Sunday, October 19, 2008

Intolerance Begets Intolerance

This morning's Idaho State Journal offered a letter to the editor from Monty Ledford. The letter itself caught my eye as it has been awhile since I've read an LTE from Ledford. Ledford's letters are always among the most bizarre and once again he did not disappoint:
Coming Out Day

The National Coming Out Day claims to be recognizing freedom of choice. Is there any attempt to showcase practitioners of polygamy, incest, bisexuality or adultery? (If printed estimates are any indication, those who practice the latter three behaviors are far more numerous than the exclusively homosexual.)

If not, why is the "freedom of choice" label geared to one type of behavior -- homosexuality? I do not question the motives of those who sponsor this event, but the effect is to cultivate a public tolerance for behavior which does not serve the increase of the race, the welfare of society or the health of the personality; one man and one woman for life is the best relationship to nurture human life and build society.

Aberdeen, Idaho
Before I can continue, I must provide a shortened background of Monty Ledford. Not mentioned in today's editorial is Ledford's faith. Ledford is the pastor of the First Mennonite Church of Aberdeen. His letters usually warn of the damages of worldliness. However, he will write on whatever social ill appears prominent at that time. He ranges from railing against illegal immigration to any number of government accepted programs. As far as I can tell, Ledford does not believe sex education should be taught in schools, if he believes in public schooling at all. He is constantly harping on the notion that individuals are entirely responsible for their actions and beliefs--that their religion, faith, culture, etc. is not to blame. In fact, back in the 1970s, Ledford was a pastor at the Kempton Mennonite Fellowship in Kempton, Pennsylvania, and he said this back then:
It is intellectual chauvinism to invoke brainwashing as the only explanation of why others are persuaded of an outlook radically differing from one's own. It is intellectual cowardice to charge the Hare Krishna people with brainwashing instead of offering as an alternative a more persuasive world view and lifestyle. And it is an insult to the intelligence of the Hare Krishna converts to maintain that they were mentally coerced into assenting to these teachings instead of admitting that they, as responsible adults, were persuaded to accept them. God's truth should not be enforced or suppressed by Government statute.
Ledford doesn't appear to have much respect for religions other than his own, despite what he once contributed to an online posting regarding a book about the Mormon faith (the author of said book is of no relation to me):
I was fascinated and encouraged by the civil tone and respectful reasoning of all these comments. We cannot go wrong by treating one another as we want to be treated. My maternal ancestors came west to Salt Lake in 1847, but I was not raised LDS–yet my years here as a pastor in southern Idaho have made me appreciate more and more that we don’t have to be enemies or treat one another with contempt and insult–we may theologically have to give and take some hard knocks, but so long as we fight fair and can shake hands after the round we can be friends, and “faithful are the wounds of a friend”.
Maybe I'm missing something, but it appears Mr. Ledford speaks freely from both sides of his mouth. Where is the civility he speaks of? Seems to me he has demonstrated in his letter to the editor published today a great deal of contempt and insult for those he does not agree with. I'm guessing the Mennonite Church of Aberdeen isn't one of the progressive Mennonite branches like the Germantown Mennonite Church. He has stated previously that the illegal immigrants of Bingham County have no business being supported by the county or reaping the rewards of the quality of life there. However, he has also gone on record thanking immigrants for continuing to populate the world:
Thank God for the millions of immigrants in the USA and those couples who affirm the privilege of parenthood. Without them we risk sinking into the birth dearth and decline of Europe. Bringing children into the world is a vote for the future and a mark of hope in God's promises.
Maybe he should have pointed out that he was thanking the legal immigrant in the United States. And perhaps he should have mentioned then that he only supports parenthood for those who come by that gift naturally. Forget the many partners who wish to raise children together, many of whom believe in the same God as Mr. Ledford. Forget the millions of women in the United States who cannot have children of their own and wish to adopt. Is their action then a second-hand "vote for the future and a mark of hope in God's promises"?

The belief statement of the Mennonite church released in 1995 states:
"We believe that God exists and is pleased with all who draw near by faith." All? I'm going to bet that a large number of the illegal immigrants living Mr. Ledford has encountered in Aberdeen are good Catholics--having drawn near to God through faith much of their lives. I would also guess that the people he is railing against in the paper today have a relationship with God and have drawn near in faith.

Maybe Mr. Ledford needs a sign out in front of his church like the folks over at the Redemption Christian Center (in the old Alameda movie theater) have in front of their's that now says, "Vote the Bible. I am God and I approve this message." Except Mr. Ledford might need one that sounds a bit like that great duck-duck-goose game, "I approve of you, and you, and you, but not you."

And they wonder why I find perspectives like that of Mr. Ledford and a majority of religions utterly intolerable...

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