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Letter: Religious objection to vaccines should be respected

Signs about measles and the measles vaccine are

Signs about measles and the measles vaccine are displayed at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y., on March 27. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

The vaccine problem is not with the religious exemption [“Vaccine reform needs gov’s push,” Editorial, May 6]. The problem is that the religious exemption is too broad. Public health law section 2165 states, “A religious exemption is a written and signed statement from the student (parent or guardian of students less than 18 years of age) that he/she objects to immunization due to his/her religious beliefs.”

If people refuse a certain vaccine because they believe it could harm their bodies, they are making a scientific judgment, not a religious claim.

If a parent trusts that God will protect a child and refuses all vaccines, then he or she is making a true religious objection. That belief must be honored. Few people truly hold religious objections, so the danger to society of some people not being vaccinated is minimal. We should always keep in mind the founders’ desire to allow freedom of religion.

As principal of the private Smithtown Christian School from 1998 to 2008, I met a few parents who initially refused the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, but acquiesced because they wanted their children to attend. Only once did I have a parent with a true religious objection.

David Pedersen,



Where’s the justice in these cases?

Page A14 of Saturday’s Newsday reported on a driver who traveled the Pennsylvania Turnpike for five years without paying tolls [“Man who evaded $128K in tolls pleads guilty,” News]. He racked up $128,000 in unpaid tolls — and settled a judgment against him for $11,500 (nine cents on the dollar).

On Page A2, we saw that a former mayor of Muttontown and her husband never bothered filing New York State income tax returns for five years and owed $243,865. But they had felony charges against them dismissed because prosecutors did not file the case against them on time [“Indictment dismissed,” News].

Makes me wonder if sometimes crime does pay.

Philip Morvillo,

  Huntington Station


Toxic chemicals bad for farms and lawns

As an organic farmer in Suffolk County, I grow hundreds of types of vegetables without the use of toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos [“Pesticide ban awaits Cuomo’s signature,” News, May 2]. These include cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and onions.

Before transitioning to organic agriculture, I was a conventional farmer for decades. As a result, I understand what some farmers face with regards to their survival and why they think chlorpyrifos is necessary to grow a crop successfully. It was not easy for me to make the switch, but doing so has been worthwhile, although not without its challenges.

I also appreciate that some of my neighbors, whether farmers or not, use weed and grub killer on their lawns. The problem of toxic chemicals on our food and in our environment is much bigger than chlorpyrifos — and much bigger than agriculture. Still, by not using chlorpyrifos or other toxic compounds on my farm, I can do my part to grow food in a healthful and sustainable manner. I am glad to do so.

Fred Lee,


Editor’s note: The writer owns Sang Lee Farms.


When do candidates do their day jobs?

How are all these presidential candidates campaigning and still getting paid for their jobs [“Colo. Sen. Bennet joins crowded Dem primary field,” News, May 3]?

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly wants to run. Members of Congress and governors are out campaigning. How can they do that and still get paid, or how can they conduct any business? Somebody please tell me. It is getting out of hand.

Mark Cassuto,


Skeptical of some tax breaks for businesses

The tax breaks awarded to a developer who will turn a closed hotel in Plainview into senior housing sounds like another bad deal by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency [“Tax breaks for senior housing,” News, April 24].

Entrepreneurs promote themselves as market-smart and skilled in risking capital for future profit. But the Capitol Seniors Housing deal seems to place all of the risk on to Nassau taxpayers.

Nassau fronts a sales tax exemption of up to $564,723, a three-year freeze on property taxes and then increases of only 2 percent a year for 17 years. Nassau bets that 38 jobs at $38,500 each will materialize, and Capitol Seniors will succeed.

Capitol Seniors expects income of $50,000 to $60,000 a year from each of 111 units. Is this reasonable? Capitol Seniors can’t lose. Nassau can.

The vision of Nassau Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) to support mixed-use housing for young and old people should be developed instead.

Brian P. Kelly,

  Rockville Centre


Another 10 years of tax breaks for Nestle Waters North America Inc., a company that sells bottled water [“Aid extension sought,” News, April 30]? What’s next, a tax break for the corner deli, or maybe for the neighborhood hair salon? Why not have middle-class homeowners pay for it all ?

Thomas Smith,