Belief is an individual choice

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.]


  1. John–

    I don't know where the PC idea got hatched that everyone has to agree with everyone else. I suspect it has to do with how many people go to college for technological training with little place given to philosophy / theology / debate.

    I was fortunate at Emory University to be taught, not what to think, but how to think and reason. Personally I welcome debate and the broadening of the mind even at almost 64 years of age.

    The man who stands in the Pulpit or at the editorial desk and has everyone agreeing with him is either a dogmatic dictator generating fear of rebuttal, OR is so bland no one pays attention.

    Keep up the good work and surprise even yourself in years to come. God give us people who know how to take a position and explain it, even if the majority consider it wrong. The Prophets and Jesus did much of this and paid a high price for truth-telling as best they knew it.

  2. We have subscribed to Baptists Today for years. I don't read every word of every issue but I read most of what you have to say. Although I have not agreed with you 100% of the time, I have never felt like you expected me to accept your point of view. Write on.

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