A June 21 story ("Key pastors opt out of marriage fight") described the "neutral approach" that the Revs. John Piper and Leith Anderson have taken in the debate over the proposed constitutional amendment that would exclude gay marriage by definition.
The article goes on to say that both pastors have come out against gay marriage, Piper doing so from his pulpit just last Sunday.
What's "neutral" about this? The story implies that the pastors have "opted out" because, regardless of the extent to which they use their pulpits to define one view of the issue as consonant with "God and his word," they have decided not to instruct their congregations how to vote.
The article doesn't say whether that decision reflects their respect for the consciences of their parishioners or their wariness of crossing the bright red line that protects their churches' property tax exemptions. Whatever their reasons, the claim to be "neutral" or to disdain being "political" is nonsensical so long as both pastors have gone on record with a position.
Hundreds of other Minnesota faith congregations -- Jewish, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Unitarian and others -- have made their own opposition to the proposed amendment clear and public. I was with more than a hundred clergy members who spoke in opposition to the amendment recently.
We meant to represent the teaching of our communities and the clearly expressed collective will of our congregations. But there is no moral high ground here for any of us to pretend to be "neutral" while taking a side, and there's no moral defense for any clergy person to claim just to be impartially passing along God's will.
THE REV. NEIL ELLIOTT, WHITE BEAR LAKE
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The June 21 letters directed at Archbishop John Nienstedt were both very harsh and critical, without consideration of the responsibility of church leaders.
Archbishops, conservative or otherwise, have taken a vow to uphold the dogma of the Catholic Church. Granted, this may not be based on civil opinion, but they must follow the dogma.
Criticism was made of the handling of the sex-abuse issue. The issue was not handled as properly as it could have been. Now, more effort is being made to do so.
In reference to birth control: What each individual does with this responsibility is his conscience and accountability with God. What religious freedom is about is that no government should be involved in freely providing for that protection of choice.
VEDA K. SIREK, NEW PRAGUE, MINN.
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The June 21 article about the growth in the number of older drivers ("A key issue") totally missed the role of transit in providing mobility for seniors and everyone else who doesn't drive. Making sure that seniors live in areas where streets are safe for walking and where bus and rail service exists makes a big difference in the all-important sense of independence that is the heart of this story's dilemma. It's not owning a car, it's being able to decide where you want to go and to get there under your own power.
HILARY REEVES, MINNEAPOLIS
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The merest effort to prevent severe injuries in youth hockey are being rolled back ("Stricter youth hockey penalties are likely to be undone," June 20). Arguably ours is a violent culture, as reflected in its sports. Spinal injuries, brain trauma and a litany of physical disabilities are to be considered the reasonable risks and costs of hockey, football, etc.
That we should be willing to sacrifice our children on the altars of ritualized contests of tribal narcissism -- how these vicarious entertainments substantially differ from groups of male chimpanzees fighting over territory and females -- escapes me.
I would encourage the members of the Minnesota Hockey board of directors to act like true elders, who foremost are concerned with the health and education of children. Lessons that engender thuggery, abuse, bullying and a callous disregard for how others feel are not the kind of team-building any of us needs.
Further, I would suggest that the tradeoff between "contact sports" (Orwellian for violent play) and the education of children can't be made. Kids don't have, and shouldn't be expected to have, the judgment to protect themselves.
THOMAS EVANS, BEMIDJI, MINN.
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Well, here we go again. Just as the Minnesota taxpayers dig deep to provide a first-class playground for the Vikings, another player, Percy Harvin this time, is unhappy and irritated over his measly $12 million contract. Percy, be thankful you are employed, and be thankful you are earning much more than the income of the average Minnesotan, which is well south of 60 grand a year. I'll bet that many of the folks who work 50 to 60 hours per week year after year provide a much more valuable service to society than your football exhibitions do. Pro athletes, please wake up and appreciate what you have and the fans who support your industry.
MARK S. NOWAK, WELLS, MINN.
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