I want to commend President Barack Obama for his attempt to insure access to health care for all Americans.

I am disappointed, however, at the outcry that this action represents an infringement on religious freedom. My read of history is that religious freedom had two prongs: freedom to and freedom from. We have the freedom to worship without state control and freedom from persecution.

It was not right that the Church of England mandated a particular religion and religious practice. The pilgrims came to the New World in large part because the dominant faith persecuted them because they believed differently.

Nobody, in this current discussion, is telling the Catholic Church how to worship; nor are Catholics being persecuted for what they believe.

There is nothing to indicate that the founding fathers (or mothers) envisioned the time when religious faiths would run major businesses. They never imagined the time when the Catholic Church would run major hospitals or other businesses or have such an influence on public policy in such matters as health care, who has or does not have the right to marry, and keeping women in positions of subserviency.

Rather than restricting anybody’s religious freedom, isn’t this really about the government telling groups that if they expect to be leaders in businesses and peddlers of political influence, then they have to play by the same rules as everybody else?

Nothing in the president’s proposals prohibits individual Catholics from receiving certain medical benefits. Likewise, nothing compels the church to provide such health care to its ecclesiastical employees.

Our foremothers and forefathers came to this New World, in large part, to escape the religious imperialism under which they were forced to live. It is a shame that that same religious imperialism is raising its ugly head.

Dr. Mark D. Morin

Waterville


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