Religious Values vs Religious Dogma in Politics

Not wanting another extended discussion of who’s going to burn in hell, etc., but I think there’s an important distinction to be made about the “separation of church and state” relative to religious values versus dogma. Religious values can enhance our lives and should have an important place in our societal norms and governmental approaches. Religious dogmas are frequently divisive and have no place in governmental policy or practice.

To quickly clarify; there is no phrase "separation of church and state" within the Constitution. The 1st amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free practice thereof." The common perceptions on separation of church and state seem to stem from various writings of the founding fathers and a few court cases. I found the website authored by Jim Allison and Susan Batte to be very informative, but I'm sure other references will be offered.

My point is this: Most faiths share some underlying concepts of good; "do unto others as you would have done unto you" is a component of nearly every world faith. Many people derive their personal morality from a religious framework, and if they bring their concepts of charity and goodwill to their civic involvement, great. These general values are an attribute.

But most religions also have a variety of dogmas that are too specific to be applied to unwilling recipients without violating their rights. It's nobody's business but your own if you want to eat pork, go vegetarian, or eat fish on Fridays. It should be a matter of conscience whether you use birth control – although not using a condom might even threaten your health. It should make no difference to the government whether you believe in evolution, reincarnation, Immaculate Conception, or Frodo's magic ring. Dogma has no place in government.

In "making no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free practice thereof," government needs to carefully avoid any preferential treatment of religion while treating all faiths with equal indifference. That may appear to favor atheism, but it's misleading to interpret non-religious attitudes as anti-religious. Prohibitions against nativity scenes on public property do not negatively affect the "free practice" of faith; they simply remove it from the public space. But conversely, a conspicuous display of the Ten Commandments at the local courthouse suggests that biblical law is honored over statute, and implies to any non-Judeo/Christian that his values may get short shrift.

Some so-called conservatives argue that all morality is derived from God. In fact, they frequently cite the phrase "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" as proof that the founding fathers recognized the Creator as the source of moral authority. This argument is flawed on several counts. First, the phrase is taken from the Declaration of Independence, which was designed as a repudiation of the God-given birthright of the Monarchy; a rejection of monarchist dogma and theocracy. Second, since the phrase is not from our Constitution it does not carry the carefully deliberated legal weight of Constitutional logic. It is rousing rhetoric, but not a legal underpinning of United States law. Finally, perhaps more open to interpretation; I find it noteworthy that Thomas Jefferson says "their Creator," rather than "the" Creator, or even "our" Creator. This suggests to me that Jefferson recognized a pluralistic view that each of us might perceive his own Creator, independent of religious dogma and convention.

So bring your general religious values to the table. I welcome "judge not lest ye be judged" and "do unto others as you would have done unto you." I find "let he without sin cast the first stone" to be fabulous guidance. But biblical assessments of social norms are as antiquated as ark construction techniques and strategies for defeating Philistines. The founding fathers had no intention to establish a Christian theocracy and Republican adoption of dogmatic religious principles only serves to alienate large portions of the electorate. The founding fathers held religious values, but they founded this nation on the principles of the Magna Carta and contemporary philosophies of human equality and rights, not specific biblical dogma.

Michael Smith, Republican Candidate for President

“...to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”

Posted by Michael Smith at November 16, 2006 3:44 AM
Comments
Comment #195316

My Name Is Roger:

MICHAEL: Somehow I received the impression we were not allowed to bring religion into our discussions, unless it was related to politices, I am takeing it for granted that what you are doing is okay.

As I have read the comments it has come to my attention when someone brings up something from the Bible that speaks against there personal life style, or condemnes a sin or sins that are engaged in, that they get been out of shape.

But they love to quote what they believe is a judgement against thoses who point out their sins, or show that their life style is sinful or immoral or even perveted, they will say “JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED OR LET HIM IS WITHOUT SIN CAST THE FIRST STONE OR DO UNTO OTHERS”.

Some have even stated that the God of the Bible who condemmens their sin is hateful.

What we forget is that God’s standard of morality and righteousness, for us, is based upon Himself, for God says ” Be ye holy for I am holy”. His standared for us is His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything short of that is sin.

Now you might be saying to yourself, no one can live up to that standard, and that is correct.

Out of His great love for us He has given to us laws that show what it means to be holy,

thereby showing us that we are not holy,

thereby showing us that anything short of that is sin,

thereby showing us or need of salvation.

God out of His great love for us, God has sent us someone to be our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus did for us, what we have not been able to do for ourself, He lived a life without sin, and gave to us His righetiousness, and paid for our sin with His life.

The Bible says if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleans us of all unrighetiousness.

If we are willing to turn from our sin and confess that we are sinners and receive His Son as our Lord and Saviour, God is more then willing to forgive us, and to cleans us of that sin.

Now if what I have said is not permitted to be said, all I can say is this.

The truth is the truth, even if no one believes it.

A lie is a lie, even if everone believes it.

Roger A Conservative Christian Rupublican

P.S. If you deside not to post what I have said, there is nothing I can do about it.

Posted by: ROGER at November 16, 2006 6:52 AM
Comment #195317

Michael,

Well stated.

Roger,

As a Christian I know and believe what you say. That said, our country is not a theocracy and it was founded on the constitution not the bible. As a Christian it is often difficult to accept this but it just the way it is. We should be in this world not of this world. The kingdoms here will come and go…

I believe that if one wants to change the world it should be done one heart at a time…NOT through legislation or government.

Well stated Michael!

Posted by: Tom L at November 16, 2006 7:38 AM
Comment #195319

Wow, Right on Michael. I’m finding more and more articles that actually state the conservative/repubilcan values as they were founded, that I can agree with. I strongly believe in religous liberty, and believe that a government should not favor one faith over the other.

Excellent Post.

Posted by: mem beth at November 16, 2006 7:54 AM
Comment #195330

Roger, There are also other religions whose message is enlightment not necessarily salvation. You should realize that those religions have the same right to exist as does yours. To interject your beliefs into the political arena as the 1 true religion does more harm than good. I know your intentions are good , but a look at the issue from a historical perspective will show no good comes from it. Tom L has it right Roger, one heart at a time. Dont be fooled by the preacher who wants to interject his religion into politics he is wanting only power.

Michael good post.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 16, 2006 9:56 AM
Comment #195332

Michael

If not for a religous based morallity, where do you think society would be today? Do you truly believe in the humanist belief that all people are basically good and would automatically know right from wrong?

Posted by: Keith at November 16, 2006 10:06 AM
Comment #195333

Keith,

Michael is not arguing against religious based morality. I think he’s saying all (from a secular government standpoint) should be treated equally. One should not be treated with more regard than another nor should would be persecuted or singled out more than another. I happen to be a Christian and do believe that Christian values have helped shaped our thought process. So have other religions.

Posted by: Tom L at November 16, 2006 10:18 AM
Comment #195335

Michael,

I understand what you say, however, in the displaying of the Ten Commandments in Courts or other public places;

Does our court not believe:

Thou shalt not lie, when testimony is sworn upon the Bible to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
Thou shalt not bear false witness, as it can land you in jail for perjury.
Thou shalt not commit adultery, as it is against some statutes of law and it is one of the primary grounds for divorce.
Thou shalt not kill, as murder is most certainly against the law, except under self-protection.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife or property, as it is illegal to misrepresentatively take another man’s possessions.
Thou shalt not steal, as it is still illegal to hold up the neighborhood liquor store.

The values of believing the Ten Commandments is not such a danger to society or Government that it should not be displayed in public places. But, my biggest concern is taking the “Separation of Church and State” to the point where Pastors can no longer mention a political party in their sermons or a particular political candidate whom they support without the fear of their tax exempt status being viciously yanked from their churches. The anti-religious crowd has gone way overboard on this issue to the point that it has become religious censorship that is illegal according to the Constitution’s free practice of religion and free speech guarantees in the First Amendment. This is the objection that most Christians and other religions have to the “no religion in politics believers”. It is not the Church that was the fear of Jefferson, Washington, or Madison, but rather squelching of free practices for those people who wished to express their views!

JD

Posted by: JD at November 16, 2006 10:54 AM
Comment #195337

JD,

What about “I am the Lord, thy God,” “Keep holy the Sabbath,” and “Thou shall not use the name of the Lord in vain?” Do you propose that government start enforcing these?

And yes, a preacher that is campaigning from the pulpit should have his tax exempt status questioned. Religion is exempt, politics is not. Save their souls, but leave their voting to their conscience. The Constitution does protect their right to free speech, but it doesn’t guarantee preferential tax treatment.

Posted by: Michael Smith at November 16, 2006 11:11 AM
Comment #195338

Keith,

Christianity doesn’t have the only franchise on morality.

Virtually all religions have the same basic moral tenets.
When the founders wrote our constitution they were fighting against a country that had a “state sponsored” religion, that changed according to the kings preference. That’s why the pilgrims left England.

Baptists were originally persecuted in this country, yet are now an accepted sect of Christianity.

Despite your beliefs to the contrary, I believe man is basically good, and does the right thing because it is the right thing, not because he is told it is the right thing.
Charitable giving, for instance, isn’t dictated by law in this country, but it is the right thing to do.
No one is arrested for not helping a little old lady accross the street, yet it happens all the time, and it’s not an act performed only by Christians.

Written laws of men date back 2 to 3 millenia before Christianity was ever heard of, and though there are still need for laws because of the few, the majority still live in peace with each other, because it is the right thing to do.


JD,

Where in the Constitution does it guarantee tax exempt status for religious institutions?

Posted by: Rocky at November 16, 2006 11:38 AM
Comment #195340

Here’s a thought: If the money that Conservative Christians sent to politicians went instead to support valuable ministry at home and around the world, they would influence the culture at home and around the world. They could stop evil at the source: the sinful heart of man.

If the energy Conservative Christians spend complaining and fighting political battles was spend instead on prayers for the lost and reaching out to those in need, they would influence the culture at home and around the world. They could stop evil at the source: the sinful heart of man.

I am a Conservative Christian. The constant political attacks on the lost only fuel seperation between Jesus and those people. We are not a club of believers. We are not a political party. We are God’s only plan for the salvation of the human race. Let’s act like they matter to us, rather than like they are a nuisance to us.

Posted by: jacktruth at November 16, 2006 11:46 AM
Comment #195343

Michael

Very Good understanding, but how far are willing to go? I as a Freethinking patriotic Atheist and Human/Secularist, feels excluded from this country. In order for me to pledge my allegiance I must recoginize God. Are you willing to have me part of the American family? If so, would you be willing to take under God out from the pledge so I can be included?


Keith

The perception and belief of Christians is that without God and religion, there would be no morality. Again, as a Freethinking Atheist Human/Secularists.. I strongly disagree.

Much has been written about this. Look at Buddhism and the Dali Lama - Atheists. Is the Dala Lama immoral? Where did he get his morality if he is an atheist? Where did Ghandi get his morality?

Man by nature and evolutionary survival is moral. Religion is an expression of mans needs to be moral. But we make moral decisions despite religion. Example, the bible has numerous references to support slavery. In 1864 the bible was quoted to support slavery, but the Chritians who fought against slavery had to make a transition away from the bible and find a new moral justification. Where did this morality come from if not the bible? I contend it was in their humanist nature. But they continued to wrap their values in the bible so they can call themselves Christian.

Also, there are numerous examples where relious values are harmful to society. It is a religious value to teach abstenace only and not to use contraception. The result is the s[read of aids and unwanted pregnancies. Being against stem cell research to save a 150 cell life form against the suffering of a child burn victim. Moral rightousness can be the cause of pain and suffering.

To me - morality is measured by casue and effect. Do my actions casue suffering or happiness. This all we need. We do not religion to tell us what we already know as human beings.

Posted by: jerseyguy at November 16, 2006 12:04 PM
Comment #195347

MIchael Smith,

The Ten Commandments are a set of principles, principles that have endured countless generations. The displaying of the Ten Commandments is not an adoption of Christian or Jadiac Law, but rather signifying that these laws are based upon strong religious and moral values that have lasted, and are widely accepted as good and just. The Commandments related to God can be taken out if you must for display purposes, but why is God so terrible to you and offensive?

Michael and Keith,

Thank you for proving my point. You are fine with Free Speech as long as it is not administered within the Church. That’s real freedom in America! Why should a preacher be condemned for commenting on a political candidate in the light of scriptural teaching? That is his job to make sure his flock understands the consequences of their choices in life, and the moral and religious implications as related to the Bible. Salvation is not the only message of the minister. Just look at Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ministry! Was it lucrative and significant or not? Jesus Himself said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Preaching deliverance to the captives includes showing those in bondage how to get out of it by making the right choices in many cases. Setting at liberty them that are bruised includes giving hope to those that are hopeless and oppressed. Some are oppressed because of poor choices, including at times the way that they voted or believed. There is more to Christianity than simply accepting Jesus as your personal savior. It is also getting up and walking in the way that you should go! Some within Government are making tax exempt status their whip or ball and chain to make sure Christians act like “good little Christians” and not stir the waters as MLK,Jr. did in the 1960’s and Abraham Lincoln did in the 1860’s.

JD

Posted by: JD at November 16, 2006 12:24 PM
Comment #195350

JD,

I can only assume your rant was aimmed at me, not Keith.

“You are fine with Free Speech as long as it is not administered within the Church. That’s real freedom in America! Why should a preacher be condemned for commenting on a political candidate in the light of scriptural teaching?”

Please, explain to all of us the difference between “commenting on”, and endorsing a candidate.
Tax exemption is a privilege, not a right, and with privilege comes responsibility.

Posted by: Rocky at November 16, 2006 12:35 PM
Comment #195353

Rocky,

Ranting! Please.

You explain the difference between commenting on and endorsing a candidate, and how this applies to Free Speech? It seems to me that Pastors are not allowed to do either, as dictated by our Government. Do we want the Government writing our Pastor’s sermon next Sunday? Is this free speech?

JD

Posted by: JD at November 16, 2006 12:43 PM
Comment #195355

Jersey,
“religious values” are not “against stem cell research” - only embryonic stem cell research. Big difference.

“Stem Cell Research” is a general term that includes all sources of stem cells. Only embryonic stem cell research procedures completely destroy a potential human being - which is the premise that religious leaders use to agrue against a small portion of “SCR”…but they do not oppose the entire spectrum of “SCR”.

I don’t want to steer this off-topic, but I did not believe that you were honest in your portrayal of “religious values” regarding this issue.

Additionally, teaching abstenance is not strictly a “religious moral”. You may not want to admit it, but not having sexual intercourse is the most effective way to avoid STDs and is the only way to guarantee against unwanted pregnancy. I made that statement without invoking any religious moral or referring to God or the bible.

Posted by: Rich at November 16, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #195356

JD,

So can we expect for you not to answer a question because it is inconvenient to your faith?

I grew up in the Catholic church, and the Sunday sermon never had anything to do with politics. It had to do with the Gospel of the day.

What does scripture have to do with Politics?

Why is it necessary to “endorse” a candidate from the pulpit?

Seems to me, if a candidate, or preacher wants to have discussions of this type, they belong outside, after service.

Posted by: Rocky at November 16, 2006 12:54 PM
Comment #195362

Rocky,

My question sufficiently answered your question.
You should pay closer attention to your Catholic priest’s sermons. I am not Catholic, but I even know your Catholic leadership’s stand on certain issues and political candidates based upon your Church’s beliefs!

JD

Posted by: JD at November 16, 2006 1:22 PM
Comment #195365

jersey…

Where does the Bible support slavery?

Posted by: cliff at November 16, 2006 1:36 PM
Comment #195366

JD,

“You should pay closer attention to your Catholic priest’s sermons. I am not Catholic, but I even know your Catholic leadership’s stand on certain issues and political candidates based upon your Church’s beliefs!

Yeah, but they don’t preach that stand from the pulpit.
And it that sort of condescension that drove me from any “Christian” belief.

Posted by: Rocky at November 16, 2006 1:42 PM
Comment #195367


A Muslim preaches to his flock that Christianity is a false doctrine and all Christians are Godless infidels. He goes on to say that none of his flock should ever vote for a christian, especially a republican, born again evangelical who wants to force their false doctrine on everyone. Who is for stripping this Mosque of it’s tax exempt statis?

Posted by: jlw at November 16, 2006 1:48 PM
Comment #195370

Absolulely!

Posted by: Rocky at November 16, 2006 1:53 PM
Comment #195371

Rocky,

I was not being condescending. I was pointing out that the Catholic Church does take a stand, and they are vehemently attacked for it. I apologize that you felt this was condescending toward you. My point that I should have made clearer is that your priests have taken devastating attacks, some on account of their own behavior, others on account of their intestinal fortitude to stand against values that are not good and just. Do you think that the molestation issue in the Catholic Church would be made the huge issue that it is if the Catholic Church were not in the forefront of the battle? The left is in pursuit to take them down, and will use every opportunity. It is an attempt to destroy all those in the Catholic Church. Though I am getting off subject, the same applies to the display of the Ten Commandments, school prayer, Pro-Life, etc.
Religious Institutions are under severe attack by the ACLU and other leftist organizations and it is unfortunate that some do not realize that.

JD

Posted by: JD at November 16, 2006 1:54 PM
Comment #195374

JD,

“Religious Institutions are under severe attack by the ACLU and other leftist organizations and it is unfortunate that some do not realize that.”

The ACLU has supported Religious organizations, go to their web site and see it for yourself.

Catholic priests are in trouble for their own peccadilloes. They knew the job was dangerous when they took it.
Again, and I will repeat it until you get it.
I have never heard Catholic priests preach political positions from the pulpit, and if they did the Catholic Church should lose the privilege of tax exemption.

This isn’t rocket science.

Posted by: Rocky at November 16, 2006 2:07 PM
Comment #195377

Rocky,

Again, Catholic priests do not preach on candidates and the application of how the candidates views line up with Biblical principles, because they fear the repercussions of it. That is called fear of Government manipulation and interference, which is against the free exercise of religion and free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Why should they lose their tax exemption for expressing their beliefs in relation to a particular candidate?

JD

Posted by: JD at November 16, 2006 2:29 PM
Comment #195378

Michael,

It seems most of the post I have read of yours has some focus, if not entirely, on your (wrong) views on the place of religion in the US. If you’re running for President you might want to spread the views around a little, not come off as a one trick pony, just wanting the Ten Commandments gone and censoring men of faith will only get you so far. Secondly, I was wondering where you are from, you sound like you might be a left coast Rep. or maybe northeast.

Posted by: andy at November 16, 2006 2:30 PM
Comment #195379

“Why should they lose their tax exemption for expressing their beliefs in relation to a particular candidate?”

It’s astronomically simple. Tax-exempt organizations in the US are required to be politically neutral. If you want to endorse specific candidates and parties, you cannot be a tax-exempt organization.

Free speech is a right. Tax-exempt status is a privilege. You do see the difference, right?

Posted by: Arr-squared at November 16, 2006 2:31 PM
Comment #195383

My Name Is Roger

As I read the comments, I am getting the impression that what is being supported is not

[FREEDOM OF RELIGION]

BUT

[FREEDOM FROM RELIGION]

The religion that is presented in the Bible.

It has been brought up that other religions have the same basic moral teachings and that most of the people of the world have a standard of morality.

Have you ever wondered what that is so?

In the Bible it states it is so [BECAUSE GOD HAS WRITTEN HIS LAWS IN THEIR HEARTS]. ROMANS 2:12 to 16

I do not know of any Christian that would support the idea of keeping others from expressing their beliefs, but as I read the commits, I do get the impression of keeping thoses who believe in the Bible from expressing their beliefs.

One of which is to speak out [from the pulpit] their support of political canadates who support their moral values.

When John the Baptist spoke out against the sins of his political leader, he was put in jail, and later his head was chopped off.

I don’t think [as of right now], you want Ministers or Preist or Rabbies to have their heads chopped off, but you do want their tax exempt statas to be taken away for preaching their religious conviction concerning politican canadates.

It is a part of our religious conviction to speak out agains sin and emorality in government, and to do what we can to have government make laws against what the Bible teaches is immoral. So would that not be includied as pertection of religion freedom, or is religious freedom only for thoses who do not speak out against imorality and sin.

I know that someone will be saying, you are trying to push your religions standands of morality onto people who do not believe as you do.

I believe with all my heart, that if we do not do something to stop the immorality that is being practiced here in America. that God will judge us,and the United States Of America will come to a end.

I believe that we are starting to see the beginning of the end of the United States Of America, and the only way to stop it, is to return to the values of GOD, as taught in the Bible.

Roger A Conservative Christian Rupublican.

Posted by: ROGER at November 16, 2006 2:51 PM
Comment #195384

JD,

“Again, Catholic priests do not preach on candidates and the application of how the candidates views line up with Biblical principles, because they fear the repercussions of it.”

Baloney!
They have plenty of time “after” the mass to be political. When I was going to church, we went outside and talked about current events.

Are Churches called houses of worship?
A yes or no answer will suffice.
Are Churches called houses of God or houses of man?

Politics don’t belong inside the doors of a Church. Once inside all thoughts should be on God, or why else do we go?

Posted by: Rocky at November 16, 2006 2:58 PM
Comment #195385

Arr-squared,

Driving a car is also a privilege. It requires a government license. Do all those who drive cars have to limit their speech during an election year?
Fishing is a privilege. It requires a government license. Do all those who fish have to limit their speech in an election year?
Owning a business is a privilege. It requires a government license. Do all those who own businesses have to limit their speech during an election year?
How many other privileges do I have to mention in which an individual is not required to limit their speech? I think you get the point.
Tax exempt organizations get their tax exempt status because they are designed to help others without making a profit. It should have nothing to do with their political affiliation. This is another example of government interference in the way an organization carries out its business operations. Free speech and freedom to practice religion is guaranteed by the Constitution! Government has no right to limit free speech or religion just because you happen to get a benefit from them. If this were the case, couldn’t government regulate what Social Security recipients say, or welfare recipients, or … the list could go on and on.

JD

Posted by: JD at November 16, 2006 3:00 PM
Comment #195386

Andy,

Your point is fair. I’ve hit the religion note on a couple of recent posts. My concern is that the primary “error” is recent Republican strategy is the Party’s alignment with social/religious conservatism.

I believe that if the Party could return to the tradition conservative issues of smaller government it would find a more receptive audience. I define conservatism as government power wielded conservatively – with restraint, rather than conservative views freely imposed by intrusive government.

For what it’s worth, I grew up in the corn fields of central Illinois, and now live in rainy Corvallis Oregon. I recognize that my views won’t exactly be embraced by many in the Bible belt.

I promise my next post will be about taxes…

Posted by: Michael Smith at November 16, 2006 3:01 PM
Comment #195387


Can I get a tax exempt statis for driving a car so long as I don,t talk politics while I am in it. If so, I think I can restrain myself.

Posted by: jlw at November 16, 2006 3:12 PM
Comment #195389

JD-

WOW. You really think that churches should be allowed to endorse candidates from the pulpit? Isn’t that just the slightest bit coercive? And I don’t have a problem with, say, Catholics preaching about the value of all life and what that means for abortion, birth control, etc. because it is clear cut and it is part of the faith. But that is entirely different from endorsing an individual candidate. A candidate may or may not support what is in the faith. It is not clear cut at all. He/she may comprimise, or make a deal, or change his/her mind…and all the while they get to do it with God’s endorsement? That just reeks of corruption. We should avoid a system like that at all costs.

And the tax emempt status question is an entirely different issue. Nowhere is that a constitutional guarantee. If we are to allow this, then of course we are going to insulate it from the ability to influence elections and politics. Otherwise you, again, open the door to corrupting our most sacred constitutional principles. Imagine a landscape where one religion is dominant (not too difficult), then take your arguments to their logical conclusions. What you end up with every time is exactly what the framers were trying to avoid when they wrote the establishment clause.

Seriously man, your logic in these threads has been suspect at best and blatently ignorant (borderlining retarded) at worst. I suggest a simple reading of the constitution. Then you can go to whatever church you want, and believe in whatever you want to believe in, vote for whoever you want to vote for, not be coerced in any way with the false promise of a Godly endorsement (which basically amounts to a human guess), and all the while knowing that every other US citizen is enjoying the same freedom.

I think religious people can, at times, forget just what makes this country so great. Freedom. And while it may be a temperary enemy to a particular organized religion from time to time, freedom is friend to religion in general.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 3:21 PM
Comment #195390

Michael -

“My concern is that the primary “error” is recent Republican strategy is the Party’s alignment with social/religious conservatism.”

I find very little you write with which I can agree. The above quote is erroneous on its face. It is the opposite of the truth. The Republican party did not align with religious conservatives, the religious conservatives aligned with the Republican party due to the Republican party’s stands on essential issues. I have been fighting this error in thinking for several years. Did the Republicans court these conservatives? Yes. But, more importantly, the conservatives supported the Republicans not because of the courting, but because of the underlying platform of the Republican party (the platform has not changed substantially in certain essential areas for 20 years).

Posted by: Don at November 16, 2006 3:22 PM
Comment #195391

JD,

Just because something is tax exempt doesn’t mean it is in the same category as a Church.

Are you aware that tax exempt Churches don’t have to report how much money they take in?
Or where that money goes?

All you have done is put up a straw man that has nothing what so ever with the subject.

Posted by: Rocky at November 16, 2006 3:23 PM
Comment #195393

Michael Smith-

I really enjoyed the post. Actually, I have so far enjoyed all of your posts. Keep writing on behalf of all us politically unrepresented conservatives. One day we may even be able to clean off all the tarnish from the term “conservative” and make it mean what it is supposed to mean again.

re: ten commandments - this is the most ridiculous issue. The ten commandments have nothing to do with our criminal or civil proceedings. If any judge wants to have them up on a wall to remind him of his root convictions, then that is exactly why he has private chambers. That is where he deliberates anyway, right? Seems logical.

Truth is that religious nuts will never stop trying to exert their influence, whether it be through government or through sermons. It is their very mission to convert people to their belief system. Thank god for the fact that we have founding fathers who took this into account, and created a government that valued freedom and integrity above any one belief system.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 3:39 PM
Comment #195394

Properly read, “Judge not…” presents us with a mandate not to presume ourselves capable of fully understanding our fellow man. The judgment we risk is not that of others, but that of God, for trying to horn in on his business.

It also points to one of the most important religious reasons as to why Church and State should be separate: Men are imperfect interpreters of God’s will.

Because of this imperfection, Government, especially Democracy, is better off letting religion alone.

No government will perfectly interpret God’s will, or that of any deity. Though anybody can lead somebody astray into sin, a government can bring the coercive power of the state into the situation, becoming a stumbling block for all under their power. Using religion, a government can make itself into a false idol, basking in the reflected light of divine glory. Religion itself can be broken as an autonomous, healthy enterprise, when it is tied to the ups and downs of political favor and disfavor.

Look at post-roman Europe and its long sad history of warfare, and you find the reason so few are still observant Christians in the years of alienating politics and warfare. When people rebelled against one, they rebelled against both, since they were so intertwined.

Religion flourishes in America because its fortunes have been tied to individual choice, not government mandate. The government doesn’t have to stay as it is for the religions of our country to remain authoritative to their believers.

Those who would lash their church to the fortunes of the government should look at this last election and take heart at the independence of church and state from one another; were the two so closely connected, their hopes would be doubly dashed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 16, 2006 3:42 PM
Comment #195396

As a practicing Jew, I find the need of some to remove all religous objects from the public square alarming. I feel are cities and neighborhoods are lessened when they can’t light a Christmas tree at Christmas time. I’ve looked through the Constitution and could not find one instance where it said you have the absolute right to not be offended by anything ever.

I think there is a big difference between stating the obvious that this country is a christian country and saying that a particular church is the Church of the United States. This country was founded on Judeo-Christion values and I don’t see how believing in that is excluding anyone. Everyone is allowed to believe in what they want. Displaying a Christmans tree or a Nativity scene at Christmas time is not the same as ramming it down someones throat.

Posted by: Keith at November 16, 2006 3:51 PM
Comment #195398

Keith,

“Displaying a Christmans tree or a Nativity scene at Christmas time is not the same as ramming it down someones throat.”

Did I miss something or are we not having a “National” Christmas Tree this year?

No tree in Rockefeller Center?

I don’t have a problem with neighborhoods, or churches, or businesses puting up displays.
I don’t have a problem with a civic Christmas Tree.
I do have a problem with a civicly sponsored nativity display

Posted by: Rocky at November 16, 2006 4:06 PM
Comment #195399

Keith-
This nation was founded upon not religion, but an agreement between free men. These men were of various religious stripes, some deists, some atheists, some devout theists. Yet nobody’s vision was imposed on anybody else; all ended up under the same law.

The real issue is what a community can decide as a community to do in a land where the law says the government is not to interfere with or endorse religion. If the law says that public (as in government) expression of religion is not allowed, it still most definitely says that public (as in individual, non-governmental) expression is not to be touched.

I suggest that those who dislike what has been lost in the government sphere compensate elsewhere, or find a legal way to justify a change in the decision, rather than advocating the abandonment of protective freedoms.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 16, 2006 4:13 PM
Comment #195400

Why is it important for any municipality to have any religious decoration at all? It’s not like there’s any lack of religious decoration on private property. I believe there is a real possibility that non-Christians will be either offended by the displays or angry that their tax dollars are paying for said displays. That being the case, why would it be such a huge loss that, on public property, religious decorations not be allowed?

Its common courtesy that if you know you are doing something that upsets someone else, you stop doing it. Laws enforcing this notion are very common, from noise ordinances to restrictions on what can be broadcast on public airwaves. The difference at play here is majority vs. minority, but if the majority has a right to not be offended then so does the minority. In fact, it is that equal protection under the law that the Constitution was crafted to enforce.

Posted by: David S at November 16, 2006 4:22 PM
Comment #195403

“The Republican party did not align with religious conservatives, the religious conservatives aligned with the Republican party due to the Republican party’s stands on essential issues.”

Oh, I get it now. The tail wags the dog. And here I thought the party platform was a reflection of its intended constituents. So let me get it straight, first the party comes up with a platform out of nowhere, then people decide whether they want to align with it? And here I was naive enough to believe that political parties actively try to win votes by appealing to people.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 4:43 PM
Comment #195405

Michael

An intelligent moderate conservative, I enjoy reading your posts. Unfortunately, the unbending base of the Republican Party up to now has held it back for the past two years. Hopefully the backlash from this last election, where the moderates gathered together and voted for change, will direct this government in the right direction.

Ministers and Priest may take a political position, outside of and as an individual, apart from the institution. There is no free speech violation, taking place. A political position is different than a legislative or a moral position, which institutions are allowed to take. If a ministry feels strongly about participating in the political process, then they should have no qualm in giving up tax-exempt status, as any other non-tax-exempt organization with a political agenda.

During the past 2 years with a majority in both Houses and a Republican President, our Republican representatives have been unable to address a variety of issues due to the inflexibility of the Republican base. Hopefully now moderates from both parties can take control of this government and release it from its frozen state.

Posted by: Cube at November 16, 2006 4:56 PM
Comment #195407

David S-

I tend to agree with your assessment. I have no problem with a community decorating its public spaces. BUT, when people start complaining about being offended, the solution is usually to eliminate all displays. It is a sad reaction if viewed through the eyes of tradition, but all it really means is that the display no longer represents the totality of the community. Therefore, it doesn’t belong on public space.

At that point, the community can still be accurately represented by the numerous private displays. It just cannot be fairly or accurately represented by a single public display, and no one should be forced to pay taxes to finance a display that unfairly or inaccurately represents them. I, personally, could care less about being fairly or accurately represented by a holiday display, but I cannot impose my thick-skinned sensibilities upon everyone.

One sensitive resident can seemingly ruin it for all, but no one, even with all the complaining in the world, can take away from the true character and spirit of a determined community. All they can do is limit it to non-official status, which does, at that point, indeed reflect reality.

That’s the beauty of America…a plethora of options.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 5:05 PM
Comment #195411

This whole thread would never exist prior to November 7th.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2006 6:06 PM
Comment #195414

David, I’ve been at my campaign for just over a year. November 7 just fueled it.

Posted by: Michael Smith at November 16, 2006 6:21 PM
Comment #195417

Where does the Bible support slavery?
Posted by: cliff

Leviticus 25:44-46
Exodus 21:2-6
Exodus 21:7-11
Exodus 21:20-21
new testament
Ephesians 6:5
1 Timothy 6:1-2
Luke 12:47-48
weird how little believers really know about whats in the bible isn`t it?
———————————————————-
Religious Institutions are under severe attack by the ACLU and other leftist organizations and it is unfortunate that some do not realize that.

JD
* September 20, 2005: ACLU of New Jersey joins lawsuit supporting second-grader’s right to sing “Awesome God” at a talent show.

* November 20, 2004: ACLU of Nevada supports free speech rights of evangelists to preach on the sidewalks of the strip in Las Vegas

* November 9, 2004: ACLU of Nevada defends a Mormon student who was suspended after wearing a T-shirt with a religious message to school

* July 10, 2004: Indiana Civil Liberties Union defends the rights of a Baptist minister to preach his message on public streets.

* March 25, 2004: ACLU of Washington defends an Evangelical minister’s right to preach on sidewalks.

* February 21, 2003: ACLU of Massachusetts defends students punished for distributing candy canes with religious messages.

* July 11, 2002: ACLU supports right of Iowa students to distribute Christian literature at school.
*

April 17, 2002: In a victory for the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the ACLU of Virginia, a federal judge strikes down a provision of the Virginia Constitution that bans religious organizations from incorporating.

* January 18, 2002: ACLU defends Christian church’s right to run “anti-Santa” ads in Boston subways.
Michael,
This and the environment are where the republican party lost me but I am afraid your fighting a losing battle.

Posted by: Thesavage at November 16, 2006 6:46 PM
Comment #195423

Cliff - You ask where does the bible support slavery, See;

Leviticus 25:44-46
Exodus 21:7-11
Ephesians 6:5
Timoth 6:1-4

Posted by: Stefano at November 16, 2006 7:38 PM
Comment #195424

Thesavage-

Thank you for responding to baseless claims with evidence. I love that you could have literally left out all commentary and still made a clear and powerful point. Great post.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 7:42 PM
Comment #195426

Rich

Yes - No argument that abstenance is the best way to stop STD’s and unwanted pregnancies. But the abstenance program being promoted by religious zealots is also anti-contraception. Their logic is the teaching of contraception promotes sexula promoscuity. Also, the information they provide on contraception is fales and misleading to discourage their use.

With regard to stem cell, scienifically yes there is a difference in stem cells. But there is no diffderence to fundelmentalists. Recently it was reported that researchers found a way to use stem cells that do not kill the embryo and religious leaders did not support this.

My point is not to argue stem cells or abstenance, but that religious morality, coupled with moral rightousness many times is the casue of human suffering.

Posted by: Stefano at November 16, 2006 7:44 PM
Comment #195433

Back to moral teachings and right and wrong. Where is the beginning of right and wrong?
Who first determined right from wrong?
If man is good, then why do we have laws?
The garden of Eden is a good place to start.

Posted by: tomh at November 16, 2006 8:16 PM
Comment #195436

OK…lets start at the Garden of Eden. Where is that located exactly?

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 8:27 PM
Comment #195437

Kevin23
People of all persuasions try to influence others to believe like themselves. That is human nature. The church does it. Non-church organizations do it. Sectarians do it. And on and on. It appears that conservatives, evangelical christians, and the political right are taking the hits on this one. They are just people who are trying to influence others for what they believe to be correct, just as you did in your writing above.

Posted by: tomh at November 16, 2006 8:28 PM
Comment #195438

Tomh-

What exactly am I trying to influence others to believe, Tomh? That other options exist for their precious religious symbolism? That’s just fact.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 8:30 PM
Comment #195439

Rocky

What is Christmas? It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. So why not have a nativity scene whereever.

Posted by: tomh at November 16, 2006 8:31 PM
Comment #195440

When I try to influence someone, I appeal to their ability to make logical correlations and show them evidence. When a church does it, they tell you you must believe or you go to hell. BIG difference. And that is why you don’t mix religion with the real workings of government.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 8:33 PM
Comment #195441

As hard as it is for you to believe Tomh, some Americans think X-mas is merely December 25th.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 8:34 PM
Comment #195442

Kevin23
The Garden of Eden is, according to nearly all Bible scholars, in Iraq.

Every time you post a writing or speak to your friends and neighbors, you are trying to tell them that you know the truth. That is human nature. We all do it. And there should be no appologies for it.

Posted by: tomh at November 16, 2006 8:39 PM
Comment #195443

Thesavage

In each of those cases the ACLU sided up with the church it was a slam dunk in favor of the church and they did not take the case as the lead. The sided up as friend of the court briefs. This was for propaganda purposes to show they supported religious values.

Kevin23
Your condescending remark concerning Dec 25 is just what it is—condescending.

Posted by: tomh at November 16, 2006 8:44 PM
Comment #195444

To all concerning non-profit and church organizations under IRS definitions.

I am Vice-President of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. I cannot openly support a candidate for public office, period. I can openly support ideas, referendums, propositions, etc. that are before the public to be voted upon.

Posted by: tomh at November 16, 2006 8:47 PM
Comment #195445

Nice post Michael
Arguements based of scripture are exercises in futility. It is possible to support or dis-prove virtually any point of view or policy. It should also be noted that the King James version was heavily edited to remove or modify any thing that might serve to undermine the authority of,you guessed it,King James.
A couple of choice rules on marriage for example.
A marriage shall be between a man and one or more women.
I was greatly dismayed to find out that because my wife was not a virgin when we married she must be stoned to death. I am not clear wether I have to do it or my relatives or perhaps Jerry Falwell.Any help?

Personally it would not bother me if a churches lost their exempt status. Is not granting them special status a violatation of the separation clause? They could always take a huge charitable deduction,some thing they should be doing anyway. I am sick of pious pandering millionaire preachers. They should get honest work. I do not know about you but my God is not short of cash.

Posted by: BillS at November 16, 2006 8:48 PM
Comment #195448

Roger,

The way I read the constitution AND the authors’ personal notes and manuscripts; the constitution guarantess both freedom of and from religion.

If one chooses a religion…fine. If one doesn’t…fine. Besides, the only way to salvation is for one to choose for one’s self. Salvation cannot be legislated.

A great read for most of you folks would be “The Treaty of Tripoli” also know as the Barbary treaties, signed November 4, 1796 and ratified by the full senate on June 10, 1797. The president was John Adams. Pay particular attention to Article 11:

Article 11
“As the GOVERNMENT of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, -as it has in itself no character of enmity against laws, religion, or tranquility or Musselmen, -and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religios opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

This from our Second President and numerous Senators that assisted or had input to our constitution.

Posted by: Tom l at November 16, 2006 8:55 PM
Comment #195450

So why not have a nativity scene whereever.
Posted by: tomh

Because you should not be using MY money [taxes],
MY land [public land is owned by the government, thus the tax payers] to promote your religion above others.
Whats so hard to understand about that?
Do you want the people that believe in other religions using your money to promote them?

Posted by: TheSavage at November 16, 2006 8:56 PM
Comment #195453

Thesavage
The display is not an endorsement of the display.
When government takes a position to not allow the display then a logical argument would be the endorsement of the Humanist religion, which puts man as god.

Posted by: tomh at November 16, 2006 9:03 PM
Comment #195454

The hockey game is coming on.
I will respond later to any writing.

Posted by: tomh at November 16, 2006 9:04 PM
Comment #195455

“Your condescending remark concerning Dec 25 is just what it is—condescending.”

So everyone in America believes that Christ was born on Dec. 25th? Any proof? If not, I’ll kindly ask you to stop taking offense at the simple truth.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 9:08 PM
Comment #195456

>>>This was for propaganda purposes to show they supported religious values.


Sorry though the ACLU is not like the right and trying to play causes for propaganda. They fight the good fight for what they see as the under-dogs, no matter what rush tells you.
why is the Right so damn good at simply repeating lies until they are accepted? Look at the whole issue of WMDs in Iraq and Saddam’s involvement in 9/11.A lot of folks on the far right still believe those lies

Posted by: TheSavage at November 16, 2006 9:10 PM
Comment #195457

And I’ve heard the Garden of Eden to supposedly be located in Ethiopia, too. Seeing as how you can’t prove it even existed, let alone in a given location, maybe its not such a firm foundation from which to start.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 9:10 PM
Comment #195458

http://www.aclufightsforchristians.com/

Posted by: TheSavage at November 16, 2006 9:13 PM
Comment #195460

And there is a big difference between appealing to intellect v. appealing to fear, Tomh.

I don’t ever try to inflict my values or beliefs on people through the guise of right v. wrong or good v. evil. I do try to appeal to reason to garner support my own conclusions. There is never any penalty, actual nor spiritual, for disagreeing with me. You really can’t see the difference? If not, don’t bother responding as I have better things to do than pit facts against beliefs. It’s like the old saying says: I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 16, 2006 9:19 PM
Comment #195463

>>The display is not an endorsement of the display.
If no then why is it so important to display it?
If yes you are using my money and land to promote YOUR god above all others.
And you never answered this —would you want to spend your tax money and would you want me to put a displays in your town park during the pagan Beltane holiday? Remember, whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

Posted by: TheSavage at November 16, 2006 9:23 PM
Comment #195481
The Garden of Eden is, according to nearly all Bible scholars, in Iraq.

Wow, the Garden of Eden AND Weapons of Mass Destruction and those durned furrin lib’rul commie-pinko inspectors couldn’t find any of it? They’re prolly terrorists. Maybe even atheists.

Posted by: Jarin at November 16, 2006 10:46 PM
Comment #195482

No doubt it’s an endorsement. Better yet, why not use taxpayers money to put a 20 foot replica of that crucifix in the jar of urine? Surely no one would mind if their tax money went to that, right?

On a related note, was forwarded this by someone, I think it’s a good look at the reality of where excessive religious propaganda and cohabitation with government leads: http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/12min.htm

As scary as this preview is, the only thing that scares me more, is the thought that too many people would like to see America become this too, only with Christianity instead of Islam.

Posted by: Taylor at November 16, 2006 10:47 PM
Comment #195493

Religious and moral values do have a place in government and politics. We need presidents, senators and representatives who have a clear sense of their own religious and/or moral values. We also need them to legislate from a clear idea of what their policies and legislation will do to encourage or dismantle the religious and moral values of society. Any leader who doesn’t know that his/her decisions can impact society for the better or the worse should not be in politics. Any leader who knowingly implements policies or enacts legislation that dismantles the religious and/or moral values of society should be voted out.

I often wonder how many of our representatives act with good consciences. Check out the policies that some (on the left and on the right) wish to implement. No concern seems to be shown for the consequences these policies would have on the religious and/or moral values of our society.

Does that mean that all decisions have to be made in such a way that policies and legislation won’t impact religious or moral values negatively? No. I don’t think that is possible. But, on the other hand, to implement policies or enact legislation without considering the impact such would have is unwise, not to mention insensitive. Further, to do so in order to break down those values should be considered an intolerable crime to our society.

Posted by: Don at November 16, 2006 11:36 PM
Comment #195500

So the government is supporting Christianity by allowing religious displays on government property. Is that what you are saying?

Then when gay pride comes to town and has their march down main street, government is supporting gay pride celebrations and organizations. The rational from you is the same.

Kevin23
I am not here to prove to you that the Garden of Eden existed. You apparently believe that it did not exist. I believe that it did exist. That is not the point of this listing.

Taylor
If Islam took over this country you will die. That is part of the Islamic belief.

Thesavage
The vast majority wants holiday displays. There is also the subject of tradition. The displays at Christmas time are very seldom at a cost to the taxpayers. Halloween is a pagan holiday and local governments have displays. Nobody complains.
As far as the WMD’s that you bring up, they were transported to Syria. The UN and Iraq dragged their feet until the WMD’s were transported to three cities in Syria.
I feel compassion for you for believing that the ACLU is saving you from any harm and distress.

Posted by: tomh at November 17, 2006 12:05 AM
Comment #195507


Tomh: The WMD’s were transported to Syria because President Bush waited to long to invade. He should have started 6 months earlier.

When the Christians conquered the Roman Empire and renamed it the Holy Roman Empire, they began converting the Pagans. They had one big problem, they could not get the pagans to stop having their big celebrations. The Christians got smart and decided to co-opt the pagan holidays. One holiday was during the winter soltice. The death and rebirth of the Sun became the birth of the Son, Christmas. The spring holiday for the resurrection or rebirth of the Earth became the resurrection of Christ, Easter.

Posted by: jlw at November 17, 2006 12:47 AM
Comment #195515

excellent post michael smith.

keep ‘em coming.

Posted by: Diogenes at November 17, 2006 1:39 AM
Comment #195518

jlw,

From wikipedia;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas#Christian_origins_of_holiday

“The idea that December 25 is Jesus’ birthday was popularized by Sextus Julius Africanus in Chronographiai (221 AD), an early reference book for Christians. This identification did not at first inspire feasting or celebration. In 245 AD, the theologian Origen denounced the idea of celebrating the birthday of Jesus “as if he were a king pharaoh.” Only sinners, not saints, celebrate their birthdays, Origen contended.

As Constantine ended the Christian persecution and began the persecution of non-Christians, Christians began to debate the nature of Christ. The Alexandrian school argued that he was the divine word made flesh (see John 1:14), while the Antioch school held that he was born human and infused with the Holy Spirit at the time of his baptism (see Mark 1:9-11). A feast celebrating Christ’s birth gave the church an opportunity to promote the intermediate view that Christ was divine from the time of his incarnation. Mary, a minor figure for early Christians, gained prominence as the theotokos, or god-bearer. There were Christmas celebrations in Rome as early as 336 AD. December 25 was added to the calendar as a feast day in 350 AD.”

I find it strange that once the Christians were no longer the persecuted, they became the persecutors.
Only in recent history have the “pagans” begun to celebrate their holidays again.

Interestingly enough, Constantine, the “Holy Roman Emperor” doesn’t seem to be a “live and let live” kind of guy.
He restricted the Jews in their worship, decreed they couldn’t hold Christian slaves, nor could they circumcise the slaves they could hold.
He also made, as mentioned above, the celebration of any “pagan” holiday illegal.

Hardly “”Christlike”.

Posted by: Rocky at November 17, 2006 7:41 PM
Comment #195524


Rocky: Of course, infiltration of a particular religion into secular government would never lead to religious persecution like that today. Not in this country or any other country like, say Iran.

Posted by: jlw at November 17, 2006 8:50 PM
Comment #195526

Ya think?

Posted by: Rocky at November 17, 2006 9:13 PM
Comment #195533

Michael

Very interesting post.

tomh

WMDs dragged to syria? I have seen or heard nothing verifying this fact. It is speculation at best circulated by those trying to give the Bush admin a boost in its time of need prior to elections.

As I see it this administration is a clear example of why curch and state should not be affiliated. The republican party has pandered to the millions of evangelical christians in order to gain votes for the party. In order to get those votes the party is expected to enact legislation favoring your views. If they are capable of securing a large percentage of those votes and getting those votes to turn out time after time then they can effectively shut out all other parties. In the course of doing so they are using religious manipulation to coerce those votes. I do believe that this is and has been a large portion of the agenda of the rep party for years. They have been preying on your religious beliefs at your expense in the interest of one party dominance. Not necesarily in the interest of religious morality, or apparently any morality for that matter.

I respect your right to worship or not worship the god of your choice whenever you see fit. But trying to infuse a religious agenda within the workings of government can only lead to abstractions from the real and important issues at hand.

Posted by: ILdem at November 17, 2006 10:48 PM
Comment #195534

ILdem,

“WMDs dragged to syria? I have seen or heard nothing verifying this fact. It is speculation at best circulated by those trying to give the Bush admin a boost in its time of need prior to elections.”

Actually, they have been talking about this since we invaded, but strangely enough, no one has provided any evidence to substantiate the claim.

Posted by: Rocky at November 17, 2006 10:52 PM
Comment #195535

BILLS

Let us know how that stoning goes. You may want to try and work with your local rep to enact legislation making stoning legal. Thanks for the laugh!

Posted by: ILdem at November 17, 2006 10:53 PM
Comment #195540

There are about six locations in Syria where the Iraqi WMD’s were transported to. Al-Baidah in the northern part of Syria, Tal Snan and Shinshar in the central part of Syria are three of the more consistently reported locations.

Posted by: tomh at November 18, 2006 12:07 AM
Comment #195542

tomh-
Did you know that when we invaded, we had not one WMD site confirmed as having the weapons? To establish that the WMDs were moved to Syria, we first have to establish that there were WMDs in Iraq around the time we invaded. Nobody ever established that.

Even supposing the WMDs were there, and were moved, there’s no paper-trail, no population of witnesses who saw this putative move going on. It’s difficult to moves all those armaments without being noticed.

We would also have to ask where the WMDs came from. The best they could have done was use surge capacity, but that would take years to reconstitute the system at best. The fact was, Saddam had no operational facilities for those purposes.

You can reel off the rumors, but you still haven’t found anything yet. You still can’t point to anything and confirm their existence.

You can claim all kinds of conspriacy theory as to why they don’t show up, but the fact remains thatt nobody’s finding them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 18, 2006 12:43 AM
Comment #195543

I agree i think that state and religion should be separated people but people have values that shouldn’t affect the decisions that are made in government.The pilgrims came here to escape religious prosecution, putting in place polices based solely on religion affects someone beliefs and is against the first amendment. Last president reelection Bush was reelected solely on his beliefs and morals instead of what he could do for the nation. Instead of doing what was best for the US and pulling out of the war in Iraq he continues to send troops over there.People follow different religions in such a diverse nation like the United States so the government shouldn’t be lead by a certain religion because it does not represent the people. Most presidents in the past have been white, protestant,and rich the only president that was a different religion was Kennedy who was Catholic and look what happened to him he was assassinated.

Posted by: Angiet at November 18, 2006 12:52 AM
Comment #195544

ILdem -
“The republican party has pandered to the millions of evangelical christians in order to gain votes for the party.”

This charge has already been answered above… but (just for the sake of argument let’s say it is so…) Is pandering to any group wrong? Say, Blacks, Hispanics, Christians, Gays… Just because the carrot is legislation supporting morality doesn’t in itself make this wrong. The carrot for Gays is legislation favorable to Gays. The carrot for blacks is the possibility of either a hand-out or a hand-up. The carrot for middle-class white families is low-cost college loans for their children…etc., etc., etc.

Show me that this is any different in essence. The only rule that applies here is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free practice thereof.” Laws that favor religion in general, build a stronger moral compass for our society, or promote religious freedom don’t come in conflict with our constitution.

Further, both main political parties are free to pander to whichever group(s) they believe will help them win elections. That the Dems don’t want to appeal to the large block of voters who consider themselves Christians has kept them out of power for 12 years. Do you think that was an intelligent choice?

Posted by: Don at November 18, 2006 1:04 AM
Comment #195557

Don

Campaining for a degree of morality determined by the church in the interests of the church is a problem as I see it. One can be considered moral without adhering to the exact rules and beliefs of any one religion. Theocratic beliefs do not necesarily serve the best interests of all people.

Pandering to blacks because they need a hand out(condescending?) or hand up is a real need, not a religious belief.

Pandering to middle class white families for low cost college loans is once again a verifiable need, not a belief.

Pandering for affordable healthcare for all is a need not a belief.

Needs are factual issues. Individual beliefs are not always factual and do not always best represent practical issues. The list could go on forever. I guess the point is that legislation should be based on fact and need, not individual religious beliefs.

I do not wish to have a tax exempt organization influencing my legislators. I do not want a tax exempt organization making a determination of how I should or should not live so long as I am living within the boundaries of law. Yours or my right to practice religion is fine so long as it does not impose on or influence the law of the land. The law of the land should be determined by legislators seperate from the church so that it can best serve the views of the tax paying people and organizations who are paying the salaries of those legislators.

Do you not see a moral conflict of interests in the fact that the republican machine is campaining for your votes under the guise of morality when their true intent is merely to obtain your vote in order to perpetuate the party. I see this as deceptive and moraly wrong.

The biggest problem as I see it is that such a pandering could feasibly have the effect of creating a church based government. In effect we could indirectly fall under religious persecution via the government simply because the one party system would become obligated to one very large and powerful group in order to retain its power. I believe this is exactly the type of government our founding fathers were trying to protect us from.

Posted by: ILdem at November 18, 2006 10:02 AM
Comment #195639

ILdem,

What is the difference between a tax exempt organization endorsing a candidate, and say, the Washington Post or NY Times? Do they not try to influence the masses with their messages every day? Very few tax exempt organizations make the kind of money corporations make. Why are they so dangerous? Only in a perfect world does a legislator become immune to any influence. Or would that be so perfect?

JD

Posted by: JD at November 19, 2006 2:55 AM
Comment #195653

My argument was not that the Constitution guarantees the right to tax exempt status. You are reversing the message. My argument is that the Constitution guarantees the right to Free Speech and Freedom to practice religion. Taking away all mention of God or all religious symbology from public discourse, or stifling what some individuals can say from their pulpit or otherwise, sends the message that there is no place for religion in America. It is mind boggling that some do not understand that this is censorship and Government intrusion.Those who practice religion have just as much right to be represented in the American political structure, just like those who practice religion are guaranteed the protection against discrimination in the workplace that also applies to race, gender, etc.

Posted by: JD at November 19, 2006 10:00 AM
Comment #195661

ILdem,

You say the Republican party campaigns under the guise of morality for the purpose of obtaining votes to perpetuate the party agenda. Is that something like running against the “Culture of Corruption” and then nominating Murtha and Reid as Party Leaders?

JD

Posted by: JD at November 19, 2006 10:39 AM
Comment #195715

JD-
Its all in how you’re defining public discourse. Within the government, yes, we’re imposing restraints, based on the constitutional interpretations of the establishment cause. Government’s supposed to be neutral, since it represents each one of us and nobody in particular.

But in the public sphere? Religion has been nowhere near cut out. Just look around you. No station’s getting their license revoked for broadcasting church services or televangelists. You got TBN, you got Robertson’s station. You’ve even got a Catholic cable network, EWTN.

Additionally, people discuss religion constantly, broadly across the media, in books, in movies, on the radio. And finally nobody’s kept from preaching the word, praying to Buddha, or bowing five times towards Mecca.

So is religion being cut out of the public sphere? Hardly. Its as rich and diverse as ever. What this is, is folks trying to stir up a panic and get people feeling like they’re being persecuted. Folks, we have no real idea of what persecution is like. My suggestion to those who don’t like that their village or town can’t set up a nativity scene is to set up one in their own front yard. The Church fathers didn’t need a government backing them up to found the Christian Church. We don’t need one to make sure it endures.

As for Murtha and Reid? Murtha wheeled and dealed, but he refused the bribe and most of what he did in terms of trading votes for pork is not remarkable by comparision. It also helps to point out that the Democrats chose Hoyer, not Murtha.

As for Reid? Just because some hack reporter has it in for you doesn’t make you corrupt. On the land deal, the land never passed out of his hands, and his profit was only 700,000.

On the Jack Abramoff thing, most of Abramoff’s friends said it was unlikely he was in close with Reid, and Reid, when approached by the lobbyists did exactly the opposite of what they wanted him to do. You can’t have quid pro quo without the quo.

On the boxing tickets, they weren’t tickets but VIP passes which were illegal to pay money for, and which payed for metal chairs at ringside, not plush seats.

On the subject of involvement with gambling interests… Well, folks, he is the Senator from Nevada. Do we blame Texas and Alaska Senators or Representatives for dealing with oil interests?

Ultimately, the whole effort smacks of tu quoque logic, an attempt to minimize the faults of the Republicans by alleging Democrats share them. I’d tell you it hasn’t really worked. Remove the log from your eye before you remove the speck from ours.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2006 5:03 PM
Comment #195721

Stephen Daugherty,

Does the right to free speech only apply to your own back yard? The majority of people do not mind that City Hall displays a nativity scene, or that the local Court House displays the Ten Commandments. It would seem if we are a representative republic, the majority should set the rules. However, when it comes to religious symbols involved with free speech or religious leaders involved in politics, the tiny speck of those offended have to take their nonsense to the Courts to have their way rather than through the legislative bodies. This is the way that the liberal left have “coerced” their opinions and theology upon the majority of us throughout the last sixty years. If you can’t win the debate, find a good trial lawyer! That is the way of the left!

JD

Posted by: JD at November 19, 2006 5:59 PM
Comment #195726

JD,

“The majority of people do not mind that City Hall displays a nativity scene, or that the local Court House displays the Ten Commandments.”

You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
Please prove this allegation with links to sites where the facts can be found.

And please let them be politic neutral sites.

Posted by: Rocky at November 19, 2006 6:32 PM
Comment #195753

Rocky,

I don’t have the time or the money to do a poll, but if I did I’m sure it would be a lot more unbiased than most of those done through the media. Perhaps, we could do a quick poll of the readers of this blog.

We simply should ask: Are you personally offended by the display of religious symbols such as the Nativity at Christmas or the Ten Commandments by your Town or City Hall or your County Courts?

Those that say yes, are for removing any religious or holiday symbols from public property.

Those that say no, are OK with displaying symbols like the Nativity on holidays and traditionally accepted values like the Ten Commandments on public property if the town’s elected leadership desires to do so.

I don’t have permission to do a poll on this blog, so I’m not advocating that anyone answer, however, it is a suggestion if the Management is OK with it.

Posted by: JD at November 19, 2006 8:57 PM
Comment #195762

JD,

Yet you make the assumption that “most” see things your way.

On public displays, I’m not offended, I just don’t think we should spend the money.

On the Ten Commandments, I don’t get the reason why you think they need to have them in the Courts.
I think if the Churches spent more time on scripture and less time on politics, we wouldn’t need them in the courts.

Posted by: Rocky at November 19, 2006 9:24 PM
Comment #195772

Rocky,

The Courtrooms, hallways, exteriors, etc., are not going to have blank walls. If they don’t spend it on fixtures of this nature, they’ll spend it on who knows what other possibly truly offensive decorations. It was rumored that a White House Christmas tree was decorated with condoms when Clinton was in office, but I can not say whether this was actually true. If so, I would not have wanted this in the White House. The point is, politicians will spend the money to decorate their / our buildings with something or other. That’s just the way it is! If something is not a big deal to you as far as being offensive, let it stay. I have greater impatience in the fact that every time the Congressional offices turn over, (or the White House for that matter), they have to go out and buy new silver and place settings picked out by the new First Lady, or every office has to be remodeled when they were just reworked two, four, or six years ago. So, on that we can certainly agree!

JD

Posted by: JD at November 19, 2006 10:01 PM
Comment #195775

JD-
Backyard? I said front yard! You can put up a Hanukkah display, a Ramadan display, and a Christmas display, or whatever you want. Put up one of Vishnu or Zeus for all the rest of us care. There is not one speck of individual expression these cases have infringed upon. You only see it as infringement if you believe it is the Government’s privilege to represent a religion for the people.

That is not a privilege the government is allowed.

This constitution is explicitly written so the majority have no role in determining what the religious views of this nation are. They cannot eliminate religions they don’t like, they cannot get special status for the ones they do like. It’s not a matter of offensiveness that the Court can’t display the Ten Commandments, or City Hall display a Nativity Scene, it’s that such displays of religion are really none of any government’s business in this country.

With all the outlets for religious opinion out there, how can you possibly claim that there is coercion present in day to day life. I pity the city or court district which actually needs some authority figure to promote religion to keep it alive. We are well past the days when our leaders were high priests as well as high kings. We do not need government support of religion to keep it alive.

We’ve kept religion alive for over two centuries in this country without the need for a national church, for laws compelling church attendance, for laws banning one sect or another from our lands. Go look at Europe and The Middle East, and look what happens to religion when church and state are not separate. They aren’t exactly getting along, are they?

Go put up your Christmas lights, your own Nativity scenes, and speak for your own beliefs, as this country leaves you free to do on your own. You can do all this, and nobody can do a damn thing to prevent you from doing so.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2006 10:06 PM
Comment #195781

Stephen Daugherty,

It is quite over-reaching that you consider the Ten Commandments on the wall or in the foyer of a Court House to be a National declaration of the acceptance of, which is it, Christianity or Judaism, as our official “religion”.
You are right! Even those who profess to be Christians, for example G. W. Bush, and have risen to the Presidency, have not set up sixty foot statues of Jesus, or worse yet, of himself as the National High Priest, demanding that we all bow down to it at least three times a day. So, what are you so worried about? It seems like the, (I will not say Christian-hating, but perhaps, Christian disliking), left making much ado about nothing!!

JD

Posted by: JD at November 19, 2006 10:32 PM
Comment #195784

JD

What is the difference between a tax exempt organization endorsing a candidate, and say, the Washington Post or NY Times?

The Post and Times are tax paying organizations. This gives them the right to appeal to the masses in a political fashion.

To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates

The various TAX PAYING media groups are varied and gernerally express their own views needs and wants. The church is promoting explicit messages, views, values, and ideologies. Given the size of say the evangelical church there is a very real potential danger in the influence that one group could have on our government when any one political pary becomes obligated to it.

I personally have no problem with religious decorating on public land. But I do agree that no tax money or labor should be associated. If that is to be allowed then all religions should be allowed to display. I grew up in a very small town with good gun loving republican christians. I am not sure those people would yet comfortably welcome a black family into town, let alone a town square decorated with likenesses of Alla or Buddha. If you are going to allow one you must allow all. We live in a very culturally diverse country, the only way to keep it that way is to separate church from state. How could our government fairly represent the christian faith without also representing all other faiths. By allowing one faith to dictate the workings of government we would be effectively blocking the rights of all other faiths.

Many of the problems in this world stem from the hatreds beween various religious groups. Christian religious groups included. However here in America everyone is allowed to worship as the feel fit withour fear of reprisal. The only way to maintain that freedom is to insure that no one religious group has a hold on government.

Posted by: ILdem at November 19, 2006 11:01 PM
Comment #195786

JD

What Murtha and Reid did was peanuts compared Abramoff, Ney, Delay, Foley etc. I do not believe either is on their way to prison anytime soon. I am not saying they are corruption free. But I do think they are very good statesman. And in the end the dems did not vote Murtha in. I do believe that shows a good deal of sensibility within the party.

I fully expect ethics reform to take place under this party. If it does not then next election I will most assuredly vote for whichever party I feel will attack the matter. As far as I am concerned it is the number one problem in government today. Until we can find a way to keep our legislators honest and the power of lobbyists and their money contained we will not have an effective government in the interests of the people.

Posted by: ILdem at November 19, 2006 11:15 PM
Comment #195789

ILdem
The persons you mentioned are not statesmen; they are politicians. One would be hard pressed to find a statesman of either party in congress.

As to IRS rules you mentioned above. You are correct in stating that the primary activity of a 501(c)3 organization cannot be of political activity. In addition a 501(c)3 organization can participate in political activity just so long as it is not their primary activity.

Posted by: tomh at November 19, 2006 11:28 PM
Comment #195790

JD

To assume that dems dislike or hate christianity because they do not see a place for the church in government is absurd. I consider myself a christian. I do not let that faith cloud my view of politics. Allowing faith to intervene with governmental affairs would no longer allow me to be able to maintain an objective viewpoint.

What is sad is that the current republican party in its lust for greed and power has succesfully played the religious right like a violin for the last seven years. If I had supported them I personally would feel very betrayed and embarrased for being so easily duped.

Posted by: ILdem at November 19, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #195797

ILdem,

I understand the rules of a tax-exempt program, or entity, however, I do not think that the Government should be allowed to restrict the speech of such an organization whether it be political speech or otherwise. The Constitution requires that Government not restrict speech whatsoever in the First Amendment. I can understand that such an organization may be restricted regarding campaign donations due to the fact that it receives a “subsidy” if you want to call it that. Therefore, there is the potential of such an organization becoming a political funnel set up by a political party or individual. But, it is a very dangerous game that is played when the Government can purchase with taxation, or the lack thereof, the right to restrict speech, including the support of a particular candidate. This is the issue which troubles me a great deal. I also agree with you that we need to allow other religions to take part as well. I am not promoting just Christianity, or my faith, if you like. It really rubs me wrong that Government can set up rules that circumvent the First Amendment which should be so dear to all Americans! I find it interesting that when it comes to displaying religious symbols, (practicing freedom of religion), many are advocating that they don’t care what is done on private property, however, when it comes to speaking about a particular candidate, (practicing freedom of speech), they do care what is done in the pulpit, which is in many cases privately owned.

JD

Posted by: JD at November 20, 2006 12:09 AM
Comment #195833

JD-
Is it overreaching, if somebody puts up the Ten Commandments in a Federal Courtroom?

Additionally, if they do that, as a official of the judicial branch, what is their purpose in doing so? Aesthetic. Nobody puts up the Ten Commandments because they’re nice to look at. They are advocating their religious code of behavior and a revival of its authority in mainstream society.

And if it’s not federal? Doesn’t matter. The issue translates from top to bottom because of the 14th Amendment.

I am not a Christian hater or even disliker. I’m a Christian, who happens to believe that the Government is both unnecessary and undesireable as a partner in spreading the faith. The Founders agreed, and set this country up as neutral, secular.

That secularity does not inhibit religion, it in fact lets it blossom, because choices are not forced or encouraged by men who can fall out of political favor and take their religions with them. A Nativity Scene being removed is a small price to pay to keep religion autonomous and safe from the rise and fall of governments.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2006 7:21 AM
Comment #195850

JD,

“I find it interesting that when it comes to displaying religious symbols, (practicing freedom of religion), many are advocating that they don’t care what is done on private property, however, when it comes to speaking about a particular candidate, (practicing freedom of speech), they do care what is done in the pulpit, which is in many cases privately owned.”

You apparently don’t get that there are trade-offs in life, and that there are rules that apply to everyone, including Religious institutions.

So to appease your free speech issues, I propose that Churches be allowed to preach whatever political message they wish.
All they have to do is disclose how much money they take in (to the penny), and where that money goes.
They will also have to pay property taxes on the “private” property they own.
They will also be monitored for any “hate speech” against gays, Muslims, or whatever, and be fined accordingly, because they are now a public forum.

I hope this is a solution that will make you happy.

Posted by: Rocky at November 20, 2006 11:14 AM
Comment #195855

Oh, and BTW, tithing will not be tax deductible.
In fact, all donations to any religious institution will be taxed at the normal rate.

Posted by: Rocky at November 20, 2006 11:25 AM
Comment #195860

JD

Nobody is trying to limit yours or anyone elses freedom of speach. Part of the problem with the church and politics lies in past history in regards to centuries of bloody church rule and the genocide which occured because individuals did not wish to conform to church ordered standards.

Quite simply there are rules for participation in public forums. If the church wishes to participate in them then so be it. But they must live by the same standards. Which means taxation, accountability of funds, and resposibility for actions as an organization with political influence.

We could argue the nuances of this matter forever and never come to an agreeable conclusion. Tne laws are the way they are to protect the church from government and to protect government from the church. In other words to protect us the people from persecution by either institution for having individual beliefs of our own. In essence the laws are maintaining freedom of speech as best they can.

Posted by: ILdem at November 20, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #195875

There is circumvention on the theory of “separation of church and state”.
If you wanted that “separation’ then the government should be totally separated from it and allow the church to teach and preach what they want. But the advocates of “separation” want only some “separation”. The church or 501(c)3 organization, according to the “separation” proponents should be taxed and controlled by what they can teach or preach or who is in the pulpit. That is not “separation of church and state” because the state has interdicted the operation of the church or 501(c)3 organization.

Posted by: tomh at November 20, 2006 1:35 PM
Comment #195909


Can the proponents of Church/State rule show anywhere in modern times or at any time in history that Church/State rule has been successfully implemented? If not what has changed that would cause one to think that it would work now?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 20, 2006 4:07 PM
Comment #196065
We simply should ask: Are you personally offended by the display of religious symbols such as the Nativity at Christmas or the Ten Commandments by your Town or City Hall or your County Courts?

Those that say yes, are for removing any religious or holiday symbols from public property.

Those that say no, are OK with displaying symbols like the Nativity on holidays and traditionally accepted values like the Ten Commandments on public property if the town’s elected leadership desires to do so.

JD, it is a fallacy to leap from the initial “yes” or “no” to the views you ascribe to those answering “yes” or “no.” For example, I am not offended by nativity scenes (or by the oracle at Delphi), but I still don’t think governments should be involved in religious symbols.

For that reason, I also don’t think a town full of atheists should set up on public land a huge sign saying “God is Dead.”

If I thought religious expression was suppressed in this country, I would march in favor of those who wish to worship as they choose. But it’s simply not. The dozens (hundreds?) of Churches near where I live are testament to that.

Posted by: Trent at November 21, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #196124

I fully understand all of your comments and fears regarding the integration of Church and State, however, regardless of the Churches ability to preach anything “else” that they wish from the pulpit, or anywhere including TV, radio, newspaper, etc. the one issue where the Government says, “except the endorsement of political candidates” is an intrusion and denial of an organization’s right to free speech. Again, free speech has nothing to do with tax exemption, you are getting the matters confused. The First Amendment does not guarantee the right to Free Speech “unless tax exempt”. The Governemt does not have the Constitutional right to limit speech based on a person’s or organization’s tax status. There are all kinds of people who get tax exemptions, and in fact, many poor pay no taxes whatsoever, and those that do actually get back more than they paid in. Therefore, many people are actually tax exempt. The Government has no Constitutional Authority to limit speech on tax exempt organizations based upon their tax exempt status, period.

JD

Posted by: JD at November 21, 2006 10:44 PM
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