Faith in Romney?
Mitt Romney in the White House [May 21]? If he were elected, at least 10% of his income--which would come from us taxpayers--would go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Remember, this is a church that until the late '70s believed blacks couldn't go to the highest tier of heaven, limits women's role and believes in a history of the New World that is at odds with scientific facts. We can't refrain from a critical analysis of what people believe out of some sort of courtesy. Politicians' faith is a very public thing.
Benjamin E. Nardolilli ARLINGTON, VA.
Romney's accomplishments and lifestyle show that he values kindness, family, community, citizenship, hard work, honesty and love. No other candidate has had his faith subjected to so much scrutiny, yet Romney has not wavered. If he were a flip-flopper, he would not take on the task of being a Mormon in the public arena.
Kalli Hakes, LAS CRUCES, N.M.
Romney is like a carnival charlatan selling snake oil. He accommodates his beliefs to the situation at hand for his own advancement. And if he cannot figure out that the Mormon church is a cult branch of traditional Christianity, how would he handle the complex challenges he would encounter as President and Commander in Chief?
Fred M. Fariss VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.
The U.S. was settled by people who crossed the ocean to practice their faith freely. Since then, we have voted for Presidents of several different faiths. Some have drawn near to God with their mouths while their hearts remained far from him. We should put religious labels aside and ask candidates about policy positions and try to discern whether their faith puts them on a moral high ground for the betterment of our nation.
Meagan Gilmore, SALT LAKE CITY
Any religion that won't let a bride's nonmember relatives attend a wedding--as happened when the Romneys married--is a little weird. Mormons have other strange customs they don't publicize, but just ask an ex-Mormon, and he or she will be glad to enlighten you. Would I vote for a Mormon? I doubt it.
Bob Fuller, PINETOP, ARIZ.
How can one ridicule the Mormon belief that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri without objecting to the beliefs that men turned the Nile into blood, parted the Red Sea, walked on water, turned water into wine and rose from the dead? Condemning one religion's inherently unverifiable beliefs without subjecting other religions' equally unverifiable beliefs to the same scrutiny is nothing less than bigotry.
Jeff Mangum, POWAY, CALIF.
I'm fed up with the bigotry aimed at Romney. Vote for him if you agree with his views. If you don't, vote for someone else. The only reason Mormon doctrine and history are so frequently distorted is because there are relatively few of us. No one would ever say the sort of things about African Americans, Jews, women, Catholics or Protestants that I routinely read about my faith. Particularly ironic is that much of the offensive commentary is by journalists, who would undoubtedly characterize themselves as tolerant, objective and fair.
Paul F. Brown, WILMETTE, ILL.
Is Experience a Hindrance?
Joe Klein's article "Hillary's Quandary," about Senator Clinton's experience with national security, was quite insightful [May 21]. It is indeed true that experience is not always a good thing. The longer a person has been in politics, the greater the chance she has become tainted. After eight years of a horrible Administration, America deserves a fresh start. In 2008 I will vote for a candidate with a clean slate: Barack Obama.
Peter Nicholas Stanley, OKLAHOMA CITY
If Obama prevails over Clinton, it will not be because she has too much experience but because she is widely perceived as too polarizing.
Nathaniel H. Karol, HIGHLAND PARK, ILL.
Democracy's Tide Ebbs
In his discussion of "global democratic recession," Peter Beinart thoughtfully underlined the irrelevance of political freedoms for impoverished individuals throughout the developing world [May 21]. Not only did he highlight the fundamental relationship between economics and politics, but he also encouraged readers to question the export of American democracy. When democratization entails so many civilian deaths and economic dependence, is there any wonder that it is met with resistance and failure? It is time for a shift from the Bush Administration's vague, rhetorical emphasis on freedom to more concrete markers of democracy: human rights, peace and citizen participation.
Jocelyn Fong, PHOENIX
Beinart included Iran among the world's "remaining autocracies," even though the country holds elections. The people of Iran elected its current President and will do so again. Although candidates are screened by an unaccountable group of religious élites, Iran is a far cry from many other countries. Would we necessarily accept the results if Egyptians or Pakistanis were granted a genuine vote?
Jason Wojcechowskyj, SARASOTA, FLA.
I am a high school student, and I agree with peers who advocate for our right to free speech [May 21]. In a country that boasts a Constitution that grants freedom and equality for all, why are its young deprived of the right to expression in school? Ironically, it is in this very environment that we learn about our freedoms, a setting that teaches us to articulate our thoughts in English class but then stifles our voices if they do not conform to some norm.
Aditya Raina, NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J.
As a teacher, I have attended training sessions on gangs and heard experts advise schools to implement a dress code of solid colors. Some uniformity also levels the playing field for students who can't afford the latest fashions. A dress code alone won't eradicate violence and class tensions, but it is a practical first step that shows a school is serious about safety. Adults need to close their ears to teens' whining, look at the big picture and decide what is best.
Nancy Duchardt, MIDDLETOWN, CONN.
Heidi Zamecnik's "Be Happy, Not Gay" T shirt sent a clear and disenfranchising message to homosexual youth that they are not O.K. This is not the kind of dialogue that should take place in an academic environment. I'd bet that Heidi's intolerance comes from parental influence. If her parents feel so strongly about the issue, perhaps they should enroll their daughter in a parochial school, where church doctrine would dictate academic policy.
David Gerard, LYNN, MASS.
The Power of Billions