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Web Letter

Regarding Keith Olbermann, did you hear his June 2 broadcast regarding the murder of Dr. Tiller? It is not clear to me that you did. His comments are available on The Nation's website.

The Olbermann-Musto comments are somewhat ridiculous, but so are breast implants (usually) and Miss California, Ms. Carrie Prejean.

Susan E. Jordan

Madison, WI

Jun 18 2009 - 11:51am

Web Letter

Katha Pollitt's article misses the mark on one important issue. The HHS Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is an official government-established office respecting religion.

If the First Amendment has any meaning whatsoever, it obviously says "make no law respecting an establishment of religion." A presidential executive order is not an exception to the First Amendment: "What is directly prohibited cannot be indirectly permitted, lest the Establishment Clause become a mockery."

If The Nation really wants to get serious about the "religious right," it needs to get its own position and approach correct in respect to religion and government. Religion is not the business of government at any level. President Obama should also know better.

"Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history," James Madison, "Father of the Constitution," William and Mary Quarterly, 3:555.

I am the author of The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer.

Gene Garman, M.Div.

Pittsburg, KS

Jun 17 2009 - 6:09pm

Web Letter

Katha is wrong on this one, I'm afraid, though her heart is firmly in the right place.

As a leading progressive, she should be able to see the value of Catholics in Alliance: this group gives voice to the lion's share of her, and The Nation's, progressive values and has been key in counterbalancing the Kulturkampf theatrics of the religious right. As a feminist, she should be doubly wary of reducing Alexia Kelley, another woman, to a mere ideological instrument, as opposed to an intelligent human being who adheres (not blindly, obviously) to her faith.

Kelley has forsworn the abortion-über-alles obsessions of the Republican evangelicals for a broader view of the common ground. And, sure, she has religious beliefs. But to fear-monger that Kelley will help dismantle and demodernize the structures of American health for these reasons is to utterly divorce yourself from reality and the complexities not only of personal conscience but of the shape and processes of government and nonprofit work.

B.J. Strew

Yakima, WA

Jun 16 2009 - 4:44pm

Web Letter

As always, Katha Pollitt is right.

I think about abortion rights and birth control whenever I read in the news about a young woman who has murdered her child or who herself has been killed by a man who did not want to be the father she was about to make him.

I have no statistical evidence for this, but it seems as if women in their teens and twenties are less likely to use birth control than we Baby Boomers did at their age. "Judge Judy" often features unmarried young women with several children and their child-payment-delinquent fathers, plus lots of ex-fiancés and family discord. Nancy Grace shows alternatives to abortion in the form of murder: the frustrated young mother who'd rather be out partying murders her toddler, or the unwilling married father murders his pregnant girlfriend.

Those who claim that abortion is murder should consider that unwanted children are at risk of abuse, neglect and murder.

Still, I think the most effective tactic that feminists can take is to emphasize birth control as much as or more than abortion rights. Although birth control violates Catholic doctrine, it's the best way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, and it's not such a emotionally fraught issue as abortion. Young women between, say, 18 and 25 who are sexually active should be on the pill, so that a single, reckless encounter with Mr. Wrong doesn't force them to choose between abortion and premature motherhood.

Caroline Rainold

Berkeley, CA

Jun 16 2009 - 1:11am

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