Helping kids is an obligation

Helping kids is an obligation

Gazette Column
I am not sure how people of faith, especially those who say their faith guides them in matters of public policy, are able to reconcile not first reacting with compassion to the plight of Central American children. While we may not like or appreciate how the children arrived on our doorstep, and even while we may debate federal immigration law and procedures, spiritual teachings are clear. We should care for and protect children. Pope Francis recently noted the mandate. “This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected,” he said as part of a message sent to a global conference in Mexico on July 15. Closer to home, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin voiced similar concerns during a Congressional hearing this week. “I have a…
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SCOTUS contraception ruling troubling for women, religion

SCOTUS contraception ruling troubling for women, religion

Gazette Column
Many will be erroneously celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court opinion handed down today in the Hobby Lobby contraception case as a further attempt by the courts to protect religious freedoms or innocent life. It does nothing of the sort. The only “people” the opinion protects are the majority of American corporations. The only religious freedoms it protects are those with which a majority of Court justices agree. The decision — a 5-4 split, saying “closely held corporations” cannot be required to provide contraception coverage for employees if the company has a religious objection — is not limited to the Hobby Lobby corporation. Based on Internal Revenue Service definitions, it will impact about 90 percent of all American businesses, and about 52 percent of the American workforce. Perhaps it should not be surprising…
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Court weakens prayer

Court weakens prayer

Gazette Column
There is an overriding philosophy where government and technology meet, seeking to balance the public’s need and right to know with individual privacy concerns and, yes, cost effectiveness. When considering whether or not to digitize certain records or databases, even ones freely accessible by the public during in-person visits to city hall, the question has morphed from, “Can we do this?” to a more nuanced and complex, “Even if we can do this, should we do this?” The same question should be asked by communities considering a recent Supreme Court decision allowing public prayer before government meetings. In a split decision, the Court determined prayers at government meetings are a matter of free speech, which the listening officials cannot censor or edit. Even if a visiting member of the clergy…
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