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EDITORIAL: Who knew reconciliation is evil?

| January 17, 2024 1:00 AM

A local pastor unleashed what he likely believes is righteous fury. The barking and howling, however, sounded more like pathetic cries from the hounds of hell.

In his My Turn column in The Press last week, Paul Van Noy turned Coeur d’Alene City Councilman Dan English’s call for healing religious/political rifts in the community into a fire-and-brimstone sermon from a Skate Plaza pulpit.

Van Noy didn’t stop at judging Mr. English’s character and finding it wanting. One of the region’s loudest political proselytizers was just warming up. 

Citing “antichrist spirit” at work, the Candlelight Fellowship pastor damned followers of religions and philosophies that don’t precisely mirror his own.

Unitarians and Mormons, in Van Noy’s judgmental eyes, are headed to the same hellfire roast as Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, Catholics, Episcopalians and Jews, for some reason, were not mentioned; perhaps they’re designated for assignment to a purgatory of Van Noy’s construction.

Between the lines of Van Noy’s scathing commentary, however, the words he did not write carried far more weight. 

It’s clear that Paul is angry at English and other members of the City Council for opening public prayer before meetings to speakers outside Van Noy’s narrowly constructed Kootenai County Ministerial Association. The association’s years-long public prayer monopoly is broken, and the fresh air of voices from outside the anointed few must feel like unfiltered exhaust in the monopolists’ lungs.

It’s also evident that Van Noy fears civic reconciliation between religious and governmental entities. Those who feed off spoils from the bloody battlefields of rancor and divisiveness — be they preacher or politician — feel threatened by peace and productive cooperation. 

These sad individuals reject the fact that authentic respect for different viewpoints, different backgrounds and different beliefs is both a legal responsibility of those who govern and a moral imperative for those who choose to be good citizens.

Followers of religions condemned by Van Noy happen to be among our community’s finest leaders, most adept educators, best parents and kindest neighbors. 

Dan English is an honorable public servant and a Christian who lives his faith through love. What a novel approach.

If Pastor Paul’s epistle was meant to make English choke on his words of reconciliation, he failed. Instead, Paul showed how urgently what English is suggesting is needed.