Holy City stories

Reporter Andrew Knapp caught the essence of the beautiful St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in his poignant article about ringing the church bell 26 times to honor the Connecticut dead.

What sad and joyful news The Post and Courier covers in our many beautiful churches.

Earthquake damage dating from 1886 required Grace Episcopal Church to undergo extensive repair, and The Post and Courier covered the wonderful story of the many places Grace members have worshipped, including Beth Elohim Synagogue.

Then there was the recent termite problem at Citadel Square Baptist Church as well as the rescue of an historic Wentworth Street church from being changed to a private home.

Congratulations on this achievement, and continue in the New Year to cover our many places of music and worship in this Holy City.

Martha F. Barkley

Shadowcreek Court

North Charleston

Taliban talks

We are tempted to seek a peace agreement with the Taliban but does anyone in the diplomatic corps really believe that this is possible?

Their level of education, mental maturity and outlook on life are so foreign to our way of thinking that we may as well negotiate with beings from another planet.

Case in point: The Taliban have killed aid workers attempting to immunize children from polio. The Taliban tell people that immunizations will cause sterility.

How do you deal with this distorted view of life and science?

ROBERT SAVIN, M.D.

Privateer Creek Road

Johns Island

Gun violence

This paper’s recent headline “What is it going to take?” reflects our national distress. As a nation, should we claim surprise?

Shock, yes.

But surprise?

Probably not when children and adults digest a constant diet of gun violence in video games, television and film, and where the sale and possession of assault weapons are permitted by a 200-year-old amendment that addressed Colonial-era rifles.

Today, automatic weapons are legally available, even to be carried around like the Wild West, endangering our police — all to the amazement of other developed countries, as we further solidify our well-earned reputation as a violent society.

Our parents’ generation had the wisdom to care for the mentally ill. But as our own state hospital in Columbia was boarded up and sold to the highest bidder, soon to become condominiums, our county sheriffs have become the de facto first-line providers of care for the mentally ill, followed by those who rely on mostly private donations to care for the homeless, followed by our overburdened and underfunded mental health centers.

Yes, the blood of those poor first graders is on the hands of that mentally ill young man, but can this nation blame him and his gun-collecting suburban mother?

Is blood on our collective hands as a nation that since the 1970s has ignored the plight of the mentally ill, catered to the blatant cash-guzzling lobby of the NRA and continued to elect House and Senate members, like South Carolina’s, who hide behind the Second Amendment to keep money flowing?

There will be more shootings, more police officers at risk, more sheriffs struggling to warehouse the mentally ill, more gun sales and more politicians sitting on the fence in the back pocket of the NRA. And as a nation we will continue to lose our way.

Francis X. McCann

Society Street

Charleston

Christmas joy

On Dec. 20, the Hat Ladies brought hats from the Bollman Hat Co. to guests at Crisis Ministries as part of the Headwear Association’s Hats for the Homeless Program. Some hats were stylish. Some were more practical.

All were magical. As in the song, “Frosty the Snowman,” “... when they put them on their head, they began to dance around.” Men, women and children experienced the joy of being given something unconditionally and unexpectedly and reacted accordingly.

As the Hat Ladies helped guests find the perfect hat, they felt like kids on Christmas morning, seeing the glow in the eyes of the recipients.

The Hat Ladies say there is “hat” in HeArT. Thanks to the Bollman Hat Co., all hearts at Crisis Ministries were filled with joy as the winter season officially began.

Just like Frosty, they will be back again someday. In the meantime, everyone involved will proudly carry the memory of that magical night in their HeArTs.

Archie Burkel

Heyward Cove

Charleston

Smoke harms

In a Dec. 27 letter to the editor the writer disputes a claim in your editorial of Dec. 17 supporting the Goose Creek smoking ordinance, that the science of second-hand smoke is conclusive.

How does he know that there is no evidence that the science is conclusive? Because he “googled” it and found no such science.

If the writer, or anyone else, wants to find conclusive proof of the science of second-hand smoke, he just needs to go to the library do the research.

Scientific studies showing a conclusive link between exposure to second-hand smoke and cardiovascular disease and cancer can be found in a host of peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Children are among the most vulnerable to the hazards of second-hand smoke. If you need proof of the science then go to the June 10, 1993, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine and read the “Association between Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Exacerbations of Asthma in Children.”

That’s right, 1993. We’ve known for at least 20 years that exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of disease. This is just one example of conclusive science.

An article in the Business section (Dec. 27) reported on “a recent ruling ordering an advertising blitz stating that the nation’s largest tobacco companies lied about the dangers of smoking.”

This is a prime example of the damage the tobacco companies have done to the health of our nation.

By promulgating false and misleading information, and by placing in people’s minds doubts about the science, they have spawned skepticism.

People who believe the lies may oppose efforts to limit exposure to second-hand smoke.

It is incumbent upon the public to look beyond the unscrupulous actions of the tobacco companies and make decisions based on the truth.

I congratulate Goose Creek City Council for passing the first reading of the smoking ordinance and the editor of this newspaper for supporting it.

Richard Hernandez

Doctor of Public Health

Fairbury Drive

Goose Creek

Unity needed

I agree with the writer who said our “diverse” opinions are a cause of the inability of Congress and the president to accomplish anything.

Diversity, which everyone heralds as making us strong, has in fact divided us into smaller and smaller groups focused on single issues, and all competing against each other.

In the last election, President Obama was able to cobble together support from diverse voters by focusing on their issues such as free contraception, gay rights, green energy and getting the “rich” to pay their fair share.

This works for them but not for a lot of voters with different views. The in-fighting continues.

We seem to be changing from the UNITED States of America to the “Diverse States of America,” and we compete for what we see as a finite pot of resources.

Great leaders should pull us together, not divide us and regroup us to their advantage — yet we seem to be blithely heading down that road, so long as our pet issues are catered to.

We are headed for a collapse as the UNITED States of America if this persists.

Bill O’Brien

Palmetto Peninsula Drive

Mount Pleasant