Time for atheists to come out of closet

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a highly respected polling organization, recently announced that the number of Americans with no religious affiliation has reached 20 percent of the population.

This diverse group of unchurched Americans -- agnostics, atheists, disbelievers, freethinkers, heathens, humanists, infidels, pagans, secularists, skeptics, etc. -- has been steadily increasing.

The numbers would be even higher if not for the fear of many nonbelievers to come out of the closet.

For example, there are 535 members of Congress. By these statistics, one-fifth of them -- 107 -- are most likely nonreligious. How many avowed atheists are there? One. Yes, only one. Politicians fear the bigotry and intolerance of many religious people toward atheists.

It's high time for every nonbeliever to summon his courage and be honest with his family and friends, his boss and fellow employees, his clergyman, commanding officer or scoutmaster. In the memorable words of Scripture (1 Corinthians 13:11), "When I became a man, I put away childish things."

The need for imaginary friends fits this description.

Burt Bogardus

Danville

Prop. 30 will help save our schools

A recent editorial argued pointedly to support Proposition 30 over Proposition 38; I urge voters to do the same.


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It unfortunately goes without saying (at least for this public schoolteacher) that the state of education in California is disastrous, a reality that requires us to take immediate action. To choose otherwise is to abdicate our responsibility to the youth in our communities.

Though it is true, it is a platitude to say that this is necessary to create qualified leaders and workers for the next generation; it would be more representative to admit the need to prevent any cuts now for students to benefit now -- see the articles that run weekly on violence among school-age youths in Oakland for testimony to this fact.

Proposition 30 will prevent these cuts and ensure that 90 percent of future revenues are paid for by the wealthy -- the very people who can attest to the ultimate benefits and necessity of good education.

Jack Cohen

Berkeley

Zoo measure not deceiving public

Oakland Zoo's Measure A1 is a focused effort to generate funds to improve humane animal care and extend educational programs throughout Alameda County that will have adequate oversight.

Measure A1 is not an attempt to mislead the public into giving the zoo additional funds for future expansion with no strings attached.

Measure A1 has wide support, including Rep. Barbara Lee, the Humane Society of the United States, East Bay Regional Park District, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Sheila Jordan and other school superintendents, Felidae Conservation Fund/Bay Area Puma Project, and others.

These supporters understand the intention, how the funds will be used and that the measure is not about zoo expansion.

The Oakland Parks and Recreation Commission, Planning Commission, and City Council have approved this project, and funds for the future expansion have already been secured.

These approval agencies and an Alameda County Superior Court judge determined the zoo has met the requirements to proceed with a project that will benefit hundreds of thousands of visitors.

I'm a retired educator, zoo docent and proud zoo supporter. Join me in support of one of Oakland's leading cultural, educational and animal care organizations.

Paul Ferreira

Hayward

Don't let zoo buy your vote

Why are we taxing people to pay for the Oakland Zoo when we can't pay for our schools?

The zoo has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get taxpayers to give it more money. The budgets of all our governments, schools and police and fire departments are busted, and all these people want to tax everyone to pay for the zoo, which is a private corporation.

I say put those extra taxes into schools. Yes, the zoo signs look very cute in our yards. Next we'll have cute signs for taxes to pay for shopping malls in every neighborhood.

Did the zoo spend a million dollars to buy our votes? Don't let corporations buy our votes, even though the Supreme Court says it's legal.

Fred Strauss

Oakland