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Protect separation of church and state from Rick Santorum.

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The idea of the separation of Church and State is integral to the United States. Upholding the idea remains as important today as it was when our founders built a nation that expressly forbid the mingling of the Church with the operations of the government.

Rick Santorum, though, disagrees. He says:

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute,” he told ‘This Week’ host George Stephanopoulos. “The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country…to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up.”

Two quick things for Mr. Santorum.

One: I disagree vehemently, and am terrified that a Presidential candidate would claim that the church should have influence and invovlement in the operations of the state. That is unconstitutional, and opposes the very foundation of the US as a nation by people who understood the dangers of allowing the inter-mingling of the two. It’s one of the reasons we decided England just wasn’t for us. Bone up on your Thomas Jefferson.

Two: Your second point is invalid, as the separation of church and state does NOT say that people of faith have no role in the public square. People of faith have every right to civic and public involvement, and any notion that people of faith are somehow kept out of the public square is just straight lunacy. See many atheists running our government, do you Mr. Santorum? Your brand of Christianity already has too much of a role in our government for comfort, and to hear you claim otherwise shows how capable you are of ignoring reality.

You have it backwards, and you need to learn: the idea that the church can have influence and involvement over the operation of the government is antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country. People of faith, of all faiths, are welcome into the process. But the church is not.

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Written by Christopher ZF

February 26, 2012 at 12:05

History Lesson for Rick Santorum

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TRC approved. From Salon.

As Madison argued in a 1788 letter to Jefferson, religious fanaticism was as serious a danger to religious liberty as excessive state authority.  In his words, “rights of conscience” were undermined by “overbearing majorities” who were intent on advancing the interests of a particular “religious establishment.”  In plain and simple terms, the founders meant to protect individuals against excessive encroachments by church as well as state.

We might all wish to heed Madison’s further warning:  “It is a melancholy reflection that liberty should be equally exposed to danger whether the Government has too much or too little power.”  Religious liberty required the protection of state authority, in creating a barrier around the individual and guarding against intrusions from religious institutions.

The fact remains that President Obama is no more a French Revolutionary Jacobin than Jefferson or Madison.  It appears, in fact, that the president has a very clear understanding of religious liberty, appreciating the boundaries between church and state just as Madison intended.  His promptly conceived compromise solution, respecting religion without restricting rights, fits the balanced, reasonable approach our founders prescribed when they fought, state by state, to eliminate state funding and sanctioning (i.e., disestablishment) of privileged sects.

Written by Christopher ZF

February 14, 2012 at 16:37

and one more contraception comment for good measure.

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Getting into the politics, which I know many folks abhor… I’ve said many times in the past week that a public, drawn out fight over birth control will only hurt the Republicans, and that the real issue is the Catholic Church’s attempt to prevent access to birth control. Which isn’t a unique position to TRC. But still.

Quoting this at length, because it is worth it, even it if is overly optimistic.

Obama Punks the GOP on Contraception. Amanda Marcotte, Slate.

 The fun part of this is that Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women’s access to contraception, which is what this has always been about.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Christopher ZF

February 10, 2012 at 14:13

a few comments on the contraception and “religious freedom” argument underway

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I am following the argument between the Catholic Church and the Obama Administration over how Catholic hopsitals and other non-church Catholic institutions are to pay for contraception. It is a fascinating debate about religious freedom from government, health-care, contraception (which I must say I cannot believe we still fight over), but also the role of religion in government.

I am presuming, since the argument has been made by the Church that this is a religious freedom fight, that today’s compromise requiring insurance companies and not employers to cover the costs will resolve the issue. The Church has claimed this is not political, it is not about the services, it is about the Church’s freedom of conscience, and so this should just about wrap that problem up.

Anyway. There has been much written on this subject. And I wanted to share a few things that I have valued as I learned about the subject.

New York Times blogger Andrew RosenthalIn case you haven’t been paying attention – and I guess I wouldn’t blame you – the issue is this: The rule exempts religious institutions, like churches, but not religiously affiliated institutions, like Catholic hospitals, that serve the general public. Some social conservatives are calling this an unconscionableassault on religious freedom, since Catholic doctrine prohibits women from using artificial contraception. 
It’s pure election-year shenanigans, led by Republicans who want to make Mr. Obama seem godless. There are already 28 states with similar rules in place, and the Catholic Church continues to operate in all of them (last I checked, anyway).

Sarah Kliff (whose work on the Komen debacle and this issue has shown what modern internet journalism can be) at the Washington PostOutside the political punditry, most Catholics agree with the administration on the issue,” says one Obama campaign official, explaining the view that this could be a political win.
And a lot of this likely isn’t about Catholic voters at all.
Rather, it may well be about the demographics that are most supportive of this particular health reform provision: young voters and women. In the PRRI poll, both groups register support above 60 percent for the provision.

New York Times Opinion Page, Linda Greenhouse: These institutions, as well as Catholic universities – not seminaries, but colleges and universities whose doors are open to all – are full participants in the public square, receiving a steady stream of federal dollars. They assert – indeed, have earned – the right to the same benefits that flow to their secular peers. What they now claim is a right to special treatment: to conscience that trumps law.
But in fact, that is not a principle that our legal system embraces… 
In a 1990 decision, Employment Division v. Smith, the Supreme Court disagreed. Even a sincere religious motivation, in the absence of some special circumstance like proof of government animus, does not merit exemption from a “valid and neutral law of general applicability,” the court held. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion, which was joined by, among others, the notoriously left wing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. 

Star Tribune Opinion Page. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, member of the Minnesota House.The church, with one hand, waves the bus of government through the intersection of Church and State, and into your choice of spouses; with the other hand it seeks to halt otherwise free access to contraceptive health care for its employees.
In lamenting the requirements for equal birth-control coverage for women, a spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops bewailed, “Government has entered the sanctuary.”
Is it ironic that this holy hand-wringing comes just as those same bishops seek to stand in your polling booth on the issue of marriage?

Daily Beast blogger David Frum:  If the audience is paying attention, for example, it will notice that Republicans are not proposing to allow employers and plans to refuse to cover blood transfusions if they conscientiously object to them (although there are religious groups that do). Or vaccinations (although there are individuals who conscientiously object to those as well). Or medicines derived from animal experimentation. (Ditto.)
No, Marco Rubio’s Religious Freedom Restoration bill provides for one conscientious exemption only: contraception and sterilization.
Which means it will be very hard if not impossible to persuade the target audience that this debate is not in fact about contraception. Everybody quite sure that’s a wise debate to have?

And finally, for TRC the worst part here is not the argument that the government is overreaching into areas where the government has no legal or moral right to be. The story is the opposite: the Catholic Church is once again attempting to insert itself from the pulpit into policy making. The Church can disregard modern science and the irrefutable preference for contraception all it wants. But it cannot keep our government from providing Catholics and non-Catholics with services it opposes.  The Church is opposing access to women’s birth control services, and that is a fight it is going to lose.

Mary Sanchez in the Chicago Tribune. The truth is, the desire to control, to assert one person’s view of morality over another’s choices, is coming from the other direction — from religious conservatives who see this as a skirmish in a new culture war. It’s being played that way because it’s politically expedient to do so in 2012, an election year.
The backlash is an effort to limit a women’s right to have access to health care, including the right to make decisions about reproduction. If that reminds you of the abortion issue, you’re not alone. That was the old cause. This is the new one. Access to contraception is the next target for religious conservatives bent on their version of morality trumping individual rights.
This isn’t primarily about the separation of church and state. Health care is the issue. It is a woman’s right to have access to contraception if she so chooses. And that means including it in prescription drug coverage.
And those “feminist allies” Buchanan talks about. Who are they?
When it comes to users of birth control, it’s nearly every woman in America. 

Written by Christopher ZF

February 10, 2012 at 13:16

Obama’s “war” on Religion, from American Spectator

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Here are a few sentences from the American Spectator, in a lesson TRC wants to give to readers of news:

The recent litany of Obama’s odiousness begins with his growing, unambiguous war against traditional Christianity. He has now left no room for any pretense otherwise to be believed.

Any individual with critical thinking skills should be able to recognize that anything that comes before or after those two sentences will be completely unfounded, anti-Obama horseshit. I can think of no other way to put it.

Of course we shouldn’t be surprised that such sentiments are expressed in the American Spectator, but that does not mean that they should go unchallenged. And we should certainly educate Americans to be able to recognize propagandistic fear mongering when they see it.

I found this article linked from Real Clear Politics, an aggregate source that I value, but that I think has lost any interest in discerning valuable political discussion in the heaps of outlandish uber-conservative Anti-Obamaism. Such as this essay from American Spectator.

The real sad part of this is that the author of this essay, Quin Hillyer, has a reasonable beef with the President, one that has a place in the discourse of contemporary politics and the 2012 election. He has no interest, obviously, in reasonable discourse, however, because President Obama is not reasonable. President Obama is “inept,” “odious,” “feckless” (good one), wants to “starve the American forces” (REALLY!), and pretty much hates everything and everyone Quin Hillyer identifies as “American”.

Here’s the conclusion of this piece.

This is a man who has no interest in serving the United States that most of us know and love. Instead, he’s a man who, by hook and definitely by crook, serves the despicable vision of the utterly foreign America he wants to impose on us.
Four more years of this guy in power, and we are doomed. He is a menace, and, by every legal means possible, he must be stopped — and his maladministration reversed and thoroughly buried. 

If you want to save Christianity, America, the World, and everything that “most of us know and love,” we must align our interest against the man who seeks to destroy Christianity, America, the world, and everything most of us know and love.

Because it is not possible that Obama, a Christian and seemingly pretty good guy, just disagrees with Quin Hillyer. No, Christianity and America, and all that is good, lay in the balance. If Obama wins, the America will likely be destroyed, or worse, Foreignized.

That’s the point: Obama is not American. Obama is not a Christian. He is a foreigner.

I’m sad and mad about this. What a disgrace. And I blame Real Clear Politics for sending me there.

Written by Christopher ZF

February 3, 2012 at 12:13

Is our country losing its mind?

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A major media outlet finds it necessary to write this sentence:

Obama is a Christian, but hasn’t been able to persuade many Republicans that he is, despite going to church and praising Jesus Christ publicly.

Help me understand how this is possible? We have a Christian president, who displayed during the 2008 election that he was very much at home talking about Jesus Christ and his personal faith. But our country chooses not to believe him. Why?

I’m told that it’s not racism, and I don’t want it to be racism. I don’t want it to be xenophobia, or religious intolerance, or any such nonsense. But 18% of Republicans is a lot of people. Those kind of numbers are not easily cast aside as some kind of fringe nonsense. That’s millions of people disregarding reality to support a fantasy based on…what?

And yes, Rick Santorum, it is your responsibility to correct your supporters who are telling lies.

Written by Christopher ZF

January 23, 2012 at 16:56

Jesus Candidate doesn’t want to help the Blah People

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Oh Rick Santorum. I don’t want to continue blogging about you, but so badly I do. So two great notes on Rick Santorum.

  1. Rick Santorum was recently quoted during a campaign stop as saying: “I don’t want to make the lives of black people better by giving them other people’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families.”  That upset some in the black community, because it essentially equates black life with life on welfare. Very nice.But now Rick Santorum has looked at the evidence, and upon further review, he has determined that is not what he said at all! According to Santorum: ““I’ve looked at that quote, in fact I looked at the video…In fact, I’m pretty confident I didn’t say black. What I think — I started to say a word and then sort of changed and it sort of — blah — mumbled it and sort of changed my thought.”So, you said “black”, which would make sense in a sentence, or you said  “blah” which is much better. And to be fair, it doesn’t sound like “black” in the video. I heard Bligh, which of course would make sense if Santorum isn’t too eager to help Lt. Bligh, famously stern commander of the Bounty, whose actions led to a mutiny of historical fame.
  2. Even better (and by better I mean much, much worse) than Mr. Blah is “Mr. Santorum: Jesus Candidate.” Presumably of course, he meant himself, rather than, I don’t know, the Joseph Smith Candidate? (Hint: That means Mitt Romney, Reminder: Mitt Romney is a Mormon, Reminder 2: Real Christians consider Mormonism cultish). Anyway. At a Q&A in New Hampshire, Santorum was told: ““We don’t need a Jesus candidate, we need an economic candidate.” Of course, that must be true, because our nation is in an economic crisis, and since the United States is not and can never be a Christian Nation, having a “Jesus Candidate” is not terribly appropriate role for the Chief Executive. Mr. Santorum of course disputes my interpretation of this, and responded: “My answer to that was we always need a Jesus candidate.We need someone who believes in something more than themselves and not just the economy. When we say, ‘God bless America,’ do we mean it or do we just say it?”This is a very peculiar response, and one that makes my spine twinge. We emphatically do NOT need a Jesus Candidate for President. Religious Candidates are fine, and in fact are probably quite necessary. Everyone should believe in something more than themselves, as trite and meaningless as such a statement is. But a Jesus Candidate is a terrible idea, runs in clear opposition to the founding of this nation (BOOM, take that originalists), and should be openly rejected even by Christians.

Written by Christopher ZF

January 6, 2012 at 11:21