As a USAF chaplain, I recently returned from the mountains in Zabul Province, Afghanistan ("Opium wars," May 12). Thank you for covering the forgotten war. Besides "poor security," the beautiful but remote geography is part of the reason reconstruction is slow. And let's remember that the affluent but spiritually dark parts of our global economy created the market for Afghan poppies. This is "our problem."
-Frederick S. McFarland; Dayton, Ohio
The size of the gift
Joel Belz's column on deciding which ministries to support ("Junk the junk mail," May 12) was excellent. The many small contributions we've given do encourage and cost the nonprofits to keep us on their rolls. I like the $100 minimum donation idea, and we've adopted it.
-Bob Ostrich; Ames, Iowa
Belz may have no idea of the damage his column can do. The vast majority of our regular donors give $25 or less. If your readers follow his advice, the funding that provides for solid, biblically and ethically sound organizations such as ours would be vastly undercut. We treasure every single donor and thank them sincerely for gifts of any size.
-Marshall J. Pennell, Executive Vice President, Child Evangelism Fellowship; Warrenton, Mo.
Belz gives good advice here. We're on at least a dozen mailing lists, most of which we disregard without considering. For example, the child of a friend died and in lieu of flowers, as requested, we sent a reasonable, but not very large contribution to a small university. So, now we are on the college's list of "Alumni and Friends." The material they have sent us has long since consumed the amount of the contribution.
-Charles Shull; Hendersonville, N.C.
As the vice president for development at a large gospel rescue mission in the Midwest, let me say that you, the donor, can control the amount of mail you receive; just give us a call and let us know what you'd like. We do solicit extensively through the mail because it is a wise use of resources. For every dollar we spend on direct mail, we see a return of between $2.75 and $10.50 within three months. We also have found that direct mail, at about 65 cents per piece, is the most cost-effective way we can communicate with our friends and supporters. Many people believe we "waste money" on our mailings. Not so; our mailings are the foundation from which we shelter and feed hungry people, and help people get off drugs and alcohol.
-Doug Redford; Grand Rapids, Mich.
I understand Belz's valid points, but as a high-school student, it is not financially feasible for me to send gifts of $100 or more. I still believe that God wants me to give to His work, even if I can only give $25 or $30. Many others are in the same financial situation as me. As Jesus' parable about the widow's coin demonstrates, it's not the size of the gift but the heart that matters.
-Kevin Gerard, 17; Lowell, Mich.
My husband and I are on staff with a nonprofit Christian ministry. I do not think that ministry correspondence letters should be called "junk mail." Yes, we ask for financial contributions, but the main reason is to share prayer needs. As for his recommendation to pick a "handful" of parachurch organizations, my concern is that folks will gravitate to Big 10 ministries like Focus on the Family or World Vision and the smaller ministries will be strangled.
-Deanne Closson; Allen, Texas
Orwell would agree
The decision of Supreme Court Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, and Alito to use plain language while dealing with partial-birth abortion laws once again confronts society with the metaphysical reality ("Speaking our language," May 12): A pregnant woman carries not an embryo or a fetus, but a living, unborn child. Language has the power to either mask the truth or reveal it, to mislead the public or foster public awareness. Does he who controls the public's language actually control the public's thoughts? George Orwell would agree-the use of language really does matter.
-Adam Filipek; St. Louis, Mo.
It was so encouraging to see Justice Kennedy take a firm stand on partial-birth abortion. It reminds us that we, as Christians and as U.S. citizens, need to take a stand for what is right in our nation.
-Erin Grant, 16; St. Charles, Mo.
Thank you to Justice Kennedy for speaking the truth boldly, giving those a voice who have not the ability to speak. May it help to open eyes to this cruelty, and may God turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.
-Esther Vanderhoff; Bothell, Wash.
Marvin Olasky closed his column on partial-birth abortion ("Piercing the skull," May 12) by lamenting that in news stories, "fetus was still the word of choice for describing the unborn child. How long, Lord, how long?" I have long wondered why those who support abortion are referred to as "pro-choice" rather than "pro-death." Indeed, Lord, how long?
-Pete Ross; Montrose, Colo.
Knife in the hand
Thank you to Andrée Seu for "Betrayal" (May 12). I, um . . . (squirm), love Jesus too. Pointing fingers was easier before reading her column.
-Holly Emmert; Houghton, Mich.
Ouch. It was a very powerful column. Every other word out of one's mouth doesn't have to be "Jesus" or "God," but when He's relegated to the back row in the discussion of important things, then that's not the place to be.
-Kevin Miller; Winchendon, Mass.
Cal Thomas asks, regarding Iraq, "Does the United States not suffer a loss of credibility in the world's eyes for again failing to finish a job it started?" ("Retreat & repeat," May 12). But what is the job? If part of it is to establish democracy, the job is never-ending because the chances of establishing it in a country with little background in Christianity are remote. Maybe we should swallow our pride and leave.
-Craig Shoemaker; Jenison, Mich.
Four years of living in Istanbul have taught me that we should be very careful about the terms "Islamist" and "Islamic government" in reference to Turkish politics. The current government, composed mainly of observant Muslims, has made strides in liberalizing Turkey's economy, extending human rights to minorities, and negotiating with the EU for membership. In contrast, the "traditional secularist parties" want to prevent women who wear headscarves from attending school, working as a teacher or in any government position, or serving in an elected office. How would Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr. have responded to such ridiculous discrimination?
-Jeff Wearden; Istanbul, Turkey
Thank you for addressing the real issue ("Professional dishonesty," May 5). It's not whether or not journalists know the truth about abortion or are capable of figuring it out. They know it but they willingly obscure the facts because the facts are totally offensive to anyone with a conscience. The Bible says such people "deliberately forget" that there is a God who will punish their wickedness.
-Micah Dalbey; Missoula, Mont.
Richard Land ("God & country," April 21) made several insightful observations on the balance of faith and country and how they are not to merge into religious theocracy. However, I question his assertion that adultery is a matter solely of "consenting adults in private." Adultery is not a victimless crime. The victims are children, and there is a general coarsening of our culture and a degradation of vows in a legal system that looks the other way.
-Eric Bierker; Mountville, Pa.
Turkey's parliament moved forward national elections to July 22 after a constitutional court annulled the parliamentary selection of Abdullah Gul as president (The Buzz, May 12, p. 4). But popular elections remain uncertain.