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Support Molly Gray for Congress

During my decade as Bennington’s representative to the Vermont State House, I learned what makes a good legislator. Our most effective public servants are those that blend their personal experience and expertise with an ability to stay closely attuned to the needs of the folks they represent. That’s why I’m supporting Molly Gray to represent Vermont in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Molly has worked in Congress before, serving as an aide to Congressman Welch. Later, she served abroad with the International Committee of the Red Cross, worked as a human rights lawyer, and was elected in a hotly-contested statewide race to serve as Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor.

Like Congressman Welch, Molly is a good listener. During her time as Lieutenant Governor, she has traveled to every corner of Vermont, hearing directly from Vermonters about the challenges they face. She has focused on putting federal stimulus money to good use – for instance, she has worked to use American Rescue Plan funds to expand broadband to all parts of the state, boosting connectivity for rural schools.

Vermont has a history of welcoming refugees; as an expert in human rights law, Molly knows the crucial moral importance of keeping our state’s arms open to those fleeing war in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and elsewhere.

In Washington, Vermonters deserve to be represented by a thoughtful legislator, good listener, and student of geopolitics. In the August 9 primary I will cast my vote for Molly Gray. I ask that you do, too.

Anne Mook

Former State Representative, Bennington 2-2

In defense of Billy Graham

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In response to Bob Stannard’s column in Bennington Banner (April 30): “Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” was a bedrock belief of this culture in the recent past. “It’s a free country,” stated most, inferring that each person has the right to say their piece in a nation guarded by the First Amendment to the Constitution. These ideas rested upon the premise that one could interpret established facts in any way they deemed appropriate, and those individuals were welcome to share their opinions with anyone who chose to listen.

I write today to take exception to a “fact” espoused by the writer of “Do You Believe,” appearing recently in the Bennington Banner. There are numerous items in that op-ed piece to which I could take exception. But one egregious misstatement demands attention and correction. In fact, even the writer, Bob Stannard, advises us that if the information we receive is not true, “then you’re obligated to call them out.” Challenge accepted, Mr. Stannard.

The particular statement that demands to be “called out” is this: “When people like...Billy Graham..., et. al., ...declare that you have to give them money so that you can be closer to a god, that should turn you off right away.” Throughout the column, Graham’s name is associated with “charlatans” and those who feel “compelled to lie.” If this was true of Billy Graham, it certainly would have been exposed over the course of his career and needs to continue to be denounced in public media today. In fact, no interpretation could be further from the truth.

Consider this easily verifiable information: (1) Graham was among the top 10 most admired men in the United States every year from 1963 until his death in 2018; (2) Graham was among the founders of the Evangelical Council for Financial Responsibility. Graham’s organization (the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, or BGEA) never received any money from any of his crusades after 1950. Indeed, after 1952, Dr. Graham insisted upon taking only a modest, fixed salary for his endeavors. Rusty Leonard, the founder and CEO of MinistryWatch, a group that rates the financial health of Christian ministries, wrote that the BGEA consistently won an “A” rating for financial responsibility. Is this the same Billy Graham that Mr. Stannard writes about?

Billy Graham never, and I emphasize never, stated that giving him money would change anyone’s standing before God. I assert the verity of this statement because I have watched hundreds of hours of Mr. Graham’s public preaching, where he consistently asserted that salvation was based solely upon the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, and that no human effort could alter our status before God in any way.

Now, it is true that you have the “right” not to like Dr. Graham and his message. But dislike of the message or the messenger conveys no “right” to disparage a person, especially when recorded history seems to document an entirely different set of facts than we have been presented by this columnist.

I would advise Mr. Stannard to heed his own very good advice: “Do a little research from credible sources and determine what the truth really is.”

Lee Williams



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