Challenging BeliefsAs one of the few who is willing to...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 05, 1993

Challenging Beliefs

As one of the few who is willing to declare publicly that I do not believe in God, I agree with Michael Kinsley that society is not biased against religion ("What Bias Against Religion?," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 30).

On the contrary, religious intolerance of non-believers forces most of us to hide our beliefs. Meanwhile support for the separation of church and state is often misinterpreted as hostility toward religion.

Professing that one is an atheist, agnostic, humanist or freethinker is the height of political incorrectness today.

While supporting the right of all to believe as they choose, I yearn for the likes of Robert Ingersoll and H. L. Mencken, who had the courage to challenge people to examine their beliefs.

Kenneth Marsalek

Baltimore

Misleading People

The Sun just doesn't seem to get it.

In an Aug. 27 editorial you question why people are criticizing President Clinton's vacation trip to Martha's Vineyard. You say it is natural for presidents to vacation with the rich and cite as examples Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy and Bush.

There is more than one difference between these men and Clinton. Those three men were rich and Bill Clinton, although far from poor, is hardly in a class with them.

Clinton was also elected on a platform that said the rich benefited unfairly (they didn't) during the '80s and that he would return the "fairness" (whatever that means) to America that the rich took from it.

The first chance Clinton gets, what does he do? He runs off to cavort with the very people he campaigned against. That is why people are criticizing the president's vacation.

L Once again President Clinton has misled the American people.

Kevin L. Johnson

Annapolis

Main Man

This may not be a letter to the editor but more like a letter of appreciation. It was triggered by Stephen Hunter's review of "Son of the Pink Panther," but several other developments, like Michael Olesker's pokes at the NAACP leadership and Roger Simon's return to humor, have contributed.

But back to our main man, Mr. Hunter. We enjoy his reviews even when we disagree with them. To be specific: anyone who can turn a phrase like "lets slip the dogs of weenie self-abrogation" is clearly in a class by himself or in a class with the immortal bard.

His writing is colorful, challenging and drips with movie lore and movie love. I have admired your writers and reviewers all the way back to Russell Baker and Donald Kirkley, and Stephen Hunter )) stands with (or a little ahead) of the best of them. Please, don't let this guy get away.

Franklin W. Littleton

Baltimore

Defending Catholic Doctrine

Andrew Greeley's article "Catholicism: Here Comes Everyone" Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 25) is a mishmash of half truths and deceptive generalizations. Here are a few facts which Greeley manages to paper over.

* Being "a rich, complex, diversified" heritage has never meant that the Catholic Church doesn't reject the kind of "pluralism" that encourages people to "feel at home with" opinions obviously contradictory to church teachings.

* The church today does indeed "do excommunications" for breaking at least some "rules." Archbishop LeFevre and his followers know this, as should any man or woman who, clearly understanding the canonical penalty involved, nonetheless freely chooses to kill the unborn.

* For Christians who care about the teaching of Jesus (many, face it, don't!), the Gospel of Matthew makes it clear that a Christian who rejects an authoritative decision of the church should be considered an outsider and even a traitor. Many people may not know this teaching, but sooner or later it must be faced up to.

* Guidelines from Rome from the early 1800s onward insist that confessors indeed "disturb the consciences" of penitents who bring up contraception as if the church considered it a legitimate moral option.

* Outstanding theologians have claimed not only that "the Vatican's teaching" on this issue is infallible and irreversible, but that Pope Paul's encyclical itself constitutes a solemn papal definition.

These are just a few of the more obvious examples of facts which Greeley ignores or manipulates, though he claims it is not his intent to "argue about the birth control controversy."

dward J. Bayer

Baltimore

The writer is associate pastor of St. Clement Church.

The Pikes Theater Should Be a Movie House

Now that the Greater Baltimore Cultural Arts Foundation has publicly announced revised plans for the Pikes Theater, it is all the more obvious that the proposed performing arts center is a wasteful step in the wrong direction.

Though the concept of a renovated Pikes as an anchor for Pikesville's rebirth is sound, it is as a specialty movie theater -- art films, first-run films, classics and special showings -- that the Pikes would most benefit its community.

Explaining why the project's scope was reduced from in excess of $5 million, the president of the foundation stated, "Funding has dried up."

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