IoS letters, emails & online postings (24 January 2010)

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The Church of England's official policy is that gay men in a same-sex relationship should not be serving as bona fide clergy in the Church of England ("The Irreverent Coles", The New Review, 10 January). If Richard Coles has freely chosen celibacy, he is exempt from this official and regularly enforced ban. If he is not celibate, then he must have a powerful patron protecting him. But there are many other clergy who have chosen to be in a same-sex relationship, and are even in a civil partnership, who dare not publicly acknowledge their sexual orientation, for fear of being discriminated against by the increasingly homophobic attitudes of the CofE's main employers – its bishops. It would have been encouraging to hear Richard Coles deplore the deceits that undergird the policy, rather than acquiesce meekly in the name of "patience" over its iniquity. Abuse of the type inflicted on the majority of gay clergy needs to be openly challenged today – not tomorrow.

The Rev Richard Kirker

London E1

As an atheist, I agree with most of the anti-Christian comments made by Katy Guest ("Campbell's doing God after all, and it's my idea of hell", 17 January). But in her diatribe on the oxymoron of Christian logic she did not mention Islam, which has bigotry, illogic and intolerance to the power of 10 over any other faith.

Michael R Gordon

Bewdley, Worcestershire

God does not need a PR: his emissaries, as Emily Dugan observes in her excellent article on street pastors ("A night on the town: Vomit, violence and God", 17 January), are hard at work "armed not with Bibles, but with sick bags, flip-flops and first aid". Caring for the drunk, drugged and distressed, they are unconcerned with dogma, but are simply kind and selfless. And that, in my experience, is what the vast majority of Christians are.

Diana Harold


Hugh O'Shaughnessy notes recent shifts in the American policy on drugs, but there is an ongoing move towards greater securitisation of the drug "threat" and fusion with the "war on terror" ("US waves white flag in disastrous 'war on drugs'", 17 January). The New York Times reports that the US attorney for Manhattan is to combine the units tasked with prosecuting international narcotics and terrorism cases. Last summer, it was revealed that the US had placed 50 drug traffickers suspected of financing the Taliban on a "kill list", equating smugglers with insurgents. And while some US agents may have been removed from Latin America, US-funded aerial fumigation of coca continues, with spray planes accompanied by military helicopters.

While the US may have taken the lead in the drug war, it has taken the complicity of almost every state on the planet to carry it off. In country after country, people who are drug dependent are routinely denied treatment, to fight the same "threat" that justifies, in some places, torture, imprisonment without trial, and executions. The macro-economic scale of the drug trade – the basis of its ability to pose a global threat – is an unavoidable function of prohibition. The global fight against drugs goes on. But the enemy is not "invisible". We are at war with ourselves.

Damon Barrett

International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy

London EC1

The Building Schools for the Future programme is committed to the refurbishment of existing school buildings or other suitable premises where appropriate ("Historic schools gain ally against the bulldozers", 17 January). It works on the model of 50 per cent new build, 35 per cent major refurbishment, and 15 per cent minor remodelling. New-build schools are an antidote to schools that are no longer fit for purpose. It is a simplification to suggest that the majority of new-build BSF schools will see historic buildings razed. In many cases, BSF is a way to replace postwar schools in a shocking state of repair where no parent would want their child to learn and no teacher should have to teach.

Tim Byles CBE

Chief Executive Partnerships for Schools

London SW1

In his review of On the Move at the Estorick Collection (17 January), Charles Darwent stated that the pioneer of the moving image Eadweard Muybridge was "born, disappointingly, in Kingston upon Thames". He fails to state whether the place of Muybridge's birth was a disappointment to the child's parents, to the artist himself, or simply to the parochial sensibilities of a journalist 180 years after the event... All rather disappointing.

Bruce McDonald

via email

How painful it must be for your cartoonist, Schrank, to see the world in such concise and accurate terms (17 January). He should repeat his image of Haitians appealing for aid while bankers shout for bonuses, for the bosses of the 10 biggest banks – for the walls of their boardrooms. They say art and industry are natural companions.

Judith Toms

via email

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