Your Letters: Friday

Render unto Caesar

Recently, some leaders of the religious right have stated, “It’s a choice between (CNN commentator) Lou Dobbs or Christ.”

Dobbs’ outspoken criticism of the U.S. involvement in Iraq appears to coincide with the majority opinion of voters in 2006. So these leaders, believing that Dobbs is the devil, is possessed by the devil or something similar, would by extension regard the majority voter as being similarly sinful.

Isn’t it about time religious rightists were firmly rejected by the nonfanatic majority as themselves possessing non-Christian values?

Do evangelical Christians actually believe that Jesus would have supported this deviously and capriciously entered-into and insanely propagated war — to be fought largely by people other than their children and paid for by all of our grandchildren?

How long will middle-of-the-road Christians allow themselves to be unwitting accomplices?

Speaking of organized religion, we recently had the spectacle of the pope interfering in Brazil’s internal political affairs. (Some Brazilian politicians, having noted a large number of deaths in back-street abortions, have proposed that the total ban on abortion and contraception is not in the best interest of that country’s population. Hence the Pope’s visit, complete with threats of excommunication, no doubt.)

Mexico and other Latin American nations are probably next.

World religions should quit meddling in secular affairs and tend only to the spiritual needs of their willing constituents.

Did not Jesus, himself, advocate leaving secular matters to secular authority?

Roger M. HermanBellefonte

An unwarranted attack

Tom Teepen’s recent column did not deserve the un-Christian attack the Rev. Gabriel Morley launched in a subsequent letter. Morley’s worldview, however, is a good example of the antiscience fantasy Teepen described.

Morley cited antediluvian scientists such as Isaac Newton to “prove” his points, even though Newton lived long before evolution and genetics were even imagined.

He used Gregor Mendel to attack his contemporary, Charles Darwin, which I find ironic inasmuch as natural selection depends on Gregor’s work as a platform to prove itself.

If he weren’t so set on condemning those who don’t prescribe to his fundamentalist ways (to which he is certainly entitled), Morley would find that at least 40 percent of scientists describe themselves as theistic evolutionists (not to be confused with creation science or intelligent design), according to recent surveys.

He mentioned the human genome but didn’t note that the lead scientist behind that effort, Francis Collins, is a theistic evolutionist who sees God at work in the beauty that is nature.

Morley sees genetics at work in Mendel’s garden, but makes no mention of irradiated fruit flies and their absurd offspring that he probably worked with in high school biology.

How does he explain the 400-plus dog breeds, all descended from Eurasian wolves? Many of those breeds and fruit fly oddities have been developed in our lifetime with the help of the hands of humans.

Douglas M. MasonState College

Writing in error

A recent letter about evolution (May 11) unfortunately got a great deal wrong.

First, the writer said that “Pasteur fought and proved evolution false.” This is ludicrously inaccurate.

Pasteur showed that lifeless matter nowadays is not spontaneously generating life (as many people once believed). This has nothing to do with evolution, which studies long-term changes in life forms.

The writer also said that Mendel’s study of inherited traits gives an argument against evolution. That may have been true 100 years ago.

But by the time of World War II, biologists knew about mutation. They understood how mutations can be preserved. And they realized with delight that evolution and genetics match perfectly.

The remainder of the letter is no better. It is sad to see Christianity tied so tightly to falsehood.

William C. WaterhouseState College

Little unity in sight

I found the headline reporting the State College Area school board race, “A Vision for Change,” ironic. What vision would that be?

This was a single-issue election. The primary voters rejected the school board’s current plan for the high school, but in favor of what?

The Centre Daily Times never made an effort to uncover the challengers’ alternative to the renovation, and the challengers carefully avoided revealing any plans. State High Vision’s Web site explicitly refused to do so.

This was good politics: Let everyone believe that your plan is their plan.

But the challengers spoke of wanting to unite a divided community. Not having been forthcoming before the election about what they plan to do will have the opposite effect.

Some people voted for them because they wanted to spend as little tax money as possible on the high school. Others want two smaller high schools, at least one of which would be a new school built elsewhere. Still others would like to see a renovation that preserves the single-school-with-a-street-down-the-middle configuration.

These are, of course, incompatible outcomes, all of which seemed supportable by the challengers’ negative campaign. Many people are going to be very disappointed.

I hope the real losers won’t be the students, who might see a reduction in course offerings or learning support in order to cut school taxes or a substandard renovation of the high school that does not address very real needs for modernization.

Mark MorrissonState College

Slap for slap

I am happy with the outcome of the election. With politics the way they are, I have never in my life felt that my vote meant anything — until Tuesday. Just more than a year ago, I attended my first board meeting and was introduced to the incumbents. They had called an emergency meeting that I thought I needed to attend because of all the “behind the door issues” that had been surfacing through grass-roots channels.

This meeting was held early in the morning when most people needed to be at work. I was highly insulted at that meeting when a board member thought it necessary to explain what “average” meant in relation to the impending rise in property taxes.

Any taxpayer understands that some will pay less and some will pay more.

Since then, I have attended several meetings, wanting to voice my opinions. I was actually told by one board member that my definition of democracy was flawed and that in a democracy, we elect officials “to make the decisions for us.”

I don’t believe this to be true, but it was definitely a slap in the face.

Another board member recently said that the community rejecting the incumbents was “like a slap in the face.”

They told the community that we can’t understand and have withheld information from us. Perhaps the community felt it had been slapped first.

We just slapped back.

Jean FranzettaBoalsburg

The battle continues

Those of us who think the State College Area school board has been heading in the wrong direction may have dodged the bullet.

If the gods of reason and frugality smile on those of us who think that small is beautiful, we may live to see the large-school folks on the board and in the administration fade away.

In November, we will vote, and if we are typical Americans we will consider our civic duty done, go home and leave the job of running our world-class schools to the new people. And if we do, we will have failed the young people of the State College area.

History guarantees us that, left to their own devices, these new people will stray from the path of reason and the desires of the public and become the bad old guys, and the next generation of State High Vision will be born.

Only the battle has been won. The war is still up for grabs. We must never again allow the school board to become so far removed from the citizenry. Republican government works only when there is a real exchange of ideas between the governors and the governed.

Our children are far too precious to ever again allow ideologues, professional or elected, to act without a response to the residents of this community.

Carl R. AmickBoalsburg