November 14, 2013 at 7:26 AM
Atheists are treated like second-class citizens
The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in Greece v. Galloway, which involved Christian prayers at City Council meetings [“Supreme Court hears case on public prayer,” News, Nov. 7].
Nondenominational prayers would be better than sectarian prayers, but it’s not acceptable to atheists, who don’t pray. If the court were consistent it would find nondenominational prayers unconstitutional, just as prayers in public classrooms are impermissible even if nondenominational.
The court didn’t bother considering the best solution: removing all government prayer. Why? Because atheists don’t count. Trying to determine what types of prayer would be acceptable to everyone, Chief Justice John Roberts asked, “We’ve already excluded the atheists, right?” A lawyer agreed: “Atheists cannot get full relief in this context, and the McCreary dissenters said that explicitly.” He was referring to the McCreary dissenting opinion in 2005 (written by Justice Antonin Scalia), which claimed that our Constitution “permits the disregard of devout atheists.”
So it’s simply assumed that atheists are second-class citizens. Imagine if the court declared that “Jews are excluded” or “The Constitution permits the disregard of blacks.” The uproar would be deafening. But when atheists are involved, we hear not a peep from the mainstream media or anyone else. Let’s hear it for the separation of church and state.
Matthew Barry, Issaquah
October 28, 2013 at 7:33 AM
Relocation is based on money, not God’s will
So let me get this straight, the Mars Hill congregation of 2,500 people believe that God is monitoring and telling them where their church should relocate? [“Mars Hill eyes Sound Transit land in Bellevue for church,” page one, Oct. 25].
God has so many issues facing our planet, for example strife in the Middle East, the unimaginable struggles in Third World countries, a bad global economy, political discord in the U.S., criminal activity running rampant, lack of health care throughout our country, not to mention global weather issues and racism around the world.
In the vast scheme of God’s universe, this little speck which is Mars Hill Church believes that with all the issues facing him, God is focused on where the congregation will locate their church because he told them that’s where he intended for them to be located.
Mars Hill may convince its large congregation of its entitlement and that God says he sanctions this site, but try convincing the rest of us.
Sound Transit bought the property in question, get over it and move on to another location.
Susan Petersen, King County
September 25, 2013 at 4:27 PM
GOP should learn from pope
If it’s good enough for the pope, it should be good enough for the GOP. [“Pope calls for church to be inclusive, less dogmatic,” page one, Sept. 20.]
Casting aside three decades of looking back, Pope Francis is taking his church on a journey that embraces the spirit of the law, not the letter.
By putting people before dogma, he is demonstrating the care and inclusiveness of the Christ as he aims to minister to the needs of the poor and the hurting.
Would not John Boehner be a voice in the wilderness and lead his caucus to the light? Could that caucus grasp the simple fact that the responsibility of governance is the welfare of all the nation’s citizens and inhabitants?
To dogmatically fixate on the Affordable Care Act denies the GOP an opportunity to demonstrate its supposedly caring spirit and changed heart for the “47 percent.”
Apparently, using procedural-blocking tactics in the Senate and permitting a vocal minority to lead the House remain as keystones, holding to the letter of the law rather than embracing the true spirit of our republic, upon which rests those hallowed words: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — for all.
Wallace Clausen, Auburn
September 24, 2013 at 11:26 AM
A welcome change
I find it extraordinarily refreshing that Pope Francis has articulated and emphasized the core values of the Catholic faith — service to the poor and marginalized that acknowledges the divine in all individuals — by de-emphasizing the rigid dogma that has pitted Catholics on opposite sides of the religious spectrum for the past several decades. [“Pope’s words hint of changes at Vatican,” News, Sept. 21.]
Dogma has been abused by the hierarchy as a litmus test to ascertain how “Catholic” one’s convictions were. Just six months into his papacy, Francis consigned judgment off its high perch when he humbled himself (and thus the entire hierarchy) as one flawed human being among an entire race of imperfect human beings.
He has changed the paradigm of what it means to be a faithful Christian. One is faithful, not by blindly and unthinkingly adhering to rigid rules, but by engaging in selfless actions that embrace the humanity and divine in all of us.
As the perfect example of that faithfulness, Pope Francis may have saved the Catholic Church from itself. When lapsed Catholics are thinking of re-engaging with a new, more open and compassionate Church, that speaks volumes for the important and constructive role the Catholic Church will play in our future social discourse.
Leo Egashira, Seattle
September 7, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Beliefs of few shouldn’t govern treatment of many
Thanks to Dr. Tom Preston for clarifying some implications of the impending Catholic takeover of half of the hospitals and major medical systems in Washington state, a state which is less than 12 percent Catholic. [“Guest column: Defend death with dignity in Catholic-run medical facilities,” Opinion, Sept. 2.]
In this piece, Preston discusses end-of-life issues. Strict Catholic doctrine precludes many measures chosen by patients and protected by law in this state and the U.S., including death with dignity, elective termination, in-vitro fertilization, and even contraception.
Should the nearly 90 percent of non-Catholics in Washington state be medically governed by the Roman Catholic Church?
Ann Horwitt, Seattle
May 28, 2013 at 8:31 PM
Hospitals should remain separate from religious institutions
I have been concerned for some time about the mergers of public hospitals with Catholic hospitals [“Catholic health system, UW Medicine sign pact,” NWTuesday, May 21].
Now the University of Washington hospital has made such an arrangement. I believe that hospitals that receive public tax support must remain separate from religious institutions.
The public is not served if nonpublic boards with religious agendas have a role in setting rules for the services that will be provided.
Jonnee Denton, Bothell
March 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM
Francis provides hope for humanity
Although I’m not a Roman Catholic, I am a believer and I was deeply offended that the editorial in The Times not only denigrated and disparaged the entire process of Pope Francis’ election but seemed written to play to a supposed gallery of nonbelievers (chuckle, chuckle) [“Pople Francis and the House of Cardinals,” Opinion, March 18].
I believe the Roman Catholic Church, having existed for more than 2,000 years despite some incredible scandals — not excluding the horrific ones of the last 30 years or so — deserves a little more acknowledgment, especially for its choice of Francis, whose election created several firsts for a pope, and who has seemed to stir many, including non-churchgoers and nonbelievers to a new hope for humanity.
Moreover, I think your cleverness may have unwittingly revealed how enslaved we are to our present cutthroat economic and political systems, in both our language and in reality. For instance, the use of such language as “The House of Cardinals” (Congress?), “pre-emptive strike” (referring to the 2012 Republican primaries, or corporate raider tactics?), “awareness of market share” (referring to Latin America’s large Catholic population), “branding” (product promotion strategy), “vested bureaucracy” (the federal government?) and “new CEOs.”
Perhaps Pope Francis’ election may in fact shake up all our religious institutions a little, so that we might once again espouse and aspire to a global human community of mutual respect and compassion.
–Rev. Dick Gillett, Seattle
March 19, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Growth out of orthodoxy
The article regarding Seattle Catholics and the election of Pope Francis begins with the repeatedly mistaken assumption among the progressive Catholic community that our new pope should conform to their thinking, with strong hopes that the city-culture will emerge triumphant [“Seattle Catholics toast new pope,” page one, March 14].
As laymen we take no vow of obedience, but we should have a solid understanding of what and why the church teaches. As a convert who grew up in the Seattle area, I have seen very little evidence of this, hence a bafflement of orthodoxy. Vitality and growth springs from this orthodoxy; others disperse.
–Michael Acheson, Port Angeles
De-emphasis on misogyny, homophobia?
Do progressive Catholics (the large majority of the laity in North America) find a ray of hope that Pope Francis will finally address the myriad serious problems that afflict the church [“Pope of many firsts,” page one, March 14]?
I find it refreshing that the new pope will continue to prioritize service to the poor as he has done in Argentina. I hope that means a marked de-emphasis on the church’s obsession with the “pelvic issues” of gender and sexuality. Perhaps that de-emphasis will create space for respectful, faith-informed dialogue on women priests, married priests, contraception, sexual abuse and the full participation of gay, lesbian and transgender persons in the church.
At the heart of the church’s dysfunction is its outdated, discredited misogyny — the fear of the feminine and disrespect for women. Were women and married clergy to comprise the majority of the clergy and hierarchy, does anyone think that the sexual-abuse crisis and cover-up could have occurred? Misogyny and homophobia are two sides of the same coin; without resolving the former, the latter cannot be addressed.
It will take time, but Pope Francis’ Jesuit values of academic rigor and service to the poor do give me some hope for much-needed church reform and revitalization.
–Leo N. Egashira, Seattle
March 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Name should encourage respect for animals
I was delighted to learn that the newly elected pope named himself after St. Francis of Assisi, generally known as patron saint of the animals [“Papal name honors saint who served the poor,” News, March 14]. Indeed, Catholic and Anglican churches hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of Oct. 4.
On one of his nature walks, St. Francis reportedly preached to the birds and is often portrayed with a bird in his hand. On another occasion, St. Francis concluded a pact with a ferocious wolf that was terrorizing local townsfolk, whereby the wolf would quit preying on the town’s sheep in exchange for being fed regularly. He even persuaded local dogs to stop harassing the wolf. He freed a rabbit from a trap, returned caught fish to their stream, and fed half-frozen bees in wintertime.
I hope that Pope Francis will inspire Catholics and all persons of goodwill to show nonhuman animals the respect and compassion they so richly deserve, particularly when it comes to subsidizing their abuse and slaughter for food at the checkout counter. Joining the Meatless Mondays trend may be a good start.
–Sal Sucher, Seattle
March 15, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Compassionate act and stance on prophylactics show hypocritical conflict
Before we all lapse into a lovefest about the new pope let us remember that as compassionate as washing the feet of HIV and AIDS patients might be [“Seattle Catholics toast new pope,” page one, March 14], this is the man (and church) that believes that the use of prophylactics, which reduce the transmission of HIV, is against God’s law.
This stance is hypocritical, because by decrying the use of prophylactics, the church helps ensure increasing transmission of HIV and other STDs. Does the church want additional victims merely in order to perform more “good works” for?
–Carl Bloom, Seattle
Pope Francis is a staunch defender of Catholic morals
The election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy is great news.
Pope Francis is a genuinely spiritual soul and a man of deep prayer who tends to accent growth in personal holiness over efforts for structural reform.
An accomplished theologian he is especially well known for his great personal humility. Despite his status as a prince of the church, he chose to live in a simple apartment rather than in the archbishop’s palace. He also cooked his own meals and gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work.
Pope Francis is also a staunch defender of Catholic moral teaching. He has especially opposed the intrinsic immorality of divorce, homosexual practices, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and contraception. In 2010, he was one of the first to propose that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children. His doctrinal orthodoxy has always emphasized Christ’s mandate to love: He is well remembered for his 2001 visit to a hospice, in which he washed and kissed the feet of twelve AIDS patients.
The new Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, is a rare example of a humble intellectual. With him guiding the Barque of Peter the horizon looks bright not only for Catholics but for all men of good faith.
–Rick Arlen, Seattle
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