Letters: Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Teaching Irreligion

To the editor: There are any number of possible responses to Laurie Baker James’ commentary in your April 4 issue (“No Freedom from Religion”), some more facile, some more thoughtful.

One might simply observe that the First Amendment was drafted to apply to Congress, in terms that make it, as much as anything, a bulwark against federal interference in the established state churches of that time. Recall that the religious schools flourishing in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries were a response to the Protestant religious indoctrination that was carried on regularly in the public schools. More to the point, consider for a moment the general but poorly articulated fear that schools in which religion is so pointedly not taught become schools in which irreligion is taught.

Perhaps the most important reflection we can take away from the piece, however, springs from Ms. James’ appeal to those great American luminaries Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, or at least to the historical and political abstractions most of us attach to those names. Those gentlemen could scarcely fail to be scandalized and revolted by our system of public education. What better proof is there that the America of Jefferson and Madison no longer exists than this massive and uncaring engine of stultification and homogenization? Millions of American youths are daily compelled by law to submit to the minions of the state to be propagandized, regimented, and controlled into an ill-ordered conformity — and that is far more disturbing to me than the specifics of their instruction.

Christopher Carson

Fort Worth

Skeleton-Shaking Time

To the editor: Your May 2 Static column chided the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for ignoring the Fort Worth City Council and mayor races because its preferred soccer-mom readers in Southlake weren’t interested. Southlake soccer moms may be the daily paper’s preferred readers, but its actual readers are old retired guys in Edgecliff who get red in the face when they see words like “Lopez” or “gay” or “East Rosedale” cluttering their newspaper. So either way, the council races didn’t matter.

As for your complaint that the S-T completely ignored Mike Moncrief’s opponents, rest assured that those opponents, especially Mr. McBee, were considered just before election day, when Wes Turner mulled outing McBee again amidst unconfirmed reports of weeds in his side yard and skeletons in his attic.

Ain’t tradition grand?

Roy Treadway

Fort Worth

A Home in the Church

To the editor: I appreciate Eric Griffey’s thoughtful and well-researched article on the tensions that threaten to divide the local Fort Worth diocese further from the national Episcopal church, and that church from some other provinces within the Anglican Communion (“A Great Schism?” May 2, 2007). At the same time, as a gay man who has been unable to find a home for myself, my male spouse, and my daughters within the local branch of the church in which I was baptized and raised, the article brought up pain.

It was the Episcopal church that first taught me that God is not a tyrant or a sanctifier of prejudice but is the loving source and aim of all creation. To be sure, it also inculcated in me a love for tradition. But not just any tradition, not the “traditions” claimed by those who condemned Jesus “on biblical grounds” for his fellowship with outcasts. Rather, I was taught that the tradition of Christ reaches out to embrace all of creation, inviting us all into communion.

To be sure, it took me time to learn to distinguish between the tradition of Christ and those traditions cited as justification for excluding some as outcasts. For years, this confusion led me to a misguided attempt to suppress my homosexuality, which is no more superficial to me than the heterosexuality of my straight brothers and sisters is to them. But, ultimately, love — God’s love — won out. I give thanks that God allows me to experience some of that love in the embrace between my partner and me.

I cannot hate those still caught up in a confusion that so long held me captive. But I have to name it for what it is and bemoan its hateful effects. Among those effects is the fact that it is not possible for us to raise our own daughters in the very church that taught me the gospel of love, but which, in this diocese, would teach them that that same gospel rejects a love central to our family.

Thank God our family has found, at Fort Worth First Congregational UCC, a community that strives to imitate Christ in his refusal to treat any as outcast. I pray that, one day, our local Episcopal churches will come fully to embrace that same gospel.

Marvin Vann

Fort Worth

To the editor: Thanks for publishing “A Great Schism?” in your May 2 issue. Eric Griffey created a well-balanced, well-researched, and well-written article. I feel that Eric really grasped the essence of the crisis going on in the Episcopal church.

Your paper has done a great public service, and I truly believe that this article will have an impact on more people than just those in the Episcopal church.

George Komechak

President, Fort Worth Via Media

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