Courier Letters to the Editor 9-14-16

9/11: My mother’s experience

Dear Editor,

One of the most horrifying terrorist acts in the U.S.A. happened on a clear day on Sept. 11, 2001. Two hijacked planes crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Most people can remember what they were doing and where they were when it happened.

I asked my mother to find out what her experience was on that day. She said, “I was at work and heard over my headphones while listening to the radio that an airplane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers.”

“I was in shock,” she said. “I told everyone around me to go to, that an airplane had struck one of the Twin Towers.”

She and her coworkers continued to discuss and watch online as they saw the second plane hit the other tower.

“We couldn’t believe our eyes. We were horrified,” she said.

For the rest of the day, she said that everyone was uneasy and concerned.

Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001? Can you remember? How did YOU feel about it? What was your reaction? I’m sure that you remember that historic day.

Troy Shealy

Edwards Middle School student

School board should pray

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to a letter in last week’s issue of the Pickens County Courier.

It appears that the current school board has forgotten their obligation to the citizens, including the children of the county, by failing to stand up for Christian values by kowtowing to the activist group that fights against religion in public places.

The writer states that she is aware that our community has a strong Christian faith and is wholeheartedly in favor of Christian prayer anywhere or at any time, yet the action of the school board does not bear this out. God expects us to stand up and speak out against the work of the devil.

The writer calls Alex Saitta a troublemaker, but it seems he is the only one speaking out against the immoral values taking hold in our country.

The current school board should get on their knees and beg God for forgiveness. They are setting a bad example for our children.

J G Taylor


Christians need to vote

Dear Editor,

I love Pickens. I love the weather, the landscape, but I love the people most. I love that you can walk into a restaurant, or a retail store, and hear Christian music. I love that words of affirmation, grounded in scripture, are spoken in the marketplace. I love that Pickens has NOT forgotten our Christian roots, in our homes, in our community, and in our nation.

Last week’s Pickens County Courier featured an article that I am sure drums some emotion. It certainly did in me. The article .. “School board tables prayer motion” stated, “For a number of years the school board meetings were led in prayer by students. However, after receiving a letter in 2012 from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation threatening legal action, the board ended that practice.”

Is a “threat of legal action” all it takes to relinquish a solid, holistic, practice of Christian public prayer, especially by students? Wow .. what is the message that our students are receiving? Seriously, do we fear “man” more than God? In addition, when we submit to pressure (instead of choice) does not the one applying pressure become our Lord?

So can it be said, that unwittingly, in this decision, the FFRF is now god over the school board??

The FFRF now decides what we can or cannot say and do?!

We have elected officials in this country .. not czars, not rulers .. people elected to represent the people — not fringe cults, or ego .. or threats.

Did you know that 25 million professed Christians did NOT vote in the 2012 presidential election?

Did you know that Obama won the 2012 presidential election by 5 million votes? Do the math.

We ask for God’s blessing, but we are not engaged in our civic duty.

We have many testimonies of God’s providence in our nation, but friends, God will not stuff the ballot boxes.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been dropping by area churches asking if they would conduct a voter registration drive — with dismal results. “We don’t mix church and politics” seems to be the go-to line.

Pastors, please lead the charge: Promote, and host a voter registration drive. It is easy, and TOTALLY legit. But remember that Oct. 1 is the last Sunday before registration ends!

Some have said that they will not vote because they do not like either candidate. I hear that. Remember that each candidate represents a “platform”; a foundation. As Psalm 11:3 says, “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Your vote IS your voice!

There will be a voter registration table at Café Connections in downtown Pickens each Wednesday through Oct. 5 from noon-2 p.m. Stop by to register .. or to chat.

We can do more than just imagine what our nation would look like IF Christians, in EVERY election, exercised our right to vote AND our votes were cast based on God’s principles. We can be the people!

Kathleen Campbell


Alex Saitta responds

Dear Editor,

I’m responding to a letter last week opposing my efforts to bring Christian prayer back to school board meetings.

First, the writer is missing the big picture. There is an element of society aiming to sanitize the public square of all religious expression. The Deep South is the last stronghold of such expression, so it is the focus of groups like the ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation. We need more leaders who know the prayer laws and have the courage to stand up for faith and against these anti-religion zealots. While the writer doesn’t realize it, she has aligned herself with their cause and needs to take a look at the big picture.

The writer asked why I am the only trustee fighting for this. I don’t know, and frankly I’m shocked Pickens County trustees have twice blocked efforts to bring Christian prayer back to our board meetings. Closing schools, eliminating classroom teaching positions/raising class sizes and blocking Christian prayer, they are on the wrong side of all these issues.

The writer speculated I brought the issue up again for political reasons. No. Unbeknownst to her, the law recently changed and now supports Christian prayer at board meetings.

In 2004, the Federal 4th Circuit Court ruled in Wynne v. the Town of Great Falls that prayers at the opening of government meetings must be non-sectarian (to God, Lord, Father). Accordingly, our school board policy states the opening prayer, given by rotating board members, must be non-sectarian.

The writer doesn’t realize in late 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that 4th Circuit ruling, said the non-sectarian requirement was unconstitutional, and stated government bodies like the school board can’t tell the prayer givers whom to pray to and how.

I then supported crafting a new policy to bring Christian prayer back to the board meetings. The policy was written by the school district’s attorney and was reviewed and deemed legal by the state attorney general.

The board voted down the policy in early 2015. All the trustees agreed the policy was legal, but half still feared the ACLU and FFRF.

Eighteen months later, on June 9, 2016, the legislature passed and Gov. Nikki Haley signed a law recognizing the Supreme Court’s ruling the prayers could be sectarian or in Jesus’ name.

With that Supreme Court ruling and the new state law in hand, at the June 27 meeting I requested the chairman ask our attorney for legal advice. Breaking with school board practice, chairman Judy Edwards refused. I asked again at the August meeting. Edwards said she had asked for advice, but would not hear back until January. Normally that takes two or three days. Realizing she was stonewalling, the press reported the story.

When it is my turn to give the prayer, I pray in Jesus’ name. School board policy forbids that, but the Supreme Court and new state law says I can. The law has changed, and board members need to join me in taking a stand.

Alex Saitta

School board trustee


In defense of Saitta

Dear Editor,

This is in response to the letter written last week where the writer was against Alex Saitta’s efforts to return Christian prayer to school board meetings. The writer says she favors prayer, but wants Saitta to drop the subject. That doesn’t make sense. The letter claims his motivation is political. The letter talks about money being tight and schools being closed in order to save money. Really? The board just spent $5 million for extra pay raises. Saitta was the only one who voted against handing out all those extra pay raises and instead wanted to use some of that money to keep the mountain schools open.

I know Alex Saitta. His motivation is to do the right thing for the people he represents, even when it means standing alone or losing an election. Desperate to win the school board seat? He came from poverty and worked hard to make a fortune on Wall Street. The motivation to do that was watching his single mom suffer over wondering where the money would come from to pay the bills. He loves his family and takes care of them. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. A hundred dollars a year in taxes won’t change his lifestyle. But it will hurt the poor parents of this county and their children, who are now living hand to mouth. Those are the folks he tries to help. Saitta won’t rob from the poor to give to the rich. He’s the only board member with a spine. He’s confident in who he is and what his motives are. Losing an election won’t wound his ego, nor dent his self-confidence. If you want the best representative you can get, vote for him. He will not stand with the good ol’ boy, do me a favor, pat on the back politics of South Carolina. If that’s what you want, vote for the other guy. He has good ol’ boy connections, will do favors, will raise your taxes, etc. Should I go on?

So, to reiterate, Saitta is tied of bowing down to liberal outside groups and wants Christian prayer brought back to school board meetings, uses sanity when it comes to budgeting, spending and taxing, and he opposed closing the mountain schools and using that money for extra pay raises. The letter says that the writer favors all of those things, except maybe spending tax revenue for raises for SDPC employees. I think the writer wants more raises, if in fact they work for the SDPC. What do you think?

All of this leads me to speculate about the motives and occupation of the writer of the letter. I can only speculate. Probably an SDPC employee, sore about Saitta’s vote on salary, probably not even registered to vote. Am I wrong? Don’t know, don’t care.

I’m going to miss Neil Smith. Smith worked very hard to bring the Pickens County Commerce Park to fruition. He brought hundreds of jobs into the county. He was instrumental in buying the old Liberty Middle School and building new municipal offices there. He also bought the old football stadium for the town. Thanks, Neil, for all your good work. Can’t wait to see how much taxes will increase because of the expertise of the two new “experienced replacements” on county council. Maybe they’ll stimulate Pickens County’s economy. LOL.

Jimmy Gillespie