News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Annunciation members display Christian love

As I am shocked about the brutal violence and act of hatred at Annunciation Catholic Church on Oct. 2, I am more inspired at the loving and caring response of the entire parish, and how they responded to this senseless act. The Rev. Joe Culotta's calm and spirit-filled nature is widely known around this area. His choosing to care for the children, and lead the congregation in prayers of forgiveness and understanding is a hallmark of the church's true nature and a wonderful example of genuine Christian discipleship.

Mayor Don Kyle definitely deserves an award for the understatement of the year declaring that this "certainly doesn't appear to be a rational act", but I'm glad he (a Catholic) represented his entire congregation as a "pretty hardy bunch"! The parishioners and their handling of the perpetrators were amazing.

I'm sorry that the five involved in this crime couldn't see past their own pride and ignorance, and I, too, will pray for them, but as a Catholic youth minister from Madison who loves his friends in Decatur, I am once again honored to know that God is alive and well in the hearts of his people and through his church. Thank you Annunciation for teaching us all about the true love of God!

Greg Thompson


Church assault deserves harsher punishment

As a Byzantine Catholic priest I am shocked and appalled at the desecration on Oct. 2 of Annunciation of the Lord Catholic Church in Decatur. I wish to congratulate the Rev. Joseph Culotta and the Annunciation congregation for their restraint in responding to the people who committed this hate crime. The "criminal mischief" charge and the low bail do not in any way provide justice for this hate crime.

These five people have not only violated local and state laws, they have also violated federal laws, and apparently have committed felonies under federal law. They should be prosecuted under these statutes.

What is the saddest aspect of this hate crime is that these criminals apparently view themselves as "fundamentalist Christians." But they obviously neither understand the fundamentals of Christianity nor the teachings of Christ. I have first-hand experience of such hatred being taught in so-called Bible Christian churches. Such people can not be called followers of Christ.

Once again my parish and I will remember the members of Annunciation Church in our prayers and liturgies. We will also remember these poor deluded people, pray for their repentance, conversion, and the inner healing they must experience in order to be truly followers of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.

Very Rev. Dr. Bryan R. Eyman

Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio

Hate obviously inspired act against church

I read with much dismay the article relating the desecration of the altar of the Annunciation of the Lord Catholic Church. I have prayed for these misguided souls, but I have one question only: Will these people be charged with a hate crime? Their actions clearly indicate a deep-seated hatred and they inspired fear in the parishioners that was solely based against their religion. If this desecration had taken place in a mosque or a Jewish temple, this question would not even need be posed as it would obviously be a hate crime.

Staci Chronister

Ladson, S.C.

Pray for those who desecrated church

What happened at the Annunciation Catholic Church in Decatur was terrible. Those people destroyed a sacred place of worship and I am glad that the Rev. Joseph Culotta called the police on them. It is evil to do or think of doing what they did. They should have to serve time and pay the church restitution for the altar's replacement. These people need to be prayed for and made responsible for their actions.

Many have the wrong idea about the Catholic Church and its teachings. They should study more about it and then express their opinions.

Theresa Gagliano

Bartlett, Tenn.

Churches are under
attack from all sides

With God and our churches under attack by the ACLU and "People for the American Way," using our tax dollars at that, the rare and feared personal attacks have visited yet another innocent church and its parishioners. What set these people off? Did the anti-church mentality inspire these people to do this? This is a symptom of a society that has turned away from God. Perhaps at a personal level one could suspect drug addiction to these acts of violence. Usually drug users would resort to theft of property rather than encounter an individual in a robbery setting.

About two years ago we had the occasion to visit St. Ann Church. Since then all we could think of was the pains that parishioners took to transport the altar to the new location.

Our prayers are with Annunciation and its parishioners to stand tall and overcome this.

Haden White


The Catholic faith is
misunderstood in South

It breaks my heart to think people hate that much to go and defile something holy like the altar in our church. Being a Catholic in the South is like being a fish out of water. I never encountered any animosity toward my religion until I moved here. Where I grew up, I was raised to believe in God and follow his commandments and that we were all free to worship in the church of our choice.

I have been snubbed by some, even some supposedly intelligent people, especially when I answer what religious affiliation I belong to. Some have gone so far as to say, "Why, she's not even a Christian." I called a pastor in the area to tell him if he was going to send young adults out to minister and solicit people to join his congregation, then he needed to tell them all the truth about their religion. Some are clueless and have no idea where their church or religious affiliation originally came from — they can only quote me a Bible verse in defense.

Knowing the Bible is not all there is to being a Christian. To truly be a Christian, we must be Christ-like and not judge others. Jesus didn't care if someone was a Jew or black or disabled — he loved and died for us all. I am proud of the Rev. Joseph Culotta and all the wonderful people and clergy associated with our parish. They do a lot of good for the community, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike. God bless them.

Jo Lynne Hannay

Hillsboro Security at courthouse, airports violates rights


Here's a suggestion to save the courthouse some money: Close down the unconstitutional security gauntlet. Unconstitutional? How can that be?

It's simple. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: "... the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The courthouse is clearly infringing on this right, but that's not all. The Fourth Amendment states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." By what contortions of logic can one argue that the use of metal detectors and X-ray machines to conduct warrantless searches of citizens and their effects is not a violation of the Constitution?

Well, the airlines have been doing it for years, so shouldn't it be OK for the courthouse? In "Thoughts on Defensive War," 1775, Thomas Paine said: "(A)rms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. . . Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them." The annulment of our Second and Fourth amendment rights aboard airliners culminated in "horrid mischief" on Sept. 11, 2001.

As Judge Andrew Napolitano convincingly documented in his book "Constitutional Chaos," "A government that breaks its own laws is not your friend." The officials who run the courthouse should obey the Constitution and get rid of the metal detectors and X-ray machines so that law abiding citizens can freely come and go as is their constitutionally guaranteed right, and save our tax money in the process.

Kennon Ledbetter


Organ donors should be at top of recipient list

Re: "Perfect match," Sept. 30. The generosity of live organ donors like Tina Hill is remarkable. But we wouldn't need live organ donors if Americans weren't burying or cremating 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

There is a better solution to the organ shortage — if you don't agree to donate your organs when you die, then you go to the back of the waiting list if you ever need an organ to live.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. About 70 percent of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life shouldn't be eligible for transplants as long as there is a shortage of organs.

Anyone who wants to donate his organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. They do this through a form of directed donation that is legal in all 50 states and under federal law. Anyone can join for free at LifeSharers has 3,248 members, including 30 members in Alabama.

David J. Undis

Executive Director



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