Churches and Accessibility

While I sympathize with the author of the opinion-page article "Accessibility: Churches Shouldn't Be Without It," (March 24), I wonder if he knows how much elevators and other handicap services cost.

A nearby small town's one-story post office spent about $50,000 to make its entrance handicap-accessible. (The one wheelchair user in the town insisted he'd never want to go to the post office, but they still had to do it.) A church would surely have to spend much more for an elevator and would get no help from the government.

The author doesn't mention being a church "member," just attending. I'm sure if he were a member, his church would do everything possible to accommodate him, and he'd be gladly contributing to the cost.

My disbility, chemical sensitivities, keeps me from attending my church. I'm fortunate to be able to watch my own church services on TV. This ministry to reach shut-ins and the lost was started years before my problems developed. It didn't occur to me when I gave my support that I might one day be the beneficiary.

Mary M. Jones Yazoo City, Miss.

As the author points out, churches are private institutions, and not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Another recent Monitor story, "Despite Spiritual Hunger in US, Pews Still Go Empty" (Feb. 17), highlighted falling attendance in churches.

With some churches struggling financially, a mandate to retrofit their facilities for the disabled is not an inexpensive operation. A few churches will undoubtedly add ramps and elevators as buildings are remodeled. Our church, built over 40 years ago, has a ramp from the street level to the main auditorium. I have been a member there for over 25 years and have never seen it used.

Don Soule Carmel Valley, Calif.

Romantic sea adventure, not science

It is hard to criticize a bold adventurer like Gene Savoy ("Tracing King Solomon's Gold to Lands of the Ancient Incas," March 26) without sounding like a hidebound doubting Thomas, but he has offered no scientific proof for his wild claims that fleets of Phoenician ships went back and forth between Peru and the Mediterranean.

His motley ship, the Feathered Serpent III, is like no craft that ever plied the wine-dark seas in ancient times. Pre-Columbian Peruvian watercraft did not have sails, Phoenician ships were not double-hulled catamarans, and no ancient sailors benefited from propane stoves, canned food, navigation charts, and a global positioning system.

The achievements of the world's ancient civilizations are remarkable and worthy of celebration, but we do them no honor by crediting them with feats they never accomplished.

Mr. Savoy and his crew have had a rip-roaring adventure and their voyage makes a terrific human interest story, but it's not anthropology and it's not science. There is no scientific evidence for Savoy's claims that Phoenicians sailed to Peru or that prehistoric Peruvians sailed to Polynesia.

Bradley T. Lepper Columbus, Ohio

Ohio Historical Society

Keep it coming

I can't help but wonder about the anger expressed to the news media for persisting in reporting on White House alleged wrongdoings. It is so important they do so, to make those who prefer to keep their heads in the sand think seriously about it. They'd better, since our collective national character needs cleaning up. Keep up the drum beat!

Virginia Ames Crozier Orleans, Mass.

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