The Baltimore Sun

I don't always agree with Leonard Pitts Jr.'s stand on the issues, but I have to agree with his position on the subject of religion ("What's driving people away from religion?" Commentary, March 16).

I am 66 years of age and have been a born-again Christian since I was 18. I am more than concerned by the decline of the Christian faith in this country. And I am also willing to admit that, as Christians, much of that decline is our own fault.

Many of us castigate the idea of gay marriage and at the same time we have a divorce rate that borders on horrendous. And are many of us failing to heed the message of the Gospels to truly love one another in our homes? I think we are.

We believe the Bible to be God's word, but many of us ignore it by being unfaithful to our spouses. We wonder why our children fall away from the faith, but we don't take a hard look at our example.

Do our kids hear us talk about our faith and at the same fail to live it in our lives as adults? What good is the Bible when we as Christians do not live by its teachings?

Our young people can easily see the hypocrisy in the lives of Christian adults.

Another area that really concerns me is "Christian television."

Many of these so-called evangelists live lavish lifestyles fueled by the contributions of many folks who really cannot afford to give anything.

We have seen the scandals of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker and Ted Haggard. And far too many people paint all of us Christians with the same brush.

I resent it: These preachers do not speak for me.

The majority of the born-again Christians I know are faithful to their spouses, work hard at their jobs and try their best to raise good kids. They love God and their neighbors and are always ready to lend a helping hand to those who need it.

My admonition to fellow Christians is to let Christ shine in your lives.

I like the old saying: "I would rather see a sermon any day than hear one."

We must rise to the occasion or see our numbers continue to decline.

Denzil Minyard, Parkville

I agree with Leonard Pitts Jr. that the public face of religion has become one of intolerance, stupidity and downright hatred.

Indeed, as a well-educated professional, people often wonder why I regularly go to church. Recently, a friend even compared my "insanity" in believing in God and in a religious community to the insanity of a mother who had killed her own child.

And when I invite people to church, I am often met with fearful looks, as if I am asking people to enter a dangerous place.

So why do I go?

Because the community to which I belong (a mainstream Lutheran church), like many religious communities, is a welcoming, loving, comforting place that cherishes all of God's children and encourages us to do such radical things as love our enemies, fight for justice and feed the poor.

Mr. Pitts quotes the great George Burns, playing God, commenting that he doesn't go to church.

But I think a community of people, guided by faith, struggling to love each other and others, is a wonderful place to spend my Sunday mornings.

Even George Burns might have approved of that.

Jane Santoni Smith, Towson

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