EDITORIAL LETTERS

Religious Right's Agenda Is Fair Game for Press Scrutiny

The editorial ''Religion and Politics,'' Jan. 4, in an attempt to be evenhanded, misses the point. There is not a media ''double standard on religion and politics'' favoring liberal over conservative Christians.

The distinction between the two groups is that some conservative Christians have adopted extremist tactics in attempting to ''impose a religious agenda,'' using reprehensible means in all too many cases. Media criticism is, therefore, warranted.

In other cases conservative Christians have systematically set out to take over local governing authorities, such as school boards, in order to be in a position to impose their minority views on the majority of the community. It is much harder to mobilize a majority, with its many disparate interests, to counter a small minority of people pushing an agenda about which they have strong feelings.

Getting ''involved in public debate about controversial issues''; using free speech and political participation to promote specific interests, religious or otherwise, liberal or conservative; even engaging in peaceful protest is unobjectionable. But going beyond that, as some conservative groups are doing today, using the democratic process with the aim of ultimately thwarting it, is clearly objectionable.

Let us by all means hear out heartfelt views from whatever direction they may come, carefully weigh what is being advocated, and make prudent choices; but too many on the far religious right are using tactics designed to prevent our ability to do just that.

Louis Garinger Springfield,Vt.

Proximity doesn't grant privileged use of public land

Those who think they're entitled to do as they please in national forests and on other public lands (''Sagebrush Rebels Take On Uncle Sam,'' Jan. 3) need to remember one fundamental fact: Those lands belong to every single American and are supposed to be passed on in good condition to future generations.

Wherever we live, whatever our socioeconomic status, we are part-owners of acreage from Acadia National Park to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We count on forest rangers and other federal employees to serve as managers of our lands. I live near Yellowstone National Park, but that doesn't give me the right to do as I please there. Similarly, those mentioned in the article who live near other public lands have no right to run roughshod over them.

Sandy McIntyre Bozeman, Mont.

Acting (Northern Rockies) Regional Director

The Wilderness Society

Pakistan proclaims respect for India

Regarding the article ''India Points Finger at Pakistan in Mystery Arms Drop,'' Dec. 28: The government of Pakistan strongly rejects the allegation leveled by Indian Home Minister S.B. Chavan that a Pakistani security agency was involved in the air-dropping of sophisticated arms in West Bengal for terrorist activities in India. Indian leaders have always found it convenient to blame Pakistan for their internal problems.

The government of Pakistan respects the sovereignty of every independent state. We harbor no aggressive designs against India.

Rifaat Hussain Washington

Press and Information Minister, Embassy of Pakistan

Listen to students, reinvigorate schools

Regarding the front-page article ''Colorado May Be First to Dump Compulsory Education,'' Dec. 19: This proposed legislation may have merit, but we should examine many options before booting even more youngsters out of school. Perhaps we educators need to quit blaming the students, listen to them a bit, and take a look at ourselves and the programs we're offering. How would we answer the question, ''What would school have to be like in order for every young person to want to be there?''

Lawrence B. Schlack Kalamazoo, Mich.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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