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Letters to the editor

We should welcome Afghan refugees The state of Rhode Island exists because of the hospitality of the Narragansett people. When Roger Williams fled for his life in the autumn of 1635 with 'no guide, no house but hollow tree … no fire, no food, no company,' the Narragansetts offered refuge. Roger Williams in turn inscribed this radical welcome into the founding documents of Providence and Rhode Island.

Today the people of Afghanistan are fleeing in search of refuge. We urge our leaders to make a way possible for Rhode Island to serve as a place of safe harbor. Organizations like Dorcas International are already laying the foundation to welcome in Afghans.

People of Rhode Island, you can be agents of providence by offering to these new neighbors 'a house, a bed, a table, company,' for when they arrive, they will be in need of practical and urgent relief. These Afghans will arrive with only temporary legal status, so they will not be eligible for the public benefits normally available to refugees.

We call on the leaders and people of Rhode Island to begin by supporting at least 100 Afghans. The new arrivals will need swift access to affordable housing, as well as financial assistance to offset living expenses until they can secure employment in order to earn a living wage. Available health care for the uninsured will also be a challenge.

However, during the bleakest days of the pandemic, we saw our community rise to the challenge in compassionate and creative ways. We saw empty hotels sheltering otherwise houseless people. Rhode Island can meet this need in ways that promote the common good. Hospitality roots us in our best selves. Immigrants improve communities for all of us. 'No cup so bitter but made sweet, where God shall sweetening be,' Roger Williams wrote and knew that God makes a path and provides a guide through the hospitality of our neighbors.

Organized 'neighborhood support teams' of families across the state willing to commit to welcoming an arriving Afghan family, identify housing leads, and raise funds would go a long way toward sweetening the Afghans’ arrival to our state.

As religious leaders, we urge people of good will of Rhode Island to extend practical hospitality and tangible welcome to people seeking refuge from Afghanistan.

The Rev. Jamie P. Washam, First Baptist Church in America The Rev. Mark Sutherland, St. Martin’s Church The Rev. Linda Mackie Griggs, St. Martin’s Church Rabbi Sarah Mack, Temple Beth-El The Rev. Rebecca Spencer, Central Congregational Church Rabbi Michael Fel, Temple Emanu-El The Rev. Elizabeth Lerner Maclay, The First Unitarian Church of Providence The Rev. Benjamin Straley, St. Stephen’s Church The Rev. Patrick A. Campbell, The Church of the Redeemer

An affront to all Providence police officers Re: 'Opposition rises quickly to civilian’s promotion to Providence police major' (News, Sept. 8).

'This appointment of an unqualified person will have no credibility with the command staff or rank and file,' said Charles P. Wilson, chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, regarding the appointment of city Director of Recreation Michael Stephens, a civilian, to major in the Providence Police Department.

This is an affront to all Providence police officers. If I was a captain or a lower rank, or even a patrol officer, and Michael Stephens gave me an order, I would tell him 'when you become a real police officer and rise through the ranks to become a major then and only then will I carry out your order.' It is obvious to me and many others that Mayor Jorge Elorza is not a supporter of the Providence Police Department. The morale is at an all-time low and that is unfortunate.

Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements is one of the most respected police chiefs in New England. When he became police chief in Providence the morale was at its lowest under the former chief, and it was Colonel Clements who brought back morale to its highest ever. Now, due to this ridiculous appointment, the morale is at an all-time low again.

Wake up, Mayor Elorza, and put Mr. Stephens back in recreation or another civilian job. You have no idea what police officers do every day. You enjoy suspending police officers because they are vocal about how much they dislike you. In the heat of a disturbance you wouldn’t last one day.

When you start to show your respect for police officers then maybe they can start to respect you.

Ken Mancuso, Cranston The writer is a retired chief of the Cranston Police Department. Understanding how our democracy works Without taking sides on Dana Milbank’s topics, he does not understand how our state and federal governments work.

We are a representative democracy. Leaders are elected to decide the laws of the local, state, and national governments. The executive leaders, also elected, review and then can agree or disagree with legislative actions. An independent judiciary decides if the laws are within the boundaries of state and federal constitutions. No one in government is charged with following opinion polls.

Our democracy has not failed because our laws do not always reflect opinion polls. Our democracy perseveres in the face of both zealots and the disinterested. It is chaotic at times and messy all of the time. In all of history no other type of government has done more for more people here and throughout the world. Perfect, no. Realistic, yes.

Vincent Fortier, Rumford Where is basis for religious exemption? I continue to hear and read about offering people a religious exemption to avoid taking a COVID vaccine. What is the basis for this religious exemption? Can a bishop, priest, minister, rabbi, etc. explain where in the New or Old Testament, Quran, The Four Noble Truths is there a basis for a religious exemption to a vaccine?

This isn’t military service where one can be a conscientious objector.

Steve J. Hirsch, Saunderstown Sad to see TV meteorologist go I was very sad to read the news that NBC 10’s long-time meteorologist Kelly Bates was let go. What’s not to like about Kelly Bates! Her on-air personality is wonderful and truly professional, and her forecasts are thorough and accurate. She was also voted 'best female meteorologist' by Rhode Island Monthly magazine.

I was always a loyal fan of Channel 10, but in my opinion it is definitely not the same since Sinclair Broadcast Group took over. I will be viewing my local news from one of the other local stations from now on hoping Kelly Bates gets picked up by one of them. She would be a great addition!

Frank DelNigro, Cranston

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