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Evangelistic effort needs redirection

Editor: A small article in the digest section of Religion May 4 caught my eye and really disturbed me.

In times when our country is in the throes of economic recession, when unemployment is on the rise and hundreds are losing their jobs, when homes are being lost at an alarming rate and adults and children are becoming homeless and filling soup kitchens to capacity, when children are living under primitive conditions going hungry, improperly clothed and not getting needed medical attention, a church in Tennessee, the Sycamore Church of Christ, is raising money to the tune of $10-million to flood every home in America with evangelistic brochures "to get people to study the Bible."

Their purpose is to have "One nation under God" (stated in the article) _ whose God? Never mind that most adults are already committed to their specific religion, isn't this "evangelistic movement" another attempt to Christianize America? What a waste of money, and what an intrusion into the lives of non-Christians, to fill their mailboxes with material which will immediately be discarded.

I guess it's too much to ask of the people sponsoring this campaign that the $10-million collected be used to relieve the sufferings of their fellow man, or to offer this amount to a children's hospital or some of the many soup kitchens, or to agencies which distribute free food.

I guess it's more important for this church to work on obtaining conversions than it is to show compassion for the truly needy. What a shame.

Ms. L. Brotsky, Clearwater

Religion helps build moral climate

Editor:

I've read many articles in Religion of late relative to atheistic viewpoints detrimental to various religions. Well, freedom of expression is what makes this such a grand country.

Personally, I feel organized religions have much to offer in our drug-drenched, crime ridden society. Look around and witness the life-damaging and scrambled values that abound. Imagine living in a civilization with no morals, no codes of dos and don'ts and little instruction in proper values.

Religion has helped many people graduate from a gross level to a good level of life. So, regardless of faith, I appreciate the range of influence that behooves people to practice a moral life.

Robert B. Fleming,

St. Petersburg

Report held few surprises for atheists

The article titled Most Christians don't know or act their faith holds few surprises for atheists. We could have told you that without the expense of a Gallup poll. However, our interpretation of the results differs a bit from the sources you quoted, who are obviously believers.

We think most people would abandon religion altogether if they looked objectively at the basis for it. This is why churches stress the friendship, family and social aspects of religion. What little religion they teach usually consists of carefully chosen phrases supporting their particular position.

I was raised as a Baptist. I didn't abandon religion until after I actually read the whole Bible _ and then committed the worst of sins: I thought about what I had read.

Brent Yaciw, Seminole

Women slighted in forum coverage

I have a few observations about your coverage of the recent international "Earth Ethics Forum of '91" held May 10-12 at Saint Leo College.

First, the prominent coverage you devoted to it as the cover article for the Religion section on May 18 demonstrates the Times' awareness of and commitment to the critical ecological issues facing all of us, and indeed the survival or destruction of Earth. The photograph on the cover was beautiful, and the story line A fragile environment was right on target. In his two pages of coverage your religion editor, Thomas J. Billitteri, captured much of the essence of the presenters, particularly the keynote speaker, Fr. Thomas Berry, internationally known leader in earth ethics and contemporary cosmology.

Now, for a major shortcoming in your coverage: Our living planet Earth includes much of the feminine dimension and, therefore, any complete discussion of Earth issues must include this dimension. In your two pages of coverage, all three photos are of men; in your copy, of those speakers you referred to and/or quoted from, all five are men. Unfortunately, your coverage included no general or specific references to the vital contribution made by women at this conference. At this "Earth Ethics" conference, 18 of the 42 presenters were women (45 percent). For Saturday's general presentations alone, seven of the 12 speakers were women (58 percent).

Perhaps in a future article about the critical state of our ecology and Earth survival, you could include some of the many and significant contributions made by the professional and committed women attending this conference.

Gregory Sherman, Saint Leo

Bishop needs democracy lesson

Re: Division in the Church.

Bishop Favalora expresses a convoluted view of "the common good" in a free, democratic society. The civil rights of Americans are an extension of our human rights. Every citizen's civil rights are protected under the aegis of our Constitution. The bishop should understand that ours is a democracy, not a theocracy.

Nothing serves "the common good" more than equality under the law. Gays and lesbians are no less entitled to this equal protection than is Bishop Favalora.

Carolyn Dundas,

New Port Richey

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