Bill imposes religion at workplace | Feb. 2, editorial
Religious freedoms are at stake
I am not often on Marco Rubio's side of an issue, but I most certainly agree that there needs to be a "refusal clause" for a broad range of religious and religious-affiliated institutions when it comes to providing coverage for medical treatments that would be contrary to their religion. The need for such an exemption is especially important with regards to contraceptive devices and medications.
A genetic human being begins when a human egg is fertilized by human sperm, so forcing a church or other faith-based institution to pay for IUDs and birth control pills (which prevent implantation and therefore development of a fertilized egg if the fertilization process itself is not prevented) means forcing them to participate in the taking of a life. So much for their freedom of choice.
Lois Ann Sorensen, Tampa
Bill imposes religion at workplace Feb. 2, editorial
Obama's values rhetoric doesn't match his actions
At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, President Barack Obama told a crowd, "We can't leave our values at the door." How ironic, since this administration is ordering the church to do exactly that. The new mandate requires Catholic associations like colleges and hospitals to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans. Catholics are quite reasonably fighting to broaden the conscience exemptions in the requirement.
Sixty evangelical leaders sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. "We believe that the federal government is obligated by the First Amendment to accommodate the religious convictions of faith-based organizations of all kinds, Catholic and non-Catholic."
This administration has cast a long shadow over religious freedom. In three years, the White House has created an environment where hostility toward orthodox Christianity is not only tolerated but encouraged.
B.A. O'Neill, Pinellas Park
Sen. Marco Rubio's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" is pure pandering to the extreme religious right-wing voting bloc. If religious groups are offended by insurance coverage of birth control, something they object to on moral grounds, tough luck. My tax money goes to pay for many things I object to: excessive buildup of the military, unnecessary wars, corporate welfare.
If Rubio and his fellow Republicans truly believe in "religious liberty rights enshrined in the Constitution," why were they dead-set against Muslims being allowed to build a mosque near ground zero? They are all for religious freedom as long as it's their own approved religion.
Scott McKown, Palm Harbor
Republican National Convention
Don't shut off visitors
I hope Tampa officials are reviewing the experiences of cities that have previously hosted the Republican or Democratic conventions. In St. Paul, Minn., four years ago, the Republican National Convention was anticipated to bring a large increase in revenue to small businesses such as local restaurants and other services. While some small businesses did see some benefit, the security perimeter around the convention area severely limited the visitors' access to businesses as little as a few blocks away. Some of the city's most spectacular neighborhoods and venues saw little or no increase in business.
Some delegates were bused from the convention site to the twin city of Minneapolis to their hotels, and visited little more than the convention site, the freeway and their hotel.
While it is understood that security measures are important, it is also important that visitors to the beautiful Tampa Bay area get to experience the full spectrum of the restaurants, neighborhoods and other small business services available, and that these businesses also reap the financial benefits of having a large influx of visitors and national exposure.
Debbie Kenney, Safety Harbor
Cellphones and driving
Simply enforce the law
Two recent letter writers opined that cellphone use while driving should be outlawed. But cellphone use while driving is already outlawed; so is driving while eating a cheeseburger, or putting on makeup, or kissing your sweetheart.
Florida statutes 316.192 (reckless driving) and 316.1925 (careless driving) state that "any person who drives any vehicle in willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless (or careless) driving." It doesn't say "cellphone use;" it doesn't need to, any more than the statutes need explicitly mention any other irresponsible practice.
Reckless is reckless and willful disregard is willful disregard. Redundant laws and legislative overreach are not the right answers; effective police training and zealous enforcement of existing laws are.
Steffan F. Cress, Tampa
House to consider insider trading ban Feb. 4
This article offers no explanation as to why a special ban on insider trading is necessary for our lawmakers, when the use of material nonpublic information by the rest of us citizens has been illegal for many decades. And how could there even be a "contentious debate" over legislation that simply treats members of Congress like ordinary citizens?
Tom McKnight, Safety Harbor
The United States currently has to hitch a ride with the Russians in order to get to the International Space Station. We have no vehicles to take us to the moon. Yet we will somehow, according to Newt Gingrich, have a base on the moon by the end of his second term, assuming he is elected. It will have 13,000 residents who can apply for statehood.
I am not sure if Gingrich has a campaign song picked out yet, but I would like to suggest one: Crazy Train by Ozzie Osbourne.
Michael Norona, Tampa
Full steam ahead for pier | Feb. 3
Putting it all in focus
My opinion of the Lens design for the new pier? No Leica.
Sherman M. Bywater, Clearwater