High school prayer bill reeks of pandering | Feb. 7, John Romano column
Don't prohibit religious speech
This column serves as a reminder of why it is so important for the Florida Legislature to pass HB 317/SB 98, the religious equality bill.
John Romano claims prayer is not the problem, but rather it is those who would use it as an instrument, or even a weapon, for selfish purposes. The fact is that many forms of speech are welcomed in Florida schools: academic, political, sexual — but not religious, and that kind of unfair policy is the real instrument, or even weapon, used for selfish purposes by those who want to unjustly discriminate against children of faith.
Furthermore, this bill is not about organized, public prayer, it is simply about allowing one student to share an inspirational message, which may or may not include an invocation and/or benediction. What is the big deal? This bill makes perfect sense in a country based on freedom that has welcomed varied cultures, beliefs and religions for more than two centuries.
School is a forum where all forms of speech must be treated equally under the law. The purpose of this bill is to restore equal protection under the law for all children of faith, regardless of their beliefs. Those who oppose these fundamental rights are the ones who cheapen freedom for all.
Anthony Verdugo, executive director, Christian Family Coalition, Miami
Rubio leads health care fight | Feb. 6
Religion and medical care
In terms of public policy, the actions of Bishop Robert Lynch and Sen. Marco Rubio with regard to health insurance and birth control constitute a moral outrage.
It may be an uncomfortable reality for them, but the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is not in a position to dictate public policy as it is in Latin America.
The point becomes clear when a another conflict between religious belief and public health policy is examined. For example, Jehovah Witnesses oppose blood transfusions. According to their interpretation of the Bible, transfusions are a form of cannibalism. Thankfully, my health insurance policy provides for blood transfusions.
Would a Jehovah Witness employer have the right to insist that I could be covered by the company group policy, provided the policy specifically excluded all transfusions? If an employer ever attempted to do this, it would be considered an outrage. Blood transfusions are simply part of an accepted standard of medical practice and as such are covered by any quality health insurance program. I doubt any state government would permit the exclusion of transfusions by Jehovah Witness employers.
A public policy that excludes family planning services from health insurance is a blatant attack on my religious beliefs.
Public policy must permit Roman Catholics to observe the teachings of their denomination on birth control. But it is not appropriate for one denomination to impose its will on the majority of citizens who are not adherents of that denomination and who believe its teachings are morally flawed.
C.D. Chamberlain, Spring Hill
Beliefs and the law
The subheadline says it all: "In keeping with his Catholic beliefs, he pushes a bill attacking coverage of contraceptives." We cannot allow our congressmen to legislate their religions' versions of morality.
In this case, it is Sen. Marco Rubio who wants women to be limited by Catholic doctrine. If a Mormon is elected, would we want to change our laws to limit women by his religion's doctrines? If a Muslim is elected, would we all want to be ruled by sharia law?
Did we not form this country so that our laws would not be affected by any one religion? Let each church tell its own parishioners how to restrict their women.
Susan Darovec, Bradenton
Contraception is side issue
Marco Rubio is dead wrong to state that contraception is a major tenet of the Catholic faith. Major tenets of our faith are to be found in the Apostles' Creed and the Bible. Most Catholics ignore the teaching that contraception is evil and feel it is a good thing.
The health care bill does not force any Catholic to practice artificial birth control. The health care bill allows anyone to follow his or her conscience.
I think the bishops are becoming too political. They never criticized the Iraq war, which many Catholics feel was an unjust war costing many lives. It is time for Catholic theologians to speak up. Helping the poor seems to be lost in the church leadership's rhetoric.
Jane Rick, St.Petersburg
House okays surplus insurers | Feb. 4
Surplus lines are regulated
First, surplus lines carriers are indeed regulated by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. They are registered with the office in much the same way as all other insurance companies and must follow a wide variety of insurance laws. They simply are not subject to government-imposed price controls and cannot benefit from the state guarantee fund.
Second, the bill the House passed will not raise rates for anybody who doesn't want to pay more: Surplus lines carriers who do not offer lower prices than Citizens will find that almost everyone they extend a policy to will opt to stay with Citizens.
Allowing surplus lines carriers to take policies out of Citizens will reduce the risk that the state's current homeowners' insurance system poses.
Christian Camara, Heartland Institute, Tallahassee
Russia, China block U.N. action on Syria Feb. 5
Hypocrisy on display
For contradictory reasoning, it's hard to beat the unrelenting opposition of Florida's Cuban population to even the slightest "warming" of relations with Cuba, while this same supposedly pro-democracy group fails to offer so much as a peep in the way of protest against our "open markets" policies and close ties to Russia and communist China.
This hypocrisy was made that much more glaring when China and Russia vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution intended to speak forcefully against the Syrian government's oppressive actions.
I wonder how many Cuban business owners have business dealings with China and/or Russia and yet, at the same time, adamantly resist virtually any attempt to open relations with Cuba.
H. David Braswell Jr., Tampa