Congress and Foreign Policy: a Bad Mix?

The essay, "Religious Freedom - The Often Forgotten Right" (May 12) by Sen. Don Nickles is all wrong. While I firmly believe that we all have certain fundamental rights as stated in our Declaration of Independence, I also firmly believe that Congress should stay out of the foreign policy arena. Passing laws which force our president to meddle in the affairs of other nations solely to pursue the agenda of a special interest group (i.e., the Christian right wing) sounds like the 20th century version of the crusades.

If you look closely at what Senator Nickles says, you can see why. Most of the examples of religious persecution he cites involve Christians and Muslims. And he fails to explain what will happen to countries that ignore our demands. His essay refers broadly to religious freedom, but he only mentions Christianity. Clearly, the intent of his bill is to get the US to become the world defender of Christianity.

When it comes to Congress meddling in foreign policy, I would like to offer an observation. Our delinquent UN dues is a shining example of how politics, special interests, and congressional involvement can combine to mess up a simple, straightforward foreign policy situation. Congress by its very nature is too short-term focused and too easily lobbied to be dealing with such important issues. Members of Congress should stick to revising the tax code and figuring out where the next pork-barrel projects should be. These are things that are more suited to their skills and talent.

If Senator Nickles still feels that Congress is qualified to deal with foreign policy, then the next topic for debate should be a frank discussion of the qualifications of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman.

Bob Rodachy

Amherst, Ohio

Mormons and politics

I was sorry to see that your article "Mormon Church Gives Democrats Hope In Conservative Utah" (May 18) about the Mormon church's relationship to the Republican Party was full of nonsense.

In the first place, if a local church official urged members of the congregation to vote for any particular person, he was out of line according to church policy and was probably corrected before the end of the meeting by the leader presiding - or should have been.

Secondly, Elder Jensen's statement is nothing new. When my husband and I joined the church 30 years ago we were assured that it took no stand as far as political parties were concerned, and we have consistently found that to be true. Even in Utah what one puts in the ballot box is secret.

Finally, as to the church's stand on issues such as the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion, I would imagine the church might have made the same stand in the 1830s, long before the Republican Party was formed. Besides, did you know that Utah Territory gave women the vote in the 19th century and was forced to rescind it in order to become a state?

Helen S. Ullmann

Acton, Mass.

Congress boot is still walking

With reference to John Gould's elegy for Congress boots, "The Most Shoes Ever Devised by Man" (May 15), a walk through the city of London will evidence that Chelsea boots (as they are known across the Atlantic) are still very much in general use. A style with pointed toes, known colloquially as "winkle pickers" and promoted by rock and roll artists in the 1950s and '60s, detracted from their general renown for comfort at that time. However, their popularity recovered from this setback some time ago, as well as from that posed by the introduction of zips in the '70s. The Congress boot is still alive and kicking - at least in the yuppie environs of Chelsea.

Stephen Tomlin

Santa Monica, Calif.

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