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God and the 1040 

Week of May 7, 2003

God and the 1040
Firing back: I work for the Internal Revenue Service, and I found Geri L. Dreiling's "Answering the Call" [April 9] hilarious. It amazes me that a picture of a cross and a Bible has caused such an uproar. A General Services Administration official claims C-FIRE is "very large and influential," yet the attorney who complained about the group found out about the organization from a flier posted on a bulletin board -- not from a fanatic with a bullhorn or a proselyte waving a table-size Bible but from a flier posted on a bulletin board.

What exactly is the "separation of church and state"? This term has become the catch-all for any matters dealing with faith or religion these days. When did we become so anti-belief, faith and hope? Ken Jones, editor of Missouri Lawyers Weekly, mentions the First Amendment's prohibition against government-established religion. The government didn't establish C-FIRE. Just because it is permitted by the agency doesn't mean it's established by the agency. C-FIRE is an employee organization, just like the many other employee organizations at the IRS.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commission attorney Donna Harper fears that employees with managers that participate in C-FIRE may feel pressured to join the group. Now an organization is being held responsible for what someone fears others may feel. That's a good one!

EEOC attorney Barbara Seely believes it is wrong to allow this group to use taxpayer money and time to advance their religion. C-FIRE takes neither taxpayers' time nor money to do what it does, which is far from attempting to advance religion. I would venture to say that the government suffers far less from anything C-FIRE does than it does from run-of-the-mill employees who abscond with pens, pencils, etc.; executives who mismanage billions of dollars; or political officials who -- I think you're getting the picture.

The article states that there may be a "dilemma" of a theological nature involving the manner in which "devout Christians" handle tax returns. Are you insinuating that Christians can't be trusted to perform their duties with integrity and efficiency? I certainly hope that someone with a sense of character and devotion to their job is handling my returns, be they Christian or not. And Christians could care less about what taxpayers do with their material belongings. Ours is not to judge.

It amazes me how Christians are spoken of with disdain until a tragedy arises. When we suffered as a nation during the September 11 crisis, people were glad to have Christians and every other praying person around to console them. We didn't have to post fliers. When the war in Iraq began, all you heard all day was 'Pray for my son, daughter, husband and wife.' How quickly we forget.
Angela B. Allen
Laurel, Maryland

Say it loud: Out of all the beliefs out there, Christianity is always the one people have the most problem with. If there was a group of New Agers, Scientologists or Jewish believers wanting to have an organization within the walls of any government building, I wonder what the story would be. I for one am so tired of everyone telling me as a Christian that I have to tolerate everyone else, but if I have an opinion I have to keep my mouth shut. That is not what the principles of our country were founded on. Freedom is not just for people who want to make this country tolerant; it is for everyone. Even Christians!
Karin Bergmann
St. Louis

Family Values
Business is business: I read Susan Zarleneo's April 2 letter agreeing with Bill O'Reilly on Pepsi's withdrawal of Ludacris from its ad campaign. She cited his use of profanity, drugs and violent lyrics and how he speaks out against law enforcement. Yet she failed to mention that instead of going with Ludacris, Pepsi went with the Osbournes! How very clever: You drop Luda for all the above reasons but pick someone else up who is twice as foul. How does Pepsi figure this to be better? The all-American standard for a foul, subpar family that lacks all moral values and disciplines is way better for our kids that Ludacris is!

Ms. Zarleneo should have examined this aspect of the campaign before she proceeded to criticize Ludacris. I am very happy she is able to make her own choice, because so am I!
Ricky Fernandez
St. Louis

Kitchen Korner
Torte tort: I enjoyed Rose Martelli's coverage of JaBoni's Bistro, but as a chef I feel compelled to correct her misleading description of a Sachertorte as a heavy German layer cake with fudge and caramel ["Building a Better Bistro," April 2]. First, Sachertorte was created at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria, not in Germany. Ms. Martelli's geographical knowledge could be overlooked, except Viennese pastry and baking is so iconoclastic and superb that to call it German shows a lack of food history -- or, at the very least, a lack of knowledge of the history of world-famous pastries.

Second, Sachertorte is not a layer cake; it is a cakelike torte that has a dense texture. It is always one layer topped with a thin coating of apricot preserves, then covered with ganache. Whatever Ms. Martelli was served at JaBoni's, it was not Sachertorte, and I think Ms. Martelli should have pointed this out. Sachertorte does not include layers of fudge and caramel -- never has and never will.
Mickey Kitterman
St. Louis

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