Opinion | Religion and Politics, in the U.S. and Abroad

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To the Editor:

Re “This Is How Theocracy Shrivels,” by David Brooks (column, Aug. 28):

Mr. Brooks might want to look closer to home. In America the religious right might not be gaining new adherents, but its political influence has never been greater. Abortion opponents finally have the Supreme Court majority they’ve been longing for. The G.O.P.’s hard-right turn has propelled white Christian nationalism into the spotlight. And as the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol shows, these people are willing to use violence to impose their views on the nation.

The problem is not Islamic extremism; the problem is the politicization of religion. And as theocratic regimes wither in the Muslim world, religious zealots are mobilizing in Western democracies.

Stephen Newman
Toronto
The writer is an associate professor of politics at York University.

To the Editor:

Thank you, David Brooks, for focusing on what we have succeeded in doing against Muslim extremism and what the Islamist world is thinking. The separation of religion and state is more important than ever in their world and ours. I hope very much that Mr. Brooks is correct in thinking that Islam is rejecting the politicization of its faith and that the terrorist groups do not have the support of the vast majority of Muslims.

We have failed to bring democracy to that world, but perhaps we can hope that it can see what terrorism brings.

Judith Swan
Westport, Mass.

To the Editor:

Nearly half the population of Afghanistan is under 15 years of age. It is hard to imagine that a younger generation with global economic ambitions in an increasingly secular world would support, or adhere strictly to, the dictates of a theocratic government.

Robert J. Comiskey
Reston, Va.

‘Finally Leaving a Battle Without End’

To the Editor:

Re “Spurning Critics, Biden Calls Exit Notable Success” (front page, Sept. 1):

While other presidents may have realized that there was no plausible endgame to the war in Afghanistan that was started 20 years ago as a response to the 9/11 attacks, only President Biden had the will and the courage to carry out this withdrawal. Let’s hope that future politicians will think long and hard before sending other people’s children into war without a clearly defined, achievable purpose.

I am grateful that the sinking feeling I had on Oct. 7, 2001, when this conflict started has morphed into a sense of relief that we are finally leaving a battle without end.

Edwin Andrews
Malden, Mass.

Dealing With the Unvaccinated in the Workplace

To the Editor:

Re “No Shot for Them. Don’t Tell Their Colleagues” (Sunday Business, Aug. 8):

Should the man who chose not to be vaccinated be free from his colleagues’ unhappy glances, just because he is “skeptical” of the vaccines?

It is outrageous that he could avoid letting co-workers know he is not vaccinated, exposing them to the possibility of Covid infection with the highly infectious Delta variant.

In face of the greater likelihood of unvaccinated people getting and transmitting Covid, and the overwhelming evidence of the efficacy and safety of Covid vaccines, universal vaccination should be required, I believe. It is the responsibility of the workplace to protect all workers from exposure, even if it hurts the feelings of the person who chooses to remain unvaccinated.

Merry Selk
Albany, Calif.

To the Editor:

Re “Covid Forces Bosses to Act” (Business, Aug. 4):

The article states that one of the reasons many companies are reluctant to mandate vaccines is a concern that requiring them “could give employees another reason to quit.” That could happen, but maybe the “bosses” should examine the likely results of an exodus if they institute a mandate that applies to all employees.

The Covid-related health care costs and ultimately insurance premiums for employees and the company will not rise as much. Illness-related absenteeism will be lower. There will be no Us vs. Them among the work force. The mandate will send the message that employees’ health is paramount.

Consider this as well: Those vaccinated employees hired as replacements will be better informed and less likely to believe in conspiracy theories. Dare I say they will be smarter? An opportunity like this is rare. Companies should take advantage of it.

Marvin Kaplan
Westfield, N.J.

Caring for the Elderly

To the Editor:

Re “Honor Home Health Workers,” by Lynn Hallarman (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, Aug. 15):

What a lovely essay about the unsung and underpaid angels who take care of our elderly. As I grow older, I realize how my final years will depend on the kindness of family and the direct-care aides at home or a facility, should I need them.

Growing old happens so quickly. I am not prepared. Even with my dad’s dementia and decline in his 90s, somehow I didn’t connect it to my own future. At 76, I am humbled by my lack of contemplating let alone planning for the end of my own life.

It would be wonderful if every member of Congress would read Dr. Hallarman’s essay before discounting legislation that would recognize that we all get old, and remember that most will not have the means they do.

Nancy Gerson
South Dennis, Mass.

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