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Patently not Mennonite

The stereotyping of folks opposed to Bill 18 continues unabated. Last week it was Steinbach and now it is the Mennonites, according to John Stackhouse, an authority on religion in Canada, who are dyed-in-the-wool contrarians (Why would Mennonites oppose anti-bullying laws?, March 23).

Suggesting he knows Mennonites generally oppose Bill 18, and why, ignores several fundamental aspects to this story. Southland Church in Steinbach is patently not a Mennonite church; its pastors would not want it to be named Mennonite and its teachings do not embrace Anabaptist values of pacifism, congregational governance and strict separation of church and state.

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On the other hand, Mennonite Church Canada (the largest Mennonite denomination in Canada) has engaged in a dialogue with the Christian LGBT community for several decades, and several of its congregations are officially welcoming of gays and lesbians.

Stackhouse seems to have created a Mennonite straw man, behind which he fires his own opposition to Bill 18, based on his own logic. Whatever one thinks of Bill 18, it would be good to stop linking whole groups of people as for or against it.

ROYDEN LOEWEN

Chairman of Mennonite Studies University of Winnipeg

 

What an excellent and workmanlike job John Stackhouse does of dissecting Bill 18. What a good and satisfying thing it is to see a rational, fair and orderly mind take something apart and reveal what is at the heart of the matter. No extreme statements or positions, just competence and merciless logic.

He reveals the anti-religious bias in the legislation, and also the nasty undertone of authoritarianism out of which the bias springs. In the present societal zeal to make sure no person who thus offends, to the point of making the situation worse. The NDP has taken an ugly position with this bill. They should certainly give it another look.

JOHN BECKHAM

Winnipeg

 

I disagree with John Stackhouse on Bill 18 but respect his right to express fears about the details. I object, however, to his making himself a spokesman of sorts for Mennonites, and using them and their history for his rhetorical purposes.

The label is inaccurate here (the large church resisting in Steinbach does not identify as Mennonite, for example). And playing Mennonite history as a persecution card in this situation is not fair use of the past or the present.

It’s not the reputation of "Mennonite" that’s important to me — that’s a rather mixed bag anyway. But this twisting together of association and argument is really frustrating and falsely inflames the situation. Stackhouse should speak for himself.

There are people with a great variety of last names and of various affiliations and nonaffiliations, myself included, who support Bill 18’s intention to make our schools safer for all students, including LGBT students (whether out or still closeted).

DORA DUECK

Winnipeg

 

Seniors need to eat, too

I understand Mayor Sam Katz is against giving incentives to anyone who wishes to put a grocery store downtown. But I can remember the incentives the city gave to the MTS Centre, the Blue Bombers and many others organizations.

He does not want to support the seniors or other low-income people who live downtown. We all need access to proper food at a reasonable price. So many of us seniors (myself and husband) use walkers to get around and need a place to shop without going outside.

I hope the city will look at doing something for the people who live downtown, as we are a part of this great city.

DOROTHY CLARK

Winnipeg

 

Of bigots, bankers and bakers

Robert Alison’s March 25 article, Human beings are born bigots, leaves me with two concerns. First, he speaks of potential bigots and not active bigots, and, second, he doesn’t make it clear all humans have such negative tendencies as bigotry.

We often hear three per cent of welfare recipients are cheats. We rarely hear three per cent of bankers are also cheats; in fact three per cent of all people may have a tendency to cheat. Perhaps if we keep cheating, bigotry and other negative behaviour down to three per cent or less, then humanity is on a good path.

By omitting the fact that humanity as a whole may have some built-in negative tendencies such as the headline suggests may contribute to the myth that people cannot learn to be just. It appears that by learning about the bad aspects of slavery or the good aspects of human rights we may be able to alter the brain wiring in positive ways.

BARRY HAMMOND

Winnipeg

 

Uncomical indoctrination

For years on the comics page, we have been subjected to the political and economic biases of Doonesbury and Non Sequitur. Now Monty is getting in on the act.

Remember when the "funny pages" were for amusing children? Or is the point indoctrination of the reader at a young age?

That could explain why there don’t seem to be any comic strips that mock left-leaning figures or their positions.

JIM ABBOTT

Neepawa

 

The Free Press welcomes letters from readers. Include the author’s name, address and telephone number. Letters may be edited. Letters to the Editor, 1355 Mountain Avenue, Winnipeg, R2X 3B6. Fax 697-7412. E-mail letters@freepress.mb.ca Letters represent the opinions of their writers and do not reflect the opinions of the Winnipeg Free Press or its staff.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2013 A8

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