Jesus Center isn’t immune to scrutiny from public

The following letter appeared in the Chico Enterprise-Record on October 29, 2017:

Greg Cootsona’s exercised defense of his wife Laura, who directs the Jesus Center, against the criticisms of Patrick Newman, falls short. As husband Cootsona is understandably outraged; as advocate he fails to answer Newman’s points, which concern me too.

Half of Cootsona’s letter is an irrelevant demand to help instead of griping — a morally arrogant tactic to disarm instead of answer criticism, and wholly superfluous in Newman’s case. Nobody in Chico doubts that the Cootsonas are good people, but even sainthood gets no free pass.

Cootsona dismisses Robert Marbut as unimportant. Then why was he invited to Chico with such fanfare? A visit to his website put me off. I can’t believe that a multimillion-dollar building project, such as Laura Cootsona pursues near the fairgrounds, will not draw resources away from actually helping the poor. The Jesus Center has been a wonderful means to offer immediate aid to homeless people who understandably congregate downtown, as the rest of us do. Nor can I imagine, that any elaborate new “campus” can begin to solve the problems that cause homelessness. As a local institution we can only relieve the poor.

It ill-becomes me to quote scripture to a minister of the gospel. But Jesus never required the poor to improve themselves; he taught that they were already blessed. Instead he insisted that it was the comfortably-off who were in need of reform. Laura Cootsona says her neighbors on Park Avenue hate her. Did not his neighbors hate him too?

— Carl Peterson, Paradise

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