As a member of West Acres Baptist Church in Evans, I feel compelled to respond to Jezibell Anat's letter in which she alleges that her belly dancing group was "unfairly excluded" from an event which took place at our church ("Show unfairly excluded belly dancing," Jan. 14).
The event was originated by high school students to use music and drama to raise funds to save the Miller Theatre. The students were to receive school credit for this project. Upon learning the nature of Ms. Anat's group's dance routines, a decision was made by the church staff that we could not allow belly dancing in our church, and that decision was relayed to the students.
Before condemning our church for "unfairly" excluding her group and their "ancient art form" of belly dancing, I would plead with her to consider that West Acres is first and last a Christian organization, and every particle of structural material in our facilities has been prayed over and many inscribed with scriptures from God's holy word as acts of dedication to the only reason that West Acres exists -- for the praise, honor, worship, service and glorification of Jesus Christ and His message of salvation to a lost and dying world.
As a young man and long before my commitment to Jesus, I witnessed belly dancing on several occasions, and while I'm sure that some view it as an art form and many secular venues welcome it, I can't imagine such dancing to in any way coincide with the purpose and mission of West Acres. We must make unpopular and inconvenient choices at times, but I believe this decision was correct and in the best interests of our church.
I am sorry if our position was misunderstood by the students or the performers and any inconvenience it might have caused. We do not judge or condemn Ms. Anat or her performers and, in fact, if they are interested in learning more about the Christian faith and/or Baptist beliefs, I would urge them to visit with us at any of our services and see how we go about our service to Jesus.
They will find that while we are not perfect, we are forgiven through grace by faith in the perfect sacrifice of Christ, and that most of us are loving, sincere people and can be quite likable.
Roy S. Ellis