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LETTERS

Don't judge all Baptists by acts of some

Recently two churches have received a great deal of publicity. They are Westboro Baptist Church, noted for its protests at soldiers' funerals, and The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., whose pastor, Terry Jones, oversaw the burning of a Quran. The Gainesville church has been described in some sources as a Baptist Church.

The word Baptist refers to Christian churches that believe in baptizing only those who are old enough to understand the commitment they are making to the faith. We are part of the "free church" tradition where each congregation decides its own governance and practices. While there are many Baptist churches that belong to a denomination, there are also many that are independent of any association. The Westboro and Gainesville churches do not have any denominational ties.

First Baptist Church of Newfane belongs to the American Baptist Churches in the USA. To quote from the Rev. Dr. Daniel E. Weiss, the recently retired general secretary: "American Baptist congregations are called by God through Jesus Christ to be communities of faith -- empowered by the Holy Spirit to live as witnesses and agents of God's love and justice in the church and in the world "

Our own church constitution states: "We believe in the right of private, responsible interpretation of the Scriptures."

While Westboro Baptist Church and The Dove World Outreach have the right to interpret the Bible for themselves, they have failed in their responsibility to follow the message of love found in the Gospel. They do not offer love in any form.

We are saddened and perplexed by their lack of responsibility and wish to emphatically state that we do not approve nor endorse any of their words or actions in the name of Christianity as Baptist churches.

The Board of First Baptist Church of Newfane and 48 members and friends

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Kloch's Jet Boat ruling is bad for Lewiston

In a recent court case, State Supreme Court Justice Richard Kloch Sr. ruled that the Village of Lewiston was within its right to deed over a strip of land to the Whirlpool Jet Boat owner for just $1.

This sale and court decision are both a slap in the face to every local taxpayer and results in an unfair enrichment to one particular business owner at the expense of us all. Kloch's assertion that the sum of $1 is a fair price because it will free Lewiston from future liability associated with this parcel is hogwash. I have $2,000 in my pocket right now I would have paid for that parcel had a free and open process been pursued to sell this property. Any new owner would then be responsible for the liability of this land. So Lewiston lost a minimum of $2,000.

Kloch then went on to say, "Where do you want [Whirlpool Jet Boat] to go? Canada? What other locations are there?"

If he knows the history behind the Jet Boat he would know many anglers and homeowners along the river would like to see them go to Siberia. The noise, high wakes and excessive speed of these boats have been an issue for years, not to mention fatalities that happened with previous lower river tour operators. The fact is many neighbors of the adjacent Water Street Landing have complained for years about loud music until all hours of the morning.

Kloch then went on to compare this case to the Verizon data center case in Somerset that was held up in the courts, lamenting on the loss of 200 jobs. The Verizon data center would have been the most egregious case of corporate welfare in the history of Niagara County with tax breaks, grants, loans and low-cost power coming from the taxpayer to the tune of $3.1 million per job. You give me that deal I'll bring 10,000 jobs here next year. The fact is, Verizon did not run away because of lawsuits. Have you ever seen Walmart back down because of citizen opposition or lawsuits? Verizon bought a company that increased its computer memory and thus walked away due to a business decision. It seems like milking the public treasury to enrich select business owners is a theme that Lewiston village officials and Kloch have both signed on to.

Kudos to attorney John Bartolomei for once again making local government look foolish. The cast of characters never seems to change in Western New York.

George W. Reece

Youngstown

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