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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 . . .]