Thanks so much for printing Michelle Dillard’s response to my letter of April 11, 2012 regarding allowing business owners to limit their employees’ health insurance based on the owner’s religious beliefs. It is nice to know that someone reads my letters. Unfortunately, it is sad that Ms. Dillard did not comprehend my comments. She offers rebuttals to positions I never took and arguments I never made.
First, she starts with a dissertation about her son’s inability to obtain health insurance through his employer and coverage limits that some employer-based policies contain. That is undoubtedly true — at least until more provisions of the Affordable Care Act kick in — but she did not cite one example of an employer denying these coverages based on religious beliefs.
Next, she launches into a discussion of drug stores dispensing free condoms in order to cut down on STDs. I’ve searched my letter carefully and found no discussion of this matter at all. I can only assume that Ms. Dillard must have read this argument in some other letter and decided to take me to task for it so she wouldn’t have to write two letters.
Next, she argues that I want to be shielded from the religious symbols of others. I am not sure where this conclusion came from, either. It is a well established doctrine that freedom of religion mandates freedom from religion as well. That concept has nothing to do with the government shielding me from religious symbols, places of worship, etc. What freedom from religion does mean, however, is the freedom from the rules and dogmas of other people’s religious beliefs so that we can be free to follow the demands of our own conscience, whether they take a religious form or not. Thus, we have both freedom of religion and freedom from religion because they are two sides of the same coin.
Then Ms. Dillard accuses me of asking her to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Someone must have added that phrase to her copy of the newspaper, because I neither wrote that nor does it appear in the copy of the newspaper I have.
Ms. Dillard then says “...don’t ask a Catholic church to pay for, supply, or encourage the use of that which it feels goes against its very teachings.” Fair enough.
She may be surprised to learn that churches are exempt under the Affordable Care Act. She apparently failed to note that my discussion was focused on private businesses, not organized churches. Perhaps the point was too subtle for her.
Finally, she compares the Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit organized praying in public schools with convicted criminals being allowed religious material in prisons. Huh? Not only was this also not in my original letter, but I fail to see the analogy. She complains that Islamic prisoners are provided prayer rugs and Korans. Is she saying that Christian prisoners are denied chapels and Bibles? Its hard to know what point she was trying to prove with this accusation.
I have no problem when someone points out mistakes in my logic or factual errors in my judgments, but I especially have no problem when the comments are based on things I said, not on points I never made. I would respectfully suggest Ms. Dillard reread letters to make sure she comprehends their content before she lashes out against the writer.
Edward F. Murphy