Letters to the Editor
June 2001

Speak out for public schools

The article about charter schools was both disappointing and disturbing. Since Arizona is at the epicenter of the movement, we found many facts missing.

At stake is the future of public education. Every dollar that goes to charter schools takes away from the larger public school fund. There is also a built-in subtlety to the charter movement that is closely aligned with vouchers, as tax credits and other benefits are allowed.

Most frighteningly, churches are beginning to lease out their facilities to charter schools. One major mainline church in Phoenix admitted that its very survival might depend on the rent. When a church is called occasionally to speak prophetically, its voice is muted at the public troughs of money.

The time is now to speak clearly about the issues facing public education—issues like classroom size, teachers' salaries, bureaucratic over-load, run-down facilities, funding from the state, church vs. state, etc.

The Rev. William O. Smith,
Minister Emeritus

The Rev. David W. Ragan,
Senior Minister
Shadow Rock Congregational UCC.
Phoenix, Ariz.

What about planet Earth?

In all of the resolutions to be put before the General Synod, nowhere do I see a concern over the destruction of the environment of planet Earth. It is only the Unitarian-Universalist branch of the church which appears to be addressing the issues of over consumption, environmental abuse and planet awakening to any extent.

I hope that discussions with this significant part of the church will not be stopped, as one resolution proposes, just because it is not trinitarian in doctrine.

The Rev. Tom Hershberger
Christ (Schoenersville) UCC
Allentown, Pa.

Remove occasion of abortion

I am quite concerned about the Synod resolution upholding the sanctity of life. Why does nobody talk about taking away the occasion of abortion?

The same people who oppose abortion also oppose family planning and put out misinformation about contraception. I am pro-choice but not pro-stupid and have never needed an abortion because we always used birth control.

In Pennsylvania, there are over 1,000 special-needs kids free for adoption. Why put a child into the world if unable to raise it?

Surely there is a great need for sex education to encourage young people to delay sexual activity and also prepare them to practice safer sex once they become sexually active. Male responsibility also needs to be stressed.

Abortion rates are lowest in countries where contraception is readily available, e.g., Western Europe. Legality makes no difference to the rates.

Ruth M. Davis
Waynesboro, Pa.

Why else would they stay?

I would invite proponents of the General Synod resolution opposing the ordination of homosexual clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions to be challenged by the reality that hundreds of lesbian and gay clergy serve Christian congregations with tremendous faith and faithfulness. They love God and God's people as much as anyone can. Why else would they stick with an institution that has historically denied their call from God, denigrated their personhood, and falsely accused them of all manner of evil?

Likewise, thousands of lesbian women and gay men form healthy, life-giving relationships. With little social support, same-sex couples form unions characterized by faithful, self-giving love—relationships conforming to the most stringent definitions of Christian family except for the matter of gender. These unions can last for decades. The church owes gay and lesbian couples the same support it gives heterosexual couples.

Ralph Thomas Taylor, Pastor
Pilgrim Congregational UCC
New Haven, Conn.

Recognize evil behind wars

Memorial Day should contain in its observance a recognition of the evil that lies behind foreign wars. I speak of the punishment of the German people after World War I that provided the soil Hitler needed to forward his evil agenda; the actions of the United States in closing world markets to Japan until they retaliated by bombing Pearl Harbor; the encouragement our country gave to Saddam to wage war on Iran.

Today, 10 years after the Gulf War, we continue to punish the people of Iraq. We repeat the same policy that brought Hitler to power.

In doing honor to war veterans, I would like to hear a church publication speak a word of penitence for the engagement of our country in power struggles that end in requiring young people to destroy life or be destroyed.

The Rev. Philip Kelsey
Somers Point, N.J.

Military chaplain speaks out

Thanks for the front page coverage saluting the faithful service to country of men and women in uniform.

You rightly began the article "Faithfulness takes many forms." As an Air Force chaplain who has tried to faithfully represent my church and my God in the military for more than 15 years now, I celebrate your invitation for UCC churches to affirm the selfless service of veterans.

We in uniform are not "war mongers." We fully believe that ours is a safer and better world for our service. Peace is very important to us. Our lives depend on it. We are not perfect, and live day in and day out under the direction of our elected civilian leaders.

I believe I speak for the 40-plus active duty military chaplains endorsed by the UCC when I say thanks for affirming the role men and women in uniform play in making peace.

Chaplain, Major Steve Schaick
Center for Character Development
United States Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Why not two ‘good' deeds?

Regarding the article, "Local UCC youth group 1, corporate America 0," I question why United Church News takes such an antagonistic view of "corporate America." The article reports on a good deed done by a group of UCC kids, and a good deed done by corporate America, i.e., Toys R Us.

Why the headline trashing corporate America? Is the editorial staff of United Church News under the impression that almost none of its readers are employed by corporate America? I, myself, retired from corporate America a couple of years ago and am quite proud of the 29 years I spent there.

Tom Mitchell
Hope UCC
Rockledge, Fla.