Governor Schwarzenegger, Attorney General Brown, and Secretary Cate,
I’m writing in support of Chaplain Rev. Patrick McCollum and for the rights of all citizens in the State of California to have access to spiritual counsel and religious expression. I appeal to your good conscience. I appeal to your heart that sees another human as a being of worth. I appeal to any sense you may have that the sacred is with us. I appeal, this day, to justice.
I am writing to appeal to you grant all citizens of the State of California equal rights. The denial of rights of religious expression and assembly to prisoners who are not Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or Native American in the California Corrections systems impedes the free practice of many of different traditions and beliefs. Worse, the brief filed by WallBuilders Inc. to the 9th Circuit Court seeks to deny religious counsel and representation to prisoners who are not monotheists. This sets a dangerous precedent and has the future ability to impact those serving in the military, and perhaps eventually, those who require religious succor while in hospitals, or wishing marriage, or free religious assembly without harassment. Our country is filled with Sikhs, Pagans, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Mormons and many other religions and sects. This is how it should be, and all of these humans deserve the same rights.
Dr. Barbara McGraw, Director of the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism at Saint Mary’s College of California, has compiled some quotes from the Founders of the United States to show that a history of religious pluralism and tolerance has been with this country from its inception. My hope is that we will take heed of these words and apply them to all of our brothers and sisters, including those incarcerated, whether Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or those whom the first European transplants to this soil brutally displaced.
I ask you to please read these quotes that follow and look into your hearts and minds and ask, “Is it right to deny another her way of worship? Is it good to deny another his path to the sacred? Is this justice?”
Professor McGraw writes: “Thomas Jefferson’s “Notes on Religion” stated: ‘Shall we suffer a Pagan to deal with us and not suffer him to pray to his god? … It is the refusing toleration to those of different opinion which has produced all the bustles and wars on account of religion.’ Richard Henry Lee said: ‘I fully agree with the Presbyterians, that true freedom embraces the Mahomitan [Muslim] and the Gentoo [Hindu] as well as the Christian religion.’
Dr. McGraw continues: “Jefferson considered atheists when he said: ‘Locke denies tolerance to those who deny the existence of god… it was a great thing to go so far–but where he stopped short we may go on.’”
Let us go on. Let us work together to ensure religious freedom for all in the State of California and set precedent for the continued support of religious freedom in all of the United States.
sincerely – T. Thorn Coyle
For those of you who have not been following Rev. Patrick McCollum’s case, I send you to the Wild Hunt, McCollum’s site and BeliefNet for more information. Gnosis Cafe has a radio interview with Patrick McCollum about the case.
This is a fight for all of us in the US. As a federal case, those outside of California can also make your voices heard. If California prevails in saying that only Christians deserve religious rights and freedom, we can be assured that similar efforts will be made in other states.
Please write to:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger State Capitol Building Sacramento, CA 95814 Phone: 916-445-2841 Fax: 916-558-3160
California’s Attorney General. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. Attorney General’s Office California Department of Justice Attn: Public Inquiry Unit P.O. Box 944255 Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Secretary of the California Dept. of Corrections. Matthew Cate California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation P.O. Box 942883 Sacramento, CA 94283-0001 916-445-1773