Letters to the Editor: January 19 – 25, 2012

Says Decision on Church Not Civil, But Property Rights


Your editorial concerning the recent court ruling clarifying the status of properties of The Falls Church flatly misstates the import of that decision. It was not a “civil rights” decision “affirming the right of a qualified priest to serve his church without regard to sexual orientation or fear of reprisal.” (a reference to the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson in the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003).

The decision upheld the property rights of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in The Falls Church and six other churches in Northern Virginia. The message from the court is that, while people are free to leave a church for any reason, a decision to leave does not give them the right to take things when they go, be they paper clips, pew pencils, prayerbooks, communion silver, bank accounts, or the buildings themselves. If there is any tinge of civil rights to the decision, it is a by-product of the ruling: people who choose to leave a hierarchical church have an absolute right to do so but they can’t expect to take property by self-help and occupation and evict people who choose to stay. This is a just result, long in coming, but worth the wait if it spares Virginians and others future confusion on this fundamental point.

The issue of whether any church should permit non-celibate, unmarried persons of any sexual orientation to be priests or bishops is an internal church matter that cannot, under the Constitution of the United States, be decided by the secular courts. It is not a “civil rights” issue (although it would quickly become one if a federal, state or local government attempted to impose an answer) and it was not at issue in the recent Virginia case. There is no unanimity of opinion on this point in the congregation of The Falls Church, the Diocese of Virginia, or the Episcopal Church of the United States. If consensus is ever achieved on this controversy within any church community, it will not be as a result of litigation.

Jonathan Benner

Dunn Loring, Virginia

(Editor replies- Beyond the formalities, civil rights are the winners here.)


Derides Lack of Attention to Removing Graffiti


To apply Barbara Gordon’s quotation from President Jefferson as printed, “An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will,” is my purpose to write this letter.

If there is a Farifax County Whistle-Blower Program, then I wish to blow the whistle on, what I see, as some corruption, legal malpractice, maladministration. I’ll explain:

Someone, but no one is saying who, spray-painted some gang signs and symbols as vandalism upon the 7-Eleven on Gallows Road in Dunn Loring. The gang signs and symbols are on the building’s south-side facing exterior. The graffiti was present in September of 2011. From that day to this, no one has ever applied paint thinner to erase or remove the graffiti! All of that is the problem.

Gang signs and symbols attract gangs who linger, loiter and beg. As rebuffed, they assault and flee. A reference for which is Jean Mack’s compilation in the Washington Post. The gangs heap jeopardy and apprehensiveness upon consumers, delivery drivers, motorists and retail staff. That which ought to be a distraction; at worst a victimization. And the vandalism of the spray-paint remains since September as a gang attraction! All of that is the situation.

By “corruption,” I mean to suppose the reason the 7-Eleven staff became in the climate of not reporting and not removing the vandalism and gang symbols. To me, to not report this crime is a crime in and of itself.

By “legal malpractice” I mean to include the so-called general counsel of 7-Eleven in Dallas as guilty of failure to exert proper managerial oversight, as guilty of not enhancing the individual shareholders’ investment in property.

The summary is, citizens become scanned by so-called civic leaders who are over-trusted and negligent in anti-crime.

Norman Leppert

Falls Church


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