Photo by Jimmy and Sasha Reade via Flickr Creative Commons

Letters to the Editor

God’s Minister of Justice: Jerry Dyer

Why am I not surprised that Fresno’s governing police department is commanded by a believer and slave to Christian superstition? This [Police] Chief calls himself God’s minister of justice and justifies his title and authority based on passages in an archaic book of myths. These passages are supposedly inspired by a supreme authority above the clouds, outside of time and space, that has never been proven to exist. The Chief believes evil disobedience began with nested Eve and Satan’s cozy “sharashka”; is the Chief cuckoo?

Perhaps laid off Public Information Officer [Jeff] Cardinale needed to remind this earthly Chief about Romans 13:2, which renders the unafraid Egyptian rebels’ successful resistance inconsequential and bad (which it isn’t) because these rebels after death shall be judged and punished by the Chief’s invisible minister regarding their evil terrorizing of Mubarak’s authority. Talk about archaic ordinances in Romans.

I’d wager the Chief’s ancestors by way of the Confederate South set course for Fresno carrying those ever-adapting scriptures that explain his destiny. I bet the Chief just hides his Negroes now and regrets that Christian authority no longer can administer wrathful punishments like drowning witches, lynching slaves and fagots roasting heretics.

Lastly, the Chief contradicts his own Christian prejudice despite what his attorney claims. If the Chief quotes from church canon to justify his ministry as a government employee, then he hasn’t put asunder church and state, but instead has tied the two together. The poor pious Chief wrestles with the Constitution, when according to Romans he should be purposely resisting its declaration to push God to a separate side. The Chief is on hire to execute justice for church and state according to the supreme authority’s inspired words, and that’s his dilemma, because Christian intolerance is incompatible with a separate church and state. Enjoy your role Chief Cuckoo while your confidence lasts man.

Nick Lewis
Fresno

*****

Support for Dyer

It was good that you followed up on Police Chief [Jerry] Dyer’s comment during his Martin Luther King Birthday speech that he is appointed by God to enforce justice. It is the sort of remark from a leader of state enforcement authority that might suggest questions about separation of church and state, but rather than leveling criticism, progressives and all people who value democracy should be reassured by this statement.

Separation of church and state does not mean that public officials must leave their spirituality “at the door” as they report for work. Rather, a society is strengthened when people who occupy public offices have spiritual beliefs about what they are doing. Religions generally embody high ideals that include justice, fairness, peace and love. Any spirituality is better than none, better than believing that police work is just a job, just a matter of obeying whatever laws are on the books or perhaps a hodgepodge of platitudes about government work.

This is not to say that separation of church and state is not important. The public servant should serve the ideals of his spirituality through his state duties and authority, and not use the authority of office to serve the agenda of his religion.

For example, a religion that calls for the ideal of judgment without prejudice can be obeyed with the result both of serving the official’s faith and of serving the society over whom he has authority. The Romans 12 scripture describing God’s minister of justice also describes these sorts of ideals—punishing wrongdoers—that will serve the general benefit of the society that are of value to people of all faiths or no faiths.

Public officials serving the ideals of their faiths violate the “wall of separation” between politics and religion when they use the power of their office to serve individualized agendas of the religion that are justified only by specific teaching of the religion and not also justifiable by more general principles based on the ideals of the larger society. For example, the wall would be breached by placing in public statements or symbols of a religion, or enforcing a commandment specific to a religion, such as that women must cover all their skin except for their eyes or face. Chief Dyer’s spiritual office of “God’s minister of justice” need not breach the wall of separation in this way. Progressive citizens can rest a bit easier knowing that our chief of police also regards one of his offices to be God’s minister.

If separation of church and state were taken to the length that no public official’s speeches, statements and opinions may ever involve references to, or obedience of, religion, then the nation’s life and culture would become sanitized of the richness that religions can contribute to nations. Our culture would be drained of the strength that spiritual people can bring to it. This is a sacrifice that we have no reason to make.

Keep in mind that religions are central to the cultures of nations. What is one of the first things we want to find out about a people we’re investigating? “What is/are their religion(s)?” If such a central cultural influence is left out of the work of our government, we impoverish our national life.

Arriving at the distinctions between what are strengthening instances of religion in government work and what are unfair advantages for a religion to bring into government involves analysis. Is the religious rule arbitrarily pronounced by the religion, or is it justifiable by general moral principles or by laws that form the basis for society: its constitution and laws. The case of Chief Dyer’s claiming the office of God’s minister of justice from Romans 13 includes the reasoning on which it is based: the Apostle Paul states that the authorities appointed by God should be obeyed “since they do not bear the sword in vain, but to punish wrongdoers.”

The authority appointed by God is described that which does just what we want our police to do: punish wrongdoers. As such, his duty is not derived from the Bible alone but also from our constitution and laws. Chief Dyer’s enthusiasm for enforcing the laws is augmented by the Bible teaching. The teaching inspires enthusiasm for, not content of, the laws. As such, we can be thankful that Chief Dyer carries his commitment to law enforcement not only as a civic duty but also as a religious duty.

Ron Martin
Fresno

****

Wow!

I was just handed a copy of your paper and all I can say is “wow!” I’m an inmate at Avenal State Prison. I would like to receive your paper if at all possible.

Randy Bock
Avenal

(Editor’s reply: We will send the Community Alliance newspaper to Randy and any prisoner who requests one. Subscriptions to prisoners are free.)

*****

New Subscriber (pays with stamps)

Please add me to your list of subscribers. I enjoy reading it, especially the articles by Boston Woodard. So much of what he is experiencing is similar at Avenal and Wasco. I also experienced a violent behavior by a few prison guards at the Orange County Jail at Wasco. These “rogues” make the good compassionate staff look bad. Unfortunately, they are protected by their union and their superiors. I have included some stamps (10) to defray the cost of my subscription.

Jean Bodylski
Avenal

(Editor’s reply: We appreciate it when prisoners send stamps to help us cover the cost of their subscriptions.)

*****

The Poverello House’s Rules Are Fair

Hello, my name is Amber and I am a published author (pen name Amber Rigby Grosjean), and I am currently staying at the Village of Hope at the Poverello House. When I read the March issue, I was disgusted because what it said was stretched far from the truth and it upset me.

Here is the truth: First of all, all places of “business,” may it be where you live (hotel, apartment, etc.), where you work, shop, etc., have rules. In either [Poverello House] village, it does not say at all who you’re allowed to socialize with. It merely states no “hanging out” or stopping in specific places due to the history of those places such as “crack wall” or the tent area. And yes, we do have mandatory meetings but those are in place to keep the “residents” updated about important things like TB testing and other things that come up. Other rules are in place to keep us safe.

I, for one, appreciate Poverello House and its services. We don’t see money, but we do see what that money brings us—food in our bellies; toilet paper and a clean place to go (porta potties); the clinic, which is free (I have used it and it helped me); items that help the homeless like toiletries—toothbrush, paste, soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner; and so much more. They even provide showers and a place to do our laundry. All for free. We can send out our mail too (they provide the paper, envelope and stamp).

I’ve stayed out in a tent plus been around the United States due to my own work and have seen the homeless in other cities. I wish there were more Poverello Houses around. The man who started this company has a big heart, and I really thank him for doing what he did and cared enough for those less fortunate.

But the two villages (one is owned by Poverello and the second by the city) have been added to help those who want to better themselves. Neither one is for everyone. But they do teach discipline, which we all need in life. The phrase is perfectly stated that “you can’t have nothing for free” because we do chores which “pay” our rent. Simple things really, like keeping porta potties clean between dumpings, taking out trash, picking up trash or the streets, wiping off tables, etc. Nothing is difficult. Rules are stated before moving into Village One. No violence permitted; no alcohol or drugs on property; no “shed hopping,” which means you can’t go into someone else’s shed; smoking only in designated areas; “bed checks” are done so we know who is there in case of emergencies like a fire—it’s all placed for our well-being and protection.

Poverello House, or any other organization really, wants to see us move on to something better. They are not in a business to keep us down. They are simply there to help us get through our tough times while we are down. If someone doesn’t want to abide by the rules, they are welcome to do things on their own. But please don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

As a writer, I keep an open mind and never judge. I’ve been there, seen things, and experienced things. If it weren’t for this place at this time, my health, mind, heart and physical well-being might have been in jeopardy. Thank you!

Amber
Fresno

*****

Solidarity Forever (writer responds)

I wrote an article for the March issue of the Community Alliance. My response to Amber, and others who share her views, is this: What happens when one of your friends or family members ends up in a tent or sits on “crack wall”? Do you believe that if you now allow them to make decisions “for your own good” that you’ll be exempt from violations of your constitutional rights and privileges?

Think, Amber, there is a sign in the Village that I am sure you’ve seen. One that says if they remove your belongings any literature they perceive “obscene” they dispose of. You’re a published author; what if they decided your work is obscene? Would you think constitutional violations are no big deal then?

Solidarity is to me the belief that what hurts you hurts me. It doesn’t matter if it is now or later. Why don’t you try some solidarity today? Maybe we could make housing a human right in Fresno if we worked together, instead of allowing different views to separate us. Division is one of the main tools of power such as when shelters, police and local and federal governments maintain and grow poverty for others and money and power for themselves.

LoriAnne Tennison
Fresno

  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x