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Getting the gist of U.S. government

Published 9:21pm Saturday, February 8, 2014

Most Americans generally know how the federal government is structured. But why is it structured that way?

The answer to that fundamental question — and many more — will be covered in a discussion group starting Tuesday at Panera Bread, 1217 N. Main St. Titled “Principles of Freedom,” the group will use the book “The 5000 Year Leap” by Willard Cleon Skousen.

Gist
Gist

Andy Gist participated a similar group in North Suffolk a couple years ago and said he wanted to hold one in the downtown area.

“I wanted to start one here in the downtown area because the others are in Virginia Beach or on the other side of the bridges and tunnels,” he said.

The group will go over the 28 principles in Skousen’s book and likely also will read source material — the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” — to shape the discussion.

“This is to help teach people on the foundations of our government and the principles our country was founded on,” Gist said. “I think a lot of people aren’t necessarily familiar with it.”

Gist added the reading will be helpful for people who are concerned about their government, from the municipal level on up to the federal level.

“I think it’s good for everyday citizens,” Gist said. “It helps people form their own viewpoints.”

There’s no homework for the discussion besides reading the book, Gist said. Likewise, there’s no credit for it, either, besides self-improvement.

Gist added the gathering will be non-partisan.

“This is not a political discussion where we’re going to get into this administration versus that administration, this party versus that party,” he said.

The group will decide the schedule of the rest of the class at the first meeting.

“I didn’t want to nail it down until we got the group together,” Gist said, though he’s partial to 10 sessions held every two weeks.

The first meeting on Tuesday will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Call Gist at 285-2024 for more information.

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