Archive for church/state separation

Betraying Democracy For Theocracy

Posted in belief, culture, faith, Government, politics, religion with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2012 by chouck017894

Theocracy is an ugly form of government which is touted by some faith system merchants as being presided over by God, while in real time all temporal management is to be dominated by a priestly order which claims rule by “divine sanction.”  In other words, it is sham authority.  In this twenty-first century the prime example of this type of governing is Iran.

Theocracies are alway ruthless and quick to condemn and dispose of any perceived threat to whoever happens to oppose the self-proclaimed mouthpiece for the ultimate being. All allegiance to such a set up is compulsory and the multitude is to accept it on blind faith even though there is never any real supportive evidence for the claims of godly choice of leader or the practices that are demanded.  It is this horror of social interaction that the forefathers of the United States sought to avoid, and they thus established the wise declaration that church and state must be kept separate.

That protective provision for maintaining true democracy as featured in the US Constitution has been the glue which bound diverse people from many lands in respectful acceptance of spiritual equality, which consequently made the US one of the mightiest nations in history.  Unfortunately, that strength and influential power which resulted from tolerance of diversity is a lure that cannot be resisted by ego driven conspirators.  If such persons can imagine that they speak for God, it is also easy for them to imagine that they should command the world.

Since the last half of the twentieth century and into this twenty-first there have been a glut of false prophets and self-proclaimed mouthpieces of God seeking to chip at that tap-root of the Constitution and replace it with their interpretation of “biblical values.”  All these ego driven pretenders of sanctity have attracted whole regiments of followers who are encouraged to mistake their ego for their spirit or their soul, and contribute multimillions to the “ministries” that would systematically destroy liberty and freedom for all.  Here, listed alphabetically, is a record of ten major “faith” pretenders that seek destruction of the constitutional mandate of separation of church and state.

  • “Alliance Defending Freedom” = (FDF) “Freedom” in this designation is deliberately misleading; the only freedom sought is to promote the prejudices of an Arizona based organization of TV and radio far right preachers as a tax-free religious group.  It is money and prejudice, not spirit, that guides them.  Gullible believers have shelled out nearly thirty-six million dollars to this group that seeks to overturn the federal law which bars tax-exempt churches (or other non-profit organizations) from intervening in partisan elections.
  • “American Family Association” = (AFA) “American Family” makes it all sound so reputable and patriotic, but this Mississippi based “association,” founded by Reverend Donald Wildmon, functions largely by abhorrent artificiality.  For instance, the AFA staffer Bryan Fischer alleges that Adolf Hitler invented church/state separation.  Apparently Fischer thinks that Hitler was present in the 1700s when the US Constitution was written.  Of course the AFA likes to portray abortion as sin, that gay persons do not deserve equal rights, that the AFA should be free to promote their faith system interpretations in public schools, etc., etc.  These bigoted hate mongers boast that they operate nearly 200 radio stations nationwide, and by stimulating their extremism the AFA has raked in nearly eighteen million dollars in 2012 in the name of God.
  • “Concerned Women for America” – (CWA) The “concern” is allegedly to “bring biblical principles into all levels of public policy.”  (Related blog: A Short Example of Biblical Values, Oct. 2012.)  The CWA was organized in 1979 by Tim and Beverly LaHaye (yeah, that Tim LaHaye, author of religious horror books), and it was started at that time as an opposition group to the Equal Rights Amendment.  Tolerance and trying to understand each other apparently is not a sacred obligation for them, and the CWA therefore opposes equal right for gays, promotes the teaching of creationism in science classes, and similar absurdities.  This is claimed to be “the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization,” and it garnered over ten million dollars in 2012.
  • “Council for National Policy” =(CNP) This “council” is small potatoes, drawing in not quite two million dollars in 2012, but it typifies the shadowy operations of the radical right.  The CNP is another Tim LaHaye scheme, and its purpose is coordinating meetings of “invitation only” religious right front men to develop strategy for political control (GOP).
  • “Faith and Freedom Coalition” (FFC) Founded by Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition.  Again the “freedom” striven for by this group is not to benefit all of god’s diverse people, but to entice conservative religious voters to certain (GOP) candidates which the FFC desired.  With revenues of nearly five and a half million dollars in 2012, the FFC hosted a forum of GOP presidential contenders in four states.
  • “Family Research Council” = (FRC) Here again a word in their title is deceiving; the word “research.”  This “council,” headed by Tony Perkins, is the principal religious right organization in Washington DC.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has actually designated this outfit as a hate group.  This “council” sponsors a program annually, the “Values Voter Summit,” to promote far-right politicians who favor bans on reproductive freedom and on gay equality, and who favor amending the Constitutional church/state safeguard, and who favor injecting creationism into public school science classes, and similar attacks on God-approved diversity.  But hate is profitable: nearly fifteen million dollars was collected by the FRC in 2012.
  • “Focus on the Family” (earlier known as Alliance Defense Fund) = (FOF) This outfit was founded by James Dobson.   The “family” that this outfit is concerned about is the right-wing political family, not the every-man family which embraces all diversities of human nature.  This Colorado based organization is really focused on pressuring state and national law makers in such things as abortion rights, denying equal rights for gays, and the rest of the typical hate obsessions.  Fanning such obsessions is lucrative, and the FOF revenue for 2012 was around one hundred and five million dollars.
  • Jerry Falwell Ministries/Liberty University/Liberty Counsel = Here is a multimillion dollar empire built on stilts of bigotry and hypocrisy.  With revenues of over five hundred twenty-two million dollars (principally from Liberty University), there is churned out a constant irritation of partisan politics.  Liberty Counsel, based at Liberty University, serves as a religious-right legal unity that specializes in lawsuits aimed at undermining church/state separation.
  • The Pat Robertson religious business empire = One of God’s most long-winded busybodies, Pat Robertson built a worldly empire for himself by selling ego-titillation as spiritual magnification.  The anchor for this fixation was the purchase of a broadcasting license that became the Christian Broadcasting Network, which allowed him to preach to stay-at-home seekers his bias take on what God allegedly wanted.  Mining the airways proved extremely lucrative, and in pursuit of shaping even more minds he established the Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.  Featured in the private University are two legal groups; the Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, and the American Center for Law and Justice.  Ungrateful for his democratic springboard, Robertson has unendingly expounded in far-right and political invective, even stating that the church/state separation clause in the Constitution was a “myth.”  His ego-motivating “700 Club” is nothing more than a forum for promoting extreme right-wing ideology; it is imagined godly favoritism that brought in revenue for 2012 of over four hundred million dollars.
  • And lastly, we have the “United States Conference of Catholic Bishops” = Considering how the Catholic Church governed over most of Europe through the centuries which history records as the “Dark Ages,” we have every right to question the spiritual motivation for the bishops fueling the “cultural war” in the United States.  Catholicism has not exactly proven itself to be an infallible faith system through its two millennia of spiritual posturing.  When bishops indulge themselves in lobbying Congress in Washington DC, it is not for the benefit of all the diverse people that make up the citizenry of the nation; it is an attempt to force principles of the Catholic faith system upon everyone—just as they did in the Dark Ages.  The creative power that is personified as God has decreed that life is to be expressed in broadly diverse modes, and it is not up to any faith system to sit in judgment of that diversity.  The bishops’ formation of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty is pure hypocrisy when its purpose is an ultra-conservative stand on such things as reproductive rights, on who is allowed to love who, marriage equality rights, birth control, school vouchers, and seeking federal funding for their highly prejudicial church-affiliated social services.  With revenue in 2012 of over twenty-six million dollars, we can pretty much judge just where their true spirituality rests.

This short list of religious right groups certainly is not complete, but it does exemplify the most threatening pressure groups plotting against true democratic governing.  There is nothing of any genuine spiritual worth in attempting to force others into some man-formulated performance of honoring the creative Source: that is greed and pretense at its worst.  Under almost any other form of government such attempts at sabotaging the government’s founding principles would rightfully be construed as traitorous.

Mass Distractions

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, culture, faith, gay culture, Government, history, life, politics, random, religion, secularism, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2011 by chouck017894

Every year just prior to the beginning of the new U.S. Supreme Court term, the ceremony known as the Red Mass is played out in Washington D.C. in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.  And naturally the Catholic Diocese sends out invitations to the President, Vice President, the Supreme Court justices, and any other dignitaries that the church hopes to influence.

The Red Mass, first conducted in the early 1950s, is so-called because the officiating clergy wear red vestments to conduct the mass.  In that early 1950s timeframe the Catholic bishops were frothing at the mouth over the Supreme Court which, in 1947, had ruled unanimously in support of the clear separation of church and state.  (The case was Everson v. Board of Education.)  In addition, in 1948, the Catholic bishops had waxed indignant over the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a religious instruction course being imposed in public schools in Champaign, Illinois.  That, the clergy huffed, was “…the shibboleth of doctrinaire secularism.”  So, to show their displeasure with the rulings, the clergy donned their red costumes to indulge in a pretense of divine insight. 

Of course the annual Red Mass event is now propagandized by the church hierarchy as simply a traditional religious observance.  The noble intention, they say, is to beseech God to guide the administration in dispensing justice for the nation.  How God is expected to guide the dignitaries in attendance is usually broadly implied in how the Red Mass “observance” is conducted. 

Back in October of 2010, for example, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl practically slobbered a welcome greeting upon the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts.  And the Associate Justices, Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas—all devoted Catholics, and all Republican nominated—were each publicly praised for attending.  These five men happen to be of one assertive faith system, and happen to hold five of the nine benches of the U.S. Supreme Court: hardly a representation of diversity in a government that is supposed to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  The attention lavished upon these five justices at that 2010 Red Mass contradicted the so-called “traditional religious observances” that they were claimed to be, for the affair was a brash attempt to inject their religious philosophy into government, laws and sectarian doctrine.

The pompous affair was simply religious business as usual, for this has been the routine since that 1950 red-costumed circus.  The Red Mass provides the bishops with a captured audience, which in the case of the present Catholic dominated Supreme Court make for the opportunity to cajole five of the nine justices toward the Catholic faith system’s position on various issues.

From that 1950s feigned respect for the higher Source, the bishops then began to lobby for government aid to parochial schools.  In other words, they wanted tax money taken from diverse people who did not subscribe to the Catholic faith system to be utilized to pay for teaching Catholic beliefs!  From there the “holy” representatives then launched into sermons which opposed government allowance for abortion.  And today this is only one of the oppressive and hateful demands that Religious Right zealots are attempting to impose upon the widely diverse people that make up our democratic nation. 

Considering the amazing diversity that is displayed throughout all Creation, it seems highly unlikely that the creative power responsible for it all would find any reason to force any particular man-invented faith system upon the rest of Creation. 

The Constitutional advice of church and state separation was born of divine insight.  Many of the Founding Fathers of our democratic form of government had traveled to Europe, studied the history of other nations, and noted how governments inevitably sank into oppressive exploitation of citizens when dominated by religious factions.  The understanding that the church and state must stand apart if all citizens are to remain free is the major difference upon which the United States of America rose to greatness.  Separation of church and state was never meant to dishonor a higher Source, nor did it advocate the separation of law from morality.  The higher concept expressed in the Constitution that every person shares an equal playing field in their mortal existence is not a moral principle that religious tyrants choose to understand.

  • Related post: U. S. Supreme Court Set Trap for Democracy, December 2010.

Faith-Based Failures

Posted in Atheist, Bible, culture, faith, history, life, random, religion, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2009 by chouck017894

One might assume from the title of this post that we will delve into the Bush-era Born Again leadership fiasco, but that stands out only as a symptom of the radical right’s built-in tendency to self-destruct.  One of the great myths of the radical right religionism is the propaganda that they alone stand upon the highest moral ground: family values, pro-life, material profits prove god’s love, man should not love man, take the Bible literally—that sort of stuff.

So when it comes to the sanctity of marriage among the fundamentalists, there is a curious point to ponder.  With the passage of time after the exchange of “I Do’s” among the hard-nosed religionists, the ironic thing is that born-again fundamentalists can turn around and boast of having one of the highest divorce rates in the nation.  This is not made up for liberalist snickering.  In fact, some years back, around 2006, an evangelical pollster, George Barna, found a very high rate of divorce among conservative Christians.  Even more disturbing to the pollster, the trend had been in place for more years than they wished to admit.

To add to the embarrassment, an independent research outfit found that the “Bible Belt” states had higher divorce rates than did other regions of the country.  The hellish irony for the self-righteous Right was that states scorned by them as hotbeds of liberalism had the lowest divorce rates.

Most alarming for the hard-nosed evangelical ambassadors of god was the glaring proof that their much touted Bible-based counseling for couples was seriously flawed.  The alarm among the fundamentalists was not so much in regard to the many marital split-ups, but that the evidence of their counseling failure seriously threatened the (unconstitutional) channeling of tax monies into their religious programs—programs they constantly declared worked.  But their true success rate was in the toilet.  And worse, it was common practice among the Born Again “counselors” to stack statistics to conceal the ineffectiveness of their programs.

 Bible-based counseling included such fundamentalist dogma guidance as:  men should run the household and wives were meant to submit to their husbands; warning that wives are at risk of becoming jealous of their husband’s relationship with his mother; children are brought forth in sorrow; woman is commanded (by god) to be under obedience (as in 1 Corinthians 14:34); woman must learn from her husband at home (verse 35); and similar dogma inspired counseling.  They then feign bewilderment that using the Bible as a marriage manual had not brought the blessings of “practical and life-changing support for steadfast marriage” as they claimed. 

The guise of pervasively religious groups protecting marriage has brought considerable amounts of public money into the coffers such as the Northwest Marriage Institute.  Congress actually allocated over $100,000 to this group in 2006—the GWB era—for the alleged purpose of building healthy marriages and thereby hoped to lower the nation’s divorce rate.  We have seen how well that works out.

The Northwest Marriage Institute later ducked out of a court challenge of using tax money for Bible-based marriage counseling brought by Americans United, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church/state separtation.  NMI dropped use of Bible quotes in order to keep its public funding.  Apparently it had nothing at all to do with the commandment not to bear false witness.

Embezzling for Faith

Posted in Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, Government, history, humanity, life, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , on September 26, 2009 by chouck017894

There is a deception being widely practiced among too many members of the U.S. Congress who have underhandedly inserted last-minute special interest “earmarks” into bills just before consideration of the bill is taken up by all members of Congress.  Using federal monies for special interests for a senator’s home state is the traditional type of senatorial embezzlement.  But the most flagrant disregard for the principles of democracy set forth by the Founding Fathers are those sneaky little “earmarks” inserted into bills to actually subsidize religious groups!  That is a clear violation of the principle of church and state separation.

Faith that requires such deceptions and contempt for democracy is clearly anything but holy.  But past records show that our tax dollars—money meant for national welfare—have been repeatedly high jacked in earmarks for such religious fronts as:

  • A fundamentalist Christian group that claimed to offer extended Bible study as a means of helping young persons overcome drug and alcohol addiction.  Sounds good—but the group bragged openly of their true objective: converting Jews and other non-Christians with their Bible activities.  Earmarks provided this Christian proselytizing group with a half million of our tax dollars.
  • Then there was a “ranch” in Florence, Kansas, which claimed that it was “made available to all followers of Christ,” and concentrated on leadership training programs that included selected Bible studies and prescribed forms of devotion.  Earmarks enriched the “ranch” with $595,000.
  • Then there was the Christian Missions organization that advertised their mission was “to present Christ to the unchurched.”  Earmark trickery brought the “missions” the blessing of $282,000 from tax money to further their proselytizing.
  • In Chicago a church sponsored community center profited to the tune of $250,000 in earmark funds.
  • In Michigan a “rescue mission” that  promoted itself as “A Christian summer camping experience,” hiked off with $490,000 from the senator’s earmark sting.
  • In the “Show Me” state of Missouri, a “camp” where volunteers were counseled to “be ready to help spread the good news of Jesus Christ” received the very good news of $375,000 from earmark duplicity.

 These are but a small number out of thousands of how some members of Congress skirt the principle of separation of church and state.  Most all such faith-based organizations that get earmark booty screen prospective staff members for “doctrinal purity,” but have absolutely no qualms about using money collected (embezzled) from tax money that was gathered from people of differing faiths.  And the members of Congress who covertly channel that tax money into these religious groups certainly do not comprehend or respect the Founding Fathers’ resolve to keep church and state separate in order that all citizens are insured the rights of true democracy and freedom from religious persecution.

“Charitable Choice”

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, politics, random, religion, secularism with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by chouck017894

During the drafting of the Welfare Reform Act in 1996, the then-senator from Missouri, John David Ashcroft (R-MO) advanced the innocent-sounding idea of “charitable choice.”  The reference label was something of a misnomer, for the covert intention of the program was to provide a wedge that would permit the government to fund religious groups and ministries.

Within weeks after George W. Bush swore upon two Bibles at his inauguration in 2001 to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution, he was leading the charge in support of the “Charitable Choice” policy.  And GWB installed John Ashcroft as his Attorney General.  Bush, a self-proclaimed “Born Again Christian,” quickly sought to distribute federal tax money to ministries, ostensibly to provide social services that happened to already be provided for through secular grantees and government agencies.  Bush pledged eight billion dollars in expanding “Charitable Choice” so churches and ministries received federal funds for “social services” which allowed them to proselytize!    The “charitable choice” policy really sought to alter the existing laws in a manner that could utilize the power of the federal government to support Christian conversions—a move that is in direct opposition to the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Using tax dollars meant for public benefit works to fund churches and ministries to represent government social welfare is, in itself,  unconstitutional.  Add to this that Ashcroft’s so-called “Charitable Choice,” as attempted, intentionally avoided any protective safeguards that would prevent religious coercion and abuses.  Incorporating religion into publicly funded programs had always been avoided by the government, sometimes contracting separate entities of religious institutions and in that way established safeguards that protected the rights of the disadvantaged, the interests of all tax payers, and in this way insured the integrity of the representing groups.

Although “charitable choice” did become part of the welfare law of 1996, the constitutional concerns caused democracy’s representatives to hesitate in implementing the policy.  Many rightfully saw it as a disguised way of forcing taxpayers to subsidize religion whether they believed in its narrow spiritual worth or not–clearly a means of sabotaging the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.  It was telling that this knucklehead that pushed for “charitable choice” is the same guy who spent eight thousand dollars on blue curtains to hide the breasts of the statue Spirit of Justice and the male counterpart Majesty of Law

 But Bush at that time liked to think of himself as a god-chosen leader, and seemed hell-bent-for-leather on applying “charitable choice” to practically every aspect of government  funding.  The resultant unending “faith-based” hoopla made democracy tremble, alarmed civil liberties groups, and the educational and social service communities, and even the more rationally balanced religious communities.

Providing legitimate social service can be a noble endeavor for spiritually minded groups, but the “faith-based” initiative as attempted in the “charitable choice” ploy was a policy that was concerned with neither democratic nor genuine religious liberty.  But the radical religious right is still seeking to embezzle tax monies for their tyrannical beliefs.  American citizens must keep a watchful eye on these devilish anti-democratic insurgents.

Ashcroft took a teaching position at Pat Robertson’s Regent University after his stint as Attorney General.

Hijacking Christianity

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, history, random, religion, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2009 by chouck017894

Back in the days before television, religion in the United States was pretty much regarded as strictly a personal thing—not a motive for national political grandstanding, not a reason for attempting mass brainwashing, not cause for exaggerated claims of godly interest in government, and not an excuse for trying to steal public money for some self-serving belief system.  Such reprehensible behavior was understood as associated with the low ethics of theocracy, not conduct worthy of the principles of democracy, personal integrity and religious freedom.

As noted  in an earlier blog (God’s Political Addiction, May 9, 2009), the appearance of the technological wonder of television upon the scene in the early 1950s was quickly embraced by pulpit profiteers who would soon  become known as televangelists.  As noted in another earlier blog (God’s Henchment, April 22, 2009), the profits could be enormous by hijacking Christianity and pretending to save souls by trimming down the seekers’ wallets while also skimming off money the government collected for public good under the dodge as tax free organization.

The religious insanity that had once dominated Europe for centuries, and which is referred to as the Dark Ages (c. 476 – c. 1453), was being resuscitated in the United States and the hybrid energized by electronic impulse was lustful and ravenous.  The gates of exploitation had been flung open and the hijackers of Christianity surged through like a tsunami.  Unheeded were the warnings in the New Testament that motivations and excesses and accumulation of riches create danger for personal and social salvation.  Ignored were the parables attributed to Jesus about pursuing power and a slavish accumulation of riches, property and worldly structures.

So where do the pulpit power brokers today stand in the Jesus method of judgment?  The parables of the rich farmer and the one of the rich young ruler being judged wanting should give pause for thought to such Bible thumpers as Pat Robertson and his $460 million a year religious-front operation, all tax free.  And there is the influential evangelical leader James Dobson and his operation Focus on the Family, easily siphoning in $140 million a year tax free, a system that would be more aptly designated as Focus on Himself.   After all, he did declare that he would bring down the GOP if it failed him: he lusted for theocracy.  Forget the has-beens Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer, Jeramiah White, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Leroy Kopp, Aubrey Lee, etc. etc. etc…

After George W. Bush, a GOP faith-distracted president, dutifully packed the federal courts with ultraconservative judges the Religious Right, dreaming that theocracy was near, surged forth in shameless attempts to bring down the wall  of separation of church and state with their self-serving cases in the federal courts.  What the Religious Right have their eyes set upon is not upon public good, however, but temporal power and the tempting profits to be had in “faith-based” scams, which are better described as embezzlement of public money.