Letters to the Editor

More than one religion

Mark Harris writes to The Hatchet (“Conditional religious freedom,” Sept. 19, p. 5) that a joint ad by Western Presbyterian Church and the GW Hillel condemning the proselytizing efforts of Jews for Jesus is “anti-Christian.” Since our congregation has been spreading the Gospel for 149 years, I find that charge almost humorous. But it isn’t humorous because nothing about the work of Jews for Jesus is funny.

There is nothing better than people of different religions sitting down and freely sharing their faith with one another. The result of such a conversation may be the conversion of someone. But more likely, each person will walk away from the conversation with 1) a deepened understanding of and appreciation for their own faith and 2) a deepened awareness and respect of the other person’s religion.

However, the purpose of the well-financed Jews for Jesus movement is not conversation with Jewish people, but rather confrontation and conversion. It is confrontational because it begins with the assumption that Christians are “saved” and the Jewish people are not. How can any Jewish person not feel confronted, even assaulted, by such an assumption? As a Christian, I also am offended by the assertion that we have a monopoly on God’s grace.

Mr. Harris indicates that our ad is an attack on the freedom of religion and speech of Christians on campus. I would never deny Jews for Jesus the right to speak just as I wouldn’t deny the right of a racist or sexist to speak. I will, however, denounce what they have to say. This is what the ad did. We denounced what Jews for Jesus are saying.

As for religious freedom, if groups like Jews for Jesus had their way, there would be only one religion – Christianity. Somehow, that doesn’t sound like religious freedom to me. It sounds like one religion. Gratefully, our nation’s founders created the First Amendment to protect religious diversity in these United States. In so doing, I believe they brought a smile to God’s face.

For thirty years of ministry, I have opposed the work of groups like Jews for Jesus. I will continue to speak out against them as long as I have a voice.

-John W. Wimberly, Jr. Pastor, Western Presbyterian Church

GW alumus

Conflicting claims

Danny Kampf’s piece encouraging liberals to vote for Ralph Nader (“Grab your pitchforks,” Sept. 23, p. 4) would be compelling if it were not based on misleading statements about Senator Kerry. Kampf asks what Kerry has accomplished. In short, the answer is that Kerry sponsored some 57 bills and resolutions that have been passed by the Senate. His environmental record is the best in the Senate, and he has a strong liberal record on a range of social issues from gun control to abortion to health care. Kampf’s statement that “Kerry has been in favor of the privileged” is completely unfounded; why would a candidate “in favor of the privileged” support rolling back tax cuts for the rich, raising the minimum wage, and cutting corporate tax loopholes? Kampf also states that Kerry is against gay marriage; in fact, Kerry supports giving basic legal protections to same-sex couples, he just wouldn’t call such unions “marriage.”

Republicans are attacking Kerry as one of the Senate’s most liberal members, yet progressive voters criticize him for being too conservative. These conflicting claims speak to the fact that Senator Kerry votes on principles, not partisanship. Voters cannot fully understand the candidates simply by listening to campaign rhetoric; they need to look deeper into the details. Kampf has some interesting thoughts about what a vote for Nader says, but in reality, a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.

-Cassandra Good, graduate student

A true asset

Under the guise of cost cutting and efficiency, the administration has dismantled one of the University’s oldest academic programs and committed a fateful blunder. The loss of the Earth and Environmental Sciences department creates an ominous outlook on the future of academics at GW. Now more than ever, society needs informed and capable scientists and leaders who can meet the increasingly complex demands of the earth and its environment. Today’s environmental challenges such as global warming, loss of biodiversity and depletion of resources are issues that affect everyone.

The Earth and Environmental Sciences department provided a unique opportunity for learning. Students routinely worked hands-on with faculty in cutting edge research projects that bested the research experiences found in top-tier research and Ivy League universities. The world-class faculty routinely brought real world problems beyond the laboratory and into the classroom, providing pertinent examples and solutions in science. The department was not large, but its intimate learning environment was one of its greatest attributes.

The closure of the department was not unavoidable. The environmental program, initiated only five years ago, quickly became a competitive and respected program. A continued commitment from the administration could have allowed the program to become one of the best in the nation, and certainly to the benefit of GW. It is a disservice to all professors, students and alumni when short-term pursuit of the bottom line, not education, rules at GW. Ultimately, while GW may save a few dollars, a true asset will have been lost.

-Ian McGlynn, B.S. Environmental Science, 2003

Good and Bad

As a freshman, I only saw J Street while following a STAR guide walking backward and deftly avoiding booths and people. Yet I remember looking around and thinking, “Yes, I could get a meal here.” I cannot agree more with the Hatchet editorial board’s opinions about the main floor. One of the biggest problems I have with the venues is the limited menu. There are no options or choices, just the illusion of choice. Many standard college dining halls offer more options when it comes to food than what we can get on the main floor.

However, I must disagree with The Hatchet when it comes to the District Market. I love that store. In fact, the only thing I don’t like about it – aside from the never-ending lines – is that it is such a long walk from my dorm. District Market has real food; stuff I can take home to make sandwiches that are more like ABP than Subway. I can get real cheddar cheese, not plastic covered American, but cheddar. I can get bread that isn’t mass produced and stuffed into double plastic sleeves so that un-sterile air can make it mold before its been purchased. It is distinctly Whole Foods-like – when I go there, I know I am paying a bit more, but I am getting quality food or rather, better quality food than what I can get if I go to the 7-Eleven.

-Jacqueline Chenault, freshman

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