Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bob Barth responds to Tom B.

[This letter from Bob Barth arrived yesterday -- sorry for not posting it sooner. - Dean]

Please allow me to respond to the letter of 3/4/13 ORCR by Tom Bebbington directed to me re my letter of inquiry as to Mr. Piedmont’s beliefs re creationism and modern science.

The following is a letter to Foster's I have submitted by way of apology to Mr. Piedmont and his family and further explanation:

I wish to thank Carl Piedmont for his explanation that he believes in modern science and by inference in evolution over creationism.
I thought my questioning a candidate on some of his beliefs before voting was not an unreasonable thing to do. Feedback I have received, however, tells me I have vehemently defamed Mr. Piedmont and that I have misrepresented his character and personally attacked his family. Such was certainly not my intention and to any who feel I have offended I sincerely apologize, most particularly to Mr. Piedmont and his family.
That said, please allow me to clarify my initial concern:
Mr. Piedmont’s mention of Trinity International University disturbed not only me but others in the community if it was in any way an endorsement of the institution. The following are statements from its web site:
“Trinity International University holds to the doctrinal position of the Evangelical Free Church of America.” “We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.”
As one who has read both testaments from cover to cover I find this a rather scary and restrictive guideline in an institution of higher learning, and totally at odds with the teaching of modern science unless they simply ignore their “doctrinal position” (which hopefully they do). No, I would not vote for School Board anyone who espoused these doctrinal positions and I am fully satisfied that Mr. Piedmont renounces them and believes in rational thought and modern science.
I wish Mr Piedmont and his family only the best.
Robert L. Barth

Mr. Bebbington infers that TIU is not fundamentalist. The above-quoted doctrinal position from their own website could not be more fundamentalist.

My letter was meant to elicit positional information from a candidate for public office. I accused no one. I thought it possible that a parent sending one of his children to a given school might be in agreement with its “doctrinal position” and that could have a significant influence on how I vote. I am satisfied with Mr. Piedmont’s response to my inquiry that he believes in modern science and all that infers. Mr Piedmont volunteered the mention of TIU in his letter. I did not dig it out, but I did have some recollection of the school prior to checking it out. I do not understand how TIU reconciles their fundamentalist doctrinal position with the teaching of rational thought and science but that’s their problem.

Mr. Bebbinton subsequently takes issue with my statement that “I would defend without reservation any individual’s right to believe what he/she chooses, but that doesn’t mean I will respect or tolerate those beliefs.” He goes on: “and so, Mr. Barth, here is a question I hope you might address- a “red flag”, if you will. I would like to be informed as to your beliefs with respect to neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo- anti-Confederates, racist skinheads, the “Patriot” movement, and other hate groups. Because, Mr. Barth, when you say you can’t “tolerate” the beliefs of others, as someone who has experienced anti-religious bigotry first-hand that is the kind of company that leaps to mind.”

Perhaps I misunderstand, but Mr. Bebbington seems to be making my case for me. I find the above mentioned groups and those who profess their ideologies despicable and I will not tolerate their beliefs. I would fight them tooth and nail. However, and though perhaps an irony, I believe it a key to our Democracy that one’s right to believe anything they wish, no matter how despicable must be defended. Yes, we are all selectively intolerant, and we should be especially when it comes to the hateful ideation of others. And we should always be questioning and willing to be questioned.

Reasoned discussion is constructive. Again, I apologize to anyone I may have offended. Such was certainly not my intent. My intent herein is to pour water on the fire, not fan the flames. I would hope that going forward every questioning of an individual is not interpreted as a personal attack.

Robert Barth, Lee

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