Regarding the Nov. 14 article, "It's true: Churchgoers are wealthier": There's something that the economists written about in the article didn't consider. The assumption presented was that church attendance leads to greater wealth, and that could very well be true. But it could also be the opposite: Maybe wealth leads to church attendance.
Pardon the broad generalizations here - not all churches fit what I'm going to say. But many churches are places that cater very well to those who are well-off. As the article notes, members get to network. They also get to boost their public image by attending, and they get a good place to put their tax-deductible donations.
Poor people, on the other hand, are not always made welcome in churches. Think about the possible reaction in a congregation if someone is not well dressed or doesn't behave quite like others. That person is probably not going to be given as much positive attention, opportunities for social interaction, or chances for leadership. In subtle ways, many poor people are discouraged from attending.
So maybe the difference isn't about the increases in wealth that one experiences because of attending church. Maybe it's about what kinds of people feel welcome in church in the first place.
Bowling Green, Ohio
In regard to the Nov. 14 article, "Sudan falters as US House rethinks aid": Why can't we Americans insist that our elected officials stand up and honor commitments made in good faith? Changing our mind in regard to the $50 million promised for the African Union force meets all criteria again for the "ugly Americans" image.
As Jonathan Morganstein noted in a report by Refugees International, for a small percentage of pork-barrel funding for unneeded bridges, we can help stave off a resumption of genocide in Darfur.
We complain that Africans need to be responsible for peacekeeping among their neighbors, then deny them support. The AMIS (African Union Mission) in Sudan needs our financial support to accomplish what UN peacekeeping missions did in Bosnia and Kosovo. The alternative is more chaos and discord, more starving children and dying babies, and yet another opportunity for us to say smugly that Africans lack the ability to manage their own destinies.
Marilyn B. Nall
My compliments to John Hughes on his Nov. 16 column, "In leading the US to war, did Bush purposely lie to the public?"
It's easy to say what should have been done with regard to the Iraq war now that people know what has happened. And it's easy to play to the public's concerns when all they see on the news is a casualty report.
But in the run up to the Iraq war, it wasn't just American intelligence, the neocons, or naive members of Congress who were wrong about WMDs. The whole world believed Saddam Hussein had them. And Mr. Hussein himself fed that belief by resisting and deceiving UN weapons inspectors.
What were the alternate outcomes of not deposing Hussein? What would Hussein have done after sanctions were lifted and the inspectors withdrawn? What if he did have WMDs, and the US hadn't taken action?
Leaders have to make decisions based on the information available - information that is often not complete or totally accurate. Bush made the right decision based on the facts available to him.
Robert C. Shaw
Little Rock, Ark.
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