Jesse Ventura is right. Religion is for those who are weak minded and seek comfort in the group. The success of those productive men cited by E. J. Dionne Jr. ["The Wrestler on Religion," op-ed, Oct. 5] was not due to religious faith but to action directed by reason. Faith is "belief in the absence of evidence." The essence of religion is faith. The Dark Ages were faith in action. America is the nation of reason, not faith.

The enormous material success, health and benevolence of America are the consequence of thought-directed action, not faith. Afghanistan and Iran are modern-day religious nations. Their backwardness and poverty are the inevitable consequence of trying to live by faith.

--Ralph C. Whaley

Let me help E. J. Dionne remove the mote from his eyes so that he might have a better perspective on the culpability of organized religion in suppressing freedom, warring against science and shedding the blood of innocents.

Calvin? He burnt Servetus at the stake for heresy and was one of the first practitioners of totalitarianism.

Luther? He urged German nobles to brutally suppress peasant revolts and helped foment 30 years of religious strife in Germany.

Augustine? Like Calvin, he used the power of the state to suppress views opposed to his own and burdened generations of Christians with a non-Biblical anti-sex mania.

Churches as organizations? Churches--whether Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Calvinist or Mormon--have had inquisitions and crusades.

Against the evil done by organized religion, Dionne has us consider the virtues of persons such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa. But their individual acts of faith only reinforce Jesse Ventura's argument against organized religion. I have yet to see a pope or bishop or TV evangelist give all that he has to the poor like Mother Teresa or square off against police dogs like the Rev. King.

Christ was not a fan of organized religion. He damned the Scribes and Pharisees, castigated those who pray in public as hypocrites and, in His only reported visit to the Temple in Jerusalem, took a whip to the money changers.

Thank God for our Founding Fathers' wisdom in keeping our state out of the half-Nelson of organized religion!

--Michael Miller