Last year Scientologists in the Tampa Bay area contributed over 300,000 hours of volunteer time to help get people off drugs, clean up their communities, and raise literacy. Only 1,400 of 12,000 Scientologists here work for the Church, yet WORLD ("A mighty fortress is our sect," Oct. 20) attributes a sinister motive to responsible citizens by trying to tie these activities to ancient history.
-Pat Harney, Church of Scientology, Flag Service Organization;Clearwater, Fla.
Imperfect but positive
Clearly Hanna Rosin found precisely what she was looking for at Patrick Henry College ("God and woman at Patrick Henry," Oct. 20). I have interacted with a number of Patrick Henry students and have found them to be intelligent, engaging, gracious young people. The college, while obviously not perfect, is successful in fostering young people who will have a positive impact on our culture.
-Jennifer Wolcott; Banks, Ore.
After reading some excerpts from Rosin's book, I agree with Marvin Olasky's observations. I am a former PHC distance learning student, and even in those classes the emphasis on professionalism was enormous. Professors made it clear that despite the variety of opinions on any given subject, or even the professor's personal belief, our purpose was simply to learn. I valued that then and much more now. At my Texas college now professors take academic freedom to an extreme, using obscenities in the classroom, for example, and so promote immaturity, disorganization, and rebellion.
-Rachel Horton; Weatherford, Texas
Back on Blackwater
I was disappointed that you joined the liberal media bandwagon in the rush to vilify Erik Prince and Blackwater USA ("Mystery man," Oct. 20). I grew up in Holland, Mich., and have nothing but respect for the Prince family.
-Lynn (Jousma) Schumacher; Plymouth, Ind.
You quote FBI agent Timothy White as saying that the Iraqi police are quite capable of investigating Blackwater ("Urban warfare," Oct. 20). But there have been five years of problems with Iraqi police including corruption, desertion, and an inability to stop the Shiite death squads or the Sunni suicide bombers until the recent U.S. troop surge. And should we not consider that Prime Minister Maliki has obvious motivation to take the heat off his own failures by using this excuse to push Uncle Sam around?
-Ralph Melling; Norton Shores, Mich.
We took great personal offense to the article that basically accused the Blackwater employees of murdering innocent Iraqi civilians because of big egos and a need for dominance ("Enemy of the people," Oct. 6). My husband, a warrior of the Christian faith, is currently doing much-needed humanitarian work in Iraq in addition to his job as an employee of Blackwater USA. These guys are still innocent until proven guilty.
-Ann Crecelius; Gig Harbor, Wash.
Blackwater poses a political-relations risk to the war on terror and any chance of peace in Iraq. A mercenary organization with this level of independence should not exist. Its unorthodox methods are morally reprehensible. They do not have sufficient accountability to the government and, ultimately, the people.
-Chet Baughman, 18; Tacoma, Wash.
Woodstock hippie socialist
Despite Hillary Clinton's glib tongue, she is a Woodstock hippie socialist, utterly unqualified to be president of the United States ("The 'no-matter-what' factor," Oct. 20). She would wreak havoc on this country. The field of good candidates is indeed bleak. Christians cannot afford to remain single-issue oriented and thereby guarantee the election of miscreants to our highest offices.
-Lou Gates; Westlake Village, Calif.
Unbelievable! Sandy Berger has his security clearance suspended for four years for stealing classified documents from the National Archives in his pants and socks, then destroying the documents, then lying about it-and Hillary Clinton is now hiring him as an advisor?
-Clarence M. Grafton; Lynch Station, Va.
I cannot understand why evangelicals are pandering to Mitt Romney. At least Bill Clinton claimed to be a Christian. Why would any Christian want a man in the highest job in the world whose judgment is so impaired he does not know that he is in a cult?
-Marshall H. Waren; Fayetteville, N.C.
The problem with conservatives is that they are too eager to "eat their young." But since this problem is pervasive in the church, it shouldn't come as a surprise. Liberals, on the other hand, band together for a common cause. They realize that a "bad" Democrat is better than a "good" Republican. Maybe single-issue Christians should stay out of politics altogether.
-David Leahy; Elko, Nev.
Marvin Olasky aptly described the embarrassing reason why Christian novels are never discussed in the reading groups my Christian friends attend ("Fiction with friction," Oct. 20). It seems that deeply flawed characters-ones that need a Savior and attract readers-are not welcome in Christian publishing.
-Karen Humeniuk; Greenville, S.C.
As an aspiring author of Christian fiction myself, I found Marvin Olasky's critique of contemporary Christian fiction to be right on the money. While I would love to write novels such as The Pilgrim's Progress or The Chronicles of Narnia, I have come to realize that writing fiction that simply glorifies God, without stuffing it full of theology, should be my ultimate goal.
-James Swinarton; Tucson, Ariz.
Too cool, too warm
I was disappointed by your negative review of Elizabeth: The Golden Age ("Cross out," Oct. 20). I found it to be a well-acted, well-made, fairly accurate historical drama that contained far less objectionable content than most films intended for mature audiences today.
-Linnea Peckham; Milford, Pa.
I read with amazement your review of Friday Night Lights ("A town, a team, and a dream," Oct. 20). We pulled our son from his possible role as an extra in local filming of the show last season after watching a couple of episodes. I would not describe the show as a "rare gem" based on the trash I have seen.
-Susan Peisker; Cedar Park, Texas
Gold has she none
Marion Jones may have forfeited all her gold, silver, and bronze medals for her attempts to be a champion on the field in the Olympics, but she's now a champion in completely confessing what she did and admitting that the responsibility is all hers ("Coming clean," Oct. 20). In doing this she is an example for those looking for a short cut to fame and fortune.
-Bill Dickson; O'Brien, Fla.
I have admired James Dobson since the late 1970s but was taken aback by his attitude toward Republican candidates and especially talk of support for a third party ("A shot across the bow," Oct. 13). There are other issues besides abortion very important in the 2008 election: National security and terrorism, national sovereignty, immigration, health care, and our stance toward Israel are but a few. Are we going to let the Clintons get their hands on these issues for four or maybe eight years?
-Bonnie R. Furman; Shippensburg, Pa.
I am in full agreement with Dobson: I will not vote for any candidate who supports abortion, same-sex marriage, or taxation without end. Up until a week ago I was in a quandary, but with Dobson's announcement it is clear to me. If both Republican and Democratic candidates support grievous things I passionately oppose, what have I to lose by voting for a write-in candidate who opposes them as well?
-William & Junean Eaton; Brooklyn Park, Minn.
I read with perplexity Dobson's warning. Why is he not leading the charge to elect Huckabee and put him in top-tier position now before it is too late? It is tiring to hear people bemoan the lack of a good slate of candidates when the current contenders offer clear choices on the many issues.
-Rhonda Joyner; Smithfield, Va.