Category Archives: Politics

Non-Belief Gets Left Out Of President Obama’s Speech On Religious Freedom

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official image of President Obama visiting Baltimore mosque 2/3/2016
President Obama visiting Baltimore mosque 2/3/2016

On Wednesday (2/3/2016), President Obama visited a mosque for the first time while in office. I applaud his visit and his remarks against bigotry toward Muslims, but when he talked about religious freedom, people who don’t subscribe to any religion seemed not to be included.
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Richmond Mayor Thinks Questioning City Relationship With His Church Is Against Separation Of Church & State

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offical photo of Richmond, Va Mayor Dwight C. Jones
Richmond, Va Mayor Dwight C. Jones

Richmond, Virginia Mayor Dwight C. Jones has a problem. According to news reports, it seems that work done for the church he heads was done by vendors and contractors that also do business for the city and it looks like at least one city employee used city time and e-mail to oversee construction at the church on behalf of the Mayor. The appearance of irregularity is something that needs to be investigated but the Mayor believes the scrutiny is a violation of the separation of church and state. You can’t use the 1st amendment to block an ethics investigation.
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Ohio House Speaker Cuts Off Prayer For Wrong Reason

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screencap of Pastor B.J. Van Aman, Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, and Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville with head bowed in prayer
Pastor B.J. Van Aman of the Pickerington Baptist Temple, Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, and Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville with head bowed in prayer in the Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday January 26, 2016

Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R) cut off the opening prayer, in the Ohio House of Representatives, Tuesday, after it went past 5 minutes in length. In reviewing the rules for a prayer opening the legislature, it’s clear the prayer should have been stopped much sooner for violating court advised guidelines and not just for length.
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Selective Amnesia Around Religious Freedom

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official image of Ted Cruz
‘Reverend’ Senator Ted Cruz

The next act of religious conservatives against same-sex marriage, after the US Supreme Court decision, included claiming ‘religious freedom’ to justify continued opposition to it and trying to enact laws allowing them to ignore the court decision. Yet when people like me bring up the use of ‘religious freedom’ also being used to oppose the civil rights struggle for blacks back in the 60s, these same ‘Doctors of Theology’ claim amnesia and say the Bible doesn’t support racism. Their amnesia is at least disingenuous if not dishonest.

David Simms, writing at Godless in Dixie, notes:

That’s why it’s so funny (and also disheartening) to see people like Ted Cruz try to weasel their way out of explaining how their ongoing crusade against homosexuality is “totally different” than the fight against desegregation which their political forbearers waged in the not-so-distant past.

Even if Cruz believes that Falwell and Jones were relying on a “misinterpretation” of scripture to support racism, it is entirely irrelevant. What is relevant is that these people had at the time a sincerely held belief that their position was scripturally sound, in the very same way that those who want to discriminate today on the basis of “religious freedom” have a sincerely held belief that their position is scripturally sound.

The arguments are the same.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, in November of 2015, Ted Cruz held a “religious liberty” conference at…wait for it…Bob Jones University. Ted Cruz claims that there is no religious backing for the notion that interracial marriage is wrong. Yet, he hosts a religious liberty conference at the very same university which took their case all the way to the Supreme Court to insist that they have the religious liberty to ban interracial marriage.

The irony is palpable.

Religious Freedom Is Under Attack!…Again?

Back in 1983, Bob Jones University lost a court case where it claimed “religious freedom” to base racist school policy that prohibited interracial dating. The IRS decided to revoke their tax exemption because of the racism.

The US Supreme Court wrote:

“Government has a fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education . . . which substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on [the University’s] exercise of their religious beliefs.”

As long as a government law or policy isn’t forcing a religious group to change its beliefs then the use of “religious freedom” to ignore the law or policy is ethically wrong.

Same-sex people getting married isn’t forcing those who dislike same-sex marriage to like that kind of marriage. You are still free to hate same-sex marriage or hate homosexuality but the tradition of rights in this country is based on a neutral or secular view point.

If you try to get laws passed to legally discriminate against gay couples or other LGBTQ people then you are trying to use the force of the state to force your religious beliefs on others. That is also ethically wrong and anti-American.

Justice Antonin Scalia Is Consistent, He Still Doesn’t Know What Separation Of Church And State Means

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image of Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice Antonin Scalia

About once a year or so, Justice Antonin Scalia gets in front of a Catholic school assembly and tells the students that there is no constitutional tradition that says the state must be neutral on religion or free of religion. At least he is consistent. He is consistently wrong about separation of church and state.
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Governor of Texas, A Radical Christian, Violates The 1st Amendment

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image of FFRF Display that scared Texas Gov. Abbott
FFRF Display that scared Gov. Abbott

It didn’t take long for Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a radical Christian, to subjectively decide what is covered under the 1st amendment and what isn’t. He had a display from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) removed from the capitol building after arbitrarily deciding it didn’t meet the criteria for putting up displays in the building.
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