The Torrance California City Council Approves 'In God We Trust' Placard

The Torrance, CA City Council Has Breached The Separation Of Church and State

Torrance City, CA's council passed a motion to have "In God We Trust" engraved in the Council Chamber during a City Council Meeting which was closed to the public.

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As a citizen disappointed by the actions of my government, it’s easy to feel helpless. However having this platform, I decided to use it to publish the following letter which I sent to all of my City Councilmen and Mayor.

To the Torrance City Councilmen and Mayor Furey,

I am writing to you today in regards to Councilman Chen's request to display the words "In God We Trust" in city council chambers which was recently passed. I would simply like to say that I, like many others, am appalled at the outright disrespect for the non-Christian community and disappointed at the questionable circumstances in which this motion was passed.

To begin, the fact that this motion was passed at a point in the City Council Meeting when the public was ordered to leave is completely contrary to the transparency many of you claim to want for Torrance City Government. You claim the desire for the words "In God We Trust" to be engraved in Council Chambers is rooted in its history during the founding of this nation, but similarly historic are the words "For the People, By the People," which you blatantly defied by ignoring the public outcry about this motion at the following city council meeting. It seems as though you realize that this would be unpopular with the public and are just disregarding it by choosing to vote on it when the public is not present, then ignoring their complaints after the fact.

However, questionable circumstances aside, what I find to be most appalling is the underwhelming and unpersuasive logic behind this move. To claim that this action does not endorse a particular religion on the city's behalf, to claim that this honors Torrance's "traditional nature" (as Councilman Chen described), to claim that this is solely an act of patriotism, and to claim that this is not a slap in the face to the non-Christian and non religious citizens of Torrance is ignorant. Given the many sentiments founded in hate within this country, to call the claim this is simply patriotic and not a religious statement amidst the contentious political climate we face in America today can only be called ignorant. This issue is so much more complex than what your justifications claim it to be and this action will surely involve a subsequent alienation of non-Christians within Torrance. It is a shame to sit by and watch our city digress at the hands of this council's decision to engrave this statement where it will be seen by all who enter Torrance City Hall. I can assure you, Councilmen Chen, Griffiths, Herring, and Mattucci, that you have just lost the trust of many of your constituents by pushing for this motion to be passed.

Lastly, I'd like to remind you that while you claim this statement is what our country was founded on, our country was also founded on the separation of church and state. Our country was settled by people who were escaping religious persecution before the Founding Fathers ever even uttered the words "In God We Trust." Even dating back to before the founding of our country, we have seen time and again throughout history that religion has separated people through war and persecution more than it has united them. I wonder if these things occurred to you when voting to pass this motion to endorse a religious statement on behalf of this great city.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Desiree Powers

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's Assault On The Second Amendment Will Hit Marginalized Groups The Most

The second amendment is under attack in New Jersey, and the state's low-income, black, and Hispanic communities have the most to lose.

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The second amendment, or the right to "keep and bear arms," is the hallmark of freedom here in the United States. The existence of the second amendment is what preserves the first amendment. This constitutional recognition of the right to bear arms is based on the inherent human right of self-preservation. Without it, Americans have no defense against tyranny. This right was recognized by the founders for a reason, and infringing upon it would prompt history to repeat itself.

New Jersey, according to a study conducted between 2005 and 2011, is in the top 10 states with the most restrictive gun laws. Governor Phil Murphy, however, does not think this is enough. He now wants to effectively restrict gun ownership to only wealthy individuals.

Here is a brief walkthrough of the path to gun ownership in New Jersey: The process to apply for, purchase, and legally own a firearm in New Jersey is arguably already infringing upon the rights of citizens. This process begins with an application to your local police department. The requirements outlined in N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.5 are broad and leave room for discriminatory discretion.

It is then required to complete an STS-33 form, be fingerprinted, and consent to a release of your mental health records. You must also provide two references, who vouch for character and that your application reflects the truth. Upon completion and acceptance, a Firearms Purchaser's ID will be issued. This is supposed to be issued within 30 days following acceptance, however, it has been reported to take longer, even up to six months on some occasions. If you wish to purchase a handgun, you must complete a separate application. You must also be over the age of 21. You may only purchase one handgun per month, and each handgun must have its own permit as well.

Upon receipt of a Firearms Purchaser's ID, the next step takes place at the firearm retailer. You are required to fill out an ATF form and be subject to a background check through NJ NICS. Results following the background check may take up to two extra weeks.

For comparison, the national background check used in many other states yields results in about 20 minutes.

As if these weren't enough, in order to purchase ammunition — a rather normal additional purchase — you're required to present a driver's license. Separately, to purchase ammunition for a handgun, you must either present a driver's license or copy of Handgun Purchaser's ID.

(It should be noted that the same people who denounce the requirement of a driver's license or ID to vote as "racist" support the enforcement of such a requirement for another constitutional right. This argument is inconsistent. An ID must be furnished in order to show that one is legally able to purchase a firearm or ammunition, just like it must be furnished in order to vote.)

The above mentioned are the current hoops that aspiring gun owners must jump through, simply to express a right which is supposed to be protected.

We've covered what this process costs in amounts of time, but now we move on to costs in money — and what Governor Phil Murphy wants to do to raise it. Depending on where you live, the average cost of a handgun is between 500-600 dollars. On top of that, ammunition is between 100-200 dollars. For reference, this is more than I pay in monthly rent for my house.

Despite these hefty costs that gun owners already face, Governor Murphy doesn't think it's enough. He wants legal gun owners to pay up to 2,000% more in permit and carrying fees. There is no explanation for this, besides making it more difficult for citizens to access their constitutional right.

Would it be OK to charge $100 in order to vote? Of course not.

Large fees do not curb gun violence. They forcibly curb legal gun ownership, and they place an undue burden on citizens in lower economic classes, who happen to be disproportionately minorities.

Currently, A firearm identification card costs $5, while a permit to own a firearm is $2. A permit to carry a gun costs $20. These are reasonable prices that citizens of every socioeconomic class can feasibly afford. Under Governor Murphy's proposal, "An identification card would cost $100, an owner's permit would be $50 and a carry permit $400." These, however, are not something everyone, who can otherwise legally purchase a firearm, can afford. This is discrimination.

Not only is Murphy's proposal classist, but it is indirectly racially discriminatory.

In 2017, New Jersey reported that the poverty rates among both black and Hispanic families were more than double the rate of poverty among white families. Because of Murphy's proposal, these groups will be less likely to be capable of affording something that is a protected and guaranteed right.

In a city like Newark, black and Hispanic citizens make up about 73% of the population. In 2017, the poverty rate for the city was 28.3%. Compare this to New Jersey's overall 10.4% poverty rate in the same year. The rate of violent crime in Newark is more than triple that of New Jersey overall.

In fact, New Jersey's top three cities with the largest populations are all more than half minority. All three have higher crime rates than New Jersey overall. Last but not least, all three have higher poverty rates than the state average.

It should be clear that Murphy's proposals discriminate against lower-income individuals. Minorities, like black and Hispanic families, are more likely to experience poverty than white families. Minorities also make up more of the population in New Jersey cities. These cities have much higher crime rates than more suburban and rural areas of the state. Minorities, because of this, are more often at risk of danger and crime and could benefit from being allowed to express their constitutional right to protection.

The people who need access to firearms for protection arguably the most are being unfairly restricted based on class and, indirectly, race. The rights of law-abiding citizens are being infringed, and we must fight against it.

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