Letters to the Editors
Why subject Scientology to discrimination?
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 28, 2001
Your editorial, Police work for Scientology (March 22), is perplexing. The position seems to be that it is acceptable to discriminate against Scientology (at least in this matter), but not against other religions, like Catholicism and Presbyterianism, that are more acceptable to you. The reasons you offer for advocating this selective religious discrimination are a "controversial history" and conflicts with others.
We should not need to point out that the history of most religions, particularly new religions at about 50 years of age, like Scientology, are full of controversy and conflict. Contemporary events, furthermore, attest that religions of all kinds -- presumably including some that are acceptable to you -- are at the very center of such matters worldwide. Does your strange logic also apply to them? If not, in the interest of the same "objectivity" that you value so highly in this editorial, perhaps you should reveal what other religions you think ought to be subjected to discrimination. Or is Scientology the only one?
Extra-duty program deserves praise
Re: Police work for Scientology, editorial.
I have been serving as counsel for the Church of Scientology in connection with the ongoing court proceedings to restore some measure of peace to downtown Clearwater. The peace has been breached by the members of the Lisa McPherson Trust, who came to Clearwater and mounted loud, crude and vulgar attacks against the church and its members. The church obtained an injunction against the Lisa McPherson Trust and its members, the purpose of which was to set up some basic ground rules for both the church and the members of the trust.
Recently, the court found Robert Minton, the leader and financier of the Lisa McPherson Trust, to be in criminal contempt of the court's injunction. Minton was fined $500 and put on probation for six months. One of his colleagues was also convicted of criminal contempt for violating the injunction.
Your editorial, Police work for Scientology, takes the Clearwater Police Department to task for making available to the church the very same police services that are made available to 50 different organizations in Clearwater. You argue that it is acceptable to discriminate against the church and deny it the availability of police services because the police merely direct traffic for other churches. Would it be acceptable if the police were only directing traffic for the Church of Scientology instead of preserving civil order? If the skinheads mounted a protest operation against a local synagogue, would you deny the synagogue the opportunity to participate in the Police Department's program to preserve public order?
One of the points you make is that the police can't be objective under these circumstances. One of the facts you omit from your editorial is that the Lisa McPherson Trust has on at least two occasions hired Clearwater police officers in the same program to provide security at its functions. If the police are providing officers to these two adversaries and to other local organizations on an evenhanded basis, how have the police been compromised?
You also failed to discuss how the program actually operates. The police remain under the command of the Police Department. The police are performing normal police duties subject to all of the rules, regulations and laws governing police work. In fact, the term "off duty" is a misnomer. This work is considered to be "extra duty." The party hiring the police does not pay the police officers directly. The officers are performing police work in the normal course, but a third party pays for it, at a savings to the taxpayers of the city.
In the nine days of court hearings leading to the finding that Minton and one of his colleagues were guilty of criminal contempt, several police officers testified as to their observations of various incidents. There was not one shred of evidence that the Clearwater Police Department or any of its officers had in any way been compromised by participating in the extra-duty program.
The extra-duty police officer program is a creative way to expand the availability of police services to the community without the taxpayers having to foot the bill. You ought to be praising it instead of trying to undermine it because an organization you don't like is using it.
A negative bias against Scientology
Re: Police work for Scientology.
Your March 22 editorial speaks volumes about your preconceived negative bias against the Church of Scientology. As a non-Scientologist and resident of downtown Clearwater, I have seen the incredibly positive impact the Church of Scientology has had on the economy and landscape of our city. As an interested resident and taxpayer, I decided the only way to fully understand this growth and community commitment was to avail myself of an invitation to visit the Fort Harrison, meet with rank-and-file parishioners and learn more about the philosophy and civic activities of the church.
I suggest that the St. Petersburg Times extricate its editorial bias from the gutter of prejudice. An educational tour of the Church of Scientology would be a good beginning, and I am certain you would receive a warm welcome, as well as a bountiful lesson in respect.
The limits of government
Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is there any mention about the separation of church and state. It was our founding fathers' intent to keep the government out of religion and religious organizations. It was not their intent to eliminate religious faith in government or in the public forum.
Our government was intended to protect God-given rights and our borders from enemies. It was not intended to be the provider or the educator of its citizens.
Sending the wrong message on sex
Re: Just say no won't work for sex education, letter, March 20.
This letter writer starts by saying she teaches sex education in more than 20 agencies in Pinellas County. She states that "telling teens that sex outside of marriage is wrong is often a slap in the face to their parents, as many parents are not and were never married to their children's other parent."
If she was teaching driver education, would it be wrong to tell the teenagers not to drive above the speed limit if the parents did?
She goes on to say, "Marriage is important if it is a part of your belief system. It is not a part of everyone's belief system. It is mostly a religious belief, and we are supposed to have separation of church and state."
This would seem to imply that she believes moral values are only for the religious. There are thousands of mature married couples here and throughout the country who never set foot in a church but who have been happily married and raised families, teaching their children that marriage is wonderful and that premarital sex is wrong.
With teachers like this, no wonder we lead the nations in teenage births!
Women are the preferred caregivers
Re: A wall between genders in medicine, by medical intern David Shaywitz, March 17.
It is true that all education, including medical education, should be broad-based and allow for full experiential learning. As to why women patients "prefer to be seen by women and only by women," has the writer asked himself -- or better yet patients -- why that is so? It may not be the "modesty thing" after all.
As a professor of nursing, I found it was common for patients of both genders to prefer females to examine them! Overall, patients simply feel more comfortable in the hands of women, mostly because women are usually more attuned to and focused on patient needs. And they will listen. The best information about a patient's health history really comes from the patient, as studies show.
If you don't believe me, go to the research studies on nurse practitioners, who are mostly women. The preponderance of studies show that they are at least as capable, often more capable, than traditional medical providers, who are mostly men. They are preferred. They engender rapport, and they are cost effective, potentially saving America about $9-billion in health care costs per year!
Why not just go and ask the patient?
The "Bear' had heart
Re: Discovering a legendary football coach, March 21.
Bill Maxwell finally wrote something commendable, in my humble opinion. Yes, Coach Bryant was bigger than life. And yes, grown men who were warriors on the gridiron for the Crimson Tide can cry like babies when reminiscing about "The Bear." I remember a trip to see Tulane play 'Bama in New Orleans at the old Sugar Bowl Stadium when I was a senior in high school. This was a reward for our football team finishing with a record of seven wins and only two losses -- one to Pensacola High, which was the No. 1 team in the nation that year ('58).
I went to St. Stanislaus, a Catholic boys' boarding school in Bay St. Louis, Miss., with a long tradition of athletes who had gone on to be all-Americans at such schools as Tulane, Notre Dame and West Point (the legendary Felix "Doc" Blanchard -- two times in the mid-'40s). My father even played on the Tulane team, which barely lost to Southern Cal in the '31 Rose Bowl. But after watching this Bear-Bryant-coached team of undersized, overachieving, scrappy football players whip up on the Tulane Green Wave and look like they were having a lot of fun doing it, I had decided that 'Bama was the place for me. This decision was reversed a short time later only after realizing that I had a call from God and went to Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., for seminary training.
People ask, "What was it about Bear Bryant that unspired such admiration." The answer is simple. The man had "heart," and everyone on his team had to play with with heart -- no slackers allowed! The "Bear" lived by an old-fashioned code that represented the best of what America was all about: God, country, family, work ethic, discipline, manliness. Young men could emulate this. Nothing phoney about Coach Bryant. Human, yes! All the players knew that this man demanded excellence from himself and expected his players to give no less than their very best every Saturday -- and then some when playing at Denny Field in Tuscaloosa. Paul "Bear" Bryant restored pride to the University of Alabama, the state and yes, Mr. Maxwell, even to the South. What a man!
We are all the human race
Kudos to Signe Wilkinson for her March 17 cartoon on race.
I have believed for at least 50 years that there is only one race, the human race. Scientific fact supports this view, even though society still tries to define our differences by "race."
The impossibility of categorizing humanity into racial groups becomes ever more apparent.
I applaud Wilkinson for calling our attention so graphically to our oneness as a race as well as to our diversity as individuals.
Share your opinions
Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They can be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to (727) 893-8675.
They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible.
Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be published.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times