Religion's role in the debate


Well, it's down to the wire, and it appears that those voting "no" on the marriage amendment might be trailing a bit, but try to take some solace in who your team members are. They include: Catholics/Christians who believe God is love; Catholics/Christians who believe Jesus stood with the outcast and oppressed; likely most Jews, as they understand persecution.

Also, likely many libertarians, who want big government out of our lives, and the many grandparents who see, through the perspective of age, a gay family member. Possibly also on our side are blacks and women, the last two groups to be considered full citizens of the United States.

Now, who is on the other side? The opposition includes the Catholic bishops; the president of Iran; some fear-mongering legislators, and quite a number of people who cite the Bible, even though most Catholic theologians dispute their church's stand.

Win or lose, I like the side I'm on.


• • •

Embedded in the Sept. 25 article "Catholics to pay for marriage vote ads" was a misleading claim by a St. Paul pastor that he might eventually be forced to preside at same-sex marriages if the courts were to declare same-sex marriage legal. Surely he knows better. Surely he knows that no clergy person can be forced to preside over any marriage.

Clergy may refuse to preside at a marriage when they feel one of the participants is mentally unable to decide whether to marry, or emotionally too fragile to decide to marry. They may opt out if they suspect that one of the couple is being coerced into marriage. They may opt out if neither member of the couple is of their faith, or if one member of the couple is under the age of consent. They may refuse to marry a couple that has not participated in marriage preparation classes. And so on, and so on, and so on.

There may be legitimate reasons for approving the "marriage amendment." There is no need to argue the pro-amendment position with grossly misleading arguments.


• • •

While I doubt it was the intention of a recent editorial cartoon, I would not want anyone to get the idea that if the marriage amendment doesn't pass, gay marriage will be legal in Minnesota. Regardless of what happens with this vote, gay marriage will still be illegal in this state. All the amendment would do is make it "extra" illegal and destroy the chance for the normal checks and balances of democracy to work the way they were intended.


• • •

A Sept. 23 letter about divisive partisanship carried some mistaken presumptions. We should all know by now that the phrase "separation of church and state" was never originally intended as law but was a comment by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to some pastors.

It has been given legal status by the courts, which have applied it in some questionable cases. The letter also stated that "religious tenets have been framing laws and policy in the political arena."

Again, factual history gives evidence that our very Constitution was in large part based on religious tenets. Religious positions have always influenced political positions, just as nonreligious (secular) positions do. Which gets us back to the clamor of divisive partisanship. I, too, am very concerned about this. It seems not healthy for our nation, but I would ask: Who moved?


* * *

Voter ID

Better to welcome ex-prisoners to polls


Elizabeth Mansfield ("Will photo ID rock the vote?" Sept. 24) seems to recoil in shock at the thought of "hundreds of ineligible felons who voted" and could have been stopped. I realize that there are laws concerning such matters, but I have never heard why we would want the law to restrict a probationer from voting.

I want those people to resume as normal a life as is possible. I want them to go to work, attend their child's parent/teacher conference, care for their home, wash their car, shovel the sidewalk, take out the garbage, pay attention to the news, volunteer in projects that are deemed appropriate, and vote. Only by joining into normal society will they be able to build a successful life.


• • •

If voter ID passes, what happens to the thousands of probation officers, police officers, child protection workers and other sensitive professionals who have to use their work addresses on their driver's licenses? If you don't have your residence listed on your state-issued identification, will you be allowed to vote? Do our everyday public-service heroes now have to put their families at risk to protect their right to vote? This seems to be a big price to pay to fix a problem that doesn't exist!


* * *


Will administration also take a hit?


As an audience member and financial supporter of our two professional orchestras, I can understand the concerns of their respective boards for their ensembles' long-term sustainability. I agree that sacrifices must be made in an economy where funding of the arts is seen as a luxury, charitable giving is down and endowments are underperforming. However, as I look at the large administrative staffing of the two orchestras as listed in the front pages of concert programs, I wonder how much sacrifice will be shouldered by these nonplaying employees.

How many executives, directors, marketers and administrative assistants does it take to "sell" the orchestras to the community? Are these people really earning their salaries? Could they do more for less pay? It's obvious to us in the audience that the orchestras are world-class, but what about the people who are supposed to preserve and sustain our cultural assets?