Letters to the Editor: Week of May 1, 2013

Response to ‘Liberal intolerance’ op-ed

Professor J. Martin Rochester’s defense of religious sensibilities (April 24 commentary, “Liberal Intolerance of Organized Religion”) does not call for him to set up “straw men” in the personae of “liberals.” By their own testaments, all religious orders demand of themselves and by their God that they exemplify exceptionally high standards. I can only imagine Professor Rochester whistling a different tune were the “baggage” the new pope was carrying (of course, if true) involved colluding with or turning a blind eye to Hitler’s “disappearing” our people. Be their detractors of one political stripe or another, taking aim at them misses the point entirely. Let’s admit our fallibilities and get on with the real issues that give “organized” religion a black eye.

Rabbi Scott B. Saulson, Ph.D.

Creve Coeur

Plus and minus

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Yell” (April 24), an editorial harangue against the sin of talking to the NRA, proves a point — but not the point that the editorial’s authors intended.

It is overwhelmingly self-serving and closed-minded to argue that “the only party at the negotiating table is us,” i.e those who agree with the editorial’s authors. Regardless of the faults of the NRA — and they are many — what kind of arrogance suggests that we should never even talk to those whose opinions are contrary to ours? I would guess, with a very large degree of certainty, that the author would be appalled and dismayed by those who argue that Israelis should never talk to Palestinians about peace, because they are not “true negotiators.” In his words, “Full speed ahead without them” should be the strategy employed against those who hold different and deeply held beliefs.

That issue is perfectly illustrated by Professor Marty Rochester’s commentary, “Window into liberal intolerance of organized religion” (Apr. 24). He cites chapter and verse regarding liberal bias against those whose religious beliefs make them pariahs in our politically correct America. This is true especially among some of our fellow Jews who denigrate Evangelical Christians, millions of whom apparently are not worthy of being among our strongest Israel advocates and supporters. They must not be allowed at our table, either, according to our own true believers.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Yell” was very disappointing; Marty Rochester’s “The Defamation of the Pope” was among your best recent opinion pieces. He is a breath of fresh air; hopefully, we’ll see his byline more often.

Irl Solomon

St. Louis County

JCRC urges action on legislation

Missouri Senate Bill 267 seeks to place restrictions on the imposition of “foreign” law in Missouri.  In prior years, similar bills claiming to outlaw Sharia, of Muslim, law were filed in the legislature under the same bill number. The current version mandates that any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling shall be unenforceable if based on a foreign law that is “repugnant” or inconsistent with the Missouri and United States constitutions.Under SB 267, use of religious law from Jewish, Muslim, Catholic or any other religious groups could be deemed unenforceable.

This could mean that the validity of marriage agreements, adoption agreements and wills based on religious or foreign law could be jeopardized.  SB 267 is a bill directed at a non-existent problem:  the alleged concern that foreign law, including the Islamic religious code of Sharia, will somehow make its way to the United States and Missouri. We are aware of no genuine threat of that happening.  In cases that involve foreign law, the courts of Missouri already have a system for ruling out provisions that infringe upon the rights of Missouri citizens.  

SB 267 also violates the U.S. and the Missouri constitutions. It would violate the right of individuals to make contractual agreements based on foreign or religious law for legitimate reasons.

This bill is of particular concern to the Jewish community.  If enacted it could have a negative impact on Jewish divorces governed by halacha (Jewish law) as well as a chilling effect  on Israelis and those with dual citizenship residing in the State of Missouri.

JCRC urges you to contact your state representative and senator and urge them to vote no on SB 267.    

Phyllis Markus, President

Batya Abramson-Goldstein, Executive Director

Jewish Community Relations Council