Truth in labeling
"Lawmakers, lawbreakers" (Jan. 17) was excellent. The bishops should excommunicate politicians and others who support abortion and refuse to repent. One cannot claim to be Catholic while supporting abortion any more than Jefferson could claim to be Christian while denying Christ's divinity. Why America's bishops have to convene a committee to agonize over this straightforward issue baffles me. These politicians should either strive to follow their professed faith (rather than proudly flouting it) or stop calling themselves Catholic to garner votes.
-Paul L. Veazey
Lake Charles, La.
Thanks to Gene Edward Veith for drawing our attention to the topic of church discipline. I pray that his article stirs both pastors and church members to practice biblical principles. It is essential that we recover church discipline, not only in the fight for the unborn but in the fight for the holiness of the church.
I understand Mr. Veith's point in his first two paragraphs, but the argument that "My religious beliefs are against X, but I don't have the right to impose my religious beliefs on anyone else" can be legitimate, depending on the context. If X is abortion, that's one thing. If X is drinking alcohol or eating meat, that's another. This raises the question: What are the contexts in which Christians should advocate the use of government to restrict the freedom of others, and why?
-D. Eric Schansberg
New Albany, Ind.
In his generally excellent analysis, Gene Edward Veith writes that while campaigning for the presidency in 1960, John F. Kennedy "vowed not to let the head of his church usurp the sovereignty of the United States of America." But in that memorable speech Kennedy went much further. He pledged that he would not allow his religious beliefs to influence his public stands. You don't have to be Catholic to notice that Kennedy's speech created a precedent, easing the way for later politicians whose voting records were at odds with their professed religious principles.
-Philip F. Lawler
Show and tell
I'm 16 years old, and abortion was a foreign word to me until I saw a photograph of the procedure in a magazine. I was horrified. I went to my mother, and she told me of all the different ways they can destroy an unborn child. That's what we need to show other teens. Show them what happens when you "just have an abortion." The NARAL websites and other groups are affecting teens' decisions on abortion ("Growing their own," Jan. 17). We need to do the same.
It was an incredible encouragement to me to see that many more teens than we realize are opposed to abortion. It is easy to think that we are alone in our beliefs, and to remain quiet. As a 17-year-old, I am right in the midst of this debate. The media and pro-choice agenda is to convince us that anyone who is not a pro-choice advocate is a biased, unintelligent individual who refuses to listen to reason and science. In reality, it is they who reject the truth.
Clay Center, Kan.
There is another reason why support for abortion among college students is falling. Perhaps 31 years of pro-choice parents availing themselves of abortion has drastically reduced the number of children they send to college relative to the number pro-life families send to college. NARAL and Planned Parenthood have to "grow their own" to offset their inevitable demographic doom.
Less than a year ago I would have strongly agreed with Mr. Veith's assertion that "the state acts as God's agent when it kills those who have killed" ("Pro-life penalty," Jan. 17). In theory and based on God's word I still do. Regrettably, in our country there are two standards of justice-one for the rich and famous and another for the rest of us. Until I see the same "justice for all," I'm stuck agreeing with former Governor George Ryan of Illinois.
-David D. Needham
Rapid City, S.D.
Although the Catholic Church in modern times opposes the death penalty in most cases (there are exceptions), she would never equate the egregiousness of murdering the unborn with the state's execution of imperfect human justice against society's worst criminals. To claim that the Roman Catholic Church believes "there [is] no essential difference" misrepresents Catholic teaching.
Bossier City, La.
That explains it
While I liked a few parts of Cold Mountain, such as the music and the character of the rough mountain girl Ruby, I was shocked by the sex scenes and lack of coherent purpose other than survival ("Cold mountain movie," Jan. 17). Thanks to Andrew Coffin for articulating why I found it so troubling.
Small wonder that the credibility of the church audit described in "An incomplete report card on clergy abuse?" (Jan. 17) should be in question, especially because the auditors didn't verify whether bishops were still transferring offenders between dioceses. Wasn't that the idea? To make sure those in the church hierarchy (along with abusive priests) aren't still doing the same scandalous things?
I really enjoyed Marvin Olasky's column "Birth defects" (Jan. 17). It mentioned how "European countries that provide equal-opportunity abortion ... face a general birth dearth that is jeopardizing their governmental pension systems." Why is there silence here about how equal-opportunity abortion in the United States has jeopardized our own pension system?
Thank you for your excellent and incisive articles concerning The Lord of the Rings films ("The royal treatment," Dec. 20). The only thing I have found "dumbfounding" is the reaction of some WORLD readers to the movies' well-deserved praise. Although the movies do not nearly reach the depth of the books, praise is due to all who helped a faint glimmer of Tolkien's vision reach people around the world for, as he said, "God is the Lord, of angels, and of man-and of elves."
-Amanda Becker, 17
Far Hills, N.J.
It was interesting that Charles Murray was "surprised" by the degree of accomplishments in Europe and by the importance of religion in human accomplishment ("Gaining ground," Jan. 10). As Nancy Pearcey and others have noted, modern science was led by Christians investigating God's creation, seeking to understand the world around them. Bernard Lewis and others have pointed out that some other societies have not made, or have lost, great advances in creative accomplishment because worship and knowledge of a rational Creator has been replaced by that of capricious, impersonal, and unpredictable "gods." The Bible has been a powerful instrument for human accomplishment in all areas of life, all across the world, as men and women seek to fulfill God's purpose. Perhaps Mr. Murray's research will eventually lead him and others to fulfill their purpose in life: to know Christ.