Despite the assertions of Richard Cohen ["Wrestler v. Religion," op-ed, Oct. 14] great religious leaders worthy of emulation do exist in the world today. Men such as Pope John Paul II, Billy Graham, the Dalai Lama and Gordon B. Hinckley teach us to live honest and good lives, reach out to the poor and afflicted and love all men.

I realize that these individuals whom I have listed may not share Cohen's political philosophy, but their convictions and sincerity cannot be disputed.

--Eric Chambers

Richard Cohen complains that E. J. Dionne's favorite religious figures [op-ed, Oct. 5] are all dead and that he can't think of any today of their quality.

What he really means is that all he can think of are the noisy nabobs of TV and the far right. But these are not the only religious figures alive with great influence. Many people of faith don't feel a need to attack others' beliefs in order to stand firm and lead, including Robert Schuller and Billy Graham Jr., to name just two. These men have risen above the hate and bigotry pushed by Falwell and Robertson to bring a message that is perhaps not as political as the favorites of Cohen and Dionne but is just as generous and understanding.

I find Jesse Ventura's comments on religion honest, yet completely thoughtless. Honest because he means it. Thoughtless because he ignorantly confuses religion with those who manipulate it for their own ends.

--Larry Reed

Michael Miller ["In Jesse's Corner," Free for All, Oct. 9] states that "Christ was not a fan of organized religion" and that "in His only reported visit to the Temple in Jerusalem, he took a whip to the money-changers."

As valid as some of Miller's observations are about how the actions of some are at odds with Jesus's teachings, he is off the mark about Jesus's only reported visit to the Temple. Luke's Gospel (Chapter 2) records Jesus's presentation in the Temple as a baby and his conversations with the teachers at age 12 in the Temple, to cite but two examples.

Furthermore, Jesus went to the synagogues and instructed the lepers He had healed to go and show themselves to the priests. Thus we may conclude that He worked within the religious establishment of the time. This did not prevent Him from pointing out its faults, however.

Where the organized church displays a concern for power, politics and petty fights and a lack of concern for those deemed to be outside the inner circles, the poor and helpless, we must work to identify and correct these faults.

On the other hand, however, when the organized church welcomes members whose lives are marked with joy, peace, love, gentleness, kindness and mercy, and whose faith is demonstrated by actions and a willingness to admit and correct our faults, then we can say the organized church is a faithful image of Jesus.

--Gene R. Tucker