To the Editor:
It came to my attention yesterday that the minister of the Congregational Church in Old Lyme gave a sermon on March 26, 2023 during which he accused the Republican Town Committee Members of Old Lyme of being supporters of book bans and curriculum censorship in our school system. The sermon is available online in writing and on video. So, I read and watched it.
In that sermon, the minister quoted one Republican Town Committee principle enumerated in a letter to Old Lyme residents which reads: “Standing up for parental rights in the town’s school system regarding the school’s curriculum and student policies.”
He claimed that this language was a dog whistle ,a “coded way of saying” that local republicans will attempt to ban books and censor curriculum as some other people have done in other parts of the country. He went further to state that our Republican Town Committee Members wish to police the truth, “tell which lives can be seen, and recognized, and control the teaching of history.” What is more, the sermon continued by attributing these misrepresentations of local Republicans as a betrayal of “both faith and democracy.” WOW! Thirty three (33) people this minister doesn’t likely know oppose faith and democracy according to him. I couldn’t believe my ears or my eyes.
I wouldn’t typically respond to such petty, ill-informed, and disingenuous accusations by people whom I have never met. But ,due to the sheer dishonesty of the divisive statements made in the sermon, I felt compelled to set the record straight.
Firstly, I know all thirty three (33) members of the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee personally. Not one of them is in favor of book bans or controlling the teaching of history in our school system. On the contrary, all members are avid supporters of our great school system, its teachers, and the right of parents to be involved in their children’s education. All of those people are supportive of accuracy in the teaching of history. If this minister disagrees that parents should be aware of what their children are taught, perhaps he believes he should decide what their children are taught. I doubt there are many parents in town, Democrats, Republicans, or unaffiliated voters, that would endorse that option.
This disdainful message to his parishioners went even further by stating: “My quarrel is not with Republicans per se, though they have given us much to quarrel with of late.”
Again, I was astonished by the haughty nature of his words. I can only presume there are few, if any, registered Republicans or others who are members of that church that would find such words inclusive. Those are the words of rabid and blatant partisanship. Those words don’t represent the urges of one whose self-proclaimed and ostensible role is to bring a diversified flock together.
To add insult to injury, the sermon went on with: “It’s a way of remaining blind to social dynamics, and to human lives … particularly regarding marginalized populations.” Talk about a “Dog Whistle” to use the minister’s own words. These words paint the Republican Town Committee Members as racists. Nothing could be further from the truth. These words are highly offensive and the implication wholly insulting.
I know I can speak for the entire membership of the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee when I say this polemic from that sermon vis-à-vis our platform is completely inaccurate and misleading. From my vantage point, the arrogance enmeshed in those written words in that sermon was only outweighed by the priggish attitude with which the words were spoken .
On a personal level, I found these assertions highly offensive and untenable . I am a loving member of a family that is proudly interracial. I am also an employer of people from various races, genders, ethnicities, differing political affiliations and sexual persuasions ,all of whom are treated equally. In addition, I give my time and money on several levels to help disadvantaged and needy people in our society irrespective of their race , sexual orientation ,ethnic background or politics.
I will conclude this letter by again quoting from the subject sermon. The minister began his attack of the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee by saying: “Here, I feel I must apologize for what I am about to say …”, Sir you should apologize for what you said. That is the only part you got right regarding the OLRTC. It was a complete misrepresentation of the facts.
R. Andrew Nixon
Old Lyme, CT
Nixon is the current Chair of the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee