Readers Write: Church and State, Anti-BDS Laws, Domestic Violence, Women’s Health Care, Midterm Elections
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This Independence Day marks a step backwards for our secular nation. A recent series of decisions by our conservative-leaning Supreme Court has eroded the wall of separation between church and state that our founders built nearly 250 years ago.
Over the past month, the High Court has ruled in favor of taxpayers’ money for religious schools, prayers during football matches and against a woman’s right to choose whether or not to continue with her pregnancy.
This religiously-leaned tribunal and its decisions do not reflect the direction of our nation where nearly one in three Americans now identify as having “no religion,” according to Pew Research. In Hennepin County, 30% of the population identifies as religiously unaffiliated, according to the Public Religion Research Institute.
I am proud to count myself among the more than 75 million secular Americans who are not religious. Due to the growth of non-religious views among Millennials, and among others more openly identifying, we have become the largest “religious denomination” in America. I am also proud of my more than 30 years of membership in the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which fights to protect the “wall” of separation between church and state envisioned by Thomas Jefferson.
This Independence Day weekend, let us reaffirm our commitment to keeping religion out of government. Because there is no freedom of religion without a government free of religion.
Steve Petersen, Shoreview
BOYCOTT, ASSIGNMENT AND SANCTION
On June 24, the Supreme Court released its verdict on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Clinic, thereby overturning Roe v. Wade who set a precedent granting abortion procedures and constitutional protection of bodily autonomy for more than 50 years.
This decision is rightfully condemned locally, nationally and even internationally, with many calling it a wrongful and abhorrent step backwards in the protection of human rights. That’s a fact; however, this is not the only odious setback to legal rights already decided or awaiting verdict by this court.
The court issued a decision in Vega v. Tekoh that the police cannot be sued for violating Miranda’s rights.
And as Judge Clarence Thomas alluded to in his endorsement in Dobbs, more rights are on the chopping block.
The court could hear an appeal by the ACLU to the US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld an Arkansas law barring contractors in the state from participating in the BDS movement – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – which criticizes Israel’s continued violations of Palestinian human rights. .
More than 30 US states (including Minnesota) have laws in place that stifle free speech and criticism against Israel, designed to chill speech that supports Palestine.
The Supreme Court, however, ruled in 2010 in its decision on Citizens United v. FEC that money is talking. Logic would dictate that a boycott withholding money would also be considered protected speech.
These laws and their observance ignore history and precedent and are part of a concerted effort to shield Israel from accountability.
Whichever way you slice them, anti-BDS laws are state-imposed discourse and will have a disastrous effect in silencing Palestinian voices and those who stand in solidarity with them, posing a clear threat to Palestinians. free speech rights for all.
Jason D. Lee, Richfield
Law and order is on the political agenda for 2022. Many politicians and media companies are only pointing to the increase in violent crimes such as homicides and carjackings.
Missing from this rhetoric, however, is domestic violence, the most common violent crime committed in Hennepin County. In 2022, six times as many domestic violence cases were received by the county attorney as for homicides and carjackings combined. Approximately 1,700 domestic violence cases are received by the county attorney’s office each year, making it the second most common crime in Hennepin County. The news media is doing a huge disservice to the public by not reporting on this violent crime and not providing it with the same headlines as other violent crimes.
The United States only took violence against women seriously in 1994 with the bipartisan passage of the Violence Against Women Act. Unfortunately, bipartisan support for the renewal of this bill has eroded significantly over the past decade. This is despite the fact that VAWA has been effective in providing funds to state and local governments to combat this violent crime which victimizes 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men in all communities regardless of income level. ethnic origin, race, religion and political belief.
If reducing violent crime is at the top of your agenda in 2022, I urge you to ask candidates to explain what they will do to reduce domestic violence and vote for those who will.
Judy Zaunbrecher, Minneapolis
Thank you, U.S. Senator Tina Smith, for guiding us (“Post-Roe, Smith Helps Push Back,” June 30). Planned Parenthood and so many other Minnesota clinics and systems provide essential services that improve the lives of people of all ages and genders. At some point during many client visits to my practice, I have heard clients express surprise and gratitude at their unlimited access to information about their reproductive health and the range of options that support it. Please, concerned-for-life citizens of Minnesota and fellow neighbors, know that “Traditional Minnesota” is concerned about life for all. Do not restrict access to health care services.
Kathleen McDonough, Richfield
The author is a women’s health nurse practitioner.
In their fight to retain control of Congress, Democrats are seizing the Supreme Court’s Roe decision as a campaign issue. Democrats face a daunting challenge in the upcoming midterm elections. The Senate is split 50-50. Democrats only hold a 10-seat majority in the House. Midterm since World War II, the party in the White House has suffered an average loss of four Senate seats and 26 House seats.
Suburban mobile districts will again determine the outcome of the election, making suburban women a powerful electoral bloc. Undoubtedly, reproductive rights and access to reproductive health services are critical issues for suburban women. But to defy the electoral odds, Democrats must also address key economic concerns that matter to moderate suburban voters as well.
Paradoxically, the collapse of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda could give Democrats an opportunity to bolster the party’s appeal in swing neighborhoods in moderate suburbs. The child tax credit in the US bailout provided temporary monthly payments of $250 or $300 per child to most working families. Over the six months the policy was in effect, monthly Child Tax Credit payments reduced child poverty in the United States by approximately 30%. Making the Child Tax Credit permanent was a key policy lost in the fight over the overall size and scope of Building Back Better. Today, child poverty is on the rise.
Democrats should remove the BBB tax credit provision and introduce it as a standalone bill. Force the GOP to vote against economic assistance to families. Universal preschool for 3 and 4 year olds was another part of the BBB. Introduce universal preschool in another separate, stand-alone bill. Force the GOP to vote against that too.
Show voters which party is truly pro-women and pro-families, and the Democrats might have a shot at keeping their House and Senate majorities — and maybe even increasing them.
David Aquilina, Richfield