Ren's Ramblings & Writings

Contemplations on things tangible and intangible

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Facebook message to C/S Councilman Bernie Herpin-re: religion during government meetings

Hello Mr. Herpin,
I wanted to contact you regarding the praying while running the business of government that taxpayers pay for, for example, during public council meetings. I am a minister, albeit, not christian, and when I attended a council meeting a while back, was concerned that only christian prayer was taking place at the start of the meeting. City councils  are government entities, and members of the council should not abuse their authority by having official prayers.  The taxpayers do not pay our tax money for elected officials to take government time, and facilities, to pray. They pay them to run Government. Government, and its representatives, need to remain neutral regarding religion otherwise the religion starts to run government, and ultimately the rest of us without our consent. Also, not everyone who objects to government run prayer is an Atheist. The best form of government is a secular one. Not Christian, not Muslim, not atheist, but secular! I have a strong feeling that Christians upset that "atheists" (or those of any other spirituality) are against this would have a much stronger reaction if a Muslim city council member wanted to conduct an Islamic prayer. There is always a time for prayer, but in this case, it should be private, with perhaps a few moments of silence to allow those of differing beliefs to do what suits them during that silence.

thank you-
Rev. Renee L. Ten Eyck

More of the ongoing conversation posts, NOT in direct order;  Mr. Herpin's posts were posted previously, along with posts of many others, and I've included my current replies to his posts:

It's an invocation given by a person who has ageed to offer a few words prior to the council meeting starting. The invocation has been given by people of varying beliefs including Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Native American, and alternative beliefs. The US Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of integrating a moment of silence/prayer at public meetings (Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783).

"Coming from a fairly traditional Southern upbringing, I was not at all initially surprised when a voice came over the PA and asked everyone to rise for the invocation. I had been through this same ritual at many other high-school events an
d thought nothing of it, so to our feet my wife and I stood, bowed our heads, and prepared to partake of the prayer. But to our extreme dismay, the clergyman who took the microphone and began to pray was not a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest, but a Buddhist priest who proceeded to offer up prayers and intonations to god-head figures that our tradition held to be pagan."
Bernie Herpin regarding your noted court case: Palmer characterizes his prayers as "nonsectarian," "Judeo Christian," and with "elements of the American civil religion." App. 75 and 87 (deposition of Robert E. Palmer). Although some of his earlier prayers were often explicitly Christian, Palmer removed all references to Christ after a 1980 complaint from a Jewish legislator. Id. at 49. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held that both practices violated the Constitution. Justice Brennan, with Justice Marshall joining, wrote in a dissenting opinion, "The Court makes no pretense of subjecting Nebraska's practice of legislative prayer to any of the formal "tests" that have traditionally structured our inquiry under the Establishment Clause. That it fails to do so is, in a sense, a good thing, for it simply confirms that the Court is carving out an exception to the Establishment Clause, rather than reshaping Establishment Clause doctrine to accommodate legislative prayer."[1]

I will not vote to abolish the invocation. It is permitted and does not endorse any particular religious belief.

Bernie Herpin that, Mr. Herpin, proves that you could care less about "all" Americans, caring only about those you deem worthy, despite the fact that the Constitution mandates no gov't establishment of religion-and the fact that YOU work for the citizens-not the other way around. Your job is to run the city, not to be a preacher

I don't select who gives the invocation. If it is respectful, come on down. Have your Priestess call Dean at 385-5986 and asked to be put on the schedule.

Bernie Herpin Lemon v. Kurtzman
The Court's decision in this case established the "Lemon test", which details the requirements for legislation concerning religion. It consists of three prongs:
 1.The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose;
 2.The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
 3.The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.
If any of these 3 prongs are violated, the government's action is deemed unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

recent Facebook message to Mr.Herpin Feb 5, 2013:

Legislative Prayer: Can legislatures open meetings with prayers?
Government is generally forbidden to deliver, sponsor, orchestrate, or encourage prayers. Since the nation's founding, however, many legislatures have traditionally opened their meetings with prayer. Given this historical tradition, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that legislative prayers are constitutionally permissible if, but only if, they do not use language or symbols specific to one religion. (Courts have held, however, that elected school boards are different than legislatures, and are forbidden to open their sessions even with nonsectarian prayers.) Furthermore, prayergivers at legislative sessions may not exploit the prayer opportunity to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief. A number of federal courts of appeals have thus held that sectarian prayers (i.e., prayers using language specific to one faith) before legislatures or other representative bodies are unconstitutional. One court, with jurisdiction over Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, has taken a more limited view, concluding that sectarian prayers in legislatures are permissible as long as they do not proselytize.
Even apart from using sectarian language, there are many ways that legislative prayer might impermissibly proselytize, advance, or disparage a particular faith. Those who do not wish to be present for a prayer must be allowed to leave and may not be excluded from participating in the rest of the meeting. And those who do not wish to stand or bow their head for the prayer must be allowed to remain seated and must not otherwise be penalized for their nonconformity. A prayer practice may also be unconstitutional if a legislative body selects prayer-givers based on their faith or excludes some faith groups from offering prayers. Thus, if a legislative body invites clergy to deliver prayers, it should strive to invite a wide variety of faiths and should instruct the prayer-givers to make their prayers nonsectarian, ecumenical, and inclusive of minority faiths.
If your representative body offers a prayer and one or more of the following statements is true, the prayer practice may be unconstitutional:
Clergy or other invited guests offer the prayers, but minority faiths are excluded from being prayer-givers.
The prayers often contain explicit references to a particular deity, symbolic religious language, quotations of religious texts, or statements that promote, advance, or denigrate a particular religion.

Americans United: get-involved-report-a-violation

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Re: yes, one more letter on smart meters (letter to Fountain Valley News)

in retrospect, this might have been a bit "loud" but I'm so very tired of the hate-mongering and bitching and rampant "nothing is ever good enough-holier than thou" thing that is endemic these days.

I would like to briefly respond to the recent uproar by the same and consistent citizens over the smart meter controversy.  I am not going to speak to the smart meter matter specifically; as citizens, we should all be accountable to research this matter ourselves if it is a concern, and not simply rely on the rantings of a few malcontents who have nothing better to do than criticize our city employees and city council, who, by the way are exceptionally educated people who DO have the best interests of this city at heart.
My concern today is that these same hate-mongers who continually rant about the smart meters seem to believe that they speak for the nearly 26,000 people in just the city of Fountain alone (25,846 as of 2010 according to They seem to think that their 1,100 signatures on a petition represents the other 25,000+ residents of the city of Fountain, though, I can’t actually recall any of those people specifically talking to me about smart meters, or anything else.  Their 1,100 signatures represents less than 4% of Fountain’s total population, as of 2010, which does not include the 5-7% annual population increases expected each year between 2010 and 2014.  The bottom line is, however passionate you are about your issue, you DO NOT represent all, or even the majority of Fountain voices.
City employees and city council often must make decisions that the rest of us are opposed to, knowing that we, the public, often do not have all the facts.  Putting this in perspective, the supposed “public outcry” to ban smart meters was by less than 4% of Fountain’s residents, and, therefore, warrants only that the city decision-makers and city council hear what they have to say, which is important, since there may be information that has not previously surfaced. But, make no mistake, this city council decision and the decision of our city decision-makers DOES represent the MAJORITY of the people, since the majority of the people, who have had opportunity to learn about smart meters, have chosen not to voice any opposition to this endeavor. 
That said, given the health concerns, I do think that this matter warrants further investigation by city officials, who should do everything in their power to ensure that this technology will not cause harm, and to find alternatives for those who need alternatives based on health needs.
Rev. Renee L. Ten Eyck

Thursday, September 13, 2012

my response to a Facebook post of "PETITION: Say NO to the removal of GOD and the American Flag at public & National Ceremonies! "

The 12 Best Reasons Why The U.S. Is Not Now, And Never Should Be, A Christian Nation

1) “Enforced uniformity confounds civil and religious liberty and denies the principles of Christianity and civility. No man shall be required to worship or maintain a worship against his will.” Roger Williams, Puritan minister and founder of Rhode Island, in The Bloudy Tenet of Persecution, 1644.

2) “As the government of the United States of America is not on any sense founded on the Christian Religion, – as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen (Muslims), – and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
–Treaty of Tripoli

3) “But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed.”–John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816

4) “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship… I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT

5) “I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.”–Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Miller, 1808 [note that this does not say Christian religion; it refers to all religions, equally]

6) “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.” –Thomas Jefferson to Baron von Humboldt, 1813

7) “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.” –James Madison, letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774

8) “Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?” –James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of VA, 1795

9) “What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people… A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.” –James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785 .

10) “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.” –James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance

11) “He had no faith, in the Christian sense of the term– he had faith in laws, principles, causes and effects.” –Supreme Court Justice David Davis, on Abraham Lincoln

12) “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” –First Amendment, Constitution of the United States

In addition: "In God we trust" was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956 as an alternative or replacement to the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum, adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782. This motto was not adopted at the founding of this MELTING POT country.

 In God we trust has appeared sporadically on U.S. coins since 1864[3] and on paper currency since 1957.

Many have questioned the legality of this motto because they state that it violates United States Constitution which forbids the government from passing any law respecting the establishment of a religion.

While this is a belief that is followed by the main Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it is foreign to the beliefs of many other religions. For instance, Buddhists do not believe in a personal deity; Zoroastrians and Wiccans believe in two deities; and Hindus believe in many. And the phrase is meaningless to agnostics and atheists. As such, it violates the principle of separation of church and state.

This country was NOT founded on christian principles. Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 49 were Protestants, and three were Roman Catholics (C. Carroll, D. Carroll, and Fitzsimons). Among the Protestant delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 28 were Church of England (or Episcopalian, after the American Revolutionary War was won), eight were Presbyterians, seven were Congregationalists, two were Lutherans, two were Dutch Reformed, and two were Methodists.
A few prominent Founding Fathers were anti-clerical Christians, such as Thomas Jefferson (who created the so-called "Jefferson Bible") and Benjamin Franklin. A few others (most notably Thomas Paine) were deists, or at least held beliefs very similar to those of deists.

and you can't claim the Pledge of Allegiance as proof of christian beginnings, since the original Pledge didn't contain references to god. The original version in 1892 was "I pledge of allegiance of to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all." the current Pledge was not adopted until 1954.

For all those bigoted Christians who do not want immigrants in America:
Leviticus 19:33-34
“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

the poem on the Statue of Liberty ends with:
 "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

religious belief is no guarantee of moral integrity. furthermore, there are millions of people who do not believe in god yet love this country. this country is not just about the chrisitian god. I wore the Uniform for 20 years so that ALL Americans, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, have the right to enjoy their lives here. this country is a melting pot of many different belief systems. hate-mongering perpetuates hate. As Christopher Barton states: “You know teachings by the fruits it bears. Anti-gay teachings bear no fruit but hatred and harm to others - you see this in how GLBT individuals are routinely demonized. And wrapping your hate in a "highest form of love" is kinda like wrapping fecal matter in gold leaf. It is still crap at its core.” the same holds true for the absolutism that fundamentalist christians (dominionists) who believe that their religion is the only right way.

I, therefore, honor everyone for their beliefs, and subscribe only to the Constitution for governing authority over the general citizenry.
Amendment 1 of the Bill of Rights:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
This also includes freedom from religion. In other words, you do not get to force your beliefs, which work for you, on others.

Monday, September 10, 2012

My beautiful lioness, Solstice, who has gone to the Rainbow Bridge

when I was a kitten recovering from illness

ahh, the porcelain is so cool...

the cone of shame..

such a cat thing to do

it's a stretchy good day..

I was still a youngster here

my first xmas with the family-I liked the tree

panorama of my recovering self

Solstice conquers pumpkin

the box is mine

UPDATE: my beautiful little lioness has crossed the Rainbow Bridge...

me email/FB msg to Virginia delegate Robert G. Marshall

re: Virginia lawmaker: Children with disabilities are God’s punishment to women who previously had abortions.

I just read in an article from 2010 that you believe that "“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” said Marshall, a Republican."
First, you disgust me and your idea of being a Christian man is truly just hate-mongering that Christ would be offended by.
Second, Disabled children are a GIFT, not a punishment. They are given to us to TEACH us and people like you valuable life lessons.
Third, what is the reason that Rick Santorum's daughter was born with a disability similar to Downs Syndrome. How do you explain the children born with disabilities who are first born or are born to a woman who has never had an abortion? And I wonder why, pray, tell, Ann Romney was born with MS?
I have an Aspergers son whose IQ is off the charts-he could put you to shame.  I also ADOPTED my youngest, who is cognitively delayed BECAUSE he is my disabled nephew (1st born to my deaf sister, who never had any abortions; my sister was born to my mother, who never had any abortions. I am the first born. My deaf sister is the 2nd born).
You are a disgrace and a shame and an embarrassment to America. You need to learn first hand the compassion and lessons that disabled children have to offer. Look in the mirror, and judge not lest ye be judged. 

Reverend Renee L. Ten Eyck
Fountain, CO

Contact this monster at 

Robert G. Marshall
Delegate of 13th District
P.O. Box 421
Manassas, VA 20108
703 – 361 – 5416 (office and fax)
703 – 853 – 4213 703 – 853 – 4213 (cell) (preferred)

 I received this email response from Del. Marshall's office:

Re: Contact [#2487]

Monday, September 10, 2012 12:18 PM

  The press conference and related article cited in the Think Progress article circulating on Facebook occurred almost 3 years ago.  The original article that "broke" the story the week after the press conference when no other recognized paper did so is in part a college reporters opinion which she infered Delegate Marshall actually said.  Her statement was based on comments he made which were taken out of context at the time and continue to be misconstrued.

If you re-read what you quoted you will see that he was discussing studies showing that children born to women who have aborted their first pregnancy have a higher risk of premature labor and low birth weight resulting in a higher incidence of children born with special needs.  He was not saying or implying that all disabled children are the result of previous abortion or that any child is punishment from God.   Quite the contrary.  Delegate Marshall is in part pro-life becuase he believes ALL children are a gift from God and deserve to protected from conception to natural death.  Because of his beliefs he did not support an amendment which allowed Medicaid funding in Virginia for abortions for "fetal deformity.". He did use the words "nature's vengeance" but he meant the natural consequences of an action in the same way that if you smoke heavily for 40 years you are more likely to have lung cancer if a woman aborts her first pregnancy she is more likely to have complications in subsequent pregnancies.  He did not mean that the children born in those circumstances or any other circumstance are a punishment for anything.

You can read Delegate Marshall's statement and apology for hurt his actual words may have caused at

Delegate Marshall was the first person to introduce legislation to require insurance coverage ABA treatment for children with Autism and though it was not his legislation that finally passed in Virginia guaranteeing that coverage he was thrilled that it finally passed.  Even after the conference he was still supported by Autism Speaks and continues to work with them to raise awareness about Autism.

In addition over 20 years ago he and his wife adopted their third child who they were told would be likely to have Huntington's Disease.  They were happy to adopt her and love her for as long as they could have her.  As it turned out she did not have the disease.

I hope that this information will clarify Delegate Marshall's position.

I would also like to ask where you saw a FB post or internet post about this recently?  We would like to chance to contact the poster to give Delegate Marshall's side of the events.


Claire C. Gardner
Legislative Aide 
my email response to the email from Del. Marshall's office:

Thank you for taking the time to respond to me promptly. Here are links you can go to that show video of what Del. Marshall said.  In this video, he very poignantly states his religious beliefs, which are, RELIGIOUS beliefs, over and above the atrocity of stating such a thing about handicapped children. There is no mistaking what he stated, no misunderstanding what he stated. He can try to back track and apologize for his religious beliefs and misstatements.  Furthermore, last time I checked, this country was governed by a Constitution and we are not supposed to be in the business of legislating religious beliefs.

Marshall's beliefs are based on religious ideology, and do not reflect truth or science.  Medicine has told us that the embryo doesn’t begin to develop a brain, spinal cord or heart until week 5.  Religious beliefs should NOT be legislated.  In addition there does not seem to be any intention to preserve the sanctity of life of those who are already living, breathing, and contributing to life. Take for example the person who is raped. No compassion for that person, especially since the rapist has been taught that he’s not a rapist and it’s not his fault.  How about the mother whose life is in danger with the pregnancy and who already has living children who need her, and who, along with her doctors, believe it better for her to terminate the pregnancy.  No compassion for those who suffer from crippling and disabling diseases and maladies that have the potential to be cured through the efforts of stem cell research.  There is no compassion for the military lives that are carelessly thrown away to frivolous and unpaid wars.  There is no compassion or sanctity for the lives of the poor women and children of our country who, through no fault of their own, know only lives that lack: they are left with schools that have less funding yet are among our nation’s neediest.  They cannot go to doctors unless it is to emergency rooms, and those who work cannot afford the employer’s health coverage for their families.

In addition, regarding his comment "Looking at it from a cultural, historical perspective, this organization should be called ‘Planned Barrenhood’ because they have nothing to do with families, they have nothing to do with responsibility,” Marshall said.

Family planning has EVERYTHING to do with responsibility and economics, from family economics to country economics:

In the United States of America, motherhood is just about the absolute worst financial decision a woman can make in her lifetime:

The highest earning window for women, practically the only time they are not subject to the gender wage gap, is when they are single and childless, usually in their twenties. They have to live in cities and have gone to college.

More than 50 percent of children born to women under 30 are born to single mothers.
When a woman has a baby, her chances of being hired go down, compared to a childless woman, by 44 percent.
When a woman has a child her pay drops by 11 percent.
Women make up the majority of workers in the nation's lowest paying jobs

A recent Goldman Sachs study revealed that getting rid of our gender wage gap, de-sex-segregating the workforce, and cultivating women in leadership roles are necessary for economic growth and transformation. Doing these things would boost American gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 9%.

If you are in the self-contradictory "live with your choices, I shouldn't pay for someone else's birth control, our nation is in economic peril" camp: Unplanned parenthood -- which is what happens when you get rid of Planned Parenthood -- costs taxpayers $11 billion dollars a year.,b=facebook

Just because you act to protect cells that haven't developed a brain or nervous system or a conscience, you are not pro-life.  When you wantonly waste the lives of service members in make-believe wars to protect money in your pockets and jeopardize the lives of service members, taking advantage of their desire to serve something greater than themselves-you are NOT pro life because you are wasting those living and breathing lives! And when you protect the cells but do not protect the life of the mother who IS living and breathing (or her children if she has living/breathing children)-then you are NOT pro LIFE.  You are pro RELIGION.

Also (separate email response):
in addition, these more current references to his statements are noted here:

this is just more of the same old rhetoric that the fundamentalist right is trying so hard to legislate.
“Politics, is not religion. We make a big mistake when we try to equate the two or argue politically as if religious truth were at stake. Politics are important – this professional would not diminish that truth – but it is not religion. If we can keep the two separate, we will be better able to make the compromises necessary to hold our country together – together, under God.” When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.
-former Republican Senator and Episcopal minister John Danforth

Former Senator Danforth also mentioned in his book, "Faith and Politics" that his constituents hired a politician, not a minister.
Rev. Renée Lynn Ten Eyck