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Letter: Troubled by clergy tax exemption

Members of the Virginia Beach school administration hold

Members of the Virginia Beach school administration hold a vigil outside of their building Monday next to the city public works building at the Municipal Center where a mass shooting took place Friday. Credit: The Virginian-Pilot via AP / L. Todd Spencer

Troubled by clergy tax exemption

The growth in property tax exemptions for clergy is not only shocking but, in my view, unconstitutional [“Clergy exemption takes $463M off Nassau tax rolls,” News, June 3].

I firmly believe in separation of church and state and find that the fact that I have to support religious institutions and individuals claiming to be spiritual leaders unconscionable. I am non-believer and am forced to financially support religious organizations directly or indirectly.

This is a flaw in the concept of property taxes. This is a bad form of taxation that has really negative outcomes, such as poor school districts, crumbling infrastructure and environmental harm. Meanwhile, we argue about assessed valuations, what’s fair and who should assess our properties. The time has come to find a new way to finance schools and government. Our system is in shambles.

By the way, I am an ordained minister through American Marriage Ministries, which describes itself as a “nonprofit, interfaith and nondenominational constitutional church,” and I could apply for a religious exemption for my house because I can perform legally binding marriages in my home.

Gabriele Kathryn Libbey, Harbor Isle

The suggestion in your editorial that reforms for the clergy tax exemption wait at least another “five years while it [Nassau County] undoes another mess” is unacceptable [“Clergy tax breaks can be reformed,” June 4]. Given the history of assessment in the county, I believe this issue will have faded from memory in five years or more.

Delaying a fix gives beneficiaries years more of an exemption I believe they never should have had. The giveaway already has gone on way too long. The state should reform the clergy exemption right now by making the $1,500 a flat deduction of the tax bill or granting the same exemption it does for volunteer firefighters or veterans.

Every day that Nassau’s outrageous, unintended, inflated exemption continues is a slap in the face to every county resident who pays property taxes.

Cary Brozik, Woodmere

Reasons for mass shootings are many

After another mass shooting, gun control is again proclaimed to be the overriding issue, the National Rifle Association the reason for reckless, out-of-control gun ownership and violence [“Shooting in Virginia Beach kills 12,” News, June 1].

In an effort to explain violence when reasons are many and more complicated than we care to consider, we clamor for a clear-cut answer. Yet the reality of mass shootings in America requires a more thorough and honest examination.

For one, let’s all take responsibility for the tone of intolerance that exists in this country. It pervades the media, affects relationships and infuses the internet. We see media commentators insult and demean. They go after whomever they dislike or disagree with without providing balance.

The constant drumbeat of negativity and the divisions that are exacerbated by hateful rhetoric become a toxic brew that can inspire and perhaps encourage a mentally unbalanced individual to commit heinous acts. It is time that we as Americans take our proverbial finger off the trigger, begin to build up rather than tear down. It is more than just guns that create mayhem in America.

Eva Zimmerman, Jamaica

Gratitude for heroism, sacrifices of D-Day

Seventy-five years ago on Thursday, “the greatest generation,” my dad’s generation, landed on the Normandy Beaches in France to liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny. We honor these heroes, and in doing so, honor an America that stood together for a righteous and common good [“Fresh tears for what they saw in Normandy,” News, June 4].

I’ve been to Normandy and was moved by the endless lines of graves, the resting places of many 18- and 19-year-old heroes who saved the world. They were of many races, religions and native or immigrant origins — they were Americans. They were united, not only by a common purpose, but also by common values.

There are fewer World War II veterans alive today, but we must never forget my father’s generation’s heroism, sacrifice and valor. They largely never considered themselves heroes. They were not self-righteous. They had a job to do, and they did it well. They did not bring attention to themselves. They did not pat themselves on the back. They did not even ask for thanks. They did their job extremely well. They did it because it had to be done and we should be forever grateful.

Michael Lissauer, Melville

India’s vote deserved more prominence

I was deeply disappointed that Newsday’s May 24 news coverage of the re-election of Narendra Modi as prime minister of India by a landslide did not appear until Page A43 [“Modi surges to victory in India”].

India is the largest democracy in the world. This was a historic day of achievement. It should have been part of the front page!

Asha Narang, Commack