As a pastor and Christian who believes a tithe is the minimum standard for giving, I was alarmed but not surprised by your editorial concerning giving within the church ("Giving less, believing less?" Dec.27/Jan 3). While I can understand the drop in mainline denominations, it was difficult to understand the sharp drop among "evangelicals." Perhaps it is due to a lack of knowledge, preaching, or both with regard to giving tithes and talents. As I reflected on the editorial, a thought came to mind: What are the statistics concerning giving to "parachurch" organizations, as well as TV and radio ministries? If the dollars were totaled for these, I believe we would find where the tithes and offerings for the church have gone. - Timothy D. Rott, Cochranville, Penn.
Look at parachurches
I was surprised that giving to "local" churches was the paramount focus of the Ronsvalle study. Did it include any data about church members' giving directly to parachurch and missionary organizations? Exclusion of such statistics provides an incomplete giving picture by American Christians, and it would make the Ronsvalle study a questionable yardstick for measuring spiritual health. - Sidney S. Hoekstra, Colorado Springs, Co.
Other worthy groups
The survey assumes that the amount of money churches get is the total of Christian giving. However, the reality may be that Christians have become more diversified in their giving. After all, there are so many wonderful Christian organizations that need donations, such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan's Purse, World Vision, and the Salvation Army, just to mention a few. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, "Thou shalt give 10 percent of your income to the church you are a member of." It's not biblical to judge faith based on giving to church. - Leila Laaksonen, Charlotte, N.C.
Religious, not Christian
In the Dec.27/Jan.3 Culture Notes it is stated that Touched by an Angel is a television show that "favorably depicts Christianity." Does the material presented on the program truly represent Christianity? We enjoy watching the program but find it reflects nothing except religion. According to the tenor of the programs, being "good" will get one to heaven or into God's favor. Yes, God is referred to often, but never is Jesus Christ mentioned or his redemptive work on the cross. - Warren Davis, email@example.com
Don't forget homeschool
I was surprised to see Gene Edward Veith's statement in Culture Notes ("Culturally impaired," Dec. 27/Jan. 3) that "the only meaningful educational reform seems to be coming from Christian schools that are pioneering the recovery of classical education." While I applaud the new classical education movement, homeschoolers are far more likely to embrace and apply its principles than established Christian schools. Mr. Veith seems to be stuck examining the rivulet of classical Christian schools while ignoring the torrent of homeschooling. - Esther Roorda, Pella, Iowa
The governor responds
My point in objecting to legislation referring to a natural disaster as an "Act of God" was one of legal consistency, not theology ("Is God sovereign?" Dec. 20). I very much believe in a sovereign God, and further believe that he is much involved in our world, most importantly in imparting to us his grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus Christ. As a believer, I have no problem in discussing what I believe to be God's hand in the affairs of this earth. However, I do have a problem signing a bill that would codify into Arkansas law the image of God's being responsible for the violent deaths of the victims of a tornado, without allowing me to acknowledge his role in the miraculous sparing of life. We have spent decades allowing the courts and secularists to surgically remove the mention of God from public life, from invocations at high school graduations to simple everyday expressions of faith. The very same members of the legislature and media who would have howled for months if we had attempted pass a bill that recognized God's role in healing, recovery from addiction, satisfying marriages, and volunteerism were most willing to give God legal credit for death and destruction. I am quite willing to accept, discuss, and even proclaim the sovereignty of God. I am not willing, however, to officially perpetuate the image of the heavenly Father only as a mass killer so long as my children are not allowed in their schools to hear the "whole story" of a God who saves and preserves. - Mike HuckaBee, Little Rock, Ark.