I agree with religious leaders who say it is morally irresponsible to drive an SUV. There are at least three moral issues here: failure to steward the Earth's resources, greed in taking a far larger share of these resources than is equitable, and failure to consider or care about the potential physical harm to others from such a large, heavy, and higher vehicle.
In several places in the Bible, we are told to be stewards of the Earth. Despoiling it with oil rigs and squandering its resources is not stewardship. We are all guilty, but SUV drivers more so because of the SUV's lousy gas mileage.
-- Anne Ambler, Silver Spring
I find it so unbelievable that a group of "religious" people would get so angry about an issue such as this.
My husband and I own two SUVs, not as a matter of choice but out of need. We have five children of our own. We also live in a remote area and own a day-care center in the city. The SUVs help us get to our business in snowy weather because other parents are depending on us to be open.
Have they also thought about all the SUV owners who donate their time to take hospital workers to the hospital in bad weather? I am a volunteer for Prince George's Community Hospital, and this is a vital lifesaving act that many people depend on.
Most SUV owners are not purchasing the vehicles as a novelty or showpiece.
-- Cheryl M. Mack, Upper Marlboro
I walk more than a mile and a half to the Metro each day to commute to work, then another few blocks to the office once I get off the Metro. Gas-guzzlers pass by me with one person in the car. Every day, as a little thank-you for my efforts to reduce traffic, parking problems and pollution by walking, I get lungs full of exhaust from these gigantic cars.
I would venture to guess that most of these SUV owners have fewer than five people in their family and more than one car. I find it hard to believe that all of these people are incapable of walking to mass transit or that they can't find other people in their neighborhood with whom they can carpool.
While we could afford to have two huge vehicles, my husband and I decided to have only one car, and we still manage to work, live and travel in the region.
-- Dana M. Patton, Washington
Religious leaders should understand that everyone isn't able to purchase the vehicle that will give them the best gas mileage. Poor people such as myself have to get from point A to point B the best way possible. If they had a choice, I'm sure they would drive a more fuel-friendly vehicle.
My vehicle is small but old. My son's car does burn a lot of fuel. Due to the economy, he can't afford a better car. So even if we wanted to be more responsible about our choice of vehicles, circumstances make what we must do, very different from what we'd like to do.
-- Joanne Saylor, Leesburg
Judaism stresses respect for the environment even to the extent of allowing fields to remain fallow one year out of every seven, essentially a sabbatical for the land. With that in mind and in light of the greater consumption of natural resources and increased pollution from SUVs and vehicles of similar size, such transportation should be restricted.
However, judicious use of the environment is permitted. If a family is sufficiently large or frequent trips have to be made at a load suitable for a SUV, then the purchase of such a vehicle is permissible. Under these considerations, we would not experience the explosive growth in the number of oversized vehicles but instead a morally correct selection of such transportation where there is an absolute need.
-- Nelson Marans, Silver Spring
Having a need for a spacious vehicle is not a moral issue. Religious leaders should be challenging automakers to develop effective, fuel-efficient engines for SUVs instead of passing moral judgments on the families who prefer to own SUVs.
-- Eric F. Samuda, Corona, Calif.
Next month's question: What symbols or expressions of faith have you encountered in your workplace, and do you approve or disapprove of them? E-mail your answer (100 words or less) to email@example.com. Include a daytime phone number. For more answers to today's question, go to www.washingtonpost.com/religion.