On April 21, the state reported that some conservative religious leaders had pushed lawmakers to remove provisions from a hate crimes bill that would have extended protections to members of the LGBTQ community. Tony Beam, director of public policy for the SC Baptist Convention, said: “Religious leaders are concerned that the current bill may later lead to a law used to prosecute Christians, especially evangelical Christians, for speaking out. of their positions on homosexuality and transgender. In other words, they are so afraid of being exposed for their homophobic rhetoric that they will not support a bill that calls for additional punishment for those who violently assault people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. real or perceived. Instead, these religious leaders see themselves as victims of persecution.
According to a recent Gallup poll report, church membership in America has declined by 20% over the past two decades, with the greatest losses among young adults. Apparently, they are particularly susceptible to this kind of hypocrisy.
Fortunately, there are other religious leaders (and lawmakers like Brad Hutto) who understand that the command to “love your neighbor” means ALL your neighbors, without exception. I hope their voices will win out.
Miriam Johnson, Colombia
To plant trees
For Earth Day this year, Governor McMaster distributed thousands of loblolly pine seeds to residents of the state to plant trees and prevent flooding. This move will not contribute to erosion and climate change without real legislation to protect wetlands and old trees near the abundant streams and rivers in South Carolina.
I live near Gills Creek in a neighborhood in Columbia and our street was completely devastated by the 2015 flood. All of the houses on our block had so much water damage that most had to be demolished. In 2017, builders began tearing down the creek homes, chopping down all the old, sturdy pines, and building new, larger homes next to Gills Creek.
At the same time, the city felled hundreds of trees in a forest next to the creek to replace sewer lines without replanting trees. These actions resulted in less protection against erosion and increased flooding. If McMaster is serious about protecting SC’s wetlands and natural environment, he can pass laws that protect these important natural areas from development, plant trees to reduce flooding and reduce climate change at the same time.
Kyla Saphir, Colombia
During this season of rebirth, I have been disheartened to read the article written by SLED chief Mark Keel opposing Senate Bill 150, which currently resides in the Senate. I respect Chief Keel and everything he has done to protect our communities, but I am dismayed to see him twist this compassionate medical marijuana bill. A strictly regulated medical marijuana program should be the lowest on what should be a long list of priorities.
The S. 150 is a narrowly designed Conservative bill. It does not allow smoking or raw cannabis, and it is limited to serious and debilitating medical conditions. Suffering patients must not risk the indignity and trauma of their arrest. The SB 150 would finally allow patients to safely access laboratory-tested cannabis. It would also give veterans and other seriously injured and ill people a less dangerous alternative to opiates. After six long years, we hope you will agree that the SC Compassionate Care Act deserves a voice vote. Now is the time for South Carolina to embrace positive change and stand up for its vulnerable, not live in fear.
Judy Ghanem, Murrells Entrance
I think it is high time to dispel the stereotypical and negative opinion about the Veterans Affairs medical system. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “horror stories” from VA Medical Center in both visual and print media, but I’ve literally never heard anything good. I’ll be the one to start. My primary care physician, Dr Raghu Boppana, is by far the best physician I have ever had for almost 65 years. He’s not the type to rush you. He speaks to me on a personal level and truly exudes care. Even Columbia’s VA Medical Center is incredibly patient-friendly. I’m actually sitting in the aforementioned hospital as I write this, and literally feel like I’m being treated like royalty.
I am extremely happy with the VA medical system!
Jeff Jones, Greer