Letters to the Editor Collection Page 2

Letters Page 1

Here is what one Kingsport resident has to say,

I was part of a cult like church for almost 15 years. The pastor used mind control and fear to make people conform to his standards. The longer I was involved, the more depressed I became. The church said that if I would read the Bible and pray more often, God would make me happy and save my marriage. During this period, I read the Bible through 35 times. As a result, I started to see the contradictions. The pastor also emphasized feelings. He said he wanted people to forget theology and focus on the spiritual side.

The whole church seemed to be concerned with social economic class. If one dressed well and worked at the Eastman, they were welcome. If they were poorly dressed and on Welfare, they were rejected after once they joined. The church wanted as many names on the church rolls as possible in order to look good in the eyes of the district. Those who left the church were lied on, stalked, and used as object lessons for sermons. My husband and I were referred to as "That couple".

The pastor tried to get my husband fired from his job. Other members were warned that they must not speak to us. They were told that God was going to judge us harshly and any one that spoke to us would reap the same judgment. Before the election of 1992, he indirectly told people how to vote. He said, "Election is coming up. I can't tell you who to vote for, but you all know what the Bible says about abortion, and you all know who the anti-abortion candidate is, so vote in a anti-abortion candidate."

Today, I realize that there is more to fear from those who try to force such views on others. Ever since Sept. 11, things have grown worse in Kingsport. The religious right is using the events of that day to promote fear. The mayor of the town declared it all right for the fire department to have a sign that reads, "Pray for America."

Students at a high school felt it was all right to pray publicly. The town of Kingsport is cheering them on. This is evident in the Letter to the Editors section of Times News. Those of us that are of other religions or none at all are viewed as crazy. It has gotten so bad that I plan on moving after I get a degree.

Lisa Gail S.

Printed: 4/1/01 in the Bristol Herald Courier

Printed: 4/4/01 in the Kingsport Times-News

Also see Mendota Trail Defeat in 2008?

Re: Mendota Trail Hearing

To the Editor:

The Mendota Trail hearing I attended on March 26 was a joke and revealed the level of dishonesty and conceit from the Washington County Planning Commission. They intended to vote in favor of Bristol, Virginia all along and the citizens adversely affected by this trail were totally ignored.

The Bristol Gang ran the show from the beginning (over half the supporters) along with business owners, move-in retirees, and assorted eco-wackos. They don't live on poverty-wage jobs that dominate this community more and more everyday.

Those opposed are 100% Washington County. As they spoke, members of the commission rolled their eyes and still refused to answer any questions snapping, "We don't answer questions!" These decent people never had a chance and the way they were treated makes me sick.

Bristol officials hold the same contemptuous attitude towards our residents as they did their own when they blocked a 300 unit trailer park that would have provided affordable housing: One can flip the famous "Bristol Burger" or clean the restrooms, but you can't live here.

That's why this area is great for retirement and almost dead last on earning a living. What this community needs is a mandatory living wage and affordable housing, not that worthless Bristol Trainstation and hiking trail.

It's about time those of us who actually live here start to take our community back from the corrupt politicians and eco-wackos. Those of us who can't afford the high priced subdivisions have already been written off and this hearing proved that.

Lewis Loflin
Bristol, Virginia

Pork Barrel Spending Doesn't Create Jobs

Bristol Herald Courier

Date 1/3/01

To the editor:

I'm writing this letter in regard to the editorial "Save bats and orchids...highway too," (Herald Courier 12/20/00). There is a lot more reasons to halt the Coalfields "pork-barrel" Expressway then just wildlife: There is no economic justification for spending $1.1 billion on that road anymore than the $100 million squandered to move the Grundy business community. Political popularity doesn't mean economically sound.

It's a proven fact that new highways do not bring jobs or prosperity to local people with Glade Spring and Russell County being the latest examples. Glade Spring wants to annex because I-81 and millions in park-barrel spending has done nothing to boost the local economy. Russell County already has two interstates yet is begging for more money for another empty industrial park. (Herald Courier 12/20/00) How many more failures will it take to stop the waste?

What's worse are kinds of jobs the experts say we should rely on. We've already lost hundreds of costly "phone jobs" in Wise and Dickenson Counties, yet they want to spend millions more on this even when the industry is in chaos on Wall Street? If the private sector won't invest in these schemes, why should taxpayers?

Stop wasting our tax dollars on development schemes that never work and benefit only a few wealthy people This money could be better used for secondary roads, pay off public debt, or lower taxes. This kind of waste with a recession looming and a billion-dollar short-fall in state revenues is just stupid and needs to end.

Lewis Loflin
Bristol, Virginia

Let's Work Together, But Be Realistic

Bristol Herald Courier Date 01/15/01

To the editor:

I wish to commend the Herald Courier for the article "Growing or dying: The choice is ours." (01/01/01) While bringing out valid points, we've heard this for years and nothing comes of it. We must look at what we can and can't do.

The economy is out of our hands. National trends have left this region with few options outside low wage retail/retirement/service industries. Keeping taxes and the cost of living down is vital in communities where many residents have low or fixed incomes. Regional cooperation needs to be real, not more talk.

It's time to get political garbage like multiculturalism with its emphasis on socialism, New Age religion, environmental myth, and victimization out of our schools. Studying Western Civilization (including the role of Christianity) would stress Enlightenment values of reason, objectivity, and individualism. This idea of two different diplomas is wrong: All students should take the same classes and be treated equally. Keep the SOL, no social promotions, and stop making dropping out of school so easy.

Crack down on truancy, limit after school employment, and look into curfews such as the one proposed in Big Stone Gap. Children that are supervised and busy with homework at home don't get into sex, drugs, and crime. Our churches could be very helpful by offering safe, supervised places to go after school.

We have to solve our own problems as a community and stop waiting for government to fix everything. Let's do it in 2001!

Lewis Loflin
Bristol, Virginia

Extremists won

Kingsport Times-News

Nov 19, 2000

In regard to Election 2000, the only winners were political extremists and special interests. No matter who gets elected, the ranks of the working poor will continue to swell because both parties support economic policies (monetary, Federal Reserve, trade) that drive down wages and ship whole industries to Mexico and China. Both parties waste billions of tax dollars differing only on whom and how it's spent. Extremists heavily influence both parties.

With Gore we have environmental wackos whose whole agenda is heavy on New Age religion and socialism yet short on scientific fact. They would further damage the coal industry, drive the cost up on everything, and violate personal property rights. This doesn't include unworkable gun control laws.

Bush favors expanding corporate welfare, union busting, and more voodoo economics. He also carries Pat Robertson and his fundamentalists. I refused to vote for either of these phonies but Bush does loom as the bigger menace unless more moderate Republicans (Daddy Bush, Powell) can counter the evangelical crazies. All we can do is hope.

Lewis Loflin

Bristol, VA.


Animal ordinance unfair to rural poor

To the editor:

I'm writing this letter in praise of the citizens of Washington County for opposing the animal ordinance and commend Mr. Barker for voting no to an ordinance that clearly targeted the rural poor in favor of the subdivision rich.

Dozens of hostile residents lined up in opposition and grilled county attorney Lucy Bright, while cheers and shouts of support greeted each opponent as they blasted county officials. Opponents outnumbered supporters five to one.

Nobody would even define "nuisance"; one supervisor simply claimed a "nuisance is a nuisance," and the county attorney finally admitted the ordinance covered everything from livestock to parakeets.

This ordinance was nothing but an open season on mostly poor, rural residents by wealthy subdivision owners/residents for endless lawsuits. Mrs. Bright finally admitted that three anonymous complaints would result in the animals being destroyed.

The ordinance also would limit the number of animals by lot size, seven animals to over one-half acre. It also set up fines so the money would go to the general fund, an encouragement to county officials to target pet owners. There was also another tax increase on kennel owners.

It is about time that rural residents of this county start standing up before the entire community ends up as one big subdivision where rural people and working poor have no place to live. We need good jobs and affordable housing, not more regulations/ taxes.

This is a good start, and I'm proud of my fellow residents.

Lewis Loflin
Bristol, VA.

Date: 4/18/00
To the editor:

I appreciate Mr. Barry's April 9 letter and will answer his question why many Bristol workers can't afford race tickets. First, we must look past phony government statistics that undercount poverty and unemployment in this area.

For example, the median family income in Washington County/Bristol VA is about $15,000, less than $7.50 an hour. This means half the population lives at or below the poverty level. While the government claims a family of four can live on that, I just don't see how.

The other reality is that minimum wage in 1977 ($3.15/ hour) adjusted for inflation is almost $9.00 today, far above the "competitive wages" being paid in Bristol. That is why the 25% official poverty rate for children in Bristol is an undercount.

The unemployment rate also doesn't take into account underemployment, a massive problem in this area. Part time and under paid is the rule here and business are fighting to keep it that way. Exit Seven is typical of this mentality. We also spend millions on industrial recruitment that attracts those looking for corporate welfare and cheap labor, just what we don't need. Washington County has population growth, but how many are retired?

This is why this community needs more than old train stations and religious plaques.

Lewis Loflin, Bristol, VA

Date: 4/9/00

To the editor:

I agree with Lewis Loflin's March 31 letter in regard to "ticket scalping" and high-paying jobs, affordable housing, etc. What I want to know is how a person who makes these low wages affords to purchase the tickets to begin with, in order to have them to "scalp."

Until being laid off at a federal prison job in Pennington Gap, I was paid $16.50 per hour, equaling $660 per week. I made more money than a lot of people in this area, but I still could not afford to plunk down what the racetrack owners wanted for a ticket.

I would like to see an editorial or an article on how many companies in our area are paying their employees livable, above-poverty-level wages.

I think Mr. Loflin also had a very good idea about paying our city and community leaders $6 per hour and seeing what they do. Of course, any letters dealing with low wages in our area always fall on deaf ears. The owners of these companies just care if they can keep padding their pockets using this "slave" labor. Where are all the high-paying jobs that are suppose to come here?

Lee, Bristol, TN.

Date: 4/9/00

To the editor:

What a relief to know that crime in Bristol has taken a holiday, if not a permanent vacation! No marches, rapes, robberies, domestic disturbances, drunken driving or even kitties stuck in trees.

What a relief to know that Bristol's health-care facilities and restaurants, as well as the derelict abandoned buildings that have decorated Bristol for years, are up to the health and safety codes.

Now, since the nude dancers have covered up, Bristol's crime fighters are free at last to battle the real desperadoes that threaten the public peace and order junk cars and ticket scalpers ("Nude dancing ruling all about fists, noses," Herald Courier editorial, April 2).

No doubt the reason real crime no longer exists in our fair community is because the agents of intolerance have managed to cover up the nude dancers and placed a Ten Commandments plaque in the Sullivan County Courthouse. Thanks, agents of intolerance, for making Bristol a good place to live!

Philip D, Bristol, TN.

Date: 3/28/00

To the editor:

I'm writing this letter to voice my opposition to Bristol's so-called "scalping law." This is just another way to keep all of the money in a few hands while generating only low-paying service jobs.

The safety issue is a total red herring. If it is "unsafe" to sell race tickets at race time, why is it safe for the United Way and others to panhandle in the middle of Volunteer Parkway? I know, if one is approved, they are perfectly safe.

As to scalping or gouging the public, being a member of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce is a license to rip-off the public. Motel rooms that went for $50 a week before go for over $200 race weekend while a 50 cent can soda goes for $3.00 from approved vendors at the race track. The speedway wants all ticket sales controlled through them, not someone trying to earn more than the minimum-wage jobs generated by BMS.

Finally, what of the $80 million this race generated? Did it create any decent, full-time jobs or affordable housing? Did it lift the 25% of our children in this community out of poverty? Did those businesses that ripped-off the public give their employees a pay raise? The answer is no and they could not care less. This community needs to get some real jobs and stop promoting the poverty-wage tourist and retirement industries. Let's pay our community leaders $6.00 an hour and see if they do something then!

Lewis Loflin, Bristol, VA

Date: 3/3/00

To the editor:

I'm writing this letter in praise of Senator McCain for exposing the massive influence of Evangelical Cults in the Republican Party. McCain's 9% loss in Virginia is outstanding in a state where Pat Robertson controls the GOP: it also shows the infighting within the Republican Party.

Christian Right support has handed the governor's seats of Florida and Texas to the Bush brothers while Gilmore got Virginia. Robertson, who gave $100,000 to the Gilmore campaign, even "claims some credit" for getting him elected! (WDBJ 7 News, 11/10/97)

Not only did Robertson and his son end up appointed to state positions, recent legislation on school prayer, vouchers, and abortion restrictions has "evangelical" written all over them. Ralph Reed is even working on the Bush for president campaign.

Evangelicals of course have every right to be part of the political process, but they have no right to hide their "intolerant" agenda behind the Bible, deny others equal treatment, or attack their civil rights as "sin."

Comparing the Christian Right to Farrakhan/Sharpton is right on target. Robertson calls non-Christians "termites" in need of "godly fumigation" (New York Magazine, 8/18/86), while fundamentalists on the Sullivan County Commission still refuse to give other religions the same treatment as the Baptists. Robertson attacks mainstream Christians (Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists) as the "spirit of the Antichrist" (700 Club 1/14/91) while the Baptists attack Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Catholics.

These people need a lot more Jesus and less politics.

Lewis Loflin, Bristol, VA

Date: 2/21/00

To the editor:

I am writing this letter to voice my support for hanging the Sermon in the Mount in the Sullivan County Courthouse. It reflects values that go beyond mere religion and represents the same basic ideas of other faiths and cultures. It reflects what is best in the Christian religion while sadly, few that claim to be Christians ever follow any of it.

Jesus often spoke of loving your brother but for too many, their "brother" only extends to their own church or social group. Jesus scorned turning one's faith into a spectacle while many parade it around at the courthouse and on television to point it becomes little than just an entertaining side-show that nobody will remember the next day. Jesus spoke against greed and indifference towards others, yet the 1990s saw a huge upswing in those proclaiming faith in Jesus Christ as savior while at the same time greed and indifference are at an all time high. Am I missing something here?

Mr. Phipps has every right to hang his plaque because the 1st and 14th amendments forbid local/state governments from tampering with free speech or the press. The Commission opened the courthouse walls for the public to express ideas, but they can not censor the content nor can they block the right of anybody to voice their opinions to the public.

It is not illegal to have a religious display on public property, but it is illegal for government to favor one religion over the other. The government would have to give access to all religions on an equal basis or be seen as favoring one over the other. This is corner that the Sullivan County Commission has painted themselves into. Let Mr. Phipps hang his plaque!

Lewis Loflin, Bristol, VA

 January 15, 2000

To the editor:

I'm writing this letter in response to the Virginia Mandatory Moment of Silence Bill. This bill would open up minority religion students, teachers, and school officials to endless abuse at the hands of evangelicals. This bill would also totally entangle local governments into religion, which is a violation of the 1st Amendment.

Students who don't go along with majority will end up pressured to convert or end up as outcast. This won't even begin to cover the issue of "student led prayer," most often instigated by parents/clergy outside the classroom. Teachers could be forced to participate even against their personal beliefs. What if a student complains about a teacher in this matter? What if going along with a certain religion becomes part of getting a teaching job? Or, a teacher uses their classroom to evangelize? The abuse is endless.

The main question becomes "Why should schools be involved in religion when 97% of the students in Virginia schools failed the SOL tests?" Georgia and other states already have this law and it hasn't prevented violence there any more than the Ten Commandments plaque at the Sullivan County courthouse has stopped local violence. What is worst of all is those who oppose this bill can't even get legal redress in a local court but would have to sue the state. The sole purpose of these evangelical cults and this bill is more religion, not safety or education. Let's hope Virginia's leaders have a little more common sense than this.

Lewis Loflin, Bristol VA

Your View, November 10, 1999 Times News

'Hitler county'

This letter is in regard to the Commandments going up in the Sullivan County Courthouse around Thanks giving. I have held back most of my actions in the past few months hoping this endless religious war will just go away; it just will not. Now, it isn't just myself who has questioned the actions of the Southern Baptist bigotry. Other Christians are finally speaking up.

An article in the Herald Courier on Oct. 30 called "Southern Baptist tactics targeted" proves what I have been claiming for over a year. The Southern Baptists, under the direct control of Falwell and his followers, have operated an abusive campaign targeting Jews, Mormons, Hindus, etc. for so-called "conversion" to their distorted version of the Bible. What they have done is put every body on notice that all non-fundamentalist Protestants are un-American, possessed by Satan, or just are immoral.

The Commandments being placed in local courthouses is part of this campaign to attack and target the religious beliefs of others. The Sullivan County Commission, by supporting Ann Bennett and the Falwell Baptists, are in fact promoting Jerry Falwell and his bigoted Baptist agenda. This isn't the only abuse of public office by the Commission in behalf of the Falwell Baptists.

The resolution stated that there would be no cost to the taxpayers. Who will pay for hanging the plaque, along with the legal expenses of protecting it? One would think that a county that just lost another thou sand jobs (Eastman) would worry about something else.

"It puts people on warning they can't say or do anything they please," proclaims Commissioner Mike Gonce. Anyone that asks for equal treatment in Sullivan County better be a Falwell Baptist or they end up threatened with legal action. The Kingsport Times describes this action as "frightening" and "represents an attack on religious liberty for all Americans." (June 27, 1999)

Not only have we got a case of crushing free speech, but also outright attempts to crush all civil rights in Sullivan County. This same idea was used to railroad the Show Palace and Bottoms Up and drive them out of business. No wonder one resident calls this "Hitler County." It is all fart of the Falwell fundamentalist agenda.

Like it or not, this is still America and not the Iranian Christian Republic. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and separation of church/state is the law. Sullivan County needs to come into the 21st century.

Lewis Loflin

Bristol, VA.

November 21, 1999 Times-News

Christians not alike

I share Lewis Loflin's views expressed in his letter printed in the Nov. 10 edition about the Ten Commandments going up in the Sullivan County Courthouse. I have been to the Greene County Courthouse and seen the Ten Commandments displayed there. My only thought when I saw them was that if I wasn't a Christian I would feel that my beliefs could never be respected by the local government. What sort of message does this send? What does that say about the Sullivan County Commission?

I think that it's time that Christians are finally speaking out and will no longer be told what to believe or how to vote. Not all Christians are conservative and vote Republican. Not all Christians try to convert people and belittle the beliefs of others. Not all Christians think of atheists and non-believers as devil-worshipers, and they don't all hate homosexuals. Not all of them follow or support people like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, or James Dobson.

If enough people spoke out, then local governments may be forced to rethink their decisions and start respecting all citizens and their varied beliefs.

Melvin Brooks

Ewing, VA.

My response to Mr. Brooks:

I certainly agree that many Christians are not racist and religious bigots (including many Southern Baptists like my mother) the way the Sullivan County Commission and other hate-filled bigots that hide behind the Bible are. As long as real Christians sit in silence and allow the Christian Right to act as their representatives, the Christian faith will continue to be wrongly seen as just another hate group. Jesus needs more Christians like Mr. Brooks.

Lewis Loflin

November 24, 1999 Times-News

Taking a stand

In response to "Hitler County," written by Mr. Loflin of Bristol. You need to verify your facts prior to spouting your rhetoric. Not everyone who supports the posting of the Ten Commandments is Southern Baptist. There are those of us who support this action who are simply Christians. Your letter reflects a need for counseling over a personal vendetta against Jerry Falwell and the Southern Baptists.

I am glad that one group of Christians was willing to stand up and be heard in this immoral world we live in. While those of us of other faiths murmur and complain, we have done very little to come against the will of atheists and other non-believers such as yourself. This religious war has been fought through the ages. It's good versus evil.

Are you aware that your currency states "In God We Trust?" This country was founded on religious freedom and people such as your self who are heady and high minded use that principle to spout non sense and pure unadulterated trash.

Our religious liberty allows us to sponsor prayer events around the flag poles in public places. It allows us to voice our displeasure at the teaching of immoral alternate lifestyles and promiscuity in our schools. As believers in an almighty God we refuse to be silenced and counted as ignorant in this society.

And finally your reference to the railroading of the Show Palace and Bottoms Up reveals your true morality. This age we live in has produced horrific crimes to women and children because of pornography and alcohol I applaud the Sullivan County Commission for listening to the majority of the constituents and enforcing the law they were elected to uphold. If you don't like this county or the way in which it is run, perhaps you should consider another home.

Robin L. Scott

Fall Branch, TN

My response to Robin Scott:

Thank you Robin for confirming everything I said.

I'm glad you admitted this was a "religious war" against all that don't see things as you do. This religious war that has led to the murder of millions of people and I'm sure you and your fellow fundamentalists wouldn't care to add millions more.

You bet I have problems with the Southern Baptist Convention and Jerry Falwell. I have a problem when Jerry Falwell walks into a new $5 million church in Kingsport and proclaims this mythical anti-Christ is a "male Jew" and stirs up more anti-Semitism in Sullivan County. Then the Southern Baptist Convention openly targets Jews and others for their religious beliefs, then hangs plaques in local courthouses to reinforce that attitude.

Who says all Baptists are bigots? Many Baptists are not fundamentalists while it is a fact all fundamentalists who drag their religion into politics are bigots.

The rest of her ravings deserve no comment.

Finally, I encourage you to speak out and write more letters to the editor like the one above.

Lewis Loflin