As we celebrate our July 4th holiday, it’s time to reflect on what it really means:

• What are we celebrating?

• What were our forefathers declaring on that day in 1776?

• What principles would guide the new republic?

• What do the words of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution mean (imply)?

• Who is responsible for preserving these rights for all of us?

• What duties do each of us have to secure this democracy for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, for all citizens?

Take time to reflect on what personal obligations we all must accept, in order to keep the United States standing as one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

• How do my personal ambitions and goals comply with the implication of liberty and justice for all?

• Are my elected representatives serving my needs at the expense of ignoring the rights of others?

• Do my own religious beliefs impose on and restrict the religious beliefs of others?

• When does compromise become necessary in order to protect the basic human rights of others?

And after reflecting on our national political “playbook,” dare we close our minds to the conflicts that exist when government attempts to interpret and improvise policies and laws? In other words, how do each of us fulfill the obligation to protect our democracy?

Margaret Klempay DiBlasio, Roseville


Progressive Christian responds to critique of progressive Christians

As a progressive Christian, leading one of many churches of progressive Christians, I feel compelled to respond to a July 1 letter regarding Muslims and Christians (“Progressives want to perceive religions as equal; religions don’t”). Not all Christians take scriptures literally. Beginning around 1890 for Protestants and 1940 for Catholics, scripture scholars look at the historical and cultural situations in which scripture was written, as well as translations of various languages. Not everything means the same thing in translation as it did when it was written 2,000 years ago, or earlier.

Yes, Jesus is the way for me, but God has offered many paths to nurture and guide humanity. “Those who abide in love, abide in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16). Humans may practice duality, but God is much bigger than that. I do not believe Jesus and God are exclusive. Rather, they are the epitome of inclusivity and welcome all of creation. God can (and does) equally love Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, practitioners of Native spiritualities ... and Christians.

The Rev. Kathy Itzin, Minneapolis

The writer is senior pastor at Parkway United Church of Christ.

• • •

I disagree with the July 1 letter writer’s negative judgment about religious equality.

The controversy addressed in the June 24 commentary that started this discussion was over something U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said about a budget nominee, placing the issue in a government context. As I see it, we all privately choose what different cars to drive and respect different preferences. But in most ways, the government views different automobile makes as identical. The same applies to religions. The First Amendment should make all religions equal in the eyes of the government.

Everything in biblical religion depends on interpretation. This critic of progressives takes two of Jesus’ statements and frames his argument such that others, without naming them, are “thieves and robbers” who do not go through the “gate” that Jesus metaphorically calls himself. But Jesus also said he is the “gate keeper.” And he said, “Many who say, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will not enter the kingdom.” Many other texts, such as when Jesus refers to Pharisees and Samaritans, also seem to contradict his exclusive-sounding statements.

What does this critic have to say about Jewish people, who do not accept the Christian view of Jesus as the Messiah? Paul wrote to the Gentile Romans, “And so, all Israel will be saved,” after explaining that “his people” were “broken off” in order that Gentiles could be “grafted in their place.” So Paul warns, “Do not become proud.” Virulent anti-Semitism of previous centuries is becoming virulent anti-Islamism of this century.

So, Paul concludes, “As far as possible, live in harmony with all.” Government should help rather than hinder this goal.

Charles Peterson, Bloomington


Who’s hiding what?

After a number of states, including Minnesota, refused to turn over their voters’ information to President Donald Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity, Trump asked, “What do they have to hide?”

Trump has refused to reveal his tax returns. What does he have to hide?

Margery Stratte Swanson, Pine City, Minn.

• • •

What is Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon worried about? (“MN election chief troubled over Trump panel’s voter data inquiry,” June 30.) Would he be embarrassed by what may be found? If the dead, relocated to another state or ineligible to vote are moved from the list, then no disenfranchisement has happened to anyone. They are not and never were entitled to vote! Keeping them on the list distorts the reality of the state configuration on all levels.

I have worked the polls in this state. When people want to register to vote, they are required to certify that they are U.S. citizens. One assumes that what they state on the form is correct and it is not questioned, but it may not be true! If they are undocumented, they will probably never be caught; the documented may have a problem.

When told that it is extremely difficult to cast a fraudulent vote in this state, I simply say, “No, it ain’t! All I have to do is lie.” During an electronic mail conversation with the secretary of state’s office I have stated this — they have nothing in defense to say. I have no idea if the poll lists of the state of Minnesota have ever been purged. They should be, and I am greatly disappointed that the officials of this state seem to be driven more by animosity toward those of another political persuasion than a desire to clean up their act.

John Strahan, Brooklyn Park


Some hassles are gratuitous

We took a trip to Door County, Wis., last week. Not surprisingly, between Wausau and Green Bay we encountered several instances of road construction with lane closures. No big deal — necessary summer evil in these parts. However, on the way home on Friday (June 30) through these same zones, we were treated to cone- and barrel-free lanes, with signs saying “work to resume July 5th.”

Fast-forward to two days later (July 2) in Minnesota. Heading north on Interstate 94 to Fargo, from about Alexandria to Fergus Falls we also encountered several construction zones. Not so much as a dump truck or a bulldozer — heck, not even a shovel in sight — yet the lanes were still closed. And unlike the mileslong zones in Wisconsin, these were relatively short areas that could very well have been reopened for the busy traffic of the long holiday weekend, since it was obvious no work was going to be performed any time soon.

Herein lies the problem with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. While other states recognize the long weekend for what it is and cater to their public, MnDOT, in its infinite arrogance and incompetence, leaves bottlenecks up for no reason other than sheer ignorance.

What a complete and utter disgrace.

John G. Morgan, Burnsville