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Mr. Stearns noted that people overseas “don’t forget that Americans are helping them in their time of need,” saying it’s better to send “volunteers with baseball caps, rather than soldiers with helmets.”

In a world where so much devastation and need exist, Mr. Stearns may very well have a point. How Americans, particularly those who call themselves people of faith, respond, may be another matter entirely.

Mark A. Kellner can be reached via email at