CONTRACEPTIVE CARE  It boils down to rights: employer vs. employee

In its Dec. 1 editorial opposing exemptions from the contraceptive mandate for for-profit businesses under the Affordable Care Act, the Editorial Board argues that the employer’s beliefs would be held as more valuable than the employee’s (“Religion as a sword in the ACA debate”). But this, even if it were true, is beside the point. For it is not a question about evaluating beliefs, but about forcing people to act against their beliefs. We can respect someone’s freedom of conscience even when disagreeing with his or her beliefs. In a later argument, the editorial states that because health care is part of an employee’s compensation, it makes no difference whether the employer provides it in the company health plan or the employees purchase it themselves. But there is a difference. In the first case, the employer must provide what he believes to be immoral. In the second case, it is the employee’s choice.

The editorial also expresses concern that this exemption might lead to further exemptions. But I think the greater danger is that denying the exemption will lead to something much worse: The erosion of the rights of religion against government impositions.

 Richard Berquist, St. Paul

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 Picture this scenario: You’re driving and obeying all traffic laws, when suddenly someone runs a stop sign and T-bones your car, leaving you severely injured and in trauma. The good news: An ambulance arrives quickly and soon you are stabilized and will recover. The bad news: Your employer is headed by a Jehovah’s Witness and, due to a Supreme Court ruling, does not have to provide insurance covering blood transfusions since Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in blood transfusions. While the religious freedom aspects of the ACA have focused on contraceptives, there are other medical procedures that various religious orders object to, including blood transfusions, organ transplants and vaccines. This is a dangerously slippery slope. Do we really want corporations dictating their religious beliefs to their employees?


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 What is at stake here is a person’s right to choose not to pay for something that he or she finds morally objectionable. Do we forfeit our right to conscience when we incorporate a business? Business owners Stuart Lind and Tom Janas are not preventing employees from using contraception. How could they? What they are very reasonably saying is that knowingly paying for contraceptives violates their religious beliefs.

CATHERINE Walker, Minneapolis

Sandy Hook

 Focus on criminals as the anniversary nears

 A Dec. 1 letter writer reflected on the upcoming anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy and asked that we “think upon those stolen children when you carry your handguns about your daily business.” Her comment highlights an uninformed perception of legal permit holders.

 Minnesota crime reports show only three out of nearly 160,000 permit holders were involved in a firearm homicide over the past 10 years. In that same time frame, nearly 1,000 murders were committed — overwhelmingly by chronic criminals. Legal permit carriers aren’t the problem. I suggest we think about keeping criminals off the streets.

 KEVIN VICK, Lakeville


 Vikings showed true colors in U negotiations

 The power of the Minnesota Vikings organization is simply breathtaking. The Nov. 30 front-page headline, “Vikings deal to play at U was a tough bargain,” misconstrued the story, which was a classic account of bullying.

 A day later the Star Tribune greeted readers with a self-aggrandizing ad from the Vikings praising the team for “putting thousands of people back to work,” hailing a team that cherishes and embraces its “special role and responsibility” to the people of Minnesota, and lauding a team that is “deeply imbedded into [sic] the rich culture of this great state.” One can only imagine the number of raised eyebrows among readers, not to mention the U negotiating team.

 SANDRA NELSON, Minneapolis


 Florida case retested ‘stand your ground’

 By burying the story in a brief on page A6, the Star Tribune added insult to injury in the tragic case of Marissa Alexander (“New trial for woman who fired warning shot,” Nov. 29). Alexander, who is black, defended herself and her three children against an estranged husband with a history of domestic violence by firing a warning shot after he violated a protective order. Unlike the white George Zimmerman, who got away with atally shooting a stranger who did not pose a clear danger, Alexander received a 20-year prison sentence. Both invoked Florida’s “stand your ground” law. I’d like to understand how this egregious story of injustice, particularly on the heels of the Trayvon Martin case, failed to make the front page.