All must oppose Syrian slaughter

As members of the Catholic-Muslim Commission of Southern New Jersey, we categorically condemn the unfettered and barbaric human slaughter taking place in Syria. The Syrian government is systematically and indiscriminately killing men, women, and children from the Muslim community, Sunni and Shia; the Christian community, Orthodox and Catholic; and the Jewish community, Sephardic and Ashkenazi, as well as Druze and Alawis.

We support all peaceful efforts to pressure and force this despotic regime to stop targeting its civilian population with torture, bombardment, and murder. We support the U.N. resolution calling upon President Bashar al-Assad and his government to step aside. We pray that the governments of Russia and China will join in this effort to restore peace and end the bloodshed. It is time for people of faith to join together with one voice to condemn tyranny in all its forms. Our commission is sure that this is God's will for all his children.

Father Joseph Wallace, Wildwood Crest; Bilal Alkiyal, Cherry Hill

'Obamacare' is just fine by me

Charles Krauthammer's trashing of the Affordable Care Act ("Surveying Obamacare's constitutional wreckage," Monday) typifies right-wing talking points. But the facts show that the ACA has achieved some things that had been denied to Americans for decades. Thanks to the law, Americans can no longer be denied care due to preexisting conditions and insurance companies must spend 80-85 percent of premiums on actual health care. These changes are already saving thousands of lives. The law even has provisions covering objections by religious institutions and accommodates personal choice.

The ACA takes a major step toward "Medicare for all." This isn't socialism; it's good economic sense. Insurance companies will still prosper, and it will save billions of dollars and streamline health care, allowing hospitals and doctors to focus more on their practice and not on insurance. It will also free employers from having to spend time and resources on health care for employees, freeing up capital so more workers can be hired.

President Obama has repeatedly shown that he is working to benefit the majority of our citizens. If people want to call the ACA Obamacare, it's fine with me.

Karl Kofoed, Drexel Hill

Scripture doesn't forbid it

This public discussion about freedom of religion and birth control is puzzling. I see no relation. Most Catholics practice artificial birth control, or did, or will. Only the Catholic hierarchy finds something wrong with that, and its opposition to birth control is based not on Scripture, but on its own quaint reading of natural law, whereby every conjugal act has to be open to the procreation of children. To deny artifical birth control to societies that cannot even feed the people already here is morally irresponsible. For a government to insist that all have access to birth control is socially responsible and morally defensible.

The U.S. government imposed its will on slaveholders in spite of slaveholders' recourse to Scripture to defend slavery. It likewise imposed its will on those who based their defense of polygamy on religious concepts. And just as the government intervened to stop evil, it has the right to intervene to promote good. The government has the right to legislate for the health and welfare of women, any religion notwithstanding.

Paul Stubenbort, Bensalem, paulpatusa@hotmail.com

How much is Lynn case costing?

Re: "Pennsylvania State University's tab for the Sandusky case: $3.2 million," Tuesday:

It should be reassuring to the residents of the commonwealth that Pennsylvania State University appears to be working toward accountability and transparency regarding its costs for the Jerry Sandusky child-rape case. PSU has taken the added step of breaking down some, but not all, of the financial information related to the Sandusky case and posting it and related material on its website, www.openness.psu.edu.

Can the members of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia expect a similar accounting in regard to the child sexual-abuse case involving Msgr. William J. Lynn? After all, the bishops of the United States mandated accountability and transparency way back in 2002. To my knowledge, there has been no detailed public accounting by the archdiocese similiar to that of PSU. There is no website where church members can find information on the costs of legal, consultant, and public-relations fees, or where the money to pay for these services is coming from. Shouldn't a religious institution be at least as accountable and transparent as a public institution like Penn State?

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, New Castle, maturlishmdsnd@yahoo.com

Unemployment affects birthrate

I have been reading Robert Patterson's highly emotional and imaginative opinion pieces that have appeared since he was apparently forced to resign as a special assistant in the Public Welfare Department of the Corbett administration. They have been so far removed from reality that I've actually found them to be humorous, particularly his attempt to link President Obama to Richard Nixon as a "promoter" of birth control ("Religion, politics, and birth control," Sunday). He specifically notes the falling birth rate since 2008 as being caused by "government-mandated contraception," ignoring the fact that the economy has been in deep recession since that time and that just possibly the unemployed and underemployed realized they were in no financial position to increase family size.

Patterson is concerned about a lack of growth in the labor force when we already have record numbers of unemployed. China's one-child policy, while it was a terrible intrusion on human rights, didn't keep that nation from being the fastest-growing economy in the world. And please, don't take that comment as my approval of the Chinese government's dictatorial actions. For the record, I have three children.

Marlene Lieber, Medford

Not a First Amendment issue

Your article Saturday, "PMN workers: Guard integrity of reporting," which involves charges that Inquirer owner Philadelphia Media Network's management had compromised or "censored" reporting on a possible sale of The Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com, leaves your readers with the mistaken impression that the matter involves First Amendment constitutional issues.

It does not. The First Amendment provides that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." While censorship by government is clearly prohibited by the First Amendment, there is nothing preventing PMN ownership or its editors from editing or refusing to run stories that involve a possible sale of The Inquirer or that might otherwise reflect badly on PMN ownership. While such interference may call into question the integrity of PMN's journalism, it in no way raises any constitutional issues.

J. Robert McMahon, Chester Springs

Progressives too often ignored

I applaud Karen Heller's call for unbiased news reporting ("To report, without restraint," Sunday). I would caution, however, that unbiased coverage is also needed.

When a coalition of progressive groups held a Progressive Summit in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, involving hundreds of people, setting out sober, thoughtful, progressive analysis of the problems our country faces, one might have thought that the local paper of record would have sent a reporter and produced at least one article. Unfortunately, the tea party gets coverage for its events, but the public learns little of progressive activities unless people get arrested.

Ben Burrows, Elkins Park