Letters to the Editor
November 2001

 Scam warning revisited

Last winter I received a telephone call from Terry Johnston, the man described in the letter last month (Scam warning). The officers of my congregation authorized the modest financial assistance he asked for. When I went to the motel where Mr. Johnston was staying, he had been taken by ambulance to Yale-New Haven Hospital where he remained for a week. I visited him several times.

Parts of his story seem now to have been untrue. But Mr. Johnston's AIDS diagnosis is real. His wasting syndrome is real. The feeding tube that was put in his stomach at Yale-New Hospital last winter was very real. I saw all this first-hand.

I do not know whether I was snookered. I will not lose any sleep about it. I could not say the same if I had turned him away.

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

Let the patient choose

If I am in bed near death and connected to a ventilator, I may tell my doctor, "Please disconnect the ventilator." I am choosing to hasten my death, rather than endure more suffering. The doctor must respect my wishes. It's legal; it's not suicide.

If you are in the next bed, also suffering greatly and near death, but not attached to any equipment, and you say, "Doctor, please give me a prescription that I can take to hasten my death," except in Oregon the doctor cannot help you. It's illegal, and to do so is considered assisted suicide.

Without legislation permitting patient choice at the end of life, some right-to-die groups are now exploring legal "self-deliverance" techniques using plastic bags and inert gases such as helium. How sad! Let a qualified dying patient who chooses it have the help of a compassionate, willing physician in achieving a dignified, painless release.

Rev. John Brooke, President
Americans for Death with Dignity
Belmont, Calif.

Commends UCC'S courage

I commend the UCC's courageous decision to offer a scholarship fund for gay seminarians. While other denominations endlessly quibble about barring gays from ordination, the UCC's bold action speaks volumes more than mere words ever could.

To those who argue that seminary scholarships—in themselves good things—should not be awarded based sexual orientation, I say that it is no less appropriate to offer scholarships to gay folk than to offer them to persons based on their different race, their gender, their geographic location—or any other status that, historically, has been under-represented in ministry.

So long as society continues to set up distinctions based on sexual orientation by discriminating against gay folk, it will be appropriate for visionary institutions like the UCC to work against such discrimination. For me, the UCC seminary scholarship fund does just that.

Tim Cahn
Via the website

Timely and appropriate

A scholarship designated for gay/lesbian In-Care Seminarians is most timely and appropriate.

First, it will encourage more gays/lesbians who feel called to ministry to accept that call. Second, it will provide assistance for [many] who have been denied equal access and full participation in the life of the church. Third, it shows that the UCC believes that gays/lesbians are children of God and that their sexual orientation is simply part of who they are.

Finally, the scholarship is particularly appropriate because William Johnson had the courage and faith to be the first openly gay person to seek and be granted ordination. He made history; so did our denomination.

Rev. Steve Hanning
Park Forest, Ill.

UCC frog can't jump

The ad for Planned Parenthood not only shocked me, but also saddened me to find this in our church newspaper. Christians need not worry about "making sure our elected leaders get the message," but that we understand God's message in Deuteronomy 19:10. We will be accountable to God on judgment day, not our elected leaders.

Are we still wondering why the UCC is losing so many members year in and year out? Could it be our views that are against God's, like the Planned Parenthood ad? Are we really enjoying our evil lifestyle in defiance of God's Holy Word?

If you take a frog and place it in hot water, it will jump out, but place it in water and slowly heat the water to boil and it will stay and boil to death. No wonder the UCC is losing members; the ones who know their Bible are gone.

Charles L. Biddle
Wadsworth, Ohio

Boy Scouts aren't immoral

I am responding to the letter asking churches to stop allowing the Boy Scouts to use their churches for meetings.

The Boy Scouts have accomplished much good and I believe they continue to do so today. If they were to begin teaching that Jesus is false, or teaching satanic rituals, I would agree to have them barred from church property. But theirs is not an act of immorality or evil, rather it is a disagreement with others over their choice of membership/leadership. A disagreement, I might add, which occurs within our own congregations and with other Christian churches.

I hope UCC congregations will open a dialogue with the Boy Scout troops who meet in their churches. Perhaps each can recognize and respect the other's feelings without resorting to division by words and deeds. I believe each church shares more in common with the Boy Scouts than a few individual differences.

Gary F. Heuer
St. Paul's UCC
Millbach, Pa.

Does UCC sponsor injustice?

While we as a church call ourselves inclusive, and while we seek out means of justice for the oppressed, we continue to sponsor discrimination in our search and call process (for pastors seeking churches).

The profiles used in the search and call process ask for dates of birth, graduation and ordination. While these may not seem unusual questions to some, in the secular world these questions are illegal—primarily because they lead to age discrimination.

Why are we—as a church that proclaims justice as one its central claims—sponsoring injustice in our search and call system?

Rev. Carly Stucklen Sather
Via the website