Like it? Share it!

Sign up for news and updates!






Enter word seen below
Visually impaired? Click here to have an audio challenge played.  You will then need to enter the code that is spelled out.
Change image

CAPTCHA image
Please leave this field empty

Login Form



Where's Church & State Separation PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

There’s just been a startling announcement that G. W. Bush's “faith-based initiative” practice will continue as before – perhaps even broadened – under the new White House “Council of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.” The Obama Administration has appointed a Pentecostal minister to run this office. Is there any doubt about this official’s biases? While Bush's creation of the "faith-based initiative" was met by dismay when first announced, nothing seems to have resulted from this present alarming action. Little wonder.

It seems that the public quickly becomes indifferent to these blatant violations of such long-standing principles as separation between religion and government.

I believe that this should never have happened – either during the previous administration or the present one – at the White House or in federal agencies. Our government should run on reality and facts, not faith. The United States should return to requiring religious groups to set up secular branches and keep separate books, before allowing them apply for or administer publicly-funded social services. We should have the right to see public accountability in these agencies.

I recall that in his election campaign, Barack Obama vowed that as president he would not permit federal grants to go to faith-based groups that discriminate – based on religion – in hiring and firing. Now, the White House has decided that the Attorney General's Office will decide each funding situation on a "case by case" basis! Personally, I don’t want my taxes to contribute to this process, nor to this “initiative.”

Trackback(0)
Comments (71)Add Comment
...
written by ConTester, February 09, 2009
A first step in this context would be to relegate theology, which claims to have knowledge of what is essentially unknowable, to the same standing as alchemy, astrology, phrenology and such – i.e. to the wastebasket of outdated and erroneous “knowledge.”

Will never happen, though. It’s too ingrained in the social fabric for that.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +16
I think there is a misundestanding here., Lowly rated comment [Show]
...
written by Kuroyume, February 09, 2009
'Skeptic' as your username seems incorrect.

The 'separation of church and state' clause is to keep any particular religious institution out of the government and vice versa. This was enstated due to the close ties of the COE to the monarchy (as it was established by the monarchy - some fat guy named Henry VIII) and abuse of European governments in persecuting minority religions (thus the reason many of the American colonists fled to the colonies - to escape religious persecution).

So, a nativity scene or the ten commandments on the premises of a federal governmental building is a breach of this clause. Period! Because, I can't think how Muslims, Buddhists, Shintos, Native Americans, atheists, etc. etc. etc. can be represented by singularly Christian or Judeo-Christian belief systems.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it...
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +35
we're doomed!
written by MadScientist, February 09, 2009
Oh no, it wasn't bad enough that churches don't pay taxes, now they have a gold-paved road into the treasury! Let's see ... what would a Pentecostal (or any religion for that matter) do with government money. Improve secular public schools? Provide social services without attempting religious conversions as well? It's a pity there are no such things as ghosts - we could use Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and others. So how do we fight this nonsense and remove religion from our (*ahem*) sacred secular institutions?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +16
...
written by BillyJoe, February 09, 2009
In another thread we have someone called "Skeptic Report" claiming that science can have nothing to say about faith-based belief, and here we have someone called "Skeptic" defending faith-based initiatives and religious propaganda on public property.

Troy all over again. smilies/grin.gif

BJ
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
Misunderstanding? On Whose Part?
written by Liveliest Crib, February 09, 2009
I would like to respond to Skeptic's comment above. I'll do so in several parts, as my initial attempt to post met with an admonition that my comment was too long.

Skeptic, February 09, 2009
The "seperation of church and state" means . . . . I does *not* mean, and *never* meant


Actually, the "separation of church and state" is a metaphor for the requirements embodied in the U.S. Constitution, but not itself part of the Constitution's text. Determining precisely what the phrase itself meant during the founders' time is largely a fool's errand, since (a) different founders used it differently; (b) not all the founders liked or approved of its use; and (c) we continue its use today as an appropriate metaphor for what we understand as the objective requirements of the actual text of the Constitution.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +10
Misunderstanding? continued
written by Liveliest Crib, February 09, 2009
The "seperation of church and state" means there would be no religious test for office, no official church, and so on. I does *not* mean, and *never* meant, that no religious group could receive money from the government under any circumstances, or that no religious display is allowed on public land, that the word "God" cannot be used in the pledge of allegiance, etc.
And so on? And somehow you know what falls within and without "and so on?" And you just declare it by fiat, without elaborating an argument or line of jurisprudence?

The text of the Constitution does indeed forbid any "religious test" for holding public office. Explicitly, and in those very words. But the wording regarding what you call "no official church" actually forbids any "law respecting an establishment of religion." While there are decent arguments to be had regarding the precise definition of "establishment" and "any law respecting," the objectively and intentionally broad Constitutional edict belies your narrow and limited interpretation, no matter what members of the founding subjectively believed.

By the way, your understanding of what church/state "separation" meant is similarly undermined by James Madison's statement that "the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state."
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +17
Misunderstanding? continued
written by Liveliest Crib, February 09, 2009
I think the ACLU and similar groups are making fools of themselves in showing concern with such petty issues. It makes them look mean-spirited and paranoid.
Have you actually read their Constitutional arguments in depth? And how "petty" might you become if your local government began decorating its publicly owned property with the symbols and precepts of a religion abhorrent to your understandings? Wicca, perhaps. Or how about Satanism? Would it be petty for you to object if you were summoned to serve in a courthouse on whose walls was written, "Satan is your master."? Or would you suddenly find an unconstitutional establishment?

Mean spirited because it seems that the real motivation is the satisfaction of managing to deprive this church or that parish of money - money the community they help could, and would have, used for good purposes - in a sort of "gotcha!" game, with the high-flying "seperation of church and state" issue being merely as an excuse.
To impugn the activists' motives would be faulty even if you were correct about what they were. You're not. Their motives are to keep the Constitution alive, never to overlook even a small transgression, for the sake of the rule of law, and the freedom and equality we enjoy as a result. Besides, even if their motives genuinely were merely to keep money out of do-gooders' hands, their Constitutional arguments vis-a-vis church/state separation stand on their own merits. Your attack on their motives is as naive as your assumption that faith-based groups who receive government funding would necessarily do something good with it.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +21
Misunderstanding? continued
written by Liveliest Crib, February 09, 2009
Paranoid, because it seems that they suspect that if nativity scenes are allowed on public lands, a Spanish Inquisition-like theocracy will surely follow. The entire history of the USA is proof this is not true.
Well, you're correct that such dystopia probably won't follow the very next day, but that's not the point. Disestablishment has as much to do with equality as it does liberty. That's why the establishment clause is separate from the free exercise clause. It's not enough merely to prevent the government from proscribing the practice of certain religions. The government itself must not get entangled with one religion or another. Party, yes, because such action can lead to proscription of free exercise, but also because such entanglements relegate those outside the entangled religions to second-class status. A Deist becomes required serve on juries under official government statements about belief and trust in a personal god; a non-Christian becomes required to register to vote in a building whose entrance is decorated with scenes and symbols that support the Christian understanding of the universe; an atheist becomes forced to recite religious words every day in school. These might seem like trivial matters to you, but their message rings loud and clear to any religious minority: You can live here, but you're not really one of us. A government predicated on freedom and equality should not impart that message.

Oh, and the history of the USA is marked by the gradual dismantling of once-rampant and -widespread tyranny, bigotry and inequality, all thanks to activists groups like the ones you decry. Those activists have advanced our civil rights and liberties by pointing out how we have thus far been failing to live up to our ideals and the objective meaning of our Constitution --- crucial work always done in the face of progress-impeding invocations of tradition and original understandings.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +18
Here's hoping...
written by BillyJoe, February 10, 2009
Let's hope 'Skeptic' does not play the 'Skeptic Report's game of just restating his position and actually addresses the argument against his position.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -1
...
written by TDjazz, February 10, 2009
"I recall that in his election campaign, Barack Obama vowed that...."

Alas, this will be repeated more frequently as time goes by and reality sets in. Obama needed atheists to vote for him, too, so he said something they wanted to hear. He is a politician, and did what many politicians do: promise anything to get elected. After that it's "Did I say that? What I meant was...."
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +10
The Establishment Clause
written by MadScientist, February 10, 2009
Well put Liveliest Crib - attempting to interpret what the founding leaders of the nation meant does bring to mind a quotation attributed to Murray Gell-Mann - something about consulting "Feynman's entrails". Even Plato and Aristotle were aware of the problems of interpreting historical texts.

Of course historically people had different opinions; the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would have been written and rewritten many times to gain the necessary consensus to adapt the text as law - just as current laws and amendments undergo numerous revisions. Jefferson's intent seems to be to protect the right of individuals to practice their choice of religion. Practicing any particular religion is not easy or even possible when the state has a preferred religion - consider modern Egypt which is muslim and its christian coptics; Iran and its Jewish community, Israel and its muslim community, Serbia and its muslim community - the problems which plague these nations had plagued numerous others in the 18th century. Almost two centuries before that the English king made the Church of England the favored church/religion and the catholics were murdered en masse. In previous centuries there were the crusades. Ancient Greece and Rome had their own religions and different religions were not welcomed. Preventing the government from favoring any religious group was of paramount importance to ensuring a lasting peace. Dubbyah, and now Obama, are clearly demonstrating that they favor the pentecostals. Sure there are probably hundreds of denominations within the pentecostal movement, but each is as whacky as the other and fundamentally irreconcilable with any other religion on the planet. I'm one of those hell-bound godless people who really don't want tax dollars going into supporting any religion whatsoever and I contend that the phrase "inter-faith" is a nothing but a half-assed attempt at concealing the truth: our government is supporting a specific religious group.

Doomed! We're all doomed! Even becoming Canadian won't save us in this instance.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +3
external references
written by MadScientist, February 10, 2009
For those who want some idea of how bad this "faith based initiative" is, and more information on numerous topics related to how religion is undermining our democracy, see:

http://www.theocracywatch.org/faith_base.htm

For people who think there is no harm in government giving money to religious organizations, look into the recent history of Holland. Holland gives government money to support religious schools; they did not discriminate because they had a defective notion that there is no harm in the state supporting religion as long as it supports all religions. Dead wrong - supporting the muslim schools was not a good idea. As Hirsi Ali, herself once a muslim and now a refugee on compassionate grounds because she's likely to be murdered by muslims in Holland and the authorities are powerless to protect her, said the government is supporting terrorism. Don't think that supporting any christian religions would yield any better results. State sponsorship of any religion whatsoever is not good for anyone.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +13
...
written by Rogue Medic, February 10, 2009
MadScientist,

I agree, but I think that James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights (Amendments to the Constitution required by the states prior to ratification of the Constitution), not Thomas Jefferson (who wrote the Constitution).

It seems to me that the Bill of Rights is as close to a scientific political document as we are likely to see. It is by protecting the rights of those, who disagree with you, that you protect your own rights. Not by defending the words/actions/beliefs/ . . . ., but by protecting their ability to have words/actions/beliefs . . . . that differ from yours. By neither party having the ability to regulate the other, as long as there is no direct conflict.

Objectivity. smilies/smiley.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
...
written by Willy K, February 10, 2009
Let me first state clearly that I agree that there should be no money and/or any favors granted by my government for any religion whatsoever. smilies/angry.gif

However, I wonder if it's just a pragmatic political move by Obama. The Bush administration setup the clearly unconstitutional "faith based" connection between the government and religious groups and then they effectively reneged on many of their promises to said groups. Pissing off religious psychos is not good politics. The Republican Party lost a lot of support from the more "moderate" religious voters because of W's and the neo-cons betrayal.

Maybe, just maybe, Obama figures he can't calm down the religo-nuts by antagonizing them, so he's letting them believe that's he's okay with them.

Of course, if I see some religo-douchebag like Rick "da Prick" Warren getting to help Obama with anything more than calming the god-sheep, I'll be standing in line to whack Barack upside his head!
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
Authorship
written by Liveliest Crib, February 10, 2009
RogueMedic wrote:
I think that James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights (Amendments to the Constitution required by the states prior to ratification of the Constitution), not Thomas Jefferson (who wrote the Constitution).


Both the original articles of the Constitution and the first 10 articles of amendments thereto were collaborative efforts, the former of the members of the Constitutional Convention, the latter by members of Congress.

James Madison is often called the Father of the Constitution for his prominent role at the convention, and his note-taking while there (the only minutes and records of the event). Thomas Jefferson did not attend the Constitutional Convention, as he was serving overseas as the U.S. Ambassador to France at the time.

smilies/smiley.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +4
...
written by Rogue Medic, February 10, 2009
Liveliest Crib,

Thank you for the clarification.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
FBIs
written by Cuddy Joe, February 10, 2009
I'll leave the constitutional arguments to the courts and address faith-based initiatives in the real world. I work in the substance abuse treatment field where church groups funded by federal faith-based initiatives abound. Part of my duties involves reviewing SA programs in my catchment area, including the faith-based initiative variety, for clinical efficacy and ethics. Over the past twenty years or so I have reviewed perhaps 15-20 of these programs. without exception, they followed the same pathway: Take the fed money, set up a program, usually half-way house based, collect referrals from the usual sources, and then proselytize, proselytize, proselytize. In all cases only a token attempt was made to provide evidence-based treatment known to have good effects when properly administered, just enough to keep qualified for funds, and that done poorly and without confidence. In all cases the primary and overriding 'treament' was an all day 'come to Jesus' initiative, constant indoctrination to the Christian faith no matter what the patient's previous religious orientation had been. In all cases the program spun downward into dissolution because the majority of patients, not receiving what was needed by way of actual treatment, returned to use of the substances to which they were addicted, usually in short order. These faith-based initiative programs would disappear, vacating the fund allocation contract, and would be replaced by some other church's attempt, which also dissolved within a year or two.

The 'data set' I speak of was faith-based initiative funded programs in a four-county catchment area in eastern North Carolina over the last twenty years or so. All of them enjoyed excellent local media coverage with lots of feel-good stories and testimonials. All of them (except the two currently struggling) failed miserably, which is never covered by local media.

In speaking with administrators of failing or failed faith-based programs, the most commonly heard explanation for said failure was that too many alcoholics and addicts were too deeply entrenched in their addictions to accept Jesus as their savior, and they, of course, received the expected consequences of that failure. That's right - any failures were blamed on the patient. Typical statements: "I guess he just wasn't ready for Jesus..." and "He thought he could do it his way, instead of turning it all over to the Lord, but..." and "It's unreasonable for us to expect that every patient is going to 'get it', to turn their will and their lives over to the care of our Lord. Some of these people are just doomed to fail, but we won't give up on them..."

In a nutshell, it's like setting up a chemistry lab, based not on science but on religious teachings, and expecting the chemicals to behave in accordance with those religious teachings instead of on physics. It is an ethical violation based on the fact that these are interventions (proselytizing and preaching) that are based not on the patients' needs, but on the church groups' needs. In clinical intervention, this is always a pathway to error and failure.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +23
...
written by Willy K, February 10, 2009
From Cuddy Joe
Typical statements: "I guess he just wasn't ready for Jesus..."


Isn't it funny (the tragic kind of funny) how people who run these programs are so deluded that they can't even realize that they are lying?

I saw a bit in the news yesterday about how some evangelical group is down "helping" some Amazonian tribes. The folks talking to news media said things such as "Oh no, were only trying to help them to stop infanticide.." When they reached one of the tribal villages a local evangelical must have been left out of the PR session, she said something like "Oh yes, of course we're going to convert them..." Disgusting! smilies/angry.gif

Occasionally there will be reports of some "savage native" people killing missionaries. I have very little sympathy for those killed, after all what do they really expect? smilies/cry.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +6
...
written by Pierre8550, February 10, 2009
In UK our school day is supposed to start with a corporate act of worship as laid down by 1944 Education Act: see chunk below (pasted in from wiki)
The Act also introduced compulsory prayer into all state-funded schools on a daily basis. This clause was amended by the Education Reform Act 1988, which specified that the act of worship should be of a broadly Christian message unless such a message was deemed to be inappropriate for a particular school or group of children. The amendment also specified that the act of worship could now take place in classes, rather than the previous system of conducting worship in assemblies.

in all my 35 years as a teacher I never once led any of my classes in prayer and was always so impressed by the huge numbers who dismissed it all as bollox.

there's a big drive in UK to introduce more faith schools. scary thought. just what we need - more nutters on the streets.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +8
...
written by Cuddy Joe, February 10, 2009
Annie Dillard quote concerning unsolicited attempts to convert native cultures to Christianity:

Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"
Priest: "No, not if you did not know."
Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?"

-*-

For an excellent read on the catastrophic convergence of native culture and Christian colonialism, pick up Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
(ISBN 0-385-47454-7)

report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +7
...
written by Trish, February 10, 2009
I am not surprised. Obama announced his intentions to continue this program before the election, which gave me serious pause about voting for him [then McCain chose Palin, which made my decision easier].

While I am overwhelmingly proud that my nation has come far enough to elect a black president, I am deeply concerned about Obama's policies, and particularly about his infatuation with religion, and his belief that what makes his wife so wonderful is her "spirituality."
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
Once again the baby goes out with the bathwater..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
Hold Up...
written by razmatazspaz, February 10, 2009
It is my understanding that the expansion of the "faith-based" initiative was to made to include the secular among us, like myself. For instance, any of the secular organizations that I belong to could now go out and apply for and receive funds to create a secular program, for instance, "Foster Kids to College".

I also understand that President Obama has made it very clear that there can be NO discrimination in any of the programs that are using "faith-based" money. Religious organizations can discriminate when they are using their own funds. If they want to be inbred, well, what can we say? :-)

By the way, I used quotations on "faith-based" because how could one possibly measure faith? It sounds like "double speak" to me.

I too, wish the program would be destroyed. I don't think it will be in the near future, because there are just too many urgent and critical tugs on the his sleeves.

Also, responding to a comment about "spirituality" in the first lady. Spirituality is not a woo-woo thing. It means "breath of life". I am and always have been an atheist but I am a very spiritual person. I have a deep reverence for life and the world around me, especially the mysteries of our world. I am in awe of the giants who have gone before me and who are here with me (Randi, included :-). I have a deep knowledge that what we do really matters and I reach for the best in myself and everyone and everything around me. I am keenly aware of the finite nature of life and wish to preserve it and make the best of it.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
...
written by Cuddy Joe, February 10, 2009
Much of the problem with faith-based initiatives is that the prohibited discrimination is very difficult to identify and enforce against. Every single one of the faith-based programs I've reviewed, listed in an above post, was also monitored by government representatives. The most they ever did in terms of identification and enforcement of the rules by which such FBI programs must operate was to issue 'statements of concern', 'pre-probationary statements', and other weightless and useless cautions. A given program had 12-24 months to address the concerns - half of them weren't even open that long. Within my catchment area, they are essentially unregulated once the contract is signed and the funding dispersed.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +3
bill of rights
written by MadScientist, February 10, 2009
@Rogue Medic:

Yeah, I know Madison wrote the Bill of Rights, it's just that my train of thought left out some important details so it looks like I'm giving all the wrong impression. I didn't mean to point out Madison's intention when he penned the establishment clause but to point out what his contemporary Jefferson appears to have thought about the subject. It's easy enough to find the text of Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Church but I have a hard time digging up anything good on the fourth president.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
missing the point
written by MadScientist, February 10, 2009
Despite my previous post pointing out how Holland had made a terrible mistake by funding religious schools (what harm can it do when every religion has equal access?), it seems that many subsequent posters fall for that same trap. It is not alright in principle and in practice history has shown that it is never right. Claiming inclusion of secular organizations is 100% pure bull; only a fool would fall for that maneuver, be appeased, and agree to government sponsorship of religions.

One inherent weakness of the protection of rights is that abusive organizations will always see an opportunity to use the system to impose their own beliefs on others. I don't know if anyone can come up with clever but simple legislation to prevent such abuse; the legislation must never become too complex or it simply opens the system up to more abuse. We may simply be stuck with having to fight the abuse in courts and at the polling booths for as long as the nation stands. The principles are really very simple - everyone wins if they don't try to force their beliefs on others. However, there may be rewards for anyone who wishes to break ranks and take absolute control. The "faith-based initiatives" is only one scam to give religious groups more power over the governance of the nation; it is absolute nonsense and it is even opposed by religious people who understand that the only way for everyone to win is to maintain the absolute separation of church and state.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +9
...
written by Rogue Medic, February 10, 2009
Annie Dillard quote concerning unsolicited attempts to convert native cultures to Christianity:

Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"
Priest: "No, not if you did not know."
Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?"


Because that is the way MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) works. You gain prestige and power by having developed a large sales force. Not that I am suggesting proselytizers are salesmen/saleswomen, because that would be unfair. smilies/smiley.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
...
written by Squid, February 10, 2009
While we're talking about religion and faith, I'd like to point out the banner ad that I received when reading this thread... The Timothy Plan, which does not invest in various companies for religious reasons. Coca-Cola, Disney, Earthlink, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart and many more major corporations were all on the list.

I believe that when the banners went up we were supposed to complain if the banner ads were offending us. Well, I'm complaining, for this isn't the first time I've seen such an ad. Can anything be done about this?

Squid
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
Debating the issue correctly
written by KingMerv00, February 10, 2009
Disclaimer: I have not read all of the posts so I may be repeating information.

Many in here are posting from a place of outrage. There is nothing wrong with that per se but if we are going to debate the legal issue of the first amendment, let's do it correctly. Let's do it on the legal issues and not the emotional ones.

The current legal standard in matters such as this is the "Lemon Test", named for the famous Supreme Court case Lemon v. Kurtzman.

To determine whether or not a government action violates the establishment clause, one must consider three factors. If any one of these factors is violated, the government action is void:

1) The action must have a conceivable secular purpose.
2) The action must not have the primary effect of encouraging or inhibiting religion.
3) The action must not cause "excessive entanglement" with religion.

I argue that the office of faith-based initiatives runs afoul of at least #2 and #3. (An argument could be made that the secular purpose is to increase social service.)

Now that you know what to argue, argue it.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_v._Kurtzman)
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +5
Necessary Evil Perhaps
written by Skeptigirl, February 10, 2009
Once again the baby goes out with the bathwater...
written by Griz, February 10, 2009
If skeptics, primary the militant athiest sort represented well in this discussion, are to have ANY credibility, you have to start learning a little bit about what you're bashing. Otherwise, you're just another yammering bigot.

While there are some very loud mouthed, very obnoxious high profile christian groups whose only political aim is to get their particular myth based morality legislated into law (I'm talking to you, Pat Robertson), the vast majority of christian groups are not only tolerant of differing viewpoints but also perfectly capable of participating in government processes for the good of all without pushing their private agendas.

Given the number of church going folks in this country, and the fact that many of them are dedicated to helping their fellow man through community service and charity, it seems self evident that these would be good people to have on board to help get this country back on track.
To this point your post has merit except for the false assumption that people against the Bush initiated Faith Based Initiatives are poorly informed about the religious community. It seems to be a common forum theme to presume opinions not in line with one's own are due to ignorance. Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not.

The moderate theists you describe are not the ones Bush promoted with his faith based programs. To the contrary, millions were funneled to large congregations who supported Bush from the pulpit. It was carefully orchestrated just as replacing >150 lawyers in the Justice Department with graduates from Pat Robertson's unaccredited Regent's Law School was. (I believe the school has since become accredited.)

Anyone acquainted with the history of the current injection of religion into government affairs will be aware of the movement which started with Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" (which was neither, of course). The reason I refer to keeping the faith based initiatives which I would like to see gone as perhaps a necessary evil, is the fact this voting block has been groomed and firmly established to vote right wing. It is no accident the right wing injects gay marriage and anti-abortion language into campaigns since Reagan.

It took a split in the Evangelical community over global warming to break the voting block up. Those advocating, 'Man' could not damage 'God's Creation' and anyway the Rapture is almost here, came into direct conflict with those advocating, 'Man' was charged with caring for 'God's Creation'. Suddenly the left wing didn't seem so evil after all.

Obama may be of the belief he needs to court this voting block given that it kept GWB in power in the 04 election in spite of his obvious incompetence. It only takes 51% to win an election and the right wing knows how to manipulate Evangelicals quite effectively.

After all, religion meddling in government is far from the biggest problem we have as a nation right now.
Maybe not the biggest, but it ranks up there among them. Let's hope Obama is truly a child of his atheist mother (hooray for single moms) and this is more vote oriented than action oriented.

The ACLU will be getting a small donation from me this year as I contribute to its watchdog activities over this matter.

report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +6
...
written by TDjazz, February 10, 2009
Here's why Obama is probably keeping the faith-based initiatives alive:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10103521/

Atheism is a belief that is definitely fighting an uphill battle.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -6
...
written by Alencon, February 10, 2009
I was down this road with Obama back in July. Below is the response of his campaign. Take it for what it's worth.

"Thank you for contacting Senator Obama about his plan to engage faith-based and community organizations as government partners in providing social services to those in need.

Senator Obama firmly believes in the separation between church and state, and he will abide by a set of principles that will ensure this new initiative honors that constitutional mandate. For example, organizations that apply for new funding from Obama programs will not be able to discriminate on the basis of religion in hiring. In these programs, government funds may only be used for secular programs and initiatives, not for proselytizing or teaching religion.

Senator Obama believes that we need all hands on deck to help people in need, regardless of their backgrounds or where they live, and that government should work with both secular and faith-based partners to this end. Secular and faith-based organizations each bring unique expertise in providing critical human services, whether that’s keeping veterans off the street, feeding the hungry, or rehabilitating ex-offenders.

We should not discriminate against successful service providers just because they are affiliated with a faith community. As long as they follow some basic rules and are effective in delivery of services, faith-based organizations should be able to partner with the government, as they have done for decades. Most faith-based groups hire religiously diverse staffs and have long operated within anti-discrimination laws, and Barack believes that these programs can provide good models for helping people in need while upholding the core constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

Senator Obama has been clear that faith-based initiatives in his administration will be markedly different from President Bush’s program. Barack is committed to a full review of Bush Administration policy and its effects, and to reversing any regulations that were politically motivated or sought to legalize discrimination."

I wasn't happy about it then and I'm even less happy about it now as it looks as if he's backing away from promises in made in July doesn't it? smilies/cry.gif smilies/cry.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Blizno, February 10, 2009
"written by TDjazz, February 10, 2009
...Atheism is a belief that is definitely fighting an uphill battle."

BOOOO!
Atheism IS NOT a belief!
This is a lie put forth by the religious fanatics trying to claim that atheism, and by association science, is a religion. Their goal is to claim that religion can be taught in science classes because science is also a religion.

This is absolutely false. Atheism is the ABSENCE of religion! Atheism does not exist any more than zero exists. Both are convenient abstractions for the complete lack of something - religion in the case of atheism and quantity in the case of zero.
Atheism does not require belief of any kind. All animals are atheists because they cannot comprehend religion. All babies are atheists because they are too young to be taught religion. The "ground state" of humanity is to be atheist. Religion is an added layer.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +9
Does "skeptic" equal political naif?
written by Human Person Jr, February 10, 2009
It would seem so. Skeptics voted overwhelmingly for Obama, in a stunning display of wishful thinking and political naivete. As the bile-spewing Reverend Wright would say, "...chickens have come home to roost." This guy is poised to ruin this country in the name of equality (of condition, not opportunity). You people deserve what you're about to get, with the one-track mantra of hope/change/wasn't Bush awful.

Yes, Bush was awful. Sadly, Obama will make his terrible governance look pretty attractive, before the fat lady sings.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -8
...
written by BillyJoe, February 10, 2009
What a sad person you are Human. smilies/cool.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -2
...
written by Cuddy Joe, February 11, 2009
Well, as yet he's only a Junior Person, so there's hope.

"Skeptics voted overwhelmingly for Obama.."

I'd love to hear how this was established as a fact.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by TDjazz, February 11, 2009
BOOOO!
Atheism IS NOT a belief!


Yes it is—it’s a belief in the nonexistence of god. Definitions (in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition) of belief include “1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing; 2: something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group.” I think atheism can safely be described as a belief.

Just because the word belief is used in conjunction with god doesn’t mean it’s limited only to that. For example, "I believe you are wrong."
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -5
Intended meanings
written by Skeptigirl, February 11, 2009
TD is right, beliefs, conclusions, knowledge and similar terms can mean many different things depending on context. The problem is atheists are sensitive to the attempts of some theists to equate atheism erroneously to all forms of theism. In that context, atheism is not the equivalent of just another religious belief. Nor is science or "Darwinism" religions.

Were it not for the attempt to equate evidence based beliefs with non-evidence based beliefs there would be no issue here. In that context, however, atheism has more differences with theist beliefs than similarities.

report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by Skeptigirl, February 11, 2009
written by Cuddy Joe, February 11, 2009
"Skeptics voted overwhelmingly for Obama.."
I'd love to hear how this was established as a fact.

The Republican anti-science platform is well known among the skeptic and scientific communities worldwide. If the JREF members and our skeptic acquaintances who do not participate in the forum, as well as the science bloggers are representative of the skeptic community, then I think the data from the forum and science blogs alone suggests Human Person Jr could easily find supporting data for that conclusion.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
The rest of HPJ's comments are another story
written by Skeptigirl, February 11, 2009
Bigotry is apparent as well as ignorance in the rest of HPJ's post. It's interesting, now that it is so glaringly obvious how incompetent and corrupt Bush Jr was as President, the Republicans and other right wingers claim to be critical of GW. smilies/cool.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by Rogue Medic, February 11, 2009
written by Cuddy Joe, February 11, 2009
Well, as yet he's only a Junior Person, so there's hope.

"Skeptics voted overwhelmingly for Obama.."

I'd love to hear how this was established as a fact.


This jr. human charactersmilies/angry.gif just feels it and that is enough for him/hersmilies/angry.gif. This is just a political tirade. There is no reason to expect any kind of supporting evidence. jr. peepsmilies/angry.gif probably wouldn't know what evidence is.

I would suspect that skeptics voted for 3rd party candidates much more often than non-skeptics did. Of course, I do not suggest that this is anything more than a hunch. Expecting skeptics to limit themselves to just the conventional choices would be just plain silly, in my opinion.

embryosmilies/angry.gif seems to think that, You're either with us or against us, is a rule and reasonable. If so, the missing linksmilies/angry.gif would be wrong about that, too.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
I stand corrected...
written by Human Person Jr, February 11, 2009
and I'm very glad to hear that you guys didn't vote for Obama.

For those who DID vote for Obama,and who have children, wake them now and apologize to them.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -5
...
written by Alencon, February 11, 2009
Dear Human Person Jr,

Personally I would prefer my civil liberties back, an economy that works for more than the wealthiest 2% of the country, a government that respects science, an administration that makes decisions based upon facts rather than faith and having the country looked up to again, or at least tolerated, by the international community.

Bush and the Republicans have damaged the republic almost to the point of no return. If you think Obama could possible be worse than Bush, or McCain or Palin the dingbat, I feel sorry for you, but I feel even sorrier for myself and the country that you, and others like you, haven't learned anything from eight years of total catastrophe.

Obama may well turn out to be ineffective, but another Republican administration would have been a total disaster. The Republicans need to expunge its radical religious right wing and restablish its solid fiscal conservative roots unsullied by religious horseshit.

Until that happens, I'd even vote for the devil himself over a Republican, ANY Republican, because I won't trust my civil liberties to a party that has people like Sam Brownbeck, Tony Perkins, James Dobson, James Inhofe and Rush Limbaugh influencing it.

People that have forgotten, or never knew, what the country is supposed to stand for.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +3
You (correctly) ridicule the perpetual energy machine...
written by Human Person Jr, February 11, 2009
and praise its political equivalent, the nanny-state do-gooders who actually have no intention of doing the slightest bit of good.

I deplore Bush, the religious right and the fact that we had no good choice in the recent Presidential election. Religion sickens me and perverts humankind, first and foremost because it's just not true. If it were true, then we should line up and cheer its painful effects, such as mass murder, the stifling of scientific initiative and its incessant proselytizing.

I also deplore the leftist ideals which, like other religions, are based on wishful thinking ("Hey, we can just spend our way out of this problem!") and a fundamental desire to change the fundamental aspects of humanity (self interest, for example).

I'm proud to be a skeptic and an atheist. I'm amazed that so many of us throw our children and our childrens' children under the bus, all the while chanting, "Yes, we can!" Ask yourself this: Why is it that about one-third of American political liberals believe Bush either orchestrated 9/11 or knowingly allowed it to happen?

Simple minds demand comic book solutions. None of the current crop are worth a damn, including President Obama and his predecessor. Politically left ideology has all the hallmarks of a religion, except a deity. Hold the presses! We've just been handed a deity. Oh, yes, we sure can hope for the change, change for the hope, achieve change that will change hope to even greater change, we hope.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -3
...
written by Rogue Medic, February 11, 2009
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
-- C. S. Lewis


A problem with politics - both sides do this.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
Source?
written by Squid, February 11, 2009
Since I can't quote a post yet...

Why is it that about one-third of American political liberals believe Bush either orchestrated 9/11 or knowingly allowed it to happen?

Do you have a source for this? If so, could you post a link to the source?

While I voted for Obama, I do not believe Bush had anything to do with 9/11 except be the president at the time. Most of the people I know, liberal or conservative, believe that he had nothing to do with it as well. While I'm not representative of skeptics as a whole, my admitted small non scientific sample indicates that the 1/3 of liberals figure is incorrect.

I'm not wanting to get into political discussions, name calling, "who's candidate/person/president is better than whose" but I did feel that asking for a source was called for.

Squid
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Also...
written by bosshog, February 12, 2009
While y'all are worrying about Christmas lights on the town square your government is spending $1 trillion of your grandchildren's money on secular payoffs to its political supporters.
At least the Jewish religion forbids pork.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -1
Sounds like John McCain
written by tctheunbeliever, February 12, 2009
Comic-book solutions?

"Feel-good leftists", "tax-and-spend" liberals, 9/11 "Truth", Obama as deity---that's what comic books (and cliches) are made of.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -2
Knee-Jerk reaction to something of great value...
written by Chris Long, February 13, 2009
Seems The Savior Obama has learned what is evident in my community: Faith-Based initiatives for helping families, the needy and elderly actually work - and well.

Randi always has been a bit intolerant of religion, willing to ignore the good works of religious organizations to consistently denounce entire religious faiths based upon one tenet: the supernatural basis of any religion.

One of the abiding maxims of good business and many other human endeavors: reinforce success, even at the expense of personal objections to some religious doctrines. Seems to me the good works of any religion need to be reinforced.

Our local outreaches that are faith-based don't proselytize when people pick up their food or clothes - the program employees seem content in the knowledge they are serving their faith, content not to lobby those they are serving.

It would be a drastic (and callous) mistake to discourage, subvert or otherwise withhold fund from the organizations that organic to their communities.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -5
...
written by Kuroyume, February 13, 2009
The so-called 'good works' of religion are outweighed by the persecution, intolerance, random acts of genocide, irrational fears and results, and other forms of muddy reasoning that it entail.

Religions are not particularly 'organic' to any community. They are a fall-back position that tends to placate people into common purpose and beneficial behavior. It is well disguised in its communal activities.

The problem is that the underlying premise is not as kind and philanthropic. It is to cull people into the belief system. That is all. There is no other purpose in the end. AA is a prime example. Despite their continued abrigation and denial of religious purposes, they are neck-deep in it and cannot extricate themselves besides.

Good luck with your search for the best in religion while we try to surgically remove that which is vile therein. You cannot remove a cancer yet retain the same tissue as unscathed. There is no mistake in discouraging these organizations. They do what they do out of various levels of rationalization. The nearest might be humanitarian but the ultimate is snatching of minds into the system. How do you feel about that?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Care to provide any details?
written by Skeptigirl, February 13, 2009
written by Chris Long, February 13, 2009
Seems The Savior Obama has learned what is evident in my community: Faith-Based initiatives for helping families, the needy and elderly actually work - and well.
I have no doubt lots of churches have programs that help the needy. But when I looked at Bush's personal contributions to religious organizations, the donations went to organizations bent on evangelizing, not on helping the poor. When I looked at where the faith-based tax dollar initiative money went, it went to large congregations in exchange for the church leadership promoting voting for Bush to the congregation.

If you have examples of faith based tax dollar initiatives going to religious organizations purely for their service programs rather than their vote value, then by all means, put the evidence out there. I will be happy to re-evaluate my conclusions.


report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
Religious Charity & The Hidden Agenda
written by BillyJoe, February 13, 2009
Some religious organisations are genuinely interested in helping those in need; some merely do it as part of their religious duty; yet others dispense it in a mean and grudging spirit ("as cold as charity"). All of them have a hidden agenda to convert those they help. In its least obvious form, this hidden agenda is not even given voice, just the hope, often rewarded, that the needy being helped will be impressed and thankful enough to convert. In its most obvious and often least successful form, the handouts are accompanied by compulsory religious sermonising.

Yes, and the politicians have their hidden agenda as well. Money for votes.

BJ
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by gbeenie, February 15, 2009
It's funny that there's always such an uproar (and justifiably so) over the fundamentalist leanings of Those Evil Republicans, while President Obama gets a free pass for his.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -1
Not really.
written by BillyJoe, February 15, 2009
while President Obama gets a free pass for his.

Not from me. And not from many others posting here.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by Chris Long, February 16, 2009
SkeptiGirl typed: "I have no doubt lots of churches have programs that help the needy. But when I looked at Bush's personal contributions to religious organizations, the donations went to organizations bent on evangelizing, not on helping the poor. When I looked at where the faith-based tax dollar initiative money went, it went to large congregations in exchange for the church leadership promoting voting for Bush to the congregation.

If you have examples of faith based tax dollar initiatives going to religious organizations purely for their service programs rather than their vote value, then by all means, put the evidence out there. I will be happy to re-evaluate my conclusions."

Uh, The Savior gave all the examples necessary to justify his dishing your money to faith-based groups -- you may want to check with him...
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -5
...
written by Chris Long, February 16, 2009
BillyJoe typed: "All of them have a hidden agenda to convert those they help. In its least obvious form, this hidden agenda is not even given voice, just the hope, often rewarded, that the needy being helped will be impressed and thankful enough to convert. In its most obvious and often least successful form, the handouts are accompanied by compulsory religious sermonising."

Oh, really ? The best organized relief group I saw the third day after Hurricane Andrew was the Southern Baptist convention, which had three medical triage and treatment buses in the church parking lot at Caribbean Blvd./Haitian Drive in Cutler Ridge...

Free vaccinations for children going back to school, free Hepatitis immunoglobulin and tetanus shots. Doctors and nurses available 24 hrs. No sermonizing, no hidden agenda. Wouldn't have worked anyway, because I don't believe in supernatural and mystical beings.

Now, what was that blanket statement about hidden agendas and "sermonizing", again ? Are you, uh, part of the problem here ?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -2
...
written by Chris Long, February 16, 2009
It would be tragic not to utilize churches, which have distribution channels and logistics support for distribution of aid. I know in the rural area I live in, the institution with the most logistical reach into the farthest reaches is churches.

Not utilizing them would mean spending money badly needed for assistance to establish and staff channels.

It would be tragic, shortsighted and closed-minded NOT to use those services of many churches, simply out of bigotry...

You know, that bigotry thing, which non-believers like to rhetorically unsheath like a sword on believers so often, actually works both ways, huh ?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -3
...
written by Chris Long, February 16, 2009
Skeptigirl typed: "The Republican anti-science platform is well known among the skeptic and scientific communities worldwide."

Oh, really ? I am conservative, don't believe in God and am an empiricist...and there are many, many more like me. Many who *Gasp* don't believe in the supernatural and mystical aspects of religion. Aside from that, Christian theology provides some of the best reading I have ever seen.

You're quite a blanket-accusation, close-minded person...

report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -2
...
written by Blizno, February 16, 2009
"written by Chris Long, February 16, 2009
Skeptigirl typed: "The Republican anti-science platform is well known among the skeptic and scientific communities worldwide."

Oh, really ? I am conservative, don't believe in God and am an empiricist...and there are many, many more like me. Many who *Gasp* don't believe in the supernatural and mystical aspects of religion. Aside from that, Christian theology provides some of the best reading I have ever seen.
I am conservative, don't believe in God and am an empiricist...and there are many, many more like me."

Why do we hear so little from you and the many, many more like you? We only hear madness and hatred from the most insane branches of the right-wing tree. Why are you so quiet while your valid message is being corrupted into world-wrecking madness by the most radical few who claim to belong to your tribe?
We can't read your minds. You must speak out to be heard. Please!

We of the non-right wing have craved for years to hear a sane voice from right of center, but we've only heard "You're either with us or you're against us!" and even worse mindless screaming from the far right.

The Republican party has been ferociously anti-science, anti-freedom, anti-American for many, many years. It made itself, and bragged that it made itself, the party of the hyper-wealthy. It did so for many years while sane conservatives like you kept silent.

The damage is done. This nation and much of the world is in dire trouble, in large part thanks to "trickle-down economics" and similar cynical lies.
Note that I said "in large part" before shooting off your angry response. There is plenty of blame to go around. The leftists have done foolish and often selfish things too. However, the crimes of the left are usually relatively small and sleazy. The crimes of the right are sometimes huge and nation-wounding. How many welfare cheats are needed to balance even one Enron thief? I'm guessing all of them...
I have never seen the crimes of the left (welfare cheaters, paying off prostitutes, petty bribes, etc.) compared to the crimes of the right (Enron, Wall Street devouring almost a trillion dollars of our money with little to show for it, fossil fuel companies devastating vast areas of our only world, huge tax breaks for the hyper-wealthy etc, etc, etc).

I'm not claiming that the right wing is robbing the USA much, much, much worse than is the left wing. I'm asking for a clear, unbiased investigation into where the nation's (our) wealth is sent during right wing and during left wing control.

I doubt that we'll find that the right-wingers are our friends, but I'm eager to be proven wrong.

That's the important word: "Proven". Let's have real, demonstrated, testable information presented on these blogs rather than emotional rants.

Reading "UR RONG!1!" will do nothing to change my opinion. Show me evidence.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Blizno, February 16, 2009
"written by gbeenie, February 15, 2009
It's funny that there's always such an uproar (and justifiably so) over the fundamentalist leanings of Those Evil Republicans, while President Obama gets a free pass for his."

Interesting...I'd like to see some evidence of this "free pass" of which you speak.
Are you referring to the monolithic Republican resistance to Obama's attempts to rescue the nation's economy?
Or do you mean the unrelenting flood of lies that Obama wasn't born in Hawaii (lie) and isn't qualified to be president (lie)? Or the staggeringly foul swiftboating from right-wing radio that Obama is Muslim (lie)? Please show me evidence of this "free pass". All I can see is a united anti-Obama attack from the right.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by Blizno, February 16, 2009
"Atheism IS NOT a belief!
Yes it is—it’s a belief in the nonexistence of god."

Huh...what? Is not believing in Santa Claus a "Belief"?
Is not believing in the Great Spirit a "Belief"?
Is not believing in Allah a "Belief?
Is not believing in the Boogeyman a "Belief"?
Is not believing in Odin a "Belief"?
Is not believing in the Dream Time a "Belief"?
Is not believing in the Easter Bunny a "Belief"?
Is not believing in Krishna a "Belief"?
Is not believing in Marvin The Martian a "Belief"?
Is not believing in the Great Pumpkin a "Belief"?
Is not believing in Samhain a "Belief"?
Is not believing that G. W. Bush ever spoke to any gods a "Belief"?
Is not believing in The Hobbit a "Belief"?
Is not believing in Ba'al a "Belief"?
Is not believing in Cthulhu a "Belief"?

Just what constitutes a "Belief" in your world?

I don't believe that ogres hide under brides and wait for the chance to grab and devour unwary children. To what "religion" does that make me belong?

I don't believe that YHWH is poised to destroy the entire world again (see Bible, Old Testament, The Flood). Is this a "Belief"?

report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by BillyJoe, February 16, 2009
Oh, really ? The best organized relief group I saw the third day after Hurricane Andrew was the Southern Baptist convention, which had three medical triage and treatment buses in the church parking lot at Caribbean Blvd./Haitian Drive in Cutler Ridge...

To quote from my post "In its least obvious form, this hidden agenda is not even given voice, just the hope, often rewarded, that the needy being helped will be impressed and thankful enough to convert."

No sermonizing, no hidden agenda. Wouldn't have worked anyway, because I don't believe in supernatural and mystical beings.

They don't really expect to snare every one, least of all someone like you.

Now, what was that blanket statement about hidden agendas and "sermonizing", again ? Are you, uh, part of the problem here ?

May I respectfully suggest that you are part of problem if you don't see the importance of the separation of church and state.

BJ
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
@ Chris Long (the above post as well)
written by BillyJoe, February 16, 2009
It would be tragic, shortsighted and closed-minded NOT to use those services of many churches, simply out of bigotry...

The real tragedy is the short-sighted trampling on the principle of the separation of church and state for political ends.

You know, that bigotry thing, which non-believers like to rhetorically unsheath like a sword on believers so often, actually works both ways, huh ?

Bigotry is your jacket, perhaps you should wear it.

BJ
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Rogue Medic, February 17, 2009
Blizno,

You did not include The Tooth Fairy, so you're still OK by me.

I don't believe that ogres hide under brides and wait for the chance to grab and devour unwary children.


Me either. Trolls hide under bridges. Bbeing an ogre I am willing to test this hiding under brides hypothesis. I will leave the devouring of unwary children to other researchers.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by Rogue Medic, February 17, 2009
That's Being an ogre. One who apparently can't proof read.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Rogue Medic, February 17, 2009
Chris Long,

Free vaccinations for children going back to school, free Hepatitis immunoglobulin and tetanus shots. Doctors and nurses available 24 hrs. No sermonizing, no hidden agenda. Wouldn't have worked anyway, because I don't believe in supernatural and mystical beings.


Drug companies also give out pens, note pads, and many other trinkets, with their product name on them, but do not have a hidden agenda, either. it doesn't work on doctors, because they are similarly immune to this kind of persuasive advertising. Fortunately, this does not work and the drug companies are foolishly throwing away millions of dollars.

Name recognition. Gratitude. These are things that work. Ask any sales professional if it is worthwhile to give potential customers something for free. This creates a subconscious obligation. Many people will reciprocate by buying what is being sold. In this case, one's soul. smilies/cry.gif

Oh, really ? I am conservative, don't believe in God and am an empiricist...and there are many, many more like me. Many who *Gasp* don't believe in the supernatural and mystical aspects of religion. Aside from that, Christian theology provides some of the best reading I have ever seen.


Your religious denomination seems to be non sequiturian.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Guard your wallets!
written by Rustylizard, February 28, 2009
For anyone interested in how the Faith-Based Initiatives have fared so far, try reading Piety and Politics by the Reverend Barry W. Lynn. There is too much data to review here, but it gives a broad perspective of how things once operated, and how things changed. An entire chapter is devoted to that subject. No matter what your theological beliefs, there are some eye-openers that will probably make you wince. For a single example, consider the Reverend Pat:
Pat Robertson shocked me when he first came out in opposition to the Faith-Based Initiative. Having read The Most Dangerous Man in America by Rob Boston, I knew that Reverend Pat was a bad, bad boy who was very skilled at raising money. In 2004 alone, his tax free empire suckered in over 461 million bucks in donations, shaming the greed of the Wall Street Huns by comparison. Pat seemed totally out of character by taking a rational position.
Now before I continue, I have heard that Pat is God’s true spokesman. Let me make it clear, I do not want to offend God and incur his wrath, so God, if Pat is your man, strike me down now, before I sin …… No? Ok, then; I’ll continue the story:
One fine day, $1.5 million came floating out of the heavens and landed on the doorstep of Operation Blessing (a very controversial Robertson charity). It quickly drew Pat’s attention, and he gathered in those bills faster than an industrial vacuum sucks up piles of confetti. Witnesses say he did three back flips and nearly choked on an expensive can of caviar before recanting the error of his ways. The scales had been cast off his eyes; he had seen the value of Faith Based Initiatives and embraced them with a loving hug. The Holy Spirit had spoken; its name was George.
Now I’m not going to pick only on Republicans. Do you think the manna will rain down on a different batch of Reverend Pats when Democrats are in control? Oh yeah, baby, oh yeah!
No matter if you put your faith in God and believe he won’t screw you, or if you don’t believe in God so you’re sure he can’t screw you, just make sure you don’t trust a politician when he’s shaking hands with a preacher. Guard your wallets!
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Modification to "Guard your wallets!"
written by Rustylizard, March 01, 2009
Reviewing my preceding entry, I see I overgeneralized and violated one of my own pet peeves. I have been unjust to a certain class of preachers. While some have literally expressed the view that when the government cuts the check it will get the support of their church, there are others, like the Reverend Lynn, who will not accept government money at all. Though I differ with these clergy in respect to their theological views, they are people who respect my right to believe according to my conscience, as I respect theirs. It’s what this country is all about, or should be. It embraces the spirit of debate found in the forum we are writing in now. Uncle Sam can not enter here and tell us what to say. He can not pick our pockets, supporting one against the other, based on our religious beliefs or opinions (as he does when he selectively rewards faiths under the Faith Based Initiatives).

Preachers, like Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, work hard to safeguard our freedoms by keeping our government neutral and away from our private, legal convictions. I admire them greatly. Their job is a thankless one. They are often castigated by a public that pays lip service to the concept of church-state separation, yet only truly support it in regard to religions they do not like. I should not have painted them all with the same broad brush.
smilies/tongue.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by Blizno, March 01, 2009
Rustylizard:
"...Uncle Sam can not enter here and tell us what to say. He can not pick our pockets, supporting one against the other, based on our religious beliefs or opinions (as he does when he selectively rewards faiths under the Faith Based Initiatives)..."

Rusty L., I am with you except when you say, "...cannot...". Uncle Sam has, at least since the Cold War, forced Christian messages and agendas upon US citizens. Most famously, thanks to the resistance of a handful of patriots who are without religion, are the insertion during the 1950s Cold War frenzy of "Under God" into the US Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" onto US paper currency.
Uncle Sam can and has violated the separation between Church and State.

An un-American War against the Constitution is being relentlessly waged by the radical Christian Right. Their agenda, as they openly brag, is to convert the USA from a democracy into an evangelical Southern-Baptist Christian theocracy of their design, and under the strict control of a priesthood of their choosing, praise Jesus, Amen.

Uncle Sam is indeed violating The Constitution of the United States of America when "he" gives taxpayer money to any, any, religious organization for any purpose whatsoever.

Religious organizations, as long as they don't force themselves too deeply into "The State", such as by Christian preachers ordering their parishioners to vote for the Republican candidate (W, etc.), are free from federal taxation, as is guaranteed by the Separation of Church and State. Yes, I'm being snide here because there have been endless violations of the Separation of Church and State by Christian preachers, even on TV, as they order their flocks to vote Republican.
Those bald-faced violations of the US Constitution have been almost entirely ignored. That must end. The radical, fundamentalist Christian Right has grabbed far, far too much power, in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States, the highest law of the land controlling what government can inflict upon citizens. The radical Christian Right want government to force evangelical Christianity of their particular flavor upon the citizens of the USA. GW Bush came close to giving them that evil dream.

Long live the FREE USA

"Don't tread on me!"
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
...
written by Rustylizard, March 03, 2009
Blizno,

Of course, I agree with the exceptions you have listed, and I give you a plus. The scope of my “can not” was merely meant to include the JREF forum, though perhaps I should have made that more clear.

What concerns me greatly is that totalitarian countries in the past and present have actively monitored and censored meetings and forums like this. People who have engaged in such discussions were (or are) subjected to atrocities. The persecutors were often flawed in some way, and frequently adhered to an unmovable conviction that centered around some grand political or religious dogma. I do not think I am being paranoid when I suggest it could happen here, if we are not vigilant.

So I would say, “Keep the faith,” if it did not go against my grain. Instead, I say, “Keep the reason.”

Cheers,
Rustylizard
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0

Write comment
This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy