Warning from the Late Reverend Billy Graham
After a series of recent opinions and local news articles, I felt it was important to look at where we are as a community and how one’s faith has been weaponized by the local political environment.
Rev. Billy Graham publicly warned against the prospect of religious figures becoming too attached to a political stance. The elder Graham was quoted to say:
“I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”
The context of that quote was taken from the February 1st, 1981, cover story in Parade magazine, part of Billy Graham’s account of conversations with fellow Reverend Jerry Falwell, who, at the time, helmed the conservative political group, The Moral Majority. Graham said:
“I told him to preach the Gospel. That’s our calling. I want to preserve the purity of the Gospel and the freedom of religion in America. I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. Liberals organized in the ’60s, and conservatives certainly have a right to organize in the ’80s, but it would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”
In the story, Graham admitted that he no longer thought of communists as “disciples of Lucifer,” contrary to his own rhetoric from earlier in his career. He also cast himself as having no part of Falwell’s organization, which became a key conservative constituency before dissolving in 1989. To that end he is quoted as having said:
“It would be unfortunate if people got the impression all evangelists belong to that group. The majority do not. I don’t wish to be identified with them. I’m for morality. But morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice. We as clergy know so very little to speak out with such authority on the Panama Canal or superiority of armaments. Evangelists can’t be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle to preach to all people, right and left. I haven’t been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future.”
Though the elder Graham had a cordial relationship with several U.S. presidents spanning decades, he told Christianity Today in 2011 that, given the chance to do anything differently in his life, “I also would have steered clear of politics.”
Together, as a community, we should carry Billy Graham’s wisdom and message forward. As our founding fathers intended in crafting the First Amendment, let’s keep religion out of politics and vice versa. Let’s live by Billy Graham’s values instead of trendy labels.
Deloris K. “Dee” Cooper (1936 – 2023)
Deloris K. “Dee” Cooper, 86, of Browntown, Virginia, passed away on Thursday, May 25, 2023, at Lynn Care Center in Front Royal.
A graveside service will be held on Friday, June 2, at 10:00 am at Panorama Memorial Gardens with Pastor Jeff Fletcher and Pastor P.G. Coverstone officiating.
Dee was born October 3, 1936, in Luray, Virginia, the daughter of the late Raymond James and Evelyn Lillard Knott.
Surviving are two sons, Chip Cooper and Barbara and R.J. Cooper and wife Toni, all of Browntown; one daughter, Bambie Compher of Front Royal; two grandsons, Shawn Cooper, and wife Lindsay and Kyle Compher and wife Brittany; and five great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; an infant son; a son-in-law, Larry Compher; and her brother, Kennith Knott.
Pallbearers will be Chip Cooper, R.J. Cooper, Shawn Cooper, Kyle Compher, Skip Vermillion and Jamie Knott.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Dee’s memory to Cool Spring Church of God, 3705 Gooney Manor Loop, Bentonville, Virginia 22610.
Following the graveside service, all are welcome to join the family for a time of food and fellowship at the Front Royal Elks Club on Guard Hill Road.
Remembering and mourning our foreign partners on Memorial Day
Beginning with the Revolutionary War, almost 1.4 million Americans have died in our nation’s wars, including about 667,000 killed in combat. We remember, honor, and mourn those gallant souls every year on Memorial Day – May 29 this year. Those Americans who have served in or near war zones carry their memories throughout the year. It should not be just a once-a-year observance for everyone else.
The country’s more recent conflicts, starting with Vietnam, have seen a blurring of the battle lines, where American service personnel have teamed up with local forces to fight a common enemy. For those who have worked hand-in-hand with local forces – South Vietnamese, Iraqis, or Afghans – it is hard to forget those local troops who died for the common cause. Although our Memorial Day is for a commemoration of our war dead, I think it would also be appropriate to honor those foreign partners on this special day.
For most of my tour in Vietnam, I lived and worked beside South Vietnamese soldiers (ARVNs), mostly Roman Catholics or members of the Cao Dai Church. As human beings, they had the same hopes and aspirations as most Americans. I trusted them with my life, and I believe most of them felt the same. I can’t think of America’s fallen without thinking of them. Almost 300,000 ARVNs died in the war, and we left many more of them to a horrible fate. They deserve remembrance and respect. I know that many Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan feel the same about their foreign partners. When you form trusting bonds in wartime, it is hard to break them.
Although our bonds with the people of Ukraine are at a different level, where we are mostly non-combat partners providing moral support and weaponry from the sidelines, I have that same feeling about those valiant humans. The Ukrainians are fighting and dying in a war that serves the vital national interests of the United States and NATO, as well as our allies on the other side of the planet. Ukraine is the proverbial point of the spear that protects freedom and democracy from the despotic regimes in Russia, China, and Iran.
If we allow Russia to prevail, it will give great encouragement to the autocrats, quite possibly leading to a spread of hostilities to Taiwan and any number of Asian, African, and South American nations in the sights of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
Although I rarely find issues upon which I totally agree with U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Ukraine is one such issue – an exceedingly important one. The senator realizes that it is essential to America’s strategic interests that Ukraine prevail in Putin’s genocidal war. I agree with his view that the U.S. needs to increase and expedite the supply of war materiel to Ukraine. Sen. Risch has observed that “the Ukrainians are fighting today for what our founding fathers fought for in 1776.”
Incidentally, that observation was made when the senator recently recalled his meeting in Ukraine with a former Green Beret from Boise, Nick Maimer, who had been volunteering to train Ukrainian civilians on how to defend their country. Maimer was reported to have been killed by Russian artillery fire earlier this month. God rest his soul. He joins thousands of Ukrainians who have died in the fight.
Ukraine has reportedly suffered 124,500-131,000 total casualties, including 15,500-17,500 killed in action and 109,000-113,500 wounded. Because their fight is largely our fight, it would be most appropriate to remember and mourn them, along with our war dead and our foreign partners who died in supporting American troops. On Memorial Day, I’ll be remembering my 58,220 brothers and sisters who died serving their country in Vietnam. I’ll also be thinking of Lieutenants Dinh and Tanh, Captain Thanh and interpreter Tom, who were with us all the way until we abandoned them to their ugly fate in 1975.
By Jim Jones
Jim Jones served as Idaho attorney general for eight years (1983-1991) and as a justice of the Idaho Supreme Court for 12 years (2005-2017). He also served in the Vietnam War. His weekly columns are collected at JJCommonTater.com.
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Does removing LGBTQ books from libraries undermine First Amendment Rights?
I write in response to letters by Mr. Richard Hoover (May 27th) and Mr. Paul Miller (May 18th) concerning the proposal to remove LGBTQ-themed books from Samuels Public Library. Mr. Hoover contends that removing such material aligns with the principle of free speech and the values of our community. I humbly beg to differ. I feel it is essential to shedding light on the significance of literature in building empathetic societies and the importance of upholding the inclusive ethos our public libraries are meant to embody.
To begin with, Mr. Hoover’s assertion that the First Amendment has no bearing on local libraries is fundamentally mistaken. Public libraries, while administered by local officials, are still public institutions meant to facilitate the free exchange of ideas. The First Amendment is not a mere technicality prohibiting Congress from stifling the press or individuals; it is a principle that symbolizes our commitment to intellectual freedom, open discourse, and diversity of thought.
As for Mr. Hoover’s argument about the community’s wish to exclude certain materials, we must remember that, as Mr. Miller pointed out, a community is composed of diverse individuals with varied beliefs, cultures, and experiences. Yes, it’s true that some community members may disapprove of LGBTQ themes, but it’s equally true that there are many who understand, support, and even belong to the LGBTQ community. They are taxpayers, too, and have an equal right to see their experiences reflected in the library’s collection.
To suggest that exposure to LGBTQ themes might “encourage” children in a particular direction also oversimplifies human sexuality and identity. Education about diverse identities and experiences doesn’t “turn” children; it equips them with knowledge, understanding, and empathy. Fear of the unknown breeds prejudice; understanding and familiarity breed acceptance.
As for Mr. Hoover’s puzzling speculation that Mr. Miller might next advocate for a “Drag Queen Story Hour,” I have carefully read Mr. Miller’s letter (twice), and he never suggests anything of the kind. Having said that, it is crucial to remember that such events aim to foster acceptance and understanding and are typically voluntary. In the event that such a program was introduced at any library in our area, those who felt uncomfortable with the premise would be under no obligation to participate.
In conclusion, the aim of any public library is to represent and cater to the diversity of the community it serves. It is neither a battleground for ideological domination nor a platform for promoting a singular worldview. We cannot presume to shield children from understanding the diversity inherent in human existence; instead, we must equip them with the intellectual tools to navigate this diversity with empathy, understanding, and respect.
L. K. Henderson
Reader challenges library’s inclusion of LGBT-themed books citing community and religious concerns
I take exception to the May 25th commentary by Mr. Paul Miller labeling the exclusion of LGBT-themed books from Samuels Public Library a violation of the First (“Free Speech”)Amendment of the Constitution. The First Amendment prohibits Congress from restricting the right of the press and of individuals to write and speak freely. That has nothing to do with local public libraries where making decisions to exclude or include books is the right of library staff, directors, and boards. In Warren County, I only hope that SPL officials are listening to the insistence of Warren County taxpayers that children not be exposed to LGBTQ materials.
True, as both Mr. Miller and the SPL’s Strategic Plan point out: “Every effort will be made to (ensure) that a diverse range of materials is available to meet the needs and interest of everyone in the community.” Nevertheless, that hardly diminishes the legitimacy of present community demands to exclude unsuitable materials for the sake of children. After all, we are a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and both Testaments, Old, and New, explicitly condemn homosexuality as an abomination and, therefore, ungodly. It is not likely to find parents who would have their children exposed to material that could encourage them in that direction. Most parents, not a “small fringe of homophobic individuals” (per Mr. Miller), will vote and fight to ensure that this does not happen. Mr. Miller’s admonition that we “learn to live peacefully within a pluralistic society” hardly counts when an aggressive element of that mix is not content to remain as it is but works to take down the rest of that society, starting with its children, in order to promote its values and practices.
What next? I do not know what decisions the SPL will make about books but, quoting from his letter, I would ask Mr. Miller what he and his “LGBTQ community” would like to see coming next to Samuels. Might that be something to accentuate the “diversity of the community,” something enabling both “the children and the adults raising them to see their families reflected (in) their local, publicly funded library?” A children’s Drag Queen Story Hour comes to mind, as recently featured by public libraries all over the country, including those in Alexandria, Richmond, and Montgomery County. Is this what Mr. Miller wants, where we are heading in Warren County?
Richard W. Hoover
Beyond politics and ideologies: The universal language of hugs
I’m a hugger. I am not ashamed to be a hugger. Hugging is good for my soul. It’s touching, heart-to-heart. You should be a hugger, too. I want everyone to be a hugger.
What is it about a hug, you ask? I say a hug is sincerity. A hug melts the safe space of two into one. A hug is consequential. Hugs talk. They say I like you (Not a perfunctory hug but the real thing.) There’s nothing better.
Keep in mind that pecks on the cheek are not hugs. I call them obligations. Hugs are more than barely touching. They are substantial contact, often cheek firmly pressed against the cheek. A hug says I mean it. If you’re going to hug, hug. Go big.
You can’t really hug someone and be angry at them at the same time. Hugging prevents conflict and settles disputes. Best of all, hugging heals old wounds. As such, hugs have medicinal properties. They’re magic.
Hugs are apolitical and cross party lines and ideology effortlessly, taking the edge off extremist views with civility sandpaper. Very important: Never force or fake a hug. The tentative nature of pretending to hug telegraphs an ulterior agenda. It’s a sin. Real hugs have no reason.
For many, hugging does not come naturally. They have to be taught, which is why novice huggers are often awkward on their first few tries because they haven’t learned that hugs are sexless.
Practice hugging with a solid friend to help you adjust. Rehearsal provides an opportunity for even more hugs, more caring, and more love for the humanity in each of us. Hugs are exercise. (Show me a hug that you can do while sitting down.) Standing up to hug someone is good for the legs. Hugs are great, aren’t they?
Though hugs appear physical in nature, they are 100% purely spiritual. The after-effects from a good hug linger, timelessly. It’s been said some hugs are still fresh 30 and 40 years later, endlessly echoing in sweet harmony.
A hug imparts a sense of belonging, bringing people together, a social event because you can’t hug yourself. As such, hugging will draw out any die-hard hermit or loner. None of us has to be lonely as long as we have one hug left. And, please, don’t wait until it may be too late. If you owe someone a hug, pay them now. The benefits of hugging are cumulative and expansive. You get out of hugging way more than you put in.
So, that’s my take on hugging. I hereby proclaim every month with an “R” in it “National Hug Month,” and those without an “R” as well.
By Jay Buckner
In an ode to Kool and the Gang, the Fresh Prince wrote these lyrics in a 1999 song entitled, ‘Summertime.’ “Time to unwind, put your car on cruise, and sit back because this is summertime.” This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and the official kickoff for “Summer ’23.” That’s right. Schools out, it’s party time, Battalion style! Yes, you can practically taste the excitement in the air.
As you recall, each of the 4 seasons is blessed with 90 days, and each arrives with its respective climate and accommodating holidays. Next up is summer. It starts in about 5 days, and the advance guard climate has already swept through, inoculating us to 80-degree temps with the accompanying humidity. By this time, though, most of us have already dusted off the shorts and sandals and have our summer game face on. We’re just waiting on the weekend to make it official.
Before we start partying, allow me a moment of patriotic nostalgia. It’s part of being an American to always know the reason for the holiday. I was recently asked about the difference in Memorial Day and Veterans Day, as both share the same themes. Short answer, Memorial Day arrives first and commemorates the fallen soldiers who gave their lives for our country. Veterans Day is in November and salutes the veterans that served in the military. Either way, always take a moment to raise a glass to the veterans during the holidays.
Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May, but we’re going to get this season rocking a few days earlier on Friday and roll through a 4-day weekend of watching war movies and enjoying ourselves out on the boat, grilling meats, and hanging with family and friends. By the time Monday gets here – we’re already 4 days into summer.
This coming weekend kicks off a six-week party fest of vacationing and fun that flows right into two other national holidays, all nicely bunched up – for effect. Three weeks after Memorial Day, we kick back and commemorate Juneteenth, and 3 weeks later, we launch the fireworks on Independence Day on the 4th of July. It’s good to be an American. Three back-to-back power holidays over a 6-week stretch. Gotta love it. After that, we take a couple of months to recover until we officially culminate the summer on Labor Day – the first week of September. But don’t despair. There’s no letdown. Fall ushers in 3 months of football season, replete with a myriad of other holidays and festivals. You simply wear additional clothes during that season. But that is what makes summer so unique. It’s simply too hot for clothes.