The cover story, "Shouting down Christians?" (Dec. 19), was one of the most disturbing articles I have read in weeks. How was I to know that 26 years ago when I was challenged to consider the claims of Christ and his death for me, that I was going to become a member of a vast, right-wing political organization bent on destroying America. Every day I am struck by the aggressive, focused, and passionate vilification of Christians. I have just recently reread Foxe's Book of Martyrs and I am reminded that failure to read history is a failure to gain perspective. This really is old news. Christians today will ultimately go the way of Christians of the past if we truly understand our calling. Christians are light in the darkness and salt for our society. The gospel has the same life-changing power today as it did 2,000 years ago; we must be faithful witnesses. Paul challenged Timothy, "Be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." If Christians understand current events through the filter of God's Word and live our lives with integrity, Christ will be honored. - William F. Wood Jr., Berkeley Lake, Ga.
Thank you for your piece on the suppression of Christian free speech in America. I was pleased to see a major Christian source finally recognize what pro-lifers, street preachers, and other street-activist Christians have known for at least a decade-that the government is systematically suppressing any expression of truth. On Jan. 7, here in Portland, Ore., two national pro-life organizations and a dozen pro-life leaders go on trial in federal court on a $600 million lawsuit by Planned Parenthood. Their crime? They called abortionists murderers and published two posters saying they were "guilty of crimes against humanity." And don't think the American Civil Liberties Union is on the side of free speech. In a recent press release, the ACLU said that "when abortion is described as 'murder' and fetuses are characterized as 'babies,' the result is violence against [abortion] providers and clinics." For years, we've been too busy being pietistic to help believers who have been suppressed, but Christians have been in this First Amendment ghetto for years. Only now is the ghetto being shrunk and some of the "notables" among us are finally feeling the pinch. - Paul de Parrie, Life Advocate magazine
Ranting to applause
How ironic that the same week I received the "Tolerance Police" issue of World magazine, Alec Baldwin was ranting on national television that people should "stone Henry Hyde" and kill the wives of Republican congressmen. What was most unsettling, though, was the studio audience's reaction to Mr. Baldwin's tirade: cheers and laughter. - Thaddeus Wert, Nashville, Tenn.
He never learned manners
I was appalled by actor Alec Baldwin's caustic remarks encouraging the president's supporters, supposedly in parody fashion, to murder Rep. Henry Hyde and his family. Can you imagine the street demonstrations and accusations of "hate speech" by the liberals if a pro-life individual or group had had the audacity to utter similar remarks? Mr. Baldwin has the God-given right to disagree with Rep. Hyde's politics, but it seems that Mr. Baldwin never heard Jack Kennedy's maxim that civility is not a sign of weakness. We have a right and a civic duty to debate the merits of our own political opinions, but no one has the right to make ad hominem attacks against his opponents, or make death threats against them or their families. - Steven A. Costello, Lake Jackson, Texas
As a Christian collegian who regularly experiences anti-Christian "hate speech" at a secular university, Bob Jones IV's article "Shouting down Christians?" struck a resounding chord with me. For instance, I have been told, among other things, that "Christians are psychologically damaged" and "it's those [deleted] Christians stopping progress." I have been marked down for expressing an "invalid" Christian viewpoint. An agnostic classmate of mine told me, "You're really smart, and have some good things to say, but no one takes you seriously because you're a Christian." Censorship of Christians is not coming. It is. At school, all things are accepted under the banner of tolerance except Christianity, and as it is not acceptable to criticize anything else, Christians get blamed for everything from the Matthew Shepard tragedy to the subjection of women. Only one thing is intolerable anymore and it is Jesus and those who wear His name. For all the ideals of free speech that many on campus claim to hold, I found out that tolerance, which they also profess to cherish, is simply, "Christians go away and be quiet." If you are a Christian, your voice does not count; you are crazy; you have no right to be heard. I have lost faith during my college tenure-faith that all people are capable of being reasonable and honest. - Sarah Hunt, Albuquerque, N.M.
I'm quite surprised by some of the proclamations made in your "From the Publisher" column ("Tired of Y2K?" Dec. 19)- although I think I understand your viewpoint, given headlines in your magazine's advertisements such as "Y2K Food Scare." However, flat statements such as "technical issues are real, but relatively minor," and "utilities will find ways to keep electricity flowing," leave me with some questions. How do you know these things to be true? What evidence can you provide to back up these assertions? When President Clinton and the Department of Energy talk about contingency plans, I have to wonder if things will be relatively major, or how much electricity will flow. They are not talking about how to eliminate computer snafus. "Contingency" means choices that are left: What plans will be implemented if computers fail? My fear is that you are influencing folks not to prepare at all. To me, better judgment would say, "I don't think things will go wrong, but be prepared in case they do." To answer the question of the headline, I am tired of Y2K. But there's no comparison to how tired we will be of it in a not-so-good-case scenario. - Peter J. Crotser, Westchester, Ill.
Earning my way
I read your article about the pope and indulgences with interest ("A different Y2K crisis," Dec.19). As one who each day prays early in the morning, "I desire to gain all the indulgences attached to my works and prayers this day," I am personally able to take comfort that all that I do may help someone in purgatory who has not quite "paid every penny" (Matthew 5:26). Praying daily for departed loved ones has the added benefit of keeping their spirits alive and fresh in my mind and heart. None are lost to me for I have hope that my prayers and deeds will be of use to them. Your article did inspire me to resolve to be more diligent in praying for the deceased friends of my separated brethren. Evangelicals are not bothering to pray for them and many are surely languishing in purgatory far longer than they need be. A pre-post-Vatican II Catholic. - Katherine Andes, Hanford, Calif.
Regarding the headline at the top of the Dec.19 issue: To say that "Hollywood gets it right" seems to me to be a bit of an overstatement. I will grant you that The Prince of Egypt was a beautifully illustrated movie with some nice songs and a truly "Spielberg-esque" finale with the awesome parting of the Red Sea ("Of biblical proportions"). But to say that "the film's biggest violation of Scripture is having baby Moses ... drawn out by Pharaoh's wife, rather than by his daughter" suggests to me that perhaps Gene Edward Veith hasn't read Exodus for a while. In the first place, as any homeschooling mom who has taught using The Greenleaf Guide to Ancient Egypt knows, Hatshepsut, both a daughter of a Pharaoh and a wife of a Pharaoh, was easily a great candidate for the woman who pulled baby Moses from the river. For that reason, I wasn't even slightly bothered by that idea, as there are many reasons why this fascinating character might have done this. It was the string of tiny inaccuracies every five or 10 minutes that, although mainly inconsequential, almost drove me crazy. Starting from the beginning, Moses' mother set the basket in the reeds, not the swirling river. When pharaoh's daughter pulled Moses out he was crying, not smiling. Miriam offered to get a Hebrew woman to nurse him, and the royal woman agreed to pay Moses' own mother. In the movie, Miriam slinks away in tears. And therein lies a major plot element. In the movie, Moses had no idea that he wasn't Egyptian, yet I would imagine he would at least have wondered why he was circumcised, but no one else in the family was. I believe when Moses' mom nursed him, she didn't just breastfeed him. I think she and his dad taught that baby boy about God, about creation, the flood, and the Patriarchs; they taught him to bow his tiny head in prayer. I believe Moses' first meeting with God was not at the burning bush, but through godly parents who knew their time to introduce their son to his Redeemer would be extremely brief. The fact that Moses authored the first five books of the Bible and chose to reject his Egyptian status is a testament to their early training and an inspiration to me as a parent. The Exodus is more than just a story of deliverance from slavery, it is a story of God's personal redemption. Pharaoh was not only rejecting Moses; from the first minute he was rejecting God. I could only wonder what the panel of Christians involved in this project had kept out of the movie! Frankly, the most value I got out of this movie was going through Scripture with my son afterwards and seeing how many inaccuracies he could find! Let us guard the truth of God's word, even in the details, especially in passing it to the next generation, the target audience for this film and future video sales. This movie could have been far, far, worse, but let's honestly admit it could have been so much better. - Liz Stephan, Sebring, Fla.