Letters, July 22, 2015

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Good deal for Iran
Experienced in centuries of bazaar haggling, the Iranians have finally succeeded in selling to the U.S. a rug at inflated price (“Iran deal reached,” WJW, July 16).
NIMROD RAPHAELI
Falls Church
The writer is a former senior analyst at Middle East Media Research Institute.

Gay marriage ruling misinterpreted
It is so sad to see an erudite Jewish and legal scholar as Nathan Lewin abandon all sense of logic and proportion and deliver the scurrilous and specious scare-tactic screed that was his op-ed on the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision (“My rabbi needs legal aid,” Voices, WJW, July 9). Bob Jones University was denied tax exempt status in the capacity of a university because it refused to allow interracial dating and marriage, not because it refused to perform the ceremony. The Catholic Church will never lose its tax exempt status because it refuses communion to a Protestant or Jew. The Supreme Court required the state, not the church, to recognize and license same-sex marriage.
CARY SCHWARTZBACH
Annandale


Rabbi does not need legal aid
Although Nat Lewin is our greatest lawyer and legal scholar, I found his op-ed article on Obergefell v Hodges (“My Rabbi Needs Legal Aid,” Voices, WJW, July 9) to be rather alarmist. In fact, not just a few Orthodox synagogues, but probably a big majority of American clergy and congregations do not do gay marriages.  However, thanks to that great American invention, separation of church and state, the government is forbidden from dictating policy, rules or religious interpretation to any religious group or clergy, or punishing them for not providing services to anyone. When I checked the Bob Jones University case, indeed, the Supreme Court clearly distinguished between a university, which is not a religious organization or charity, and an organization, which is. The fact is that although Bob Jones University lost its tax-exempt status due to its racial policies specifically related to dating and marriage, Bob Jones’ church, which had even more extreme policies, never did, nor has any church, synagogue, mosque, etc., ever been penalized due to its marriage policies. Thus, although there could be a problem maintaining tax-exempt status if, for example, Yeshiva University or some other religiously affiliated university explicitly banned same-sex dating or forbid its students from same-sex marriages; no rabbi, priest, pastor, or imam need fear that he or she or the congregation will be penalized for maintaining marriage policies.
JAY H. GOLDBERG
Bethesda

Rabbi, synagogue refusal to allow same-sex marriages not in doubt

https://www.washingtonjewishweek.com/enewsletter/

Nathan Lewin’s argument against the Supreme Court decision in support of same-sex marriage is seriously flawed (“My Rabbi Needs Legal Aid,” Voices, WJW, July 9).  No rabbi is going to be forced to officiate at a same-sex marriage as a result of this decision. The right of a rabbi or a synagogue to refuse participation in a marriage he or they deem against their religious beliefs is not in question.  However, those rights end when they are extended to telling members or attendees who they can associate with or marry outside the synagogue.

Lewin’s suggested law allowing anyone to deny services based on religious views was rejected in the 1960s, when restaurants and other establishments refused service to blacks and Latinos on religious grounds. Courts called such denial of service bigotry, not religion.  Does Lewin want to take us back to that era?
MELVIN FARBER
Silver Spring


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