Wishing Them Well
East Hampton Village
April 24, 2023
I am an East Hampton local, and I recently found out that Red Horse Market co-owner and main leader, Jeff Lange, will retire in May of this year after an 11-year journey of success and hard work to build this market. I would like to use this space to highlight Jeff Lange and his wife, Monica, for making shopping at this store such a wonderful experience.
When you walk into this beloved market on the corner of 74 Montauk Highway in East Hampton, you see bags of chips and cookies, a buzzing deli and an early morning busy bakery, gallons of milk and sodas behind tall coolers, an upstairs kitchen that starts operation before 5 a.m. to meet the high demand, and behind the register most days of the week you’ll find Jeff and Monica welcoming you with a smile while the sound of great music plays in the background (Jeff’s playlist would be tremendously missed).
Red Horse Market is the kind of place you come to for a sandwich, a prime steak cut, toilet paper, a newspaper, or a fresh-out-of-the-oven baguette. But you get a lot more than that. It’s the kind of place where you are known, where your family is asked after, where there’s someone behind the counter who wants to know the true answer when they ask, “How are you today?” The love and commitment to great quality service this couple put into this store has made the flagship of what customer service should look like in the area. Their hard work to deliver the best produce and keep their store full of convenient products in the most challenging of circumstances — even as their strength was tested — was truly remarkable and it’s going to be well missed.
Although no public announcement was officially made through social media, Jeff and Monica had made sure to let their beloved customers about their retirement plans. I am sure that many of us who have enjoyed the experience and could never forget the tireless job that this couple made to keep the market open even throughout the pandemic wish to express gratitude for Jeff and Monica’s years spent growing this one-stop market for the community and wishing them well in their retirement and plans. In the meantime, as costumers, we would need to adapt to the new management while they work through the transition period as the summer season approaches.
Trash Bags Full
April 22, 2023
To the Editor:
What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning — a great program organized by the East Hampton Litter Action Committee for Earth Day, picking up trash on the side of Springs-Fireplace Road with a newly met neighbor. I won’t bore you with a litany of the trash that we removed (well maybe a bit) beer cans, soda cans, beer bottles, dental-floss picks (dental floss picks?), plastic bags — maybe I’ll stop there before I get to the really juicy bits. But in two hours, we had two huge trash bags full and a new friendship.
Why people would throw garbage on the road beats me, but so happy to have spent the time preventing the plastic from entering our waterways. Hope this becomes a monthly event.
Just Getting Started
April 24, 2023
Earth Day 2023 was a great day for anti-litter action here in East Hampton. The East Hampton Litter Action Committee launched the first of its No-Fling Spring initiatives with a pickup in Springs. We were thrilled to be supported by 20 volunteers of all ages plus the folks from the Springs citizens advisory committee and very grateful that Mickey’s Carting and Bistrian Materials showed up as well with their trucks to join our efforts. As we picked up along Springs-Fireplace Road, cars honked and waved in solidarity. It felt good.
We are reaching more and more people who are touched (and not in a good way) by litter and they are joining us in our efforts to reduce the heartbreaking amounts of it that are so visible everywhere in our town.
Many thanks to all who volunteered. We filled 20 large garbage bags with trash in a little over an hour. The next pickup will be in Wainscott in Del Maestro Park on Saturday at 10 a.m. More events are planned; come join us. We’re just getting started. You can find the schedule of events on the town website, Instagram @dont.trash.east.hampton, or email us at [email protected].
East Hampton Town Litter Action Committee
Came Out to Help
April 23, 2023
To the Editor:
There were 20 bags: 20 orange garbage bags filled with bottles, cans, Styrofoam, glass and plastic from fender benders, cigarette butts, and a beach parking sticker (good to 2025) among other things. The East Hampton Litter Task Force proclaimed the Springs-Fireplace Road cleanup event, held on Earth Day, a success — and it was.
The community enthusiastically came out to help. Both the East Hampton-Sag Harbor and Springs citizens advisory committees were there in force. Residents of both communities armed with pinchers and picks and wearing bright yellow vests donated to the Springs C.A.C. by Mickey’s Carting, distributed ourselves along Springs-Fireplace and went at it. Both Mickey’s Carting and Bistrian Materials, along with Corridor Watch and the East Hampton-Sag Harbor committee, have adopted portions of the road and they were there Saturday to lend many hands. In addition, Mickey’s guys drove up and down the road picking up bags and carting them away.
This was the first event organized by the task force to bring awareness to the unfortunate problem of litter in our community. The next Springs event will be the No-Fling Spring Dance Party to be held at the Springs Presbyterian Church on May 13th from 6 to 9 p.m. This will be a fund-raiser for the church to defray costs needed to restore this historic building, which is home to the Springs Food Pantry. Music, dancing, food trucks, and restaurant raffles will contribute to making this an event you won’t want to miss.
A big thank-you to everyone who participated in this well-attended public service event. I look forward to the day when a successful litter cleanup will be measured in the number of bags that don’t get filled!
Coverage May Vary
April 24, 2023
To the Editor,
Thank you to Christopher Gangemi for reporting on the public planning board hearing concerning the proposed 70-foot-tall monopole on the St. Peter’s Chapel property.
In reading the article, I am again struck by the absurdity of this scenario. AT&T, a multibillion dollar corporation, creates a map on their site that indicates no gap in 4G service at the area of and around the chapel. They do this to position themselves as the choice cellular provider of service so that people will sign up for AT&T service. I attended and spoke at the hearing. We presented the AT&T map at the public hearing to demonstrate that there is no need for this tower, based on AT&T’s own representation of coverage. The AT&T lawyer then spoke and said that we cannot use that map as an indication of anything due to a disclaimer on the site that actual coverage may vary.
This is clearly a case of a predatory corporation searching out and finding a willing participant (St. Luke’s Church, the parent church of St. Peter’s Chapel) to receive $3,000 each month in exchange for AT&T’s plan to remove 80-foot-tall trees to make room for the 70-foot tower and equipment on the St. Peter’s Chapel property. In the plan AT&T will revegetate with rows of 6-foot-tall evergreens.
I mention this with the knowledge that there is currently an Article 78 that has been filed with the New York State courts challenging the legality of the town’s agreement with AT&T granting it permission to construct this pole. There was no public hearing, as required by town code, making this decision illegal.
I urge the planning board to stand up for the town and its residents by not approving this plan to desecrate our bucolic neighborhood for an extremely questionable benefit. Once those trees are removed, it will take hundreds of years to grow back anything comparable. Not to mention that a 70-foot eyesore will soar above all the modest homes in the Springs neighborhood.
Ask the Purpose?
April 22, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I have intended to write to you for quite some time, to ask isn’t the purpose of a letters to the editor section of a publication to respond to an article printed in the publication, rather than provide an audience for political speechifying?
However, since I have just read and agree with everything Mr. B. Pope has written, I realize that would be somewhat hypocritical.
Instead, I suggest it may be time to revisit your policy of printing every letter The Star receives.
Improper for the Mayor
East Hampton Village
April 23, 2023
I was disturbed to see a four-page advertisement in The Star that defended Mayor Larsen’s controversial moves relating to the Village Ambulance Association. The ad was paid for by the Village of East Hampton, and I believe it is wrong for village residents to be paying for such a communication.
To me, the advertisement seemed politically motivated, simply designed to convince voters that the mayor has made the right moves. As The Star had done a good job of reporting both sides of this complex issue, the public already had access to the most-important information relative to this controversy. Again, I think it is improper for the mayor to spend taxpayers’ dollars to simply support his views. And the fact that the ad stretched for four pages truly put the whole process over the top.
I think that village taxes should be used only to benefit village residents and not to advance the political interests of elected officials.
East Hampton Village
April 22, 2023
Ever since first seeing East Hampton in the mid-1960s, the four-story hotel-boarding house on Apaquogue had held a particular magic for me and very much represented the best of “what was left” of old East Hampton. I did not know the two gentlemen who resided there and felt that forcing myself on them would certainly be an imposition, so I had never seen the interior. It’s so sad and almost inexplicable that it has no official historic designation.
When it went on the market I jumped at the opportunity to at least see photos of the interior in the real estate listing. It had clearly already gotten the full “super-white” treatment, which seems to now rule not only the real estate listings but our construction industry, as well.
The story was told by the photo in the listing of a charmingly quirky brick fireplace which had already had the super-white treatment.
This paint is clearly very high in polymers, which gives it, frankly, the look of white plastic. The fireplace, at least to my eyes, had been ruined, and I lost all of my interest in seeing the interior, so never made any kind of inquiry with the brokers.
One also has to realize that many of the magnificent interiors of the largest homes in the estate sections of the town have had almost acres of gorgeous original wooden paneling, much of it with carved details, similarly slathered with super white. Well, it has been the fashion now for quite a while and I’m sure will rule our town for perhaps the rest of its history. It is a severe compromise to so much of our historical preservation, but it certainly is our fashion.
April 23 2023
Thank you for The Star’s “Town Should Have a Toe in Montauk Pool” editorial in last week’s edition.
Kudos to the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation’s for making their dream of opening a pool a reality. They worked hard and deserve our gratitude — great job. I trust they will exercise a wise, skillful hand in managing the facility. I hope they will closely monitor their outside management team and keep them on a short leash: one-year contracts only, with the right to terminate at any time.
But I do not think that the town board can be trusted with anything when it comes to swimming pools. Their track record stinks as bad as the men’s locker room at the Y.M.C.A.-RECenter. They are indifferent and unresponsive to the serious health issues at the Y.M.C.A.
The key beneficiaries of our pools are our children. Responsible adults must faithfully exercise our duty to them.
Incidentally, the pool air and water temperature have improved at the Y.M.C.A. But the chlorine levels were so high on Saturday morning that several of us were sickened. The lifeguards wanted to close the pool, but I was informed that management told them to keep it open.
SPENCER L. SCHNEIDER
Benefit of Whom?
April 24, 2023
We here in Wainscott are about to suffer 44 percent increased school taxes. This because of a proposal to build 47 units of so-called affordable housing off Route 114 on the border of Sag Harbor.
In fact, it is really subsidized housing. How does the sale of tax credits to investors benefit the taxpayer? Are school taxes paid, and do properties pay applicable taxes like everyone else? The I.R.S. rules clearly explain benefits to investors with nothing to taxpayers that will ease the burden.
Work-force housing paid for by taxpayers to the benefit of whom? The number of school-age children is an estimate surely understated, as normal family growth is not considered? At approximately $25,000 per student?
We can now rename the town Lefrak City East if the governor has her way. Four-story apartment houses will replace single-family residences. Local zoning boards will have no say and can be overruled. Now what do we do as our lifestyle is pushed aside? Zero concern about seniors on fixed incomes, as daily living costs rise every single day. What about small families when next winter arrives?
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
Just Say No
April 24, 2023
The Springs School Board has adopted a proposed 2023-24 budget that calls for a spending increase of $2.5 million (7.65 percent) and a tax-levy increase of $1.5 million (5.15 percent). Because the proposed tax levy increase exceeds the state tax “cap” of 2.14 percent, it must be approved by 60 percent of the voters on May 16.
After watching the school budget workshop process carefully, I have regrettably concluded that this time the voters should just say no. I regret having come to this conclusion because I am a trained educator with a master’s in science education from Columbia Teachers College and my parents, who were both Holocaust survivors, ingrained in me the value of obtaining the highest quality education possible, as “the one thing that no one can take away from you.” However, there simply is no correlation between the cost of education and the quality of the educational outcomes achieved.
When the tax cap law was adopted in 2011, it was a monumental effort to try to slow down the upward spiral of property taxes caused primarily by the ever-increasing cost of school budgets. It has been moderately successful, as few districts dare to take on the daunting prospect of having to obtain 60 percent voter approval to pass a budget that pierces the tax cap.
In 2016-17 when our K-8 student population hit its peak at 727, the Springs School tax rate was $987.60 per $1,000 of assessed value. For 2023-24, the administration has projected a K-8 student population of only 632. Next year’s budget would raise our tax rate to an estimated $1,217.57 per $1,000 of assessed value. That would be more than a 23 percent cumulative increase over that time interval. The district estimates that a residence with an “average” assessed value will incur a one-year school tax increase of $320. Of course, each year’s school tax increase will also have to be paid every year thereafter. If you think tax rates will ever decline, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell to you.
The continuing, unexpected growth in the high school student population and the need to equip, maintain, and provide additional staffing for the recently expanded school building are the primary reasons for the proposed budget increase. But, there are available measures that have not been implemented in the budgeting process this year that could have brought the proposed budget under the tax cap limit.
The cost of the recent school expansion was made more palatable by using most of the large, accumulated capital reserve, reducing the amount of funds needed to be raised by bonding. Since that time the district has generally overbudgeted annually and used the unspent monies to build up its various restricted reserve accounts (capital, repair, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, employee benefits, retirement contribution, etc.). At year’s end there will be a total of nearly $4 million in those restricted reserve accounts. The 2022-24 “Property Tax Report Card” lists the schedule of reserve funds and asks the question, “How much of the reserve will be used in the 2023-2024 School Year?” As to each existing restricted reserve fund the answer is the same — “none.”
To the extent the district would decide to take the required legal steps to permit use of some of those restricted reserve monies for their intended purposes during the 2023-24 school year, there would be a corresponding decrease in the sum required to be raised by property taxes.
Another measure the district could take to avoid exceeding the tax cap would be to eliminate from the budget some of the built-in “cushions” for possible contingencies. I understand that the final budget contains funds to hire one extra teacher and to pay the tuition for a number of high school students beyond the reasonably anticipated and expected numbers. What this school board has done has decided to tax the district property owners in advance for contingencies that may never eventuate. Don’t worry, those contingencies are already covered by the separate unrestricted fund balance (rainy day fund), which the district will have available in the amount of $1.3 million. It is precisely that source of funds that should be used if and when unexpected and unplanned contingencies eventuate, such as the need to hire another teacher or to pay tuition for more high school “drop-ins.”
I urge you to challenge the school board to sharpen their pencils and to get the 2023-24 budget under the state tax cap.
Very truly yours,
Not Speaking Up
April 24, 2023
It has come to my attention that the advertisement “In Memoriam” in last Thursday’s East Hampton Star incorrectly stated that none of the people from the Concerned Citizens of Montauk attended the Suffolk Parks Trustees meeting in February in West Sayville. Apparently one C.C.O.M. employee attended, though did not identify herself or say anything. The ad should have said that.
At the end of the day, when the most-important voice in the room on the Montauk environment doesn’t speak up for Hither Woods or Montauk’s drinking water supply, what’s the difference between not speaking up or showing up?
For the Friends of Carol, I apologize for the error.
Case for Change
April 24, 2023
I want to thank Christopher Walsh for his March 30 article “A Champion of ‘Rational Restraint.’ ” I appreciate very much that he wrote not only about my efforts over the last few years to raise awareness, build engagement, and inspire action about the pace and scale of development that is overwhelming our streets, our neighborhoods, and our entire town, but that he also highlighted the longer-term context that has motivated me to work for change.
I think it is fair to say that my heart is broken and my hair is on fire about what I see going on around me and what overdevelopment is doing to the people, sense of place, and natural resources of the town I love and respect. I launched Build.In.Kind/East Hampton early last year to harness and channel those intense emotions by working productively and rationally toward restoring restraint and balance to land use in East Hampton.
As the article referenced, on March 31, I was part of a “Community Voices” event hosted by Jolie Parcher, founder of Mandala Yoga in Amagansett, and moderated by Biddle Duke. I am grateful to both of them for their ongoing encouragement, engagement, insights, support, and spirit. At the event we had over 80 participants who were interested not only in what I was doing and why, but also were asking what they could do, too, to help fix this problem.
For many months, I’d been thinking about doing a petition to gauge and highlight community support. The audience at the event two weeks ago evidenced that this would be the right time to move ahead with that effort, as many made clear that they are ready to add their voices to mine. So, last week I launched an open letter to the East Hampton Town Board that people who are concerned and interested can co-sign with me. The letter, the call-to-action points, and the signature form can be found on my website buildinkind.com on the page named “Open Letter.”
One of the many letters to the editor I have addressed to these pages, titled “The Community Cares,” appeared in your Sept. 29 edition, and in it I observed that there were a lot of people across town who have real concerns about what they see being built around them. I averred, “We cannot continue to talk only among ourselves. We need to flip the conversation from horizontal to vertical. By that I mean people must speak up directly to our town board, the other boards, and the Planning Department — government officials do need to be persuaded — and pressured. Just as we want to be informed by them, they need to be informed by us.”
The purpose of the open letter indeed is to persuade and, yes, even to pressure. But most important, it is to inform by presenting the clear, full case for change. The letter makes the case to reassess and evolve the code to restore balance and be forward looking.
Part of that case is that overdevelopment is the most significant challenge we face as a town. Aside from being a “community character” issue, it’s at the root of the other serious problems we grapple with, including the ever-widening affordable housing deficit, the staggering destruction of natural resources and ecosystems, the overburdening of our roads and entire town infrastructure, the inability to staff businesses and essential services, our existential water quality problems, the extraordinary overconsumption of resources and energy, the horrible growing litter problem, and challenges to public beach access.
Moreover, core elements of the current zoning code are facilitating a level of development that no longer comports with legally binding purposes and objectives of the town code Chapter 255 or the comprehensive plan and is incompatible with our three most critical ratified imperatives: housing affordability, coastal resilience, and climate emergency.
Finally, the letter asks the board to take a few specific actions in the very near term: to announce publicly and undertake a formal, well-resourced comprehensive process to review and evolve the town zoning code; to set a reasonable but prompt timeline for completion of this work; and to implement a “hold” on the biggest building activity, tied specifically to the timeline and goals of the code review/amendment initiative, or what you referred to in your editorial last week as a “A Building Pause With a Point.”
The very end of our open letter states: “Town Board, we are aware that we are asking you to take actions that are not easy. Local history warns of the strenuous and litigious opposition that emerges in response to such initiatives. This letter is not to make arbitrary or capricious demands; our purpose is to make the case and make clear that a very significant part of this community will engage and support you as you move forward with this.”
David, I hope your readers, whether full-time residents, second-home owners, ongoing seasonal visitors, or all those who care deeply and directly about East Hampton, will engage by reading and, if in agreement, signing on to the open letter and encourage their networks of friends, neighbors, and colleagues to do so as well.
After the Fact
April 23, 2023
To the Editor,
Under urban renewal and the town’s adoption of that law placed into town code, a homeowner is required to grant an easement to the town before the issuing of a building permit.
Here on Bay View Avenue, it’s go get a building permit, build a home, build a pool, live in the home for multiple years, and, five years later, grant said easement to the town after the fact. That invalidates everything that has been done and completed. In a fair society they should take everything down and restart from square one. Here, forgiveness and appeasement reign supreme. Law and code are not adhered to continuously.
I wonder about the other eight construction sites on this road currently.
‘Big Tent’ Letters
April 22, 2023
To the Editor:
I was entertained by the letter from the Republican town supervisor candidate, Gretta Leon, in last week’s paper which contained these words: “[W]e must protect our environment” and “set boundaries [on developers] in place” to “preserve nature.”
This seems to form part of an annual ritual of the town Republican Party at the outset of a campaign season: the letter of moderation, the false attempt to bridge a gap and attract swing voters. Manny Vilar, the Republican chairman, is the past master; he has written more than a few of these “big tent” letters, only to undergo a werewolf-like transformation later, for example calling a moderate Democratic adversary a “radical extremist” when the campaign was in full swing.
Ms. Leon, if you are truly hoping to get some more Democrats and independents to vote for you, you must wear your heart on your sleeve. Would you mind please answering the following questions: 1. What is your take on Black Lives Matter? (Please see your spokesperson, Lynne Scanlon’s, mention from a few weeks back and my response.) 2. How did you feel when the Supreme Court revoked Roe v. Wade? 3. Did you vote for Donald Trump in 2016 or 2020? 4. Do you believe Joe Biden stole the 2020 election? 5. Is George Soros really Satan?
Ms. Leon, if you don’t answer most of these questions the way Mr. Vilar would, you are hanging with the wrong crowd. I eagerly await your answers.
Mr. Vilar, by the way, has been nominated for the Suffolk Legislature. Attention must be paid.
In closing, a shout-out to Joe Karpinski. I don’t always understand his letters, but I like the sign-off: “Still here.” In pure imitation, I adopt my own:
For democracy in East Hampton,
April 24, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray:
Anyone who didn’t show up in person or tune in via Zoom missed the wild ride at the East Hampton Library on Friday. Neal Gabler, an American journalist, writer, and film critic, began his opening salvo by ridiculing book reviewers (with an angry expletive) who had chosen to ignore his latest tome — 1,000 pages of what sounds like a love-is-blind biography of the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Although this was supposed to be a discussion with the very highly credentialed David M. Alpern, who tried to corral Mr. Gabler a bit, Mr. Gabler’s broad-brush, sanctimonious tirades about morality, and the lack thereof among conservatives was jaw-dropping. At one point, Mr. Gabler was screaming.
In the questions and answers, one brave soul brought up Chappaquiddick. “Just an accident,” said Mr. Gabler, dismissing Kennedy’s political self-interest and perhaps his morality issue, as he left the scene and Mary Jo Kopechne helpless in a submerged car. Oh, and that photo where Kennedy and a woman were memorably photographed drifting together in a dinghy in the calm waters of the Mediterranean? No, they were not merely “kissing.” They were caught in flagrante delicto. Funny, but not funny.
Amazon has some interesting comments online by those readers who have waded through or almost through “Against the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Rise of Conservatism, 1976-2009.”
As a published author myself (St. Martin’s Press, HarperCollins, Berkley Books, Pocket Books) ages ago, I almost always buy the books of authors whose talks I attend. Not this time.
LYNNE W. SCANLON
Same-Sex on Ice
April 23, 2023
Fasten your seatbelts! It won’t be long now before the anti-woke gang starts hyperventilating about their next perceived existential threat to our nation. But just what will it be? Same-sex figure skating.
In spring 2022, after the Winter Olympics flame had been extinguished, two of figure skating’s most-decorated skaters took to the ice in a Canadian rink. Both had just medaled. Now, these skaters took each other by the hand and began to dance. From the way they gracefully moved in harmony, one would never guess they had never competed together. There is a reason — they were both women. For Gabriella Papadakis and Madison Hubbell (the two skaters), or any other figure skaters who wanted to compete with a same-sex partner, skating as a team had been long prohibited by the International Skating Union.
Several months after their clandestine skating session, Skate Canada (that country’s skating governing body) made history when it removed all gendered language from its rulebook. So, for the first time, same-sex teams and nonbinary skaters would be able to compete at the top level in Canada. And the Canadian decision might be just the beginning. Papadakis and Hubbell are now waiting to see if the I.S.U. is prepared to go as far as did Skate Canada and embrace same-sex skating teams competing at the highest levels of international figure skating.
Personally, I can’t wait to see the anti-woke hysteria that will undoubtedly erupt if the American skating bodies also embrace same-sex skating teams. One can just hear Tucker Carlson: “Quelle horreur!” Better yet, imagine Ron DeSantis’s rapid uncontrolled disassembly if Disney on Ice embraces the idea of same-sex skating couples on its ice in Florida.
Liar Named Joe
April 23, 2023
The lengthy letter addressed to me from Brian Pope was interesting. I also have refrained from engaging to his letters, as I shake my head and wonder where he’s coming from.
In his words, freedom of speech is guaranteed for all, so he spends columns on history and degrading both Fox News and ex-President Trump. Wondering when did I ever write about either? My gripe is with the biggest, corrupt, useless liar named Joe Biden. His faults are too many to rant about right now.
I watch CBS quite often and observe Norah O’Donnell growl whenever she mentions Trump’s name.
The Sunday media is one-sided, except for Margaret on the CBS morning show from Washington. Don Lemon? Come on, there aren’t journalists around like Walter Cronkite. Let’s not get into shows like the “The View.”
If you choose to honor and praise lowlifes like George Soros and schools allowing transgenders to compete on girls teams, I pity you if you really think this change is great.
In New York there is a specialty in stupidity and its name is Jerry Nadler. He sleeps during congressional meetings and shows his stupidity by going in front of the television and makes a brain-dead mistake of mentioning declining homicide rates and decreased shootings in New York as proof Republicans were using crime as a pretext to bully the idiot District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Tell me if you, Mr. Pope, if you lived in New York would you vote for Jerry Nadler because he’s a Democrat?
In God and country,
April 22, 2023
In one of his more bizarre journeys into unhinged fantasy, Congressman Jim Jordan from South Carolina claims that the United States government, through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is persecuting extreme Catholic Americans. Mr. Jordan’s statement is a simplistic misdirection scam. American Christians, as long as they are white, are not the victims of persecution, but the perpetrators. (Indigenous people weren’t responsible for their genocide.)
Understanding that Mr. Jordan is a disseminator of misinformation for the purpose of sowing discord and negativity, his history is a form of nihilism that is about destroying and debasing, rather than creating a more-livable and accepting world. His definition of tolerance is more about the endurance of pain than about the willingness to accept ideas and beliefs you don’t agree with. By any definition, he is hardly the poster boy for religious freedom and he dishonors the institution he supposedly represents. He, by any normal standard, is a deeply deranged sicko who needs a lot of help.
Yet, Mr. Jordan’s claims open up a can of worms that have to do with the behavior of our churches and the role Christianity has played since our inception.
The intentions of the founders are not debatable and were crystal-clear regarding the separation of church and state. Yet, there has been a relentless attempt to redefine this dictum and give religion — Christianity — a greater role in our government.
Thirty-three percent of Americans are either atheists or identify with no religion, 50 percent identify as Christians, and 17 percent identify as non-Christians. No one questions the importance of religion in our society; it is vibrant and maybe vital. Yet, it is neither sacred nor excluded from the standards of behavior that are required for good governance.
In the middle of the 17th century, French Jesuit missionaries in what is now Canada engaged in lengthy debates about Christianity with Indigenous peoples. The Indigenous position on the structure of Christianity in Europe was one of disbelief and repulsion. The endless violence, the accumulation of wealth, the relentless debasement of people in the name of a punishing God, the divine right of kings, and the disconnection from the Earth all violated their concept of spirituality. Life was supposed to be about pleasure and freedom, not death and subjugation. They called Christianity the religion of death.
In the U.S., the form has changed but the substance remains the same. Religious freedom is guaranteed in the Constitution. Religious oppression isn’t.
Jump to the newest bag of right-wing Christian garbage, transsexuality, which should bury any belief that our country would benefit from greater religious involvement in our government. As a small part of our sexual orientation world, transsexuality is the most private and complicated issue. It doesn’t affect millions of people or basic values or standards of behavior. If Jesus were remotely present in our religious universe, 23 states wouldn’t be passing laws to limit transsexual rights and behavior. The Congress wouldn’t pass a law limiting transsexuals participation in sports. (Crazy important!)
Where’s the love, the compassion, the tiniest modicum of understanding of how difficult transsexuality is for everyone involved? Somehow, a kid who transitions might have an advantage on a ball field is more important than millions of people losing their health insurance or 45 million people on food-assistance programs. The anti-trans movement is a sickness that needs treatment.
So, we put together Jim Jordan, Christian nation, and the anti-trans groups and they paint a picture that is hardly pretty: small-minded hatred and abuse in the name of Jesus. Why is it that in the U.S. the abusers always act the victims? Is there a point where perversion turns on itself and turns to dust? Is it fair so soon after Covid that we deal with a sickness that has no vaccine?