Michael Gerson wrote about circumcision in his column on religious freedom ("Another test of religious freedom," July 8). I would like to see his column repeated, but using the word "female" instead of "male." The reasons for supporting either procedure are about the same: Initiation and acceptance into a community, religious freedom, medical benefits and group support over personal choices. The reasons for opposition also tend to be the same: Each is a medical procedure in which the person taking the risk doesn't make the choice; each can be medically and psychologically harmful, and each is done prior to appropriate age of consent. The religions and cultures where the procedures are done may be different, but are the concerns?
GARY LUNDBORG, ST. PAUL
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As a parent, a swimmer, a former lifeguard, an infant and children's swim instructor and grandparent, I'm overwhelmed at the recent number of drownings in the state. Wake up, parents! It's imperative that you become aware of the dangers of water. We are the land of 10,000 lakes; if you wish to participate with your children in the water, you have to be aware and provide personal supervision. If you are at a beach with lifeguards, you must still be aware of the dangers of water because of all the other children on hand.
Are you aware of your children's water capabilities? Can you swim? If not, please learn to swim, watch your loved ones and learn lifesaving techniques. Nonswimmers should wear life jackets. Let's make it a safer summer.
KATHIE TESLAW, APPLE VALLEY
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Liberal could be my middle name, and I try to keep an open mind by purposefully soliciting opinions I might disagree with just to see if I missed something. Most of the time I can appreciate the other person's point of view even if I don't agree. But Ahmed Tharwat's commentary not only failed to sway my opinion but clarified my beliefs in the benefits of a secular society ("A first among firsts: Embracing the hijab," July 6).
This traditional Muslim dress is oppressive. It objectifies women. All women are supposed to look and act like "mother"? My freedom, independence and autonomy are definitely not for the purpose of men to "get" me." Seriously. Women's existence should not be simply for the benefit of men.
MICHELE Strahan, Minneapolis
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It has been interesting to see how non-Muslims are reacting to the new presidency of the Islamist Mohammed Morsi and his hijab-wearing wife. I would like to respond to the two points brought up by my non-Muslim neighbors. The first: Why do Muslim women often wear black and grey head scarves? The second: Why do Muslims in Egypt wish to do away with the separation of church and state?
The short answer to both of these questions is that Islam is a complete way of life. It covers every aspect of life, from the dress of the individual to the ideal form of government. Just as nuns do not wear bright and attention-grabbing colors when it comes to their head coverings (at least, those who wear them), Muslim women do not, either. Sorry if my non-Muslim neighbors do not find this answer satisfactory, but we do not wish to see our women walking around in Western bikinis and miniskirts.
There is no separation of church and state in the Islamic government. The history of Muslims and the religious scriptures are clear on this point. Many Muslims believe in a theocracy and not a democracy. While it is still too early to say whether President Morsi will bring an Islamic theocracy to Egypt, that should be the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood. If you don't like that a country is ruled by sharia law, then don't go there.
MUHAJIR ROMERO, MINNEAPOLIS
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The Star Tribune's July 8 article on carrying handguns ("Land of 10,000 gun toters") missed the point. The question is not whether we have a consensus about being safer while being armed. The point is that carrying a weapon to protect yourself and family is a constitutional right. Are we better off following the Constitution or picking it apart? The other question is, why do we need a special permit to exercise our constitutional rights?
JEFF CARLSON, ST. LOUIS PARK
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The continuing discussion of gay ordination is passionate and sometimes ignorant, and reflects a deep divide. I know it's supposedly an internal religious matter, but it's also an employment matter. If a religious group wants a privileged tax status, then it seems like it ought to play by the fundamental rules of fairness. The Constitution does not say "equal protection" except for gay people. I suggest a paraphrase from Seinfeld: "No gay ordination? No tax exemption for you."
JOHN LUND, MINNEAPOLIS
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Amey Schnabel wrote about her hometown church, where there weren't enough votes to call an openly gay pastor ("22 votes for a pastor -- for progress," July 10). Her descriptions of the 29 people who voted against calling a gay man to be their pastor was "they would or could not look past their own values."
I'm not part of that church and have no idea what church it is or where it's located, but I'm glad that the 29 people in that congregation had the guts to vote along with the word of God. Schnabel makes it seem as if these were not really loving caring people and that they couldn't read into "the deeper meaning of the Bible," yet she closes her article describing those who voted for the openly gay man as people who are "strengthened by God's word."
The Bible is clear that homosexuality is not God's plan and certainly is not God's plan for a church leader. May God continue to bless that congregation with the guts to stand firm in their trust of God's word.
ROLF FURE, DULUTH