To My Gay Friends, My Bethel Friends, and My Gay Bethel Friends

There has been a raft of recent articles on ANewsCafe regarding Bethel Church and the way the leaders of the church view homosexuality, as most of you readers well know.

In a nutshell: Homosexuality is a sin, but Jesus can fix you. We’ll help, for a fee……unless the State of California decides to revoke that right.

Here’s my take.

Except for hydrogen and some helium created in the Big Bang, all of the stuff we (and the Earth around us) are made of was generated in now-dead stars through sustained fusion, scattered in supernova explosions and stellar collisions, then coalesced via gravitational force.

The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and is probably going to be here another 5 billion years, until our Sun supernovas. If I live to be 100 (an unlikely round number), I’ll have lived about one-one-hundred-millionth (0.000001%) of the Earth’s likely lifespan. Less than a blink of an eye (my lifetime) in the blink of an eye (our species’ time on Earth).

There are about 250 billion stars in our galaxy. On a clear moonless night in the middle of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, you can see maybe 5,000 of them (0.000002%). The rest of the Milky Way you see is scattered light.

There are about 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe (i.e., the part of the universe close enough to us for light to have reached us in 13 billion years…it may be considerably larger).

There are an estimated 70 billion trillion stars in the observable universe (70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). That’s just stars—you can probably add another zero or two for planets. Trust me, if you’re trying to wrap your head around those numbers, they’re unfathomable.

As a kid, it was pretty easy for me to think of me/us as the center of the universe.

Now my thinking is: Be humble, sit down.

I am profoundly humbled when contemplating those astronomic numbers, to the point where I’ve had what I consider spiritual experiences considering them, particularly while staring up at the wilderness sky late at night. I am similarly humbled and filled with wonder over our very existence (even if it’s true, as some posit, that we exist in a simulation). I’ve been contemplating these things for decades.

I’m a few months shy of sixty. After all these years, I’ve yet to encounter an explanation for why we exist that satisfies me more than Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover. (Or, in the parlance of Aristotelian causality, the First Cause). The Unmoved Mover is that mysterious force that put the material universe in motion, and we are by our limited nature unable to use our material faculties to understand what that Unmoved Mover is and why the First Cause occurred. Granted, the Unmoved Mover isn’t satisfying if you need to believe that in this incomprehensibly vast universe we must be central to its purpose, you desire a deity who intervenes in human affairs, and you want your conscious experience to persist after you croak.

The Christian denomination in which I was raised (until I checked out at about thirteen) was short on spirituality, ecstatic experience and love—long on guilt, threat of damnation, obedience, and intolerance. My naïve view of Bethel, until recently, was that they attract young people from all over the globe because they focus on the former. Was I projecting on Bethel what I personally think are the appealing aspects of religion? The eye-rolling altered-state-of-consciousness stuff?

I don’t think my impression was off-base—near as I can tell, ecstatic spiritual experience is a big part of Bethel’s appeal. It’s just that my view was incomplete—I hadn’t realized that the church apparently holds to a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible, including that gay people are going to Hell unless well-meaning Bethelites bring them to Jesus for the cure.

I understand why some people are going to chaff over “well-meaning,” but the Bethel folks I know personally are sweethearts—they’re among the nicest people I know. The only way I can square the Bethelites I know with the words of Kris Vallotten is to believe that the members of the church mean well. They sincerely want to save the gays from their sinful selves.

I’m giving them—the flock, not Vallotten—the benefit of my doubt. I’m granting Johnson and Vallhotten less slack because I’m profoundly skeptical of authority figures in general, and because after perusing their videos and writings, I honestly don’t much care for them. I’m willing to concede that my view of Bethel’s leaders is a matter of opinion and taste, but what I see are a pair of charming (in a folksy and affable way), know-it-all, intellectually stunted, power-tripping hustlers. Nothing personal, fellas. It’s me—I just don’t like your type, and never will. I’ll even concede that Vallhotten sincerely believes what he preaches, even when that message is frightening to my gay friends or laugh-out-loud dumb to me (e.g., If we evolved from apes, why are the jungles still full of apes?).

Harsh? Believe me, mine is a far more charitable opinion of Bethel’s leaders than the views held by large numbers of their fellow Christians. Religion vs. religion—always an amusing battle until you get caught in the crossfire.

Much has been written about the commonality of the Golden Rule across religions. It shows up in game theory, and in evolutionary biology as an evolutionary stable strategy—one of the most rewarding tactics between people (and other animals) that interact repeatedly. Cooperation pays. Be nice if you want people to be nice to you. Jesus laid it out on the Sermon on the Mount. In my 25 years in Redding—a place that I long considered the meanest place I’ve ever lived—Bethelites are among the nicest people I’ve come to know. In my estimation, they’ve moved the community’s needle on the niceness metric.

So……we have our differences, but I’m miles from writing off my Bethel friends. I hope this notion that gay conduct is a mortal sin is primarily a generational divide in their church, though I’m increasingly convinced it’s not. Maybe some of my young Bethel friends will tell me I’m right about that divide, but I’m not holding my breath. If any of them want to talk about the perils of what they see as my moral relativism relative to their Biblical absolutism, I’m game—but it’s going to be a two-way conversation.

I will tell my Bethel friends that as a non-fundamentalist reader of the Bible, I think they’ve lost the trail. Jesus provided an enlightened, inclusive, and simple message. And then a few years down the road, Paul—a lesser man by orders of magnitude—messed up by hanging too much stuff on the Christmas tree. The tree is the thing, Paul—not the tinsel.


Steve Towers
Steve Towers is co-owner of a local environmental consultancy. After obtaining his Ph.D. from UC Davis and dabbling as a UCD lecturer, he took a salary job with a Sacramento environmental firm. Sitting in stop-and-go traffic on Highway 50 one afternoon, he reckoned that he was receiving 80 hours of paid vacation per year and spending 520 hours per year commuting to and from work. He and his wife Elise sold their house and moved to Redding three months later, and have been here for more than 20 years. His hobbies include travel, racquet sports, taking the dogs on hikes, and stirring pots. He can be reached at
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66 Responses

  1. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    I grew up in Salt Lake City in the fifties, a non-Mormon. To say the Mormon church controlled everything would be an understatement. As a young teenager I went to the safe dances at the Ward stake centers on the weekend, they even played some of our music. The local church gym was always open for us kids to play in. The baseball and softball leagues were run by the Church with the only stipulation being that you had to attend the church of your team at least once a month. This was done more to keep teams from stacking players than any religious concerns.
    The Mormon Church’s anti teachings on many social issues have been well documented. But the Mormon church has evolved, they call it visions, to be more accepting of others. It seems Bethel evolved the other way according to the many articles on here.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Salt Lake City strikes me as one of the most livable cities in the Western U.S.—I love the place. But as you know, the Mormons don’t exactly have a strangle-hold on it these days. The mayor is a Democrat……and a lesbian.

      • Avatar Tim Nomdeplume says:

        That just goes to show the divide between what members actually believe vs some of the more extreme official positions of the church. A majority (52%) in Salt Lake City are Mormon and Catholics make up an additional 10% so obviously lots of church members aren’t voting in lockstep with senior* leadership’s ideology.

        *As far as I know, Mormon leadership is the oldest of any large organization – the President is 93! Sumner Redstone (94) had them beat until a court-ordered geriatric examination found signs of dementia and forced his resignation from CBS & Viacom in 2016.

        Trivia: Catholics in the US support gay rights at a greater percentage than the general population despite the Church’s official position that homosexual acts are a sin.

      • Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

        Steve, another great article. Trivia about SLC known only to those of us who lived there a long time and could be a reflection on all churches. In Temple Square the statue of Brigham Young shows his back to the Temple and his hand extended toward the bank.

  2. Avatar Tim Nomdeplume says:

    Dear God, I know you must be busy what with expanding the universe and all. Plus I imagine listening to the pleas of 8 billion people here on earth gets tiring. So I’ve got a deal for you: if you could see fit to have the Giants win today then I won’t bother you with another prayer until the next game day.

    Otherwise I’ll pray separately for every grown man riding a child’s bike that I see in Redding (and twice for any riding with 2 bikes). Deal? Thanks.

    Yours in eternal subjugation,

  3. AJ AJ says:

    That last paragraph about says it. . . especially the very last sentence!
    I’m reminded of a line my girlfriend likes to quote: “Don’t you just know that Jesus and Mohammad and Buddha (and maybe even Brigham Young) are sitting around somewhere, looking down on this little speck and saying to each other, ‘They say I said WHAT?!?!'”

  4. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    Great article. The last three sentences just may be the best encapsulation of how I view Christianity that I’ve ever read.

  5. Avatar Aleeta Stamn says:

    I can recall believing (some years ago) that Bethel was a “progressive” church due to some of its practices. However, it’s actually about as right-wing fundamentalist as it can get at its core. That doesn’t stop with the condemnation of gay people either. Bethel leader Bill Johnson also basically condemns the poor for not being godly enough to take advantage of Bethel’s prosperity gospel, and attempts to deny and minimize Donald Trump’s long history of open racism. This is what the many young people associated with Bethel are being indoctrinated with:

    I believe the hellfire religion being forced on the country through legislation and other means by what are mainly white evangelical Christians is the greatest threat to our freedom, and the forward progression of humanity in general. Locally the Redding community needs to find a way to put the skids to this Bethel take-over, which now extends to public schools, other government institutions where children can be found, a major public facility, and will soon extend to a Bethel voting majority on the Redding City Council.

  6. Avatar ken says:

    Another great article. This site is blessed to have such erudite, talented and qualified writers.

    • Agreed!
      I never take our contributors for granted. NEVER!

      We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to talented writers and photographers here on

  7. Avatar christian gardinier says:

    California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) reject Bethel conversion practice, see

    American Psychiatric Association reject Bethel conversion practice, see

    The American Counseling Association reject Bethel cofersion practice, see

    The National Association of Social Workers reject Bethel conversion practice, see

    The American Medical Association reject Bethel conversion practice, see:

    So, who supports this mix of anti LGBT, religion and economics?

    Alt-Christian theology? Yes
    People that voted for Trump and Pence and all the mostly Republican base and Republican politicians’? Yes
    People that make money off this gimmick? Yes

    Bethel ideology a continued cult-ural attack on American people. Bethel is a strong religious drug. Nothing wrong with that religious drug at all as long as it does not become political and become so addictive that people lose track of reality or actually hurt others.

    Religions have helped bring positive into this world, feed the poor, house the homeless and teach peace. However, most war, poverty, death and destruction have a religious, ‘In The name Of God’ component. Bethel seems to be more of an ‘In The Name Of God,’ House the Bethelites, teach Bethel theology, join in the prosperity gospel of ‘Make Me Even Richer!’ form of top-down economics, and is happy to test the borders and boundaries of mental health practice, ethics, religious funding of government (Redding) and the new tax code, and the religious based political endorsement of candidates and (Trump) and most hard right conservative policy.

    Turn Redding into Heaven on Earth? Well, how about doing so through peace, equality, economic justice equal opportunity for all people, of all religions, sexual orientation and political belief? Is there anything wrong with that?

  8. Avatar Brenda Sinclair says:

    It’s the tree, not the tinsel: perfect. Followed by Iris Dement and my favorite line from a song: I believe in love and I live accordingly. If everyone did we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Thanks for saying so eloquently what I tend to get too upset to put into a coherent sentence.

  9. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    This is a terrific take on the recent issues regarding Bethel.

    I too have found Bethel people to be among the nicest, most friendly people I’ve met. I try not to be too cynical about the source of their niceness perhaps being based on “let’s be nice so they let down their guards and then we reel them in”, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m not anti-Bethelite, it’s their church I have issues with.

    Their very public stance taught me that their church sees me as a gay man to be morally inferior and profoundly broken. More than most other sinners, it sounds like. It wasn’t a run-of-the-mill sneering condemnation of gay people, because that’s something I’m utterly familiar with. It was their political action, and the urging of its members to follow their lead, that woke me up. This is 2018 and yet I feel like the church would really rather I didn’t have equal status as a citizen.

    Bethel is trouble. We’ve heard their words and those words are scary.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      For me, the purposeful blurring of the lines between religion and government remains the single most troubling aspect of Team Bethel’s agenda. I think it’s wholly contrary to the American ideal of keeping church and state separated at arm’s length. It’s why they enjoy tax-exempt status, even though they make a ton of money with their various enterprises.

      As far as their disposition toward gays, I see little difference between their views and the views of maybe half of the churches in Redding—but they’re not half the churches in Redding. They’re the 800-lb-gorilla church in Redding.

      I completely understand the concern—okay, maybe not completely, since I’m not gay—but I understand the concern that if Bethel takes over Redding, their religious beliefs concerning homosexuality could become something akin to local policy. Like, maybe the Bethel-majority City Council passes an ordinance making Redding a “conversion-friendly zone” and dictate that no RPD funds be spent on enforcing state laws to the contrary. That may sound paranoid, but that kind of thing happens in the Deep South all the time.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        For a somewhat different reason, I was concerned when Winters was elected. As I’ve stated before, the fact that she works for an anti-choice doctor who doesn’t accept Medicare patients, what would her vote be concerning, say, sign-carriers harassing women who are trying to enter Planned Parenthood clinics or on any sort of senior issue.

      • Avatar Common Sense says:

        That’s a Key component for me also. When there are not distinct lines and separation of church and state we have problems! Every single person I have ever met that attends Bethel has been very positive and friendly and pleasant. That does not negate that they do have an agenda like many other organizations.

        To think that a “Contribution” would not come with at least some invisible strings attached and to think that a Majority on the City Council won’t change things is a bit Naive.

        Have they done some wonderful incredible things for the community and have they tried to make it a better place here, Yes. At what cost is what we need to look at. I believe the Message from Jesus was ” Love One Another”. Along with that there is no “But” after that statement.

  10. Steve, leave it to you to so succinctly summarize this topic that’s vexed us for weeks. Thank you! (My favorite sentence: Be humble, sit down. )

    And thank you, also, for the song at the end, “Let The Mystery Be”.


    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      I’m trying to stay out of the comments and let the article speak for itself, but I’ll wade in long enough to say that “Be humble, sit down” isn’t original. I intended that as a “Easter egg” for Tim, following from our earlier discussion about the merits of various rappers. It’s from Kendrick Lamar’s song, “Humble.”

      • Well, and you ARE humble. Thanks for the attribution.

      • Avatar Tim Nomdeplume says:

        Ha. I’m still not sure Humble is worthy of a Pulitzer, but the allusion did make me smile 😉

        And I’ll echo Doni on “Let The Mystery Be”

        • Mistress of the Mix Mistress of the Mix says:

          Ah, “Let The Mystery Be.” I missed it when it was originally released, but fell in love with it when it became the theme for “The Leftovers.” Great selection Steve.

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            I record the TV shows I watch and I normally skip past the intro music, but I don’t recall ever skipping past the theme to “The Leftovers.”

  11. Avatar Eleanor says:

    “Paul………………messed up by hanging too much stuff on the Christmas tree. The tree is the thing, Paul, not the tinsel.”

    WOW!! You’re way up top in my ANC Hall of Fame now, Steve, right alongside I will horrendously misquote): “The Commandments boil down to two things: Don’t lie, and don’t kill anyone”, which I am attributing to R.V.Scheide, because it sounds like him, but if it was someone else (including you, Steve), I humbly apologize and will sit down.

    Fabulous article, thank you.

  12. Avatar Anita L Brady says:

    I have concerns about Steve’s overall message: Bethel people (not necessarily leadership) are well-meaning and nice.

    I personally would add a few more descriptors: complicit, enabling and motivated. Now, if you support Bethel, those terms could be perceived as positive reinforcement, but for myself, looking in from the community, they serve to make me even more concerned for the future here in Shasta County.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Fair enough. But you could say most of those things about the good ol’ boys who network at Riverview Golf and Country Club, planning the City’s future over gin and tonics and handshake deals.

  13. 1. Excellent, enjoyable science writing.

    2. Why can’t we see just one more galaxy?

    3. I loved this: “Jesus provided an enlightened, inclusive, and simple message.”

    4. Yes on your summation of Bethel’s leadership.

    5. Yoda: “Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you.”

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Maybe you’ll like these science tidbits: In the 1860s, the physicist Lord Kelvin tried throwing cold water on Darwin by calling into question Darwin’s estimates of the time scales of geologic processes. which Kelvin called “absurd.” Kelvin calculated, based on the rate of the Earth’s cooling, that the planet was about 100 million years old.

      Lord Kelvin got it wrong, because he didn’t know that the Earth has an isotope furnace that continuously adds new warmth to the warmth of the planet’s initial formation (which Kelvin assumed was the only source). It’s that isotope furnace that’s responsible for the continents drifting around, crashing into each other, and uplifting mountain ranges.

      Now for the bad news: In the article above, I noted that the Earth will go on another 5 billion years or so, until the Sun supernovas. But that isotope furnace is going to burn out in a few 100 million years. No more continental drift or uplifting of mountain ranges. Theoretically, the continents would eventually erode away, and we’d be a planet of oceans.

      But the continents eroding away will take hundreds of million of years, and it will be a race against time regarding another process.

      The sun’s luminosity is slowly increasing (unrelated to anthropogenic global warming). Because of that, our oceans are likely going to boil away in less than a billion years. Earth’s fate is to become a hellish greenhouse oven—like Venus with its surface temperature of about 800 °F—long before the Sun supernovas.

      • In other words, we’re screwed either way.

        What effect does the isotopic furnace have on gravity?

        • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

          Gravity is the force by which all things with mass are brought toward (or gravitate toward) one another. Since energy and mass are equivalent, all forms of energy (including the energy of radioactive decay in the Earth) cause gravitation and are influenced by it. Since radioactive decay in the Earth is primarily the process of the radioactive elements uranium, thorium and potassium shedding alpha, beta, and gamma particles, atoms lose a tiny amount of mass and thus have less gravitational force. But gravity is a trivial force at the atomic level, and radioactive elements make up a tiny fraction of Earth’s mass. So if you’re asking if everything is going to spin off into space once the radioactive elements are done decaying due to decreased gravity, the answer is no.

  14. Avatar Melissa says:

    As a geologist by training and profession, science in this article resonates with me so much. Also, I was raised Catholic and I too “checked out” around 13 for similar reasons. I’ve lived in Redding since 2005 and seen the church grow and grow and my neighborhood be filed with more Bethelites. I haven’t gone to a service in person but have a viewed a few online. I think of Bethel more a business with a great business plan. In my humble opinion they are bad rock concert with lots of cotton candy (lots of fluff and high fructose corn syrup) which seems unnecessary/overkill since “Jesus provided an enlightened, inclusive, and simple message.” Like any other business that reaches the size of Bethel, egos start to take over and things start to unravel. Ultimately, I assume (or hope) the younger generation is more tolerant then Valleton and Johnson. We’ll see…

  15. Avatar Mortimer Snerd says:

    “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Anyone remember that little motto plastered on everything from car bumpers to billboards some years ago? That’s Christian fundamentalism in a nutshell.

    Many have commented as to how nice and friendly Bethel people are – and they are – but one can be the nicest person in the world and yet harbor a bad ideology. Just ask anyone who grew up in the South: friendly church deacon Sunday morning, cross burning bigot Tuesday night. Interacting with these nice Bethel folk one on one, it’s easy to dismiss the sliver of intolerance they carry. It’s sorta like morning breath of your beloved – a minor and forgivable infraction for the sake of love… or like… or whatever. But come on – it’s gross!

    Maybe it’s time we send Bethel some mouthwash.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      I posted this on another of the Bethel articles, but it goes along with your bumper sticker motto. This was on a t-shirt: “Science doesn’t care what you believe”

    • I remember that song, “The Bible Said it, and I Believe it,” back when I was a youngster who attended Bethel (more on that later).

      Here’s one version for your listening pleasure.

      • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

        Doni, what a blast from the past. I was raised SDA (as are the Heritage Singers) and returned a few days ago from southeastern Tennessee where Terri and I attended the 5oth reunion of my Collegedale Academy Class of ’68.

        Though I lack the gene for faith and have been a non-believer for over 4 decades, most of my former classmates and good friends have remained devout SDA’s, and I both respect and marvel at their ability to suspend doubt and disbelief despite overwhelming scientific evidence. In the final analysis, our respective beliefs and opinions probably do not matter, but good hearts and inquiring minds surely do.

        “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
        1 Thessalonians 5:21

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      My Grandma had the “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” bumper sticker on her car.

      She also used to explain her rejection of evolution like this: “Here’s the monkey. Here’s the Bible. I choose the Bible.”

      I’d try to explain a little evolutionary biology to her, and she’d interrupt me by repeating: “Here’s the monkey. Here’s the Bible. I choose the Bible.”

      There’s no argument under the sun that defeats that kind of unblinking certainty.

  16. Avatar The Old Pretender says:

    Tax churches and ignore silly mumbo jumbo.

  17. My favorite classic is the Allegory of the Cave. I’m still not certain if this is all quite real and I’m still searching for the light. I’m also partial to the Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus.

    I find some comfort in the Bible, but generally when I’m reading it, it’s usually in relationship to research I’ve been doing on Bible-induced violence. There’s quite a lot of ground to cover, as you might expect.

    I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly met a Bethelite. I’m sure some of them are nice people.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      R.V., unless you’ve truly taken hermit vows and never come down the hill into Redding to interact with others, I can almost assure you that you’ve met some Bethelites. I play tennis and socialize with roughly 10 members of the church, and with most of them Bethel has never come up. When it does come up it’s usually because someone asks the question: So, what brought you to Redding?

      • Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

        Now I know why I never heard of Bethel until after I left Shasta County. According to their own web site the church was founded in 1998, I left in 2006.

      • That’s funny, evangelicals in the “discernment” community, who consider Bethel heretics, warn you have to watch out for them because they “look normal, just like you and me.”

        I feel like Peter Fonda in Race With The Devil.

    • Avatar Colleen Adams says:

      R.V., I have interacted with many folks from Bethel because my former neighbors moved here to attend the church. Our children played outside in the yard together, the mom and I traded recipes and parenting practices, and we spoke about our beliefs… they were aware that my husband and I are atheists. After over a year of developing a friendship, they made a decision to not let their children in our house anymore because we were not appropriate for a Christian family. “Don’t take it personally” they told me. I was heartbroken. Another time, a classmate of my daughter was at Bethel church when her father’s car broke down. It was over 100 degrees outside and this man and his four kids were stranded and could not get ANYONE in that church to help him. My husband and I drove to Bethel and picked him and his four children up. Two atheists drove to a congregation of hundreds of Christians to help a family. Incidentally, that dad became homeless and my husband and I let him live with us for months while he tried to get his life together. He became our good friend. However, he has since stopped attending Bethel, I believe. So, yeah, some of them are nice people, but I’m not sure that I will trust any of them.

      • Above all else, these stories of Bethel people actively trying to exclude people because they’re not believers, is the most disturbing. I heard a tale recently of Bethelites who claimed they were healing a kid with leukemia, and they kicked all the family’s non-believers out of the ceremony. Of course the kid died. It’s actually infuriating to me that they’re allowed to do this.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        Apparently this sort of prejudice happens in all religions. A friend lived in Boise. She and some other mothers took turns taking their children to school. One morning, her children came back home because one mother wouldn’t take them to school because they weren’t Mormon.

  18. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    Whether writing as Buzz Fledderjohn, Esteban Torres, or Steve Towers, the author of this superb piece demonstrates a depth of knowledge, experience, and thoughtful passion that informs, educates, and entertains. Combined with the impressive work of Doni, R.V., and Jon, this extraordinarily talented quartet has prompted me to make another contribution to anewscafe to help ensure a continuation of this increasingly vital source of non-Fake News. Thanks for being there.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      What he said! As a long-time donor, I add my thanks for your continuing support. Where would we be without these excellent thinkers and writers – and contributors like you?

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      When I formerly haunted the local fish-wrap’s website and letters-to-the-editor page, I also went by Phineas Gage, The Borg, Steve Rushmore (über-conservative alter ego), and a few others that I’m forgetting.

      I pretty much swore off fake pseudonyms several years back. I found that the anonymity made me forget many of the teachings of our ancestors.

      • Avatar Richard Saunders says:

        Act uprightly, and despise calumny; dirt may stick to a mud wall, but not to polish’d marble.

      • Steve, I wish everyone here experienced the same realization.

        At, we have an impressive percentage of enlightened commenters who voluntarily use their real names. I applaud every one of you for your courage, authenticity and transparency. Thank you.

      • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

        Always did love the story of Phineas Gage. You have functioned rather well considering the large steel rod driven through your cranium destroying much of your left frontal lobe and altering your personality and behavior dramatically. Kudos to your perseverance…

        • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

          One particular sub-genius on the RS Googled the name and then delighted in pointing out to everyone that I’d adopted the name of a brain-damaged railroad worker, as if he was revealing a dark secret rather than being late to the joke.

      • Avatar Jal Hohnson says:

        People who comment under them fake names are a bunch of sheet-asses!

    • Richard, your comment brought tears to my eyes. I am humbled by your support.
      Thank you!

  19. Avatar Liz says:

    In this “internet” of the universe, I am sure of this: God and Jesus track us way better than Google and Facebook and we are family not “product” ! : )

  20. Avatar Patricia Bay says: