A Letter to Lancaster Christians

Written by Dr. Mary Theresa (Terry) Webb, West Lampeter. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on February 1, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

Thank you to all Mennonites who signed a recent one page ad on 01/20/21. But I missed the signatures of other Christians from Lancaster who boarded one of seven buses that took Lancastrians to Washington on Jan. 6th to attend the Stop the Steal rally. I want to ask them why they attended a crowded rally when the Pandemic is raging?

I imagine you may have been thrilled to listen to former President Trump, his family and other supporters speak when he encouraged you to keep fighting for him. Maybe you just believe that attending that rally was your Christian patriotic duty. What happened when the crowd started storming the Capitol building? Did you go with them? Did you watch from a distance, cheer them on, or did you leave early? Do you still believe that the election was stolen now that a new president has been sworn in and is working and living in the White House? 

Perhaps you have mixed feelings like I did twenty-five years ago.  I also followed a charismatic leader and joined his group of Christians persuaded to live in an intentional community he founded. His words were spellbinding. I believed he spoke for Jesus. But he didn’t. Instead, although he was married, he was having illicit affairs with those he was counseling. At first, I didn’t believe it when he was exposed; then, I felt betrayed. Finally, the truth set in when I realized what that leader did was contrary to what he preached and what Jesus taught.  

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

Investing in Americans Who Want to Get Back to Work

Written by Perry Hazeltine, Lancaster City. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on January 25, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

In 1932, Americans were desperate. Hoover’s stubborn refusal to stimulate the economy trapped people in poverty.  Working people rallied around the New Deal and elected Roosevelt despite the charge by Republicans that he was a socialist.  

This shows that our country can mobilize the political will to create big and bold programs.  New Deal programs bettered working people’s lives and eradicated the poverty that plagued the elderly. Programs, like the FDIC and social security, have outlasted the Great Depression and remain popular.

Yet, political scientists have observed that when considering big programs like the Biden Stimulus Plan, Americans tend to support specific items but not the program overall for fear of government spending. Yet if there is ever a time to stimulate the economy with strategic spending, that time is now. 

Like the New Deal, the stimulus plan aims to restore the economy with deficit spending. Economists call this a “good deficit”—getting money in the hands of unemployed people and struggling businesses in the middle of a financial crisis caused by a health crisis. By contrast, the 2017 tax cut during an economic boom was a “bad deficit.” 

 Amid the pandemic’s economic toll, Americans face desperation similar to that of the Great Depression.  The Biden Stimulus Plan will alleviate the financial hardship faced by people who want to work. Let Senators Casey and Toomey and Representative Smucker know it’s time to stimulate the economy by voting for the Biden Stimulus Plan.

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

The Trumpism Movement

Written by Dr. Mary Theresa (Terry) Webb, West Lampeter. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on January 17, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

The mob that desecrated the Capitol building, ending with destruction and death on the 6th of January, did so because they believed Trump when he told them that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Incited by Trump’s words, they marched and stormed the Capitol. We witnessed the Trumpism movement at its worst. 

Among those at the rally proceeding the break-in at the Capitol building, along with MAGA hats, American and Confederate flags, were signs proclaiming “Jesus Saves.” Seven buses from Lancaster County in Pennsylvania attended that event. These well-meaning Christian folks believed that Trump was ushering in a Christian revival. Many others responding to Trump’s Twitter calls were from other towns and communities. Tragically, most of them have been in pathological bondage to Trump’s cult-like personality. His words and actions deceive them.

Shofars and “my pillow” promotions notwithstanding, Trump-thumping tweets and events, including the Washington “Save America” March and “Stop the Steal” rally exposes the Christian nationalistic part of Trumpism. This finally culminated when Trump encouraged his loyal troops to go to the Capitol with strength, while Trump, his family, and enablers watched it unfold from their tent at the White House. His loyal troops marched to his orders and six were killed, along with police officers, and many injured. 

In their book, Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers, Bob Altmeyer and John Dean describe Trump followers as having a preference for strongly hierarchical and ethnocentric social orders that favor them, or are those like themselves, and who reject political establishments.  Waving their American flags and Trump banners, they consider themselves to be true American Patriots left behind as society changes around them. They want to be winners like Trump, but resent the fact that they’re not. Like him, they lack empathy and many grew up in abusive households like his and become abusers themselves or its victims. These Trump believers are prone to conspiracy theories, magical thinking, and scapegoating. Trump has become their god-like savior. Like him they won’t wear masks or keep socially distanced. Instead, they congregate in large groups to pray endlessly for and over Trump because God has given them visions to do so.  Their leaders, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse, have been frequent visitors to the White House to lay hands on President Trump.  Influenced by these leaders and supportive pastors, they live in rural areas and worship in local conservative churches, which have been infiltrated by Dominionists. 

In the 1980s, a form of Conservative Christian Dominionism took over the Southern Baptists. Frederick Clarkson defines Dominionism as a “theocratic idea that, regardless of theological camp, means, or timetable, God has called Conservative Christians to exercise dominion over society by taking control of political and cultural institutions.”   Those influenced by this theology believe that America was founded as a Christian country. Because the country has fallen away from these roots, Christians are needed to run for and to be elected to public office. In addition, they encourage and recruit elected politicians to attend their bible studies and fellowships. In America, Christianity has been hijacked by this false theology.   

When Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, that was the beginning of the melding of the Christian faith with political and cultural institutions. Popes and emperors consorted and fought wars together, eventually leading to the disastrous crusades and the Spanish inquisitions.  Sometimes referred to as Right Wing Christian Evangelicalism, Christian Nationalism, Christian Reconstructionism or, more recently, The New Apostolic Reformation, this kind of church and state mixed theology has found its way into American evangelical and charismatic denominational congregations in both the South and the North, especially in more fundamentalist and charismatic churches. This theocratic theology contrasts with historic Christian polity, based on the life and teachings of Jesus who espouses a domain called the Kingdom of Heaven, different from and challenging to the governing entity leading the country. In Jesus’  day that was the Roman Empire. Today, that has been a kind of American Empire recently led by someone who considers he is the greatest, an emperor or a king. He has used and abused his Christian followers.

The Trumpism movement can also be called a white religious conservative populism.  Such movements in America are not new. In the late 1880s William Jennings Bryan and the People’s Party exemplified biblical populism; in the mid-19th Century the Know-Nothings spouted conspiracy theories and anti-immigration rhetoric; in the 20th century McCarthyism was both nationalistic and racist in its origins. Trumpism has roots in the Tea Party Movement with its conservative Christian underpinnings and White Nationalism. Today, Tea party affiliated elected politicians have been caught up in following the Trump cult. Many of them were the Senators and Congressmen who objected to authorizing the Electoral votes for Biden and Harris, the lawful winners of the 2020 election.

 How do we break the strangle-hold of Trumpism? Dr. Brandy Lee, in her new book, Profile of a Nation: Trumps Mind, Americas Soul, provides a prescription that includes removal of Trump from power and his ability to influence including impeachment that keeps him from running for office again, prosecuting him under the full extent of our laws for criminal and treasonous behavior, and diminishing his social media platforms.  This is now in process.

However, what can each of us do to help Trump’s followers? We can reach out to try and build relationships and provide emotional support, accepting that some will resist, be angry, and will not be persuaded by facts. Our task as true American patriots will be enhanced by Christians willing to stand up as Jesus did and confront the hypocrisy of both the leaders of this American theocratic movement and also love its followers back to being true to the teachings of Jesus. 

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

Time to Cash Out

Written by Rebecca Branle, Ephrata Township. This piece was first published on January 11, 2021 Rebecca’s blog, basicallybeckyblogs. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

Money makes the world go round.

And it makes small people sell their souls, and their country, for more. More money, more power, more money, more power – the cycle of the sick. So if they say follow the money, I say cut off the flow. If those of us who value democracy want to save this country, we’ll put our money where our mouths are…we’ll talk in cash.

Because healing comes in steps, and we can’t break into any kind of stride until we unify in truth. Every single Republican lawmaker needs to say what they’ve known to be true all along. They need to stand together, alongside their Democratic colleagues, and say without reservation that this election was free and fair. There is no evidence to the contrary. Never has been.

So why won’t they, after everything, tell the truth in unison? It seems they should have by now, for the sake of the country. I hear it explained that they’re afraid of losing the 70 million Trump voters, but friends, people don’t come first to these folks, the same way that the country never came first. Money comes first. So if we want to end Trumpism, and I truly believe that a significant portion of those 70 million Trump voters are now done, we have to cut off the crooked. Every major PAC, corporation, billionaire and business needs to loudly and proudly state their intention to stop the flow. No more cash until the truth is told, not a penny more to lawmakers and to their lying megaphones, including FoxNews, NewsMax and OAN.

I know what you’re thinking – how do you get those PACs and businesses and billionaires to care? The answer – money. Always, money. If the seditionists get their way and end our democracy, it won’t mean healthy stock market gains. It won’t bring profitable trade. The smart and rich but morally bankrupt people and entities that propped up this presidency and this party over the past 4 years have to fold their cards now. They got their deregulation. They got their tax cuts. They got so. much. richer. Now, it’s time to call the game. Even they stand to lose if this rebellion wins.

So, let’s do it. Let’s tell the rich to cut the cash. Let’s remind them why it behooves them to do so. And where the rich go, Republican lawmakers will follow. Why? Because it was the rich that funded the propaganda that spread the lies that closed the eyes of Americans who would have been done with this traitorous president years ago. They need that money to fund the rhetoric that will rebrand the party, that will make even the most cynical Republicans get back on board. Without money, the Republican party is over. If the Rebellion succeeds, the rich lose it all. They’re backed into a corner, and we need to tell them we know.

Then, when the money is gone, the traitors will stand alone. The Republicans will need to get on board and do what they know they must – vote to remove and criminally prosecute this president and his cronies, including every lawmaker who voted against certification and every lawmaker who used rigged election and incitement rhetoric.

Is it a perfect fix? No. But it’s a start and we can’t heal until those who are culpable are held accountable, until the confused in our country are told the truth, finally. We won’t get there by asking the lawmakers who enabled the creation of this mess to do the right thing. They don’t speak that language. They speak in cash. So let’s bankrupt the party whose moral compass has been spent for years.

Then, let’s build back better.

Minus the racism.

Minus the misogyny.

Minus Trump.

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

A Call For Lloyd Smucker’s Resignation

Written by Laurie Hess, Warwick Township. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on January 10, 2021 with permission from the author. This piece was also published on January 13, 2021 in LancasterOnline/LNP

This is not my first letter to the editors of this newspaper. Most of my letters have been Kumbaya affairs, extolling the virtues of compassion and urging readers to disavow hate.

This one is different.

I would like to add my voice to the call for the resignation of Congressman Lloyd Smucker.

Republican elected officials in general, and Mr. Smucker in particular, have been lying to their constituents since the election, whipping them into a frenzy with tales of voter fraud, a stolen election, vanishing freedoms. 

When speaking to the press, they dressed up their lies with words of concern about election integrity, making it seem as though their intentions were noble. Their real intention was to elevate their political capital by echoing an increasingly unhinged president. 

Words are powerful. People believed these specious arguments. Some of these angry people broke into the Capitol building and temporarily brought the democratic process to a halt.

Incredibly, even after the riot, Lloyd Smucker stood by the lies. He objected to counting Pennsylvania’s votes because his constituents were upset with the way the election was carried out. This is disturbing circular logic. Constituents were angry because they were lied to by the very people who wished to benefit from that anger.

Mr. Smucker, you lied to people who trusted you. You broke your oath to uphold the constitution. You tried to disenfranchise Pennsylvania voters. You do not deserve to represent the people of Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. It is time to step aside.

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

In Memory of Richard Thornburgh, a Real Republican

Written by Dr. Mary Theresa (Terry) Webb, West Lampeter. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on January 8,2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

The Republican party has historically stood for upholding the Constitution, standing for free elections, integrity and courage. These are the principles our former governor, Richard Thornburgh, lived out when he was governor from 1979-1987.  Our current Republican representative, Lloyd Smucker, has negated everything that Richard Thornburgh represented and worked for as a Republican in public office. Smucker’s low blow to Republicanism came when he was one of eight Pennsylvania congressmen to opposed the recent presidential election certifications. 

On January 1, 2021, I retrieved my souvenir “Thornburgh for Governor” glass and drank a toast to Richard Thornburgh who died the night before on New Year’s Eve. Dick and Ginny were neighbors when we lived in Pittsburgh and our children were toddlers. We mourned with Dick when he lost Ginny in a terrible car accident and their infant son, Peter, was injured. We were present when he was introduced to another Ginny, who became his second wife three years later.  With Ginny, Dick took on the cause of advocacy for the disabled, culminating in the passage of the 1990 Disability Act.  Dick led the Commonwealth as Governor for two terms. He then moved to Washington where he was chosen by two presidents to be Attorney General, tackling injustice and corruption as head of the Justice Department.

 Today, Smucker and other Republican politicians, both in Pennsylvania and Washington, would do well to examine how far they have veered from historic Republican principles.  For example, Senator Scott Martin in Harrisburg questions global warming and Congressman Smucker prefers to follow the whims and dictates of his party’s mob boss, Donald Trump. In enabling and following Trump, our current Republican elected politicians dishonor the party, defy the Constitution, believe in conspiracy theories, and turn a blind eye to corruption and injustice. In memory of Richard Thornburgh, the current Republican party needs to return to historic Republican principles. 

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

It’s Time to Move Forward

Written by Dr. Mary Theresa (Terry) Webb, West Lampeter. This piece was first published on December 16, 2020 in LancasterOnline/LNP. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

If you are one of the majority of Lancastrians who voted for Donald Trump for another four years as president, you may be feeling sad or angry or both. Maybe you believe the election was rigged, stolen, or that fraudulent votes were counted illegally. Maybe you are pro-life or believe in Trump’s policies. Perhaps you attended his rally at the airport and heard him tell you he is making America great again and not to worry about getting or spreading the coronavirus. 

While I hear your pain, I can agree on one of your concerns but respectfully disagree on others. I do share your concern about unborn babies, but what about immigrant children still in detention facilities and children who are food deprived because their parents are now unemployed.

As for America’s greatness, doesn’t feeding starving children, alleviating suffering, and welcoming immigrant families matter? When have you heard President Trump last urging you to follow public health guidelines and modeling them to slow the spread of the coronavirus now raging?

When all is said and done, Joe Biden won the election, according to certified results, with 306 electoral college votes and over 80 million popular votes. No fraud has been uncovered. Recounts have added to Biden’s popular vote win and almost all of Trump law suits have been dismissed by the courts – the most recent one by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Now is the time to share with others and reason things out or form a “With Malice Toward None” support group through Braverangels.org.

©️2020 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.


Football, Politics and the Importance of a Handshake

Written by Irma Ilustre, Manheim Township. A shorter version of this piece was first published on November 29, 2020 in LancasterOnline/LNP under the title “What Happened to Good Losers?”. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

Fall is a great time of year – not for the leaves or the pumpkin spice lattes, but for football. I grew up in a football family with both my brothers playing in high school and college.  When I went away to college, watching football on Sunday night was a weekly ritual and solidified my team of choice. After getting married, we had a group of friends who rotated hosting Sunday football games.  The food was great but the “trash talk” and celebration dances were even better! We may have been on opposing teams on Sunday, but that didn’t matter to our friendship on the other days of the week. 

Unfortunately, that great American tradition of gathering on Sunday for food and football may have fallen by the wayside during these pandemic times. Even more disappointing, is the loss of other American cultural norms that have long been showcased in our national game as well as in real life.

When I was younger, it used to be, that after a game – whether it was football or baseball, basketball or soccer, even volleyball or dodgeball – the team that won would shake hands with the team that lost and say, “Good game.” Even when everyone was getting participation awards, this tradition was still in place. But maybe that sense of “everyone wins” has been taken too far because in competition not everyone wins. In competition, there are winners and losers. 

There were also accepted and expected behaviors around these temporary titles (because these labels are truly only held until the next game when the roles might be switched). Winners won gracefully – they didn’t rub it in the loser’s face, they didn’t bad mouth the team or person that lost. Losers lost gracefully – they didn’t have a tantrum about losing and turned their attention to the future and what they could do better. Losers were also able to say what the winners did that won the game and sometimes, they might even say this with resignation and a hint of admiration.

Politics is a game where there are winners and losers. However, this most recent game has been marred by sore losers and sour grapes. While there are also stories of ungraceful winners, the actions of members of the losing political party has been egregious. Did they not learn how to shake hands and say “good game” when they younger? Or were they the kid who sulked on the bench and got a talking to from Coach and their parents? 

Or maybe, for some reason, they didn’t get that talk – maybe their parents and Coach told them that they didn’t have to shake hands and that the other team won by luck or because they cheated. Maybe those adults also didn’t learn the lesson about losing being an opportunity to grow and learn and practice being humble.

At this time, it seems we, the citizens of this Great Nation, have to be the parents to these politicians who are not willing to concede the election to president-elect Biden. We have to coach the angry, sulking politicians in our party, muttering about the game being unfair, and tell them, “We played hard and did the best we could. Let’s not focus on this loss, but focus on what we can do better next time.” If we have won this election, we have to show good sportsmanship and extend our hand and say, “Good game.” But more importantly, if we have lost this election, we have to show good sportsmanship and extend our hand and say, “Good game.” Then we can leave the field with dignity and a resolve to do better next time.

This is the American Way. This is how we keep our democracy alive.

©️2020 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

LNP Best Workplaces

Written by Eric Kearsley, Willow Street. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on December 16, 2020 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor.

The LNP should be lauded for sponsoring the idea of a “Best Workplaces” insert.  No doubt it generates advertising revenue for our only newspaper, but it also encourages good practices by our local businesses.  Unfortunately, the Employee Survey Questions completely leaves out any mention of diversity or inclusivity.  Based on the US Census, DATA USA reports that in 2018 only 40.3 % of Lancaster city are White (non-Hispanic), a full 32.3% are Hispanic, and 14.4% are Black; the remainder are Asian or multiracial.  I suggest that every workplace that is truly welcoming to all should demonstrate their commitment to diversity/inclusivity by having a formal statement to that effect on their websites, their personnel documents, and their training programs. It should also be one of the criteria included on the annual LNP Employee Survey.  

Ref: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/lancaster-pa/#demographics

UPDATE: Mr. Kearsley was contacted by LNP after reading this submission. LNP reiterated their commitment to supporting workplace diversity and reported that they will work with their team to include diversity in the workplace survey for next year.

©️2020 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

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