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Archive for the ‘christianity’ Category

If you do not ask the right questions, you do not get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer. Asking questions is the A-B-C of diagnosis. Only the inquiring mind solves problems. – Edward Hodnett

Nothing rings so loudly in our ears as the things that we heard someone else never say. – Me

This week, Rick Santorum found himself in the crosshairs not just of the Left-leaning media, but the media on the right, over one of several policy statements posted on his campaign website.  The offense? Promising to prosecute laws that the Obama administration has shown no interest in prosecuting.  Were these laws against illegal immigration? No, although being in support of those would have been controversial enough for some who supposedly occupy space on the right. No, his crime was far worse.  He suggested that he would have his attorney general prosecute existing obscenity laws against hardcore pornographic materials.  From his own website on the issue:

For many decades, the American public has actively petitioned the United States Congress for laws prohibiting distribution of hard-core adult pornography.

Congress has responded.  Current federal “obscenity” laws prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier. Rick Santorum believes that federal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced.  “If elected President, I will appoint an Attorney General who will do so.”  

The Daily Caller printed a story this week on Santorum’s policy statement that launched a firestorm of outrage by people who furiously tweeted, commented on Facebook, or blogged with one hand on how ridiculous this concept is, and how it is yet more evidence that he is unserious about becoming President.  While the cries of “Get your hands of my [sticky] porn!” rose from many quarters, people who should know better began to weigh in with opinions about things that he didn’t say.  I could cover them, but Stacy McCain has done a pretty good job of compiling some of them in his piece on the subject, which you should read, as well as covering the very interesting point that this breathless “news” story has actually been posted on the candidate’s site since JANUARY 9th of this year, but is only now a threat to America getting its rocks off. Stacy McCain also has asked the follow-up questions regarding the coverage of this “story” that in days gone by  might have been asked by a good reporter, which makes me believe I should actually hit his tip jar.  Hell, I guess not all of this should do this simply as a method to keep from succumbing to the gaslighting being done to us by the legacy media.  And predictably, as the week wore on,  the usual suspects weighed in with the usual answers.

“I find it ironic that Republicans (like Santorum) are out there wanting less government and government intruding into our lives, but when it comes to moral issues they want government to legislate morality,” says [Steven] Hirsch [co-founder and Chairman of Vivid Entertainment]. “It doesn’t work. It will never work.”

Thus once again ignoring that the bulk of law “legislates morality”, as it is intended to punish and discourage behavior that society finds is bad (murder, stealing, rape), and to not interfere with something that society finds is not harmful (having an honest job), or even encourage that which society finds beneficial (buying a home, saving money, having children).  It isn’t that “legislating morality” doesn’t work, Mr. Hirsch.  Law does it all the time.  The real question is “Who’s morality shall we legislate?”

What I find surprising about this story is not that people on the left and the right are getting very excited about what Mr. Santorum didn’t say (that he is coming to your home to take all of your porn videos, and copies of “Sex With Animals”).  If there is a sign of the times for our age, it is hearing the things never said, whether is Maureen Dowd hearing Joe Wilson’s unsaid “, boy!” at the end of his declaration to the President Downgrade, or the many, many plans for a christofacist theocracy heard by anti-christian and anti-theist bigots whenever someone speaks about the strong Christian influence on our body of law, our culture, and our founding as a nation. 

Instead, the real story is the questions no one is asking.  Questions like “Why do we consider it acceptable that we have such a body of laws to begin with, if the notion of their enforcement is so ridiculous/silly/offensive or wrong?  We have all sorts of laws that regulate what materials can and cannot be sent through the mail.  The FCC will issue fines for dropping f-bombs on the air, or having a “wardrobe malfunction” during a Super Bowl halftime show, and arguably these actions are far more tame than a download of “Snow White and the Well-Hung Dwarfs”, a DVD of “Debbie Does Everyone”, or the latest issue of “Barnyard Love”.  If the idea of these laws is as ridiculous as Mr. Flynt suggests, then why doesn’t he spearhead the movement to have them repealed?  Certainly, if they do not accurately reflect the moral sensibilities of a majority of Americans, then it should be a relatively easy matter for Congress to repeal them, right?  After all, the issue is much more titillating and sexy than addressing insanely out of control spending, or even passing a budget, right?  This is the same Congress that had time for hearings on baseball, and having professional activists and part-time students come and give testimony on the burning need to violate religious schools’ conscience  rights and provide astronomically priced contraceptives to students who are so busy training to be the 1% that they need $1000.00 worth of birth control a year.

What does it say about us as a people that some among us feel so strongly in favor of hardcore pornography that we consider unfettered access to it to be a right, despite what our laws say about it?  What does it say about us that the idea of continual non-enforcement of law is somehow considered to be a legitimate and laudable goal?  Does this concept edify or delegitimize the notion of rule of law in a society that is supposed to be based upon laws and not on men?  And what does it say about us that we as a society are so quick and eager to vilify a man who states among his many goals a desire to have law enforcement under his administration enforce the laws?  When I ask myself those questions, I don’t like the answers.

Larry Flynt can say that there is no “there” there all he likes.  As someone whose home is built upon the furious fapping of others, I would expect nothing less from him.  But there is something about systematic exposure to hardcore porn that diminishes the humanity of both the object and the end-user.  The gratification without effort or consequence can kill the ability to relate to and recognize the satisfaction of another, driving the emotional intimacy of a healthy relationship extinct as the use of another person merely to satisfy lustful impulses becomes a primary goal.  Creativity also suffers, as we become programmed to react to what someone else has decided is sexy.  But don’t just take my word for it.  It’s recognized in all sorts of interesting quarters these days.

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Not content to just piss off Catholics and other people of faith who were paying attention, the Obama Administration decided to widen its War on Christianity by announcing today an expanded contraceptive mandate that now will require ALL universities to offer contraceptives to all students free of charge.

In a move that is likely to reignite the ire of religious leaders, late Friday afternoon the Obama administration announced a proposal that would require universities, including religious universities, to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs to their students, as well as their employees, without a co-pay. This appears to significantly widen the originally-announced HHS mandate, which had only applied to employees.
The White House released the 32-page proposal late Friday afternoon. It outlines three different options to ensure that the health plans for employees and students of religious organizations cover birth control, including abortifacient drugs, and sterilizations, without co-pay.

How very islamic of this administration. Screw your beliefs, you will submit.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense, as the media machine had done his heavy lifting for him on this topic and succeeding in convincing the televisitariat that this is about something completely different than what it is, and now he decides to drag other Christians into it?  This can’t end well…for him.

 

 

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While we dance around in a ring and suppose, the secret sits in the middle and knows.

-Robert Frost

In a week that was full of stories for those who could find them, perhaps the biggest was the airing of the tape of President Downgrade with his radical racist mentor and professor from Harvard, Derrick Bell. This was a coup not because it was more evidence of who the President is, but because it underscored the active participation of the Press in NOT reporting to the American people who he was at their time of choosing. But the bigger coup was in revealing this in a manner in which they didn’t even realize that the story being told was an indictment of THEM, not the radical divider currently putting his feet on the furniture at 1800 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And now that the narrative has shifted, and now that the Press tacitly admits the reason it wasn’t reported, the spin has begun. Now we are being told that Bell wasn’t such a bad guy. That he wasn’t really all that radical, and that he didn’t really have very much influence. But this of course epitomizes this administration, which has cloaked so very much in secrecy while claiming the highest level of transparency ever. The only truths of this administration of note are arrogance, failure, and excuses.

The arrogance started early. From the appointment of a tax cheat to the Secretary of the Treasury, to the expansion of czars with little or no Congressional oversight, to a willingness to diminish the Presidency by inserting himself into matters that had nothing to do with him (“I don’t have all the facts, but the police acted stupidly.”) to standing at the podium in foreign countries and offering apologies for America to people who did not deserve any such apology, to appointments without Congressional approval while Congress was still in session, and deigning to suggest to a prominent church leader that he himself did not understand his own churches doctrine, the President has revealed himself as possibly the most arrogant person we have ever had fill the position, which is quite an achievement considering the amount of failure and excuse that he has inflicted on us.

In the office where the buck once stopped with a more capable predecessor, he has offered up a startling amount of excuse and failure, along with empty bluster and bullying. Senator Obama was quick to blame his predecessor for a host of ills, whether it was high gas prices with a Democratic Congress, or a startlingly high unemployment rate that was significantly less than the percentage under his own term, even with his labor department fixing how the number was arrived at. Despite asking us for the job, and now asking for his contract to be renewed, no failure has been his fault. The power and majesty of the dumbest President EVER, George W. Bush has proven to be much stronger than the much-celebrated Obama mojo, as the evil BOOOOOOSH has managed to so screw things up, that no matter how much he can talk about finding someone’s “ass to kick”, and no matter what pressure he has no compunction about bringing from the bully pulpit he possesses, he simply can have no effect on things whatsoever. Every single thing plaguing this Administration, be it unemployment made worse by his own reckless and irresponsible spending, and increased regulations, a stagnant economy straining under oppressive regulations and intrusiveness, healthcare costs that continue to go up thanks to a planned takeover of the industry, and increased burdens imposed by the government, or sky-high gas prices that can be traced back to uncertainty from a foreign policy apparently determined to set the Middle East on fire, and domestic policies designed to all but shut down any domestic energy production on government land or in off shore drilling is the fault of his predecessor.

And now that a silly church that can trace its roots to the time of Christ won’t simply surrender its beliefs in favor of his doctrine, he finally has something to run on instead of his failure and our disappointment: the elevation of a government-granted entitlement to be provided by someone else to the status of a “right”, and the denial of it equated to a “War on Women”.

There are plenty of reasons to elect anyone else this November. And I’m afraid that right now, we’re so busy invoking our fallen and waiving that bloody shirt that we won’t be talking about these reasons every single day.

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But, beyond all these matters, no purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. The commission to Christopher Columbus, prior to his sail westward, is from ‘Ferdinand and Isabella, by the grace of God, king and queen of Castile,’ etc., and recites that ‘it is hoped that by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the *466 ocean will be discovered,’ etc. The first colonial grant, that made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, was from ‘Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England, Fraunce and Ireland, queene, defender of the faith,’ etc.; and the grant authorizing him to enact statutes of the government of the proposed colony provided that ‘they be not against the true Christian faith nowe professed in the Church of England.’ The first charter of Virginia, granted by King James I. in 1606, after reciting the application of certain parties for a charter, commenced the grant in these words: ‘We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God, and may in time bring the Infidels and Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility, and to a settled and quiet Government; DO, by these our Letters-Patents, graciously accept of, and agree to, their humble and well-intended Desires.’
Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent charters of that colony, from the same king, in 1609 and 1611; and the same is true of the various charters granted to the other colonies. In language more or less emphatic is the establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant. The celebrated compact made by the pilgrims in the Mayflower, 1620, recites: ‘Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid.’
The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government was instituted in 1638-39, commence with this declaration: ‘Forasmuch as it hath pleased the Allmighty God by the wise disposition of his diuyne pruidence *467 so to Order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and vppon the River of Conectecotte and the Lands thereunto adioyneing; And well knowing where a people are gathered togather the word of **515 God requires that to mayntayne the peace and vnion of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Gouerment established according to God, to order and dispose of the affayres of the people at all seasons as occation shall require; doe therefore assotiate and conioyne our selues to be as one Publike State or Comonwelth; and doe, for our selues and our Successors and such as shall be adioyned to vs att any tyme hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation togather, to mayntayne and presearue the liberty and purity of the gospell of our Lord Jesus wch we now prfesse, as also the disciplyne of the Churches, wch according to the truth of the said gospell is now practised amongst vs.’
In the charter of privileges granted by William Penn to the province of Pennsylvania, in 1701, it is recited: ‘Because no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship; And Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith, and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare,’ etc.
Coming nearer to the present time, the declaration of independence recognizes the presence of the Divine in human affairs in these words: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that thet are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’ ‘We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare,’ etc.; ‘And for the *468 support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.’
If we examine the constitutions of the various states, we find in them a constant recognition of religious obligations. Every constitution of every one of the 44 states contains language which, either directly or by clear implication, recognizes a profound reverence for religion, and an assumption that its influence in all human affairs is essential to the well-being of the community. This recognition may be in the preamble, such as is found in the constitution of Illinois, 1870: ‘We, the people of the state of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political, and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the same unimpaired to succeeding generations,’ etc.
It may be only in the familiar requisition that all officers shall take an oath closing with the declaration, ‘so help me God.’ It may be in clauses like that of the constitution of Indiana, 1816, art. 11, § 4: ‘The manner of administering an oath or affirmation shall be such as is most consistent with the conscience of the deponent, and shall be esteemed the most solemn appeal to God.’ Or in provisions such as are found in articles 36 and 37 of the declaration of rights of the constitution of Maryland, (1867:) ‘That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty: wherefore, no person ought, by any law, to be molested in his person or estate on account of his religious persuasion or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace, or safety of the state, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil, or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent or maintain or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain any place of worship or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness or juror on account of his religious belief: provided, he *469 believes in the existence of God, and that, under his dispensation, such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor, either in this world or the world to come. That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this state, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this constitution.’ Or like that in articles 2 and 3 of part 1 of the constitution of Massachusetts, (1780:) ‘It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. * * * As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion, and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness, and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.’ Or, as in sections 5 and 14 of article 7 of the constitution of Mississippi, (1832:) ‘No person who denies the being of a God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil de partment of this state. * * * Religion **516 morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged in this state.’ Or by article 22 of the constitution of Delaware, (1776,) which required all officers, besides an oath of allegiance, to make and subscribe the following declaration: ‘I, A. B., do profess *470 faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.’
Even the constitution of the United States, which is supposed to have little touch upon the private life of the individual, contains in the first amendment a declaration common to the constitutions of all the states, as follows: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ etc.,-and also provides in article 1, § 7, (a provision common to many constitutions,) that the executive shall have 10 days (Sundays excepted) within which to determine whether he will approve or veto a bill.
There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning. They affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons. They are organic utterances. They speak the voice of the entire people. While because of a general recognition of this truth the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. Com., 11 Serg. & R. 394, 400, it was decided that, ‘Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law of Pennsylvania; * * * not Christianity with an established church and tithes and spiritual courts, but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.’ And in People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns. 290, 294, 295, Chancellor KENT, the great commentator on American law, speaking as chief justice of the supreme court of New York, said: ‘The people of this state, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity as the rule of their faith and practice; and to scandalize the author of these doctrines is not only, in a religious point of view, extremely impious, but, even in respect to the obligations due to society, is a gross violation of decency and good order. * * * The free, equal, and undisturbed enjoyment of religious opinion, whatever it may be, and free and decent discussions on any religious *471 subject, is granted and secured; but to revile, with malicious and blasphemous contempt, the religion professed by almost the whole community is an abuse of that right. Nor are we bound by any expressions in the constitution, as some have strangely supposed, either not to punish at all, or to panish indiscriminately the like attacks upon the religion of Mahomet or of the Grand Lama; and for this plain reason, that the case assumes that we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply ingrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors.’ And in the famous case of Vidal v. Girard’s Ex’rs, 2 How. 127, 198, this court, while sustaining the will of Mr. Girard, with its provision for the creation of a college into which no minister should be permitted to enter, observed: ‘It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law of Pennsylvania.’
If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life, as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs, and its society, we find every where a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters note the following: The form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, ‘In the name of God, amen;’ the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day; the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town, and hamlet; the multitude of charitable organizations existing every where under Christian auspices; the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation. In the face of all these, shall it be believed that a congress of the United States intended to make it a misdemeanor for a church of this country to contract for the services of a Christian minister residing in another nation?
*472 Suppose, in the congress that passed this act, some member had offered a bill which in terms declared that, if any Roman Catholic church in this country should contract with Cardinal Manning to come to this country, and enter into its service as pastor and priest, or any Episcopal church should enter into a like contract with Canon Farrar, or any Baptist church should make similar arrangements with Rev. Mr. Spurgeon, or any Jewish synagogue with some eminent rabbi, such contract should be adjudged unlawful and void, and the church making it be subject to prosecution and punishment. Can it be believed that it would have received a minute of approving thought or a single vote? Yet it is contended that such was, in effect, the meaning of this statute. The construction invoked cannot be accepted as correct. It is a case where there was presented a definite evil, in view of which the legislature used general terms with the purpose of reaching all phases of that evil; and thereafter, unexpectedly, it is developed that the general language thus employed is broad enough to reach cases and acts which the whole history and life of the country affirm could not have been intentionally legislated against. It is the duty of the courts, under those circumstances, to say that, however **517 broad the language of the statute may be, the act, although within the letter, is not within the intention of the legislature, and therefore cannot be within the statute.
The judgment will be reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

Rector, Etc., Of The Holy Trinity Church v. U.S., 12 S. Ct. 511 (1892).

Yes, I know the history and Justice Brewer’s later clarification of what he wrote.  However, I also want to make a point to those who read a little bit of a decision, and fancy themselves Louis Brandeis reincarnated, whether or not they slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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I wish I could say that the latest bit of Chicken Little Santorum hysteria in the media was amusing, but instead I find it to be another example of the stunning lack of intellectual inquiry by the “guardians of the record” when they have enough to cobble together something commensurate with the narrative they so desperately want to tell.  When you add to the formula otherwise intelligent people who are hellbent on not recognizing simple truths, then the agenda becomes toxic. 

I woke this morning to headlines stating that Senator Santorum doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state, which of course feeds into the trumped-up paranoia about his obvious desire to bring about a theocracy here on our shores.  This can only confirm the worst fears of organizations like Klanned Parenthood, which is fervently pointing to conservatives like Santorum as evidence of a non-existent “War on Women” that is being waged from one end of the country to another.  And because the fourth estate can make this the headline, rather than the historical and unprecedented failures of the guy currently putting his feet on the Resolute Desk, the narrative is doubly served: Reinforce the myth that religion, specifically Christianity, was not central and formative to the men who declared us a nation, and formed the Republic, and deflect the well-deserved scrutiny and criticism away from President Downgrade.

However, the truth is a bit more complex than that, which should not be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, and the Senator’s full remarks displayed a greater understanding than his questioner, Democrat operative and pretend journalist George Stephanopoulos, wanted people to grasp.  First, the full exchange regarding John F. Kennedy’s Church and State Speech:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have also spoken out about the issue of religion in politics, and early in the campaign, you talked about John F. Kennedy’s famous speech to the Baptist ministers in Houston back in 1960. Here is what you had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: Earlier (ph) in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That speech has been read, as you know, by millions of Americans. Its themes were echoed in part by Mitt Romney in the last campaign. Why did it make you throw up?

SANTORUM: Because the first line, first substantive line in the speech says, “I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.

This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion. That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate. Go on and read the speech. I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith. It was an absolutist doctrine that was abhorrent (ph) at the time of 1960. And I went down to Houston, Texas 50 years almost to the day, and gave a speech and talked about how important it is for everybody to feel welcome in the public square. People of faith, people of no faith, and be able to bring their ideas, to bring their passions into the public square and have it out. James Madison—

STEPHANOPOULOS: You think you wanted to throw up?

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: — the perfect remedy. Well, yes, absolutely, to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up and it should make every American who is seen from the president, someone who is now trying to tell people of faith that you will do what the government says, we are going to impose our values on you, not that you can’t come to the public square and argue against it, but now we’re going to turn around and say we’re going to impose our values from the government on people of faith, which of course is the next logical step when people of faith, at least according to John Kennedy, have no role in the public square.

Now, to begin with, Kennedy was trying to address a different brand of religious bigotry at the time he made the speech Santorum was talking about.  In 1960, we had never had a President who had been Catholic, and there was, predictably, some concern regarding how he would govern as President (Mitt Romney, you have a call on the white courtesy phone).  And Kennedy recognized this in the body of the speech that Senator Santorum was talking about:

While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that I believe that we have far more critical issues in the 1960 campaign; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers only 90 miles from the coast of Florida — the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power — the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctors bills, the families forced to give up their farms — an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space. These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues — for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barrier.

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured — perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again — not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President – should he be Catholic — how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been — and may someday be again — a Jew, or a Quaker, or a Unitarian, or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that led to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today, I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril.

Kennedy, then, much like Santorum now, was faced with questions that focused not on the issues he came to address, but on his character, and how some believed it threatened the integrity of the Republic.  That said, while he qualified the premise that he set forth, that is that the “separation between church and state should be absolute”, he went on to tell us what that meant, and in his day and age, the militant atheist movement had not yet coalesced into the movement that today expends so much effort to remove the influence of religion (specifically Christianity) from any discussion regarding government, on the basis of that deliberately misconstrued phrase that has no home in the Constitution.  Yet this is the phrase seized on by those in today’s society who are determined to ignore the fact that the current understanding would have been completely foreign to those who argued the contents of the Constitution and who signed the finished product, let alone the man who wrote it so long ago to a Christian sect complaining of the favor given to another sect by the state,  to their detriment.

But then, there is little reason to believe that then Senator Kennedy would object to a town council opening a meeting with a prayer, when Congress had been doing it pretty much from inception.  Or that posting the Ten Commandments in a courthouse would so violate this concept of separation when it is part of the building that houses the Supreme Court.  Or that a prayer at a high school football game is contrary to the principle, when Washington and Madison declared days of prayer and thanksgiving when President.  Or that it should be impermissible to let a church meet in a public school building when the author of the storied phrase himself attended Sunday worship services on a regular basis in the US Capitol with members of Congress during his Presidency.

The fact is that Senator Santorum was correct.  The application of this “wall of separation between church and state” has far advanced any discernible original meaning, and now is a means to delegitimize an entire viewpoint by people who fail to understand that excluding and marginalizing it from the national dialogue has not resulted in a healthier society, but one in which we enjoy fewer freedoms than our parents and grandparents, because of the attempt to replace the restraint and prudence that too many today eschew for instant gratification and selfish pursuits.  It is a world where people who can ill-afford them will riot over new tennis shoes, and violence and hypersexualized predators stalk our children wherever they can be found.

Santorum’s crime is not that he tries to “impose” his views on anyone.  It is that he tries to reinject a voice that itching ears do not want to heed and consider.  I’m sure I could find legitimate reasons for not liking him, and I much prefer that idea than disliking him for being right without understanding that I’m being fed a line by a media that has its own story to tell, and hopes that I’ll be too lazy to suss out the truth.

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There has been no shortage of commentary and opinion about the HHS rule that would require religiously affiliated charities, universities, and hospitals to provide health insurance plans to their employees that include contraceptives and abortifacients free of charge to their plan enrollees.

The most vocal critic of this rule has been the Catholic church, which took the step of distributing and reading a very critical letter of this policy from the pulpit, and stating firmly that the Church cannot and will not comply with this law.  The basis of this objection is that such a regulation would compel the Church to purchase something which is repugnant to its stated doctrine which has been it’s doctrine for centuries, and by its very nature, makes it complicit in something that it regards as a sin.

This predictably drew criticism ranging from the sublime to the idiotic, depending upon the personal prejudices of the critic.  One such criticism is that “the Church is out of touch with its own followers, since 98% of Catholic women use birth control.”  Putting aside the source and veracity of the statistic (including the reason for gathering the data and the methodology used in doing so), it misses a fundamental point about Catholicism:  It is not a democracy.  This is a point not considered by those who spend a great deal of time criticising religion without understanding it.  At the heart of judeo-christian philosophy is the idea that man is an imperfect creature that while cast in the image of his creator is none the less prone to sin.  The Church exists to address this condition, and to offer correction and guidance in overcoming sin.  It could no more abdicate this duty and adopt the belief that since a majority of its female parishioners take birth control, that it must be correct any more than a responsible parent could conclude that ice cream and cake would make an excellent breakfast for their children simply because it is what the children would make for themselves if given the opportunity. 

Of course, my favorite outburst so far was from a colleague in the blogging world who has some very strong feelings on the subject:

Nothing is being imposed. On the contrary, a government that should be ignoring ignorant religious doctrine in favor of modern science is ACCOMMODATING the Catholic church with a one to two year waiting period to figure out how both desires can be served: the desire to maintain the religious prohibition and the desire to get women the contraceptives they want.

Did you get that?  Nothing is being imposed…except for a rule that requires the Church to be complicit in behavior it finds abhorrent for religious reasons.  And since he believes the doctrine to be “ignorant”, the government obviously should be ignoring it, and implementing it NOW.  Why is the doctrine “ignorant”?  Because it ignores “modern science”.  But that phrase in and of itself implies an important truth:  that science is not static.  Anyone who has made an even semi-serious study of the history of science knows that its “truths” often come with an expiration date.  After all, it was once modern scientific fact that the earth was flat, that the planets revolved around it, that life spontaneously generated, and that phlogiston was present in everything that was flammable and was release when those materials were burned.  Illnesses were caused by bad humors that could be excised by bleeding the patient.  Species developed unique characteristics because they willed it to be so.  

Now I’m not a Luddite, and I am grateful for what man’s intelligence has drawn from scientific inquiry and experimentation.  Whether it is antibiotics, materials sciences, or harnessing the power of numbers and revolutionizing everything in our lives by applying the binary paradigm of digitization, our lives are better for the application of science.  But it is not sustenance for the soul, nor should it ever be used as a cudgel to beat the submission of one’s conscience into conformity with the best laid plans of technocrats.

The third argument that has been deployed against the religious resistance to this regulation is the argument that contraceptives are a “right”.   It is the most facially compelling argument, as long as one doesn’t dwell too much on it, because doing so requires the hearer to define what is a right, and why contraceptives fit the definition, and then the implications of such a statement.

What is the origin of this “right”?  Does a man or a woman in a state of nature have a right to contraceptives that are “free”?  Of course not.  This “right” is only conditioned upon the government being beneficent with other people’s money, which is the essence of the modern state’s beneficence.  That recognized, this “right” is nothing of the sort, and is at best, a privilege, which is subject to revocation by the same government which conferred it in the first place.

That said, there are true rights at stake, and it very much IS a First Amendment issue.  I have read the assertions that freedom of religion or the free exercise clause is not implicated in this scenario, because the Church chose to provide medical services, education, and charitable assistance to those who are not members of the Church, and that in doing so, they have “intruded” on the territory of the secular world, and should therefore be subject to its mandates.  This is a seductive rationale, especially for those who are know nothing of Christianity, or are hostile to it, because they are incapable of seeing the provision of medical care, of providing an education, or of providing charitable assistance to the needy as the very expression of that faith, and in keeping with the example set by Christ himself, and consistent with his commandments to the individual believers, and their corporate bodies.  These activities are undertaken as ministries, and to be the face and works of Christ to a world which Christians believe need him.  Those who believe that this is not about the practice of religion fail to see that these are the works commanded by a savior who knew that not all who received what he had to give would be changed, but that did not and should not change the will and desire to give anyway.  Christianity is not a religion that can be practiced within the walls of the church alone; it is not something that gets turned on at 9 am Sunday morning, and turned off again when you leave the parking lot.  There is, however, another nuanced point that is being ignored in this controversy.  This regulation offends a right that is fundamental to every right recognized and guaranteed in the First Amendment:  The right of conscience.

If man does not possess the right of conscience, then he is not free to speak as he pleases.  If he does not possess the right to report the events that he wishes to report on.  If he does not possess the right of conscience, then he does not possess the right to worship as he pleases, or not at all if that is what he would chose.  If he does not have the right of conscience, then he has no right to assemble with those who share his beliefs.  If he has no right of conscience, he does not have the right to bring his complaints to the government.  He who has no right of conscience does not have these rights,  his very thoughts, which are also necessary to these rights, are subject not to him, but to the state which so enlists him into its service.

I know that it is not a subject often discussed these days, and that worship of the state while pretending at neutrality is much more in vogue than the free exercise of religion, but this freedom of conscience was recognized by the men responsible for limiting the power of government with respect to the exercise of religion, including Thomas Jefferson, who recognized that religion was necessary for society as a source of morals, but that it was dangerous to have conditions that would allow one sect to have favor and power over the others.

The error seems not sufficiently eradicated, that the operations of the mind, as well as the acts of the body, are subject to the coercion of the laws.  But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them.  The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit.  We are answerable for them to our God.  The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.

The fact is the federal government is trying to force Christian religious institutions to compromise their beliefs as they practice their faith in various ministries that use church members and non-church members alike in the service of the God they subscribe to.  This suborns their conscience, and enslaves it to the desire of government to provide a product that has been speciously and facetiously referred to repeatedly as a “right”, with the apparent belief that the very real rights of conscience and free exercise of religion must yield to a privilege that will be afforded only as long as the state desires to compel others to provide it.  Whether or not you are a person of faith, and whether or not you have any respect or love for the Catholic or any other church, you are a fool not to see that if the right of conscience central to the exercise of enumerated rights must give way to the dictates and desires of the federal government, then NO enumerated right is safe, and “We the People” are little more than “We the Serfs”.

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While the religious have people there to reinforce their values, atheists, humanists and others who follow similar world beliefs argue that they do not. Thus, they wish to gain official recognition so that they can respond to their fellow non-believing soldiers’ spiritual needs.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Seriously, how much of a “spiritual need” can someone who knocks God off his throne and sits in his place have?

Oh, and it isn’t about having someone around to “reinforce your values”.  It is about having the comfort of the connection between you and your Creator at times of moral peril.  Its kind of difficult to pray aloud when you have a sucking chest wound.  There is no equivalency for athiests and humanists. (Playing a recording of “My Way” isn’t the same thing.)

Some days the ignorance of history is only outweighed by the self-centeredness of trivial people.

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“But there certainly is such a thing as fundamentalist christian terrorism.”

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Liberty: freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
 
If you are of a certain age, you probably read these words in school, but didn’t dwell on them much.  If you are younger, you likely didn’t read them in school, or only did so in a perfunctory fashion, because the popular and widespread view is that this document is “a dead letter” with no operative legal meaning or authority in this day and age.  While popular, this view is one that purposely marginalizes the ideals that this document embodies.  And that isn’t an accident.
 
Perhaps the greatest lie pinned to this document, and its modern interpretation, is that this document is not a Christian document.
 
I know.  It is shocking.  I just spoke in contradiction to one of the greatest dogmas of our day…the belief that the man credited with the inflated, magnified, and the much misapplied “wall of separation between church and state” was a deist at worst, but more likely an atheist, thus justifying its application to religious (and specifically Christian) observances by activist jurists who have chosen to insert it in to a Constitution that never knew it.
 
I would refer you to the collection on Jefferson which speaks with the most authority, as it is the collection of his own words.  Thomas Jefferson: Writings.  Pay particular attention to his letters to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and Peter Carr.  An accurate reading of these and his other writings outline a man who believed in God, and admired what Jesus said, but felt that those who came after, peddling religion, corrupted teaching meant to edify mankind and provide a morality superior to all others.  He despised sectarianism, but wasn’t hostile to the morality set forth in its pages.
 
The reason why it matters is that the liberty refered to in the Declaration of Independence takes on a meaning best understood through the context of Christianity. 
 
The Founders were all very familiar with the Bible.  It was a text book.  It was the only book in many homes.  Church attendance was the rule and not the exception in that era.  And the word “liberty” appears no less than 25 times in the King James Version of the Bible.
 
Christian liberty concerns the freedom from the bondage of sin.  It makes men free in the liberty that Christ provided.  But it was also about having enough restraint to keep from abusing that liberty and leading others astray.  The men in Philadelphia who sought to take possession of the liberty that their Creator gave them understood that Liberty was the freedom to live without restraint, yet they also knew that man needed some restraint and boundaries to keep one’s exercise of liberty from encroaching on the liberty of others (as set forth in 1 Corinthians 8:9—”But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to then that are weak.” or 1 Corinthians 10:29 “Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?”) while understanding that an unfettered liberty was an invitation to ruin by the wickedness that dwells in every man (2 Peter 2:19 “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same he is brought in bondage.”
 
Liberty has always been the ideal of this nation.  Wise men seek the balance that applies just enough law to preserve the most freedom for people by regulating the outside boundaries of human behavior.  However, wisdom is in short supply, and morality is not studied or sought, as people have fallen under the spell of their own understanding.  In a climate of moral ambiguity, or laziness, more regulation becomes necessary, and as people are taught out of the traits which allow them to govern themselves, more regulation becomes necessary, and more desirous to the few in whom authority is vested…until liberty becomes a hollow word, the meaning and knowledge of which is foreign to the people who invoke it as an incantation with other words squeezed of meaning, like freedom, or justice, all of which become eclipsed in the growing corruption that enslaves all who must live in that place.
 
Just something for you to think about this July 4, as people celebrate “freedoms” that liberate wickedness and corruption, being rooted in the flesh, but do nothing to edify the spirit or the soul of man.
 
And as an aside, the Declaration of Independence is a charter, and an explanation of why we declared independence, but the real declaration of independence actually occurred on July 2, 1776.
 

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Easter is one of those times when Christians everywhere pause and ponder the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  I consider myself included among them, but when studying last week, I was struck by how different some passages in Luke seemed to me now as opposed to how they had been in the past.

We’ve been doing an interesting study, and the focus last week was on the two instances in the Bible where Jesus cried.  The second was the one I found striking.  It was during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Luke’s is the only gospel that recounts his crying, and yet I find the description compelling.

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: 
      “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’[a]
      Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
40But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” 
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Luke 19:37-44, NKJV

I am moved by the idea of being recognized and not recognized at the same time, and understanding that it was entirely due to the expectations of the people who were celebrating his arrival in Jerusalem.  Reading of the cries of “Hosanna!” and knowing that they were asking him to deliver them not from sin that they could never atone for, but from conquerors who had overpowered the Maccabees who ruled a generation earlier under the palms like the ones the crowds now waived, I cannot even imagine the weight that Christ must have felt, knowing that because the people of Jerusalem were so fixated on physical deliverance that they failed to understand that he offered them something so much greater.  He came to free their souls, and all they could see was their political bondage.

And the greatest tragedy is that people still are confused, and still look for physical deliverance, rather than seeking sustenance for their spirit.  Only now, they frequently try to fill that emptiness within with everything but what will fill that emptiness.

I feel sorry for this woman.  Not because she placed her hopes on a man promising it with no intention of ever delivering, but because the fact she believed it in the first place leads me to believe that she will never understand.  Not that I can blame her.  The indoctrination that is public education fails so many, who can look around them at all the evidence necessary to show that government is not the answer, and yet still cling to the belief that government will be their deliverer that will save them from their cares and their woes.

It is a perception not aided in the slightest by moments like this, either:

 

Or this:

  

No, I am NOT comparing Obama to Christ.  The only comparison to be made is that they both walked the earth as men. 

What I would argue is that so many people have projected their desires for deliverance from the physical on to him, that it has allowed him to assume a divinity as he preaches a doctrine that says “I know your life isn’t fair, but if we make government bigger, and allow it to do more, if we change from a system of negative liberties that limit what government can do, then we can deliver you from your cares and your troubles.  Charity is too important to be left to the individual; government must become an active participant to make sure that the needy are taken care of.  And some people must sacrifice more than others to this method of distribution, because fairness can only be achieved through equality of result.”

I could grit my teeth and live with it, if he wasn’t so inclined to assume the fact of his divinity, and be so very jealous of that of other lessor beings.

America has real problems.  Among them is an empty spirit that too many keep trying to feed with a trust in man alone (We will put science in its rightful place), and that we will find the answer that satisfies, but it will require us to try something different, which is actually still the same (We are the ones we have been waiting for)… in short, we are no better off than Jerusalem on that day.  We seek to remedy the problems of our world through collective action, and by compulsion,when the real answers, the ones that will bring peace depend neither on the good will and compulsion of others to make our individual lives better.  And too many are willing to treat those who promise it as if they are something they aren’t.

It was a great gift that was freely given to us.  The fact that too many of us can’t even grasp the concept, let alone accept it, says something unsavory about us.  The fact some among us conflate this gift with salvation of the body is insulting.  We can’t stop this belief, but we can address the ignorance that drives it…and let the truth tend to itself.

Just something to consider this Good Friday.

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