Friday, Jan. 17, 2014: Religious freedom bill, holiday surprise, Camden rehab facility

Posted Jan. 16, 2014, at 1:30 p.m.

Religious freedom

As a citizen of Bangor, I call on all Bangor legislators to support LD 1428, An Act to Protect Religious Freedom.

Back in 1993, the U.S. Congress, under the leadership of President Bill Clinton, passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They did this in response to a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made it easier for the federal government to restrict First Amendment rights.

However, in 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court then declared that RFRA did not apply to state governments. LD 1428 simply brings Maine’s legal protection of religious freedom in line with existing federal law.

Eighteen other states currently have passed religious freedom bills. Our Founding Fathers thought defending the religious liberty of its citizens was a high priority. They believed the free exercise of religion was a fundamental right and chose to include religious freedom in the First Amendment. I am in agreement with them. Freedom is non-discriminatory. The freedom to exercise one’s religion (any religion) protects people of all faiths and also those who choose none.

If Clinton and the ACLU thought it was important to pass the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, how could we do less for Maine? Every Maine citizen should be free to live out the freedoms the U.S. Constitution guarantees. Our state law should honor and affirm our liberty and protect the freedom of religion just as vigorously as the freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

This is one citizen’s opinion. Let’s see if our Bangor legislators agree.

Katrin Teel

Bangor

Holiday gift

On Christmas day I received the nicest Christmas present from a perfect stranger. Since I never actually met him, how can I call him “perfect”? Well, as far as I am concerned, what he did for me fully demonstrated his goodness and “perfection.“

About noontime on Christmas day, I filled my gas tank at a closed gas station near the Bangor Mall. Although the station was closed, the pumps were left open, and I was able to fill my tank using a credit card. Apparently I dropped my cellphone while I was filling my tank. I did realize that it was missing when an hour later I went to call my relatives in Cape Elizabeth to tell them when I should arrive. But I did not know whether I had lost the phone or had left it at home before my trip.

Meanwhile another car stopped at the same gas station, and the occupants saw and picked up my phone. They were kind enough to turn it on and call the “home” number and tell my wife where at the gas station they would leave my phone. Their kind call enabled us to retrieve the phone the next day when I returned to Orono. So I have my phone back, thanks to the kindness of these unknown persons. Whoever you are, I thank you. Probably I shall never get to thank you in person, but I would be most happy to do so. God bless you and thank you most fervently.

Clayton Dodge

Mathematics Professor Emeritus

Orono

June vote

I’m writing in support of the zoning change in Camden that will allow McLean to operate a recovery center at Fox Hill. I grew up in the Camden area and graduated from Camden Hills Regional High School. I’ve spent most of my life in this area, and this opportunity on the horizon is the best I’ve seen for this area in years. If the zoning is changed and the recovery center at Fox Hill is a reality, it will impact the community in three positive ways.

The first way is bringing more awareness in the form of education about substance abuse. Second, this additional education can bring a positive change to the health of our community. The third point is one that all of us should agree on. McLean at Fox Hill will provide jobs to people and economic growth in our community and our neighboring towns.

I ask that this issue be put on the ballot for town residents to decide. I hope that others will join with me in voting on the June ballot.

Theo Emery

Hope

Service thanks

Recently, the new cultural commission was sworn in. What a wonderfully fresh and motivated group of citizens, with tenacious and affable George Kinghorn as the chair. The arts and cultural scene in Bangor is teaming with vibrancy. An exciting time to be in Bangor, for sure. Thank you to everyone for their service.

Bari Newport

Bangor

Camden zoning change

I am a father, certified teacher, coach and youth mentor who has lived and worked in Camden and its community for several years. I am passionate about education and providing our youth with world-class opportunities to learn and grow. In fact, it is in the community of Camden that my three sons are being raised.

The change I anticipate that will occur when the voters of Camden decide to update the zoning language to allow a residential behavioral recovery center at Fox Hill will be dramatic with regards to the positive benefits to the town and its residents!

When McLean opens its recovery center at Fox Hill, one of the most immediate benefits will be the creation of jobs in the town. Jobs that are not only needed but will provide a caliber of employment that will help year-round residents provide for their families and also help the local economy in terms of money spent in town.

By allowing a change in zoning, Camden residents will be giving their community access to world-renowned expertise in the behavioral health care industry. More importantly, this level of expertise available to the teachers and mentors of our youth will be a catalyst in providing a safe environment to grow and learn for generations to come.

Won’t you support positive change by placing this issue on the ballot?

Matthew Speno

Union

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