Letters to the editor
Posted: February 11, 2013
‘Friend in need’
When a friend is in need, our spirit of humanity and friendship compels us to reach out and help. We do not consider what may be in it for us, just the recipient.
We have an excellent opportunity right now to help a friend and benefit from it ourselves. The Wayside Theatre in Middletown needs to create a cadre of annual givers. By doing so, the givers, and the entire area, will reap the reward of the continuance of outstanding professional theatre in our valley.
Currently, the theatre is endeavoring to raise an additional $57,000 prior to the end of March. I have every confidence that our community will rise to the challenge to continue a treasured part of the quality of experiences we enjoy as area residents.
My request is twofold. I ask that you consider donating now, as I have committed to personally, and secondly, consider adding Wayside Theatre to your scheduled ongoing giving. Any amount per month, quarter, or year would help carry our valley's theatre into the future and insure the benefits of enjoying continuing cultural richness for the entire area.
Please join me in making a gift and a pledge. Your generosity will be abundantly rewarded for years to come.
Needed: executive order to restore felons’ rights
(Ed. Note: This letter was originally sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell.)
Along with many other groups and residents, the Valley Interfaith Council commends you for your efforts to restore voting rights and urges you to use your authority to issue an executive order to restore voting rights automatically to felons who have paid their debt to society.
The Valley Interfaith Council works to promote mutual understanding and respect among the religious faiths of the Northern Shenandoah Valley. The religious groups include: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha’i, Unitarians, Hindus, Buddhists, and others. We also work together on moral issues that touch our commonwealth. We don’t agree on all moral issues, but all of us agree the current law banning ex-felons from voting is outdated, unfair, and counter productive.
As you know better than anyone, under current law any person with a felony conviction is banned from voting for life, unless the governor individually restores his or her rights. We are one of only four states requiring this process. Virginia is out of step with the rest of the nation, with more than 400,000 persons having paid their debt to society but still unable to vote.
Felon disenfranchisement is fundamentally unfair. Once individuals have repaid their debt to society, they should be allowed to fully participate in our democracy. As people of faith, we believe that with God’s help people can and do change — redemption, reconciliation, and restoration are God’s intention, not permanent alienation.
As Sen. Jill Vogel wrote in her recent legislative upate (Jan. 28): “The reality is that good people make mistakes, particularly when they are young. Also, people can be rehabilitated, complete their education, pay their debt to society, and go on to become honorable and upstanding citizens who deserve a second chance.”
Additionally, felon disenfranchisement is bad public policy: Studies show that ex-felons who have had their voting rights restored are more than twice are likely to remain crime-free than ex-felons who have not had their rights restored. Restoring voting rights does away with second-class citizenship and reduces crime.
Let us know how we can support you in your effort to restore voting rights to felons who have paid their debt to society.
The Rev. John D. Copenhaver
Valley Interfaith Council
(Ed. Note: Fourteen other VIC members, laity as well as clergy, signed this letter.)