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Not attending church is not same thing as not believing in God

To The Daily Sun,

As he usually does, Mr. Ververka does his best to insult and demean those whose views or beliefs differ from his. In his most recent gloat, he cited a Pew Research study showing a decline in church attendance and an increase in the number of people claiming to be atheist or agnostic. Apparently, the numbers alone convince him that people who don't go to church must not believe in an almighty power: God.

According to the Pew Research study, there has been a significant decline in attendance in many Protestant denominations, but there has been significant growth in attendance in Evangelical, Mormon, and Southern Baptist churches. The Catholic Church also shows a growth in attendance, but the growth rate is not keeping up with the overall population growth rates. The reasons for its lower growth rate is not identified but it could be that some of that growth moved to a growing Protestant denomination.

Another facet of the Pew Research study deals with the decline in what can best be described as a shift from traditional moral values. That is evidenced a few major ways. The first is that many couples live together without being married . . . that was not a "normal" arrangement in the pre-sexual revolution days that began in the 1960s. We must also recognize that in 1973, at the height of the sexual revolution, the Supreme Court issued its Roe v, Wade decision and, since that time, there have been about 1.3 million abortions per year in this country. These issues may make people uncomfortable and perhaps less likely to attend church on a regular basis. However, in no way does that mean they don't believe in God . . . it simply means we don't know their religious beliefs.

Next, many young women have chosen to start a business career before getting married. If I remember correctly, the Pew Research study pointed out that couples now have very low birth rates because women are getting married much later and are nearing the end of their ability to give birth to a child.

The problem I have with Mr. Ververka's position is that he assumes that if people aren't attending church, they don't believe in God. As good as Pew Research is, I don't believe they can tell us what is in a person's heart.

Some people seem to want "proof" that God exists, before they will profess "faith." Personally, I find the gift of life in all its forms to be an overwhelming "proof." That those life forms in so many ways work in unison to sustain each other is more overwhelming "proof." That the gaseous matter contained in the "big bang" that created the ever expanding universe, included all the elements of life is even more overwhelming "proof."

Mr. Ververka seems unwilling to accept that people have faith in a God that he doesn't acknowledge exists . . . he wants undeniable proof. I simply ask Mr. Ververka if he will accept the same type of litmus test for himself, and provide us with "proof" that the Big Bang did not happen and, even more important, offer the readers "proof" that God does not exist.

Bob Meade

Laconia

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Board has ample opportunity to inform me I would not be heard

To The Daily Sun,

An open letter to the Gilmanton Board of Selectmen and the town administrator:

To say that I am a little dismayed regarding the board's decision not to follow through with my scheduled agenda meeting is an understatement. The board certainly cannot justify its stand on waiting until Mr. Jean returns by saying something about Mr. Jean "spearheading" and he needed to be present. Apparently, the board knew well in advance that Mr. Jean was going to be absent and was unsure when he would be returning.

The board had ample opportunity to contact me and advise me that I would be removed from the agenda. However, the board let me show up at the meeting, sit through all of the presentations, only to say to me when it was my turn that they wouldn't be meeting with me. This is just one example of the unprofessionalism in the Selectmen's Office.

For the record, of the six agenda items I mentioned, only one document was related to Mr. Jean and none of the others required his presence. As a matter of fact, it was Selectmen McWhinnie and Bishop who took it upon themselves to motion and vote to discontinue audiotaping of the selectmen's meetings. Mr. Jean was not present for the vote.

Secondly, job descriptions are a matter of public record and Mr. Jean did not need to be present for them to be made accessible to me. Whether or not the selectmen are working on new job descriptions is irrelevant, as I was asking for the current job descriptions on file and I am requesting they be provided to me.

My third question was related to missing attachments in transcribed minutes and was solved on Monday night. According to the minute taker, the missing attachments would be added right away.

Fourth item: Mr. Jean's presence was not required to discuss a discrepancy in the minutes as he was not the minute taker. The missing words "and adjourned" speak to a time stamp change and make the minutes misleading without the missing words.

Fifth item: I requested documents be provided from Mr. Branscombe's study of Lakes Region department head salaries. He referenced this research in the minutes of the April 4 meeting (page 5) and Mr. Jean's statewide pay scale document that he had also referenced in the April 4 meeting minutes (page 5). Regardless of whether or not Mr. Jean was present at the meeting, his document should be a matter of record at the Selectmen's Office and not something he is keeping in his bureau drawer at home. Whether or not he was present at the meeting, this document should have been made available to me. At the meeting I clearly asked Mr. McWhinnie for these documents and he refused to answer me. He kept repeating over and over his mantra — "we will discuss this when Mr. Jean gets back."

And finally, by Mr. McWhinnie not providing his study on how to cut 10 percent from the town budget is also a violation of the Right to Know Law. Unless, of course, he actually didn't do a study which I would find hard to believe as he was making repeated attempts (April 4 audio) to get the other two selectmen to agree to a 10 percent cut. A competent selectmen would not have randomly made such a recommendation without the research to back up his lobbying for a 10 percent cut to all town budgets.

Within the last month the selectmen attended two seminars regarding Right to Know Laws in New Hampshire. You must have been nodding off while in attendance because you have violated the Right to Know Law in not providing me with the above-mentioned documents. Even though you chose not to meet with me, these documents, under the law, still needed to be provided to me immediately.

As you repeatedly pointed out at Monday night's meeting, you will not be answering any questions unless someone is on the agenda. I adhered to your rules and met all requirements and was placed on last Monday night's agenda, yet you refused to talk to me and answer my questions (which had been submitted to you in advance). On Monday night I was told I needed to reapply to be placed back on the agenda. My request should still be a matter of record and I should automatically be placed on the agenda of the next selectmen's meeting. It should be noted that the board is currently meeting without Mr. Jean and was making decisions on all matters except mine. I don't think the board would be foolish enough to discriminate against one community member (or maybe they would be), as I have clearly pointed out Mr. Jean's presence is not needed for the board to hear my concerns. Your prompt written response will be appreciated.

Brenda Currier

Gilmanton

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