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Taliban- evangelical comparison not meant to be offensive: Letter to the Editor

Posted 12/12/18

I wrote the column published in the Press & Journal published Nov. 7 (“Are evangelicals the American Taliban?”) to which Jerry T. Cowan of Middletown replied in the Nov. 21 edition …

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Taliban- evangelical comparison not meant to be offensive: Letter to the Editor

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I wrote the column published in the Press & Journal published Nov. 7 (“Are evangelicals the American Taliban?”) to which Jerry T. Cowan of Middletown replied in the Nov. 21 edition (“Evangelicals are far from being American Taliban; they are respectful of life”).

I want to confirm to Mr. Cowan that I don’t like abortion. But it is not up to me to decide whether or not a woman bears a child. For all the reasons I stated, that decision belongs to women alone. And it troubles me that there is so much concern for the unborn and so little for the millions of children born into poverty and starvation every year.

With regard to theocracy, I agree that no one is campaigning outright to change our system of government. But theocracy is a form of government that derives its authority from religion. So when Jeff Sessions uses the Bible to justify a government action and Roy Moore and Mike Pence say our laws should be based on the Bible, they are undeniably promoting a Christian theocracy.

For sure Kepler, Copernicus and Galileo were Christian as Mr. Cowan points out. But what makes them important to this dialog is that they had the courage to challenge the Christian world view, which then held that man and the Earth were at the center of the universe. Of course they are not. And the discovery of the heliocentric solar system was anything but welcomed by the Christian community. Poor Galileo, at age 68, was convicted of heresy, and forced to live under house arrest for the remainder of his life. It took another 359 years before the Catholic Church would, in 1991, admit the injustice. Thankfully he wasn’t burned at the stake.

And it is interesting that Darwin, another good Christian man of science, is not on Cowan’s list. It troubled Darwin that his theory of evolution was at odds with church teaching, but like Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus, he had accumulated overwhelming evidence, which compelled him to challenge another Christian world view.

Yet even now, 159 years after publishing his “Origin of the Species,” Darwin is not on the evangelical list of honored scientists.

Many still choose to believe a mythical story of creation and insist that “creationism” be taught in our schools as science even though there is not a modicum of science based evidence.

I regret that Mr. Cowen takes offense to my evangelical-Taliban analogy. My goal was to increase awareness of the dangers posed by fundamentalism, and a provocative title was appropriate.

Moreover, I believe the analogy is valid. I intended to shock, but never to insult. Everyone deserves respect.

I believe evangelicals have a right to their beliefs. So do other religious groups. And I also believe gays, lesbians and transgenders have a right to their beliefs. What I object to are closed minds that condemn others who see things differently.

Spinoza had it right. The important message of the Bible is “love thy neighbor.” Live and let live.

Bob Topper

Walpole, Maine