Hope and smoke
The Supreme Court ruled the Clinton Administration overstepped its bounds by attempting to regulate tobacco products as a drug, citing constitutional separation of powers ("Up in smoke," April 1). But the same activist court thinks nothing of trying to impose its own liberal views on American society far beyond anything Congress ever intended. Could we dare hope that this case signals that the Court is willing in the future to apply the same logic to its own actions? Or does "separation of powers" apply only to the executive and legislative branches? - Al Schrock, Falls Church, Va.
Not strict enough
Governor Bush promises to appoint "strict constructionists" to the federal judiciary, and as a lawyer I'm all for that. But will he appoint able men who fear God? Seven of the nine current justices are appointees of "conservative" Republican presidents, as was Harry Blackmun, author of the infamous Roe vs. Wade. The "conservative" and "strict constructionist" justices O'Connor and Kennedy are reliable pro-abortion and pro-homosexual votes, though they know full well that neither the Constitution nor the 14th Amendment were meant to protect abortion or sodomy. - John D. Hendershot, Munster, Ind.
As a pro-life tobacco epidemiologist, I am disappointed in "Up in smoke." The FDA reversed its previous decisions and attempted to regulate tobacco only when it became clear from recently released industry documents that the manufacturers used nicotine as a drug; that is, that they intended to affect the structure and function of the body. - Gary A. Giovino, Buffalo, N.Y.
Although I reluctantly supported the idea of returning Elián Gonzalez to Cuba because I believe that parental rights are paramount, I changed my mind because of a comment from a Cuban spokesman: "He is the possession of the Cuban government. Once the transfer takes place, no other entity can remove this." If a young slave mother perished attempting to escape the South, and the owner claimed, "I own the father; send me back the son because I own him also," that boy should not have been sent back. Our country denies all that is right if we send Elián back as a slave, a "possession of the Cuban government" ("Strike two," April 1). - Michael P. Farris, Home School Legal Defense Association
One small step
As a Christian, I would not wish to send Elián back to a Godless, Communist country. But as a parent, I am very uneasy with the government taking jurisdiction from a parent with whose political or theological beliefs they disagree. That is only one small step away from the government taking my children out of a Christian home because they think I am a Jesus freak and that my children would be better off in a more "neutral" environment. - Barb Boswell, Aston, Pa.
In response to the letter which called for stricter gun control and rhetorically asked, "Would Jesus carry a gun or speak out against them?" ("Mailbag," April 8), the issue is not quite so clear. In Exodus we are told that if you kill a thief who has broken into your home you shall not be held accountable for his death, suggesting that self-defense is not as repugnant to our Lord as some would have us believe. - Jim Sciaretta, Novelty, Ohio
Sleepless in debacle
Thank you for your coverage of Dean Alberty's story in "Anatomy of a debacle" (April 1). Unfortunately, it did not make good bedtime reading. It left me lying awake picturing the two live, late-term abortion victims about to be dissected (probably looking something like my son when he was born at 30 weeks), cherishing every movement I felt from the 20-week-old baby now in my womb, and praying for Mr. Alberty, who surely needs the support of the Christian community right now. - Heidi Morrow, Upland, Ind.
As I read "The candymen" (April 1) I had to groan. As president of the board of Agape House Worldwide Ministries, which operates free medical clinics in Paris, Texas, and Hugo, Okla., we recently became aware that millions of dollars worth of medications are being destroyed each month in nursing homes across America because of federal regulations. I understand that privately donated medications must be discarded because of the risk of tampering, but nursing homes are licensed by the state to manage and distribute drugs that come directly from the pharmacy. If nursing homes and hospitals could donate to clinics like ours the unopened, tamper-proof medicines left behind by some of their former patients, we could help many elderly residents who cannot afford their needed medicines. - John Kelly, Paris, Texas
Help with prescription drugs is "candy" for two people living on $1,500 a month with a $700 a month prescription drug bill? I am not a Clinton fan, but in this case he sees the problem and has offered a solution. What disturbs me is that no one seems to be going after the real problem-the greed of the drug companies. - Margaret E. Goodwin, Manchester, Mo.
Sign of confidence
I am puzzled by Albert Mohler's interpretation of the decision by the National Association of Evangelicals to consider membership applications from denominations now affiliated with the National Council of Churches. Mr. Mohler sees this action as a sign of NAE's alleged theological confusion ("Uncommon cause," March 25). But it is actually a show of confidence, not compromise. It is confidence that the NAE's unaltered theological convictions will gain the allegiance of evangelical brothers and sisters who want alternatives to the NCC's liberalism. This new advance of the NAE was possible precisely because, as Mr. Mohler observes, the NCC is in a severely weakened state. NAE's willingness to talk with the NCC and its constituents does not indicate an acceptance of either the revisionist theology or the leftist politics of the top NCC officials. In such conversations the NAE gives witness to its own Bible-based convictions and has as its primary audience NCC members, many of whom share neither the theology nor the politics of NCC headquarters. The NCC is increasingly irrelevant on the American scene. NAE integrity is solidly protected by its strong doctrinal statement, which members must affirm, and its careful review process for new members-including evangelical denominations in the NCC that might now consider joining the NAE. Millions of evangelicals are within the "oldline" denominations that make up the NCC. Indeed, one such denomination had even asked NAE to consider revoking its restrictive rule. The NAE is reaching out to us, and we are working hard to call our denominations to relationships to Christians outside the narrow confines of the NCC and WCC. - Diane Knippers, President, Institute on Religion and Democracy
Grows on you
We started receiving WORLD as a gift subscription and now subscribe. As a home school mother of five, at first I wasn't enthused about adding to my stack of unread reading material, but after glancing at several eye-catching issues I really started enjoying it. You constantly make me sift all of life through the grid of Scripture and that's exactly what we need. Now I don't know how I got along without it. - Serena Gannon, Greenfield, Ind.
All at once
Mr. Belz mistakenly wants Howard Phillips to take 10 or 20 years to end abortion and big government. You either pull up the weed by the roots or it will keep coming back more virulent than before. After 27 years of incrementalism on abortion we now have partial-birth abortion, which is sheer infanticide, and the sale of baby parts. What will we have in another 20 years of incrementalism? - Kirt R. Poovey, Little River, Kan.
A crummy gesture
While it was a kind gesture to mention Howard Phillips and the Constitution Party, I expected more from a Christian magazine ("In an ideal world," March 25). In the crowded comfort zone of political pragmatism, Mr. Belz sadly treats the grave issue of choosing civil magistrates as do most Christians: Throw some sacred crumbs to the deserving underdog but don't waste your vote-the lesser of two evils will do just fine. That is the apologetic of those who have forgotten who is sovereign. - Curt Frazier, Springfield, Mo.