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Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to pbacharach@okgazette.com or sent online at okgazette.com, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

Craving common sense In response to the “Slippery definitions” letter (Megan Hodge, May 8, Oklahoma Gazette):

Since the points listed seem to be from the standard G.O.D. (Gun Obsessive Disorder) dogma seen and heard from all those afflicted with this dementia-related condition, I’ll address my response to All Those Afflicted, or ATA.

ATA does have a point; it is difficult to find a well-defined standard to apply to the term “mentally unstable.” How do we limit this restriction of access to weapons from abusive/selective overuse and application? Who makes the call as to whether someone is a danger to themselves and/ or others? Psychiatrists? Psychologists? Doctors? It is a mystery.

This last point is where ATA picks itself up and — to protect itself from the tyranny of the government — starts babbling about the voices in its head and the hallucinations it sees. Visions of Hitler always seem to accompany this stage.

Hello? You’ve dropped off the edge of reason here. Are there government troops blocking churches and gun stores in your neighborhood? Are government agents disappearing your fellow survivalist club members? There is no conspiracy to take all of the guns or any of the guns you already have.

You know, people who were aware of what Hitler was doing got out of Germany while the getting was good. I invite all ATA to emigrate to South Africa. (No. That country has gun restrictions.) Or how about Australia? (Nope. That has even better gun restrictions.)

Liberty and freedom are anchored and made possible by the wise and unrestricted application of common sense. It is common sense that brings reality to dogma, restraint to extremism and reason to solutions for arguments. For our nation to evolve as a 21st-century, civilized society, good common sense must be the governing standard of our current “gun debate.”

—Howard Koerth Oklahoma City

Pondering religious freedom Concerning Hobby Lobby’s refusal to pay for emergency birth control under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Dennis Weigand (Letters to the Editor, “Questioning Hobby Lobby, May 8, Gazette) writes, “Is employment at Hobby Lobby conditional on agreement with the religious views of the owners? If it is not, then [Hobby Lobby’s] claim that their religious freedom would be violated by the ACA is nothing but a hollow pretense to religious superiority, taking the position that Hobby Lobby’s religious freedom is more important than the religious freedom of their employees.”

Perhaps Weigand could explain how Hobby Lobby’s claim to religious freedom entails that its owners’ religious freedom is more important than that of their employees. How is the religious freedom of employees an issue here? Is taking emergency birth control a religious act or obligation? If it is, how does refusing to finance an employee’s religious activities violate or disparage her religious freedom?

On the other hand, if taking emergency birth control is not a religious act or obligation, how does refusing to finance this non-religious activity violate or disparage an employee’s religious freedom?

Let us put Weigand’s question on the other foot: Is David Green’s ownership of Hobby Lobby conditional on agreement with the religious views of employees? Where is the religious freedom in being forced to run your business according to the religious views of others? When an employer is forced to do what his religion forbids because of what an employee’s religion permits — not requires, merely permits — whose religious freedom is more important according to Weigand: the employer’s or the employees’?

Is owning a business conditional on agreement with the religious views of the government? Unless you are injuring someone, why should running your business according to your religious beliefs require a by-your-leave from government? Our nation’s founding document declares that governments are instituted to secure rights endowed by our creator, so how can government rightly compel citizens to disobey the creator?

The correct application of religious freedom is simple: Employers are free not to pay for what is incompatible with their religious beliefs while employees are free to buy and use what is compatible with theirs.

— K.A. Straughn Norman

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