Letter to the Editor: ‘First Freedom’ an answer to my prayers; texting, nondiscrimination, RAP tax

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION – Friday night, I sat down with my family to watch a performance that chronicles the historic Statue of Virginia for Religious Freedom called “First Freedom.” The production is showing at Brigham’s Playhouse through Nov. 8.  Its set during the period of the American Revolution and revolves around three Virginia founders: James Madison, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.

Let’s get one thing straight, this play is not about how “church separated from state”, that phrase is found nowhere in our founding documents.  It was utilized once in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists.  The year was 1801 and the Baptists were fearful that government would not allow them to practice religion how they saw fit.  They had doubts believing it was an inalienable right.  It is in Jefferson’s reply where the often misused expression is found, reassuring them that “their legislature would “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” (Emphasis added.)

The meaning has been flipped on its head by progressives to equate that religion has no place in the public square.  This is a perversion of what the founders intended and we are paying the price dearly for it today.

What this play is about is the manner in which Virgina passed the right to freedom of conscience for every man, which law served as the catalyst behind the First Amendment in our Nations Bill of Rights. I quickly realized mid show how important religion is as a vehicle to live my faith.  The founders united on faith and principals, not religion and political party, and because the rights asserted where natural rights, religions and faith have flourished across the country.  I must have nearly jumped out of my seat a dozen times throughout the performance.  The show is littered with lines uttered by our founders.  I applaud the writers for immersing themselves in research, the end result is sagacious dialogue that is historically accurate.  Even more impressive then the dialogue, is the music.

During the song “No harm is done to me” a quote is lifted from Thomas Jefferson that is one of my favorites, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Texting and Driving law

A few months back, I was a casualty of the new texting law that went to effect. I was traveling South on Bluff approximately 10 miles per hour below the speed limit due to the cargo hanging out the back of my truck.  I had just purchased $100 worth of trees for my back yard. My wife asked me to glance at something on her phone. I reached out to angle the phone and that is when an officer pulled me over and attempted to issue me a citation for distracted driving.  I told him that I did not manipulate the smart phone so I cannot possibly be charged under that law.  He headed to his car and promptly returned with a citation for careless driving. The fee was $100.

I wanted to ask the officer as he was handing me the ticket whose leg had I broken.  My pocket was picked yet I couldn’t locate anyone who I had caused injury.  I will still use my phone at appropriate times while driving.  The reason why is explained in the play. When a priest brags how “All it took was prayer and a hole bored through his tongue” as the manner in which a sinner was reformed from cursing. The erudite reply from a lady dressed like a Puritan contains truth, “You have failed our brother here. You have changed him outside, but inside he’s the same.  All your laws and penalties will never conquer sin; trust instead the holy light that leads you from within.”  I ask that I be trusted similar to the way police officers are trusted to safely utilize electronic devices while in their patrol cars.

Principals of liberty

On the drive home from the theater house I thought of several examples from the show that would aid in reinforcing good principals with my children.  I would gladly give up five straight seasons of Disney productions under the red rocks for just one performance akin to First Freedom.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sitting underneath the moonlit canyon to take in a Broadway quality show as much as the next guy.  It’s wonderful family entertainment.

However, as Senator Mike Lee explained recently why politics, and I would add principals, should matter to our youth today, “politics matters because it will in many ways define the world you inherit and set the parameters of the good you can do in it.”

Our kids are entertained to death and when they are not being entertained, starting at the age of 3 if enrolled in universal preschool, they are spending three to seven hours a day five days a week preparing for “college and career readiness.”

There is a great deficiency in learning and applying principals of liberty. Feel-good lessons that champion what is best for the collective are being embraced by our youth, oftentimes unknowingly.  Trends and political correctness will always come and go, but truisms endure and deserve my support because they are what’s best for my family. Our children will have to live with the ramifications tomorrow of choices made by us today.

Which leads me to the RAP tax. 

What is the proper role of government? For many tax payers it comes down to whether or not they believe municipalities or governments in general are the wisest stewards of our money.  I do not.  The city of Saint George recently allocated 3 million dollars to fix up the Electric theater. On November 4th taxpayers are asked to vote on the RAP tax expected to bring 2.2 million dollars annually in order for what? So that a new soccer field, among other things, may be built?  How much will this tax cost Washington County residents over ten years?  Tuacahn failed to disclose this figure in their mass email campaign asking patrons to support RAP:  25 million.

I’m not against building soccer fields, but I think we need to be clear when it comes to politics in Utah– we have very little semblance of conservative principals amongst public servants at the city and state level. Almost none.  I cringe when I hear politicians referred to as our “leaders.”  Which is why citizens must tread very carefully when asked to vote for any additional spending.

Benefits are constantly being combined together into packages because it sounds clever, similar to the way massive spending bills are lumped together in Congress.  Its all or nothing folks.  Yes, taxpayers are afforded the opportunity to cast a yes or no vote but upon it’s passage, will the RAP advisory board that determines where the money is allocated really listen to me, or am I just another Forgotten Man?

The equation is unvarying; the variables change.

As soon as A observes something which seems to him wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X, or, in better case, what A, B, and C shall do for X… What I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man. perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. he is the man who never is thought of…. I call him the forgotten man… He works, he votes, generally he prays—but he always pays…”  – William Graham Sumner


A:  Citizens who desire recreation, arts and parks and private businesses desiring monies.

B:  County Commissioners, City Council and Municipalities

X:  Victim

C: Myself, the taxpayer

Free exchange of ideas

Our founders often assembled together in taverns, homes and city centers to engage in robust debate on the “battlefield of ideas.”  It was on this battlefield that ideas either flourished and lived to fight another day or met their fate, sometimes never to be heard from again. The free exchange of ideas has now been upgraded to countdowns. Citizens are afforded two strict minutes to voice their opinion in regards to proposed decisions made by politicians that greatly impact their lives. Concerned participants stand to address school boards and city councils and, as Thomas Henry recently learned the hard way, it can be a very daunting task.  He is a good example of a Forgotten Man.

“Politics is basically theater” as Patrick’s Henry’s character succinctly puts it during one of the songs.  Issues are often masterfully controlled by politicians and are framed into a non-winnable, binary choice where you, the voter, are left with no room to defend your viewpoint.  I do not wish to broaden the state’s definition of discrimination.  The newly proposed additions to current nondiscrimination laws will aid in killing off religious liberty faster.  One simply needs to look no further than news headlines as there are several anti-discrimination suits against pastors and private businesses pleading their natural right to religious conscience.

The very tyranny our founders were trying to put off has manifested itself in greater force inside our city and state government.

“Our differences can be what they’ll be, as long as we are free, no harm is done to me.”  – From the song “No harm is done to me,” First Freedom

Submitted by Ryan Schudde, St. George


  • Brigham’s Playhouse | “First Freedom| Sept. 26-Nov. 8 | Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. | Website

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Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.



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  • laytonian October 27, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Blah blah blah. I want MY RELIGION shoved everywhere in Utah and to (blank) with the rest of you. Worship Ayn Rand and Ezra Taft Benson. Bow low in front of John Birchers.

    There. I said it for you, Ryan Schudde, in fewer words.

  • Chris October 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Ryan, it is “principles”, not “principals.” A principal is the person who heads a school or company. Many other misspellings and malaprops in your text.

  • Laytonian's Teacher October 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Ryan, well written article.

    I remember teaching writing and rhetoric at a certain university, whose name might cause Laytonian to scream. In my years teaching, I’m happy to report that I’ve never seen any response as low IQ as Laytonian’s response here. It takes a bit of knowledge to master labeling , but it requires unique talent in foolishness to string all those phrases together in a single, politically incoherent sentence.

    • Laytonian's Teacher October 27, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      *edit: “it requires unique talent in foolishness to string all those phrases together in a single, politically incoherent statement.” You will notice that Laytonian averages approximately seven “words” per sentence, if you include “blah blah blah.”

    • Bender October 27, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      ” I’m happy to report that I’ve never seen any response as low IQ as Laytonian’s response here.”
      You’re new here, aren’t you?

    • laytonian October 27, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      Honey, that was NOT one sentence. Perhaps you are confused by proper spacing after a period?
      Obviously, I cut you to the core and all you could do was strike out at me personally. Mission accomplished. Connection revealed.

    • Chris October 27, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      You were not much of a teacher if you think that Ryan’s article was well written. That must not have been a very rigorous university that employed you.

  • Bender October 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Ryan Schudde, pro driver and warrior for freedom and the American way. Keep on keepin on dude. Distracted driving laws are for the little men who lack a deeper understanding of “stuff”. Your enlightened grasp of the law allows you to ignore it at will.

  • Karen October 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Sounds to me like the police officer was correct in giving a citation to the writer of this article. As he himself described it, the writer was distracted and guilty of said offense. Just a couple of seconds of diversion from the road can be deadly. The $100 ticket will hopefully be a good reminder to avoid ALL distractions while driving.

    • Dana October 27, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      So, Selfish ed.ellipsis, you claim you didn’t manipulate the phone, yet admit that you “…reached out to angle the phone …” News flash big brain, YOU DID manipulate the phone. I’m glad you were ticketed. The city needs the money.

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP October 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    The mormons want a PERFECT LAND OF ZION where they can marry as many women as they want and get away with raping little girls. The boys in suits up in Salt Lake wish they could get away with even a fraction of what the boys up in Short Creek do. Welcome to Zion.

  • Koolaid October 27, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Why do religious fruitcakes think their religious beliefs are newsworthy items? Oh, St George. I get it.

  • DAVE RABBITT October 27, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    ¶ He makes several good points:

    ¶ 1.) Why is distracted driving a punishable offense, yet law-enforcement officers are allowed to do so?

    ¶ 2.) The taxpayer (C) pays for the “wants” of the victim (X). The County Commissioners, City Council and Municipalities (B), enforce the “wants” of the victim, by making laws to cater to the victim’s “special needs”.

    ¶ 3.) The taxpayer is allowed a very short period of time, to voice their opposition, while the victim, makes it their life mission, to fulfill their special needs.

    ¶ 4.) The County Commissioners, City Council and Municipalities ensure that these special needs are fulfilled, with the hopes that the victim(s) will (in turn) vote for them.

    ¶ 5.) The taxpayer’s only input into the equation, is to pay the County Commissioners, City Council and Municipalities salaries and also pay for the victim’s special needs. Failure to do so, result in more fines and possible incarceration.

    ¶ Summation:The taxpayer is @#$%ED, no matter what!

    ¶ I’ve stated this before: Most of the people who comment on St. George News, need to be able not only to read, but also to comprehend the full meaning of an article. – Taking specifics statements out-of-context and going off on a rant about them, shows a real lack of intelligence.

    • ladybugavenger October 27, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      I go straight to the comments

  • munchie October 27, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    What a review! Up with religion! Up with conservatism! Down with progressives and anti-discrimination laws! I’m sure they allowed you to carry your gun during the performance so you could protect yourself against any gay, atheist, minority democrats that may have been there. God Bless the UNITED States of America.

  • JAR October 27, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Mr. Ryan Schudde,
    Got a lot out of your opinion piece. However, if you had just stuck to just one subject, I think the folks commenting would have stayed under the bar with their noses in the overfilled spittoon.
    I suggest you put your inputs on ‘Principles of Liberty’ on hold for now and consider how the local folks would benefit more from a frank discussion on how the RAP tax is being thrown down their throats in little steps.

  • Roy J October 27, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Uh huh.
    erudite: pedantic, verbose. Used to describe an insufferable knowitall.
    erudite Puritan: an abstemious, insufferable knowitall.
    truism: a statement both obvious and mundane, like gravity, or this “The equation is unvarying; the variables change”.

    • Roy J October 27, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      or “thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” (Emphasis added.)

  • Mark Vinclio October 27, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I am tired of tax increases to build new things for the northern utah people to come use on weekends. how about building roads and things for our everyday use as residents raise the transiant tax alot than maybe we can get into a resturant on weekends and not have to wait an hour.

    • Bender October 27, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      I know, right?
      How dare those out of towners spend their money in our hotels, restaurants and gas stations. Tax ’em till they squeal, so that Bender and Mark Vinclio can be guaranteed a booth at Olive Garden on Saturday night. Endless bread sticks, drool, arrrghhhh.

      • Doug Bringhurst October 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm

        I agree with Mark why do the locals need to pay for the parks and ballfields in a RAP tax for the out of towners. Gas stations, Hotels and Restaurants are private enterprises so if they spend their money there that’s fine its not our tax dollars. Let the transient tax compensate for those things not us….ARRGHHHH.

        • Bender October 29, 2014 at 10:20 pm

          Right Doug. You know, my kids will be out of public schools soon. Why should I have to pay into WCSD after that? Having kids is a choice. Let the parents pay for their own kid’s education. All taxes are evil. Ayn Rand 4EVA!

  • Visiting Anthropologist October 27, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    This is not so much a “letter to the editor” as an “essay to the editor” and not a very well-organized essay at that. My take is that Mr. Schudde needed the opening ramble on several subjects to somehow justify his main point which seems to be opposition to the RAP tax. Unless he’s very unsure of his message (and needs those extra paragraphs to bulk it up), he’d be better advised to cut, cut, cut…The delete key is the friend of all good writers. I’m sure Mr. Schudde can find it.

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