Tag Archives: President Bush

New Director Of White House Faith-Based Office Could Be Trouble For Religious Right

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image of Melissa Rogers
Melissa Rogers: New director of Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

The White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was started by President Bush in 2001 in order give taxpayer money to religious groups to provide social services. Even though the office spits at the spirit of the separation of church and state, President Obama kept the office and expanded it. Recently it was announced that the President would be appointing Melissa Rogers as the office’s new director. The general consensus of the various free thought groups is the appointment of Rogers is a good move and you know what means – trouble for the religious right. Hopefully.
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National Day of Prayer not needed

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May 7th was the so-called National Day of Prayer. It is an ad hoc “day” sponsored by the religious right front group Focus on the Family to misinform us all about the erroneous claims that fundamentalist Christians are being persecuted in the United States. President Bush made a public spectacle of the “event” but President Obama only continued the proclamation part. That is a good sign, but there are other reasons to drop the National Day of Prayer.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State have several reasons posted on their website including:

Americans don’t need the government to tell them when or how to pray.

Americans have the right to pray for whomever they want and in what manner they like. But we don’t need an officially designated government proclamation to do that. Our people are free to engage in worship whenever they want. Allowing government to set aside certain days for prayer and worship implies that the state has some say over our religious lives when it does not. It is simply not the business of government to advise when, if and how people pray.

What’s wrong with national day of prayer?

Denying a request for a religious proclamation, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“I consider the government of the US. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.…. I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it….[E]very one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the US. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.”

Jan. 23, 1808 letter to a minister named Samuel Miller

Finally, this video from comedian Lewis Black, while a bit dated, expresses why I don’t like my elected officials to hold their religions on their sleeves:

Lewis Black on Politics and Religion

Breaking News – Freedom From Religion Foundation sues President Bush

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Just saw this on the intertubes…. more on this in coming days — dlb

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The nation’s largest group of atheists and agnostics is suing President Bush, the governor of Wisconsin and other officials over the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued Friday in U.S. district court, arguing that the president’s mandated proclamations calling on Americans to pray violates a constitutional ban on government officials endorsing religion.

The day of prayer, held each year on the first Thursday of May, creates a “hostile environment for nonbelievers, who are made to feel as if they are political outsiders,” the lawsuit said.

The national proclamation issued this year asked God’s blessings on our country and called for Americans to observe the day with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle is named in the suit because he is one of 50 governors who issued proclamations calling for the prayer day. The foundation is based in Madison.

Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, and White House press secretary Dana Perino also are named.

The foundation has filed numerous lawsuits in recent years, including one rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court last year that attacked President Bush’s faith-based initiative.

Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner had no comment on the lawsuit. Messages seeking comment from the task force and the White House were not returned Friday.

Atheist group sues Bush over national prayer day

Really? The Pope is the US?

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Really?

The Pope came to the US? Really?

President Bush met him at the airport, really?

The guy got a 21-gun salute – really?

They had the US Army Old Guard Fife and Drum play for the Pope – really?

Had a state dinner too – really?

CNN became the Catholic News Network for the day – really?

They even showed a Mass live.

The Pope is against the death penalty and the war – Really?

But regular citizens who hold those views are called traitors….

Really?

White House Religious Office Wins on Technicality

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The first court challenge to President Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives ended on a technicality according to the US Supreme Court. It said that since the funding wasn’t from Congress then the public have no standing to challenge it. The case is named Hein v. Freedom from Religion.

The OFBCI was created by executive order in 2001, shortly after President Bush took office. Its Web site says it was designed to ensure that “private and charitable community groups, including religious ones, should have the fullest opportunity permitted by law to compete on a level playing field in the field of providing social services.”

A year earlier, the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit challenging OFBCI’s spending authority. Money for the office does not come from a direct congressional expenditure, but from the White House’s general “discretionary” fund.

Court permits White House outreach to religious charities

That was the excuse the court used to avoid the issue.

Alito said since Congress did not specifically authorize how the White House should fund its “day-to-day activities,” such expenditures were subject only to the executive’s discretion.

Taxpayers, he said, “set out a parade of horribles that they claim could occur” by allowing such faith-based funding to continue, suggesting the federal government could build a national house of worship, or buy Jewish Stars of David and distribute them to public employees.

“Of course none of these things has happened,” said Alito, and “in the unlikely event that any of these executive actions did take place, Congress could quickly step in.”

Would they really? Most of the same congress that fell over themselves to recite the pledge of allegiance under God when the 9th Circuit court ruled that “under god” in the pledge was unconstitutional in 2002 or the same Congress that agreed to create a national park to preserve a Christian cross in 2006?

The same Congress that caved to a President with only a 28% approval rating over a so-called time table for bringing our men and women back from Iraq?

Uh…. okay…. whatever you say Alito.

Americans United had this to say:

“This is a disappointing decision that blocks the courthouse door for Americans with legitimate church-state grievances,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Taxpayers should be allowed to challenge public funding of religion, whether the money is allocated by Congress or the White House.”

Supreme Court Ruling Blocks Courthouse Door For Some ‘Faith-Based’ Lawsuits, Says Americans United

NoGodBlog said:

Folks, this is very bad news. It gives immunity to the President to break the law (it’s not breaking the law anymore) by simply choosing to give money to religious institutions, but not secular ones. This case may change everything. We can’t stop the huge gush of tax money going to churches, we don’t even have the right to sue.

FFRF Loses major case in Supreme Court

Read the decision: Hein v. Freedom from Religion (2007)

American Humanist President says religious and political dogmas should not trump science and reason

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The President of the American Humanist Association, Mel Lipman, spoke to a packed house at the Upper Arlington Library Theater on Saturday, July 29th. His talk was titled “Asserting Our Humanism” where is talked about the Humanist view and religion has infected our national government and its policy. Here are some bits:

The Humanist view does not include revelations interpreted according to the aims and whims of a chosen few–an authoritarian clergy. A clergy that allow religious and political dogmas to trump science and reason, that makes it acceptable to allow our president to continue to deny effective stem cell research. That makes it acceptable for this country to refuse to distribute condoms to fight AIDS in Africa. That makes it acceptable for some Ohio School Board members to even consider changing teaching standards by labeling as controversial such scientific facts as evolution, as global warming, stem cell research.

Reason and science are not trumped by the Humanist view. In the Humanist view, reason would dominate the public square, science would be respected in national policy and debate.

In 2003, speaking to the Christian Coalition, Alabama Governor Bob Riley, spoke about a “more important war than the war in Iraq”. He said the war against secular humanists is “a war for the absolute soul of this country”. He called for a “crusade” to restore the Christian character of America.

In June 2002, responding the the 9th Circuit’s courageous decision concerning the Pledge of Allegiance, George Bush, the second, our president, said “I will only appoint judges who know their rights come from God.” Now Article VI of the United States Constitution specifically prohibits the use of any religious test for any public office. But I guess *our* president can legitmately claim complete ignorance of the Constitution as an excuse.

You can read a complete transcript at The Religious Left Blog. Thanks to Renee who recorded and transcribed the speech.