The real question
A majority of Americans polled want Elián returned "to his father." But Cuban children are considered wards of the state. Castro's Communist government, not Elián's father, would determine his fate. The polling question, "Do you want Elián returned to Cuba as a ward of the Communist state or left with his American relatives?" might have elicited a different response. - -Bill Weidlich, Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Castro is a cruel and heartless tyrant who has ruined countless lives, and certainly little Elián would have an easier life in America. But are we so obsessed with our bounty and neglectful of corruption within our own nation that we would separate a boy from his father? I never knew my father, and there is no question which option I would choose. - -Timothy Buchanan, Norfolk, Va.
Here, not there
Castro is a dictator who is responsible for the deaths of many Cubans who were caught by the Cuban military as they tried to escape the island. It's ironic that so many want Elián returned because, had Castro caught Elián trying to flee, he too might well have been killed. If Elián's father truly cared, he would rejoice that his son had the chance to live free-something many Cubans risk their lives for each year. For those concerned about the father's "rights," he has rights-but only while he is here, on American soil. His rights will disappear once he is back on Castro's island. - -Jason D. Klohr, Charlotte, N.C.
I understand some desire to humiliate Castro, and it would feel good to win against that most unethical of administrations, the Clinton White House. Unfortunately, our desire for a feel-good victory is trumped by the father's God-given responsibility to raise the child, even in Castro's Cuba. And your home could be next if you ignore the law of the land and kidnap someone else's child. - -Frank X. Chavez, Plano, Texas
Kudos to Mindy Belz for "The press and the shipwrecked boy" (April 15). As a Cuban-American (I came to the United States when I was 6 years old, in 1962), I believe that the problem with the American public's misunderstanding of the Elián case solely as a parental rights issue is largely due to the media's pro-Castro bias. - -Angel Suarez, Hesperia, Calif.
Just a mouthpiece
The photo with Mindy Belz's fine article on the Elián Gonzalez situation was worth more than a thousand words. The image of Castro with his right hand behind Juan Miguel Gonzalez looked much like a ventriloquist manipulating his dummy and aptly portrays the essence of this situation. - -Steve Carter, Simpsonville, S.C.
Give me a break. A mother getting shot on the way over the Berlin wall is a whole lot different from a mother drowning on a boat trip from Cuba ("Sister Jeanne," April 22). - -Marvin Moore, Caldwell, Idaho
Mr. Belz's recommendations to decrease the divorce rate in the Christian community-separating the responsible party, public proclamation of guilt, and barring membership in other churches-sounded like scare tactics to me ("Big comfort," April 22). Perhaps I am sensitive to this issue because at 36 years old, I'm contemplating marriage for the first time. I come from an alcoholic home and witnessed a lot of abuse. So the question looms in my mind, "How will my marriage fare when it hits the rocks?" I think it would be wise to take a "hurting" couple and lovingly facilitate a rekindling of their personal relationship with God. - -Brenda Yetter, Naperville, Ill.
Another thing that churches should do about divorce is that the pastors should take a strong stand against it from the pulpit. - -Beth Campbell, 15, Seneca, S.C.
No pictures, please
I was intrigued about the search for a new portrait of Jesus ("Easter(n) images," April 22). As a painter I have always had an aversion to trying to depict Jesus as it flies in the face of the second commandment. The fact that the New Testament makes no mention of Jesus' physical appearance is a strong argument also not to portray the Son of God. - -Daniel K. Tennant, Bainbridge, N.Y.
We're all animals?
Nancy Pearcey's commentary on the effect of evolution on morality was sadly reflected in my pastor-husband's study one day ("The birds and the bees," April 22). A young man, a professing Christian, defended sex with his fiancée by stating that "It's an animal instinct. It would be harmful to resist it." I wonder how many other young Christians have been corrupted by this type of thinking. - -Karen Peterson, Mentor, Ohio
Reading Marvin Olasky's "Rejected" (April 22) reminded me that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted"-and rejected. We are not going to be popular in an ungodly society. - -Bob Woodford, Hudson, Mass.
Recently I was an innocent bystander tear-gassed by police responding to environmental activists turned violent. Two days later I was present for the founding of the Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship ("Warming up to Earth Day," April 22). The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship offers a positive vision of stewardship that is committed to sound science, civil dialogue, and common-sense reform. This is a much-needed change from the fear-mongering, cheap street theatrics, and command-and-control economics we're accustomed to from the environmental movement. - -Michael B. Barkey, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Do real Christians care?
Why waste a whole page reviewing the top movies or videos of the week, most of which are characterized by bad language, sexual situations, and violence? Are real Christians concerned about this trash? - -Roy E. Knuteson, Fort Collins, Colo.
I read Mailbag first each issue, and the "cancel my subscription" letters provoke me to say, "Oh, brother." In "Salvation by transgression" (April 15), Mr. Veith explained, for those readers who object to reviews of secular books and movies, that WORLD includes reviews "not to advertise them ... but to inform our readers about what is going on in American culture." It seems that many Christians equate Christian worldview with "hear no evil, see no evil" instead of with faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. I've disagreed with some things, but I wholeheartedly support your mission and your magazine. - -Jeff Nickel, Garden Grove, Calif.
Innocent until ...
If Mark Chmura is guilty of the charges he faces, a jury will decide that ("NFLer arrested; sexual assault alleged," April 22). Until then, he is an innocent man, possibly wrongly accused. "Hypocrisy watch," indeed. - -Wayne Schmieder, De Pere, Wis.
Father figure Thank you for "Why must he go?" (April 22).
Every time I see young Elián on the news, I can't help but see my own two young boys. I thank God they are free to learn, explore, worship, and experience freedom on earth. Contrary to what our government would have us think, this is not just about reuniting a child with his biological father. Rather, it is about sending a child back to the arms of dictator Fidel Castro, the real paternal figure in this case. As much as I want Elián to be with his dad and his family, I fear that motivations other than altruistic ones are governing our country's actions. Whatever the result, I pray that Elián's best interest-not the self-interest of politicians-be served. - -Stacy Beasley, Sugar Land, Texas
We should be wary of our efforts to take this boy from his father and "rescue" him from a communist government. It would set a dangerous precedent for our own personal rights. As for the question of whether the father really wants Elián returned to Cuba, it is not for us to answer. The interpretation of motives is a hazardous battle ground. - -Barry & Holly Walstead, Gig Harbor, Wash.