Archive for Friday, August 31, 2007

What is the biggest breach of separation of church and state?

August 31, 2007

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Routine violations exclude millions

Bruce Springsteen, secular humanist and member of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

The biggest? That's like asking a man whose house is termite-infested, "Which one's eating the most?"

Attacks on church/state separation abound today, usually spawned in well-funded, aggressive campaigns of the religious right, intent on denying this vital American ideal.

Still, for all that mischief, the biggest violation is the routine, thoughtless, allegedly harmless mixing of religion with politics that even moderates and liberals condone. We see it brewing in the rhetoric of our next election, as candidates compete to display their "spiritual" fitness to lead secular government.

When politicians invoke God's blessings on the nation, extol the centrality of "faith" to Americanism or advertise their personal religion to attract certain voters, they implicitly exclude millions of differently believing Americans from "We, the People."

When presidents boast of consulting heaven for professional advice, above the good counsel of their fellow citizens, when our representatives automatically endorse cliches that Americans, by definition, should "trust in God," are "one nation under God" and represent "God's city on a hill," they're singing the anthem of theocracy and division, not democracy and equality. You can sing one or the other, but not both.

We've always counted people out of America - refusing to see our prejudices and honor our true national creed. Women, African-Americans, gays, political and ethnic minorities have been dismissed from the majority's idea of who "we" are. When unquestioned monotheism becomes the litmus test of civic virtue and patriotism, we slander good friends, neighbors and many of our best citizens.

Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. Frederick Douglass and Langston Hughes. Katharine Hepburn and Christopher Reeve. Pat Tillman and Lance Armstrong. All somehow not as American as "believers" are? That's not the America I believe in.

- Send e-mail to Bruce Springsteen at bsspringsteen@yahoo.com.

Tax dollars being used to ignore Constitution

Jon Voisey, Kansas University senior and member of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics:

Love it or hate it, the "separation of church and state" is the current interpretation of the First Amendment, designed to keep the government out of church just as much as the church out of government.

Today, that wall is under siege; from the "intelligent design" movement (which our courts have recognized for the religious rhetoric it is), to "under God" and "In God we trust" in our pledge and currency (which are more harmful than most people realize).

But perhaps the most disturbing breach is that of faith-based initiatives. While I certainly have no problem with giving assistance to those who need it in whatever ways work, our government has taken almost no steps to maintain any oversight of this program.

None of these organizations are required to keep their federal money separated from their funds for religious activities. Instead, organizations like Pat Robertson's (who called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez) receive taxpayers' dollars. Others receiving funding have been investigated for fraud and withholding aid from non-Christians. There were even prison rehab programs investigated for telling their captive audiences to "give their life to Jesus."

In 2004, former faith-based program director Jim Towney admitted that no non-Christian group had received funds. In 2005, an exemption was given to these organizations, allowing them to enact discriminatory hiring practices. Additionally, there is no evidence demonstrating that these programs fare any better than secular ones.

I find a program that hands out $2 billion annually without separating church and state a threat to the founding document upon which our nation was built. Just remember: These are your tax dollars, too, being used to ignore our Constitution.

- Send e-mail to Jon Voisey at voijarisa@gmail.com.

Comments

drederick_tatum 9 years, 11 months ago

George Bush and Dick Cheney are liars and deceivers! They are Freemasons, which they tell you is a "secret society" but it actually means they worship the gods of the pharoahs. Their whole neo-con "I believe every single word of the Bible and take it literally" thing is a facade! The Ahiman Rezin acknowledges that everyone knows the world wasn't created in 7 days, the "holy spirit" thing is too complex for them to explain, they know faith is much more than just "Jesus died for my sins" and all that. They also couldn't figure out how God talks to prophets without the use of Gabriel, and so their best guess at an answer was Osiris, Anubis, and Horus!! They spread equal deception about how complex their organization is, when it is in fact very simple. There are no "1st degree Masons" who realize that they're Masons. They are the true and faithful brothers, the 2nd degree or one EVERY mason is (or are they?) is the prepared brother or Ahiman Illuminati. They are planning to use the Final Hour of the Muslims for the Daybreak of the sun god.

Problem is: Muslims worship Allah who is a black stone, and his real name is Ar-Rahman. Ahriman is the original name of Satan in Zorostrianism, a Persian religion and the first monotheism. Persia also happens to be where a jungle of Eden once existed. The Freemasons manual is the Ahiman Rezin (Ar-Rahman's Reason) or AR, they wish to rebuild the Lord's Temple only to fill it with idols of talking animals and their sun god RAH, and they are going to bring Islam's final hour by trying to assume control of the spectral hand in Daniel 5. Which would explain MAN

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 11 months ago

Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This is all the Constitution has to say about it. As a strict constructionist, I must take these words at their face value.

The writers did not say "make no law establishing religion". Rather, they went one step further and said "make no law respecting an establishment of religion". There need not be an establsihment of a religion to be unconstitutional. Any step in a direction that favors, utilizes, or sanctions as a government entity any religion is unconstitutional.

Therefore, all of Bush's faith-based programs violate the Constitution.

Any law that officially recognizes any religion or religious organization as an arm of the federal government is unconstitutional. The religion need not be established; mere recognition of a religion as an agent of the federal government is enough.

That is the only way this amendment can be read by a strict constructionist.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 11 months ago

drederick, what's your stance on reptoids?

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 11 months ago

Right, Pywacket. "Under God" was a later addition to the Pledge, as was "In God We Trust" on money.

The traditional American culture was that these phrases were not in our Pledge or on our money.

Scott Drummond 9 years, 11 months ago

Marion wrote: "The Ten Commandments are not bad ideas to live by and I'm certain that it was not the intent of the Founding Fathers to prohibit the posting of good ideas."

Wonderful, Marion, please feel free to do so yourself (although, if I am not mistaken, the Christian's God considers them something a bit stronger than "good ideas.")

Can you explain what legitimate purpose our government would have in posting these particular "good ideas?" I think you missed the point of the Springsteen piece. We are, like it or not, a nation of individuals of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, etc faiths. Does the posting of those particular "good ideas" not offend the religious beliefs of all non-Christians? What business does OUR government have doing that? You say that you are certain you know the intent of the founding fathers. So much of what they did and the government they established involved getting the government out of the lives of its citizens. Please explain how you arrived at your certainty and then please also explain why it would not be offensive to our form of government to have one religious cult use the powers of the government to impose their religious views on other citizens who do not share the beliefs.

Danielle Brunin 9 years, 11 months ago

I wish I could have some of what ole Drederick_Tatum is smokin' this morning!

mick 9 years, 11 months ago

How do you reconcile a person's freedom of expression with a prohibition against their speaking about that which they hold most dear?

Scott Drummond 9 years, 11 months ago

"What I AM saying is that it is pretty silly to make a federal case out of some judge wanting to hang a copy of The Ten Commandments on his private office wall.. Sheesh!"

Let him hang them on his own, private, property, rather than government property!

Terry Jacobsen 9 years, 11 months ago

I suppose since you think that Presiden't Bush's "faith based" programs are all bad, that you are prepared to donate in some way to help the millions of people who have been helped by them.

60 Minutes did a report the other night. Guess who are the most generous people in the United States when it comes to giving of their own money (not the government's)? Conservative, right- wing, Christians. So I guess they aren't completely bad for our country.

situveux1 9 years, 11 months ago

Thanks Marion, looks as though americorps has tucked his tail and ran from your logic. You can tell someone to 'catch up' as much as you like but when they smoked you with clear reason and logic, no smart remark is going to correct that.

storm 9 years, 11 months ago

God lost her special status when school children started saying the Pledge with God in it. Then the specialness became more diluted when they put the name on the money. That's the god-awful truth.

Godot 9 years, 11 months ago

" americorps (Anonymous) says:

Marion, you confuse the issues, of course. She is free to speak publicly about whatever she wants, that freedom is not gone, she just can not use a government forum to do so because then the government will be violating the Constitution whether you agree with the interpretation of intent or not."

That is the best argument against allowing government controlled "education" I have seen on this board.

chet_larock 9 years, 11 months ago

"60 Minutes did a report the other night. Guess who are the most generous people in the United States when it comes to giving of their own money (not the government's)? Conservative, right- wing, Christians. So I guess they aren't completely bad for our country."


Sure they give more, and of course some of that goes to charity, but alot goes to the maintenance and upkeep of their own churches - some of which are like First Family in Overland Park. Jerry Johnston asks church members to donate money for Ipods and flat screen tvs for their youth center. So a nice fact to throw out, but a bit deceiving when taken at face value.

chet_larock 9 years, 11 months ago

"Sure they give more", and I should add to that "directly to their own churches who of course, do charitable work". But it doesn't necessarily mean they are the most generous/charitable.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 11 months ago

As a person who does not believe in any deity or religious practice, I find it quite tedious and almost insulting to hear my elected leaders profess a trust in "God" or profess some other religious talk as if everyone hearing it feels the same. The fact is that we are probably the most diverse country on the planet and to act as if one religion is the understood religion of the land is just absurd. I have no problem with elected leaders being religious, but I do have a problem when they talk about it within their elected roles. As an anthropologist, I see this as borderline ethnocentrism, which is not productive for the country as a whole. Worship and profess on your own time; don't talk about it as if I agree.

gogoplata 9 years, 11 months ago

Since we are all talking about the importance of sticking to the constitution. How much of the legislation each year do you think is not in line with the constitution? I think that if we stayed true to the constitution there would be a lot less government involvement in the everyday lives of US citizens. This whole issue would probably be much less offensive to both sides.

gogoplata 9 years, 11 months ago

The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders' political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government's hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life.

packrat 9 years, 11 months ago

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Notice the References to God in the first and the "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" in the second.

gogoplata 9 years, 11 months ago

In 1777, with the Revolutionary War threatening the flow of Bibles from England, Congress approved the purchase of 20,000 Bibles from Holland to give to the states.

No fewer than six of the 13 original states had official, state-supported churches "establishments of religion"! I'll bet you didn't know that. In fact, these states Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and South Carolina refused to ratify the new national Constitution unless it included a prohibition of federal meddling with their existing state "establishments of religion."

Still other states required those seeking elected office to be Christians.

The Continental Congress routinely designated days of "fasting and prayer" and other religious observances, appointed government-funded chaplains, and appropriated money to pay for Christian missionaries to convert the Indians.

gogoplata 9 years, 11 months ago

Emblazoned over the Speaker of the House in the US Capitol are the words "In God We Trust." The Supreme Court building built in the 1930's has carvings of Moses and the Ten Commandments. God is mentioned in stone all over Washington D.C., on its monuments and buildings. As a nation, we have celebrated Christmas to commemorate the Savior's birth for centuries. Oaths in courtrooms have invoked God from the beginning. The founding fathers often quoted the Bible in their writings. Every president that has given an inaugural address has mentioned God in that speech. Prayers have been said at the swearing in of each president. Each president was sworn in on the Bible, saying the words, "So help me God." Our national anthem mentions God. The liberty bell has a Bible verse engraved on it. The original constitution of all 50 states mentions God. Chaplains have been in the public payroll from the very beginning. Our nations birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence, mentions God four times. The Bible was used as a textbook in the schools.

salad 9 years, 11 months ago

"The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders' political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government's hostility to religion." -thus spake gogoplata

But dude, you're just wrong. It's pretty clear what the constitution says, and your effort to convert the founding fathers into christian neo-cons is just not based in historical fact and is pretty twisted. They were over welmingly Episcopalian and deists. We Episcopalians are pretty easy to get along with and don't want to force religion down anyones throat (unlike the gogoplata). We certainly don't want religion in our government. I pass 27 different kinds of churches on my 5 mile drive to work, not one of them says, "Members Only" on the door. How is that not enough religious freedom for ya. Stop trying to force religion into my government. It's un-american.

packrat 9 years, 11 months ago

Each of those is very easy to verify with a quick search.

gogoplata 9 years, 11 months ago

My effort is to simply look at the fact that this nation was founded by mostly by Christians. God was a part of their lives. There are references to God in our founding documents.

Christian does not equal neo conservative.

The problem is that the Federal government is to large and has too much power.

gogoplata 9 years, 11 months ago

1) Pledge of Allegiance-As originally written by Francis Bellamy, it did NOT contain the words "under God." We went through two world wars just fine without it-and then, in 1954, the Knights of Columbus heavily petitioned Congress to add the words, as some back-handed NeoMcCarthyist response to the "Godless Commies."

2) National Motto, "In God We Trust"-Adopted by Congress as the "national motto" in 1956. Again, the NeoMcCarthyism.

I have no problem with getting rid of these. The way I see it, I am one person under God and in God I trust. If we didn't need these things in 1789 I don't see why we need them now.

Tychoman 9 years, 11 months ago

The biggest breach of separation of church and state: The occupants of the White House.

Bill Chapman 9 years, 11 months ago

I remember an article I read at least 1 year ago(probably more), where someone was judged in contempt of court because they refused to swear on the bible. I do not know if it was because they were atheist or because they were not Christian in belief. Maybe someone with a better connection(I'm stuck with dial-up and 12 yr. old computer) can find it.

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