Archive for constitution

Ministry Abuses

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, life, lifestyle, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2011 by chouck017894

Religious huckstering is very profitable.  If in doubt, just ask Pat Robertson, Kenneth Copeland, Randy and Paula White, Eddie Long, Creflo Dollars, Glenn Lee Beck, Billy Graham, Robert H. Schuller, Jan and Paul Crouch, or numerous other televangelist “ministries” that each year chalk up multi-millions in tax-free cash and which they freely dip into for any personal expenditures. 

Religious activists are permitted to live outside the purview of federal tax authorities, and that guarantees the shafting of all tax payers in the name of some self-serving “faith” system.  From that sheltered position the holy schemers are free to intervene in partisan political campaigns while freely living lavish lifestyles.  This applies, for the most part, to the television “ministries” that pander to the stay-at-home armchair worshippers.  For the few persons who may actually be personally familiar with New Testament texts, however, that approach to “ministry” work does not properly reflect what Jesus is alleged to have taught. 

That these televangelists pick and choose the verses that are to be ignored is seen in their lust for money.  You never hear them quote from Mark 6:8 where Jesus sent out his disciples to preach and heal, telling them, “…take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no script, no bread, no money in their purse…”   Or the verses in 1 Timothy 6:10 where it is noted, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith…”  It was in 1 Timothy also (chapter 3, verse 3) that cautioned those who preach were to be, “…not greedy of filthy lucre…”  And then there is Hebrews 13:5, which says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have…”

Among the goodies that the tax exempt loophole allows faith systems is that ministry executives may freely take “housing allowances.”  That these “housing allowances” too often pay for palatial homes, multi-million dollar condos, beach houses, etc., is indulged in while the “ministers” laugh up their sleeves at their gullible “sheep.”   It is common for such ministry set-ups to include family members and friends as “staffers,” so that they may all luxuriate under the big non-profit umbrella.

This is adequate reason for all faith systems to be required to file the same detailed annual information return that any other nonprofit organizations must file (Form 990).  Simply saying that they “work for the Lord” is not enough to avoid their obligation to the democratic government that permits them to exist.  Even Jesus, whom they mockingly claim to represent, was clear about that: “…Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s…” (Mark 11:17).  In other words, the advice of Jesus is that his representatives are to understand that proper spiritual conduct depends upon church and state being honored separately: for  although both concern man’s conduct, man’s accepted forms of earthly self-government do not prevail in heaven’s diversity and liberty. 

The antidemocratic criminality that is being indulged in in the U.S. today in the name of self-serving ministries has evolved into the corruption of government that we have witnessed since the Religious Right took over the Republican Party in 1996.  Thus today we have Republican Congressmen such as Charles Grassley of Iowa actually recommending that an independent commission—led by an evangelical agency—study church tax issues.  (That commission would be the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a Winchester, Virginia-based agency.)  Included in Grassley’s recommendation was the proposal to repeal the ban on churches being actively involved in political campaigns!  Church-based politicking anchored in tax-exempt security is not democratic, and it also runs counter to the teachings of the man whom they claim to represent. 

There is today a renewed push by the Religious Right leaders in the U.S. to scrap the constitutional restriction on religious politicking, or at least undermine it.  The undemocratic aim of these holy conspirators is to establish a voting bloc for fundamentalists whose idea of heaven on Earth is a theocracy.

The extreme Religious Right deceitfully present themselves as “renewed in Christ,” but they seem totally unfamiliar with their savior’s teachings.  In the earliest books of Christianity (Matthew and Mark), followers are counseled to  “…seek the welfare of one’s neighbor,” and to share compassionately.  Trying  to take over a government, therefore, is not a “Christian value.”  But today in the U.S. the self-interest of the fundamentalists is on display in their grasping for political power, and they are doing it using tax-free money.  The democratic structure of the U.S. is being threatened by an internal movement that masks itself with a pretense of piety and spiritual “guidance.”

Fortunately, the founding fathers of our democratic form of government were spiritually wise and knew that genuine faith is not a predatory fixation.

Questioning the U.S. Supreme Court

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on February 1, 2010 by chouck017894

The oath of office taken by each U. S. Supreme Court Justice has them solemnly swear to “…faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God.”  (Italics added.)  Citizens who care about civil rights, civil liberties, and separation of church and state are beginning to get a bit nervous about the U. S. Supreme Court since John G. Roberts was made Chief Justice in 2005.  The extent to which this Court has actually changed national laws—laws with precedence going back seventy to one hundred years—and turning them steadily and covertly to the right is disquieting.  In the present Supreme Court, in the dispensing of “equal justice,” Roberts is more often than not aided and abetted by Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Anthony Alito, with Anthony Kennedy very often inclined to the right.  All were Republican nominated, and all are Catholic.

 Even persons who are only superficially acquainted with the democratic principles expressed in the U.S. Constitution are aware that religion and government are meant to be kept separate for the sake of both.  So it is reason for alarm when a Supreme Court Justice promotes himself as “an avenger of the Christian faith,” and in one of his speeches declare himself to be “a fool for Christ.”  Perhaps Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalia meant it in jest: for the sake of true equal justice let us hope so.  On the other hand, he has openly shown his favoritism toward his taught beliefs when considering his version of “equal justice” in regard to a religious symbol, the cross, that had been placed on government land in the Mohave Desert in California.

The eight foot tall cross was allegedly erected as a war memorial, so Scalia declared that it did not meet with the definition of a Christian symbol!  The court’s judgment, written by Scalia: the cross is “…the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead.”  Really?  Perhaps the dead Christians slumber peacefully because of it, but what of the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, native Americans, atheists or others of lesser known faiths who died for the nation?  Does the long shadow cast by that stark unnatural form really grant all those killed in war the respect that they deserve and earned from the nation?  Despite what Christian extremists claim, the United States was NOT founded as a Christian nation.  Article 11 in the U. S. Treaty with Tripoli, 1796-1797, which also officially ended the War of Independence with Great Britain, says, “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion….”

Equal justice means taking into consideration all evidence to be considered in a case.  As an example of how the Supreme Court has significantly changed national laws, consider the case of Herring v. United States.  The nine Justices passed the decision, which cannot be reviewed, of when evidence must be excluded when police, through good faith or negligent conduct, violate the Fourth Amendment.  Limitations on this were presented with this decision, but it fractured old precedence.  Other precedents have suffered as well.  Plaintiffs relying on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act were thrown a curve in the 14 Penn Plaza v. Pyett case when the Justices declared that individual employees cannot bring claims to court under federal age-discrimination law when they are part of collective bargaining agreement that required arbitration.  The Age Discrimination in Employment Act suffered more fracturing in Gross v. FBL Financial Services by making it more difficult for the plaintiffs in this case to meet burden of proof than did plaintiffs in other forms of employment discrimination suits.

And are true democratic principles being exercised when the possible innocence of a person convicted of a crime is denied a means of presenting scientific support of his/her innocence?  In the District Attorney of the Third Judicial District v. Osborne, the Supreme Court passed a 5-4 decision that those convicted of a crime had no Constitutional right to DNA testing, even though it would not cost the government one cent.  Were the Justices at all concerned about assuring that someone might prove their innocence even though they were convicted?  Is a mistake in identity such a rarity in the legal system?   Yeah, sure.

  • see also Supreme Court NOT for the Citizens, January 22, 2010.

Abuse of Democracy

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, history, medical, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by chouck017894

Let’s face it, there is a corrupt and self-absorbed minority in the United States Congress that is traitorously putting the screws to true democratic process.  It is obvious that these elected politicians have no genuine respect for the will of the people that they are supposed to be serving.  Glaring examples of these today are the poor-loser element of the Republican Party that have stood in opposition to Public Option in health coverage for which the majority of citizens clamored. 

Instead, that small segment of self-interest and special-interest senators indulged themselves by exploiting questionable rules of the House of Representatives to require that a supermajority be in place in order to even discuss necessary reforms in citizen health coverage.  Otherwise the self-interest senators threatened to filibuster.  In other words, a tiny minority, most from the least populous states, seeks to dictate terms of national health care.   

The antidemocratic indulgence of the filibuster, a means of gaming the system that was invented back in the 1800s to defend slavery and segregation, is a shameful “tradition” that has repeatedly threatened the credibility of Congress to implement the will of the majority.  The filibuster certainly is not authorized in the Constitution, for the purpose of that practice is to prevent the majority of senators from putting the peoples’ expressed requirements into effect.

As long as antidemocratic “rules” go unreformed, such self-interest “representatives” can thumb their noses at voters while they continue to compromise democracy and still get paid by the likes of insurance corporations, big oil, pharmaceutical companies, etc.  A couple of examples are in the persons of Democrat Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas who has collected a pile of insurance cash, and Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska who, from 2003 to 2008 squirreled away at least $600,000 from insurance “donations.”  The pursuit of corporate money has lured such as these into bed with the gang of obstructionist Republicans.  Plainly such politicians are not holding out for a better deal for the citizens.

For democratic justice to prevail, the Senate must honor the majority rule.  Compromise with politicians receiving under-the-table payments from corporate firms is not in the interest of the majority of the people.  While a good percentage of the former corrupt politicians are now sulking in their dens (like the infamous C Street “family” in Washington), the present elected representatives should commit themselves to ridding the Hill of the “rules” that suppress debate and inhibits achievement of majority will. 

The United States advertises itself as the land of the free, of liberty, justice, equality and opportunity for all.  It is also a nation with self-interest politicians that are inclined to tell other nations to take up a democratic form of government.  Shouldn’t we make sure that our own house is cleaned up before we strut around claiming to be the best of all social orders?

Corporations Shaft America

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, history, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , on September 18, 2009 by chouck017894

Back in 1816 Thomas Jefferson—who wrote the Declaration of Independence and later served as the third president of the United States—was understandably suspicious of the rise of corporations.  He felt that such business structures would function as a perpetual threat to democracy and therefore had to be strictly limited.  Jefferson stated his fears regarding corporations assuming power saying of the looming threat that governing policies must “…crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of the country.”

 Today the United States is bound in shackles to corporations, and they have proven what Jefferson had feared: corporations are, just as are all organized religions, inherently antidemocratic and are presided over by a wealthy select few who have no concern for “the masses.”  Over the decades corporate shysters have underhandedly and intentionally chipped away at the noble democratic principles set down by the nation’s founding fathers to indulge themselves in amassing vast sums of money through corporate stealth, then use that wealth to elevate their private interests over the nation’s common good.  In the process they have managed to tangle laws for citizens protection—such as price controls, monopoly laws, etc.—so that those who invest in their shady work are absolved of any personal responsibility carried out under the umbrella of their corporations. 

Of course the Constitution gives no recognition to corporation rights, stating in that noble document the sovereignty and right of self-governing to “The People.”  Nowhere was there made allowance for corporate exercise of power over the citizens that we see in the U.S. today.  But oil, pharmaceutical, insurance, coal and similar conglomerates hold the nation in ransom with absolutely no regard for equality and fair exchange that makes democracy work.  And this abuse of corporate power has been aided and abetted by none other than the U.S. Supreme Court!

Especially the John Roberts Court.  Roberts, we should remember, held political jobs in both the Reagan and Bush I administrations, and he was active in crafting policy aimed at curbing personal privacy rights and religious liberty rights.  In fact, he authored a brief for the Bush administration that proposed allowing clergy-led prayers at public school events! 

Under the “guidance” of Roberts and abetted by Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Antonio Scalia, and Samuel Alito—all Catholic, all Republican sponsored—and antidemocratic elements have lurched forward with stunning favoritism toward corporate power and radical right religious trickery.  With their brand of  “justice” the nation’s workforce, taxpayers, environment, etc. have been repeatedly spurned in favor of corporate law-breaking and theocratic notions.

 This antidemocratic stance of the Supremes has been obvious from at least 1998 (thus even before Roberts), which then set about actually rewriting long standing laws.  In that year the Court rejected  legal precedent to rule that a woman claimant had no valid claim to antidiscrimination by a tire firm because she had not filed her disparity of pay suit within 180 days of first suffering the discrimination.  Totally ignored by the Supremes was that the claimant had not been aware that men holding an equal position had been earning forty percent more for years.  Snickering up their judicial sleeves, the Justices brushed her off and democracy suffered still more loss of integrity.  This is the same Court that struck down the majority wishes in the 2000 national election to put oil men Bush-Cheney in control of government.  That tramping upon the elective process revealed the extent of their alleged “impartial” judgment.

Thanks Supreme Court for giving the U.S. eight historical Bush years.  We’re still paying for it.

U. S. Constitution: Thank the Indians

Posted in culture, Government, history, Inspiration, life, politics, random, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , on September 17, 2009 by chouck017894

The Constitution of the United States of America was drafted in 1787 and became effective in 1789.  It is an extraordinary document, to which all laws of the land must conform.  By its carefully worded provisions, however, the field of its law stipulations is self-limiting, for the powers of sovereignty of the United States are divided between Federal and State governments.  All states have constitutions of their own, but state laws must conform to both the Federal and to the State constitution.  The Preamble of the Federal Constitution is a stirring declaration, which, unfortunately, is little remembered in today’s hustle and bustle.  We should pause now and then to reconsider the ideals that were set forth in the short Preamble.

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

These wonderful and stirring ideals and intent did not blossom forth out of European models with its long and troubled line of kings, emperors, tyrants and heavy church domination.  The inspiration for such a declaration of noble purpose has been little acknowledged: the democratic principles came from the American Indians—the Iroquois Federation of five native nations which included the Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida and Cayuga tribes.  The Iroquois Federation had, at the time of drafting of the U. S. Constitution, been in existence from around 1500—or for some 287 years.

Each of the five tribes was self-governing, and no king presided over the Federation.  Each tribe was represented in a grand council, and members of the council decided upon a collective policy such as defense and trade agreements, but each tribe followed their own customs and tribal laws. 

The author/consultant/teacher Stan Steiner, whose interest was focused largely on western Indian cultures, wrote that Benjamin Franklin became intrigued with Indian forms of government around 1744.  Franklin attended a meeting of colonial governors in that year which was addressed by Chief Canasatego of the Iroquois Federation.  The Chief explained the Indian confederacy, saying that their means of governing were the same methods established by their wise forefathers.  He also asserted to the assembled governors that by observing the same methods “…you will acquire such strength and power…” as their union had provided.

In 1754 delegates to the Albany Congress met to discuss matters of governing.  Benjamin Franklin was there and his suggestion was to study the Iroquois Federation system of governing.  His recommendation noted that the Indian system “…had subsisted for ages and appears indissoluble.”  But it would be decades before the Iroquois Federation model would inspire the gathering of statesmen in 1787.  Franklin was in attendance then as well when the democratic principles expressed by the Iroquois Federation became incorporated into the U. S. Constitution.

Corporate-Backed Crusades

Posted in Atheism, Bible, Christianity, culture, freethought, history, humanity, life, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on September 5, 2009 by chouck017894

Finally, in the 2009 presidential election the citizens of the United States roused themselves out of their long Republican induced stupor and began clearing the fanatic right-wing elements out of offices that are expected to represent the people.  Eight years of having two corporate hustlers sitting in the highest seats of government had plunged the nation noted for individual freedoms into a so-called “Christian nation” that turned its back on the principles stated in the Constitution, the very principles that had made the nation great.  The chipping away at constitutional rights began almost immediately with no apparent recognition of the irreverence and disrespect of having held their hands on the Holy Bible while swearing before God to honor, uphold and protect the Constitution.

The attempt was quickly taken up by the new administration to impose a parochial view of control upon the nation as was once practiced by the “god-fearing” characters in the Old Testament.  The Bible to be used as law allowed for savage attacks upon anyone deemed too independent.  According to the theocratic notion which they sought to impose, the right of a woman to determine what was to grow within her own body was to be denied: the sovereignty of the family was to take precedence over individual rights: unruly children were to be stoned: same sex minorities were to be denied the right to a committed relationship: and the Christian religion (their particular narrow brand) was to control how everyone was to live, meaning that democracy was to be replaced by theocracy.  The irony of these fanatics calling themselves “Christians” while using the gross tales of the Old Testament as the model of governing does not exactly equate with the early teaching attributed to Jesus in the New Testament.

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001 seemed a peculiarly—almost uncannily convenient event for those who had schemed of taking control of democracy.  It seemed that God had smoothed the way for corporate profits.  After all, an array of corporations had worked to ensure that a “man chosen by God” would be placed in the Oval Office.  Of course it didn’t hurt that corporation big-wigs had developed a collation of think tanks—and don’t forget their false-front not-for-profit outfits that they established to justify their political tampering.  With the heavily tilted Republican and Catholic-leaning Superior Court’s help, God’s plan had been set into effect.

Thus a twenty-first century “Crusade,” declared by God’s alleged choice for U.S.  president, became the needed motive to begin implementation of theocratic management.  In order to grab full control of national acceptance it was vital to change the viewpoints and traditions of the American public.  Corporation pundits knew just how to do this: build up a facade of respectability for any proposed route that led into corporate profits.  Thus the Neoconservatives—or “Neocons”—came  into full bloom which, in actuality, act as the public relations firm that works for those predatory corporation that operate through the government.

Corporate interests are never concerned about public welfare: the only “god” they turly worship is materialism.  It does not matter to them if a formerly little-respected segment of the Christian community was making threatening waves in a democratic culture devoted to equal opportunity.  The power conversion that the corporate fat cats eagerly supported and assisted had nothing to do with religion or in support of personal freedoms.  As far as the corporate schemers are concerned, any shift in governing affairs is profitable for them: it is peace, mutual respect, and rational discussion on national problems that pose the real threat to fat-cat’s wallets.  That corporate approach can be said to be religious in a sense, however:  they operate on the same practices of half-truths and scare tactics that served as the foundation for all hard-line religions.

Our Legal Environment

Posted in Atheist, culture, history, life, politics, religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by chouck017894

Rules of the game: That is what cultures and societies establish and speak of as “laws,” and which, ideally, institute a framework of conduct that presumably serves to protect the majority.  But when a minority faction becomes the majority that occupies the seats of law policy for the nation, the likelihood of impartial interpretation of law becomes dubious.

As noted in the earlier posting, Democracy Under Siege (June 20), perfidious factions (extreme religious right) have for years sought to chip away at the safeguards that were established in the United States Constitution in a disloyal attempt to jam their religious interpretations into government rule.  If a wall is not maintained between church and state the result is theocratic bedlam, and gross orgies of persecution and harassment are enthroned as divine justice.  The clerical rule of Iran through the last few decades is a good example of such a divinely brutal system.

The United States skated close to the edge of disaster through eight years under a president that thought he had been divinely chosen to direct policy and the course of action that the nation should follow.  But his appointment had not been by majority choice of the people as it should have been, but by a Supreme Court that was heavily indebted to a Republican power base which had stacked the court with five doctrinally “conservative” Catholic “justices” out of nine seats.

When that court-elected president neared the end of his detrimental term in office, the US Supreme Court under Chief Juistice John G. Roberts, a doctrinally conservative Roman Catholic, openly indicated that the court was s willing to render wide-ranging decisions that would reverse time-honored trends in jurisprudence.  Those desiring a theocratic takeover of the nation were ecstatic at the decisions of the court that limited citizens’ rights to challenge government support for religion!  Anti-evolution propaganda thus gained muscle to combat well-proven evidence of evolution and inject into schools the biblical myth of creation as “scientific creationism.”  The Supreme Court also chose to ignore medical  evidence as a consideration in some abortion cases thus imposing  theocratic limits upon rules that had been established in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade.   And true to doctrinally conservative interpretation of law, the court increased pressure on scientists and educators to alter or even suppress scientitic research and findings that conflicted with the schema of the religious right.  Religious theory was/is being wedged into government policy.

With the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court the nation is now confronted with having still another Roman Catholic added to the Supreme Court, making the religious beliefs of SIX out of nine justices a drastic imbalance in the court’s point of view.  Having a Latina woman on the court is, in itself, a wonderful declaration of democratic principles.  Unfortunately, we should be excused for wondering can such an ideologically imbalanced Supreme  Court remember that narrow dogma is NOT the mark of wise democratic justice?

Presidential Oath of Office

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, history, life, logic, politics, random, religion, secularism, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 24, 2009 by chouck017894

Unlike many federal oaths of office, the oath taken by the incoming President of the United States is not required constitutionally to embellish upon the oath with a public entreaty of “So help me god.”  Indeed, the constitution agreed upon by the nation’s founding fathers mandate the exact language to be publicly recited as the oath of office, which consisted of a mere thirty-five words.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

History revisionists love to insist that the United States was founded as “a Christian nation,” but while most of the founding fathers acknowledged a higher power few of them could be termed as even remotely hardcore religionists.  In fact the centuries of turmoil that had raged through Europe’s Christian nations due to church (Catholic) lust for temporal power made the founders determined that separation of church and state was absolutely imperative if a fair and just government for all people was to be established.

A favorite ploy of revisionists is to claim that George Washington established the precedent of invoking the phrase “so help me god” into the first inaugural in 1789.  But even though the Library of Congress site dutifully echoes this claim, such a public statement appealing to a deity would not have been characteristic of Washington.  Indeed, such a public plea for an otherworldly being’s guidance would more likely have been judged by him as something that could be mistaken for an endorsement of religious manipulation. 

Washington’s personal inclination in this regard can be ascertained in one incident.  During the two years that New York City was the acting national capital (1789-1790), Washington attended Trinity Church (Broadway), always in pew 60.  But he always left the church before communion, a situation that irked the church shepherds to the extent that they chastised Washington for the habit.  Because of this obvious attempt to impose their notions upon his personal faith, Washington never again attended church on communion Sunday.1  This action does not inspire the concept that he would have jeopardized the integrity of the nation’s highest office with an off the cuff addition of “so help me god.”

Furthermore, the men who framed the Constitution gave no reference to “god,” and asserted that all men were created with the inalienable rights to live their  lives in their own way—as long as it did not intrude upon the rights of others. 

As an additional note, the War of Independence with Britain was not officially over until twenty-one years after 1776 when, in 1797, the document of treaty was signed by representatives of both nations who met in Tripoli.  There is a bold declaration in that treaty that is found in Article 11–daring and important enough to merit bold type.

“The government  of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”

1) Around 146 years later (1935) this same church used Washington’s words out of context from a 1783 letter addressed to governors of 13 states to forge a prayer attributed to Washington, and the plaque was installed at pew 60.  Details of this are on page 377 in Time Frames and Taboo Data.