The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 12, 2014

Readers' Forum 1-12 | Did you give a gift to Jesus?

Submitted by Readers

JOHNSTOWN — Christmas has come and gone. Memories are usually fond, but sometimes not so fond. For me, a strong memory that has persevered for years is this: I once was watching Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network). She was talking about gift-giving at Christmas.

“Who’s birthday is it anyhow? It’s not yours, it’s not mine. It’s Jesus’ birthday. Why not give our gifts to Jesus?” she said.

I suspect that not many took her seriously, but I did.

So, how do we give a gift to Jesus? We certainly do not throw it up in the air and let him catch it. No, the answer is found in Matthew 25:40: “I assure you as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.” And who are the least brothers of Jesus? The answer to this is in the eyes of the beholder.

For me, it is the unborn to whom I contribute all year long. But at Christmas time, I consider the very poor and abandoned children.

Each Christmas, I send two checks to Jesus. One in care of Monsignor Arnold Gaus, who collects money for the poorest of the poor in Haiti. And one to the Rev. Joe Maurizio, who has established and is maintaining perhaps 13 orphanages in Honduras and other Central and South American countries.

Richard A. Ruth


Clean house or live with consequences

A natural gas bill, passed by the Republican Legislature and signed by Gov. “Gas Can” Tom Corbett, included removing the right of any municipality to control drilling rights, the right of a gas company to extract gas from a private owner at the price of a neighbor’s contract without any input by the owner, and does not allow your medical doctor to relate health issues to gas drilling.

The Department of Environmental Protection does not report or release information on health issues or complaints connected to drilling. Complaints against gas companies are not released and are kept from the public.

If voters do not take reprisals on election day, they get what they deserve.

Corbett refuses to impose an extraction tax at the well head but is quick to tax the working man at the gas pump.

Come election day, we will have Corbett and Wall Street types running against immoral gay wedding and abortion rights advocates. As an independent, I usually have no one to vote for. Too many uninformed voters vote a straight party line and get what they deserve.

We also have a local newspaper with the moral fortitude of a rabbit, afraid to take a stand or give an opinion and explain these  issues. Where are the journalists of old?

D.V. Hankinson

New Baltimore

U.S. a melting pot of cultures, religions

E pluribus unum, the unofficial motto of the United States, celebrates the USA’s stance as a melting pot of all religions, cultures, races and ethnic backgrounds. However, according to the Jan. 7 letter by the Rev. Tony Joseph (“Obama’s legacy is unflattering”), celebrating the diversity of our nation through the use of this motto is “wrong, arrogant and dumb.”

Instead, he prefers the official motto, “in God we trust.” This motto was not officially adopted until 1956, when the Eisenhower administration came under pressure to separate the United States from the state-atheist USSR.

Furthermore, in 1970, the 9th Circuit Court ruled, in Aronow v United States, that “in God we trust” is purely ceremonial in the government’s eyes and does not constitute the establishment of a state religion.

In contrast, keep in mind that e pluribus unum was adopted on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782, when American government was still structured by the Articles of Confederation. This idea was conceived directly from the founders and predates the Constitution, which was not ratified until 1788.

Christianity is not the only faith in this country. We are a melting pot of countless different cultures of the world, unlike any other place on earth. In order for us to succeed as a nation, we must reject the idea that the United States is a Christian nation and that government policy must revolve around Christian doctrine.

Remember: United we stand, divided we fall.

Ryan Sweeney


Dreams should only end when we die

I love this country. That’s why its stagnation hurts so much.

So many people are annoyed because others don’t behave as they’re supposed to. It doesn’t bother me so much. Holding others down and insisting they do as you do is a crime. Freedom and justice for all is the best motto. Freedom to screw up and suffer or profit by it lets you learn how to live.

Marriage and drugs are being freed, so that all can decide when they are a bad idea. Health care for so long had been captured by profiteers, but times are finally changing – as well for gun makers. What good is a defense if it leaves you broke and wounded?

Our area is being abandoned. So many would love this place, but we block the path to all but the rich. It’s the poor who are hungry for progress. We insist that only we are the men free to be here. We say the world scares us, but we scare the world more.

We’re citizens of the world, and we can’t tear the world down. If we refuse to build, then let others do it.

Dreams should only end when we die. We met the moon 50 years ago. It waits for our embrace.

Robert Spencer