I am troubled by this new age of GOP religious freedom (“Arizona governor faces pressure to veto measure,” Feb. 24). The words bring with us a sense of pride and recognition of diversity, but the proposed manner of use is anything but that.

To allow businesses to discriminate against gays because the owners’ religious beliefs do not recognize gays’ lifestyle is the same argument used in the 1960s to denigrate blacks in the South,

Religion was the justification for their hate and for the Ku Klux Klan. Arizona stands to be the first state to reimpose hatred as permissible under your own theory of God. (In Ohio, such legislation is pending.)

So what stops us from returning to the 1950s? If I protest that my religion doesn’t recognize your religion as a true faith, can I deny you service?

What if my religion forbids biracial marriages? Can I deny you service? What if my religion forbids serving people who have had an abortion? Should I be allowed to ask? Or perhaps my religion forbids me from serving Republicans.

At what point do we allow discrimination to be justified? Sadly, the GOP I once held as my beacon has drifted far from reality and has been taken over by religious zealots, harming not only the party but our nation.

The fear of losing their majority has them seeking and maneuvering behind the scenes with hate legislation, redistricting and voter suppression, all to protect their ill-conceived idea that they want to take America back. Back to what, a white-male dominated Christian country? Too late.

You are welcome to believe anything you want. Just don’t make your faith mine. It is a “private concern,” as Thomas Jefferson so ably advocated. You don’t need to wear it on your forehead.

Where did my party go?

Thomas Watkins

Stow

Editor’s note: The writer is a former state representative

No choice ?to celebrate

It is truly incredible that Akron General Health System’s president and chief executive, Dr. Thomas “Tim” Stover, invited conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham to make the keynote speech at an invitation-only celebration of Akron General’s founding.

Who is Laura Ingraham? Well, on Aug. 26, 2013, she was discussing during her radio show the 50th anniversary celebration of the civil rights march on Washington.

She played part of a speech made by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights hero who marched in Selma and was injured there. In the middle of the speech, the radio show played the sound of a gunshot. Then silence. Hilarious, right?

Or how about in her satirical book, The Obama Diaries, where she had the president saying that first lady Michelle Obama had “baby back ribs” for lunch, “more ribs” for an afternoon snack and “the last three ribs” for a bedtime snack. Isn’t that funny?

Ingraham’s typical fee for speaking engagements, according to the Beacon Journal, is $20,000 to $50,000. The fee was paid by the Akron General Foundation.

If you’ve given any money to that foundation, do you think that was a good use of it? Do you plan to give any more? If you’re a patient at Akron General Health System, how does this make you feel about your choice of hospitals?

Steve Bauman

Munroe Falls

Surprise from ?Mother Nature

Over the years, we have been watching the icebergs melting, sea levels rising and average temperatures increasing. Global warming has apparently taken hold, as our recent hot summers and warm winters have illustrated.

But Mother Nature saw the idle sleds and empty ski lifts and decided to take pity on us. She gave us the gifts of winter 2014.

Mother Nature gave us a hint as to what was coming when we had a white Christmas. She clued us in with some “thundersnow” as winter officially began. But everyone underestimated her power and the blessings she could bestow.

With grace similar to Elsa in Frozen, Mother Nature created a polar vortex that took hold of most of our country. Then, just for good measure, she whipped up a zonal flow — the icing on her cake.

The arctic blast settled in, and the gifts kept coming. Ice skates, skis and snowsuits were purchased and used in volumes not seen for decades. Seasonal workers saw their bank accounts grow at a feverish pace as salt was spread around the clock and snow was plowed, and plowed again.

Children forgot what it was like to be in school. Whether it was sub-zero temperatures, snow drifts, burst pipes or ice formations, Mother Nature found a way to keep those kids home. Her actions directly led to the gift of blizzard bags — a way to continue learning at home.

The regal queen of meteorological occurrences tantalized our senses with giving us “frostquakes,” the “popping” created by puddles quickly freezing and sounding like gunshots and the elegant snow rollers, visually stunning circles of snow, mimicking doughnuts.

The winter of 2014 will eventually come to an end, and we will be reminded of the effects of global warming. But for now, we can be thankful for Mother Nature’s unique ability to take us by surprise and prove that even after all of these years, she still has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Helen McWilliams

Cuyahoga Falls

Served up

I don’t know what offends me more, having Laura Ingraham speak or Akron General serving cake to its employees.

Shirley Keating

Akron

Liberal myths ?on job creation

I hate to burst a liberal writer’s bubble, but just because you write it, doesn’t make it so (“Job creation by demand,” Feb. 20)

“I hate to shatter another conservative myth, but the fact is that you and I — as consumers — are the real job creators,” the letter said.

The writer is trying to confuse the issue, as most liberals like to do.

The job creator is still the business owner. We as consumers are the reason he or she is in business, but even if we have the money to spend, we still need the business owner to create jobs.

Let’s not get started into the now well-known comment, “You didn’t build that” because that is what you want us all to believe.

The writer did make one point that is partially correct: Spending more will help the economy, only you must take it on faith that the government knows how to do the spending better than us.

How about, instead of the government taking our money and doing another stimulus, just letting us keep more of it by taxing us less?

See how the economy grows then. Individuals with more money will make the economy grow not the politicians in Washington.

Tarus L. Latacki

Akron

On the side ?of workers

“Capital is mobile” writes conservative curmudgeon George Will (“A capital defeat for the UAW in the South,” Feb. 20 ). “It goes where it is welcomed.”

Actually, capital goes wherever $577 million in tax breaks awaits it, which is what Chattanooga and Tennessee awarded Volkswagen for locating there.

Will gleefully gloats over the defeat of the United Auto Workers at the VW plant and the 60-year decline of union membership, and declares victory for “entrepreneurial federalism,” whatever that is.

Corporations, with limitless funds and obedient lawmakers, are free to form unions (such as the National Retail Federation and the Independent Petroleum Association) and to join chambers of commerce at local, state and national levels.

They are notorious for not paying taxes. They ignore what little environmental and financial regulation is enforced upon them, often choosing to pay fines rather than comply with the law.

They blackmail cities and states into letting them off the hook for taxes and dispose of their workforce at the first hint of red ink. That is “entrepreneurial federalism.” Workers, meanwhile, are deemed communist, socialist or just plain un-American for asserting themselves in the workplace.

Some corporations and businesses operate under two or three umbrellas, or unions, to get what they want.

The only organizations that exist in the world representing workers are labor unions. Which side are you on?

Aaron Leonino

Kent