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Harsanyi misses whole point of freedom of religion

Harsanyi misses whole point of freedom of religion

*Harsanyi misses whole point of freedom of religion *As hard questions of Planned Parenthood

Harsanyi misses whole point of freedom of religion

David Harsanyi’s Aug. 27 column, “Pushing beliefs on others threatens religious freedom,” has it completely backward when he defends people who do not want to have anything to do with gay weddings.

In relating the story of a baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple in 2012, he failed to tell you that the couple, who Mr. Harsanyi calls “priggish bullies,” planned to be married in Massachusetts and then celebrate their marriage in Colorado with friends. That sin of omission is just plain wrong. That said, in short, Mr. Harsanyi, a bakery is not a religious entity. A catering service is not a religious entity. Music performed at wedding receptions isn’t, either.

The same principle applies to pharmacies: again, not a religious entity. It turns logic on its head. It is most certainly a thinly veiled attempt to discriminate against gays using the excuse that their Christian values are being violated. The ability to discriminate against anyone because of personally held religious beliefs is not religious freedom.

It’s an excuse for discrimination and intolerance. This harkens back to the shameful Jim Crow era in this country, where African-Americans were discriminated against. Now, in the 21st century, it’s “No gays will be served at this establishment.”

The same argument is being used in parts of the South by county clerks (civil servants) refusing to issue marriage licenses for gay marriages. Oh, dear, the affront to their poor sensibilities: get out the fainting couches. A marriage license is issued by the state or county. That’s not a religious entity either. Get a grip. Our laws are based on the U.S. Constitution, not the Bible. And in the case of the issuance of marriage licenses, I’m pretty sure these civil servants took an oath to uphold the laws of the state and the United States.

Harsanyi accuses a “legal lynch mob” of not stopping until religious institutions are forced to comply. No sir, no one is forcing ministers, priests or any person “of the cloth” to perform gay marriages. That’s a choice for individual churches, synagogues, etc. to make. That is religious freedom at its finest and what the First Amendment is all about. It’s about worshipping at the church of one’s choice, or not worshipping, without government interference, and not using tax money to support religion.

However, the religious fanatics in this country will try every which way from Tuesday to force their particular religious beliefs down the throats of the rest of us, and it is not appreciated.

Do your job: bake the cake, take the pictures, cater a wedding, issue the marriage licenses, because that is your job. Your religious freedom ends at your fingertips, and you don’t get to impose your beliefs on anyone else. If you can’t do that, find something else to do. The sexual orientation of anyone other than yourself is none of your business.

Intolerance and discrimination are not Christian values. Whatever happened to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You should be ashamed.

Cynthia Swanson

Niskayuna

As hard questions of Planned Parenthood

Congress will soon review the services and practices of Planned Parenthood, the birth control and abortion provider giant founded by Margaret Sanger, the 20th century eugenics advocate who sought mass sterilization, incarceration of the unfit and immigration restrictions.

Perhaps this scrutiny will determine if public funds involved meet accountability and program objectives and comes close to the hype their public relations firm have promoted arguing it is “too big to fail” and “essential to medical progress.”

In the 1960s, important changes were made to states’ birth control statutes and to expand the rights of women. After the 1973 Supreme Court decision permitting abortion as a women’s choice subject, to state regulation, in the final trimester, Planned Parenthood’s market share of medical services for women like birth control and cancer screening and abortions grew dramatically. Almost half of the abortions in the nation are performed by Planned Parenthood.

Today, however, there are now some 14,000 women’s medical clinics in the nation providing the same services. This competition has prompted Planned Parenthood to expand into other areas these clinics have not — e.g. harvesting the organs of aborted infants and partial-birth abortions. So important was this new line of business to Planned Parenthood it held up important services for women in New York state for three years by insisting on statutory allowance of partial-birth abortions without restriction; infanticide by any definition. It did not succeed and failed the women they claim to serve.

In a presidential election year, it will prove impossible to separate this review of Planned Parenthood’s business with a right to an abortion granted by the Supreme Court 42 years ago. That ship has sailed. No candidate is going to propose, much less enforce, monitoring the wombs of the nation. But until that moral consensus on the beginning of human life is achieved, the next best thing this Congress might do regarding Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting, for example, would be to ensure an independent entity evaluates its medical practices, program goals and financial procedures.

Are abortions given the hard sell by Planned Parenthood staff, who get incentives if a woman chooses an abortion? What medical achievements have been attributed to fetal stem cells from abortions as opposed to umbilical stem cells? Has it achieved progress compared with real medical achievements using adult stem cells? Are there audits of the consent forms and interviews with women who it is claimed agreed to this harvesting practice? Is the NFP (natural family planning) status for Planned Parenthood compromised by its shadowy relationship with business partner, StemExpress? Is their accountability of restrictions on uses of public funds being monitored, or is there just an accounting shell game?

Every call for this type of review will be met with claims of infringing women’s rights. Let us hope the public will see right through that canard.

Michael John Cummings

Albany

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