the end of the calendar need to kick back, take their Scrooge medication and get out of the way of the rest of us who want to celebrate the season in the traditional ways. We should echo the words of Dickens' Tiny Tim and say to all, even the PC crowd, "God bless us everyone."

Dale Roloff & r & Spokane, Wash.

Torturous Silence & r & Last month, the Spokesman-Review reported on the ACLU's conclusion that 40 prisoners in custody of the United States overseas have died, and of these more than 20 were almost certainly tortured to death by representatives of the American government - our government, acting on our authority. The story was maybe five column inches long, on page 4, below the fold. One might almost have missed it on the way to having a look at the football coverage. The other local media didn't carry the story at all, in any noticeable way. Sadly, there were no official denials that the story was true; sadder still, there has since been no gale of protest.

I am appalled by these grossly indecent actions of our government, and more than a little disturbed that so little is said and done by way of objection. I want it known that these obscenities do not come with my approval or tacit acceptance. I support Sen. McCain's bill to ban torture (though I am deeply disappointed that it should take an act of Congress to prevent official torture by Americans). I urge my neighbors as well to protest this practice -- if not to serve our collective moral sense, then because our self-interest demands it. Silent acquiescence while our own government tortures people to death will in time prove far more destructive of our liberty and security than the ignorant tribesmen we are chasing in the desert.

Leslie R. Weatherhead & r & Spokane, Wash.

Trees vs. Streets & r & I completely agree with Robert Herold's assessment of the tree removal on Bernard Street ("Trees Over Streets," 12/8/05). May I add some thoughts to the discussion?

Before we use the clear-zone policy as a reason to take out trees, let us use a cost/benefits analysis. I used to drive from work downtown up Bernard to my home. At about 18th Avenue, the temperature was five degrees cooler - less energy used. Trees clean the air - less pollution. Build the sidewalk around the trees - much cheaper - as the landscaper in Herold's article stated and has been stated by arborists. Not least to consider is the beauty of tree-lined streets.

Now, the benefit of clear-zone. How many cars have hit a tree on this street? We are to give up all those benefits of trees, our urban landscape, for a few hapless, irresponsible citizens who may happen to hit a tree? And how much is the cost to take down those trees?

I would like to see the city's cost/benefits analysis. In fact, to justify the loss of a landscape that won't be replaced, I challenge them to prove they are saving anything, or even serving any purpose at all.

Kay Stoltz & r & Spokane, Wash.

The Wizard of ID & r & So the Christian churches are now trying to insinuate creationism back into the schools under the name of "Intelligent Design." Once again they are doing battle with that demonic theory known as evolution. Once again they have managed to see only the trees amid the forest.

Has anybody in the church -- any church -- bothered to see the inherent intelligence in evolution? Evolution, after all, really begins with our DNA, and what is DNA but an incredibly sophisticated biological program? DNA and its evolutionary process are, to me, God's own code for life.

OK, Darwin didn't think evolution was a divine process. Does that mean it isn't? Just because scientists don't proclaim their discoveries to be godly doesn't mean they aren't. Scientists aren't in the business of attributing processes to God. They deal with the provable. That doesn't mean their discoveries can't reveal God. Evolution is intelligent design. I've seen enough proof to believe that.

But the churches have never been able to see nor admit this. Instead they increase the rift between science and God. Do I need to make a list of the scientists whom churches have oppressed and persecuted through the centuries? And many of them were proven right. Expecting the Bible to serve as a science book only fosters ignorance and misunderstanding. Remember, this is the book that has the heavens revolving around Earth.

I once questioned a pastor of a church I was attending about evolution. I was given a book to read. It claimed that dinosaurs were not around any longer because they didn't make it onto Noah's ark. I suppose cavemen and many other animals didn't make it either. So much for two of every species.

I left that church and never went back. I couldn't be part of a campaign of ignorance. The fundamentalist war on science threatens the intelligence of our children, and the future of this country. Ironically, much of the movement is supported by our president and his pious cabinet of simpletons. They seem to have no idea how much they're harming this country they purport to love. They're like a baby with a blowtorch. And the Christian churches skip happily behind them, bulldozing science wherever it threatens them, right or wrong.

This country's math and science scores already fall far short of most other developed countries. The churches should be asking why, instead of contributing to this dumbing-down of our children. Ignorance begets ignorance. When ignorance couples with religious extremism, we get intolerance and persecution. Please encourage your church not to take us back into the Dark Ages. It's the Christian thing to do.

Carl David Leeth & r & Spokane, Wash.

Slippery Sidewalks & r & It makes me feel bad to hear about the 7,000 homeless people in spokane. Why can't there be a city shelter for Christians who don't believe in going to church, and people of different faiths?

The sidewalks are no longer sidewalks. They are icewalks! Who is going to want to come to Spokane and set up a business if they think people are going to fall down and get hurt on the icewalk?

Wesley Storer & r & Spokane, Wash.

Spokane's Juneteenth Celebration @ East Central Community Center

June 18-20
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