Fundamentalism losing ground

The June 30 News and Sentinel printed a letter to the editor I would describe as a perfect example of absolute intolerance. The letter, titled “Stand up against evil,” was a scatter-gun shot at the Supreme Court and homosexuals, abortionists, pornography, violence, the devil and an assortment of other sins, including an attack on some vague, unnamed organization he described only as the “26,000 different groups calling themselves the one church that has the only direct path to God.” I’m not sure who the writer was referring to in that last volley, but I’m certain it wasn’t the Druids.

And the letter included the usual conservative rhetoric telling us the country is going south in a hand-basket because the Boy Scouts sanctioned gay membership. Really?

Fortunately, our nation is not controlled by these hand-wringing fear-mongers and criers of doom who try to frighten people with their imaginary view of a failed nation that hasn’t yet failed and isn’t likely to fail so long as reasonable people prevail. They would love to grab control of our country just to fix all of those imaginary problems. But there are too many good people standing in their way. Good people who are mindful of our history and our hard-won freedoms and who are willing to stand against intolerance.

That letter railed against homosexuals. I have no opinion, one way or the other, about gays and lesbians. I couldn’t care less how people live their personal lives so long as it doesn’t hurt me or others. You could probably define that as some sort of tolerance. But I do have a good understanding of history and the human struggle for enlightenment and freedom.

The writer of that June 30 letter should research history to get his primary subject in perspective. Five hundred years ago they burned homosexuals at the stake. The dudes who ran the Inquisition were seriously intolerant. As late as a century ago, gays could still get a tough prison sentence for practicing their preference. At least they weren’t being burned at the stake in 1900. And then comes the 21st century and the Supreme Court OKs gay marriage. That must have shocked a few people. It certainly prompted one hysterical letter to the local editor.

History seems to indicate that fundamentalism has been losing ground for about 500 years and personal freedoms are on the rise. Let’s hope both trends continue.

Ralph Chambers