Sunday Forum: Schooled in a Christian Environment; A Crazy Approach to Iran

Sunday, March 15, 2015
Formed in a Christian Environment

To the Editor:

In “Is the President a Christian?” (Perspectives, March 8), Randall Balmer states, “According to a poll conducted late in 2014, only 9 percent of Republicans believed that the president is a Christian.” How did they arrive at that conclusion? Would they feel differently if they knew he was exposed to Christianity daily from the 5th through the 12th grade?

You see, I attended and graduated from the same school in Honolulu as the president. It was founded in 1841 by Congregational missionaries from New England, and while non-sectarian, it has maintained a Christian tradition. Each morning after the Pledge of Allegiance, we had a short devotional session written by the school chaplain. It started with a line or two of scripture, followed by a short anecdote intended to build character, and finally a very brief prayer.

Attendance was mandatory at a weekly hour-long service at the school chapel. While the chaplain led the service, students participated in reading passages from the Bible, praying and singing from our hymnals. There was even an essay contest where the prize was a Bible engraved with the winner’s name; I remember one topic being “Why We Should Forgive.”

Unlike most students whose parents drove them to school, President Obama could walk since he lived less than a mile from it. Along the way he would have passed the New England-style Congregational church, the Catholic cathedral and parochial school, the Christian Science church, and the Lutheran church. Just a block or two from the main street were the Episcopal church, the Baptist church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The above observations do not mean the president is a Christian, but if an anonymous person were described to have been raised in such an environment in formative years, I wonder if only 9 percent of people would believe he was a Christian.

Joyce Lumsdaine

West Lebanon

A Crazy Approach to Iran

To the Editor:

The craziness of U.S. politics is sometimes amusing — but what’s happening with Iran is not funny; it’s destructive and highly dangerous.

Just about everyone agrees that it would be bad for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Democrats, Republicans, President Obama and the prime minister of Israel all insist that it must not happen. The government of Iran says it is not trying to develop weapons and does not want them; its nuclear technology is only for peaceful purposes. So far, so good.

There is a six-nation negotiation underway meant to ensure that Iran’s nukes stay peaceful. This diplomatic process could offer a good solution: We ease economic sanctions on Iran, and they guarantee open inspections of their nuclear facilities. Everybody benefits.

But congressional Republicans are trying hard to kill those negotiations, and that’s the admitted purpose of the recent public letter 47 senators sent to the Iranian government. Unfortunately, New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte is one of those would-be wreckers.

Their policy is perverse. If the anti-negotiation forces succeed in killing diplomacy, Iran probably will move toward developing nuclear bombs — which it has not done so far. That is exactly what those Republicans say they do not want. Yet their actions may well bring it on. If that happens, there will be hysterical calls for preventive war. And why? It looks as if partisan politics may be the real motive.

Sen. Ayotte should rethink what she is doing. If she were to support the negotiating process, that could be a push toward sanity and peace, the outcome we all supposedly desire. But if she stays with the deal-killers, she will be doing her state and country a major disservice.

John Lamperti


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