Religious Tolerance and Imperialism
Regarding the article "British Call for Tolerance in Islamic States," June 26: While freedom of practice in spiritual matters is a requirement for a just and peaceful world, this freedom is often abused. While many Christian countries provide that freedom within their borders, some "missionaries" from the very same countries abuse that freedom around the world.Some evangelicals spend millions on high-powered propaganda campaigns, often full of distortions or even outright lies. (Needless to say, such resources could be better spent helping the poor.) Local religions have seldom seen fit to operate that way, but are being sorely tempted to fight fire with fire. They lack, however, the necessary funds. Another use of wealth is to buy converts. While many Christian organizations do important and honorable aid work, some soil Christ's name with bribery. Money and goods are given to poor Thais if they convert. The hill tribe minorities with their ancient nature-based spirit cults are converted not only to Christianity, but to Western clothing, values, and mores. The old ways are treated rudely and soon wither. Another word for all this is "imperialism." Let us work for true economic freedom: each person free to share his understanding and faith without psychological and economic manipulation. Santikaro Bhikkhu, Suan Mokkh, Thailand
Risks of food irradiation Regarding the article "Beware Scares About Irradiated Food Risks," July 17: I would not want to eat irradiated food. That "small, but legitimate, question mark about unsuspected risks" the author cites is enough for me, especially as a parent. But beyond that whole question of consuming irradiated food - and it is a big one - is another even bigger question that is not mentioned: What about the inherent risks attendant to any nuclear industry? There are risks in procuring, handling, and transporting the radioactive materials, as well as risks far into the future - we do not know how to dispose of nuclear waste safely. Promoting irradiation as a way to preserve food without taking these attendant risks into account sounds like an old newsreel f rom the 1950s. Mary Timberlake, Eaton Center, N.H.