Letters to the Editor

Letters: Readers discuss Bible classes in school, prison poetry and Pope Francis

Lessons to learn

In contrast to The Star’s editorial, “Bible classes don’t belong in Missouri’s public high schools,” (Feb. 22, 10A) I believe wholeheartedly that Missouri should allow a course in biblical studies in the state school system. It could be offered as an elective course that would not violate the constitutional protections of church and state separation.

Its significance, both as a historical record of the Judeo-Christian people and as a spiritual instrument, forms the basis of many aspects of our laws and legal procedures.

This is especially important in the current culture, with much of our younger generation enveloped in a society of moral relativism and secular humanism.

Matthew J. Palcher

Kansas City, Kan.

Kept from good

Volunteers who give their time and expertise, as Arlin Buyert is described by Melinda Henneberger in her Feb. 22 column “Overreaction ends lifeline poetry class for Lansing inmates,” (11A) have a passion for people and are working to effect change in a badly broken prison system.

The idea of this gentleman being barred from Lansing Correctional Facility with his poetry program because of an infraction of the rules is heartbreaking.

Agencies that rely on volunteers to fulfill their missions will tell you what gems these unpaid workers are. They share the passion of the agency, the love of mankind and their considerable time and talents to improve our world.

The action against Buyert hurts the system.

Our prisons need to become places where people are given tools to make the best attempts at new chances in life. Circumstances that lead some people to commit crimes are often lifelong. If we can help them use the time away while incarcerated to see new perspectives and help them develop useful skills, as well improve their self-esteem, why wouldn’t we?

We should not prevent passionate people from volunteering to help those in prison become more confident, contributing people.

Bring Arlin back.

Judy Joss

Kansas City

It’s our property

Our entire country needs to thank Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for authoring the Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion asserting that the Eighth Amendment’s limits on the un-American practice of civil forfeiture also apply to the states. (Feb. 21, 1A, “Court curbs states’ seizure power”)

When I learned about civil forfeiture, I was in disbelief.

How could a person’s property be taken before guilt was determined, before trial? Taken without regard to value of the property? Law enforcement agencies had implicit encouragement to do this, because they could keep the items or proceeds in their departments.

A police officer once spoke to our car club, warning us to be careful. He told us if we gave someone a ride and we were stopped and police found illegal drugs on our passenger, we could easily lose our classic car to forfeiture.

He said this could quickly happen even if we didn’t know about the drug, and we would have no recourse.

Elizabeth Cook

Shawnee

Wrong target

I just read the text of HB 500, which was introduced in the Missouri House by state Rep. Aaron Griesheimer. I am surprised that an elected official would want to ding people making conscious efforts to help the environment.

For those who don’t know, this bill would further tax people who drive vehicles with mileage ratings of more than 29 mpg by raising their registration fees.

He is missing the boat. Going after people who do not pay sales taxes, insurance, property taxes and registration fees on newly purchased vehicles is where the real money is.

I would like to encourage Rep. Griesheimer to focus on the non-compliant vehicles on the road. Non-compliant vehicles should be towed when discovered.

This is not too harsh. They do not belong on the road. When people purchase vehicles, they know they have to pay the taxes. And if they don’t pay their taxes, they often also do not have insurance.

Enforce the current laws. Don’t punish compliant, environmentally conscious vehicle owners. Don’t impose new taxes.

Allyson Nutt

Grain Valley

Plea for justice

The Associated Press reported this month that Pope Francis stated that the church’s critics are “linked to the devil.”

It appears the pope has failed to remember that the church’s critics are only following Jesus’ teachings found in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:6): “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

I suggest Pope Francis and all the church hierarchy spend time with the parable of the sheep and the goats and ask themselves: When I was confronted by the church’s institutional response to sexual abuse by priests, brothers and nuns, was my response that of a sheep or goat?

Their very souls depend upon it.

David Mertz

Lenexa

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