Heaven's Gates, Teaching Tolerance, Todd's Odd

Heaven's Gates

Chances are: Having grown up in a strict fundamentalist religious household, I wanted to thank Brad Tyer for writing a fair and balanced article on a difficult subject ["A Father's Retribution," October 5]. It was refreshing to see two sides to this story.

I do know this: The people who fathered and birthed those children would not care for them. Whatever the faults of the Gateses and their imperfections in parenting, those children are better off and have been given a chance to build a fulfilling life -- a tremendous gift. Melissa and Gary gave them that chance.

Bayousphere: Self-described "independent activist" Will Ellsworth says he's usually a First Amendment guy but attends a demonstration in Tranquillity Park for marijuana rights and related prison issues because "this is important, too."
Deron Neblett
Bayousphere: Self-described "independent activist" Will Ellsworth says he's usually a First Amendment guy but attends a demonstration in Tranquillity Park for marijuana rights and related prison issues because "this is important, too."

Mary K. Wenninger

Crisis management: As a former investigator at CPS in Harris County, I witnessed how the agency picks and chooses its fights with families, other agencies and its own employees. Often the fights are irrational and without merit. Where the public might find the initials CPS to mean Children's Protective Services, the staff finds greater truth in the phrase Corps of Psychotic Supervisors.

It was a place where workers were openly hostile to management, where supervisors undermined their own workers, and where decisions might be made based on the sex or race of individuals involved in the case.

In my situation, the supervisor was investigated by the state, and some of the staff was fired. Yet I hear the same type of employee-abuse stories continually occurring. I hope this raises the consciousness of those still involved in the agency and wills them to collectively put an end to the immaturity and unprofessionalism.

As it stands, the agency is immoral and arcane. It is filled with volatility, and that reflects bad management.

Name withheld by request

Don't delve into Gates: As a person familiar with the Gates case, I must take issue with Brad Tyer's handling of the story. Brad seems to get sidetracked into focusing on Mr. Gates's disciplinary methods. The point of Gates's fight is that the agency removed the children without a court order based on sufficient evidence of abuse.

The people who know about this case are most disturbed by the fact that without any evidence whatsoever, CPS and the Sheriff's Department can haul our kids off in a jail wagon and send them to "foster homes," scattering them around the county, separating them from each other as well as from their parents. That's not a good option even for children who truly are abused, let alone kids snatched from loving, happy families.

The Gateses themselves are staying in the fight because they care about the many families that have been broken by CPS. This should unite the entire community, because we believe that the family is vulnerable to a governmental abuse of power. The Gateses have already spent more than $150,000 on this fight. How many readers would be able to do the same?

Valerie Bryan

Teaching Tolerance

Prayers and prejudice: Your outstanding article "Breaking Bigotry" [by Margaret Downing, September 28] clearly demonstrates why intolerance is so unnecessary, as experienced by the Nevelow family. Where were the real "good Christians" who permitted the campaign for public prayers at school events to create the climate of hate among schoolchildren?

As an Humble elementary principal, I intervened when children became cruel toward each other by belittling differences (race, religion, culture, family economics, etc.) and found the staff members to be most eager to teach tolerance.

For many years I have been a member of an honorary society of women educators, Delta Kappa Gamma. In collaboration with the Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, we are presenting the program "Getting to Know Our Neighbors: An Affirmation of Religious Diversity in Our Community." It will be held February 8 at Humble High School's auditorium.

Thank you for your excellent article on the tragedy of bigotry in the name of religion. No child should suffer discrimination because of religious intolerance. Thankfully, you did locate a different attitude in Clear Brook High School. If only by one community at a time, we must stand up for religious liberty and human dignity.

Charlotte H. Coffelt

Parental guidance: Just read your excellent article concerning Santa Fe. I think kids will try to get away with whatever they can, and the nonresponse by school officials just heightened their sense of empowerment. I would have thought the parents of these kids would have taken immediate action, unless they somehow did not think their boys were doing anything wrong. If I remember correctly, the KKK is a 100 percent Christian organization.

Susan Craig

Prioritize predators: I am Jewish and from New York. I love living in Houston and see less prejudice here than I saw in New York. My best friend is a fundamentalist Christian from Minnesota. I have spoken on the holocaust to high school students and will be glad to speak to the students of Santa Fe, should they ask me.

Being Jewish should not have been a problem for the Nevelows. They are hardworking citizens who protect the same people who are spewing hatred against their son. Their crime is that they believe in a different way from the majority of Santa Fe residents.

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