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Letters from our readers

Mailbag

Crouching at every door

[ Sept. 15 ] Thanks for the article on sexual abuse in various Christian contexts. It is too easy for Protestants to cast stones at the Roman Catholic Church, and it is particularly sad when churches tolerate and cover up such sinful behavior. The result is disillusionment and a falling away of the flock. We all need to pray for our leaders and ourselves. —Steven Lemmel on wng.org

I was surprised to see this cover story when we Catholics deserve even more condemnation. I believe that the extreme sadness, anger, and embarrassment will motivate even the laity to get more involved and rid the Catholic Church of this awful scourge. —Daryl Nagel / Waco, Texas

The Catholic Church requires celibacy among its clergy even though Paul instructs each man and woman to have their own spouses to avoid sexual immorality. Sexual abuse and sin of every kind can happen in any church, but when we ignore Scripture and create our own rules, we invite disaster. —Jeffrey Kent / Shadyside, Ohio

It took great humility and courage to recognize we all are fallen and require the mercy of God. Thank you for not bashing the Catholic Church. —Joe Marincel / Flower Mound, Texas

No person in ministry should ever be alone with a person of the opposite sex. A man in ministry can face an awful pull on his vows, given the content of the culture these days. Ministers need the prayers of their congregations. —Doris Heyns / Whiting, N.J.

Thank you for a truthful, even-handed article on a troubling subject. —David Connon on Facebook

As a mental health professional, I applaud the policy and practice of Tates Creek Presbyterian. Transparency is Biblical. It brings healing, reduces shame, and creates a culture of safety. I pray that more churches and Christian institutions will value Biblical precepts over image and mission. —Gale Fernow Tallent on Facebook

This should prompt all parents to have a frank discussion with their young children about what to accept from other adults in their lives. We tend to assume too much from our spiritual leaders, and our children are unprepared for what can happen. —Madelyn Higby / Towaco, N.J.

The last two editions have had three stories dealing with sexual abuse in Christian contexts: a school in Iowa, a ministry in Nigeria, and now “Crouching at every door.” It is terribly painful to think that so many have suffered when they should have been protected by under-shepherds of our Good Shepherd. Thank you for making me uncomfortable. We must be aware of the areas in which we are vulnerable. —Laura Koleszar / Woodstock, Conn.

I am in my eighth year of ministry and am disturbed that some in the pews set their pastors up on a pedestal and set themselves up for exploitation. It’s not healthy for the pastor to be the answer man, spiritual healer, and go-to guy for all sorts of issues. We are in the pulpit to preach Jesus, but we have a dysfunctional paradigm in far too many churches. —David Anthony on Facebook

We need an effective call from churches to prosecute these crimes, whether at Catholic or Protestant institutions. We share a responsibility for the innocents, and our response regarding child abuse in particular should be far more aggressive. —Ken Paxton / Murphys, Calif.

It is so hard to identify those who have lived a life of duplicity. God help us to root out the problems in our hearts and in our churches. —Tony G. McCord on wng.org

A forgotten people?

[ Sept. 15 ] Thank you so much for your coverage of the largely forgotten Islamic Uighur people of Xinjiang. These people have a historical connection with Christianity stretching back well over 1,500 years. Progress by Christian workers in Xinjiang has been understandably slow, and some estimates put the number of Uighur believers at fewer than 1,000. —Joshua Klatt / Sebring, Fla.

During the Cultural Revolution the Red Guards must have preserved George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, 1984, because now it is apparently the practice manual for the Chinese persecution of the Muslim Uighurs. Perhaps this is a good time to read or reread it. —William Hollberg / Atlanta, Ga.

Thank you for the incredible reporting your staffers do as they travel to the hot spots of the world. June Cheng, Mindy Belz, Jamie Dean, Sophia Lee, and others put themselves in harm’s way to bring us news and perspectives from the front lines we never would hear otherwise. —Genie Ragin / Cumming, Ga.

Heaping doses of contempt

[ Sept. 15 ] Both Janie B. Cheaney’s excellent call for “heartedness” and Sophia Lee’s astute movie review of Operation Finale (“Hideously normal”) show people who are warm and loving to family members but contemptuous toward those perceived as subhuman or a threat. We Christians often forget that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus referred to murder in the same breath as calling someone an idiot. —Carolyn Schlicher / Elizabethtown, Pa.

Too many Christians are contemptuous of others and claiming to “be on His side while carelessly assuming He is on theirs,” as Cheaney put it. —Ron E. Tarlton / Marietta, Ga.

Muscle and restraint

[ Sept. 15 ] This column reminded me of an Old Testament name of God, “El Shaddai,” or God Almighty. Thank you for your beautifully written words about our inborn desire for a God with muscle and restraint. —Grace Smith / Delano, Minn.

James Madison described the need for muscle and restraint when he wrote, “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” The Constitution was a grand solution to powerful opposing forces. —Nancy Rice / Culpeper, Va.

Holy terror?

[ Sept. 15 ] Thank you for a well-rounded approach to horror movies that does not simply dismiss the validity of this dark corner of storytelling. —Robyn Wilde on Facebook

Papered over

[ Sept. 1 ] I wish Liberty University would be humble enough to admit when it is wrong, rather than seeking to save face or protect its image. Christians and Christian colleges ought to remember that God “gives grace to the humble.” Poverty of spirit and genuine love for our neighbor advances the kingdom of God, not the person in the Oval Office. —Luke Magnusson / Palmer, Alaska

As one who has watched Catholic universities morph into un-Biblical enclaves, I applaud the leadership at Liberty University for sticking to its principles. A school newspaper should celebrate the university’s achievements and inform students about events and activities. —Kirsten LeBlanc on wng.org

Death wishes

[ Sept. 1 ] The article on organ donation and the definition of death raises some ethical issues, but the author did not mention that all 50 states have statutes that define death. It’s not a mystery; the appropriate tests can determine when the brain is irrevocably dead. Having served as the legal adviser for a hospital bioethics committee for 15 years, I don’t think we are in danger of heading down the path the author described. —Jim Richardson / Oro Valley, Ariz.

Correction

Organizers of the recent Chinese pro-life conference in Beijing provided the photo of Bai Suqing, head of the Xining Good Neighbors Center (“Blazing a pro-life trail,” Oct. 13, p. 51).

More letters, emails, and comments we didn’t have space for in the print edition:

Crouching at every door

[ Sept. 15 ] Thank you for taking a good, hard look at the sexual abuse problem in Protestant circles. A fourth situation where one might uncover a festering abscess of abuse or cover-up is in Christian Third World aid programs and orphanages that have minimal accountability. Children in these contexts, “the least of these,” are extremely vulnerable. —Brenda Zook / Belleville, Pa.