Letter – Columnist was off base

Published 5:06 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

In a recent column (“by John Edwards, the Times’ publisher emeritus, several claims are made that I believe are erroneous and misleading. 

Edwards contends that there is a frightening number of people in America who desire a “theocracy,” a government ruled by religious priests. However, the source for this assertion is never given, and it appears wholely anecdotal. I do not know anyone who desires this, and most evangelical Christians like me appreciate this democratic republic that allows for the election of leaders based on popular choice rather than religious rule.

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Edwards also suggests that those who value the sanctity of life in the womb have pushed the U.S. to the right of much of the world in terms of abortion legislation. This claim is not true. The USA is one of only seven countries permitting elective abortions past 20 weeks, two of which are China and North Korea. Most Western nations apply restrictions based on fetal viability.

Furthermore, Edwards claims women are dying by denied abortions and young girls are forced to carry children from incest, but he fails to provide any supporting references for these claims. While I believe every life in the womb is valuable, the instances of rape-related abortions are relatively low, and anecdotally I know no one who advocates rape victims be forced to carry the child.

Edwards also asserts people of faith seek to ban reading materials. In reality, the concern lies with age-inappropriate or sexually graphic content in schools. There is no effort to ban books for adults in culture. The goal is to protect children from materials parents may find objectionable.

Finally, Edwards claims that the Founding Fathers sought a strict separation of church and state, suggesting that people of faith should have no role in government or public discourse. However, the phrase “separation of church and state” is absent from our founding documents and originates from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, assuring them that a state religion would never be established. This does not preclude people of faith from participating in the public sphere.

In conclusion, Edwards’ column is marred by inaccuracies and unfairly portrays people of faith. While acknowledging past mistakes by some Christians, it is essential to recognize that diverse perspectives exist among people of faith, and they have a legitimate right to express their views in shaping the culture of our nation.


Jimmy Acree