• At your newspaper, it's open season on Christians
    January 07,2007

    Apparently, there is yet one form of bigotry which wins favor here in Vermont. As a leader in forming and shaping public opinion, your paper seems, once again to be on the forefront of this movement.

    Over the past few years, Christians have noticed that your paper seems to select religious news items to publish on the worship listing page each week that are about the failings of some church or church leader. At Easter and Christmas, these sorts of news items seem to rise to the top of your pile of filler articles and we get extra exposes and "in-depth" coverage of religious scandals. This seems to come like clockwork.

    When you conducted a reader "poll" on the cartoons, you never published numbers, but replaced "B.C." which occasionally has Christian references, with "Lio" which regularly features demons, gargoyles and sick humor. You are certainly sending a message here about which side you are on.

    So this year it was no surprise that you published a lengthy article about people who bash Christmas and Christians on the front page of the Dec. 24 edition of the Sunday Rutland Herald and Times Argus. It is sad enough that the mass marketers have vulgarized this holy day (not holiday) by converting thankfulness and self-giving into greed and gluttony, but to have column after column of attacks on Christmas seems more an indictment of the times than news.

    People are free to choose their religious affiliation and practice. The constitution assures this for all minority religions and those who claim no religion. But when it comes to Christians, well, we are up for an open season of pot shots and snide attacks.

    May God keep us from a return to the day when Jews were viciously caricatured as they approached their High Holy Days. May God save us from the kind of cartoons that assaulted Islam in Europe and offended millions. So, I ask you, why is that you find it socially acceptable to attack, deride and caricature Christians and the faith of Jesus, the Christ?

    I would remind you that it was places where Christianity was practiced that produced a culture of freedom, respect for women, honor for education and learning, and an active system of care for the sick, poor and the marginal people. (We were the main providers of education, health care, food and shelter for the poor until we, with others of good will, advocated for governmental help with this.) While the record has its blemishes, some egregious, on the whole, Christianity has been a positive contribution to the world. While we come in a variety of flavors, we hold in common the truths of the faith that have made this country more than the land of unbridled capitalism.

    As we watch the degeneration of social norms, community strengthening values and self-sacrifice, along with the growth of greed, poverty, addictions and social troubles, it might behoove you to consider the positive value that religion can play here and to stop bashing Christians, as well as Jews, Muslims and other religious groups. We will no longer sit on the sidelines and pretend that our faith is irrelevant to who we are, how we live and what we hold out to the community, even if it means being derided.

    The Rev. Ralph W. Howe


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