‘In God We Trust’ law is beyond belief
A law mandating that vulnerable students be pelted with “In God We Trust” is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, which addresses two divergent aspects of religious freedom: (1) The free-exercise clause guarantees freedom of religion for those who wish to practice a set of beliefs and come together with others of like minds to nourish and promote those beliefs. (2) The establishment clause guarantees freedom from religion for those who do not desire to practice a religion or be subjected to government sanctioning of religious messages and customs.
These two provisions are not in conflict. To the contrary, they complement each other. They offer a delicate and proper balance necessary to keep government neutral on religious matters.
The principle of church-state separation incorporated in the Constitution allows religious people to organize for worship and attempt to convert others to their beliefs, while preventing them from using government, in this case public schools, to impose or advance those beliefs. It does not favor belief over nonbelief, or vice versa. It puts both on equal footing. It protects rights of both, recognizing that special protection is often needed for minority beliefs and nonbelief.
Solar farm can help region shine
There is great potential and need for solar power in our region. The true cost of carbon-based energy is evident in its health effects and the disruption of our climate. Particulate matter in the atmosphere and coal ash impoundments are hazards to the health of Tennesseans directly and the heating of the atmosphere has caused instability over time.
Solar power production is still in its early stages in our state, but it is cheaper than ever and getting more affordable all the time. With the recent solar farm groundbreaking in Telford and many residential homes having rooftop panels it seems we are turning a corner.
Rep. Phil Roe should join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in Congress and support clean power incentivizing legislation. A revenue neutral price on carbon would send a clear market signal to invest in clean energy while at the same time avoiding heavy regulations that would otherwise be inevitable. This can be done with 100 percent of the proceeds going back to all households that would more than offset any short term costs to consumers.
Shedding light on renewables
I would like to bring attention to your audience about the issue of renewable energy and green power, which has been largely ignored by the media for far too long. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which is a regional nonprofit organization that has been promoting wise energy choices for the southeastern U.S. for over three decades, has long been a proponent for clean energy at the local, state and federal levels. We are now confronted with climate change, which scientists have been warning us about for the widespread impacts and now demands fierce urgency that needs addressing before we are doomed to living on a hothouse planet.
This issue should be non-partisan and beneficial for the region, the nation and even on a global scale. It really touches on the general health and wellness aspect of life as well. Pollution from coal-fired power plants has been detrimental to the health and well-being of the populace for far too long, and I would also point to the toxic coal ash accident and environmental catastrophe TVA was the responsible party for, and ultimately forced to clean up, near Kingston, which impacted the Tennessee River. To their credit, however, the TVA is becoming more receptive of renewable energy, and solar energy is becoming a larger part of its long-term energy plan and especially attractive from a cost-benefits analysis.
Johnson City’s BrightRidge electric utility is to be commended for embracing a solar energy farm project to be located in Northeast Tennessee in partnership with Silicon Ranch out of Nashville. We need more of these type of projects and installations to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for the long term. This will benefit our region and produce clean energy and create much-needed jobs, which will in turn benefit the local economy.
JOE G. FRANKLIN