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Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 12, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Religion shouldn’t dictate health care; don’t impose beliefs on others

Religion shouldn’t dictate health care

Kathleen Parker, like many religious people, seems to believe that “religious liberty” means the freedom of those who are religious to impose their beliefs on everyone else with whom they interact, especially those people over whom they have some control, such as employees and also customers [“Obama, practice what you preach,” Opinion, Feb. 9].

This interpretation of “religious liberty” fails to acknowledge that religion should be private and every person should have the right to her or his own religious beliefs and practices. I believe that any state or country that imposes, legalizes or allows the imposition of any religious belief of one person onto another is taking away the “religious liberty” of the other person.

With that reasoning, when employers are allowed to not provide contraceptive health coverage because of their own religious beliefs, they are taking away their employees’ religious freedom. To borrow an observation by Jon Stewart, religious employers are already providing the means to obtain contraception — it is called a paycheck. Why do so few people talk about this other side of religious liberty?

Margaret Garber, Seattle

Don’t impose beliefs on others

Kathleen Parker seems to intentionally ignore that President Obama does “practice what he preaches” in regard to religious freedom. She just doesn’t want to acknowledge what he is actually preaching.

By requiring that employers provide contraception as part of preventive insurance coverage, the president is relying on the First Amendment clause against the “establishment of religion” in his position that church-related groups or private employers cannot utilize the government as leverage to force their particular religious beliefs on their employees.

Would Parker be as sanguine if an Orthodox Jewish employer refused to hire any males who weren’t circumcised into the Covenant of Abraham? Or if a Muslim charity required all employees not to drink or eat pork? Or if a fundamentalist Christian hired only those attesting to a belief in creationism? An employer’s freedom of religion does not include curtailing that same freedom for their employees.

Philip L. Bereano, professor emeritus, University of Washington

0 Comments | More in Religion | Topics: Kathleen Parker, Margaret Garber, Obama

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