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Saturday, April 1, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

Spiritual retreat

Children at the center must be safe from adults on the fringe

Editor, The Times:

Regarding "Clergy abuse: more claims, costs rising" [Times, News, March 31] [and] trying to "... put in full safeguards," for children in the church: Churches and schools exist to nurture kids. If the best we can do is try to keep them safe, we are missing the whole point.

The continuing abuse of children and the covering up of crimes demonstrates that the smooth functioning of our institutions is more important to us than the children we've been called to serve.

The outlaw John Dillinger was asked why he robbed only banks. He replied, "That's where they keep the money." We should not think of child molesters as priests or teachers who have slipped up. Most of them are like Dillinger. They see churches and schools as the places "where they keep the children." We need a new paradigm. Simply trying to keep kids safe shows a poverty of moral imagination.

The real call is to demand that everyone, from the janitor to the bishop, from the bus driver to the principal, be there only to nurture children. The sacraments, programs and curricula must be seen as ways to impart grace and shalom.

— Stefan Ulstein, Bellevue

Purified intention

More than four years ago, Seattle Archbishop Alexander Brunett pledged to be more "open and transparent" regarding the sexual abuse by Catholic priests. He seems to have forgotten that promise.

Recently, Seattle Catholic officials admitted that one of their priests, Father Jeffery Sarkies, "violated professional ethics policy in the area of sexual misconduct and harassment" ["Church links priest's resignation to ethics," Local News, March 20].

According to The Times, this new admission "clarified slightly the mystery surrounding Sarkies' sudden resignation," which the archdiocese said attributed to "improper professional behavior."

This kind of vague, minimizing language is anything but "open and transparent." Catholics deserve real honesty, not euphemisms.

— David Clohessy, national director, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), St. Louis, Mo.

Church of the warfarer

Oh what monsters have been created by Christian missionaries. Evidence: the African church represented in the Reformed Christian Church of God in Nigeria ["Christianity's second wave?" News, March 26].

The wholesale destruction of cultures arising from the colonization of the "heathen savages" has produced not just a wave but a tsunami that already dwarfs historic denominations such as the Presbyterians (fewer than 4 million compared with the 5 million of the RCCG and its "Daddy G.O.") and "overshadows" the Catholics and Anglicans in Nigeria "by a ratio of nearly 2 to1."

Of course "many are desperately poor." How else are people controlled by powerful charismatic prophets of profit? Some accuse these new evangelicals of preaching a "Prosperity Gospel." Has history shown us another?

The church seems to be reaping what it has sown. It seems it is time for more of us to seek the higher ground of reason before the wave hits at full force.

— The Rev. Chris Highland, Clinton

A share in purgatory

Reader Glen Howard makes sweeping assertions about the Quran and concludes that Islam is a religion of violence ["Promoting peace: Harboring hostility," Northwest Voices, March 23].

There is no verse in the Quran prescribing death for apostates. One verse says, "Let there be no compulsion in religion." The gist of the remaining verses is summarized by the authoritative Encyclopedia of Islam: "In the Quran, the apostate is threatened with punishment in the next life."

Death for apostasy is derived from the opinion of ultra-conservative jurists. As a Muslim and a human being, I am deeply saddened by this arrogance and spiritual racism and unequivocally reject this opinion.

This brings me to a central question I need to ask my Christian brothers and sisters: When you insist that unless one believes in Jesus (peace be upon him), one is condemned to purgatory and, thus, to death in the afterlife, is this not arrogance and a form of spiritual racism? I ask this in all sincerity and humility.

Is it not time that we look into the shadow side of our own traditions which really is an extension of our untamed egos? Can we bring this in the open with compassion, courage and grace? Are we willing to do the inconvenient work? This is the larger question.

— Jamal Rahman, Muslim Sufi minister, Interfaith Community Church, Seattle

Real estate deals

All the amenities

Meg McCarthy ["The house on stilts," The Reader's View, March 25] shows wise concern for the need to create affordable housing while maintaining infrastructure and amenities. I agree that the gap between the "haves and have-nots" is growing in Seattle. Also, I think the city's downtown density strategy is not enough to create affordable housing for current residents.

However, Ms. McCarthy seems most concerned with the impacts of increased density in her neighborhood, not downtown. Accommodating development impacts is critical because increasing neighborhood density will in fact go a long way to providing quality, affordable living in Seattle.

Ms. McCarthy offers a false choice between more affordable housing and more amenities. The former without the latter is called a ghetto. Current residents should not have to subsidize in-growth, either financially or by dealing with over-capacity infrastructure.

The city needs to implement a comprehensive impact-fee program to ensure adequate revenue for expanding transit service, maintaining roads, building schools and adding more park space.

People pay to live in the city for the vibrant commons, not just their single residence.

— Scott Miles, Seattle

Rambler, needs work

I wish to thank reader Ryan Carson for his letter about moving "close in" to help solve the traffic/transportation issues in our region ["Stress on the arteries," Northwest Voices, March 24].

I just have one question: In the past 15 years, I've worked for companies in downtown Seattle (they moved their headquarters several times), Redmond and Issaquah. Exactly where do I move to be close in?

— Susan Cooke, Redmond

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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