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Thursday, November 18,2010

Letters | Animals in church


Animals in church

I am concerned about the “WILD” series of sermons that Flamingo Road Church in Cooper City, Fla., is presenting. I was shocked to see that, with a full congregation in attendance, an adult, 500-pound caged male lion was wheeled onto the pulpit. This lion was pacing back and forth during the entire service, which caused the cage to move and rock. There was no barricade of any kind around the cage, only a man seated on a chair beside the caged animal.

A video clip can be seen at http:// vimeo.com/14911169.

It is very disturbing that this type of display is being allowed in a church setting. As I understand it, the next planned event will be using pythons as symbolic of original sin. Were city and county officials and wildlife officers advised in advance about this series of sermons featuring caged wild animals? If it’s not a violation of zoning or animal welfare regulations, shouldn’t it be?

With the recent Jungle Island tiger escape, we’ve seen how quickly things can go wrong — dangerously wrong!

Though much scripture was quoted during this sermon, referring to this lion as the devil himself, I would like those charged with protecting wildlife to also consider Proverbs 12:10, “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”

Please put an end to the use of exotic animals as stage props. It presents an unnecessary danger to the public and is a cruel life for animals who do not deserve this type of life in captivity. The king of beasts has been relegated to nothing more than an animal transported around for people to gawk at, which is shameful!

Jeremy Possman, of Predators Unlimited, supplied this lion for the “show.” He is an alligator wrestler who admits that business has pretty much dried up in that area. Therefore, he has turned to photo ops and traveling exhibits with wild animals. He was quoted in an AP story saying, “If you do get bit, a lot of times that just means more business, because they’re going to come back to see if it’s going to happen again.” This is not a person who should be responsible for the safety of an entire church congregation potentially trapped in a room with a carnivore.

During the service, congregants were told the lion was there in order to “leverage animals to teach God’s lessons.” This lion was likened to the devil, saying, “He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Standing in front of the caged lion, the pastor admitted, “I’m shaking.” He said, “How do you not run? He’s so big, his teeth are so large, he’s so strong.” He held up a gun, smiled and said, “I know you’ve been uneasy this whole service.” As the congregants should be!

Even though Florida accounts for only 6 percent of the national population, it accounts for 12 percent of the 602 reported incidents of killings, maulings and escapes since 1990. Other states, which have passed bans on breeding dangerous exotics, have seen these numbers drop dramatically, some to zero.

There are not enough inspectors to guarantee that even minimal standards of care are being met or that the public is properly safeguarded. It is time for the USDA and FWC to step up and ensure public safety and animal welfare by banning breeding of big cats — period!

Cate Lamm/Longmont

Help with heating bills

Beginning this time of year, as many as one in five Colorado households struggle to keep up with home energy bills. Too many seniors on fixed incomes and families with children must seriously weigh such dismal choices as keeping the heat on or doing without food or medical care.

Fortunately, help is available to keep these people safe and in their homes. The Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), a federally funded program administered through the Colorado Department of Human Services, provides energy bill payment assistance to income qualifying households. LEAP also offers a Crisis Intervention Program to help eligible households needing a repair or replacement of their home heating system.

Another valuable resource is Energy Outreach Colorado, a private, nonprofit organization that raises funds for energy assistance through individual and corporate donors. This year, Energy Outreach is distributing $6.7 million in energy assistance grants to 131 community assistance organizations across the state, including Seniors Resources Center, Salvation Army and Home Front Cares. Energy Outreach was established in 1989 to supplement LEAP funding and provide warmth and security to those who may not qualify for LEAP or need additional assistance. Since then it has distributed nearly $123 million to fund energy bill payment assistance and energy efficiency upgrades for affordable housing in Colorado.

I strongly encourage anyone struggling to pay home energy bills to apply for help today by calling toll-free 1-866-HEAT-HELP or by going to www.EnergyOutreach.org/locator.asp. Concerned citizens interested in helping those who can’t afford home energy can make a donation through those sites or by calling Energy Outreach at 303- 825-8750.

Skip Arnold, executive director, Energy Outreach Colorado/via Internet

Peace in the Middle East

I write to strongly urge continuing, unalloyed support by the United States for Israel, our most reliable ally in the Mideast, in the aftermath of the midterm elections.

Recent, abortive terror plots in our own country forcefully remind us that Iran, which operates through various proxies, notably Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, remains the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. Yemen’s Anwar al-Awlaki is still but a small player in comparison.

Tehran continues work to develop a nuclear-weapons arsenal and constantly reiterates its intention to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth.

Not alone, but very prominent, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps trains Muslim cadres in many nations and covertly supplies them with weapons to advance Islamist interests — including the murder of Americans.

The United States should press all of its allies to enact a new round of sanctions aimed at isolating the Iranian Central Bank, which finances and facilitates that state’s nuclear ambitions. All options, including military strikes, must remain on the table should sanctions fail.

In order for peace to be achieved for Irsael, Palestinians in Gaza — aided by Iran — must stop shooting rockets at Israel. The Palestinian Authority must live up to the agreements it has already signed and sincerely recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation. Jobs and freedom, not jihad, need to be the focus of all Muslim groups now currently hostile towards Israel.

William Eigles/Denver

President Barack Obama’s bid to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is being challenged by the actions and inactions of Israel, the Palestinians and key Arab states. It is time for our president to demonstrate leadership again and follow through on his promise to hold all parties accountable for their actions.

In the past week, Israel moved ahead on multiple large-scale settlement construction schemes, including a provocative plan to dramatically expand one East Jerusalem settlement. Settlement expansion stands in the way of peace and jeopardizes Israel’s viability as a Jewish and democratic state.

Moreover, settlement construction is the most glaring challenge to President Obama’s peace efforts.

American credibility is at stake. If President Obama fails to address the latest provocations in East Jerusalem, it will become increasingly difficult for America to get Israel, the Palestinians or Arab states to take any steps toward peace.

President Obama needs to face these challenges assertively. He must press Israel to stop construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. And he must push all sides into a meaningful negotiations process.

Make no mistake: standing up for peace is the best way to help Israel. Peace is vital for Israel’s future and for American national security interests.

Evelyn Hutt/Denver

Pancreatic cancer awareness

November is National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. While pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, it receives very little public attention. And what’s worse is federal funding for pancreatic cancer research lags far behind other leading causes of cancer death, stalling scientific advances for early detection methods and effective treatment options.

Pancreatic cancer is the only one of the top 10 cancer killers with a five-year survival rate still in the single digits — and the survival rate hasn’t significantly changed in nearly 40 years. We must work together to change this statistic and save lives, and it starts with increasing the visibility of pancreatic cancer.

Sadly, most families don’t even know what pancreatic cancer is until it affects them.

Sadly, this was the case for my family on two separate occasions. Six years ago my father-in-law was taken by this deadly cancer, and in 2008, so was my mother. The symptoms are so easily overlooked and easily dismissed as fatigue, flu/cold-like and, as in my mother’s case, mild heart condition.

It is imperative that people understand how deadly this cancer is and how important early detection is to survival. The profile of this particular type of cancer can no longer be overshadowed by other cancers.

I invite you to join me in spreading the word about pancreatic cancer this November. Go to www.knowitfightitendit.org.

Everett Schneider/Denver

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