Letters from the week of February 24, 2005

Call and Response 

Letters from the week of February 24, 2005

He's got Wessonality: The issue of "pundit payola" has finally hit Kansas City, and The Kansas City Star appears less than thrilled. Kansas City's very own Emanuel Cleaver hired a local reporter to work as a "consultant" for his congressional campaign last fall. The Star and political correspondent Steve Kraske did not address the situation until The Washington Post reported on the arrangement on Valentine's Day -- ONLY four months after the Pitch noted what was taking place (Backwash, October 28).

While the Pitch tries to deliver stories in a timely fashion, it takes the Star four months to stay "up to date" with the competition.

Benjamin McCarthy

Pulpit Friction
Judge dread: Regarding C.J. Janovy's "Open Wide!" (February 10): I just wanted to thank you for publishing this exposé on the Rev. Jerry Johnston. Though I am an evangelical Christian, I am continually disgusted and disheartened by Johnston and those like him who make all Christians look like raving lunatics and hatemongers.

I may not agree with everything the Pitch publishes, but I hate even more seeing fellow Christians who, in the name of Christ, act like idiots, prima donnas and modern-day Pharisees. That's not representative of the Christ I know. I just pray that I would be a different example of Christ to the world, the humble, loving and merciful Christ.

Karen Huber

Fraudcast news: Great story. I'm a pastor of a house church, and too many times I've cringed at First Family ads on TV for a revival with MC Hammer. For a person who doesn't like self-promotion, Johnston's Christmas Eve TV special (featuring the celebrity speakers who had visited the church and the news programs that Johnston had been on) sure did a good job of it.

The tragic part of the story is when you visit the church (a church that seeks to reach the world through TV) and no one invites you back.

Chad Smith

Out to pastor: I don't go to Johnston's church, nor have I ever had the desire to, but C.J. Janovy's article makes it seem that this man is single-handedly trying to cram religion down her throat. In fact, she had to attend his church to find out info for her article. She had to seek him out. The only thing she keeps talking about is the fact that he had the audacity to demand that the population of the state get the right to decide if gay marriage should be allowed in Kansas. We live in a representative democracy. Don't people have the right to vote on laws? The Legislature didn't decide the issue of gay marriage; they only put it up for a vote among the people.

Your paper has more readers than First Family Church has members. Make your opinion known on the topic and don't attempt to vilify one man because he disagrees with you. If you wind up in the minority, that will not be due to the efforts of this one pastor.

Dave Weatherford

Cross training: Thanks for the op-ed piece. I always enjoy it when I read about my church in a periodical. It is also affirming to see my pastor characterized in the manner that was done. It is almost predictable -- well, actually, it was predicted that such characterizations would occur, as they do with any person who takes a moral stand.

I'm just glad we all live in a country where everyone's right to express themselves -- both religiously and politically -- is not oppressed like it is in so many other countries. Even a myopic press has the right to print and publish pieces that would seem to encourage the silencing of those who express contrary positions to the pet agendas they hold. But I guess even publications like the Pitch need to cater to the consumer market it is tuned to and align with the agenda that encourages those who don't agree to sit down, shut up and get to the back of the bus. We all have our crosses to bear.

Paul Davis
Overland Park

Golden deceiver: If there is any reason to believe marriage is under attack, it is certainly not from homosexual unions. You lightly referred to the fact that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, a far more damaging circumstance than "gay marriage." Does Pastor Jerry think the Deceiver has a hand in divorce?

Frankly, I wonder if legislating "marriage" is not getting religion and the government too closely aligned and therefore in violation of the constitution.

Steve Bailey

Big Johnston: Jesus told his disciples -- the people he chose to speak for God after he left -- to get rid of their worldly possessions down to one suit of clothes and to follow him.

The current squad of television Jesus pimps would have you believe that God wants you to be rich and prosperous and the way to get God to lay some on you is to put your hand on the television -- say blah, blah, blah, then send them some money to do the Lord's work.

I would suggest to the disciples of Johnston (who will be displeased with me) -- read Matthew again. Love the sinner and hate the sin was the rationale behind the Inquisition.

Bob Linder

Holy crap: Anti-gay amendments and the like are laws based on religious bias and faith, violating the whole separation-of-church-and-state thing. Unfortunately we have no protection from people like Johnston, because the people in charge of defending the Constitution, people like Phill Kline, John Ashcroft and Dubya, are religious zealots themselves. If the Constitution were written today, the United States would resemble something closer to the Taliban.

Christers hate that comparison, but the mindset is the same. Theocracies suppress the rights of anyone out of order with their perception of what is acceptable. Denying rights and dignity to any group of people, especially when it is based on an ignorant interpretation of a 2,000-year-old book, is wrong.

Gay marriage is the best possible thing that could happen. Just look at Massachusetts. After legalizing gay marriage, they won the World Series and the Super Bowl, for crying out loud! And I have just as much evidence to show gay marriage is responsible for those victories as Johnston has supporting his claim that it will lead to Armageddon: None.

J.C. Foster
Overland Park

Foul Line
Buck up: Kendrick Blackwood's "Stealing Home" (February 3) was a great article. I hope there will be some positive outcome to what seems to have turned into a mess for the museum and all the players involved.

Over the years, I have seen little change in the museum and little activity for the public or the people who are supposed to benefit from it.

Also, if everyone in the article is so adamant that the museum is supposed to represent all former black players (because they were all important), then why name a building after one player? Why isn't the name of this new building going to be "The Negro Leagues Education and Research Center" instead of the "Buck O'Neil Education and Research Center"? If he works there, he shouldn't have anything to do with the naming of the building. That would be like naming a building after yourself. If they were to put it to a vote by the remaining black players and they all said yes, that would be a different story.

It saddens me that the museum spokespersons seem to have turned their backs on the very people they said they were mounting this institution to celebrate.

Vanessa Cuffy

League of their own: John Holway states, "I'm not trying to hurt the museum." However, a $1.25 million lawsuit shows otherwise. Of course, if the current administration had not misplaced the tapes, all of this wouldn't be necessary.

Executive Director Don Motley has never appeared, to me, to have any interest in Negro Leagues history or the players. Motley claims he has good relations with the players and doesn't want them taken advantage of. This contradicts much of what I have observed.

I believe Buck O'Neil has been the savior of the museum. Buck has done a tremendous job of promoting the Negro Leagues, the museum and Buck O'Neil. However, I honestly believe he made a big mistake in choosing Motley over Lester years ago. I have received hundreds of inquiries over the years asking me why the museum couldn't or wouldn't answer requests for information from people and groups. This lack of regard for the public reflects on the executive director.

I disagree with Buck O'Neil's comments on pre- and post-Robinson players. Players before Jackie had no chance, but the playing field was far from level for players coming along after Jackie. Blackwood clearly points out the museum directive of honoring black baseball from the 19th century to the '60s. The question shouldn't be the quality of the Negro Leagues after 1947. Why haven't the current administration and its director researched the history of the leagues after the signing of Robinson? They should be promoting these players. They have the resources. Perhaps then "licensees would be interested" in these players.

Dick Clark, Negro Leagues historian
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Home run: The Negro Leagues Museum would be much better served in its efforts to fulfill its mission and purpose by turning its attention to improving its policies and collections rather than attacking the reputation and character of such a highly respected researcher as Larry Lester. In numerous articles over the years, the museum's staff members have all been quoted as saying they want the museum to be known as more than just a place to visit, and yet none of their actions have matched their words. They do not attend conferences, they do not regularly attend events that all players are at, and they do not participate in any scholarly endeavors. These kinds of things would help build the reputation of the museum and encourage people to contact the museum for research assistance and to make donations of materials. This is not done now because few people think of the museum as a place of serious history.

I would encourage the museum to look back at its own mission statement and purpose and expend its efforts in supporting endeavors such as reunions and learning the history of the Negro Leagues. Going after the reputation of the person who helped to create the museum in the first place and who has continued to establish a stellar record in the field is simply a waste of time and effort. Larry Lester has the reputation of being a truly fine scholar because he has earned that through hard work and diligence.

Leslie Heaphy, associate professor of history
North Canton, Ohio

Flick Off
Bah, humbug: Regarding Nathan Dinsdale's Prairie Dogg (February 3): I thank you, sir, first for venturing out to see our little movie in Lawrence and second for writing what is actually quite an endearing, if enviably simplistic, review of The Blood Feud.

I would like to reveal also the context of one of my featured quotes. I did apologize to the crowd upon embarking on my musical set, but never for their enjoying immensely The Blood Feud. I apologized for their exposure to my act of violence onstage, my brandishing of the lid to Jeffrey Alan Stolz's famous harmophone, and my beating John Wallace Cochran on the head with it with such athleticism that he fell to the floor and had to crawl off the stage. Did you not see that? Regardless, Mr. Dinsdale, you have done everyone a good service with your Blood Feud review.

William "Skip" Haswell
Los Angeles


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