Fortunately, my “roses” file is much larger than the one marked “stones.” That is, I receive many more affirming letters than negative ones.

But those letters of disagreement can be instructive. They are also the expected result of putting my strong opinions, often about controversial subjects, in print and online.

One such note came to our office this week. After requesting cancellation of his subscription, the writer closed with the question: “Do I have to believe like John Pierce?”

In a word, “NO!”

The question itself misses the point of my editorial writing. My attempt is not to force (as if I could) my beliefs on anyone. In fact, I’ve read my own opinion pieces from years past and wondered where I came up with that crazy idea.

Editorial writing (as I practice it) is intended to be thoughtful without being presented as the definitive word on a subject. It is designed to advance conversation about a topic, not to end it.

That’s why I will at times carry guest commentaries with which I do not wholly agree. Yet I find the pieces well-written, thought-provoking and worthy of consideration.

Most importantly, belief is very personal. It can never be forced upon another person.

That’s why many of us are such strong proponents of the time-tested principle of separation of church and state, which has allowed religious faith to flourish in this nation without government interference.

So much of what we value and enjoy in life flows from being free to think, speak, write and believe.

[However, losing a subscription to Baptists Today is never valued by the editor. So if you would like to subscribe, call 478-301-5655 or visit our web site and click “subscription info” near the top. Thanks.]

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