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Religious devotion need not mean extremism

July 13, 2006

Re "Liberal Christianity is paying for its sins," Current, July 9

Charlotte Allen's opinion is frightening for its unabashed rationalization of extremism. She states the obvious -- that the stricter the church dogma, the deeper the adherence -- and conveniently avoids mention of the effects of extremism, such as murdering gays, firebombing family planning clinics or flying airplanes into skyscrapers.

When was the last time you heard of a religious moderate strapping dynamite around his chest and walking into a wedding? Or an atheist setting fire to a cross on someone's lawn?

Given the choice of a world of religious extremists or churches evolving their moral codes to fit the times, it is clear to me which is more dangerous to society at large.

BILL GERVASI

Ladera Ranch, Calif.

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Allen seems to be suggesting that to survive, mainline Christian churches need to bend their theology to attract the largest number of congregants -- a kind of free-market approach to evangelism.

But belief and faith aren't born of focus groups. The fact that one congregation has 1,000 members and another only 80 doesn't mean that the smaller church is failing or that it offers a less authentic Christian experience. Our most compelling issues aren't necessarily the number of warm bodies in pews or the amount of money they put in their offering envelopes.

According to Matthew, Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." If Jesus didn't need a multitude for worship, then surely neither do we.

ELLEN SMUCKER

Los Angeles

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Allen claims that because the Episcopal Church recently did not consider a resolution affirming Jesus Christ as Lord, it is "not a serious Christian church." Her claim is absurd.

In the Episcopal Church, that issue was definitely resolved in AD 325 at the Council of Nicea. In the resulting Nicene Creed, Episcopalians affirm that "we believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ." Reaffirming core church doctrine at church meetings is a needless waste of valuable time.

MICHAEL M. MULLINS

Los Angeles

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