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William Swinimer, a Grade 12 student in Nova Scotia, has been suspended for wearing a T-shirt publicizing his religious beliefs. (Bev Ware/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
William Swinimer, a Grade 12 student in Nova Scotia, has been suspended for wearing a T-shirt publicizing his religious beliefs. (Bev Ware/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

May 5: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Faith at tee time

William Swinimer, a Grade 12 student in Nova Scotia, was suspended for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “Life is wasted without Jesus” (Nova Scotia Student Suspended For Wearing His Faith On His Tee – May 4).

Painted on the wall outside my high school English classroom are Socrates’ famous words: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates’ words are not only a defence of free speech, they boldly and passionately express what he believed gave his life purpose and meaning. The words painted outside my door are meant to inspire the students who enter, and to suggest an important purpose for what we do in my classroom.

The words on William Swinimer’s T-shirt boldly express what gives his life meaning and purpose; they are not an attack on other people’s beliefs. Changing the words to make them less offensive, as the school board superintendent has suggested, completely misses the point. Would we still remember Socrates’ words if he’d said, “My life is enhanced by examining it”?

Natalie Hryciuk, Surrey, B.C.


We are supposed to be a country that allows freedom of religion. This appears to me to be discrimination against Christianity. Shame on this school board for its narrow, paranoid viewpoint.

Charlotte Krahn, North Vancouver


The insulting, arrogant, in-your-face “I am a Christian and you are not!” sentiment proclaimed by William Swinimer’s T-shirt can, and has, provided the basis for religious intolerance since time began. This is not the right that freedom of religion is intended to provide. Maybe he should simply pencil in the word “My” and get back to school.

Al Wilkinson, Burlington, Ont.


Pay and pray

With all due respect to the Gideon Society, those who appropriate bibles from hotel rooms should be aware of what they are getting. They are definitely not getting the “Jewish Bible” as Jeffrey Miller calls the Hebrew Scriptures (We Need the Bible, If Only to Understand – May 4). They are getting excerpts from the Hebrew Bible, selected to promote a specific interpretation of Christian beginnings.

The Gideon Bible is not, as Mr. Miller suggests, an “indispensible” tool for understanding Shakespeare or Milton. Instead, one must use the translations available to them. After the publication of the King James Version in 1611, Shakespeare would have used that version. So would Milton, though his case is more complicated since he also read Hebrew.

As for the Gideon Bible, you get what you pay for.

Alan Mendelson, professor emeritus (religious studies), McMaster University


Secularists might want to cheer the distribution of bibles in schools (or any other “holy” book for that matter) for the reason so cogently expressed by author Isaac Asimov: “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”

Mark Bessoudo, Toronto


Just a thought

The headlines that was – TransCanada To Refile Keystone Papers (Report on Business, May 4); the headline that might have been – U.S Oil Glut: Canada Sells Out Globally To Aid Continental Energy Security.

Peter Shepherd, Toronto


Love and war

In the frame of a single week, we’ve heard about Barack Obama’s “sexual warmth” (through revelations of a former girlfriend) and his military prowess (through commentary on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death). Coincidence? I doubt it.

With a knowing and nostalgic wink to millions of aging baby boomers, he has clearly found his re-election campaign theme: Make love and war (Obama’s Former Australian Girlfriend Recalls ‘Sexual Warmth, Detached Coolness’ – May 4).

Geoff Noxon, Ottawa


Re Obama’s Afghanistan Visit Adds A Victor’s Swagger To Campaign (May 2): Barack Obama is America’s first president from the counterculture generation that decried its country’s military involvements and corporate greed. Not surprising, he has become America’s foremost apologist. He has lost credibility in the countries involved in the Arab awakening of 2010-11, is no longer feared by Iran and has, on a broad scale, accelerated the diminution of the U.S. as a world power. If Mr. Obama wants to be re-elected, he would be well advised not to rely on his foreign policy record.

William Gee, Toronto


Hail the Chief

Jeffrey Simpson writes that “History is never written in stone; it’s always being checked and rechecked, written and rewritten” (Making The Past A Slave To Power – May 4). That’s precisely what is happening now, nearly half century after John Diefenbaker’s passing.

Even his most partisan detractors admit he was a “visionary,” a passionate Canadian whose Bill of Rights was the foundation upon which the current Charter of Rights and Freedoms was built, whose vision of the North (Roads to Resources) is reflected in the northern focus of the current government, and whose ancestry – which, on his father’s side, was neither Anglo nor French – created the impetus for our multicultural status as a nation.

Vic Stecyk, Richmond Hill, Ont.


The question, eh

The Conrad Black Question, like the Omar Khadr Question, gives us all a chance to play the pious game of “Who’s Good Enough to be a Canadian?”

Philip Street, Toronto


Going, going, gone

Under the American-style omnibus budget bill being pushed through Parliament, many of the conditions for EI eligibility would be determined by cabinet, far removed from the scrutiny of Question Period and the media (Budget Bill Measure Gives Conservatives Broad Power Over EI Rules – May 3). Albertans who experienced the so-called Klein Revolution know that during his time in office many legislative measures were passed this way. Stephen Harper and his advisers, many of whom cut their political teeth in Alberta, can hardly be accused of having a new idea. We’ve seen this before.

Tom Johnston, Lethbridge


Remember when a budget bill was about the budget? Bill C-38 guts environmental protection, targeting – among many other things – the fisheries act, navigable waters protection act and species at risk act. The Ottawa office of the Canadian Council of Archives is closing and we have huge cuts to StatsCan. There are more disappearances every day. If we sleep politely through all of this, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Dorothy Field, Victoria


You. No, you …

The spat between Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the Toronto Star is like two bald guys fighting over a comb: It’s ridiculous and they both should know better (On Opposite Sides Of The Fence – May 4).

Lyman MacInnis, Toronto

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