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Faith and the Presidency

Re “Kerry the Catholic,” Opinion, Oct. 24: Across the center of the article, in bold, are the words, “Like the president, his faith defines him.” I always thought that faith was was intimate and personal. One’s faith is subjective, so how can we define the character of an individual based on what we think he believes in?

I found this article to be quite disturbing. It emphasizes that "[John] Kerry has a problem. Something is preventing him from connecting with those last few voters.” The author states that the difference between the two candidates has to do with their religious culture.

This is the last thing that I think people should base their votes on. Is it not common knowledge that a candidate will say and do anything to get votes? None of us knows the true religious beliefs of either of the candidates.

It is easy for President Bush to say that he is a Protestant and Kerry a Catholic, but will I base my vote accordingly? Never!

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Joan Erskine

Winnetka

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I don’t know if Kerry is a good Catholic. I am not free to make that judgment. However, I can have opinions on his observed behavior. On one hand we are told he was an altar boy, goes to Mass and carries a rosary. On the other hand he supports a woman’s right to choose and embryonic stem cell research. The church’s teaching here is clear and immutable -- the taking of innocent human life is intrinsically evil and nonnegotiable.

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How can I, as a Catholic, support someone who says he is Catholic and supports an intrinsically evil position? Is this support because of his desire to please everyone in order to become president? How can I trust or believe anything he says about the Iraq war, his honorable military service or his “we have a plan” statements? Bush’s position on social issues is much closer to Catholic belief than Kerry’s.

Angelo P. Calfo

Thousand Oaks

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In his Oct. 24 column, Steve Lopez got one thing right -- he does not know me. I find it very reassuring that our president is guided by the word of God in his decisions.

It’s better than the last one, who was guided by lust, or Kerry, who, if he were elected, would be guided by an anything-goes morality, some sort of U.N./one-world foreign policy, and a European-style industrial policy favoring unions and labor over entrepreneurship.

I wonder for whom Lopez will be able to vote after he reads this in The Times story on Kerry on Oct. 25: While on the campaign trail Kerry sought to strike a more inspirational tone, saying in a speech on faith that his Roman Catholic “values will guide me as president.” I wonder what values he means? Abortion and same-sex marriage? The difference between him and Bush, for me, is: I believe Bush, not Kerry.

As for the USC professor’s suggestions, they make sense. So much sense that it’s almost exactly what Bush says he’s trying to do. He might be failing, or you might choose not to believe him, but it is what he’s been saying.

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Deryl Robinson

Huntington Beach

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Re “The White House Wasn’t Always God’s House,” Commentary, Oct. 26: Arthur Schlesinger Jr. thinks that Bush’s “conversion” and his “born-again experience” are authentic. The only thing Bush’s experience has done is given him votes of evangelicals and other right-wing conservatives.

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When a person truly converts to Jesus Christ, they change their heart and align it with the teachings of Christ in the New Testament -- every one of which Bush and his administration have violated. Jesus gave very simple instructions: Love one another and do unto others as we would have them do unto us. He also told us how we can tell who is truly a Christian. He said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The fruits of the Bush administration are rotten, and it’s time to vote out the bad apples.

Alethea Guthrie

Malibu

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I found it interesting that Schlesinger said “equally alarming is the use of churches for political purposes.” It isn’t Bush but Kerry whom I see in churches striving to further his cause. At least Bush practices his religion in private.

Jim Dalton

El Monte

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There is an old Arabic proverb that says, “Trust in God, but tie your camel.”

It is a given that Bush is a man of tremendous faith. Unfortunately, on most of the important issues that affect working, middle-class Americans, including the disaster in Iraq, he is missing the camel.

Eugene Sison

San Dimas

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