I am a member of the Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM) organization, as are many folks living in Fairfield Glade. On Aug. 3 it was the 30th anniversary of a federal law allowing mountaintop mining to destroy coalfield communities in Appalachia. Mountaintop mining removes coal from a mountain by blowing off the top of the mountain with dynamite. Trees and all natural growth along with wildlife are destroyed and streams and rivers below are polluted. That law is entitled SMCRA, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. SOCM Stripmine Issues committee feels that the federal program regulating surface mining in the state is not doing an adequate job. The state of Tennessee is one of only two states in the nation that does not have a state-run regulatory program for surface mining and so is under the federal law.

A recent study of violations and complaints about Zeb Mountain Mine in Campbell and Scott counties in Tennessee revealed that blasting has caused thousands of dollars in damage to several homes. In one of these homes, the water is no longer fit to drink. Tennessee mountains need to be protected, not blown up!

The Stripmine Issues Committee is asking the House Natural Resources Committee to consider a ban of any further mountaintop mining permits under the federal program and to take a long hard look at the list of surface mining violations and grave failures in enforcement.

Yvonne Seperich

Fairfield Glade

Regarding Harry Sutherland (July 19th article, "Mary Magdalene, was she the 13th apostle?") which discussed the gospel of Mary and near the end of the article referred to "uninformed clergy."

Mr. Sutherland gave a number of things to stimulate thought and discussion. I watched for a follow-up letter to the editor from someone. Due to time and space limitations, I will respond only to his reference to uninformed clergy.

I recall sitting under clergy who I thought were not informed. As I matured and studied the Bible more, I prayerfully chose ministers who showed strong evidence of being real students of the Bible as well as other areas of knowledge. My experience of sitting under the teachings of uninformed clergy, therefore, is very limited and in the realm of development during my teen and college years. The ministers I know personally are worthy of their positions as leaders of organizations as well as people of all various backgrounds.

Even though there are opportunities afforded by media, I prefer to "show up" at church. So, for clarification, I am not including in my thought any persons in the media. In the past when I listened to clergy on the media, I did so prayerfully and was able to know and to search the scriptures and discern when things began to go contrary to the Bible. Later, when things were revealed through the news media, I had stopped listening to those ministers long ago and had made no financial support.

People should not judge things based on uninformed people in any position, and I question why they would make that choice with regard to inspirational endeavors. We check reliable resources before accepting things as truth. We have the Bible available in common everyday language as well as many other resources available, and we have knowledgeable, capable clergy to inspire us in our study. The Old and New Testaments have stood the test of time as the standard for truth of the Word of God. To not take the time to read and pray, plus go the distance to listen actively, is a sign of not being awake to the importance.

Sharon Hagan


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