Letters to the editor
October - November 2008

Keep it separate

It is not the place of a church to take sides in a political campaign. We should not officially back either candidate. 
In our congregation we welcome everyone of any color or political affiliation.  Believe me, at our church we have many conservative Republicans as well as liberal Democrats. We are all welcome and we all work together in many mission activities. 

Let's keep our politics separate from our good works.

Gaylen and Shirley Mendini
Greendale Community UCC
Greendale, Wis.

Elections count

We are again seeing some of the dirty tricks and smear tactics that have marred and obstructed recent campaigns and elections.

When John McCain ran against George W. Bush in 2000, he was accused of fathering a "black love child" in an adopted daughter from Bangladesh and his wife of being a "drug addict" in a dependence on pain pills.

And it's not surprising that John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, should be "swift-boated" as unpatriotic and un-American in 2004.

Such deceptive attacks are obviously harmful to actual debate of important issues and clear presentation of possible solutions. The American public of course deserves better, and may vote this time around not only for the more capable candidate but also against such destructive practices now and for the future.

Our country has problems to solve about war, jobs, the economy, infrastructure, climate change, health care and education. Instead we are again being distracted by gossip, innuendo, wedge issues, gotcha questions, gridlock and smaller matters.
Do people want to move forward or backward? We are all of course going to live with the results of one direction or the other.

The Rev. David W. Long
West Chester, Pa.

Pulpits and politicians

I was a member of the UCC for over 30 years, almost from its founding.

In reference to your online article titled, "In defense of church-state line, UCC clergy will publicly call for IRS investigation of Alliance Defense Fund," I'm wondering how a church that prides itself on speaking truth to power, advocating the application of Christian values in public life, taking principled stands on every issue that comes down the pike and exhausting itself on proclamations and statements to everybody and anybody in power takes a stand against freedom of speech in the pulpit.

Why would you not want to have the unfettered freedom to advocate for political positions and candidates in the church? Wouldn't it have been better to have avoided the General Synod [IRS investigation] entirely?

Mark Hemenway
President, New England Prison Ministries
Lowell, Mass.

Memories of youth

Your article on the Pilgrim and Youth Fellowships meeting 50 years ago [Aug.-Sept.] brought back some memories.

Ten years before, I was a member of the first summer caravan team, sponsored by the Evangelical and Reform Church. We toured as an interracial and interdenominational team of college-plus years. We visited cities with multiple E&R churches and stayed several days, if possible, promoting race relations and church youth activities. We ended our tour in Grand Rapids, Mich., at a huge youth gathering.

I wrote of our trip, sent it to the Philadelphia where it was shared with our national youth magazine. The pictures and records are at Lancaster Seminary, I believe.

Thank you for the article and the fine memories it evoked.

Lois K. Toms
Waynesboro, Pa.

'Herald' correction

First, I need to express appreciation for United Church News. Every issue is anticipated and promptly read from cover to cover. Keep up the good work.

Second, a page two article in the Aug.-Sept. edition credited two Congregational pastors as founders of the "Herald of Gospel Liberty." I think the originators' denominational affiliation is in error.

Historians credit Elias Smith, disaffected Baptist minister and a founding father of the movement in New England that joined similar movements in Virginia and Kentucky to form the Christian Church, as the founder and first editor of the "Herald of Gospel Liberty."

Smith received financial support and great encouragement from Isaac Wilber, a congressman from Rhode Island, and credited Wilber with the idea for a religious newspaper that espoused the idea of religious liberty. My sources do not indicate the religious affiliation of Mr. Wilber.

Abner Jones, also a disaffected Baptist minister, founding minister of free Christian Churches in New England, met and influenced Elias Smith in early years of the 19th century and became a leader in the movement that became part of the Christian Church, which later merged with the Congregational churches.

Thanks for your ear and patience. I am a retired UCC minister, ordained in 1953 in a Congregational Christian Church in Pennsylvania, originally a Christian Church. My ministry, almost 39 years, was invested in students and their families at [UCC-related] Defiance College.

The Rev. Gerald Mallott
Defiance, Ohio

[Editor's note: You'll be pleased to see J. Martin Bailey's very complete article on the 200th anniversary of the Herald of Gospel Liberty, which cites Elias Smith as its originator, on page seven of this issue.]

Peace for Iran

I just read W. Evan Golder's article ["UCC pastors visit Iran hope to avert war," Aug.-Sept.]. I have a heart for and share the pastors' burden that so many people want to bomb Iran. I am grieved that most of the church which is supposed to be Christian has rejected the call of Christ to love our enemies not destroy them. I have written a short novel called "As I Have Loved You." I wrote it to try to wake people up and turn them to love their enemies as God loves us. I believe it will benefit the cause.

Ron Decuir