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Diane Clark, Fargo , Published May 05 2012

Didn’t read story?

In response to a letter to the editor that was published on May 1 regarding The Forum’s front-page story on Jon Lindgren: It is interesting to note that the person who wrote the letter admitted to not even having read the story on Lindgren.

While I didn’t think that this was a story for the front page (I often am perplexed by The Forum’s decisions on what goes on the front page and what does not), I think it was a story worth telling. I often disagree with The Forum politically; however, I salute them for having the willingness to publish a story that was bound to be controversial.

Lindgren was a longtime mayor of Fargo. He has been involved in the controversy over placement of the Ten Commandments monument at City Hall. He was, and is, a person of public interest. His views during the time he was mayor coexisted with – and may have in fact netted – votes for him allowing him to win elections. I, for one, am interested in what Lindgren, as a public figure, has to say, and I know others who are of this opinion.

Lindgren was mayor when we moved to Fargo years ago. We had come from a community that was large enough to be home to many people of diverse ethnicity, religious views, political views, sexual orientations, and, yes, people who immigrated here from other countries. We enjoyed this diversity. I was impressed that the community was progressive enough to have a mayor who had the courage to honor diversity with a gay pride celebration.

More recently and since leaving office, Lindgren was involved in a challenge to the placement of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of a public building. How presumptive it is for those who call themselves Christians to insist that Christian doctrine be espoused on public grounds. Yes, Christians are in the majority around here. But we have residents of other faiths as well, and to them, their beliefs are valid and deserving of respect.

In my experience over a long lifetime (I was born and raised in North Dakota quite a few years ago and have lived in several states prior to returning), I have seen the benefits to diversity in communities. The diversity of culture, religious paths and ideas is not something to be feared and excoriated by those who insist that others must have the same worldview and beliefs that they do. Our society is richer for the freedom of expression and the freedom to be who we really are, whether Christian, of another faith, agnostic, atheist, gay or straight, or of a different ethnicity than we are, etc. That is what a democracy should encompass and affirm.

Lindgren has every right to believe as he does. And he has a right to speak out for these ideas, or to have a story published in the paper about those beliefs. I belong to a Christian denomination that is welcoming and affirming of all who choose to participate. My faith and beliefs do not demand that others believe or behave as I do. Certainly the 2,000-plus-year-old Christian religion is strong enough to allow for honest differences of opinion and belief. That is democracy, and last time I looked, we were still calling this a democracy.