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Letters for April 14, 2023

Generalizations hamper article on churches

I was disappointed with your front page on Sunday about the decline of mainline churches (“The pronounced shift away from mainline churches in Spokane continues,” April 2). I am a pastor in the United Church of Christ and lumping us together with our far more conservative siblings in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod without explaining how broad that category is, really hampered the article. We at least deserve a definition.

My main issue is that the piece makes no attempt to balance the self-description of nondenominational churches and even makes some questionable claims about these churches. Calling these nondenominational churches “less hierarchical” is wrong, considering that the churches profiled in this piece do not recognize the ordination of women. The piece quotes a pastor who claims to “remove whatever barriers people have to explore faith,” while leading a church that affirms the 1689 Baptist Confession (yes, you read the date correctly) which defines marriage as exclusively heterosexual, a barrier for many queer Christians.

As a pastor who serves a progressive mainline church, I talk with lots of people who have been badly hurt in these churches that your piece uncritically promotes. Many are LGBTQIA+ folks who learn that “come as you are” doesn’t apply to them in these churches. Further, many of these churches receive significant outside funding, loosely tied to conservative church-planting networks, with shadowy structures that provide little to no accountability as evidenced by multiple abuse scandals, which the mainline is certainly not immune to.

There is perhaps a fine line between neutrality and inaccuracy.

The Rev. Bob Feeny


Celebrating capital gains tax ruling

I was ecstatic and relieved to see that the state Supreme Court upheld the capital gains excise tax, which will bring in $500 million per year to increase access to quality early learning in our state. Ecstatic because the wealthiest in Washington will finally start sharing more equitably in our collective responsibility to fund public services. And relieved because as a parent of two kids in public school in Spokane Valley, I want teachers and students to be supported.

In a state with as much wealth as ours – we are home to at least a dozen billionaires and some of the richest people on the entire planet – I was disheartened to receive notice from my kids’ school district that resources in our schools are on the budget chopping block. After such a difficult time navigating a pandemic, we should be increasing resources for children and families, not taking them away.

This tax on only the very richest few in our state will mean more help for parents to afford child care and return to work, new child care centers and schools under construction and the creation of countless jobs in the process. Federal funding may be ending, but our kids still need counselors, nurses, art and music teachers, and more. Our kids are our future. Investing in them now will lead to a brighter future for all Washingtonians.

April Dickinson

Spokane Valley

Tips on feeding hummingbirds

As an avid birder, I eagerly await the arrival of migrating birds every spring. Of particular fascination are the tiny hummingbirds who fly, often nonstop, from Central America or Mexico to breed in Eastern Washington.

The Spokesman-Review article published on March 23 (“As hummingbirds return to state with spring, here’s how to safely feed world’s smallest bird”) contains good information but leaves out some important information on safely feeding hummingbirds.

First, it is crucial to only use refined white sugar when making a sugar solution for feeders. The iron contained in raw, brown or organic sugars is too much for their bodies to process and will ultimately kill the bird. Honey and molasses can ferment and grow harmful molds.

Second, as noted in the article, hummingbirds eat insects and the babies depend on the protein from insects. Therefore it is important to preserve beneficial insects by avoiding pesticides.

Finally, a garden containing nectar-rich native plants will provide a natural source of food for hummingbirds and attract these flying jewels to your yard.

Alan McCoy


Bill attempts to disarm people

H.B. 1240 contravenes article one of the state Constitution, which states: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired.” The U.S. Second Amendment also protects the right to bear arms.

The firearms our masters are attempting to ban are militia firearms specifically protected by the Washington state and federal constitutions.

Paul Claussen


Fund peace building

April is Genocide Prevention and Awareness Month. It is also marks the anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, Cambodian Genocide and siege of Sarajevo. Preventing further tragedies is possible, even if it seems daunting.

As citizens, we can begin by asking our senators to invest in programs to identify smoldering conflicts and prevent atrocities from breaking out before they occur. For example, our Washington State Advocacy Team for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, met with a staff member in Sen. Cantwell’s office on April 5 to ask the senator to fund three critical peace building programs: the Complex Crises Fund (USAID) and the Atrocities Prevention and the Reconciliation Programs of the State Department. FCNL members want to add to a few million dollars to these budgets with the potential to save billions of dollars in future war expenditures.

Whether you believe in peace building because you feel there is a moral obligation to do so or because you have an active duty family member whom you would rather have at home instead of going to fight a war, please reach out to your legislators today. Ask your senators to fund these peace building campaigns as part of the 2024 appropriations request, which is being finalized this month in Congress.

Kristine Bentz

Deer Park

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