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Letters to the editor

December 13, 2004

Violence? Fine, hate? Fine; Love for everyone? Forget it


To the editor:

By now many of you have learned about the United Church of Christ's (UCC) TV advertisement that notes that Jesus welcomed all people and that the UCC denomination seeks to do the same. Officials of two major television networks have refused to run the ad because they believe the commercial promotes gay marriage and thus is unacceptable for broadcast.

The ad is about Jesus' extravagant love for and welcome of all people and implies that exclusion of any or certain groups from God's house is neither spiritually nor Biblically sound. UCC leaders have responded that the ad's purpose and content in no way was developed to promote gay marriages.

"Nothing in this spot ad deals with gay marriage, however it does deal with exclusion," writes one UCC spokesperson.

This 30-second commercial features two muscle-bound "bouncers" standing guard outside a symbolic, picturesque church and selecting which persons are permitted to attend Sunday services. Written text interrupts the scene, announcing, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."

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A narrator then proclaims the United Church of Christ's commitment to Jesus' extravagant welcome: "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here." (The ad can be viewed online at www.stillspeaking.com.)

What we know to date about this conflicting development is: 1. The UCC is now running this ad from Dec. 1 to 26. 2. NBC and CBS were the networks that refused to run the ad - 3.75 percent of the ads were already contracted to be on a mix of broadcast and cable networks, including ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nickelodeon TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land.

Twenty-five percent of the ads had been contracted with CBS and NBC but these monies have been directed to increased ads in the others noted above.

The Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, who preached at this church's 150th anniversary on Nov. 14, had this to say about the controversy: "It's ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all the major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial. What's going on here?"

Others have noted that the networks carry shocking, attention-getting programming night after night and don't seem to mind.

I am not sure what's going on, but whenever "love for all" is voiced or when a church seeks to welcome everyone in the name of Christ and the message is censored, then we indeed have a problem. I would call us all to be in prayer at this time that the great themes of Advent-Christmas - love, peace, hope and joy - find their place in an obviously stirring and split world.

Rev. Don R. Stevenson, senior minister
Christ's Reformed Church - UCC

Hagerstown




Agree with you or leave? Please


To the editor:

The Orwellian overtones of two letters to the editor on Dec. 4 demand a response.

First, Alma McCullough suggests that the ACLU is "the enemy on our shores," and that those who supports its fight for civil liberties "have the privilege of leaving."

I, and many others like me, believe our country's long tradition of dissent - stretching back to early American patriots like Thomas Paine - is something to be honored. We have no intention of leaving; this is our country, too.

We will continue to support the true American values of tolerance, inclusion and respect for privacy that the ACLU works to maintain. Ostracizing people because of their sexual orientation, which harms nobody, is simply wrong. Likewise, providing government funding for religious groups and their views seriously undermines our long - though checkered - tradition of separating church and state. America is not a theocracy. For that you may visit Iran.

Second, Austin Gladhill says, "the children of God will control the earth," and "it will be a pure country with no persecution, no abominations, no homosexuals, no abortions ..." While I'm pleased to hear Mr. Gladhill is "happier than ever," I must point out that his agenda clearly calls for a healthy dose of persecution against those who don't agree with him. This is hardly a true American value.

Heidi Welsh
Boonsboro




Letter was way off base


To the editor:

From time to time The Herald-Mail publishes letters to the editor regarding education issues that contain statements that are ignorant of, or ignore very basic facts, and have the regrettable potential of misleading the public. Many of those facts are readily available through our School Board meetings, the Washington County Public Schools Web site, or reports and documents on the board's electronic board meeting Web site.

Basic education facts are also found in state and federal publications, and through state and federal education Web sites.

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