Tag Archives: government

Barack Obama’s administration to value science and facts

Posted on by

After 8 years of having religious ideology destroying Federal agencies and policies dependent on rational scientific thought and methods, President-elect Barack Obama said exactly what I wanted to hear.

“My administration will value science,” Obama said, in what sounded like a pointed reference to his predecessor. “We will make decisions based on facts.”

Obama went on to describe combating global warming as “a leading priority of my presidency and a defining test of our time.”

He appointed Steven Chu, a physics Nobel laureate, is his new energy secretary. Carol Browner, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is the head of a new policy council to coordinate climate, environment and energy issues. And Lisa Jackson, the chief of staff for New Jersey’s governor, is head of the EPA.

Obama: My Administration Will Value “Science” And “Facts”

I am starting to feel better about the upcoming Obama years.

Yea Science!

Prager backpedals and is still a turd

Posted on by

I mentioned in the previous post about the comments turd Dennis Prager said about an incoming Congressman wanting to use the Quran at his swearing-in photo op. Well it seems that Prager is now trying to disassociate himself from his own bonehead comments.

On Thursday, 12/14, on CNN’s The Situation Room, Prager said:

PRAGER: I have no problem as such with his taking his oath on his holiest book. I have a problem with the Bible not being present at all. That’s what I wrote. That’s what I keep saying.

That is much different than what he said in his November 28th column:

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on

Prager tried to backpedal in his December 4th column written in response to the harsh criticism he got for his comments:

I agree with the tens of thousands of office holders in American history who have honored the American tradition — I am well aware it is not a law, and I do not want it to be — of bringing a Bible to their ceremonial or actual swearing-in. Keith Ellison is ending that powerful tradition, and it is he who has called the public’s attention to his doing so. He obviously thinks this is important. I think it is important. My critics think it isn’t.

A response to my many critics – and a solution

Of course that is his desperate attempt to justify his previous remarks. It is now a “powerful tradition” to Americans to have a Bible present.

If you visit Washington DC sometime go to the National Archives. In the main hall are original copies of the foundational documents of the US. The display titled “Charters of Freedom” include The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The Bible isn’t in the hall.

Prager makes the same error all social conservatives make when throwing around the words “values”, Bible, and our government:

You don’t have to be Christian to acknowledge that the Bible is the source of America’s values. Virtually every founder of this country knew that and acknowledged it. The argument that founders such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were deists, even if accurate (it is greatly exaggerated), makes my point, not my opponents’. The founders who were not believing Christians venerated the Bible as the source of America’s values just as much as practicing Christians did.

Keith Ellison’s freedom to openly believe and practice Islam and to run for elective office as a Muslim is a direct result of a society molded by the Bible and the people who believed in it, a fact he should be willing to honor as he is sworn in.

I cannot name any Western European country that does not have a document similar to the American Constitution and something akin to our Bill of Rights. It is, therefore, not the Constitution that has made America unique and a moral beacon to the world’s downtrodden. What has made America unique is the combination of Enlightenment ideas with our underlying Judeo-Christian values.

What Prager gets wrong is that the US is unique because it the only country that doesn’t have a state sponsored or established religion. And if the Bible is such a necessary part of this country then why did Thomas Jefferson rewrite it to conform with his ideas of the Enlightenment.

Jefferson wrote to John Adams about his reason for rewriting the Bible:

In extracting the pure principles which he taught, we should have to strip off the artificial vestments in which they have been muffled by priests, who have travestied them into various forms, as instruments of riches and power to themselves. We must dismiss the Platonists and Plotinists, the Stagyrites and Gamalielites, the Eclectics, the Gnostics and Scholastics, their essences and emanations, their logos and demiurgos, aeons and daemons, male and female, with a long train of … or, shall I say at once, of nonsense.

Letter to John Adams dated 13 October 1813

And there is a lot of nonsense in the Bible that many believers either try to justify or ignore entirely. His hating women a good Judeo-Christian value? What about slavery? Hating homosexuals? Eating your children? Not working on Sunday? It is all in the Bible.

America was a beacon to the downtrodden because they could come here and experience the freedoms and potential we enjoy. Of course it wasn’t easy with the rampant intolerance from the people who claim to follow so-called Judeo-Christian values – like Dennis Prager.

Prager’s comments were just a cheap shot at Muslims and an effort to pander to his conservative audience. Prager is just a turd – an uninformed turd.

Also of note

Thinkprogress reports on a “special” edition of the pundit show NBC’s “Meet the Press” this coming Sunday December 24th.

Can you guess what the topic is?

This weekend, NBC will air a special edition of Meet the Press addressing “Faith in America.” The only two guests scheduled are evangelist Rick Warren, author of “Purpose Driven Life,” and Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, author of “American Gospel.” NBC says the two will discuss the questions, “Can religion unite the country for the greater good and what role will God and values play in the 2008 presidential election?”

Only Social Conservatives Featured On Meet the Press Special ‘Faith In America’

Both guests support the religious right agenda. Warren is an orthodox evangelical while Meacham is a God apologist. Good luck trying to hear both sides of the issue. Thanks to Meet the Press for another free advert for religion in government. Kisses.

New Orleans Mayor says God is mad and some clergy complain about church politicking

Posted on by

A couple of items came across my desk today that I would like to share and comment on:

New Orleans Mayor Says God Mad at U.S.

Mayor Ray Nagin suggested Monday that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that “God is mad at America” and at black communities, too, for tearing themselves apart with violence and political infighting.

“Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it’s destroyed and put stress on this country,” Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.

New Orleans Mayor Says God Mad at U.S.

He also claimed that God wanted New Orleans to be a “chocolate” city again, infering that the city had a mix of blacks and whites.

Nagin said that God is mad at the US because of the on going war in Iraq.

“Surely he doesn’t approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We’re not taking care of ourselves.”

God was not available for comment.

Seriously, the Mayor knows the real rational reason why New Orleans was severely affected by the storms and it wasn’t because God was mad. The reason the city was hit so hard was because Rita and Katrina hit the area and the federal and state governments tried to build storm defenses on the cheap. Typically, those with the most to lose, lose the most in natural disasters because people who have the means get out of the way.

Wanting a more diverse city should be the goal not because a God wants it, but because it is the right thing to do. Besides if God was mad why would He ignore the hundreds of years New Orleans has been a party city and pick only now to mess things up.

Group of ministers complain to IRS about church politicking

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A group of religious leaders have accused two evangelical churches of improperly promoting an Ohio candidate for governor and want the Internal Revenue Service to investigate.

The 31 leaders from nine denominations signed a letter Sunday asking the IRS to determine if the churches should lose tax-exempt status because of their support for Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, one of three Republicans seeking the nomination.

The complaint to the IRS alleges that the Rev. Rod Parsley of World Harvest Church in Columbus and the Rev. Russell Johnson of Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster improperly used their churches and affiliated entities for partisan politics.

The complaint alleges that Blackwell was the only gubernatorial candidate showcased in church-sponsored events conducted by Parsley and Johnson. It also alleges that the evangelists’ voter-registration campaign was conducted to support Blackwell and that biased voter education materials were distributed by the churches for Blackwell’s candidacy.

Ohio Churches Face Probe Over Politics

I posted about Parsley and his effort in supporting Blackwell for governor back in October (see Reclaiming Ohio – the farce that was) and I complained about the appearance that Parsley and his group, Ohio Restoration Project, was endorsing Blackwell. At the October event Blackwell was the only candidate to appear. Now it seems the group is continuing to back only Blackwell. Rev. Russell Johnson disagreed:

“It’s sad to see the religious left and the secular left forge an unholy alliance against people of faith,” Johnson said. “We have invited people to pray, to serve and to engage, and candidly, we will not be intimidated or bullied by these folks.”

Secular Left? Nope.

Here is list of the religious groups that complained to the IRS:

The clergy who signed the complaint are affiliated with the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.; the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); the Episcopal Church; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Judaism; the United Church of Christ; the United Methodist Church; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

It seems just about every sect except Catholics and no Secular Humanists, Atheists, or any other non-religious group.

Johnson is just name calling to deflect his unethical actions.

Letter about Reynoldsburg nativity scene is printed

Posted on by

On Thursday January 5th, the Columbus Dispatch printed my letter concerning the issue of the Nativity scene in Reynoldsburg, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus). Details of the issue can be found in my post from 12/27/05 Reynoldsburg, OH Mayor Ignores Law on Holiday Scenes – Again

Here is the text as printed in the Dispatch:

Reynoldsburg mayor should drop Nativity
Thursday, January 05, 2006

I was quite disappointed in the Dec. 25 Dispatch article “City Hall lawn gets respite from Nativity controversy” concerning the “seasonal controversy” involving Reynoldsburg Mayor Bob McPherson and a donated Nativity scene placed on city property in 2004.

The only “seasonal controversy” is that the mayor continues to ignore not only past U.S. Supreme Court decisions but also the advice of his city attorney. The mayor, in his self-appointed position as arbiter of the front lawn, has decided which religions he will acknowledge when the holiday displays return in 2006.

He has picked a winter solstice and Hindu symbols but the article failed to point out that there are more religions than that. He will also need to select a symbol for Kwanzaa, Jain, Sikh, Witchcraft, magick, the occult, Sumerian, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Islamic, Wicca, neopaganism, Druid, Celtic, and on and on. If McPherson says no to any religious symbol then he is exposing the city of Reynoldsburg to a lawsuit.

I would also take The Dispatch to task for only printing one side of the story. Where was the follow-up with the person who asked the mayor to display the supposed “derogatory” sign in 2004? The article also failed to name the group that complained about the mayor’s actions, yet we get a quote from David DiYanni of the Vineyard Community Church and his view of the issue.

Does The Dispatch always cast those trying to defend their civil rights in such a negative light? Why do it to those who aren’t Christian and want the government out of the religious cheerleading business?

DOUGLAS BERGER

The letter appeared as the first letter in the 1/5/06 edition.

Flag Lowing for the Pope is Un-American

Posted on by

While surfing the web Saturday night I came across a blog where the writer complained about the Freedom From Religion Foundation complaining about the Governor of Wisconsin ordering the lowing of flags on state buildings to mark the death of Pope John Paul II back in April. Here is part of the story the blog quoted:

Half-staff flags for pope questioned

Doug Erickson Wisconsin State Journal

A Madison secular organization is protesting Gov. Jim Doyle’s order to fly flags at half-staff at public buildings all week to remember Pope John Paul II.

The gesture “appears like an endorsement of Roman Catholicism over other religious viewpoints,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Gaylor said her organization would have looked the other way if the order had been for just Friday – the day of the pope’s funeral – instead of all week.

“This seems excessive,” she said. “Not everyone in the country is Roman Catholic, and (the pope’s) not even American.”

The blog author went on about how the FFRF complaint was trivial since the Pope was known for fighting Communism. He also said that FFRF and the American Humanist Association’s Tony Hileman (also quoted in the Journal article) were “cry babies”.

Here is an expanded version of the comment I left on that blog:

The Pope is the leader of a church and half mast flags for a week at the order of a Governor for the leader of a church is excessive and quite frankly goes against the tradition of separation of church and state. Back in 1960, when JFK was running for President, evangelical Christians and other Protestants complained that Kennedy was unfit for office because he was Catholic. They smeared him as a pawn of the Vatican and a danger to all the good Christians in the US.

Kennedy decided to meet the issue head on in a speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, which was a southern Baptist group, in September 1960. He said in part:

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 a 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 accepts 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.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end — where all men and all churches are treated as equal — where every man has the same right to attend or not to attend the church of his choice — where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind — and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, both the lay and the pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe — a great office that must be neither humbled by making it the instrument of any religious group, nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding it, its occupancy from the members of any religious group. I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

I would not look with favor upon a President working to subvert the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious liberty (nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so). And neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test — even by indirection — for if they disagree with that safeguard, they should be openly working to repeal it.

I want a chief executive whose public acts are responsible to all and obligated to none — who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require him to fulfill — and whose fulfillment of his Presidential office is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation.

This is the kind of America I believe in — and this is the kind of America I fought for in the South Pacific and the kind my brother died for in Europe. No one suggested then that we might have a “divided loyalty,” that we did “not believe in liberty or that we belonged to a disloyal group that threatened “the freedoms for which our forefathers died.”

And in fact this is the kind of America for which our forefathers did die when they fled here to escape religious test oaths, that denied office to members of less favored churches, when they fought for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom — and when they fought at the shrine I visited today — the Alamo. For side by side with Bowie and Crockett died Fuentes and McCafferty and Bailey and Bedillio and Carey — but no one knows whether they were Catholics or not. For there was no religious test there.

I ask you tonight to follow in that tradition, to judge me on the basis of fourteen years in the Congress — on my declared stands against an ambassador to the Vatican, against unconstitutional aid to parochial schools, and against any boycott of the public schools (which I attended myself) — and instead of doing this do not judge me on the basis of these pamphlets and publications we have all seen that carefully select quotations out of context from the statements of Catholic Church leaders, usually in other countries, frequently in other centuries, and rarely relevant to any situation here — and always omitting of course, that statement of the American bishops in 1948 which strongly endorsed church-state separation.

I do not consider these other quotations binding upon my public acts — why should you? But let me say, with respect to other countries, that I am wholly opposed to the state being used by any religious group, Catholic or Protestant, to compel, prohibit or prosecute the free exercise of any other religion. And that goes for any persecution at any time, by anyone, in any country.

And I hope that you and I condemn with equal fervor those nations which deny it to Catholics. And rather than cite the misdeeds of those who differ, I would also cite the record of the Catholic Church in such nations as France and Ireland — and the independence of such statesmen as de Gaulle and Adenauer.

But let me stress again that these are my views — for, contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for President [but the candidate] who happens also to be a Catholic.

I do not speak for my church on public matters — and the church does not speak for me.

Whatever issue may come before me as President, if I should be elected — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling, or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictate. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

But if this election is decided on the basis that 40,000,000 Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.

ADDRESS TO SOUTHERN BAPTIST LEADERS (1960)

So it makes the week long flag lowering and President Bush kneeling at the foot of John Paul II’s body at the funeral all the more un-American. If we continue down that road then everyone will need a tissue.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com