I read "Big bucks ministries" (July 28) with interest. Regarding Benny Hinn's two $80,000 Mercedes, I couldn't help but think of a recent letter from a Christian ministry in India hoping to provide each of their pastors with a $900 motorbike. How wonderful that Rusty Leonard is willing to shine the spotlight on these televangelists and call them to accountability, as well as to challenge us to know the ministries we choose to support.
-Lorrie Fine; Phoenix, Ariz.
It's icky, all this display of wealth. What a terrible witness, what with people starving and uneducated all over the world. I would never give to a ministry that would not tell me about how it spends its money, nor to one I see looking too posh.
-Carolyn Males; Evanston, Ill.
Who appointed Rusty Leonard High Sheriff of Heaven? He is a self-admitted opponent of the prosperity gospel. God is well-pleased with the prosperity of His servants. I am glad they are exceedingly and abundantly blessed. They have taught me how to believe and receive, not just "stuff," but all things from God, and how to walk by faith and not by sight. I have participated and supported financially some of these ministries and it has been good and productive.
-Mary Koestner; El Mirage, Ariz.
Earlier this year in Malawi, Africa, I saw preachers who, despite the struggles to maintain their own family, support several orphans and travel on foot preaching the Word and starting churches. I have been in a refugee camp where, despite poverty and helplessness, the gospel is preached and Christians praise God with all of their being. I talked to many Christians whose greatest desire was not to escape their circumstances but just to own a Bible. This is in sharp contrast to the ministries of Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, etc.
-John P. Boyington; Appleton, Maine
Your headline, "Lone sentry on the wall," gives the impression Wall Watchers is alone in setting financial accountability for Christian ministries. But there are others, such as the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Its members must adhere to high standards and give detailed annual accountability reports to remain a member.
-Allyn Huntzinger; Shillington, Pa.
I was so upset at the article "exposing" big bucks ministries that I threw the issue in the trash. God Almighty doesn't need the likes of us policing one another. Please cancel my subscription.
-Janice Glover; Denton, Texas
I've always been very distrustful of "evangelists" who rake in millions of dollars a year under the sanctimonious guise of "giving to God." Is it really any surprise to read how donations ended up paying for Benny Hinn's $3,000 hotel stay?
-David Powell; Owasso, Okla.
While the methods and integrity of some of the mega-ministries may be questionable (and sometimes inexcusable), they still preach the gospel and souls are getting saved.
-Cindy Fassler; Dixon, Ill.
Knick-knacks, Bibles black
I understand Tony Woodlief's discomfort with the marketing of Christian lifestyle paraphernalia. But being born again does result in exuberance, eagerness to display the goodness of God, a heart of worship, and excitement in sharing life-transforming Scriptures. The liberty in the U.S.A. to produce and distribute such items is also a reason to celebrate, and among the books one can find inspiring biographies and challenging Bible studies.
-Kate Hendrix; Knoxville, Tenn.
Thank you to Tony Woodlief for his insightful column, "Piece of Christ" (July 28). It struck a chord with me, not because of his accurate and sometimes humorous evaluation of Christian lifestyle products, but because of his sincere desire to evaluate his own attitude. His willingness to acknowledge the sin he hates was a wonderful example.
-Patricia Diaz; Fallbrook, Calif.
When I first renewed my commitment to Christ (after many years of nominal Christianity), I loved going to the local Christian bookstore. I loved looking at the kitschy items and reading the books. I devoured anything that helped me understand my questions or doubts, and going to that store made me feel part of something important. All our homes have doodads and knick-knacks that would be tacky if they filled our houses. But one or two items remind us of special times or special people, and I don't see why one or two of them can't remind us of our Lord. We need places that sell such stuff.
-Deborah Stover; Kingsport, Tenn.
An erroneous hoot
What a hoot to read Marvin Olasky's column incorporating all the words that American Heritage said every high-school graduate should know ("Some benchmark," July 28)! Most of them I knew, but some were a stretch for me. Thanks for the giggles.
-Sunnie Waggoner; Chehalis, Wash.
We loved Olasky's column on the 100 words; however, my grandson and I can only find 99. What happened to "fiduciary?"
-Linda Rudolph, Daniel Evans; Easley, S.C.
Kudos on using all the words, although at least one use was erroneous. All triangles have sides but only a right triangle has a hypotenuse. Your column reminds me of prepping for the SATs and finding out that "wanton" was not the name of a Chinese soup.
-Ken Auer; Greeneville, Tenn.
Inspired to tears
I read the inspiring "Help the little guy" (July 28) and ended up in tears. They were tears of guilt (Why haven't I done anything for our military?), tears of joy (that there are men like Eric Egland), tears of thankfulness (that God moves men to get beyond themselves and do something), and tears of fear (for those brave men and women whose lives are in danger, serving America for me).
-Meredith Berg; Hudson, Wis.
Joel Belz finds many unhappy Americans who view our presence in Iraq as more about building democracy than protecting the United States from terrorists, and he attributes it to the Bush administration's communication failure ("False sense of security," July 28). That is not so; our effort in Iraq is a rescue mission. It is a mistaken strategy, based largely in President Bush's Enlightenment assumptions about the ability of democratic politics to shape a better world. The war on radical Islam needs to be fought with special forces troops, better intelligence networks, assassination, and increased border security, not rescue missions destined to end badly.
-Scott Kester; Lake Ariel, Pa.
Belz made a mistake in limiting his war survey to the two options of battling terrorist threats and supporting Iraqi democracy. I also would have been frustrated because a vital third choice is involved: "Can Western nations and the United States tolerate being blackmailed for oil for the foreseeable future by Middle East tyrants?"
-H. Eugene Eslinger; Elkhart, Kan.
Jerry Bruckheimer is the producer of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Gore Verbinski is the director ("Balance Sheet," June 30/July 7, p. 71).