Private acts of discrimination?
The current debate about the need to protect “religious freedom” reminds me of the debate that took place in this country in 1883, the year that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional. The Civil Rights Act provided that all persons “shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement.” In explaining its decision, the majority of the court found that private acts of discrimination were simply private acts that the federal government was powerless to correct.
This decision paved the way for almost a century of racial segregation. The 1883 decision was not overturned by Congress until the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The “religious liberty” bill professes to protect acts of discrimination because they are private acts of conscience that the government is powerless to correct. How would we protect the religious freedom of those who want to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people? Because the color of the offenders’ skin will not serve as an identity badge, as it did after the 1883 ruling, will we require each to wear a pink triangle?
This is a road we do not want to travel. Call this type of legislation what it is: discrimination masking as freedom.
DAVID P. HANSEN
Pine Valley Christian Church
Not valid reason
The Eagle editorial board and several of the contributors use the political-correctness term of “discrimination” to justify their objection to the Kansas House bill confirming the rights of citizens to follow their religious beliefs. Obviously, those objecting do not understand that discrimination is part of our everyday lives and practiced by virtually everyone. In fact, all government entities have enacted laws requiring discrimination by employers toward a variety of “minority” groups including women. Our laws also discriminate based on age for voting, military service, driving, drinking and so on. So discrimination is part of what government does.
Because the government accepts discrimination as a valid tool for its use, discrimination is not a valid reason for the Kansas Senate to object to the Kansas House actions. The only remaining question is whether the bill was appropriate to protect Kansas citizens’ constitutional right under the First Amendment to freely exercise their religion.
The sinful nature of homosexuality is clearly recognized in both the Old and New testaments and is not subject to interpretation, contrary to a few creative pastors. Our attitude is, or should be, to reject the sin but love the sinner.
It is a relief to know we don’t have to worry about not having a state fossil because the Kansas House passed House Bill 2595, which would establish the avian reptile pteranodon and the aquatic reptile tylosaurus as official state fossils. I want to applaud the Legislature for its forward thinking. Now I would like to see a bill passed making limestone our state rock.
Later, if some of the electorate is still focused on silly stuff like education, jobs, the homeless, etc., maybe an inspired legislator could try passing a bill making the Environmental Protection Agency the state pest so attention can continue being diverted from issues some voters consider important.
When it counts
Shame on actor Seth Rogen for thinking his “celebrity” translated to “authority” when he addressed members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee regarding more federal funding for research on Alzheimer’s disease (March 2 WE Blog excerpts). His presentation followed expert testimony by Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and former Kansas Rep. Dennis Moore, a person with Alzheimer’s. Rogen was factual and often funny, but obviously was not there as an expert on Alzheimer’s disease and its economic impact.
Though the subcommittee chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and ranking Republican, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., were the only two to hear Rogen’s comments, several more committee members were present for the main portion of the hearing when Collins and Moore spoke.
Rogen’s Twitter comments stating that Alzheimer’s disease “seems to be a low priority” for the government ignored the recent congressional appropriation of $122 million for Alzheimer’s research and respite for caregivers.
Most members of Congress are on two to three committees each, with multiple subcommittees for each of those. They can’t be everywhere, so many sent staff to the hearing. I wish they could all make Alzheimer’s their No. 1 priority, but it is heartening to know that they are there when it’s important – they made the vote for appropriations when it counted.
4th Congressional District ambassador
I love watching our Shocker basketball team. I feel like I’m watching old-school college basketball back in the 1970s and ’80s. We don’t have a bunch of McDonald’s All-Americans, five-star recruits or one-year wonders. We win with a bunch of athletic, coachable guys with a coach who manages his resources very well. Isn’t that refreshing?