Regarding the July 25 article “AFN lineup to include uncensored HBO series”: Aside from my personal taste in entertainment (reading the synopses of the new shows American Forces Network plans to air validates my choice not to waste my time watching TV), I do have one question for [AFN director of programming] Larry Marotta: What is the message that the military services are receiving when AFN is broadcasting programs that, if I were to openly discuss them in the office the next day, I would be setting myself up for charges of sexual harassment or hostile environment?

Lt. Col. Rodger T. Duncan

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

Bible is clear on standards

In response to the July 27 letter “Judge not ...”: Yes, we can judge, and there are moral standards. It is essential to grasp that the Bible contains objective moral standards to which every human being is accountable. It is not how a person feels about it that determines the standard.

The writer attempts to quote from Matthew 7:1 about judging, but takes the verse out of context. Those who engage in or support immoral behavior frequently quote this verse when attempting to defend their sinful positions. The homosexual lifestyle is immoral, and the Bible is clear on that in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:24-32, 1 Timothy 1:10, Leviticus 18:22, and many others. We have a responsibility to discern right from wrong and the basis on which to determine that is the Bible.

If the people of our nation and its leaders continue in moral decline, the consequences will be severe. Therefore, we should actively stand against the homosexual initiative directed at our military and nation.

Cmdr. Mark Parsons

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

No new life in tired arguments

The July 27 letter “Withstand forced immorality” made me seriously question how humanity ever made it to the 21st century.

The chaplain who wrote the letter makes the same tired arguments against ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” (arguments that, coincidentally, were also made against the inclusion of blacks and women in the armed forces), but then arrives at the conclusion that merely wearing the same uniform as a homosexual is a violation of his First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

Since there are already homosexuals serving honorably in the armed forces (perhaps in the letter writer’s own unit), is he presently having trouble exercising his religious beliefs and/or his official duties? Does he also have the same concerns over serving alongside adulterers, liars, atheists, shellfish eaters, those who wear garments made of wool and linen and anyone else who doesn’t fit his very narrow definition of “traditional morality”? Finally, which member of the “gay lobby” is physically threatening him unless he denies his faith?

The writer then shows his dismay at the thought of being forced to attend briefings espousing mutual respect for other servicemembers (also known as being a decent human being) and the creation of a Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgendered month.

I hope (lest he appear hypocritical) the letter writer shows the same amount of indignation when nonreligious servicemembers attend mandatory formations where sectarian prayers are uttered, or are “highly suggested” to attend National Day of Prayer events.

If and when “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed, if the letter writer still feels serving with open homosexuals is against his religious beliefs, he can find his way to the door.

Staff Sgt. Casey Leavings

Osan Air Base, South Korea

Tolerance isn’t acceptance

I find myself emphatically disagreeing with the chaplain who wrote the July 27 letter “Withstand forced immorality.” I highly doubt that sitting through a briefing about homosexual tolerance will lead anyone to deny God.

Homosexuals will not force immorality upon anyone. I am sure these “briefings” to which the letter writer referred will just ask all to be somewhat tolerant.

And speaking of being subjected to things like “Gay-Lesbian-Transgendered” month, what about those of us who are subjected to “National Prayer Day” — not to mention invocations that mark the beginning of almost every official function?

No one asks that the letter writer embrace homosexuals and deny God. They just ask him to be tolerant of those people. Morality to me is not following what the Bible says word for word, but following The Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Most people who disagree with the letter writer’s religion are subjected to it on a fairly regular basis. The letter writer doesn’t have to agree with it, just tolerate it.

Staff Sgt. Matthew R. Jones

Balad Air Base, Iraq

Inadvertently aiding terrorists

By identifying a terrorist organization by name, the mainstream media inadvertently provides vital support to its cause. Immediately following each deadly attack on innocent civilians, terrorist organizations enjoy headlines from every major news organization around the world. These headlines rightfully inform the general population, but they also give terrorists an identity and provide a worldwide forum for them to spread their specific message of hate, drawing sympathy and additional recruits to their cause.

The media can prevent its own exploitation by refusing to print or air the specific names of terrorist organizations or their goals.

The American media has rightfully cooperated with major league sports by not airing the antics of spectators interfering with a sporting event by running naked onto the playing field and other such demonstrations of buffoonery. The result, coupled with harsh penalties for the offender, has been a decrease in the number of gratuitous displays of buffoonery during sporting events.

Why? The decreased media coverage reduces public exposure and makes the act less appealing to the potential buffoon.

This same media cooperation should be directed toward terrorist organizations. Terrorists exploit democracy’s right to free speech to their advantage. Mainstream media outlets provide the means for terrorists to achieve their ends, free of charge, at the expense of innocent civilians.

Mainstream media should refuse to air or print the names of terrorist organizations or publicize their aims. While other details of the event should be made known, it should suffice that an unnamed terrorist organization has inflicted damage to our national interests and must be stopped.

Maj. Paul Thompson

Fort Belvoir, Va.

Photo sums up war’s cost

A recent letter writer described Stars and Stripes’ July 22 cover photo of a grieving widow as “shameful” (“Grief photo is shameful,” July 23). While I understand the feelings that animate her opinion, I do not agree.

My first reaction to the photo was the gut-wrenching thought: What if that was my wife? My next thought was that this is exactly what America needs to see, the real cost of our adventure (or, as some have termed it, misadventure) in Afghanistan.

The cost in treasure is easy enough to figure. Just count the barrels of red ink our government is swimming in. But the cost in blood is harder to gauge. The photo in question does a good job of summing it up.

Is Afghanistan worth it? If Stars and Stripes’ courageous decision to carry that photo leads more people to ask that question, then I think you served your readers — and our nation — well.

Sgt. 1st Class Paul M. McGuire

Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq

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