The RDC Responds

To the Editor:

The Riverfront Development Corporation was established as a result of several communitywide public forums, which affirmed that revitalization of the Memphis riverfront was an important priority for moving this city forward ("River of Dreams," April 21st issue).

Having served first as a steering-committee member studying how best to begin riverfront improvements and now as the RDC's founding chairman, I can assure you that our first task for the city of Memphis was to provide a higher level of service to the green spaces along the riverfront, attract more citizens to the area, and provide appropriate amenities.

We have achieved and maintain a high standard of excellence in caring for the parks. We have added canoe, kayak, and bicycle rentals to Mud Island River Park and started a walking club and overnight camping. Plus, we eliminated the admission fee to Mud Island.

The RDC is in fact doing more with less. The RDC is managing the riverfront at the same cost to the city as in 1999. At that time, riverfront costs had been escalating at a rate of 14 percent a year over the previous four years. Using that rate, the RDC has saved the city $3.9 million.

I do not believe that the citizens of this community want their riverfront to fall into disrepair. I believe this community wants a vibrant riverfront and that the vast majority of people support the RDC. We are working to maintain excellence in all that we do, and I believe the people enjoying the riverfront today expect just that.

John W. Stokes Jr., Chairman

Riverfront Development Corporation

God and Man

To the Editor:

In Charles Gillihan's letter (April 21st issue), he states that God condemns nations and cultures that violate his ethical standards. I have studied theology a good bit, and all I have ever found in the Bible pertaining to government laws is that God says to obey the laws of your government, unless the laws do not allow you to worship him.

Gillihan states that comparing gay rights to civil rights is a fallacy because one is a behavior and the other is a race. Civil rights are not merely about race. They are about equality. Homosexuals are not solely defined by "certain sexual behaviors," as Gillihan states, nor are black people solely defined by "the color of their skin."

Is it right to grant one group of people civil rights and deny civil rights to another, for any reason?

What bothers me most about Gillihan's letter is that he supports amending the Constitution to ban homosexual marriage for religious reasons. What if the people in power were not Christian? What if they were Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, or Muslim? Would Gillihan and others like him still support the idea of imposing religious laws?

Jesse Vance


Thanks, Arianna

To the Editor:

Thanks to Arianna Huffington (News Analysis, April 21st issue) for trying to balance some of the exploitation of the pope's death by the press.

It's clear, now that the Karl Rove of Rome is the new pope, we shall see the entrenchment of the "one true" Church's dogmatic absolutism. Sexual morality excludes everything except the missionary position (without birth control) within heterosexual marriage. Women, by God's will, are unfit for Holy Orders. Clerical marriage would dilute the sanctity and dedication that celibacy "guarantees." Homosexuality remains a moral disorder.

Welcome to the 19th century.

Ray Berthiaume


Day of Reason?

To the Editor:

With the annual abuse of the Constitution that occurs with the federally supported National Day of Prayer approaching, nontheistic Americans have come up with a counter day of observance: the National Day of Reason. Both days will be celebrated on May 5th.

Anyone who has been paying attention to the news can attest to the intrusion of religious ideology into all departments of the American government:

The Federal Marriage Amendment would codify intolerance and obstruct civil liberties; restrictions are being put on scientific research and the reporting of scientific findings; attempts are routinely made to introduce creationism into science textbooks; battles are fought over displays of overtly religious icons in courthouses and public schools and on public lands; access to information about reproductive services and sexual health are restricted to "abstinence-only" programs.

Considering all this, the National Day of Reason on May 5th seems, well, reasonable.

Chris Stahl


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