Letters to the Editor

Jeannette Batz's very well-written "Breaking Down the Wall" (RFT, Feb. 17) is an excellent analysis of the thorns and roses encountered in any public/private enterprise in this country -- especially when religion is a partner. It challenges conservatives and liberals to examine their positions on the delivery of human services in the wake of government "devolution."

We progressives need to start by accepting that there has never been a "wall" separating our states and churches, but a thin membrane that has been strong enough to prevent creation of an official church but permeable enough to allow churches to engage in quasi-public human-service programs. Ms. Batz poses the proper question of whether the move to faith-based organizations as primary providers in welfare-to-work programs will weaken the membrane. Welfare-to-work, although well-intended, is flawed enough in its secular form to not need the hint of religion clouding it further. In a few months, the first group of enrollees will meet the cold steel of very secular sanctions, from which the religious leaders interviewed wisely said they would steer clear. With that caution, the churches will need to diligently stay within objective program guidelines and also steer clear of what Ms. Oxford noted could be moralistic, shame-based standards.

As a clinical social worker who prefers a quieter form of religion than those described in the article, I base my work in my personal moral and spiritual convictions, as do the workers in the interview, and I believe they work best as a baseline rather than a front line. As long as FBOs see the social programs as extensions of their Christian (or Jewish, or Muslim, etc.) calling and not primarily as opportunities to proselytize, they could be efficient, effective additions to the resource net.

Michael A. Ruberton, ACSW, LCSW


To the Editor:
After reading Ray Hartmann's "Commentary" of Feb. 17 ("We Don't Get Fooled Again? Don't Be So Sure"), I think I experienced deja vu. Here we go again -- another megabuck urban-development project to help those who don't really need it. Unbelievable! Is this Bill Bidwill's revenge (who, by the way, still hasn't convinced anyone to build him a stadium)? Are we really this easy? Stadiums, bridges, shopping malls and who knows what else we will buy. I think I'm starting to get the picture, though. My home is older and in much worse shape than Busch Stadium is. Maybe I should start campaigning for public funds to replace it so that I can continue to live and work in St. Louis and contribute to the area's economy. That's reasonable justification, isn't it? We could all agree to that, couldn't we? "I need a new house, and you (taxpayers) pay for it. You'll be better off for the purchase."

John Beaury


To the Editor:
Regarding your story on the Hon. Robert Dierker Jr. ("Out of Order," RFT, Feb. 10):

Hey, get with it! We're tired of hearing about bimbos and trailer trash who have an affair with some poor sap and then fink on him when the affair goes sour. It's just about consensual sex. That was a big girl you wrote about, not some 19-year-old intern who's never been to the big city. What are you guys? Republican prudes?

R. Davidson


To the Editor:
Tell me, Ray, when was it declared open season on Christians in St. Louis ("Commentary," "A Frightening Talent for Politics," RFT, Feb. 10)? It wouldn't be possible to talk about any other group of people in our society with such disdain and get away with it. In fact, in your politically correct world, it would probably be considered a hate crime if you wrote such venom about a Muslim, a Hindu or anyone other than a Christian.

Such mean-spirited, hate-filled "journalism" -- you should be ashamed of yourself.

Dan Johanningmeier


To the Editor:
Perhaps Cliff Froehlich did not have the benefit of seeing Lynn Rosemann's film Tattoo ("Film Reviews," RFT, Feb. 17) in the presence of other live audience members. The screening of Tattoo at Webster University provided what most filmgoers expect: a cinematic experience of shared audience response to situations and personalities on the screen. The success of a film must be measured, at least in part, on the basis of that response. The lively and engaging discussion between filmmaker, tattoo artists and audience that followed the showing is further evidence that Tattoo was indeed warmly received. Lynn Rosemann is to be congratulated as another St. Louis filmmaker who has successfully screened a completed film before a paying and appreciative audience.

Dick Colloton


To the Editor:
As a male of 54 years who was born and raised in South St. Louis, I returned to my neighborhood of baptism to attend the Mardi Gras. I was very proud of this city, as I stood on Seventh Street with my family from St. Louis and Switzerland. No problems, and as far as I could see from Broadway to Arsenal, people having fun and enjoying the day. A proud day to say I came from South St. Louis. The parade was extravagant this year, lasting almost a full two hours. My family and I gradually began to lose interest in the parade and decided to take a stroll through the streets of Soulard. I felt proud to be there, showing everyone who I was and where I came from.

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