Kingdom of heaven: finding the right role for religion in America

I write in response to the Aug. 8 book review, "When did the kingdom of heaven become a red state?" Randall Balmer's argument in his book, "Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical's Lament," that religion and political power should be separated, and that one group should not be able to impose its moral view on others, is convenient but inherently dishonest. What he is saying is that organized religions should not be allowed to influence politics, but that the left should be free to impose its religions of environmentalism, abortion, affirmative action etc., on others without opposition. Mr. Balmer is correct that a war of values is being fought today, but he is again disingenuous when he suggests that conservatives are responsible. What he fails to acknowledge is that liberals launched an offensive years ago, with primary targets being our judicial and education systems. He prefers that conservatives not fight back. However, the right has regained much of the judiciary and is increasingly focused on public education.

The problem is that this escalating polarization is not healthy for our country – neither the rigid orthodoxy of the far right nor the "anything goes" values of the left. Both are threats to democracy. Both are equally intolerant of opposing viewpoints. The harder the left and right push each other, the more counterproductive their positions become. This is an opportune time for people to seek common ground and common sense. There is much that ordinary folk can agree upon.
Stephen Burleson
Camden, Maine

Regarding the Aug. 8 review of the book, "Thy Kingdom Come": Good review. I enjoyed it and appreciate it. I have been increasingly concerned about evangelical intolerance, divisiveness, and dominance, as I meet it face to face frequently in day-to-day life. I'm pleased to have someone articulate these concerns – or publicize someone else who shares them.
Erich Gausch
Chattanooga, Tenn.

Addressing the real root of terrorism

Regarding the Aug. 14 article, "British Muslims, Pakistan, face scrutiny": In spite of the efforts by Western governments and news media to shield Pakistan from being branded the "terror center" of the world, the facts just keep pointing to the root of terrorism being Pakistan.

It is understandable that the US would want Pakistan to deal with the monster that Pakistan itself has created. But it is not possible for Pakistan to do it alone. Sooner or later these apologists for Pakistan have to grab the bull by the horns and get involved in the internal affairs of that country to douse this raging fire that is emanating from there.

Pakistan continues to be the center of terrorism and only direct intervention by the West is going to eradicate this threat.
Suresh Sheth

Regarding the Aug. 11 article, "Foiled terror plot on scale of 9/11": Although the administration is trying to claim some credit for helping to thwart the plot against US airliners, it raises again the question of what is our war on terror actually accomplishing?

The British and Pakistanis have been working on the case since last December. Without their work, America's first clue would have been when our airliners started falling out of the sky. We have spent a lot of money, built some monsterous bureaucracies, and trampled on many human rights. What have we actually accomplished? We are clearly at much more risk now than we were before 9/11.
Don Millard
Corona, Calif.

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