Navigating our freedom, rightsa rocky ride
The first sentence of the First Amendment to our Constitution deals with the first of four freedoms: religion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” Surely one of the smartest things our Founding Fathers did because it (1) not only prohibited the government from establishing a state religion but (2) prohibited laws against the freedom of religion.
Is the latter an impregnable defense by certain churches, legislators, businesses or individuals when they oppose or prevent same-sex marriage?
The Fourteenth Amendment argues otherwise because it guarantees “the equal protection of the laws.”
Because of conflicts within the Constitution, or other issues of importance, our Founders established a third branch of government, the judiciary, with great power to decide such matters and to confirm or reject the actions of the executive and congressional branches.
So far, along with state and appellate courts, our judicial system appears to favor the Fourteenth’s over the First’s freedom of religion when it comes to the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. Needless to say, this is to the chagrin of some (not all) churches and defenders of religious freedom.
Clearly, behind the fussing and feuding in courts and legislatures is the matter of morality. The latter we have seen with the Thirteenth Amendment, the abolition of slavery, the Nineteenth Amendment, women’s suffrage, and the civil rights and voting rights acts of 1964 and 1965.
In many states, the battle for the moral high ground remains heated.
Looking historically over various religions, we find a great divergence of beliefs, customs and laws largely based on scripture. If those pertain to dress, eating or hygienic practices, few legal problems arise. But along with same-sex marriage, many more pressing problems arise.
In India police get about 2,500 complaints each year about Hindu widows being burned. The practice of Sati is performed to honor the husband and unite the couple. The actual figure is likely far greater because many are reluctant to reveal the atrocity.
While laws are passed in that country against Hinduism’s history of casteism, there are still about 140 million of the destitute living on the streets. They are little better than the untouchables of casteism.
Genital mutilation and honor killings exist outside of the Islamic faith and predate it. But the fact remains that these practices survive to this day in many Muslim nations. According to the World Health Organization, between 100 million and 140 million women and girls are living with the results of genital mutilation. Over 70 surveys in the past 20 years focused on 29 countries in the Middle East and Africa where the practice is most common. As for honor killings, Dr. Phyllis Chesler writes in the “Middle East Quarterly” (2010), “In 2000, the United Nations estimated that there are 5,000 honor killings every year. That number might be reasonable for Pakistan alone, but worldwide the numbers are much greater. … The number of honor killings is routinely underestimated.”
Nor have other religion-related traditions become a thing of the past, such as hacking off the limbs of thieves and the killing of adulterers, apostates, blasphemers and those who dare criticize or lampoon their Prophet.
The Pentateuch of the Old Testament reveals offenses that merited death by stoning, burning or the sword. Some, not all, follow: adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, blasphemy, perjury in capital cases, false prophecy, idolatry, incest, kidnapping, licentiousness or prostitution by a priest’s daughter, rape, striking or cursing a parent, Sabbath-breaking and witchcraft.
Two millennia of anti-Semitism by Christians have resulted in a dark history of persecution against the Jews for the crime of deicide. In “The Foot of Pride,” an awesome study of the history of anti-Semitism, Malcolm Hay, a Catholic historian, alleges it is that history which culminated in the gas chambers and crematoriums of the death camps.
While all Catholics do not march in obedience to church dogma against contraception in an age of AIDS and abortion, against divorce, against homosexuality, against pre-marital sex, and even against masturbation, these prohibitions continue to demean hundreds of millions.
Have not our past as well as present religious practices often erred on the side of license rather than the equanimity of freedom?
— Saul Rosenthal, Terre Haute
We need to think about farming
Sadly, the common wisdom is often not wisdom at all and not even common sense.
A case in point, in my view, is what I consider the extremely excessive production of corn and soybeans in this country and elsewhere.
To listen to the agricultural reports on WILL-AM (Urbana, Ill.) one would think the only crops that can be grown are these two (they occasionally also mention wheat).
What about biodiversity, which all in the know recognize as being essential to our planet’s sustainability? God created a very diverse ecosystem, but mankind has greatly impoverished it by unwise practices.
Biodiveristy refers to animals, plants and crops. All farmers know or should know that crop rotation is important. We are exhausting our good soil with pesticides and single crop farming. We’re endangering human health this way, I think experts will tell you. Americans don’t need more starch in their diet.
California has been producing our badly needed fruits and vegetables, but it has been so dry there that producers can’t get enough needed water at present.
We need to think very seriously about agricultural policies in this country.
— Robert L. Carter, Terre Haute
Navigating our freedom, rightsa rocky ride
Readers’ Forum: July 28, 2014
• Tea party folks misunderstood
• We have only us to blame
- Readers' Forum: July 27, 2014
Flashpoint: Why incumbents keep getting re-elected
Nearly three-quarters of Americans want to throw out most members of Congress, including their own representative, yet the vast majority of incumbents will be returning to Capitol Hill in January.
Flashpoint: Spreading the good word about marriage equality
If you blinked over the past month, you probably missed some news about marriage equality in Indiana.
- Readers’ Forum: July 25, 2014
Readers’ Forum: July 24, 2014
• Clinic will expand basic health access
• Misunderstanding truth about Islam
- Readers’ Forum: July 23, 2014
Readers’ forum: July 22, 2014
• Supt. Ritz has right to govern
• A tribute to a teacher
• Rep. Pelosi shows ‘bungling idiocy’
Readers’ forum: July 20, 2014
• ‘Hotel Indiana’ has a sour tune
• Kind words about the newspaper
• Some questions about RTL video
• No mercy for cop killers
• Crack down on gun violence
• Anti-Dem tirades mask GOP failures
• Important day for participants
• Appreciation for support
FLASHPOINT: Solve our border crisis
More than 60,000 unaccompanied alien children — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been apprehended on America’s southern border during this fiscal year.
Flashpoint: Will Gov. Pence be true to his word?
This is written in response to recent remarks made by State Board of Education members.
- Readers’ Forum: July 18, 2014
READERS’ FORUM: July 17, 2014
• Civil rights and burning cities
• Quality service from Baesler’s
FLAHSPOINT: Supt. Glenda Ritz ‘creating conflict’
It has been my pleasure for the past year to serve as the newest member of the Indiana State Board of Education. I bring a fresh perspective to the board as an attorney and business executive who served as Director of Economic Development under former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and President of the Indy Partnership, a regional economic development organization charged with recruiting new companies to our state.
Readers’ Forum: July 16, 2014
• The truth about property taxes
Readers’ Forum: July 15, 2014
• Are Fed policies hurting America?
• Staying true to code of respect
Readers’ Forum: July 14, 2014
• Where did the 61 cents go?
Readers’ Forum: July 13, 2014
• Telling the truth about smoking
• Larger energy bills on the way, thanks to EPA
• Embrace the compassion, not self-righteousness
• Wondering about country’s leaders
• New amendments have hurt country
- Readers’ Forum: July 11, 2014
READERS' FORUM: July 10, 2014
• Herb Faire a great success
• Appreciation for a ‘lovely angel’
• Thanks for stirring fireworks show
Readers’ Forum: July 9, 2014
• Don’t eliminate our six-day mail
• Zamperini death stirs memories
Readers’ Forum: July 8, 2014
• T-S ignores common decency
• Lighten up on Donald Sterling
• Time to reject Dems in Congress
• Fueling the EPA
Readers’ Forum: July 7, 2014
• The moral issue is major issue
Readers’ Forum: July 6, 2014
• Coats ignoring climate science
• Do those mustache posters exist?
• Utility rate freeze took determination
• What perversion is next in line?
• Opinions vary, but voters will decide
• This preaching must stop — now
• Golf fundraiser a huge success
- Readers’ Forum: July 4, 2014
Readers’ Forum: July 3, 2014
• Over the top on immigration
- Readers’ Forum: July 2, 2014
Readers’ Forum: July 1, 2014
• Defying the laws of God
• Correcting the written record
• Hands of $$ from Redevelopment
• Celebrity visit for celebration
Readers’ Forum: June 30, 2014
• Don’t be victim of home repair scam
• Ending unfair tax practices
Readers’ Forum: June 29, 2014
• The sexual revolution strikes again
• Country sinks to new lows
• Saddened by the headlines
• Opinions not same as facts
• Letter meets with approval
• The real ‘truth’ sometimes hurts
• Applause for great musical
• Raising minimum wage hurts us
• Gratitude to camp sponsors
• More to the city’s mosquito problem
- More Letters Headlines
- Readers’ Forum: July 28, 2014