I am responding to a recent letter from a writer wanting to stage a play entitled “They Shall Take Up Serpents.” He states that he has visited the Church of the Lord Jesus in Jolo and spoken with an attendee (doesn’t actually say a congregation member). While the writer states he is doing this for the benefit of the community, I would contest that.

I am a professional photographer and spent 12 years documenting the church and congregation. My promise (vow) to the then pastor Bob Elkins, and to the congregation, was that any written material or photographs would not be utilized in a negative or harmful manner. I was an invited guest to their spiritual sanctuary.

They kept me in their homes, fed me and treated me as family and much more. I was not there to judge but simply be witness to a religious way of life that has been much misaligned and misunderstood.

The writer does not say how he would approach the story, whether he would seek consultation from the church/congregation for accuracy. He fails to acknowledge the historical negativism from the community towards the faith.

While freedom of speech (and to write and produce a play) is a constitutional right we should strive to understand and find common ground.

I would encourage the writer to be careful in his approach and do a little more research within the community and church before moving ahead.

Chuck Conner


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