Amey Schnabel's July 10 commentary ("22 votes for a pastor -- for progress") was a beautiful description of the journey that the Evangelical Lutheran Church has taken over the last 20 years in its struggle to accept gay and lesbian clergy.
However, in addition to the 22 kind and fair hearts in Schnabel's home congregation, we cannot forget those who were brave from the beginning and faced an uphill task to be ordained in the church they love.
I am referring to Pastor Ruth Frost and Pastor Phyllis Zillhart, ordained in San Francisco in 1989, and Pastor Anita Hill, ordained in St. Paul in 2001, and many other gay and lesbian pastors who chose to remain in the ELCA and fight the good fight.
There are other countless parish pastors, lay leaders and ELCA church leaders, including Bishop Mark S. Hanson, who provided the leadership that enabled the process to move forward. Lasting change in any organization can only occur from within, and I am proud to be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
CHRISTI BYSTEDT, WAYZATA
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Schnabel's syrupy story about 22 brave souls in her hometown church who "are willing to read deeper into the meaning of what was written in the Bible" is a clear indication of why many mainline churches are steadily losing membership. When humans decide they know more than God, there is no longer any "there" there, and they might just as well call themselves Sunday social clubs rather than Christian churches.
HALE MESEROW, EAGAN
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A July 9 letter writer suggests that antigay people are concerned about faith, social institutions, ideals and religious freedom while progay folks are concerned with fairness to people, benefits to people and civil rights, the former being abstractions and the latter human beings. I fail to see how concerns about these concepts are mutually exclusive or fall in either camp. And why are progay and antigay positions the only options? How about gay-neutral? That's my perspective on the amendment and why I will vote against it.
JOHN F. HETTERICK, PLYMOUTH
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People who believe the Holy Scriptures' definition of marriage are not antigay, as the July 9 letter writer suggests. Many Christians have formed close friendships with gay people. Skin color, income level, ideology and sexual orientation do not inhibit most Christians from forming great friendships with people whose lifestyles may be different from ours. The definition of marriage is scriptural, and any deviation from this does present a problem for many Christian people.
BEV TISCHLER, JACKSON, MINN.
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As a western woman, I wondered if the male writers of recent letters -- and the commentator they were responding to, for that matter ("A first among firsts: Embracing the hijab," July 6) -- have even considered the possibility that Egypt's new first lady's isn't making a statement by wearing the hijab but making a choice.
It is true that there are many Muslim countries where women don't have choices about dress, driving and many other things. However, there are many other predominantly Muslim countries in which there is no law forcing Muslim women to veil themselves or wear the hijab, yet some women still do -- for example, in Morocco or Indonesia.
Throughout my years as an ESL teacher, I have worked with many highly intelligent and highly educated Muslim women. Some of them chose to cover their heads as a sign of their faith; some didn't. For that matter, many Muslim-American women wear a veil, while an equal number choose jeans and a T-shirt. Some take the middle road and wear a head scarf with shirts and slacks.
Veils don't equal religious tyranny. The lack of tolerance for personal and religious choice does -- and we see that kind of tyranny everyday in the United States. So, back off, gentlemen, and let the new first lady of Egypt speak for herself.
KELLY MARCHWICK, MINNEAPOLIS
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It takes a special person to be an effective teacher. It's not surprising that interest is lacking in the alternative teacher certification law of 2011 ("Alternate path for aspiring teachers still is untraveled," July 9). Why would a midcareer professional in any field want to teach?
Successful teaching is not a matter of in-depth knowledge of a specific field. An expert teacher is creative and patient, knows how to manage classroom time, and, especially, loves the learners. Not every person who aspires to teach possesses these qualities.
Anyone who doesn't want to invest the time it takes to earn a teaching degree is not going to be happy as a teacher. Teachers are overloaded with overcrowded curriculum mandates, not to mention the intangible amount of time required to deal with huge differences in student abilities, backgrounds and parental support. Albert Einstein would probably have had a hard time teaching science in an average public-school class.
DOROTHY LEATHERS, MINNEAPOLIS
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President Obama is proposing to end the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year. Candidate Mitt Romney supports extending the tax cuts for all income earners. Romney's campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Monday that Obama's proposal amounted to a massive tax increase.
Saul is correct. Maintaining the tax rates for wealthy taxpayers will, as she confirms, provide "massive" revenues. That's the whole idea -- all of that revenue can go toward reducing the deficit. That reduction won't happen without substantial additional revenue.
ROLF WESTGARD, ST. PAUL