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History of traditions proves self-serving [Letter]

It's tradition, demands Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," asserting he's "master of the house." It's a musical about religious traditions, marriage, choice, upheaval of the Russian Jews and culture shift.

Tevye selected a husband for his daughter, a marriage calculated to elevate his status, but his daughter loved a poor tailor with new sewing machine. Tevye rails against the loss of old ways, forced exodus from homeland and the young making their own choices.

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We too are experiencing culture shift, regarding old traditions and First Amendment rights. Tradition once supported purchase of slaves; a tradition accepted by churches, supported by the Bible, and legislators, as entitlement. After emancipation, tradition of slavery reinstated with Jim Crow laws, peonage system and lynchings witnessed in PBS video "Slavery By Another Name."

Our land of the free made laws to reinforce the status quo. Traditionally, men could beat wives, children and use child labor; exploiting tradition to ban or restrict Jews, African Americans, Native Americans, and woman from accessing jobs, property, schools, neighborhoods, restaurants, interracial and gay marriages.

Why would society do this? Change is viewed as loss of security, power and control. Many churches obligate members to accept dogma without question. Religion originally invoked a shield of armor to protect the church from questioning of claims, motives or activities. Churches label questioning as an attack. Thousands trust churches, like belonging, and like rituals, but that doesn't mean claims are true. Religious ideas can be questioned like other ideas. Relying on ancient text, based on oral stories written by fallible men and full of inconsistencies is not proof. Religious traditions should be discarded as basis for laws that restrict rights.

Tradition of infallibility shielded churches from providing evidence for claims. Shielding allowed the Vatican to continue hiding the child sexual abuse scandal. The PBS video "Secrets of the Vatican" shows the church ignored tragedy and plotted to keep secrets. The Vatican Bank colluded to avoid paying victims claims. Thousands of Catholic children were shamed and young priests' faith betrayed, while the church spent billions distracting the public with a smokescreen of obstructing abortions and gay marriages.

Does anybody grasp incongruity of denying abortion while ignoring sexual abuse of children or implying same-sex marriage hurts heterosexual marriage, ignoring the fact rampant adultery does destroy marriages? History of tradition proves self-serving agendas support status quo and haven't served humanity well.

Nan Nelson

Westminster

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