My Turn: Clearer judgment needed on school site

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By Gary C. Hauze

As one who moved back to Salisbury after leaving town almost 42 years ago, I am concerned about the controversy over the selection of a site for the new central office for Rowan-Salisbury schools. It seems that there are a number of political matters surrounding this, as well as highly questionable ethical and/or procedural issues, too.
In my view as a taxpayer and voter, county commissioners Carl Ford and Jim Sides, who met with Pastor Bill Godair, did so in violation of their public trust. The full board should have approved of their doing so, in advance, and been notified of any and all such conversations to be held — and received reports.
The pastor himself, by being personally and corporately (as the pastor of Cornerstone Church) involved in real estate transactions and in meeting with them without a real estate person present, may have — at worst — crossed IRS rules and other requirements. At the least, it was an impropriety and a political and a “business” involvement he should not have had.
I speak from experience, training and knowledge. I’ve been been a preacher for about 45 years, pastored America’s oldest congregations of the former Reformed Church and of the Christian Church (here in North Carolina), organized a new church, and served as a Conference staff minister (like a bishop but without power). I know how important it is for clergy not to get involved in politics and to deal with all meetings in an above-board way.
“God wants [H]is people to prosper,” as Pastor Godair said, but all people — not just Christians. Christians, Jews, Muslims and others are also children of God. But whether or not one happens to prosper is not an indication that God loves one more than another. Indeed, God does not control our lives like so many puppets on strings. Instead, we human beings have free will and make choices about how to live; yet, bad things do sometimes happen to good folk.
Moreover, contrary to what the Reverend Godair said about God using “the school system to push us out of our comfort zone” (in regard to Knox School) and to what his parishioner Corey Hill said about God leading “Godair’s future business endeavors,” as well as God willing such things as their selling their building, I do not believe for a moment that the Lord God gets involved in real estate transactions. Nor does God automatically approve whatever we want to do and how we choose to do it and actually do it.
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, in teaching about how to act and about what God expects, said: “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” and concluded this section by saying, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:45b, 48). So, why should we expect that God would shine only upon us? The point, of course, is that Christians ought to try to be as perfect as God. Yet, we will all “fall short of the glory of God.”
Therefore, I think that we can forgive these persons who have transgressed in terms of church and state, admonish them to do what is right in the clear light of day — as well as at night — and expect better from them in the future. Then, let the selection of the site proceed without any further political or religious or self-motivated involvements. And may the best site be selected without further delay.
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Gary C. Hauze is a retired minister who lives in Salisbury.
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