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Letter: Freedom of religion does not apply to secular, money-making operations

In a March 29 letter to the editor, Sandra Nettina assures us that "GOP candidates object to mandates, not contraception," which is good news. Perhaps if they really object to mandates, they will do something about the mandate taxpayers face to pay real estate taxes that, in part, provide fire protection for real estate owned by organizations exempted from paying real estate tax.

She bases the GOP's objection on the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, and that is a valuable freedom indeed. When a church deals exclusively in religious matters, then I would entirely agree that it ought not be mandated to do anything contrary to its tenets.

However, when a church owns and operates a business, employing people for their secular skills and qualifications rather than for their faith, that church is and ought to be subject to such regulations as govern businesses. We see this already in tax codes that deny exemptions to church-owned properties doing non-church business; freedom of religion does not apply to secular money-making enterprises in the same way that it does to churches.

If full health-care coverage is mandated for employees of such businesses, it seems to me that churches objecting to such coverage have two choices: Bite the bullet and provide the health care or get out of that business.

Ms. Nettina goes on to say a number of things about the evils of contraception and abortion, apparently forgetting that freedom of religion applies equally well to folks who do not share her faith's views on these matters as that freedom applies to her. If she does not like abortions, then her not buying any is entirely her own choice.

Don Martin

Long Reach

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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