In response to Gary Brinker's comments on Susan Brown's recent column, I think they both have valid points. Jesus did, indeed, go about doing good. But when he said, "Go and do likewise," to whom was he speaking? He was not talking to the secular government. He was talking to the people.

The recent disasters after the hurricanes and the calamities left behind have been covered in the press, but I've not seen any stories about the relief efforts of private citizens and church organizations, and there were many. There might have been more if people had known a way to help. The title on Mr. Brinker's letter was, "Is Christian nation an oxymoron?" A nation can be filled with Christians, but that doesn't make the nation a Christian. People become Christian. When the government requires people to pay taxes to do what Jesus did voluntarily, the people have no choice. That doesn't make the country a Christian country, and it doesn't make the leaders Christian.

A Christian uses his own money to follow Jesus' teaching, not someone else's. The Christian religion does not have a monopoly on integrity, compassion and honesty. The Middle East has examples of what happens when religious leaders take over the government. The religion is corrupted and the people suffer. Our forefathers were wise to limit the government to what individuals cannot do. For example, we cannot individually build highways and bridges on our own, but we can do acts of charity. When I was younger, there were newspapers who had investigative reporters who filed stories on needs that were not being met. When people know the needs, they have the opportunity to follow their consciences and do what they can to meet them. A recent example is the outpouring of donations for the victims of the Las Vegas shootings.

Our government allows tax exemptions for such expenditures to legitimate charities. When the government takes over the role that Jesus was demonstrating, there are layers of bureaucracy that drain away the resources rather than meeting the needs. Consider the hospitals that have been established by churches because the church saw a need. Even now, there are food banks run by local organizations and churches. The government has taken away the incentive for people to step forward, but many are still willing. Perhaps if society were less willing to have the government be the source of all charity, people would be more willing to heed what Jesus said.

Pat Albrecht,