To the editor: The decline of traditional religion in this country is not necessarily a harbinger of a more secular U.S. While there may be an increase in the number of avowed atheists and agnostics, there is also a larger population of those who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious." ("U.S. has become notably less Christian, major study finds," May 12)
Many people are rejecting the notion that their spiritual beliefs must come from outside sources. Religions that have dictated dogma for millenniums are crumbling. There is no doubt that churches everywhere have been a source of comfort and compassion, but there is also a legacy of hypocrisy, hate mongering and violence in the name of God.
People are hungry for deeper meaning in life, and there are countless ways to explore spirituality. A healthy questioning of our established institutions is to be celebrated.
Kathy Welsh, Claremont
To the editor: My parents were married in 1951, and my father's Protestant parents came close to not attending the wedding because their son dared to fall in love with a Catholic. That kind of thing mattered greatly back then, and my mother spent many insecure years trying to prove she was worthy in her in-laws' eyes.
As a compromise, my parents raised my two brothers and me in the Episcopalian Church. We kids stopped attending church after high school, and not one of us subscribes to any organized religion.
Although well-intentioned, to me religion does more harm than good. It's been used as a shield for pedophiles, as grounds for murder and as a reason to discriminate and deny civil rights.
One need not be religious to be a principled person. Only the Golden Rule is necessary to orient one's moral compass.
Joanne Turner, Eagle Rock
To the editor: As an agnostic Humanist, may I suggest that if churches would concentrate more on the here and now rather than the hereafter, they might retain or even attract members while providing more real help to those in need.
That was a major function of the church I remember as a child.
Hugh Smart, Santa Barbara