Letters to the Editor

Readers write about custody of a Texas sect's children, US-style democracy, and old, old money in UK universities.

Texas stepped on beliefs in protecting a sect's children

Regarding the May 27 article, "Are sect's beliefs sufficient grounds for taking the kids?": How can the state prosecute the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) based on their religious beliefs? I thought a free citizen could only be prosecuted for breaking a law. They can believe and preach whatever they like. If they marry someone who is under the legal age, then they can be prosecuted. Otherwise, they, like all Americans, can believe whatever they want. This case seems like thought police to me.

Scott Bartholomew
Houston

Regarding the recent article on state grounds for removing children: The long, sordid, and conflictual history between the rights of parents to rear their children as they see fit and the increasing and usurping rights of the state to intervene in family matters has recently come to a head in Texas.

What every American should worry about is exactly who "the state" is representing. Exactly what kinds of "experts" are going to be telling you how you may and may not rear your children?

If you believe that the state über alles and its self-anointed "experts" are right, support them. If you love your children, however, support parental rights.

Gordon E. Finley
Miami

The US doesn't exemplify the West

In response to William Mensch Evans's May 27 Opinion piece, "The next president has to promote democracy better": Mr. Evans's points are wise and, I believe, valid. The wording in the final point, however, bothers me. Evans writes, "Finally, we must understand that, given the choice, not all societies interpret democracy as we do in the West." Those last three words, "in the West" might better read "in the United States," which more likely describes the president's intended type of democracy.

Robert Montgomery
Gatineau, Quebec

In response to the recent Opinion piece on spreading democracy: Mr. Evans's fear over the lack of inherent democracy among certain peoples is a sad, fearful refrain. What happened to the "self-evident" "truths" that "all men are created equal"?

Yes, charismatic demagogues have caused backward steps in some countries. But to consider dictatorship preferable to democracy because it is less messy for the foreign-policy elite is unacceptable.

Ted Gutelius
Wellesley, Mass.

UK universities are rich in real estate

Regarding the May 29 article, "Oxford shakes up British education with fundraising drive": That the endowment of all British universities combined is less than half of Harvard University's is somewhat misleading even though perhaps technically true. What's left out is the enormous amount of real estate and other assets owned by several British colleges, most notably those of Cambridge and Oxford.

It's said that a person can walk from Cambridge to Oxford, a trek of about 75 miles, and never leave land owned by Cambridge's Trinity College. Now, that might be an exaggeration, but it reflects the larger truth that these colleges have assets far beyond their banked endowments – in land, buildings other than those used for academics, and rented and leased holdings – the handouts of British royalty over several centuries.

If they were to divest some of these vast holdings, Harvard's billions might seem like pocket change.

Olav Nieuwejaar
Milford, N.H.

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