Religion and Politics: a Good Mix?

I would like to comment on Godfrey Sperling's well-written column, "Remember the Separation of Church and State" (Jan. 13).

I am firmly convinced that the current crusade to make a political force of conservative Christianity represents a serious threat to the democratic process and to the cause of Christianity. These activists would abolish religious liberty as we have known it. The movement should certainly be viewed with alarm by those with other religious commitments and those who have exercised their right to hold no beliefs.

Of course we need ethics and morals in government, but let's not imply that without religion - or without the "correct" religion - a person can't be ethical or moral. Some of the finest, most moral people I know are not religious, while some of the worst scoundrels in public and private life are - or loudly proclaim themselves to be - religious.

Today's Christian Coalition members are eager to mix religion and politics so they can make laws that meddle in everyone's personal lives. If we've learned anything from history and from looking at other nations around the world, we know that religion and politics make a sour mix.

Alan L. Light

Iowa City, Iowa

Normally your columns are intelligent and well reasoned, but "Remember the Separation Between Church and State" was way below your usual high standards. Are you saying that Christians should not unite to oppose the moral and ethical corruption of the Clinton administration? Where in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights do the words "Separation of Church and state" occur? Even the Supreme Court's bizarre ruling that threw Christianity out of the schools after it had been there for 200 years doesn't keep Christians from organizing in politics.

Where do you get the absurd idea that "the Christian Coalition is a Protestant alliance located mainly in the South"? This would come as news to the people of the Midwest and the West where powerful Coalition organizations are at work. Ask Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar about the Coalition in his state and how Al Salvi won the Republican nomination for the Senate with aid of the Coalition in 1996. How do you explain the large number of Catholics (about one-third in my area) in the Coalition? Have you been a Beltway apologist for Clinton so long that you have finally taken leave of your senses? Is the press too cowardly, too morally decadent to stand up to corruption?

While you and your fellow members of the press look the other way, many Christians feel that the administration is a national embarrassment and that we must do all we can to oppose it. Through the Christian Coalition, we will continue the battle without the help of the degenerate liberal press.

Robert J. Graham

Naperville, Ill.

Brinkley ads not so bad

There are greater dangers to journalism's credibility than the public seeing a man like David Brinkley become "a flack for agribusiness" ("When Reporters Push Products, They Risk Losing Credibility," Opinion/Essays page, Jan. 20). I once heard a journalism professor say that most young people went into that field "to become agents of change," and it's my perception that "advocacy journalism" that involves heavily slanted reporting, is all too common. Slanted reporting on this or any issue impacts journalism's credibility far more than Mr. Brinkley's overtly commercial relationship with agribusiness.

William G. Dennis

Kelso, Wash.

Correction: In the opinion-page column "Indonesia's Second Chance," Jan. 21, the statement "the economy has prospered, but not much of that wealth has gone to the upper and middle classes," should have read, "the economy has prospered, but much of the new wealth has gone to the upper and middle classes...." We regret the editing error.

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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