- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 1, 2004

Church ‘lite’?

Against the backdrop of the churches’ mushrooming sex, money and corruption scandals, Deb McCown’s “Worship ‘lite’ questioned” (Culture, Wednesday) is another stark reminder to face this question.

Predictably, the fad of “contemporary” or “seeker-sensitive” worship practices has not produced the defibrillating jolt church leaders sought. Miss McCown quotes Keith Gaddis, a “worship pastor” of a flat-lining Indiana contemporary church, as bemoaning his own church’s lack of “spiritual depth.” Little does he realize that the real problem is the church body is actually devoid of the spirit of God, which has been taken out.

But the traditionalist backlash Miss McCown documents will not resuscitate the cold, blue victim, either. Baptist pastor Rev. Steve McKinion admits his church’s more traditional worship is “determined by those that we have reached.” Did he sleep through Bible 101 class? The Bible teaches that God determines how to worship, not people.

So, are all churches dead? Despite a few gurgles and neural twitches, the nails are in the coffin, and the crematorium is ready.

RON TIEMENS

Bealeton, Va.

Airport screening quotas don’t exist

TheWashington Times is irresponsible in spreading inaccurate information about the Department of Transportation’s aviation security and civil rights policies (“Mineta’s p.c. folly,” Editorial, July 23).

This is a glaring example of poor journalism. That’s because the editorial is based on the incorrect supposition that a mythical quota limiting the screening of Middle Easterners was developed by the department. To make matters worse, the editorial writers didn’t even bother to call the department for a response.

The truth is quite clear: No such quota policy ever existed, or exists today, that would limit the screening of passengers. The notion of a screening quota is a myth that was debunked at a Senate hearing on June 24. The department’s general counsel, Jeff Rosen, and American Airlines’ vice president of security, Peggy Sterling, both went before Congress and testified that such a policy did not and does not exist. Said Mr. Rosen, “[The] department never had such a policy.” Said Ms. Sterling: “We have not heard anything of this nature from the DOT or any other government agency. Our policies and procedures are not based on the proposition that there are any ethnically driven limits on how many passengers from a particular flight can be subjected to heightened security screening.” Even the broadcaster who originally made this allegation, Michael Smerconish, admitted in his testimony that “I don’t know if there was ever a quota system for young Arab males.” That is because there wasn’t one.

The civil-rights actions filed by the department against four airlines were based on alleged discrimination against passengers who were deniedservice — not screening — based on their ethnicity. Among the people denied boarding in those cases were Hispanic Americans, an Italian American, one airline employee and a passenger with a national security clearance. But why bother including these facts? The truth would only get in the way of an unfounded false belief.

Finally, despite September 11 commission member John Lehman’s initially having questioned whether there might have been such a quota policy, when the full commission reached its conclusions no such policy was found to exist. Not a single word is dedicated to it in the much-heralded, 600-page commission report.

Protecting both our nation’s vital security needs and the freedoms we all enjoy is difficult but important work, made more challenging in these uncertain times. Americans looking for leadership, security and peace of mind ought not to be led astray by reckless falsehoods about the Department of Transportation.

ROBERT R. JOHNSON JR.

Assistant to the secretary and director of public affairs

Department of Transportation

Washington

Fast-food facts

Soso Whaley’s commentary about our sold-out “Super Size Me” reception on Capitol Hill recently (“Game of show and don’t tell,” Commentary, July 24) was filled with half-truths, outright mistruths and more than a few sour grapes.

Ms. Whaley is an adjunct fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a corporate front group funded by the tobacco, petroleum and other health-harming industries.

“Super Size Me,” the award-winning film about the man who ate nothing but McDonald’s meals for 30 days, has been credited with spurring the hamburger giant to eliminate its highly criticized super-sized portions.

It is also doing a bang-up job of educating young people about the health risks associated with a meat-heavy diet. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine sponsored a private showing of the film for members of Congress and their staff members last week. (Ms. Whaley is filming a counter-documentary to try to prove that McDonald’s food can be healthy.) Ms. Whaley, like other junk-food apologists, seems to think that attacking public-health advocates like PCRM will somehow protect consumer choice.

The truth, of course, is just the opposite. Consumers can only make informed choices if they get solid information about the health effects foods are likely to have, and manufacturers need to step up to the plate and provide it. Instead, the food industry fights viciously against any government or private programs that would level the playing field between nutritious foods on the one hand, and meat, dairy products, sugar-filled snacks and other unhealthy foods on the other.

Ms. Whaley falsely claims that few medical doctors belong to PCRM. In fact, more than 5,000 physician members work hand in hand with some 100,000 lay supporting members to promote healthy nutrition and more ethical research practices. Readers who would like to know more about our work and about the many health benefits of a low-fat, vegetarian diet, can visit http://www.pcrm.org.

SIMON CHAITOWITZ

Communications director

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Washingtonbite “John Kerry flip-flopped” on the $87 billion Iraq vote (“Masterful misrepresentations,”Editorial, Thursday).

They dare not mention the fact that Veterans for Common Sense, the National Council of Churches, Amnesty International and more than a dozen other nongovernment organizations urged Congress not to approve the supplemental as originally submitted for a vote, urging Congress to send a clear message to the administration to change its course in Iraq and do far more to obtain the resources and expertise needed in Iraq from a broader international community.

Had more members of Congress exerted more wisdom in their vote, it is possible that fewer troops would be dead now. A broader coalition instead of a smaller coalition would be securing the peace in Iraq now.

Our country needs the wisdom and courage of leaders who dare to ask questions, who dare to vote their conscience.

MAURA SATCHELL

Smyrna, Tenn.

I read with much interest Terence Jeffrey’s piece “The unhappy millionaire” (Commentary, Saturday). Sen. John Kerry’s proposed tax on those making more than $200,000 reminds me of Bill Clinton’s campaign promise to tax only those with income more than $1 million.

As we know, in the end, he taxed just about everyone with a decent job. To add insult to injury, Mr. Clinton made the tax retroactive to the previous year. With the cost of Mr. Kerry’s spending proposals pegged at $2 trillion over eight years, the $200,000 tax scheme will not even scratch the surface in covering costs. That is why all taxpayers will pay dearly if John Kerry is elected president.

GEORGE SCHONHOLTZ

Potomac

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