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Why be angry about Christian video?

Re: "Return to sender" offers clear message to Christian mailings, by Bill Maxwell, May 14.

I would like to ask: Why were non-Christians so angry at receiving a free video about Jesus, and why should Bill Maxwell condone their intolerance? All the residents of Palm Beach County had to do was throw the tape in the garbage if they weren't interested in learning what one of the world's major religions is all about. The people who sent the video cared enough about their neighbors to spend money, which they could have spent on themselves, to spread the good news that Jesus loves the residents of Palm Beach and wants them to live with him forever.

God doesn't want the followers of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam or any other religion to go to hell, and he has provided a way to heaven. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." Non-Christians have the right to say, "I don't believe that. I believe there are many ways leading to heaven _ if there is a heaven."

My question is: Why do they have to be so angry about the matter? God doesn't force anyone to believe in him, and of course, no human or government should dictate others' beliefs. The Christians of Palm Beach County were simply providing a means for the citizens of their community to educate themselves about Jesus without anyone pressuring them. That very film has changed lives worldwide since it was introduced in the early 1980s. It is regrettable that Maxwell did not research the many countries, such as India and Africa, where it has been shown, often in an open field to thousands who gladly received it. I hope the citizens of Pinellas and Hillsborough, if given the opportunity to view the tape, will be more open minded than those of Palm Beach.

Ann Farnsworth, St. Petersburg

Tolerance turned about

Re: "Return to sender" offers clear message to Christian mailings.

I was intrigued by Bill Maxwell's column in this past Sunday's paper. The philosophy of tolerance which we all seem to espouse these days has me somewhat concerned. It seems that tolerance is one of those philosophies that could be turned inside out very easily. This article appears to me to be a case in point.

I get so much unsolicited mail every day, I can hardly believe it. My attitude has never been to complain about it. I know I have a wastebasket. The other night, I noticed CBS broadcasting a portrayal of Jesus. If I were Jewish, I suspect I would change the channel.

I guess I'm bothered by the outrage. It seems rather intolerant to me, that one would be intolerant of those who believed they had an important message to share. People can always decide not to listen, watch or whatever. Today's trend toward an intolerant tolerance is scary. You are tolerant to all but those who appear to be intolerant. This is not very wise

Maxwell should beware of his growing intolerance toward those who believe something sincerely enough to share it at their own expense. Try directing some of that intolerance toward those who jam our mailboxes full of stuff they want to sell you. What's the difference? Regardless of their motive, they are all pushing their own agendas. Or are we developing an intolerance toward any religious perspective that believes it alone has the truth?

Phil Engelman, Palm Harbor

Anger has a price

Re: "Return to sender" offers clear message to Christian mailings.

I am a Christian and my heart aches for Bill Maxwell. The anger he feels toward Christians is very destructive, not so much to us as to him. Physicians will tell you that anger causes all sorts of problems. I hope he will seek some help and deal with it.

Perhaps God will deal with him as he did with another persecutor of Christians, Saul, who became the Apostle Paul. With God, all things are possible.

Patricia Porterfield, St. Petersburg

Promoting understanding

Re: "Return to sender" offers clear message to Christian mailings.

I do not believe the actions of these believers in Christ were in any way meant to offend but rather to promote a knowledge and an understanding of the person of Christ. Did it cross Maxwell's mind that the videos were mailed out, not to coincide with Passover, a high holy time for Jews, but rather Easter, a high holy time for Christians?

As for who will accompany Maxwell to hell, if that is where he chooses to spend eternity, that is not for any Christian to decide. We are instructed by the holiest book in our belief system to spread the Gospel of Christ to every other human being, whether the truths in that book agree with what is popular in the culture du jour or not. Sharing the Gospel is commanded as the Great Commission to all who accept Christ, because, after all, "where is the Christian who can reside happily in heaven while those souls burn in hell?"

Sheryl Eder, Clearwater

Unwelcome message

I could not have expressed my feelings on the mailing of the Jesus Videos better than Bill Maxwell did. Some time ago, during the Indian festival of lights known as Diwali, the Southern Baptists sent a brochure to a large number of people expressing views very similar to those Maxwell wrote about: If you do not follow Christ, you are destined to go to hell!

Have some tolerance for other faiths, please.

My wife and I have just moved to this area from New York and one of the best things we have seen here are the articles by Bill Maxwell in the Times. I seem to agree with every word he writes.

Thank you for publishing his articles.

Raghu Sarma, New Port Richey

Face of the NRA

Please report that the National Rifle Association is not some faceless organization. It is composed of people like myself who strongly believe in the Second Amendment. I am a law-abiding American, who has served his country and who would never wrongly harm another individual.

It is not the NRA that is fighting to keep our rights it is we the people of America! The NRA is our tool! We are not the tool of the NRA.

More guns laws will do little to keep them out of the hands of the "bad guys" and do everything to infringe upon my rights to self-protection, hunting and target shooting.

Matthew G. Bray, Riverview

Applause for the moms

Re: Million Mom March.

Although I did not get to go to Washington to march, I am proud of those friends of mine who did go and grateful that this movement is under way. The goal is not to ban guns but to have better gun control.

I still have trouble understanding those intelligent people who think that being licensed and taught how to drive a car, which isn't intrinsically deadly, is okay but that the same requirements for a gun is unnecessary and insulting.

I also don't understand the May 17 letter writer (A poorly aimed treatment) who seems to think the majority of the country is stupid and has no morals. Why is he supporting the right of those people to have a gun? Kind of scary, I think.

Thank you, Moms of America for standing together in this movement to make our kids and our country safer.

Jo Davis, St. Petersburg

Savonarola was a martyr

Re: Taking a bite out of Florence.

Your May 14 editorial described Florence as the "city of Savonarola, the stake-happy 15th-century monk who liked nothing more than a well-cooked heretic."

Some facts might interest you: Savonarola died by burning at the stake, which hardly qualifies him as "stake-happy." For opposing the immorality and corruption of the pope's court, Savonarola paid the ultimate price. True, Savonarola did lead a short-lived puritanical reform movement in Florence, but never sent anyone to the stake or had anyone prosecuted or persecuted for heresy. Practically all historians today regard Savonarola as a martyr, not a villain.

J. Stephen Lang, Seminole

Ruggles will be missed

We have lowered the flag to half-mast to honor the passing of Dorothy "Dot" Ruggles. It is a sad day for all of the citizens of Pinellas County for she was an amazing woman who brought honor not only to her office as supervisor of elections but as a caring, thoughtful human being. She will be sadly missed by all of us who had the pleasure of knowing her.

As in the past, the upcoming elections were very important to her, and she continued to work diligently with her staff until her illness made it impossible for her to continue, but she left us with a message. A message to appoint the person she felt would be most capable of continuing her work. I strongly urge Gov. Jeb Bush to appoint her deputy administrator, Deborah Clark, to fill the interim position of supervisor of elections. I am absolutely positive she will carry on the legacy Dot left us.

R.D. McIntyre, Largo