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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 23, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4A — Herald-Zeftung — Saturday, April 23, 2011 FORUM Herald-Zeitung •frr/ng Nrw Hntunfrh and ( nmnl County finer 1*52 New Bfaunfels Zeitung was founded 1852. New Bfaunfels Herald was founded 1890 The two papers merged m 1957 and printed m both German and English until 1958 Editor and Publisher Managing Editor Circulation Director Business Manager Advertising Director Doug Toney Autumn Phillips Jeff Fowler Rosie Willingham Jamie Gregg RONNIE VOLKENING Guest Commentary Why are there so many denominations? Have you ever wondered if Hinduism. Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity believe in the same God? Then you are not alone. It is estimated that today there are more than 3,000 different denominations or faith groups around the world, which makes it very difficult for any person to discover which of them is telling the truth. Proverbs 16:25 and 14:12 says, There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me. This is one of the verses that separate Protestants from Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam and Judaism although they all believe and teach morality and ethics. Great reformers such John Wycliffe (Lollards) was condemned by the Pope for translating the Bible into English; Peter Waldo (Waldensians) “Bible and Bible alone” was persecuted for thousands of years by French Bishops and Pope Lucius III: John Hus "Authority of scriptures" and was burnt before explaining his beliefs. Martin Luther (Lutheran) “Justification by faith”; John Wesley (Methodists) believed in Apostles and the Nicene Creed but was against predestination. Baptists: “Adult Baptism by Immersion”; John Calvin (Presbyterian) "Predestination". These reformers and their followers sharply differed in interpretations of the Bible. As I examined different denominations, I realized how so many people misunderstand and judge each other instead of finding common beliefs as the Bible says, “There is one JOHN RUSURIYE body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6). This verse echoes with unity of everything taught by Hinduism. Since the Bible with New and Old Testament is a unifying factor between Protestant denominations and Catholics, teachings such as Bible alone, Grace alone, Sabbath Observance, Communion, Justification by faith and Baptism by immersions are all Biblical teachings and if I was looking for a church I would choose the one that believes them all, putting interpretation aside and letting the Bible interpret itself. Jesus said, “But why do you call you Me, Lord, Lord and do not do the things which I say." (Luke 6:46). It is amazing how some people refute what Jesus taught or commanded while they profess to be his followers. The end of all things is near and those who are waiting for the second coming of the Lord in many Christian denominations should examine all beliefs to see if they are in line with the Bible suggestion from 2 Corinthians 13:5. Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). We are called to seek God with all our hearts (Jeremiah 29:12-13) and follow Jesus and not our church founders or leaders because they will not answer God on our behalf on the Day of Judgment as Ecclesiastes 3:17; 11:9; 12:13-14 say. — John Rusuriye is an ordained deacon at New Braunfels Seventh Day Adventist. Guest Commentary Save the Texas sales tax holiday On Monday, April 18, members of the Texas House Appropriations Committee approved HB 3790, an omnibus hill intended to address the budget shortfall Texas faces for the 2012-13 biennium. One of the items in HB 3790 proposes to suspend the Texas school supplies sales tax holiday, beginning this August. The Texas Sales Tax Holiday has been in place since 1999. It has proven to be extremely popular and beneficial, providing significant savings for parents of school-aged children and ensuring schoolchildren are ready for the new school year while providing a lift in sales for Texas retailers. The committee’s action relies on the states projection that eliminating the three-day tax holiday will save the state money. Interestingly, the bill also proposes to conduct a study (which would be conducted at state expense) to determine if the sales tax holiday should he reinstated in the future. In fact, I exas retailers know from years of experience that the lift in sales during this holiday extends beyond the purchases of tax-exempt items. Shoppers are drawn to stores to purchase the school-related items and, empowered with sales tax savings, continue to purchase additional items that are not tax exempt. Ihe increased economic activity that surrounds the tax holiday yields positive results all around: a tax break benefiting Texas school children, increased foot traffic and sales activity for Texas retailers and additional tax revenues for the state of Texas. In 2010, the state of Florida reinstated its school supplies sales tax holiday following a two-year suspension, predicting that doing so would result in a $24 to $44 million loss in sales tax revenue. The results were quite different from the projection. Increased economic activity surrounding the three-day sales tax holiday resulted in a $7 million increase sales tax revenues. Furthermore, retailers who were surveyed reported a 37 percent increase in transaction counts and significant increases in full- and part-time employee hours worked to manage the increased activity. The full study can be reviewed at Members of the Texas Retailers Association appreciate the necessity of balancing the state’s budget shortfall and recognize the significant challenge it presents. Texas retailers are actively engaged in the legislative process and have offered proposals by which the retailer community will contribute productively to the solution. However, given the magnitude of this challenge, it is critical that actions taken by the legislature actually have a positive rather than a negative effect in addressing the budget shortfall. Furthermore, the needs ofTexas schoolchildren are not diminished by the economic challenges that surround them. During this time marked by slow economic growth, high unemployment and high motor fuel costs, increasing the cost of school supplies would be a hurtful blow to Texas consumers. As the Florida experience clearly demonstrates, it would be a hurtful blow to Texas sales tax revenues as well. Please encourage your legislators to vote to sustain the Texas School Supplies Sales Tax Holiday. —Ronnie Volkening is the president of the Texas Retailers Association. The question of cohabitation, confession, Easter Communion For generations, people in pews knew what to call it when folks “shacked up" before marriage — “living in sin.” “Sin" is a harder word to use, today. The Catholic archbishop of Santa Fe, N.M., recently raised eyebrows with a mere letter reminding his flock that cohabitation is a grave sin that Catholics must take to confession or there will be eternal consequences. Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan’s priests read his sobering words from their pulpits on April 3, the fourth Sunday of Lent — the penitential season before Easter. Those who cohabit, stressed Sheehan, are “objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion. “They are in great spiritual danger. At the best... they are ignorant of God’s plan for man and woman. At the worst, they are contemptuous of God's commandments and His sacraments.... “Often their plea is that they ‘cannot afford a church wedding,’ i.e. the external trappings, or that ‘what difference does a piece of paper make?’ — as if a sacramental TERRY MATTINGLY Terry Mattingfy is dim tor of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges atui Universities and letuls the project to study religion atui the neuis. covenant is nothing more than a piece of paper! Such statements show religious ignorance, or a lack of faith and awareness of the evil of sin.” In addition to forbidding known cohabiters from receiving Communion, Sheehan urged priests to avoid public scandal by refusing to commission them to serve Communion. After all, he said, “one commits the sin of sacrilege by administering a sacrament in the state of mortal sin.” Also, priests should prevent those who cohahitate from serving as godparents for baptisms and confirmations, since the documents for these rites say it’s "critical for the sponsor to be a practicing Catholic.” How, Sheehan added, “can anyone be seriously called a practicing Catholic who is not afile to receive the sacraments because they are living in sin?” This latest Communion controversy is not taking place in a vacuum. American bishops continue to debate whether to deny Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who reject church teachings on hot-but-ton issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. At the same time, Catholic leaders are making special efforts — especially during Lent — to draw Catholics back to confession or, as it is now known, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. After all, a 2008 study at Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate found that 45 percent of American Catholics say they never go to confession and 12 percent say they go once a year. A generation or two after many Catholics lined up for confession on a weekly or monthly basis, a mere 2 percent say they participate in this sacrament once a month or more. This is the context for Sheehan’s letter, which raised additional issues central to the day-to-day lives of thousands of priests, parents and parish leaders. How should priests handle cohabitating couples that seek premarital counseling? Can these couples attend “Pre-Cana” programs for the engaged? How dq priests convince these Catholics to seek forgiveness when they don’t believe they are sinning? Good luck with that, said commentator Heidi Schlumpf of the National Catholic Reporter. She gave Sheehan’s letter a quick thumbs-down, calling it a mere attempt to enflame traditionalists. “I’m struck how un-persuasive this letter is,” she wrote, online. “But then I wonder if that is its purpose. It seems Sheehan has no real interest in persuading or teaching, but rather only punishing those who disagree with him. Oh, and making those who already agree with him happy for ‘laying down the law.’” The Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, author of the popular “What Does the Prayer Really Say?” weblog, stressed that the Santa Fe statement was blunt, but that silence and timidity would be even worse. The key, he said, is that Sheehan dared to defend church teachings to the Catholics who are under this care. “In this age of‘I’m OK, you’re OK,' a bishop risks being called mean and uncompassionate if he does anything other than remain silent or wring his hands," said Zuhlsdorf, a former Lutheran who is completing his doctorate at the Patristic Institute “Augustinianum" in Rome. “So how do you defend doctrines that many people think are offensive without committing what many people believe is the ultimate sin, which is offending people? ... "Yet this is what bishops are supposed to do — defend the teachings of the church. All of them. The whole package.” United States Government PRESIDENT ■ Barack Obama 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500 SENATE ■ Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C. 20510 TslGphone: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224 0776 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 145 Duncan Drive, Suite 120 San Antonio 78226 Telephone: (210) 340-2885 Fax: (210) 349-6753 ■ John Cornyn Russell Senate-Hart Room 517 Washington, D.C. 20510 Talaphona: (202) 224-2934 Fax: (202) 228-2856 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) AUSTIN OFFICE: 221 West Sixth St., Suite 1530 Austin 78701 Talaphona: (512) 469-6034 Fax: (512) 469-6020 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 600 Navarro, Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Talaphona: (210) 224-7485 Fax: (210) 224-8569 CONGRESSMAN ■ Lamar Smith Rayburn House Office Building Room 2409 Washington, D.C. 20515 Talaphona: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 Web address: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 821-5024 Fax: (210) 821-5947 ■ Henry Cuellar 1404 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Talaphona: (202) 225-1640 Fax: (202) 225-1641 Web address: SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 615 E. Houston St. San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 271-2851 Fax: (210) 277-6671 GOVERNOR HOWTO CONTACT Texas Government ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 RO. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Doug Miller EXT E1.216 P.O. Box 2910 Austin TX 78768-2910 Telephone: (512) 463-0325 Fax: (512)463-5896 STATE SENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 925 San Antonio 78209 Talaphona: (210) 826-7800 WHILE IN AUSTIN: Telephone: 888-824-6984 E-mail address: jeff. wentworth NEW BRAUNFELS CITY COUNCIL 424 S. Castell Ave. P.O. Box 311747, New Braunfels, TX 78131-1747 (830) 221-4000 ■ Mayor Bruce Boyer bboyer @ Telephone: Extension 4507 ■ Dist. 1 Councilor Richard Zapata [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4501 ■ Dist. 2 Councilor Mark Goodner mgoodner @ Telephone: Extension 4502 ■ Dist. 3 Councilor Mike Ybarra [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4503 ■ Dist. 4 Councilor Sandy Nolte [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4504 ■ Dist. 6 Councilor Kathleen Kruioer kkrueger @ Telephone: Extension 4505 ■ Dist. 6 Councilor Steven Diqoes [email protected] Telephone: Extensio n 4506 Comal County Commissioners' Court 199 Main Plaza New Braunfels,Tx 78130 (830) 221-1100 ■ COUNTY JUDGE SHERMAN KRAUSE [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1105 ■ PCT. 1 COMMISSIONER DONNA ECCLESON [email protected]! Telephone: (830) 221-1101 ■ PCT. 2 COMMISSIONER SCOn HAAG [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1102 ■ Pa. 3 COMMISSIONER GREG PARKER [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1103 ■ Pa. 4 COMMISSIONER JAN KENNADY [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1104 ;