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Started by Recusant, April 14, 2019, 02:50:51 AM
QuoteThe plaintiffs in Carson v. Makin, a case being heard next Wednesday, December 8, begin their brief to the Supreme Court with an absolutely ridiculous historical comparison."In the 19th century, Maine's public schools expelled students for adhering to their faith," they claim, citing one example of a Catholic student expelled for not completing lessons off a Protestant bible. Now, according to the brief, Maine is committing a similarly repugnant sin against religious people by refusing to pay state residents' tuition at private religious schools.Under this reasoning, there is no relevant difference between denying a public education to a Catholic student and refusing to pay for private religious education. "The times are different," the plaintiffs' brief claims, "but the result is the same: denial of educational opportunity through religious discrimination."Carson, in other words, represents a significant escalation in the war over whether the government can enact policies of which religious people — and religious conservatives on the Supreme Court — disapprove. It moves the battleground from whether religious conservatives can seek exemptions from individual laws to whether they can also demand that the public actively fund their faith.Typically, the Court's "religious liberty" docket involves laws and policies that prohibit religious parties from acting in a way they believe is consistent with their faith. A church wishes to hold a crowded service, for example, in violation of a public health order limiting the number of people who can gather at one time during a pandemic. Or, an employer wishes to provide its employees with a health plan that excludes birth control in violation of a federal regulation requiring the insurance to cover contraceptive care.But Carson is not like these cases. It claims the state of Maine must spend existing tax revenue from its secular residents to pay the private school tuition of some religious students. No one in Maine is prohibited from sending their children to a religious private school. The plaintiffs in Carson already send at least one child to such schools. The question is whether the Constitution requires the government — and, by extension, anyone who pays taxes to that government — to subsidize religious education.[Continues . . .]
QuoteThe Christian right has been intertwined with American conservatism for decades, culminating in the Trump era. And elements of Christian culture have long been present at political rallies. But worship, a sacred act showing devotion to God expressed through movement, song or prayer, was largely reserved for church. Now, many believers are importing their worship of God, with all its intensity, emotion and ambitions, to their political life.At events across the United States, it is not unusual for participants to describe encountering the divine and feel they are doing their part to install God's kingdom on earth. For them, right-wing political activity itself is becoming a holy act.These Christians are joining secular members of the right wing, including media-savvy opportunists and those touting disinformation. They represent a wide array of discontent, from opposing vaccine mandates to promoting election conspiracy theories. For many, pandemic restrictions that temporarily closed houses of worship accelerated their distrust of government and made churchgoing political.At a Trump rally in Michigan last weekend, a local evangelist offered a prayer that stated, "Father in heaven, we firmly believe that Donald Trump is the current and true president of the United States." He prayed "in Jesus' name" that precinct delegates at the upcoming Michigan Republican Party convention would support Trump-endorsed candidates, whose names he listed to the crowd. "In Jesus' name," the crowd cheered back.The infusion of explicitly religious fervor — much of it rooted in the charismatic tradition, which emphasizes the power of the Holy Spirit — into the right-wing movement is changing the atmosphere of events and rallies, many of which feature Christian symbols and rituals, especially praise music.With spiritual mission driving political ideals, the stakes of any conflict, whether over masks or school curriculums, can feel that much larger, and compromise can be even more difficult to achieve. Political ambitions come to be about defending God, pointing to a desire to build a nation that actively promotes a particular set of Christian beliefs.[Continues . . .]
QuoteIf there's one thing that more than two decades of covering state government have taught me, it's that bills renaming bridges, highways, and public buildings in honor of some famous personage are one of the last preserves of bipartisanship.Not so for the U.S. House of Representatives, who went full "Hold My Beer" late last month, as nearly all the chamber's Republicans, including all of Georgia's eight GOP lawmakers, banded together to kill a bill that would have renamed a federal courthouse in Tallahassee after the Sunshine State's first Black state Supreme Court justice.As the New York Times reported Tuesday, the bill honoring Justice Joseph W. Hatchett had the backing of both of Florida's U.S. senators and all 27 members of its House delegation. For all the world, its approval looked preordained. The architect of this utterly unfathomable act, according to the Times, was a right-wing, first-term congressman from Georgia, U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde.Ahead of the March 30 floor vote, Clyde started passing around a 1999 Associated Press story about an appellate court's ruling striking down a public school policy allowing student-approved prayers at graduation, the Times reported."He voted against student-led school prayer in Duval County in 1999," Clyde, a deacon at his Baptist church near Athens, told The Times. "I don't agree with that. That's it. I just let the Republicans know that information on the House floor. I have no idea if they knew that or not."The rest of the House GOP fell in line, including at least one Florida Republican House member who had previously supported the bill, the Times reported.[. . .]Ultimately, the bill fell on a vote of 238-187, failing to reach the two-thirds threshold needed for passage.[Continues . . .]
QuoteNew civics education training for Florida teachers promotes inaccurate ideas about the separation of church and state, teachers told The Washington Post. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education announced that they'll host 10 regional 3-day civics professional learning training sessions for 2,500 teachers this summer to accommodate over 2,500 teachers during the summer of 2022. The training comes with a $700 stipend. The FDOE said the training would "be aligned to the revised civics and government standards," but some teachers have expressed concern about the instructions. During a press conference on Thursday, DeSantis said the new civic education was pushing back on the "woke indoctrination" of children and said kids in the state were learning "real history.""We're unabashedly promoting civics and history that is accurate and that is not trying to push an ideological agenda," he said. According to the Post, the training included the phrase that it is a "misconception" that "the Founders desired strict separation of church and state.""My takeaway from the training is that civics education in the state of Florida right now is geared toward pushing some particular points of view," Broward County teacher Richard Judd told the Post. "The thesis they ran with is that there is no real separation of church and state."Judd told the Post trainers that teachers were told, "This is the way you should think."DeSantis has recently pushed legislation that would limit what students can learn or discuss on history, race, and gender, and sexuality. Presentation slides from the training, which were obtained by The Miami Herald through a public records request, feature graphics that illustrate George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were opposed to slavery while neglecting to mention that they owned slaves. Barbara Segal, a 12th-grade government teacher at Fort Lauderdale High School, told the Tampa Bay Times that the training was "very skewed.""There was a very strong Christian fundamentalist way toward analyzing different quotes and different documents. That was concerning," Segal said. [Continues . . .]
QuoteThere's an influential minority of Americans who envision the United States as a Christian nation. Lately, this group has been making significant progress in its mission. Recent rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court reversing Roe v. Wade and protecting prayer in schools are chief among these victories.These legal wins for the Christian Right, though, are happening at a time when a growing majority of Americans are strongly opposed to their views."This is the most disproportionate power that the Christian Right has had in my lifetime," says Robert Jones, CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute — a nonpartisan group that conducts research on the intersection of politics, culture and religion.More and more white evangelical Christians are now talking about the U.S. as a Christian nation in ways that verge on or outright embrace Christian nationalism — the idea that the U.S. is a Christian nation and its laws should be rooted in the Bible.On the Sunday after the Supreme Court reversed a decades-old ruling that legalized abortions in the U.S., Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert spoke to a crowd at a church in Colorado. Among other things, Boebert complained that faith communities have long had to deal with laws in the U.S. that they don't agree with."The church is supposed to direct the government," she said. "The government is not supposed to direct the church. That is not how our founding fathers intended it. And I am tired of this separation of church and state junk. It's not in the Constitution."Of course, the Constitution does explicitly ban the establishment of a specific religion. It's in the First Amendment.[Continues . . .]
QuoteThe rightwing billionaires and the corporations and foundations aligned with them knew back in 1971 — when Lewis Powell laid out their strategy in his infamous Powell Memo the year before Nixon put him on the Supreme Court — that most Americans wouldn't happily vote to lower billionaires' taxes, end unions and regulation of gun manufacturers, or increase the amount of refinery poisons in our air.So the strategy they came up with to capture control of our government was pretty straightforward:Convince Americans that taxes aren't "the cost of a civil society" but, instead, a "burden" that they were unfairly bearing. Once Republicans were elected on that tax-cut platform, they'd massively cut the taxes of the morbidly rich while throwing a small bone to the average person.Convince Americans that regulations that protect consumers and the environment are also "burdens" from an out-of-control "nanny state," even though such regulations save lives and benefit Americans far more than they cost.Convince Americans that unions aren't "democracy in the workplace" that protect workers' rights but, instead, an elaborate scam to raid workers' paychecks to the benefit of "corrupt union bosses."To pull these off, they spent five decades and billions of dollars to subsidize think tanks and policy groups at both the federal and state level; there's now an extensive network of them reaching from coast-to-coast, all turning out policy papers and press releases the way bunnies have babies.They sponsored rightwing talk radio to the tune of millions of dollars a year (just Limbaugh and Hannity's shows got over a million a year each) and Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch rolled out Fox "News" to compliment the propaganda campaign. Later would come social media bots and trolls, along with thousands of new websites pretending to be local newspapers.Still, that wasn't quite enough to get them the political power they needed.They hooked up with the NRA, which helped sponsor the Reagan Revolution and was richly rewarded with laws that forbade the federal government from compiling gun death statistics and gave complete immunity from lawsuits to weapons manufacturers and sellers for the damage their products cause (the only industry in America other than nuclear power that enjoys such immunity).And they finally got a lot of Americans to go along with their plan, because they'd added in a religious "secret sauce." More on that in a moment.The Reagan presidency was their first major victory; in eight short years he cut union membership in America almost in half, dropped the taxes on billionaires from a top 74% bracket down to 27%, and slashed thousands of protective regulations, particularly around guns and the environment.Over the 40 years of the Reagan revolution, we've gone from having about the same gun-ownership density as Canada (around 15 guns per 100 people) to the most in the world (over 120 guns per 100 people). We're now drenched in blood: guns kill more American children than drunk drivers or any other cause.But hating on unions, taxes, and the environment — and loving on guns — wasn't enough to reliably win elections over the long run. They needed a larger bullhorn, a way of reaching into the lives of additional tens of millions of American voters who really didn't much care about those issues.That's where Jerry Falwell and his friends came into the picture.Falwell was an inveterate grifter, hustling Jesus to build a multi-million-dollar empire while ignoring Jesus' teachings about humility, poverty, and the need to care for others. A new, muscular Jesus — a Jesus who endorsed assault weapons, religious all-white schools, and private jets for preachers — came to dominate much of America's protestant Christianity.This Jesus wanted you to get rich — riches, they said, are a sign of God's blessing — and the "prosperity gospel" and all its perverted cousins were being preached on TV and in megachurches across the nation throughout the 1980s.Reagan brought his vice president's son — a young drunk named George W. Bush who got sober with Jesus' help (and a threat from his parents and wife) — and Bush forged an alliance between the Reagan campaign and the then-emerging phenomenon of Falwell/Bakker/Graham/Robertson televangelists.The televangelists became multimillionaires, churches openly defied IRS regulations and preached politics from the pulpit, and millions of mostly non-political church-goers were suddenly evangelists not just for Jesus but also for the Republican Party.[. . .]It's no longer just a matter of that $50 trillion transfer of wealth from middle America to the top 1% through changes in tax law, or a few hundred thousand children downstream of coal mines getting permanent neurological damage, or workers thinking that maybe they'd have better wages and benefits if they had a union.Now America is seeing clearly what the Republican coalition has brought us, from mass shootings to medical bankruptcies to student debt to homelessness.Literally none of these things were major societal problems the year Reagan was elected; all are the direct result of Republican policies, and all were made possible, in part, by this unholy alliance of church and state that our nation's Founders warned us against.[Link to full article.]
QuoteRepublican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene explicitly labeled herself a Christian nationalist on Saturday. This shocking statement by a sitting member of Congress should serve as a wake-up call to everyone, and particularly, I believe, to Christians."We need to be the party of nationalism and I'm a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists," Greene said in an interview while attending the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Florida on Saturday. Her self-avowal of Christian nationalism follows her claim last month that Christian nationalism is "nothing to be afraid of," and that the "movement" will solve school shootings and "sexual immorality" in America.For years, I have been closely tracking Christian nationalism and sounding the alarm about it. Greene's recent comments mark an alarming shift in the public conversation about Christian nationalism.Until recently, the public figures who most embrace Christian nationalism in their rhetoric and policies have either denied its existence or claimed that those of us who are calling it out are engaging in name-calling. But Greene is evidently reading from a different script now -- explicitly embracing the identity as her own and urging others to join her.She is not alone in doing so. Greene's embrace of Christian nationalism follows closely after troubling remarks from Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert: "The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church," she said at a church two days before her primary election (and victory) in late June. "I'm tired of this separation of church and state junk." And as CNN has reported, public opinion polling shows that support for Christian nationalism is growing among Christians.[Continues . . .]
QuoteSupreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mocked world leaders who criticized his anti-abortion ruling last month and decried what he called a "hostility to religion" in his first public comments since the decision.Alito, who authored the court's majority opinion in the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade, bragged during a surprise appearance at a religious conference hosted by the Notre Dame Law School's Religious Liberty Initiative in Rome last week that he wrote the opinion in what he described as the case "whose name may not be spoken.""I had the honor this term of writing I think the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders who felt perfectly fine commenting on American law," he said.[. . .]Alito during his remarks alleged that "religious liberty is under attack" even though the impenetrable conservative majority on the Supreme Court gave religious rights groups their biggest wins in generations this term: striking down abortion rights, siding with a public high school football coach who prayed on the field after games, and banning Maine from excluding religious schools from tuition assistance programs."It is hard to convince people that religious liberty is worth defending if they don't think that religion is a good thing that deserves protection," Alito said.[Continues . . .]
Quote from: Recusant on July 31, 2022, 08:18:16 AM"'Embarrassment to the Supreme Court': Alito gloats and taunts critics of his anti-abortion ruling" | SalonQuote"It is hard to convince people that religious liberty is worth defending if they don't think that religion is a good thing that deserves protection," Alito said.
Quote"It is hard to convince people that religious liberty is worth defending if they don't think that religion is a good thing that deserves protection," Alito said.
Quote from: Bluenose on September 09, 2022, 02:16:55 AMQuote from: Recusant on July 31, 2022, 08:18:16 AM"'Embarrassment to the Supreme Court': Alito gloats and taunts critics of his anti-abortion ruling" | SalonQuote"It is hard to convince people that religious liberty is worth defending if they don't think that religion is a good thing that deserves protection," Alito said.He got that partly right. I certainly don't think religion is a good thing that deserves protection. However, religious liberty has nothing to do with that. Good or bad, people are entitled to believe whatever they want. What they are not entitled to do is impose those beliefs onto others. This very important point is entirely missed by Alito.