Congress should not have its own chaplain

I was pleased to read your March 22 editorial "No way to pick a chaplain" which was a balanced account of the current troubles in the House of Representatives selecting a new chaplain. The dangers of mixing political and religious activism have been evident since the beginning of the nation. It is a reason the Constitution's framers paid strict adherence to the separation of church and state. Even James Madison decried the initial setting up of a house chaplain because it set a precedent to denigrate the "establishment clause."

As a conservative Christian I would support an even stricter adherence to preserving our most basic and fundamental right: religious freedom. And in this case our government is learning why it is better not to mix church and state. Why? Someone will inevitably be offended when a matter of conscience is relegated to a vote or a dictate. Therefore I propose that no chaplain should be hired for our Congress. Let Roman Catholic dioceses pay to station a priest in Washington. Let Protestant churches do the same. Our government has no business paying priests, pastors, or chaplains.

Eric Youngberg Seattle

A true DeVito fan

Your March 17 article "An actor-producer who earned his 'bankability' " about Danny DeVito was of special interest to this fan. The "Taxi" series was, in my opinion, an excellent TV comedy, and I would welcome the opportunity to view the entire series again. Your article cites Mr. DeVito's various movies, but did not mention my favorite, "Renaissance Man." This delightful movie shows DeVito as a teacher introducing GIs in basic training to the writings of Shakespeare. I suggest all DeVito fans go to the nearest video store and check it out.

Mary Hanks Falls Church, Va.

George W.'s hard-earned cash

The Monday March 20 political cartoon was excellent. It may have been an attempt to portray George W. Bush as having no more substance than the millions of dollars he has raised for his campaign. To me it demonstrated that Americans are endorsing the Bush candidacy with their hard-earned money, a certain sign of support for his ideas and values.

Walter Lang St. Louis

Russia's war crimes

Regarding the opinion piece "Media bias on Chechnya" (March 14): It is clear to me that ethnic Russians have committed multiple atrocities against innocent Chechen civilians that qualify as war crimes. Factual evidence, gathered by organizations such as Human Rights Watch, as well as admissions by the Russian government, would seem to substantiate the need for impartial international investigations, indictments, and trials of Russian perpetrators if necessary by the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. How high up in the Russian government and military must one go to apprehend the major guilty parties? All indications are that responsibility goes right to Vladimir Putin and Borris Yeltsin.

If Chechens are guilty of war crimes, then by all means they too must appear at The Hague. However, no Chechen actions come anywhere near the scale of the devastation and death Russia has visited on Chechnya. The only question now is: Does the international community have the guts and moral convictions to go after those Russians who are truly guilty of the outrages their army has visited upon innocent Chechen civilians?

Chuck Tripp Salt Lake City

Correction: A book review of "The Battle for God" (Knopf) on March 23, misidentified the author. Her name is Karen Armstrong.

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