Letters to the Editor

Give the needy compassion, not preaching; Methodists' tolerance doesn't extend to gay marriage; stop whining over Linux IPO!


Letters to the Editor
August 6, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

So this is compassion?

BY DEBRA DICKERSON

(07/29/99)

A "faith-based charity" is just a politically neutral term for a missionary.
And the problem with relying on
missionaries to provide outreach to the marginalized is the missionary's
assumption that the client's main problem is a lack of faith (specifically,
that missionary's brand of faith).

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I've seen Christian youth groups intervene in gay teen suicides, only to
interpret the problems at home and school as a manifestation of the youths' sin;
drug intervention groups who tell junkies that praying to Jesus will cure
their addiction; AIDS programs that will not allow teaching safe sex as it
would interfere with their god's message of abstinence.

The religiously funded organizations that have
found successful ways of helping the marginalized have done so by
secularizing their operations. They acknowledge that there are stable, self-reliant
citizens who have different religious beliefs: The clients don't need the
local brand of god; they need a safe place to sleep, or job training and
placement, or health care, or just the support and practical advice of
someone who's already dealt with the problems they face. In a word, what they need is
compassion.

If an agency can't put the needs of our fellow citizens before the needs of
its god, then it shouldn't be asking the public to underwrite what is really
a campaign to build membership.

-- David Enos

Debra Dickerson reveals more of her own prejudices than the flaws in Bush's idea.
She notes that the $8 billion represent 10 percent of the real surplus -- but
fails to acknowledge that what she really wants -- an expansion of
government-run programs -- will cost just as much, if not vastly more. She
ignores the secular component of the program, concentrating on that she
finds most objectionable, the religious part. Though Bush himself plays up
the "faith-based" aspect of the program, we don't in fact know what the
proportions of the groups that take part will be. She acknowledges that
Bush says there will always be secular alternatives -- then complains about
the treatment she received at a religious gathering. Non sequitur, anyone?

A better criticism is her question of the ability of these programs to
expand to handle the load, and whether or not they can or should provide
the core of social welfare in this country. But its clear from Bush's plan
that the intent is to grow the new system gradually. The government
welfare apparatus did not spring into full flower overnight, either.

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-- Jimmy A. Roberts-Miller

Bravo for pointing out some of the problems associated with shifting government assistance
programs to faith-based charities. I haven't heard one word from politicians about holding these groups
accountable for the money they receive. I suppose that Gore and Bush
believe that church-run charities are above such petty crimes as
embezzlement. Yet even the best of us can be tempted into corruption,
and working for a nonprofit religious group does not automatically make
one a saint.

-- Nancy Ott

Pittsburgh

Gay marriage in the Methodist Church

BY SUZANNE MARMION


(07/29/99)

You mention our denomination's "comparable tolerance." The United Methodist Church has
always worked to be an inclusive denomination. But those who have been trying to change the Methodist Church, the Bible, and
2,000 years of Church tradition, are frustrated that our tolerant
denomination is not willing to say that homosexuality is a gift from God, and
should be celebrated.

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Rev. Fado says he wants gays and lesbians to be accepted in the Methodist
Church. Your article demonstrates that they are accepted. Jeanne Barnett
and Ellie Charlton, the Methodists whose "same-sex union service" Rev.
Fado officiated, are both high-ranking lay leaders in the United Methodist
Church. That means they have an active role in shaping the policies of our
denomination. Gays and lesbians are welcome into full fellowship. They may
actively seek to change the church's policy regarding "same-sex unions."

As members of Rev. Fado's parish, Jeanne Barnett and Ellie Charlton can
receive his pastoral counseling to help them live out their commitment to
Christ and each other. Unfortunately, Rev. Fado and some other
Methodist ministers want to force their understanding of marriage on the rest of us.
Who then is being intolerant?

-- Kevin O'Neill

Piscataway, N.J.

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Having grown up in the church in Fresno of which Don Fado was pastor, I can assure you that he is a terrific leader in the cause for homosexual rights and freedoms. Unfortunately, those who oppose
homosexuality take from the Bible only the words and phrases that they
believe state that homosexuality is a sin.

When I traveled and lived in the southern United States, I was appalled
by the fact that the religious right can tolerate "Gentlemen's Clubs"
that promote themselves with sultry/seductive women on billboards. It is OK for a married man to go to this "club" for
relaxing, rather than go home to his wife and kids, but not to have a gay wedding, and have the conservatives blast that love commitment. As a friend of Don's, I stand and applaud
his effort to reform the Methodist church, and others.

-- Jeff Seibert

San Francisco

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Scripture doesn't equivocate. Marriage is only spoken of, in both the old and new testaments of the
Bible, as between a single man and a single woman. And sex outside of marriage is always considered to be a sin.
In the main Christian denominations -- Roman Catholic, Southern Baptists,
United Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian -- same-sex commitments are
forbidden. These same denominations forbid the
ordination of homosexuals as ministers.

Why do churches fly in the face of what seems to
be the prevailing view in this country? Because churches are guided by
scripture, not by the opinion of people. What man considers to be correct
changes over time. God never changes and His word never
changes. It doesn't matter whether Don Fado, Greg Dell and Jimmy Creech (all ministers of the
United Methodist Church who have performed same-sex marriages) agree with
the church's position or not. They are disobedient to the law of the
church. If they don't agree with church law, they should leave the church.

We are a religion, not a social club or a political
organization -- something that Don Fado has forgotten. When he was ordained a
minister in the United Methodist Church, he took a vow to uphold the
directives of the church. By breaking those vows, he has become an outlaw.

-- Don Spruill

Atlanta

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A Linux lament

BY C. SCOTT ANANIAN
(07/30/99)

The same hacker who spends his hours lamenting the evil doings of "the Man"
suddenly expects the Engines of Commerce to pay heed and bestow him great
riches? Through the course of the article, I kept waiting for the epiphany
that never came: that Scott Ananian had betrayed his own open-source ideals by
expecting payment for what was done for "love."

And give me a break: No coder of Ananian's status, once out of academia and in the working world,
will ever pull down a salary that will qualify him as the "little guy" any
longer. I'm sorry that Ananian naively cashed in his savings and that he got
stiffed by Red Hat, but I find his moral outrage unjustified.

-- Mark R. Bukovec

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To the people whining about "unfair" treatment by ETrade and/or Red Hat:
If Red Hat is going public, it means they are entering
the world of big business. The developers, coders and friends of Red Hat
are not entitled to special treatment by the stock market just because of
the altruism of the GPL. If you want into the IPO, you will have to follow
the same rules as everyone else. You may be good programmers,
but that does not make you immune to the rules, laws and practices of the
securities field. (It also does not make you a competent
trader.)

If you're not eligible for the IPO, buy some
shares when they slump below the IPO price. You also might want to get a
clue about how securities and trades work, before you lose your money.

-- Colin Bigam

The article appeared to be somewhat naive about investing. ETrade seems extremely
generous with its criteria for considering candidates for an IPO offering.
Schwab, for example, requires an account with a balance of $100K or more to
be eligible to apply (or $25K along with 24 trades during a 12-month
period) for an IPO. The reasoning is that speculative investments are for
experienced investors. Investors become experienced as a result of having
invested. And, of course, in order to invest one must have money. The
liquid net worth criteria is not an attempt by the "haves" to keep out the
"have-nots". Rather it is a measure of investing experience.

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-- Cuauhtemoc B. Chamorro

The whole "free software" movement has been based on a false premise: that
there is no cost to producing software. May I assume that a person who can
barely scrape together a thousand dollars is doing at least part of his
Linux development on university property, and not on a 286 PC? And that his
primary Internet access isn't a crummy 28K line, and that too is funded by
someone else? It's easy to be free when someone else is paying for your all
your fun toys. Free software, like welfare, works fine, as long as too many
people don't get involved.

Are people like the author going to be as enthusiastic about Linux now? The
disillusioned have a tendency to move on to other things. Corporations like
Red Hat that rely on these people to do their code for them for free,
instead of paying for their services, have a problem. What's going to
happen to them as their current crop of developers moves on to other things
that actually compensate them for their hard work? Or when they need to provide for a
family? If they're as smart as they think they are, these hackers who do
get into the IPO ought to consider cashing out real quick.

-- H.Koenig

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Revenge on a control freak

BY CHARLES TAYLOR
(07/26/99)

I see Salon's decided to drop Charley Taylor's Home Movies column and I
think that's too bad. I certainly didn't always agree with Charley but I
thought his column had a noble purpose, alerting us to worthy films that hadn't gotten the attention
they deserved. I think it's important that there be at least a few options
other than the thumbs up/thumbs down opinions that are prevalent everywhere
but particularly so in reviews about current video releases; his choice of films was consistently interesting and
quirky. By a strange coincidence, I had watched "Caught," the Max Ophuls
Hollywood film, the night before Charley's column appeared on the same movie
and I thought he captured it perfectly. I know he's going to continue to
write for Salon; I'm just sorry to see this particular column bite the dust.

-- Mike Backus


As Atlanta mourns, Washington waits

BY JAKE TAPPER
(07/30/99)

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In his article, Jake Tapper states that "guns are as easy to get in Georgia as beer." He is
mistaken: Guns are easier to get. You have to be 21 to buy beer.

-- Charlie Smith

Atlanta

From red-line to renaissance
BY KEITH MOORE

(08/02/99)

Those same gentrification issues face Chicago, where I live. Whether you're
black or white, it's basically a class issue. And normally poor whites,
Latinos and blacks are booted out of the neighborhood.

The mayor of our city loves developers who can turn a multi-unit rental into
$300,000 condos, which represent more tax-paying citizens. Those of who
rent are being pushed out to make way for the upper class who can afford to buy.
In the end it totally redefines and redesigns the neighborhood. You get
a lack of diversity (no blacks, no poor whites, no immigrants) and a
cookie-cutter type of area -- a majority of squeaky-clean whites, a few Asians and hardly no Hispanics and/or blacks.

I left a city that was 80 percent black (Detroit) because I wanted to experience
different types of people. It seems I'm back where I started from, though -- except instead of majority black, it's
majority white, upper class and privileged.

-- Li Wright

Chicago


R.I.P. Prop. 187

BY ANTHONY YORK
(07/30/99)

RIP 187 is the RIP for democratic government. What it says is that the
voters (60 percent of whom voted for 187) have no say in how they are governed,
that the courts and the illegal immigrant lobbies now run the government.
Citizenship is meaningless in California and obviously meaningless to
politicians of both parties.

-- W. Layer


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