Vatican vs. Gays
If one listens carefully, he can hear the blows of Martin Luther's hammer.
With its recent letter to the American bishops, in which it attempts to justify discrimination against gay and lesbian persons, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- formerly the Holy Inquisition -- has proven itself, once again, to be out of step with the modern world.
Not only has every major medical organization in this country (the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association) long since abandoned the notion that homosexuality is a "disorder," but a large body of the rest of the Catholic Church (46 percent, according to a recent Gallup poll) has left the Curia behind in the dust of history by being willing to accept gay and lesbian relationships.
The Roman Catholic hierarchy certainly has the right to express its position on the subject of sexual mores, but it needs to cease its efforts to interfere directly in the American political process.
Its desperation over its inability to strong-arm its flock -- as evidenced by the large numbers of Catholics worldwide who virtually ignore its pronouncements on matters sexual -- is clearly demonstrated by this attempt to foist off its unenlightened opinions not only on the members of the church but also on the general population of the United States. The hierarchy would do well to remember that this country's separation of church and state works both ways.
James R. Moody
I was sorry to learn of singer Mary Wells' recent death at age 49. As a teen-ager growing up in the 1960s, I was a big fan of the "Motown Sound" with which she was so identified. However, I must take issue with J. D. Considine's July 28 portrayal of Ms. Wells as a victim.
Unfortunately, Ms. Wells made some bad choices during her brief life. Her decision to leave Motown in 1965 proved ultimately to be the undoing of a singing career which had reached star status.
However, it was her decision to initiate smoking and remain a lifelong smoker that extracted the ultimate price -- her premature death from cancer of the larynx.
Although the Wells story is a real tragedy, it is not unique. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in our country. Smoking kills 434,000 people a year, or about 1,200 every day.
However, the toll goes beyond the individual smoker. Each year there are 434,000 instances of families left to deal with the premature loss of a loved one. Think about the four children who survive Ms. Wells. They are the true victims.
Richard W. Stringer
The writer is executive director of the Maryland State Council on Cancer Control.
End of Toy Run
Our family has been involved in scouting, church and o t her community activities in Baltimore County for the past 10 years and have supported the efforts of the Motorcycle Toy Run (Operation Santa Claus), a community activity dear to the heart of our son, Eric.
We have learned to "see" the majority of motorcyclists as they really are. They are in many cases family men and women who enjoy the free spirit of riding.
They came together in Maryland to help children. The Salvation Army accepted their offer and a partnership began. Toys and food have filled trucks for the needy for the past decade.
This year there will be no Toy Run; the Santa bikers will no longer ride for the children. Let's remember the absolutely fantastic work accomplished by the biker volunteers.
No one is to blame for ending the Toy Run -- economic times simply finished it. Let us hope the children will be helped in other ways.
Mona-Lee and Carl Bretall
A balanced budget amendment will ultimately be passed into law by Congress, and this is a good and necessary thing. But it won't help much with the outstanding deficit this country has accumulated, a deficit which will grow until payments are made to reduce the huge principal amounts on which interest is charged.
I, for one, do not want my generation to go down in history as the one that mortgaged America. The Federal Reserve Board has been warning us for some time that this is the biggest problem our country faces today, and one which handicaps our efforts to solve all the other ones.
There's only one way to get rid of the deficit hanging over future generations of the country -- a tax increase. Informed citizens know that, but there's more.
It must be a tax increase that the people of this country will accept. And there's only one kind of tax increase people will accept given the mood in America today.
The tax increase must be progressive, dedicated and time-limited. Let me explain:
Progressive: A 10 percent surcharge added to everyone's (including corporate) annual federal income tax bill, to be paid at tax filing time.
Dedicated: The surcharge money will be used only for deficit reduction.