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Weir Mischaracterized Westboro Baptist Church; Born Again in the Valley; Spiritual Center Seeks Feedback

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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Weir Mischaracterized Westboro Baptist Church

It was with great interest that I read Rob Weir’s coverage of the 2012 Gallup Poll on religiosity in the United States [“Faith in New England,” September 19, 2013]. While I appreciate Weir’s interpretation of the findings, I must take issue with his assertion that the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) espouses “evangelical politics.”

The Westboro Baptist Church espouses nothing but hate. It is a hate group, plain and simple, and nothing more. The message and mission of the WBC is so vile that even the Ku Klux Klan has denounced their practices. To call the WBC proponents of “evangelical politics” is incorrect as well as insulting to the thousands of Christians who consider themselves evangelical. To paint evangelicals with the same brush as the WBC does nothing to further the dialogue or heal the divide between those who practice a faith and those who consider themselves “unchurched” or even “de-churched”—the dialogue Mr. Weir terms “splendid.”

While I, both personally and professionally, have deep disagreements with what have come to be known as evangelical perspectives or politics in the U.S., I refuse to further the “us vs. them” mentality by associating my more conservative Christian siblings with the practices of the WBC.

Born Again in the Valley

Religiously entering a church building every Sunday morning doesn’t make someone a Christian any more than religiously entering a repair garage every Wednesday afternoon would make someone a mechanic. The feature story that asks, “Are we less religious than the rest of the nation?” doesn’t address the significance of being spiritual-minded. In the 1950s the vast majority of folks went to church “mechanically” out of tradition, mostly to seek chumminess and not necessarily to seek Jesus. In the 1950s, so many of the young churchgoers in the Pioneer Valley were “clean-cut,” with their crew cuts and white buck shoes, and were religious, but Christians in name only. In the past 15 or so years we have seen some not-so-clean-cut younger folks, maybe with purple hair or a ring on their nose, who exhibit more of a genuine love for Jesus and an eagerness to grow in the Spirit.

It seems that there is a lot less unthinking, mechanical churchgoing in the Pioneer Valley than there was six decades ago and more spiritual, born-again believers.

Spiritual Center Seeks Feedback

For 37 years, Genesis Spiritual Life Center in Westfield has offered spiritual accompaniment, programs and retreats to support people on their spiritual journeys. Founded by the Sisters of Providence, we are rooted in the legacy of hope and healing, and our doors are open to all regardless of religious affiliation or lifestyle. We read Rob Weir’s article on religion in the Valley with interest and acknowledge that culturally we are entering a new frontier of religious dialog and expression, a frontier with both challenges and opportunities. We would welcome hearing from readers of the Valley Advocate how Genesis could be more of service to people in our area.

Correction: In “The New Moneyvores: College ID-Debit Cards” (September 12, 2013), we quoted from a U.S. Public Interest Research Group study that reported, based on an SEC filing by Higher One, that 80 percent of the revenue from Higher One’s college card programs comes from fees. The implication that all those fees are user fees is challenged by Higher One’s PR firm, TVP Communications, whose spokesman, Kyle Gunnels, wrote the Advocate, “Primarily, ‘Account Revenue’ consists of interchange fees received from merchants, not of fees assessed to accounts. Less than 50 percent of Higher One’s total revenue is derived from fees assessed to accounts.”

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