In response to your April 26 article about Central United Methodist Church ("Church calls attention to its support of gays"): While a billboard that states "Being Gay is a Gift from God" may be a little overboard, I believe that the church is just trying to let a group of people feel welcome, loved, and accepted.
Gays are often belittled and treated as though they are less important than straight people. They have been beaten and murdered just because of who they are.
An April 29 Readers' Forum letter, "Methodist Church goes off deep end," spoke of "winking at sin and thinking it is cute." That is not what Central United Methodist is doing. It is simply following the Bible, which tells us not to judge. After all, God didn't make us perfect; he made us human.
The letter writer also said that gay people are not a gift from God. Every human being is a gift from God.
President plays the blame game
It was a turbulent week in which gas prices jumped over the $4 a gallon mark. To no one's surprise, President Obama has already begun pointing his finger at oil companies and speculators, going as far as having the Justice Department investigate.
Before anyone starts bellyaching about "big oil" companies making a huge profit at the consumer's expense, consider who earns what:
In 2010, the top five domestic oil companies had combined profits of slightly less than 5 percent of revenues. Based on a $4.15 a gallon price for regular gasoline, federal and state governments get 11.2 percent in tax revenue.
Federal oil company subsidies are around $4 billion, which is a minor percentage of their original profit. Putting federal and state governments' revenues into dollars amounts to around $79 billion a year. In all cases, the government rakes in a lot more than the oil companies, and without any risk.
The Justice Department's investigation of oil companies at the direction of President Obama at best compares to a matador investigating broken porcelain in a china shop after a bull has run through it.
This is another example of this administration's attempt to divert blame from its own policies. Whether it is failure of Keynesian-style economic policies or Cloward-Piven social policies, excess regulation, or plain incompetence, this administration has once again proven itself a proponent of dismantling our economy and free-market systems.
Bad lesson from Blissfield High
Your April 24 story about the 17-year-old from Blissfield High School who voluntarily turned in a pocketknife ("Suspension reduced for teen who took pocketknife on bus") quoted the band director as saying that this was a "costly mistake" for the student.
Exactly what was the costly mistake? Was it the fact that the teen had forgotten the pocketknife was still in his backpack?
The costly mistake was that the kid was honest enough to turn it in to the band director, apparently assuming that he would simply get it back once the band had returned home and that would be the end of the matter. If he had kept his mouth shut, there would have been no consequences for him.
Now he's received a 10-day suspension, been barred from attending his school prom and a subsequent band outing, and suffered a huge amount of embarrassment.
If this isn't a classic case of schools teaching kids the wrong lesson, then I don't know what is.
Howard S. Sample
A pocketknife is a tool, not a weapon
I carry a pocketknife wherever I go. It's not a weapon; it's a tool. I use it to sharpen lead pencils, slit open packages, cut ropes, remove pages from a spiral notebook without leaving that ugly, ragged edge, and do a hundred other things. Its blade is 1 1/2 inches long.
Only a fool would insist on the same punishment for carrying such a harmless and useful tool as if it had been a six-inch switchblade. Granted, we often put such fools in charge of government and educational policy.
Anyone with an ounce of common sense can understand that these two objects have entirely different functions and totally different potential for causing mayhem.
Fools will see only that they are both called "knife" and enforce the letter of the policy without regard to the sense of it.
Same old story from Republicans
The Republican candidates who want to run for president have the same story: "We must have more jobs." They will not say what kind of jobs they will create or how they are going to accomplish this.
This was the new Ohio governor's story also, but one of his first actions was to kill the high-speed rail system and the jobs that went with it.
Another good example is Donald Trump. He knows only money. How could he understand living on a small budget?
If these people want to create jobs in the United States, they should start at home and not give jobs to foreign countries. Greed will always be the ruling factor.
Training minimal for poll workers
As a former poll worker, I can offer some perspective on provisional ballots ("Lucas Co. isn't revising elections training," April 28). Poll workers are mostly retired people who volunteer at every election, usually twice a year.
Weeks before the election, volunteers get three hours of training. Included are setup and teardown of voting machines, processing of voters, verifying ballot counts, protection and delivery of cast ballots, reporting, and procedures. To complicate matters, some procedures change each election, seemingly at the whim of some official.
The evening before the election, we spend a couple of hours setting up. Our election day starts 30 minutes before the polls open and continues until an hour or so after they close. This is a 14-hour or more day with an hour break for lunch. The stipend for this is less than minimum wage.
While the polls are open, we have to deal with a wide variety of people. Most are nice. Some complain because they have to declare a party in a primary election. Some won't wait for even a single voter in front of them.
A few are upset because they are told not to wear campaign material in the polling place. Some are at the wrong location or in the wrong precinct at the right location.
A few are in the right place, but don't appear on the list of registered voters. These are the ones who should cast provisional ballots. Two or three per precinct per election is normal. It's hardly a frequent occurrence.
Are mistakes made? Absolutely. With the time lapse between training and an election, it's hard to remember every detail.
To expect perfection is unrealistic. To strive for perfection is already the goal.
Joseph E. Pflager
Taxing rich won't fix deficit woes
Your April 18 article "Taxes tumble for rich as nearly half of other filers pay nothing" quotes Eric Schoenberg and his group United for a Fair Economy as "wanting to raise taxes on rich people like themselves." Several very rich people say the same thing.
As a compassionate conservative, I always wonder why they don't just pay additional taxes without trying to raise everyone else's taxes.
At the $200,000 of income that Mr. Schoenberg claimed, he would have had to take every deduction and credit imaginable to get down to the $2,000 he says he paid in taxes. If he truly wanted to pay more, why did he work so hard to pay less? Why not just not claim all of those exemptions and deductions?
He could also have simply sent more to the Internal Revenue Service on a voluntary basis. He could have quietly paid more without trying to force people who feel they are already paying enough to join him.
We are $14.3 trillion in debt, and we are borrowing about $58,000 every second. You could confiscate every penny from the rich and still not come close to paying off our debt.
Like it or not, the only way out of this mess is for our government to get smaller. Until the government does more to conserve the money we give it, the hole we are in will just get deeper.
John F. Weber