Talk about tax havens, in the United States today there are over three hundred religious organizations that pay no taxes, many of which, have a heavy influence in the political system, like the Catholic Church. Today, tax payers are subsidizing religious schools and other institutions, like hospitals, while these groups pay no property or corporate …
Tag: Separation of Church and State
May 16 2010
We had a interesting debate Friday night over Arizona’s right to enact laws as a matter of a State’s Right to autonomy on WWL Radio. My esteemed partner and I saw it very differently.
First of definition of terms, as I plan to employ them:
As a matter of distrusting my own choice of words, when the semantic point came up that the idea of “Federalism” meaning FOR State’s rights, I chose to wander over and pick up my copy of “The Federalist Papers” off our library shelf. I also googled and skimmed “The Anti-Federalist Papers” which were published at the time to make the case against a strong centralized government and arguing against ratifying the Constitution. It was the Anti-Federalists who made the Bill of Rights being the first act of Congress an absolute guarantee. Jefferson was a strong Federalist in believing that the Separation of Powers would ensure a Central Government that would create safeguards against the Federal Government becoming an entity with enough power to become abusive to individual State’s or Citizen’s welfare.
The Federalist Party; thereafter was a product of pro-banking, pro-business who wanted a fiscally stable strong central government. Hamilton’s centralized banking economic policies were opposed by Jefferson – the arguments were essentially elitism versus populism; but culminated moreso in the only Federalist President, John Adam’s creation of a tax subsidized standing military (Navy) and the creation of the “Alien and Sedition Act” …the very first shot in the effort to create a Unitary Executive. However Jefferson also penned the Ky & VA resolution, which supported State’s Rights should the Federal Government overstep its bounds. A sticky wicket this term.
So, consider my usage of the term “Federalist” in description of my views for this debate only, as the Jeffersonian argument for a Central Government, and as the opposing view of the “Anti-Federalist” State’s Autonomy arguers of that era. I am comfortable in my use of this term under this intended usage. I am not employing all of the nuances of Federalist’s platforms or views in this debate, rather using the most simplistic of usages.
Ok, that said, let us move on to the legalities and ethical questions surrounding these points of views in this present era.
May 06 2010
I know I’ve never prayed to you before. Truth to tell I don’t believe in you. No disrespect intended to either you or your followers, but I think you don’t exist.
Before you get too angry with me saying you don’t exist, understand, I’m merely a lowly human who, if you did exist, you supposedly gifted with rationality and who can only go by the evidence of his senses and things that science and rationality (your gift, if you’re there) have given us, such as “objective evidence”.
But, Barack Obama and Congress wants me to pray to you. So much so that, instead of prosecuting thieves and criminals who wreck lives so badly that they are despoiling your supposed creation and putting little old ladies out on the street, his Justice Department is instead working to ensure that gay people can’t get married or serve in the military, and that his government’s call to demand people to pray to you is enforced and upheld by our country’s laws, despite the First Amendment.
And, Dear God, whom I sincerely hold and believe you don’t exist, it’s not as if I bear any malice toward those who feel otherwise, that you do exist. But, understand, God, that I all too often think that Belief In You is used for nefarious things, things that if your Books were to believed, even unholy things, done in Your Name, while at the same time no objective evidence exists that we are talking about anything at all.
Dear God, we know that it is held that you love all your Children, even those such as don’t believe in you, or otherwise believe that the running of a just society is possible without a belief in your existence, but who otherwise hold in a belief in Human Morality, which, if you did exist, would be Your Gift, also.
It is in this spirit, I would like to Ask You, to please Inform the Hearts of your Followers, such that they stop doing things like this, yes, even to those who believe in Human Morality as opposed to God-based Morality:
In the late 1980s, protesters burned Crabb’s likeness in effigy after she allowed Indian tribes to spearfish off their reservations – a practice some white fishermen believed ruined their sport. Demonstrators threw rocks, uttered racial slurs and accused Crabb of giving Indians special treatment.
It is Often Asked, by those who profess a Belief in You, What would Jesus do? I know, Dear God, that if you Do Exist, you would not want to have your Followers Burning People in Effigy, even such as those who don’t Believe that a Belief in You, Personally, is Necessary or Consonant with the running of a Just Government.
In this spirit, so ordered and requested by Barack Obama, among others, that I would like to Abjure, Request and Plead with you for the following.
Oct 03 2008
Crossposted at The Crusty Polemicist
Prince of War: Billy Graham’s Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire, by Cecil Bothwell, Asheville: Brave Ulysses Books, 2007, 213 pp. softcover
“Billy Graham represents a basic kind of patriotism in this country – an unquestioning, obeying patriotism, a loyalty to the authority of the President. Billy was always uncritical, unchallenging, unquestioning.” — Bill Moyers
“I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B and C. Just who do they think they are? — Barry Goldwater
A power-hungry moral coward. A vicious racist and Jew-baiter. A man with an almost uncanny ability to always be on the wrong side of history. A craven climber and groveller at the feet of power. An “unabashed nationalist and advocate for American empire.” If Cecil Bothwell is right – and he marshals a lot of evidence in support of his thesis – then “America’s most beloved pastor” is all these things, and more. Bothwell gives us the opportunity to see the other side of Billy Graham, the man who was seventh on a recent Gallup poll’s list of the most admired people of the 20th century. Graham is a man with a history, a man who must be called to account. Bothwell lays out his bill of particulars with subtlety and skill.
The first leitmotif in Graham’s life story is his obsessive scrounging after power. From the very beginning, he has sought access to the corridors of power with an almost touching desperation. Graham was the first evangelist to conduct a religious service on the steps of the Capitol building, and the first to conduct a full-blown crusade inside the walls of the Pentagon. But Graham has always known that the real center of power in America was the White House, and has proven to be a “constant suppliant seeking presidential attention.” The more intelligent and responsible presidents (Truman, Kennedy, Carter) kept Graham at arm’s length, while other, lesser men utilized Graham for whatever they could gain from the association.
Truman apparently despised Graham from the get-go, describing him to a close friend as “one of those counterfeits I was telling you about,” the sort of man who is only interested in “getting his name in the paper.” But in a bit of pure luck, Graham suddenly found himself being groomed as the darling of the Hearst media empire, which built up the persona of the “simple preacher” and turned him loose to rage against godless Communism to crowds of up to 350,000 rapt believers. Graham was becoming an influential player in the toxic politics of 1950s America – and he was learning to love it.
Graham’s increasingly high profile brought him to the attention of Senator Joseph McCarthy, eventually “becoming one of his most loyal and enduring allies.” Documents reveal that Graham was eager to out-do McCarthy in his rabid commitment to exposing “the pinks, the lavenders, and the reds who have sought refuge between the wings of the American eagle.” As McCarthy ratcheted up the rhetoric with his demand that suspected Communists be stripped of their Fifth Amendment protections, Graham was right there with him, proclaiming, “Let’s do it!” Never one to hitch his wagon to a single star, Graham was simultaneously voicing his strident support for “the red-scare tactics of Senator Lyndon Johnson and a young congressman named Richard Milhouse Nixon.” Give the man credit: he had a knack for spotting talent early on and currying favor with the people who would run the country for the rest of the century, and beyond.
While Graham’s most infamous association was of course with Nixon, he nevertheless racked up a pretty good track record with subsequent tenants at the White House. It is a tribute to Jimmy Carter’s canny instincts that he wanted nothing to do with the man and kept him out of the White House during his term, but most of Carter’s successors warmly embraced Graham and his values. He wooed Reagan and George H.W. Bush with great success. He had somewhat less success with Bill Clinton, but he was there to give solace to Hillary Clinton (whose religious associations in Washington were uniformly “conservative and fundamentalist”) during the Lewinsky scandal.
I was continually amazed at Graham’s ability to insinuate himself into the centers of power, given some of his more unsavory views. For if Bothwell is to be believed, Graham is a life-long racist and the worst sort of bigot. It is tempting to fall back on the old, old alibi and say that Graham was a “product of his environment.” As a very young many, Graham fell under the influence of “holy roller Mordecai Ham,” a man notorious as “one of his era’s most gaudy and livid anti-Semites,” a man who fulminated against “apostate Jewry and the wicked Jews who killed Jesus.” While it was not unusual for a youngster coming of age in the Jim Crow south to be bombarded with this sort of vicious rhetoric, it is notable that Graham never shook off these baleful influences. We would hear echoes of Mordecai Ham’s rants in Graham’s infamous “off the record” conversation in the Oval Office with Richard Nixon.
This conversation, which was captured on one of the legendary White House tapes, was not the momentary lapse or attempt to curry favor, as the Graham apologists attempted to claim. On the contrary, the conversation lasted an hour and a half, had rarely strayed from the denunciation of the Jews, and had sometimes been led by Graham. “The Bible says there are Satanic Jews, and that’s where our problem arises,” Graham pontificates at one point, to mumbled agreement by Nixon. Amazingly, twenty additional minutes of this conversation had been redacted before being released to the Watergate committee. What could possibly have been in those redacted twenty minutes that was worse than what wound up being released? Many years later, when the tape was released to public shock and dismay, Graham would do what he has always done when confronted with evidence of his own failings: he would claim that his clear, unambiguous words simply did not reflect his actual views. Inevitably, whenever Graham used this alibi, the big implication remained discreetly unspoken: Graham was either a liar or a moral coward.
Another aspect of Graham’s history is his unequivocal record of racism. Like many from the South (and not a few from the North), Graham inherited a significant bigotry against African-Americans. When a friend suggested to the young Graham that they stop off and get a haircut at a “colored barbershop” where a haircut could be gotten cheap, Graham declared, “Long as there’s a white barbershop in Charlotte, I’ll never have my hair cut at a nigger barbershop! Never!” Many people inherit this sort of vicious thinking, and many people eventually grow up to shed such primitive, mean-spirited attitudes. I kept looking for some point in Graham’s history where he had grown beyond this sort of thinking, but I kept coming up empty handed. The public record demonstrates that Graham was always on the wrong side on the racial issue. Always.
Over the years, there have been a number of attempts to portray Graham as being on the “progressive” side of the civil rights struggle that began in earnest in the 1950s. In fact, as Bothwell documents at length, this “progressive” history has been manufactured out of whole cloth. This is a man who, as late as the 1960s, was holding “separate but equal” crusades for black audiences. Graham would claim, “It wasn’t his decision but that of the organization.” And whenever segregationists would slam him for showing even an inkling of a progressive idea, he would immediately backpedal, claiming he was only there to preach the Bible, not to “enter into any local issues.” While the whole world was watching the battle for human rights in Selma, Graham was vacationing on the beach in Hawaii. Indeed, Graham was notable by his absence from every decisive moment in the civil rights struggle. When M.L. King was gunned down, Graham pointedly failed to attend the funeral, an event attended by over 200,000 people. On those rare occasions when Graham would even acknowledge that something called “the civil rights struggle” was taking place, he would limit his pronouncements to cautioning others to “put on the brakes a bit,” opining that “only when Christ comes again will all the little white children of Abraham walk hand in hand with little black children.” He seemed genuinely puzzled by the unwillingness of black Americans to wait for the Second Coming to claim their rights as human beings.
One might suggest, in Graham’s defense, “that was then, this is now.” Sadly, he does not appear to have grown over the years. As late as 1991, Graham was a member of the whites-only Biltmore Country Club. When called on this by local activists, Graham’s spokesman trotted out the old standby: Graham “didn’t have time to involve himself in local issues.” And in 1993, Graham publicly asked the rhetorical question, “Is AIDS a judgment of God?” His answer: “I could not say for sure, but I think so.” Needless to say, Graham’s remarks brought down a torrent of outrage, in the face of which Graham promptly did what he always did: “I remember saying it, and I immediately regretted it and almost went back and clarified the statement.” He “almost” went back and clarified the statement. Almost. Graham’s entire life, it would seem, is one long chain of moments of truth in which he “almost” did the right thing.
As an elder statesman whose mental and rhetorical powers are rapidly fading, Graham did not play his usual role as panderer to the powerful in the George W. Bush administration. While one should be grateful for this small mercy, Graham’s son Franklin delivered the inaugural sermon at Bush’s 2000 inauguration, and went on to become a close Bush confidant. And so the torch was passed, and so the disease was propagated. Billy Graham’s uniquely intolerant form of fundamentalist rhetoric, centered on the twin messages of fear and hate, continue to worm their way deep into the fabric of American discourse. It is to Bothwell’s enormous credit that he forces the reader to confront Billy Graham raw, unfiltered, as he really is. To the droves of Graham apologists and “clarifiers,” Bothwell offers a simple challenge: “Perhaps we should pay heed to what Graham has actually said.”
Aug 18 2008
cross posted from The Dream Antilles
Pardon me. I’m not a Christian. Never was, never will be. I don’t believe that Jesus was the messiah, that he died for my sins. I don’t have a personal relationship with him. I haven’t been saved. Or redeemed. I haven’t been re-born. I don’t believe the Bible is the literal word of God. And I was simply and utterly infuriated that both the presumptive presidential nominees decided to attend Rev. Rick Warren’s forum so they could show him and his many co-religionists that they were, well, just like them. That they were all good, moral Christians, and they all believed very much in a particular kind of Christianity, and that they were willing to prove it. I was outraged that they decided to make a spectacle of their “faith.” But I was even more outraged that they would seek to prove they had the right kind of faith to this particular audience.
That’s right, prove it. They weren’t going to refuse the invitation. They weren’t going to say, “I’m sorry, but what I believe is private. It’s between me and my God. I am not willing publicly to discuss theology.” They weren’t going to say, “I’m sorry, I believe in the separation of church and state, and, therefore, I consider this mega church to be an inappropriate setting for a political discussion about secular, political matters.” They weren’t going to say, “I’m sorry, I’m a very good person, but I don’t believe the same things you say I should believe. I’m nevertheless scrupulously honest and moral.” They weren’t going to say, “You’re free to think about these issues any way you wish, but I don’t want to discuss how my religious beliefs might be related to my policy positions. My policy positions stand on their own merit.” No. No chance. The candidates decided to show up, and they blatantly pandered to these right wing evangelicals. To gain their approval, to gain their votes.
Join me below.
Apr 27 2008
Crossposted just for fun, from WWL
Today, I want to open by honoring my favorite Deity.
When the Flying Spaghetti Monster makes Rolling Stone Magazine for the Second Time, you have to know there is intelligent life on Earth. (Images from their site, please visit there!)
Is it any wonder when Jimmy Buffett moved from Alabama (a place with notoriously low emissions) he quit singing about Pirates?
In fact, a move to high carbon emission Florida got Buffett singing about Volcanoes. Coincidence? I think not.
…and I quote Pastafarian scripture:
“You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s.”
Sunday Morning Over Easy music choice below the fold.
Dec 14 2007
MATTHEWS: … But we kick off with today’s debate itself. Matt Continetti writes for “The Weekly Standard.” Rachel Maddow’s a radio talk show host for Air America. Rachel, you go first. I know you’re on the political left. Who won on the right today?
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO: Alan Keyes. Alan Keyes was the star of this debate today, unexpectedly. He took over. A lot of the pundits are trying to ignore him and pretend like he wasn’t there. But he was like the-he was the uninvited guest at the party who stole the show.
MATTHEWS: You are causing trouble here because you don’t…
MATTHEWS: I would like to put you-I would like to waterboard you right now because there’s no way on God’s earth you believe it! Let’s go to Matt for straight answer. Who won today?
More bullying below-