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What Does Separation of Church and State Really Mean?

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The much-bandied about phrase “separation of church and state” means different things to different people. To those from the secular humanist persuasion, it means that the state can make no public acknowledgement of religion, have no religious displays, recognize no tax exemptions for churches, and goes so far to regulate even religious expressions of private individuals in the public arena out of line. One also hears that any attempt by others to “moralize” or use any religious values to argue for a policy should be silenced.

On the other hand, there are those who believe the matter is simply that the government should not establish an official state church, or that a church should not be anointing officials in the government. Other than that, people should believe and practice how they see fit. Both sides couch their arguments on constitutional theories, some involving Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation” letter.

To consider this issue, it is important to look at the historical situation of the framers and what they intended. To recap, they were declaring independence from the King of England. There is one important title for the monarch of England that is relevant to this issue, “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”. Not only was the Church of England the official state religion (and still is), but the King himself was the head of that Church. This ensured that his political reach not only extended in the public realm, but from the pulpit. The hierarchy of the church was subservient to the king. This led to abuses in both directions, those by the church and those by the government.

The founders did not declare independence from England because they wanted to set up a secular state. They declared independence because of a long train of abuses and usurpations of government power against its people. They were concerned about matters of tyranny, not theology. The Boston Tea Party was about taxes (and thus enshrined in American tradition the fine art of bitching about taxes), not about Baptists throwing Presbyterian’s Bibles into the Atlantic. The Declaration itself made liberal use of religion in general, as did the Founders in their public statements. Even in Jefferson’s Wall letter, he expresses religious sentiment and asks for prayers. It’s obviously clear; it isn’t religious expression they are worried about.

The choice of phrase is important, “separation of church and state”. Jefferson doesn’t say separation of religion and state. He is talking about institutionalseparation. Ireland’s official church is the Roman Catholic Church, as is Poland’s. In England, it’s the Church of England. These aren’t religions in general but specific religious institutions. No nation has “Christianity” as the official state religion for a very good reason. The reason is that there’s about 50,000-some odd flavors that run the gamut from the Mormons to the Unitarians. Some Christians say Jesus established a hierarchical church, others say he was a social activist, still others say he was an anarchist. Saying Christianity is the official state religion would border on effective meaninglessness. It wasn’t the ideas that the Founders were afraid of which is why they were perfectly free praying together and expressing religious sentiment in public documents and speeches. Institutional corruption and tyranny were their concerns.

The results of institutional mingling of churches and governments are quite clear in history and it hasn’t been beneficial for the state or the church. However, this is a far cry from divining an intent that projects the idea that “religion is all that’s wrong with the world” upon the Founders. There was a camp among the Founders who believed that a free society required a religious people and yet still continued to allow free association between the various churches.

However, the crowd pushing separation most vigorously also is the crowd that’s trying to regulate certain religious beliefs out of existence. Pharmacists aren’t allowed to express their religious sentiments about abortion and retain their jobs. The argument is that they shouldn’t take the job if they don’t follow a pre-defined ethical construct approved by the government. Catholic hospitals are consistently fighting attempts to force them to provide abortions despite their clear religious teaching. Catholic Charities in California are required to recognize “gay marriage” despite their own beliefs. Schoolchildren (a.k.a. individual citizens not to be confused with government officials) are told that they aren’t allowed to pray or have Bible studies on school property. In one case, school children were threatened with federal prison if they dared utter a prayer on their own volition during a graduation ceremony. The IRS has investigated churches for preaching against abortion. In short, the wall of separation is growing to enforce a certain religious orthodoxy and not protect the free expression of religion that was also mentioned in the First Amendment.

The irony of setting up such a system where beliefs are regulated to some level of appropriate orthodoxy on issues such as abortion is that the sword cuts both ways, depending on the whims of government. When right-wing churches complained about IRS harassment, the left-wing told them to stop talking about abortion instead. However, when an anti-war sermon brought the IRS, the left-wing cried foul. The problem with state regulation of religion is that its regulation will serve its own interests, usually on sale to the highest bidder. The Founders were rightly concerned about this abuse, which is why in the same breath of saying the State should establish no official religion; it should also in no way restrict reasonable expressions of religion.

Contrary to the opinion of some, the First Amendment doesn’t require regulating religion into hiding; it requires that church and state remain institutionally separate. The mere expression of the word “God” in a speech does not a theocracy make.

Written by Part-Time Pundit.
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About John Bambenek

John Bambenek is a political activist and computer security expert. He has his own company Bambenek Consulting in Champaign, IL that specializes in digital forensics and computer security investigations.
  • http://patfish.blogspot.com/ Pat Fish

    Don’t know if it will make you feel any better, but I agree with every word.

  • Maurice

    Damn! That was well written. I am an atheist/agnostic but I have to say that you summed it up very well. I especially liked your reference to the sword cutting both ways.

    Time for tolerance all the way around!

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    The crowd pushing to legislate religion out of American life has diverse elements to it. One group is Jews who interpret “religion” to mean Christianity. Since most other Americans mean Christianity when they talk about religion, it has an element of legitimacy to it.

    A couple of decdes ago, Moslems were part of this same crowd, but they now have a different agenda that “diversity” seems to be part of.

    Of course, it should be borne n mind that the founders of your country for the most part were Deists and Theists – but not necessarily Christians.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I actually agree with you almost 100 percent on this one. Probably the best piece of yours I’ve read, Bambenek.

    Where I disagree is on a specific example:

    Pharmacists aren’t allowed to express their religious sentiments about abortion and retain their jobs. The argument is that they shouldn’t take the job if they don’t follow a pre-defined ethical construct approved by the government.

    Expressing religious sentiments about abortion is one thing; refusing to fill legitimate prescriptions is another. Filling legitimate prescriptions is their job, and I would say that “the argument is that they shouldn’t take the job if they don’t intend to do that job.” If you are being paid to provide a service, you must do it according to the rules of that service profession.

    I don’t consider that to be a religious issue at all, frankly. I think it’s legitimate to object when a professional refused to do what he/she is being paid and expected to do.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Nicely done, John! I think you’re absolutely right that the Founding Fathers feared most of all a state religion like in England. They realized the head of state should never be the head of any church.

    Many years later John F. Kennedy answered critics very nicely by saying that he was a President who happened to be Catholic and not a Catholic president.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Of course, it should be borne n mind that the founders of your country for the most part were Deists and Theists – but not necessarily Christians.

    Unless Unitarians qualify as Christians…

  • gonzo marx

    ok..i just can’t resist, no one has appeared to have made this point…

    John B has raised some decent point, but it is my Thought that what he does NOT raise is quite crucial to the discussion at hand..

    to wit: Freedom OF Religion also requires Freedom FROM Religion.

    can we Agree on this Principle here?

    this shows the logical Fallacy involved with much of the Arguments made in the original Post

    to demonstrate this Principle, try this mental excercise…at any time when you think that “prayer” or the use of the term” god” is appropriate…substitute something else for it, and see just how comfortable you feel with it…

    example: a ten year old boy likes to read his bible aloud to friends and discuss it and evangelize the principles of being “born again” in school

    many folks are all for this, and think it’s a good thing and cannot understand why someone would object…

    try this…a ten year old boy likes to read aloud from Anton LaVey’s Satanic bible in school, discuss it and evangelizes the practice to his classmates

    still feel comfortable?

    THAT is the crux of it

    as for churches and taxes and the like…i,personally think that having ANY “church” tax exempt and ANY person(clergy or otherwise) exampt from the IRS violates my “equal protection” Rights under the Constitution…they and their function sare NO different than any other business, or at best, non-profit organization and should be required to pay their property tax, income tax and SS payments, just like any other business

    did i miss anything?

    your friendly neighborhood heretic, who thinks our Government shoudl remain secular…

    Excelsior!

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    My point is what did they mean by “religion”… I think with the free expression following right after and in the light of history, I don’t think it means freedom from religion. Freedom from IMPOSED religion sure.

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    If churches had to pay income taxes, the industry of evangelism in this country would dry up, and criminal geniuses like Robertson and Falwell would have to come up with entirely new scams to make money.

  • gonzo marx

    when it comes to the Government, as you so correctly showed with your link to Jefferson’s writing, it most certainly DOES mean freedom FROM religion when it refers to ANY dealings with out government

    but there is the crux of the matter, i am more than happy to co-exist with ANY persons Faith…but i do NOT tolerate ANY example of such “faith” in our Government, and will invoke my Rights under the “establishment clause” to ensure that said government is as secular as possible

    now..look up at my examples, and share with us honestly, your Thoughts on the examples i cited…

    your main point appears to revolve around what you believe the Founders were Thinking!!!!

    i would ask to prove your clairvoyance before i can take those assertations seriously

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    And, yes, Gonzo, it is hard to see how the religious tax exemption doesn’t violate the equal protection clause.

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    Gonzo, what are your thought about the way the establishment clause is phrased?

    It doesn’t say Cgrs shall not “establish a religion,” it says ngrs shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” which seems to me to be much broader.

    I’d argue that a federal law exempting churches from taxes is inarguably a law “respecting the establishment of religion.”

  • gonzo marx

    Clubhouse, you have hit another nail right on the head, IMO…

    i deliberately did NOT get into that particular point due to John B’s statements regarding what he believes to have been in the Founders’ minds rather than the actual words of the Document , which were carefully gone over for quite some time until agreed upon

    Excelsior!

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Since we’re talking about the Establishment Clause, let’s note that it doesn’t say “THE Establishment of religion.” It says,

    “Congress shall make no law respecting AN establishment of religion.”

    Does that refer to “establishing” a religion? Or to a pre-existing “religious establishment,” such as a church or other religion-affiliated institution? I’d argue the latter, since the former case would have surely used the word “the” instead of “an.”

    So, translated to the vernacular, “Congress shall make no law that has anything to do with any religious institution.”

  • Nancy

    The point against pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions is that they are second-guessing a doctor, and therefore practicing medicine without a license. They’re pharmacists, not physicians, and furthermore are not the physician of the patient involved in the prescription. Religion is only the excuse here, not the gist.

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Churches aren’t profit-producing entities, but thanks for proving my point.

    It’s not enough that there is no state church. This is requiring another step. There are plenty of charities of every stripe that are tax exempt, but recognizing that churches aren’t profit-producing all the sudden runs foul, so we must take those donations instead calling a non-profit institution for-profit in the process?

    And that’s tolerance?

    And the point of pharmacists refusing to fill perscriptions has nothing to do with second guessing a doctor (which they are perfectly entitled to do), it is not perscribing something to which they are morally opposed. They can hand the perscription back and the person can go elsewhere. These are private individuals in private companies in a private enterprise, not government actors. They are perfectly entitled to determine how, when, what, and why they will or will not provide services.

  • JP II

    I think the postulates in Mr. Bambenek’s original post are misleading. Yes, there are extremists (on all sides). But I have never met a “separationist” whose desire or intent is to “regulate certain religious beliefs out of existence.”

    Despite what Mr. Bambenek implies above, serious supporters of “separation” (including mainstream institutions like the ACLU) BELIEVE THESE THINGS:

    – It is perfectly acceptable for schoolchildren to have Bible study meetings on campus (as long as the campus also allows meetings by other non-school-affiliated groups)

    – It is perfectly acceptable for a child to pray of his own volition in school (or at graduation events, or at football games)

    – It is perfectly acceptable for an individual to express religious beliefs in the public arena (including a president invoking God in a speech) [Separationists DO NOT believe that “The mere expression of the word ‘God’ in a speech” makes a theocracy.]

    – It is perfectly acceptable for religious displays (such as Christmas nativity scenes) to be set up in publicly accessible areas like shopping malls, stores, Christmas tree lots, street corners, in parades…

    – It is perfectly acceptable for moral or religious values to have a bearing on an individual officeholders’ decisions regarding policy or law

    – It is perfectly acceptable that the Catholic Church does not “recognize gay marriage” or domestic partnerships as legitimate in any religious sense or in the eyes of their God. (that’s a very different issue from whether a corporation like Catholic Charities must recognize legal requirements to provide certain employment benefits to two partners in a state-sanctioned legal contract who happen to be the same gender. Note that a legal union as defined by the state is not the same as a religious marriage “in the eyes of God” as defined by a particular church. The Catholic Church doesn’t even recognize the legitimacy of a marriage between two formerly married people — but the state of California says they are married. And, by the way, “gay marriage” is not yet legal in California.)

    – It is perfectly acceptable for a church to preach against abortion, or on any other issue.

    Yet, Mr. Bambenek presents his argument as if separationists would outlaw all of the above. That is nonsense, and it is false.

    … his kind of argument always makes me wonder: is the writer deliberately obfuscating the real issues, in order to gain sympathy for a pro-official-religionist view?? Or is he just unclear himself about what separationists actually believe?

    Mr. Bambenek’s claims are given no context, so I won’t refute each one here. But if the context was specific, it would be easy to refute his claims.

    For example, this one is spun so hard it borders on outright lie:
    – QUOTE BAMBENEK: “In one case, school children were threatened with federal prison if they dared utter a prayer on their own volition during a graduation ceremony.”

    In fact, the court ruled that a student committee, appointed to plan a ceremony on behalf of a public, government-run school, could not insert a formally-led prayer as part of the official school graduation ceremony. If they had done so, the school would obviously be endorsing and preaching a government-selected religion to all students at the graduation.

    On the other hand, if a large group of students had wanted to get together immediately after the official ceremony ended, gather in a circle, and hold a shared prayer amongst themselves, this would be perfectly allowable, by any court, and by any advocate of church/state separation! Meanwhile after the ceremony, other students might be having their own prayers with their parents, still others grouping to take photographs, and some would be making plans to get to their big party — obviously none of that would amount to state-sponsorship of these activities.

    Again, I am a separationist, and I’ve never met one separationist who wants to “regulate religion into hiding” or to “legislate religion out of American life.”

    However, it is clear to me that far-right-wing organizations (i.e. the FRC) lately have been touting these false “separationist” positions constantly in the media — it seems, in order to obfuscate the real issue: their own intent to INSERT religion into the official life of the US government itself.

    JP II

  • Nancy

    Yeah, but none of these ‘private’ companies they happen to work for either allows or encourages non-filling of legal prescriptions, because it tends to alienate customers, as well as being illegal. Which kinds shreds your argument.

  • gonzo marx

    to John B…

    perhaps i was unclear…

    i have NO problem with any church registering as a non-profit and being treated as such for tax purposes

    that does NOT exempt them from local property taxes

    and it most assuredly does NOT exempt the priest/reverend/mullah/rabbi/whatever from having to report and pay his personal income tax on the monies he is paid

    also, EVERY non-profit must report the income it takes in, and then account for it…EXCEPT churches and clergy

    all i ask is that they be treated like ANY other non-profit, and that the clergy pay their income tax like anyone else…the physical church pay it’s property tax like anyone else…

    Equal Protection and all that

    as for Pharmacists…it varies from state to state, but the Issue revolves around them obeying their LISCENSE’s requirements…which are, to put it simply…to ill the scripts sent by a physician…period

    if they refuse, simple enough, pull their fucking liscense for the Violation

    we won’t even get into the Ethics here, it is a simple matter of living up to the obligations of the profession as defined by their liscense

    does that explain the two points better?

    Excelsior!

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    When I was a kid, the gold standard test for spelling ability was the ability to spell “antidisestablishmentarianism.”

    I’m a lousy typist, but I’m a damned good speller. But I digress.

    Establishmentarianism was (and is) the doctrine of having an “established” church – like the Anglican Church in England is. To make it utterly clear, that means a church that is recognized as official and protected by the sovereign.

    The founders, when they agreed to twelve (which became ten) amendments to the constitution once it was adopted, wished to avoid a civil war, among other things. For years Catholicism was the established church in the Province (later State) of Maryland, Congregationalism was the established church in the Province (later State) of Connecticut, etc.

    Thus, the establishment of religion was something the congress was to avoid. The states already had established religions. It should further be remembered and ever borne in mind that until the fourteenth amendment was passed in the mid 1800’s, the first amendment only applied as a brake to action by the federal government.

    Until then, while most states eventually eschewed establishing a religion in their borders, there was nothing in the federal constitution to make them. The federal constitution required that they have republican forms of government, and not much else.

    Jefferson’s “wall of separation” applied at first only to the federal government.

    This view has all changed with the virtual disappearance of state borders and with the application of the first ten amendments to bar state action by states and their agents (counties, cities and townships) through the use of the fourteenth amendment.

    When I lived in the States I changed from seeking freedom from religion (like Gonzo) to seeking not to have an established religion (like John Bambenek) because I understood the consequences of the former, seductive as it sounds. It meant that people had to work seven days a week, it meant no real holidays where EVERYONE had off except Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. I managed a fast food restaurant and that is what freedom from religion (combined with market forces) meant for me and those under my supervision.

    Just to remind you, when you pull into the BK on a Sunday morning, and the guy says “welcome to Burger King, what can I get for you today?” that guy is working. He doesn’t get Sunday off to go to church, or knock off or play with himself or whatever. When you go to Walmart’s on Saturday afternoon and some old guy says, “Welcome to Walmart’s,” he is working.

    It weren’t like that when I was a kid spelling “antidisestablishmentarianism”.

  • Bennett

    JPII – Well written piece, and I agree with ALL of your points. Good job.

  • JP II

    Ruvy —
    The five-day work week was won through actions by unions (often referred to by right-wingers as “pinkos, socialists, communists).

    WalMart is vehemently an anti-union corporation.

    As a separationist, I do not seek “Freedom From Religion.” I simply seek “Freedom from you or anyone else using the government power structure to preach that your religion is better than mine, all the while using my tax dollars to do it.”

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    Ruvy, there are thousands of pages of regulations and labor laws in this country. To ascribe poor working conditions to some perceived watering-down of religious values is a little presumptuous.

    By the way, that guy working Saturday? He had Tuesday off!

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    1) Clergy DO have to report income. I know many clergy, all of them pay taxes.
    2) Non-profit entities do NOT have to pay property tax, Churches included. If the Church has portions of its property used for for-profit activities, then they DO have to pay property taxes and DO.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    What’s tragic about the underlying issue around this discussion is that we’re really letting the fringe elements on both sides of the political spectrum define the debate.

    The extent to which there’s agreement between the so-called separatists and (what?) non-separatists is significant and should be recognized. There should be lots of pats on the back & “hey, well done there, fella or gal.”

    However, there are problems on both sides. Gonzo, to whom we all bow in supplication (but not as a deity of course), makes the important point about “freedom from” and does so ingeniously. So too should we remember the chaplains at the Air Force Academy trying to ram religion down people’s throats. But they too are in the minority–and need to be stopped.

    Equally important, it’s idiotic (and I speak as an agnostic separatist liberal commie pinko radical libertarian) to tell a bunch of kids that they can’t get together on school grounds and pray–just so long as there’s no pressure for others to join.

    The solution is based on tolerance and respect–often in such short supply that we should borrow some from…hmmm…France? No. Germany? No. England? No. Canada…nah, comes with too much snow and ice. China? Don’t make me laugh.

    Come to think of it, we’re just going to have to do it ourselves.

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Alice

    How does, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” justify sending billions of American taxpayer dollars to Israel, a Jewish state?

    Could the Congress do the same for the Vatican or any other religious entity?

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    I don’t think the US’s support of theocracies is proscribed by the establishment clause. It would be impractical to make foreign policy decisions based on whether a nation has a state-established religion.

    But it brings up a good corollary question: Should the US, through trade and diplonatic means, discourage other nations from running their governments as theocracies?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Clubhouse Cancer writes,

    “Ruvy, there are thousands of pages of regulations and labor laws in this country. To ascribe poor working conditions to some perceived watering-down of religious values is a little presumptuous.

    By the way, that guy working Saturday? He had Tuesday off!”

    About 45 years ago, a lot of states, like New York, had days when everything was closed. I couldn’t go to Sears on Sundays, etc. Everybody had Sundays off in almost all businesses. Those laws were religion based. Sunday is the Christian Sabbath. Funny that I should have to tell you this.

    When the laws preventing the closings of those businesses went out the window, the seven day work week came back into existence. Not as bad as when the boss told you, “if yu can’t work Sunday, don’t bother coming in Monday.” But the idea that two days of the week were sacrosant, the weekend, was gone. Now you tell me. Which day of the week do you prefer off? Saturday or Tuesday? Given my druthers, I’d prefer Saturday – or even Sunday. But commerce in America doesn’t work that way. You get the days off your boss tells you you can have – or you walk, set up you own business and hustle every day of the week.

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    I’m not sure why you think I didn’t know how things used to work re: weekends. In fact, we still have “blue laws” in Bergen County, NJ, where I’m from, that prevent some retail stores from opening on Sunday.

    My point is that these laws were and are stupid and uncosntutional, based as they are on religion. I don’t think the government should have any say at all into what days I have off, nor on making value judgments between days based solely on religion.

    I don’t think laws based on druthers are workable.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    JPII writes,

    “Ruvy —
    The five-day work week was won through actions by unions (often referred to by right-wingers as “pinkos, socialists, communists).

    WalMart is vehemently an anti-union corporation.”

    I’m vaguely familiar with that point. My daddy was a union organizer and shop steward and had the nickname “Red” – not necessarily for the color of his hair either. I’m familiar with WalMart’s “virtues” also.

    I realize fully what you are talking about. My neighbor, a Sabbath observant Jew who couldn’t run his grocery shop on Saturdays and was constantly being fined for being open on Sundays, went all the way to the New York Supreme Court fighting its blue laws in 1960 – and he lost.

    But I live here in Israel because there IS one day when everything is closed – at least in Jerusalem. So does that neighbor from Brooklyn. Here, there is still a weekend.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Alice, if you can figure out a way to get you country to stop sending your tax dollars here and get its soldiers out of here and stop bullying us around, you’d be a G-d-send!

  • Alice

    Ruvy — whether or not American tax dollars are sent to Israel is controlled by AIPAC. Few Americans have influence with that organization and our politicians are addicted to the money they provide during election cycles.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    This whole ‘war on religion’ is mostly in the minds of greedy men like Robertson and Falwell who do a great job convincing the majority of believers that their religion is under attack.

    An example is Judge Roy Moore’s attempt to put the 10 commandments in federal courthouses. By refusing that, Christians are convinced that their faith is under attack, but there has been no attack on their ability to worship.

    The same with prayer in schools. All citizens of a city pay taxes, which go to the schools. Having the school sanction a prayer is having your taxpayer dollars sanction a religion, which is a violation of church and state, in my opinion. However that does not prohibit an individual youth from praying to his/herself. So religious worship is not under attack there, however it is portrayed as such.

    And on and on it goes.

    What is most frightening is how the religious people cannot see beyond the current day. When (not if, but when) they mesh religion and government beyond the point of no return, things will be all fine and dandy for them, because it will be a religious ideology that they agree with. However, as you point out, there are at least 50,000 different variations on Christianity alone and it wouldn’t even be a matter of a few years before the faithful finds that a version they do NOT agree with is the one adopted. By then it will be too late.

    Faith is internal, not external. Faith is not about people hearing you pray. It’s not about making sure your religious symbols are in all sorts of buildings. Faith is in your heart. It is a shame that 99.99% of Christians do not comprehend that. Clearly, they do not follow Jesus but simply the agenda-driven madman with the biggest megaphone.

  • gonzo marx

    good to *see* you back around Steve…

    Steve S sez…
    *Clearly, they do not follow Jesus but simply the agenda-driven madman with the biggest megaphone.*

    Quoted for Truth

    one could say the same about contemporary U.S. politics…

    but i digress…

    Excelsior!

  • Dave Nalle

    Good article, and Gonzo makes a good point about freedom from religion too. But there are a couple of specific errors.

    Pharmacists aren’t allowed to express their religious sentiments about abortion and retain their jobs. The argument is that they shouldn’t take the job if they don’t follow a pre-defined ethical construct approved by the government.

    Wrongo! This has nothing to do with the government. The problem with the pharmacists is that they aren’t fulfilling the obligations of their jobs as defined by their employers. They are hired to fill prescriptions, not to fill some prescriptions and not others. If they don’t do that job as described they get fired. End of story. There are some pharmacies which choose not to sell birth control at all. Those pharmacists should go work for those companies. End of problem.

    Catholic hospitals are consistently fighting attempts to force them to provide abortions despite their clear religious teaching.

    If they are a private hospital no one can force them to provide abortions. You ignore the fact that these cases you’re referring to – and we have a prominent example here in Austin – are the result of Caltholic hospitals taking state or local government money in the expectation that they will provide services to the poor. If they cannot provide the services which the government institution provides the money for, then they shouldn’t get the funding, and those services often include abortion. Simple enough. Our local catholic hospital has solved this problem by contracting out abortion services to a non-catholic commercial business.

    Catholic Charities in California are required to recognize “gay marriage” despite their own beliefs.

    Same thing as above. This is because those charities are getting money from the state and gay marriage is the law of the land there. As agents of the state they cannot take a position contrary to the laws of the state. If they care that much about gay marriage, then they should give up the state money. It’s tainted anyway.

    Schoolchildren (a.k.a. individual citizens not to be confused with government officials) are told that they aren’t allowed to pray or have Bible studies on school property. In one case, school children were threatened with federal prison if they dared utter a prayer on their own volition during a graduation ceremony.

    Again, this is an issue of where the money comes from. State money cannot be spent to promote religion. Very simple. If the building and facilities are paid for with tax dollars then they can’t be used for religious purposes. What’s strange or discriminatory or unfair about that? They also can’t be used to solicit for business. No tuperware parties or Herbal Life meetings there. Same principle.

    The IRS has investigated churches for preaching against abortion.

    If the church is engaging in political fundraising then the IRS has a reason to investigate. They should lose their tax exempt status.

    In reality all churches should just be made subject to taxation and this problem goes away once and for all.

    Dave

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    I didn’t reference this clearly so perhaps that is why there is difficultly in missing my point. In Illinois, the governor changed the regulation saying pharmacists could not invoke the conscience clause and refuse to fill certain prescriptions. That isn’t an employer-employee thing, that’s a government action.

    As far as political fundraising, you are right, but in the cases I had in mind, no such fundraising occurred. But this concept that we need to tax churches is odd because it keeps coming up. On what basis do you say we should charge not-for-profit entities such as a church?

    And lastly, the First Amendment can’t be read to restrict the actions of PRIVATE CITIZENS. When people are on public property, they all the sudden don’t become the government. If you take this concept that if the government builds the building you can’t prayer there to its logical extension, no prayer should be allowed anywhere in the US. The government pays tax dollars to defend the integrity of the entire nation, is all of it subject to government-forced atheism?

    I fail to see the harm in a school kid praying in a school, and I certainly fail to see how anyone could read the First Amendment and find a right of government to restrict free expression.

    And as far as Catholic Charities, the law was employment discrimination, not riders on grants. My point is that it is enforcing a certain moral orthodoxy. Believe this way, and you’re ok, don’t and you aren’t.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    would it be ok for a kid to pray to “my dark lord satan”?

    i’m not joking.

  • gonzo marx

    yer slow Mark, see comment #7

    good thinking tho…

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    dammit gonzo, you are omnipotent! ;-)

    and they say mainers are slow.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I didn’t reference this clearly so perhaps that is why there is difficultly in missing my point. In Illinois, the governor changed the regulation saying pharmacists could not invoke the conscience clause and refuse to fill certain prescriptions. That isn’t an employer-employee thing, that’s a government action.

    In Illinois if there were a pharmacy which as company policy did not sell certain drugs the government would not be able to interfere and force them to and if they tried they would lose in court. In the Illinois example, it’s just a matter of the government backing up employers rights with the force of law.

    As far as political fundraising, you are right, but in the cases I had in mind, no such fundraising occurred. But this concept that we need to tax churches is odd because it keeps coming up. On what basis do you say we should charge not-for-profit entities such as a church?

    Most churches essentially operate on a for-profit basis. They pay a salary to employees, they raise money primarily for their own operations and expansion of their facilities. If they give money to charity or to pay for purely charitable operations, those should be tax deductible just as they are for any private citizen or business.

    And lastly, the First Amendment can’t be read to restrict the actions of PRIVATE CITIZENS. When people are on public property, they all the sudden don’t become the government.

    It’s not a restriction of the actions of the citizens. They can pray to themselves, they can think about god and they can read the Bible. What they can’t do is use the facilities specifically for a religious activity, just as they cannot for a commercial activity. The other thing they can’t do is impose their religion on others, thereby violating their right to privacy, so they can’t proselytize just as they cannot try to sell other students something. That means no public prayer, reading the bible outloud or wearing sandwich boards saying ‘juses saves’.

    If you take this concept that if the government builds the building you can’t prayer there to its logical extension, no prayer should be allowed anywhere in the US. The government pays tax dollars to defend the integrity of the entire nation, is all of it subject to government-forced atheism?

    That makes no sense at all. The government provided no funding for my house or for my local church. In fact, I pay property taxes to the government for the privelege of having a house and having them leave me the hell alone. It’s not the same relationship at all.

    I fail to see the harm in a school kid praying in a school, and I certainly fail to see how anyone could read the First Amendment and find a right of government to restrict free expression.

    There’s nothing wrong with him praying to himself in school. But free expression does not include the right to solicit other students for god or for a product or service. You can’t do that on private property and you can’t do it on government property either.

    And as far as Catholic Charities, the law was employment discrimination, not riders on grants. My point is that it is enforcing a certain moral orthodoxy. Believe this way, and you’re ok, don’t and you aren’t.

    The employment discrimination argument makes no sense. If they aren’t providing abortions, why would they need or have any reason to employ abortionists? I don’t see how that would stand up in court. I guess maybe the argument could be made that one doctor can work there while another can’t based on their intention to provide abortions, but unless that hospital is getting public funds of some sort then it has the right to hire whoever it chooses.

    Dave

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Mark-

    Well if by ok you mean legal, yes. Though much more than that, you start getting into what the satanic bible teaches, I’m not so sure… it doesn’t exactly advocate legal things.

    Dave-

    That’s not how I read what’s going on in Illinois, the rule applies regardless of company policy. I think companies don’t need the governor to back up their decisions to fire people, they haven’t needed it in the past.

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Dave-

    I missed more, sorry.

    If your definition for for-profit is having paid staff, sadly, that would mean there is pretty much no such thing as a not-for-profit. Most charities do raise money for their own operations. Look at Planned Parenthood. The legal definition of not-for-profit doesn’t preclude raising money for their own operations. You could have a group of 5 people start a not-for-profit social group that basically just entailed them going out to eat.

    You are saying it’s a restriction on private citizens, they can do what they want only in approved circumstances, or more accurately they CANNOT do what they want if in a particular location without any real overriding government interest. Proselytizing is not imposing religion on others, I’m not sure where people get that idea. Me putting a gun to your head and telling you to go to Confession is imposing my religion. Me telling you about it and why you should convert is not. There is no right to being in an undistrubed bubble free from anything you don’t want to hear. You are saying the First Amendment requires the restriction on free expression of private citizens reading from a particular class of books on a school lunchroom, I’m sorry, that analysis is simply wrong. The courts have consistently ruled so.

    The government provides funds to make sure your house exists. You get fire and police protection. In some places, plumbing. You get military protection. There isn’t an inch of this country that is not supported in some way by tax dollars. Albeit to varying degrees, but nevertheless supported.

    The California Supreme Court ruled on the basis of their employment discrimination law alone, that Catholic Charities had to recognize “gay marriage” (I don’t know the specific term) for their benefits, despite their religious convictions. That was what I was referring to.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I fail to see the harm in a school kid praying in a school

    There is no harm. Have the child close his/her eyes and pray. The harm comes in the requiring of another child to listen to that crap.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Proselytizing is not imposing religion on others, I’m not sure where people get that idea.

    It most definitely, positively and 100% is.

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Then why stop with religion? Why not stop with any other idea people don’t want to hear? What makes religion so special that we have to mute it so that no one could possibly every be disrupted by someone else’s ideas?

  • gonzo marx

    the same Reason you have Free Speech , but cannot go around yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre or “bomb” in the Mall

    think of it as a public safety Issue, if nothing else

    obviously the Founders thought it important enough to single it out in the very First Amendment to the Bill of Rights

    now, others on this Thread have brought up excellent points…NOTHING stops the Individual from shouting their Faith from the top of their lungs on soapbox in a public park, or their front lawn…

    but you take Government money, you have to live by the Rules..including the “establishment clause”

    when in doubt, refer to my comment in #7

    you still have not stated your position on flipping the script as i have put it in #7

    if LaVey is too much for you (and i can easily understand the point concerning the legality of some of it)…then go with Crowley’s..he was VERY careful to stay on this side of the Law in the literal sense

    Excelsior!

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Freedom from religion as a public safety issue, that’s interesting…

    And this is not what Steve is talking about, he’s suggesting that people shouldn’t pray out loud in public buildings so people wouldn’t have to “listen to that crap”.

    You seem to be largely agreeing with me. Government actors (and those who take money from them) need to have viewpoint neutrality. However, this doesn’t explain why children should be banned from prayer in schools or having their own Bible studies. They don’t get money from the man.

    And I thought I did answer it, it’s legal. Being comfortable and being legal is two different things. I’m not comfortable with the concept of people canvassing college campuses for women and offering to pay tuition in exchange for doing porn videos, but that’s still legal. (I did talk about the taxation issue in which you are largely mistaken).

  • gonzo marx

    and i have yet to do more research into the tax issue, i will always admit when i mess up, so rest assured, once i have taken a bit of time to look into it i will either mea culpa or post you some linkage…

    fair enough?

    and you miss the point on the school kids…they are IN a government paid facility…hence why it has no place in the public school

    again, i ask you to take a moment and ponder the scipt being flipped…your child comes home and tellsyou about this other kid who was playing headbanging music, and reading from the Satanic bible and evangelizing…for the sake of Argument, he kept it on the right side of temporal Law…but was going for the Philosophy….how does that square with you?

    i make the point to demonstrate a bit of why it shoudl be obvious that religion does not belong in the shcool as something one exchanges with others…privately saying “grace” over your lunch…not only who cares, but how the fuck could anyone even know? that is NOT the Issue…but having any of it publicly espoused on government paid for school property…that IS an Issue for the reasons laid out above

    and i do agree, John..we are not that far off..i am all for Freedom for each to worship, or not, as they choose…i just think that the “establishment clause” shoudl be VERY strictly enforced…both to ensure our Government remains secular in Nature as well as to preserve the Individual’s Right to hold “sacred” what they choose

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • gonzo marx

    oh..i missed one..as for the Bible studies..NOT on government paid for school property

    they can go to the park, each other’s homes or ..:::gasp:::.. their churches, for that

    why the need to hold it in school if not to attempt to evangelize and place peer pressure to join the group?

    i remain staunch in my opposition to ANY such in public schools

    Excelsior!

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    gonzo wrote:

    “try this…a ten year old boy likes to read aloud from Anton LaVey’s Satanic bible in school, discuss it and evangelizes the practice to his classmates”

    See now here’s my problem… if the above transpired at a public school, the school board and the ACLU wouldn’t say a friggin’ thing.

    But if you pull out a Bible, watch out!

    Vic

  • gonzo marx

    /sigh….

    oh Vic, again you go and speculate instead of answering the fucking Question…

    i asked how YOU would react, not how you predict someone else would

    but ya don’t wanna face the point of the argument, do ya?

    much better to take a pot shot at something else fueled by pure speculation over a hypothetical

    c’mon d00d, ya can do better than that!!

    the correct Answer is…BOTH are just as wrong, for the EXACT SAME reasons

    no cookie 4 u!

    Excelsior!

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    “and you miss the point on the school kids…they are IN a government paid facility…hence why it has no place in the public school”

    What a load. How does a seven year old saying a prayer on his own in school constitute the government establishing a religion? If the SCHOOL is sponsoring some sort of religious event, I see your point, but to disallow students from mentioning the word “Christ” in school is B.S.

    BTW, I find it sickeningly funny that at least one public school HAS brought religion into the classroom, making kids learn about Islam for three weeks and practice customs and prayer.

    (See http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=25997 )

    That’s bloody well ok though, ain’t it?

    Vic

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    And this is not what Steve is talking about, he’s suggesting that people shouldn’t pray out loud in public buildings so people wouldn’t have to “listen to that crap”.

    So you ask what is the difference here between this and ‘any other crap’ that someone doesn’t listen to. My answer would be a millenia of oppression. If you can find another ideology that is responsible for the deaths of millions and the oppression of tens of millions, then I would agree with you in not wanting it promoted in the public school system.

  • gonzo marx

    well Vic, it is only OK in the same way any HS World History class spends some time covering the Church, Middle Ages, the Crusades, the Reformation and so on

    other than that…no

    and where does ANYONE stop someone at ANYTIME from bowing their heads and praying silently?

    it’s only when such spills out loud in schools that there can be a problem, no matter WHAT “religion” it is…

    fair enough?

    Excelsior!

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    BTW, I find it sickeningly funny that at least one public school HAS brought religion into the classroom, making kids learn about Islam for three weeks and practice customs and prayer.

    I think that is wrong as well, and would join with you in being against it. However, I do believe that worldnetdaily is not a legitimate news source. Find the same story from a non-biased site without an agenda to further and I’ll be on your side in that case.

  • Dave Nalle

    If your definition for for-profit is having paid staff, sadly, that would mean there is pretty much no such thing as a not-for-profit. Most charities do raise money for their own operations. Look at Planned Parenthood. The legal definition of not-for-profit doesn’t preclude raising money for their own operations. You could have a group of 5 people start a not-for-profit social group that basically just entailed them going out to eat.

    Yep, I’m inclined not to think that anything should be run not for profit unless they can show that they spend all their money specifically on charitable needs with maybe a maximum of 20% for overhead expenses. Even more than churches I’m worried about groups like the United Way which raise huge amounts of money and pass on only a tiny percentage to the needy.

    You are saying it’s a restriction on private citizens, they can do what they want only in approved circumstances, or more accurately they CANNOT do what they want if in a particular location without any real overriding government interest. Proselytizing is not imposing religion on others, I’m not sure where people get that idea.

    We get that idea because we don’t want to be harassed by
    religious loonies in places which are public and where we
    can’t get away from them. Kids in school are trapped there
    they shouldn’t have to be exposed to unwanted harassment
    in that environment. Your right to push religion ends where
    my right to be left the hell alone begins.

    Me putting a gun to your head and telling you to go to Confession is imposing my religion. Me telling you about it and why you should convert is not. There is no right to being in an undistrubed bubble free from anything you don’t want to hear. You are saying the First Amendment requires the restriction on free expression of private citizens reading from a particular class of books on a school lunchroom, I’m sorry, that analysis is simply wrong. The courts have consistently ruled so.

    Read from your book all you like, just do it in silence.

    The government provides funds to make sure your house exists. You get fire and police protection. In some places, plumbing. You get military protection. There isn’t an inch of this country that is not supported in some way by tax dollars. Albeit to varying degrees, but nevertheless supported.

    We pay specific earmarked taxes for all of those things except for military protection. And none of those services in any way applies directly to my right to own my house.

    Final words for you:

    “Forced religion stinks in God’s nostrils.” – Roger Williams

    dave

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Alice writes,

    “whether or not American tax dollars are sent to Israel is controlled by AIPAC. Few Americans have influence with that organization and our politicians are addicted to the money they provide during election cycles.”

    Alice, what you wtite above USED to be true. It isn’t any longer. AIPAC has been effectively emasculated by its involvement in alleged espionage. There are some Americans who now have a great deal of influence over AIPAC. They work for your DoJ and FBI.

    Given that this is a discussion of the separation of church and state in your country, not foreign policy, I’ll leave my comments at that point.

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Dave-

    That’s quite a bit of stereotyping there. We’re going from someone who is praying aloud to being harassed by religious loonies. Now I can’t speak for the misc. quad preachers that come to campus and shout about how people are going to hell, but I think most mainstream Christians don’t work that way. In fact, if you don’t want to hear it, they stop talking to you. But the point is this, you can form groups based on any idea you want. If you want to form a pro-choice group, fine. Political group, fine. Gaming group, fine. But, OH NO DON’T FORM A RELIGIOUS GROUP THE ENTIRE FABRIC OF SPACE-TIME WALL COLLAPSE!!!@!!! I understand your position, but nothing in the First Amendment can be read to restrict what private people can do on their own time (with exceptions of harasmment, inciting riots, etc). You are suggesting that the 1/3rd of land owned by the government in this country is offlimits to any religious speech, I simply can’t understand how you read the First Amendment to require inhibiting free expression of private citizens.

    Steve-

    Just because you don’t like the bias of the source, doesn’t make the story false. Spun maybe.

    Gonzo-

    Why they need to hold it in school? Because they can hold almost any other kind of group in school. It’s free expression. If you allow them to form groups, you can’t tell them what groups they can form without a real good reason (i.e. street gangs).

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Just because you don’t like the bias of the source, doesn’t make the story false. Spun maybe.

    No, but it makes the story suspect. If you want to use the story to convince ME of something in a debate, you need to find it from an unbiased source. Worldnetdaily was not created to impart news. It was created to further an agenda.

  • Dave Nalle

    That’s quite a bit of stereotyping there. We’re going from someone who is praying aloud to being harassed by religious loonies. Now I can’t speak for the misc. quad preachers that come to campus and shout about how people are going to hell, but I think most mainstream Christians don’t work that way. In fact, if you don’t want to hear it, they stop talking to you.

    The fact is that there’s a major campaign afoot courtesy of James Dobson to use intrusive prayer and massive public demonstration of religion in schools to influence the student body and attract attention. Search for my article on the National Day of Prayer for all the links and details.

    But the point is this, you can form groups based on any idea you want. If you want to form a pro-choice group, fine. Political group, fine. Gaming group, fine. But, OH NO DON’T FORM A RELIGIOUS GROUP THE ENTIRE FABRIC OF SPACE-TIME WALL COLLAPSE!!!@!!! I understand your position, but nothing in the First Amendment can be read to restrict what private people can do on their own time (with exceptions of harasmment, inciting riots, etc). You are suggesting that the 1/3rd of land owned by the government in this country is offlimits to any religious speech, I simply can’t understand how you read the First Amendment to require inhibiting free expression of private citizens.

    I don’t. They can do anything they want on their own property and on their own time. They can even fall down and speak in tongues on public property if they like. The place they can’t do it is in a school because a school is not a free speech zone, and conspicuous proselytizing is disruptive and a violation of the privacy right of other students. If they are doing it in an airport I can just go somewhere else and ignore it. If they are doing it in a classroom where my kids are required to be by state law then my kids can’t just walk away. The state is essentially forcing them to stay there and submit to the harassment. That’s not acceptable.

    Dave

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Dave-

    Schools most certainly are free speech zones. Sure you can’t say anything you want in class, but you can in the halls, in the lunchrooms, outside, etc. You can form your own groups and leave them as you wish. I’m not saying they can stand up in class and do it, then they are disrupting class, but there is a lot more times and places in schools they can do what they want. If someone is doing it in a lunchroom, you can go somewhere else. If they have a group, you don’t have to join. It strikes me as little different from your airport example.

    I want to very clear on this. I’m not saying they should use class time when they should be studying and learning for something else. I’m talking about the ample time they are given outside the classroom in the school building.

  • Maurice

    There is a huge profit for some churches. The Mormons have a lay ministry. Even the nice boys that knock on your door pay their own way. They tithe at a rate of 10% gross. Here in Idaho we have a huge population of Mormons. Our state tax is 7.8% of adjusted gross. That means the Mormon church could potentially be receiving tithes greater than the state tax revenue.

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    “the correct Answer is…BOTH are just as wrong, for the EXACT SAME reasons”

    If you really believe that, you are truly lost and no amount of debate or argument will convince you otherwise.

    Best,

    Vic

  • Dave Nalle

    Wrong, John. So long as my kids are required to be there, I don’t want them exposed to anything that isn’t part of the curriculum. If they are going to take my money AND force my kids to be there, I only want the approved information presented to them and nothing else, esepcially from sources which are not part of the educational hierarchy.

    I actually took my kids OUT of the public schools because of the excessive exposure to religious indoctrination they were exposed to. I ended up putting them in a parochial school because there at least I knew what kind of religious instruction they were receiving.

    Dave

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Dave-

    Well that’s a fine position, and a good argument for school vouchers, but unless you are prepared to say no student groups, and pretty much no socializing, it’s simply signaling our religious speech out of free expression for censorship.

  • gonzo marx

    John B sez…
    *Why they need to hold it in school? Because they can hold almost any other kind of group in school. It’s free expression. If you allow them to form groups, you can’t tell them what groups they can form without a real good reason (i.e. street gangs).*

    you missed something again John…the fact that such is prohibited on government owned property…some activities are approved, and some are not

    so, soccer is ok…evangelizing ANY religion is not…on and on

    what i don’t understand is this insistence these things be held on school property….a cynical person might suspect it was specifically for the rules to be changed and slowly the establishment of a religious dogma could be propagandized via the school system…

    nah…no one would do that…so what is the Reason these studies and clubs cannot be done off of government property? why the insistence it be done ON government property? please explain…and it is NOT about “free expression” as has been stated…some speech is quite legally regulated for public safety, or in the public interest on government property…there is NOTHING stopping these kids from sitting on a lawn across the stree, or right next door to the school and having their activity…

    to Vic…
    i defy you to ever find me saying what i “believe”

    what i have stated are my Thoughts about a purely LEGAL issue, which makes NO distinction regarding the validity of EITHER example

    you do see the differnce, i hope

    so, as a purely hypothetical example, do you understand the Principle involved here, that there is NO distinction regarding the religious sect/denomination/deity what have you, but that ALL are prohibited in the circumstance described

    i used the extreme dichotomy in my example to deliberately make some folks flesh crawl, and to dramatize some of the Reasoning behind it

    as for how “lost” i am, while i do appreciate your Concern…allow me to assure you, i know exactly “where” i am….

    now, if someone could tell me what year it is, the century perhpas, some kind of clue….awww…c’mon?

    Excelsior!

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    Vic:

    Re. #63. Just to be clear, are you advocating that the government allow public prostelytizing on public property if the religion in question is one of which you approve, but not if it is a religion of which you do not?

    Because this is in direct opposition to the US Constitution, which is the law.

  • gonzo marx

    John B sez…
    *and a good argument for school vouchers,*

    actuall, as i have pointed out before…there is NO good argument, from a conservative fiscal standpoint, FOR school vouchers, due to the math

    bear me out here, and check the formulae yourself…and you will see why those who advocate vouchers are trying to steal…

    you pay $1000 in proprty tax per annum…and we will say 60% of that i sused for your local public school…total contribution $600…right?

    the COST per student is a huge multiple of that, gathered by the property taxes of ALL the reidents, whether they have school children or not, all in the name of the public good to educate the kiddies

    still with me?

    what voucher advocates want is not that $600 of their property tax paid, which i have NO problem with them getting to use towards their kids schooling, but the ENTIRE budget from the town FOR that student , so they can send the kid to another school

    and that, gentle Readers is stealing from their town money that was contributed by the citizens via their taxes FOR the public school, above and beyond the individual parents contributions…

    theft, pure and simple, and why any kind of “voucher” system doesn’t pass the smell test

    we now return you to your regularily scheduled program

    Excelsior!

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    CC,

    No, am not advocating that. I am expressing my view that Satan worship and Christianity are most certainly not “equivalent”. I’m not arguing it from a legal standpoint but from a moral one.

    Again, perhaps I wouldn’t get so aggravated with the situation if people who get so up in arms about Christianity being mentioned in school did get as bent out of shape with the Satan/Witchcraft/etc. scenario.

    Gonzo, point taken. :-) BTW, with all the obvious time and thought that goes into your posts, don’t you have a day job dude? ;-)

    Vic

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    If public schools were doing a decent job educating kids, vouchers wouldn’t be an issue, now would they? Of course that doesn’t even include the socialist, anti-American, have-sex-when-you-want-as-long-as-it’s-“safe”, are-you-sure-you’re-not-gay agenda.

    Vic

  • gonzo marx

    well Vic, yes i do..and am at lunch…

    your mistake is thinking i take time or thought in these little rants…

    “gonzo” part as well as my pitiful spelling and dyslexic mistakes, indicates my stream of consciousness, no editiing style

    face it, i’m just weird…

    i remain, apostate and heretic

    Excelsior!

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    Vic.
    OK. Obviously our discussion here is purely a legal one, and you didn’t make the distinction.

    As for my own moral judgement, I’d say both Satanism and Christianity are about the same. Both are based on provably untrue postulates (hence dishonest), and both have caused plenty of strife for people in the world (hence harmful). Christianity more strife, of course, because it’s much more widespread.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Damn, Gonzo. I just WISH I paid $1000 in school taxes. But I don’t live in Maine, so I pay over $4000 a year. And I’d be perfectly happy just to get that money back and no money from any other source.

    Dave

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    maine has fairly high tax rates when compared to its new england neighbors. i think gonzo was using that figure to keep things simple.

    either that, or he lives in an ice fishing shack.

  • gonzo marx

    full disclosure: my annual property tax is about $1200 a year, but my littel town has no water, sewer( well and spetic for me) or garbage pick up(haul your stuff to the dump), a volunteer fire department, and a 70 year old town constable in a 70’s bronco ( county sheriff or even state trooper for 911 calls)

    yer gonzo is just poor white trash, actually…emphasis on the poor part

    hope that helps

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    was there ever any resolution to the property tax problem out in chebeague island (and i suppose other towns’ folks getting squeezed by gentrification)?

  • gonzo marx

    some of it, dunno about the island itself, Mark…i live in the Lakes region

    but the Issue has been huge here, on the coast, downeast and anywhere else that has new expensive homes going up built by folks from “away”

    but we digress…

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    yea, we digress…so what!

    the chebeague issue was that the island was full of fishing families, but everybody was being taxed as though they were a part of the town of tres-expensive cumberland, from which they received no services.

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    “Both are based on provably untrue postulates”

    Yeah, right. Go pick up a book or two on Christian Apologetics.

    Vic

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    Sure. Any you can recommend?
    I’ve read a couple of books by Norman Geisler, and also Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig.

  • http://andiwastheecho.blogspot.com Trish

    I actually respect when people object to doing something that falls within their profession but goes against their spiritual, moral or ethical beliefs. Unless it’s a regular occurence, I think they should be able to remove themselves fromt he situation. May sound a little too perfect, too ideal; but I think we must encourage people to stand up for what’s right, even if we disagree with it.

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Gonzo-

    Strictly speaking the courts have said if you allow student groups and allow students to speak their mind, you can’t restrict them when they speak about religion. You may have an opinion, but the courts disagree there. It’s the separatists in this thread, who are largely confirming my statement that you are trying to regulate religion to obscurity.

    There is no insistence that this be held on school property, the insistence is, if you allow free speech, you allow free speech. It is not free speech if you are given a list of what you can or cannot say (without a REAL good reason, like advocating murder). That is NOT free speech.

    As for school vouchers, that’s interesting math, but not exactly how I’d envision it working. We pay X per student now for public schools. I say, let all schools compete for that X, including public schools. If the tuition is more, people pay the difference. We are paying for education, I’d prefer the money go to the schools that perform the best and little freedom work. It’s served the US well so far.

  • gonzo marx

    John B, as for vouchers…the math is perfect…and what you argue for is theft form the local public school and those residents who pay into it besides the parents for the sake of an individual child

    it’s still theft of services

    how about we instead make those local schools better, you can start by holding the local school Boards who assign the budget and screen the texts and curiculuum , accountable

    as for the cae in point topic…who ever said that students had “free speech” in schools?

    they are minors and in the care of the governmental school system…the Courts have ruled in both municipal and higher instances , that those kids have very limited rights

    see: school searches, locker searches…urinalysis for athletes….much more

    give a kid one of my favorite t-shirts that say “fuck censorship” on them….and see if he makes it through the day

    your straw man doesn’t hold John…and i applaud those who fight against ANY religion in the public school system

    as i stated, plenty of time for that outside of school grounds…

    unless you are going to allow equal time in church/parochial school

    hey…how about evolution classes in sunday school if the kids want to do it?

    puh-leeeze…

    but, thanks for the reasonable discussion…even if we won’t be able to disagree on the outcome

    Excelsior!

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    CC,

    Actually one that I read once and am reading again (because, to be perfectly honest it’s WAY over my head) is “When Skeptics Ask” by Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks.

    They use advanced (IMHO) philosophical and logical arguments to reach their conclusions.

    Vic

  • gonzo marx

    Screen Rant sez…
    *They use advanced (IMHO) philosophical and logical arguments to reach their conclusions.*

    in other words…they bullshit

    how do we know this kiddies?

    because it CANNOT be either proven, nor disproven..it is a matter of Faith, by definition

    and it would be a poorer world indeed if such could be found under the sterile eye of hte microscope

    just a Thought

    Excelsior!

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    According to gonzo:

    “I think, therefore I am.” = bullshit

    Heh.

    Vic

  • RedTard

    I don’t understand how logical people can look at the same set of facts and come to such profoundly different conclusions. We’ve tried improving the current state run system by doubling the amount of real dollars we spend on education over the last 30 years and getting zero results.

    How could vouchers perform any worse?

    I know I’ll lose my conservative club card, but maybe we could learn something from countries like Belgium. They use a voucher system with 70% of students attending private schools and perform better than US students all while spending significantly less than us.

    Gonzo,

    The real theft is the billions taken from all of us that is wasted on a subpar educational system. We spend an obscene amount for the mediocre results we get.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    gonzo – how is taking MY tax money and spending it where I want on my kids education theft of anything?

    Taxes are theft if anything is around here!

    If my local school system was screwing up the system and I was given a way to get my kid a better education why can’t I take MY money and do with it as I please? My kid ain’t taking up a seat…so it should cost the school that much less….no? Maybe if the school systems had more pressure on them to perform…you know like bringing in two cable companies…a little competition!

    on that note, I live where I live because my taxes ain’t too bad and the school district here is a good one. I shopped for my house based on THIS school district in Virgina Beach. but I support vouchers!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    never mind…I reread your deal up there…I’ll just sit here and shut up now

  • gonzo marx

    see Andy…think twice and read carefully before ya Question yer sifu!!!

    mwahahaAHAhahAHHAAahahAHAhahHAAHAHAhahahaaaa

    did i just say that out loud?

    ooops…

    Excelsior!

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    I wasn’t at all convinced by that book, although I’m impressed by the authors’ attempt to justify their faith with logic. The logic is faulty, though, so the argument’s a failure.

    They rely on barely gussied-up creationism with the proposition that one should use “creation science” to assess the origins of the universe, and then after that the normal scientific procedures apply.

    The authors lay out their logical argument in the back of the book, as I recall, step-by-step. See if it holds water without the creationism assumption. I don’t think it does.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    full disclosure: my annual property tax is about $1200 a year, but my littel town has no water, sewer( well and spetic for me) or garbage pick up(haul your stuff to the dump), a volunteer fire department, and a 70 year old town constable in a 70’s bronco ( county sheriff or even state trooper for 911 calls)

    And admit it, Gonzo. Your taxes are underwritten by folks like my family whose modest summer house with a bit of shore frontage is hit for $12,000 in taxes every year.

    Dave

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Oh, and Gonzo. If vouchers are unfair, here’s an alternative. Let’s just get rid of the public school system alltogether.

    Dave

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I still like the idea of vouchers…what can I say…I’m a thief!

  • gonzo marx

    for #92…towns vary, in the town i live it goes by the assessed property value, so a big new house on the lake is worth more in the market than my house on 2 acres away from the lake…

    this appears to be the case in much of the state, with the exceptions that Mark and i digressed with earlier(especially on the coast DownEast)

    i take exception to the insinuation that this means “subsidized”…i live with less services, and unlike most folks from “away”, snowbirds or vacationers with second homes in the area…i understand that if i wanted more services then my taxes woudl go up…such as the next town over from me…twice the tax rate per dollar of value..but they have water,sewer and garbage pick up…same school district

    as for removing the public school system…an interesting Idea..i am very curious as to why our system works worse than it did 100 years ago

    my suspicion is that it revolves around the formation s of elected school boards rathern than being run by the educators

    but that Rant is for the proper Thread…

    Excelsior!

  • gonzo marx

    for Vic…

    nice try…it should read…

    “according to gonzo – i Am, therefore i Think”

    note the difference…

    heh

    Excelsior!

  • zingzing

    dave, don’t say “modest” and “summer house with a bit of shore frontage” around here. it just makes people jealous. you can brag all you like, but “modest” just doesn’t sit well. anyway, rich people should pay more taxes. taxes should hurt everyone equally… when i recently got a raise at work… god knows why… the raise negated itself because my taxes almost tripled! what’s up with that? there must be some sort of mistake…

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I think it’s the NEA’s fault…but I’m anti union…

  • Clubhouse Cancer

    The school system of 100 years ago is just simply not the same as our system today, G, but if we must compare, then surely a system that welcomes every child, black or white, rich or poor, is by definition a “better” one, if the goal is educating young people.

  • SonnyD

    Clubhouse: Of course it’s better when all children are welcome, but when those children graduate from high school and cannot read above a sixth grade level and cannot write an intelligent sentence or balance a checkbook, how can you state that the system is better?

    Gonzo: I disagree strongly with your take on the voucher system. I don’t even know where to start, there is so much I could say on that subject. I’ll just suggest you reread RedTard #87

  • Dave Nalle

    dave, don’t say “modest” and “summer house with a bit of shore frontage” around here. it just makes people jealous. you can brag all you like, but “modest” just doesn’t sit well. anyway,

    It’s just a fact, Zing. It’s modest in comparison to most of the houses in the area. It’s smaller than the house I live in here in Texas and it’s no huge mansion by any stretch of the imagination. Our nextdoor neighbor in Maine is the author Stuart Woods and his house is roughly the size of a football stadium. That makes our modest 3-2 a shack by comparison.

    rich people should pay more taxes. taxes should hurt everyone equally

    Rich people DO pay more taxes – enormously more. The bottom two quintiles pay essentially no taxes at all. The middle class pays at a real tax rate between 10 and 15% of income. The rich pay at a real tax rate of double that or more plus since they tend to consume more they pay way more in sales and consumption taxes.

    … when i recently got a raise at work… god knows why… the raise negated itself because my taxes almost tripled! what’s up with that? there must be some sort of mistake…

    Welcome to the disincentive system of graduated taxes my friend. The harder you work, the more you earn, the more they take. I guess now you know from first hand experience that the rich pay more tax than the poor – though I think your ‘triple’ figure might be a wee bit of exaggeration.

    Dave

  • JP II

    This entire line of argument is so far from reality, let me just clarify something for all of you on both sides of the debate:

    Those of you who keep mentioning and apparently believe that mainstream groups or powers — “separationists” or “liberals” or “activist judges” or the ACLU or any other group with any power at all — are opposed to the “mention” of Christ, or the utterance of prayer, or proseletyzing by student groups, etc. on public school campuses — you are all wrong.

    That is not the case. That is not true.

    The only thing “separationists” insist upon is that the school itself must in no official way engage in communicating, teaching, endorsing or indicating that a certain religion is correct.

    OF COURSE social science teachers show examples of religious belief in their study of culture and history — including Islam, AND INCLUDING CHRISTIANITY! That is teaching ABOUT religions, not teaching religion.

    As for student groups, there are PLENTY of Christian student groups ALL OVER CAMPUSES in this country. In any school that allows clubs to form around students’ own interests, Christian students are free to form Christian clubs. External Christian groups also often bring their club structures onto campus and invite students to join. Never heard of “Campus Life”? Never heard of “Youth for Christ”?

    (But ohhhhh, imagine if a Satanic club was formed — despite the above rantings of Screen Rant, NO WAY would most schools or communities allow that!)

    And to the extent that students enjoy free speech of other kinds on a campus, OF COURSE they can pray aloud if they so choose, and YES THEY CAN proseletyze too, assuming they’re in a situation where free speech generally is not considered disruptive to the learning environment. (for example, at lunchtime or during breaks, or sitting in the stands at a basketball game, or before or after school — wherever a student is free to proseletyze their favorite football team or rock band or movie, they could also proseletyze other students about their religion!)

    (And its ridiculous to cite the whole question of sandwich boards. But the simple fact is that if a campus allows any “protests” or “demonstrations” related to non-academic issues, it will allow such demonstrations from Christians as well. If it does NOT allow such demonstrations from others, then it doesn’t have to allow them from Christians either.)

    So STOP claiming that separationists like Michael Newdow are trying to revoke students’ rights to free speech and freedom of religion.

    That is false.

    JP II

  • gonzo marx

    Clubhouse …i DO agree that systemically much is improved in the EXACT matters you mention..i shoudl have been more clear…my point is/was that why is it then in a one room schoolhouse children graduated high school knowing calculus, latin,greek, world history, civics, and the english language so much better than what most college graduates do nowadays?

    THAT is what i am speaking of, my maternal grandfather’s education from HS was vastly superior to mine, and yet mine is almost as much better than what current graduates receive

    i hope that helps explain…

    SonnyD…it is not “my take” but an inexorable excercise in mathematics, plain and simple…if you think i am incorrect, please show me the math to dispute the Facts i have stated and the conclusion drawn…you know i am more than happy to admit when i am proven incorrect, but i have looked at this one (it having been an Issue here in Maine recently) and the plain math doesn’t lie

    so i stand by my Statement and Assesments concerning the “vouchers” that would steal from their neighbors

    comment #101 sez…
    *Our nextdoor neighbor in Maine is the author Stuart Woods and his house is roughly the size of a football stadium. That makes our modest 3-2 a shack by comparison.*

    note the 3 bedroom, 2 bath..and the bemoaning of it being a “shack” in “comparison”

    tell it to the veteran living in a refrigerator box…no sympathy, no jealousy either…
    “i once wept because I had no good shoes, until I met a man who had no feet”

    oh yes…and up here, those seasonal homes are called “camps” and are almost always much nicer than what the locals live in

    vacation homes for folks from all over the country/world…their prices are set by what the market will bear, and taxes are assessed on that Value…every year or two folks from “away” who own those homes try and get tax exemptions because they are only used for part of the year

    my take?…tough shit

    Excelsior!

  • SonnyD

    Gonzo: I, too, have reworded the phrase, “I think, therefore, I am.” I chose, “I am aware, therefore, I am.” The word “think” has become so degraded that it no longer has any real meaning.

    Thinking should involve a certain amount of effort, the gathering of ideas, weighing of facts, coming to an informed conclusion based on the results of that effort. Instead, the word is used in place of an emotional feeling based on god knows what. Maybe just the repetion of something that someone else said. Anyway, that is another failing of our public schools. There is no effort to teach logic or reasoning. Students are not taught to think.

  • SonnyD

    Sorry, repetion should have been repetition. I previewed and still missed it.

  • Dave Nalle

    We’ve never tried for a tax exemption, gonzo. And we have relatives who live up there year round who have nicer houses than we do. I’m perfectly willing to pay property taxes and not complain so long as I don’t have to pay the ridiculous Maine income tax when we only spend part of the year there.

    But I will say this the public school district where our house in Maine is located is much, much better than any public school in this part of Texas. We’ve actually considered moving up there year-round because the savings in private school tuition for two kids would more than cover the added tax expenses, but we tend to balk at the endless snow.

    THAT is what i am speaking of, my maternal grandfather’s education from HS was vastly superior to mine, and yet mine is almost as much better than what current graduates receive

    Gonzo, I spent almost 20 years teaching history to kids who had graduated from Texas public schools. For most of them it was essentially their first encounter with US History because they had basically learned nothing at all in their high school social studies classes. From what others have told me the same holds true for most other areas of study as well. Unless their parents teach them at home in addition to school or they get into some sort of special school or accelerated program the school system is basically just warehousing them for 12 years.

    Dave

  • JP II

    RE my last post (#102) — John B’s comment below is where he is correct.

    QUOTE
    John Bambenek
    January 12, 2006
    10:42 AM
    Dave-

    Schools most certainly are free speech zones. Sure you can’t say anything you want in class, but you can in the halls, in the lunchrooms, outside, etc. You can form your own groups and leave them as you wish. I’m not saying they can stand up in class and do it, then they are disrupting class, but there is a lot more times and places in schools they can do what they want. If someone is doing it in a lunchroom, you can go somewhere else. If they have a group, you don’t have to join. It strikes me as little different from your airport example.

    I want to very clear on this. I’m not saying they should use class time when they should be studying and learning for something else. I’m talking about the ample time they are given outside the classroom in the school building.

    –END QUOTE

    I’m afraid Gonzo and Dave Nalle are wrong about this, if they think students are, or ought to be, constitutionally prohibited from proseletyzing at a school site during lunch. If a student is allowed free speech of any kind, he’s allowed to proseletyze. The beautiful thing about free speech is that your kids are allowed to proseletyze just as loudly against those ideas, if they want.

    It’s not a government intrusion on your kids’ rights if they hear about this stuff from other students in conversation! For cryin’ out loud, guys.

    And, reminding you, I am vehemently opposed to teachers leading students in the state-sponsored prayer “one nation, under god.”

    (I’m fine with teachers leading the pledge as it was originally written, before the House Un-American Activities Committee influenced it. And of course, anyone else can recite a pledge, with their pals or on their own, in any form they want.)

    JP II

  • gonzo marx

    well sonnyD..let me just take a moment to point out that i never use the term “beleive” when speaking about my thoughts…

    as for being able to “think” as you phrase it, and to also answer in part ScreenRant/Vic’s snark about being employed…

    the Answer to things of that nature are here

    by profession, i am the foremost expert outside fo a few engineers in England who designed the system on the equipment found at the link…i not only repair it all to the component level(plus some other systems my company makes, but these are my specialty)…but when a telecomm engineer has problems or needs tech support/advice in using the stuff or figuring out anomolies…it is my phone that rings

    i’ve been working on this stuff for just a bit over a year now, and in electronics for over 25 years off and on

    yet, i don’t even earn my age for this work, especially since i do not have a college degree

    so…yes, i think

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    “ScreenRant/Vic’s snark about being employed”

    Just trying to bring a bit of levity into the picture so you know I don’t harbor any nastiness towards you gonzomeister. :-)

    Vic

  • Dave Nalle

    Gonzo, you should hold out for more money. If your skills are really as you describe them they ought to be paying you about 1.5x your age at a minimum and be happy to get you for that. And what the hell difference does a college degree make? My wife is director of IT for a state government agency and doesn’t have one. I have a friend who’s an engineer with a high six figure salary and flunked out of college with a 0.04 GPA.

    Well, that was off topic.

    Back to JP’s comment.

    The government forces kids to go to school. They should not be forced into an environment where they are made uncomfortable or subjected to undesirable influences. There is no reason why prayer has to be anything but private and personal, and I don’t object to that. But there’s no justification for intrusive proselytizing. My personal experience with this was at my elder daughter’s public elementary school where a group of kids at a talent show essentially held a prayer meeting as their ‘talent’. It was totally unacceptable.

    Dave

  • SonnyD

    Gonzo: I will ask you to do as I have many times seen you ask others to read the comment more carefully. I did not, in any way, imply that YOU were lacking in thinking ability. I found it interesting that you and I both have thought to reword the same phrase. And made a general statement that the word “think” has lost its meaning.

    As for my opinion on the voucher debate, I seem to have gotten off the subject of this post. If this matter comes up as the subject of another post, however, I would be more than glad to give you my opinion on your mistaken reasoning.

  • gonzo marx

    to Vic…no worries, just elucidating a point for edification purposes

    {8^P~~~~~~~~~~

    to JP II…your points are Reasonable and your logic quite sound, i have no Argument against your position, and my own is just that…merely my own

    until and unless the entire “Hail Satan”(and i only use it as an extreme example) bit is just as acceptable, then i think the entire bit about religions can be kept conversational with no problems…but active proselytizing should be discouraged by the system due to it being a government facility where students are required to attend…again, i think of it as a “establishment clause” issue as well as pure public safety…just me, and i Respect the Views expressed on the topic, even when i don’t Agree with them…

    as for the first paragraph in comment #110, i appreciate the Advice..you will have to take it that such is not currently an Option for various reasons…my division is made up of myself (the youngest of us at 44), and 5 true genius’ who have been there longer than i have…at least 2 of whom could learn what i do and add it to what they specialize in if required…those two are retired ex-military techs who do this just for some extra cash

    such is the state of the economy, that here what i am making plus my benefits are considered by many to be “good money”

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • Dave Nalle

    I think we’re on very much the same page here gonzo as far as the forced attendance being the main issue. Of course that goes hand in hand with the forced payment. Citizens shouldn’t be forced to pay their money for facilities which are used for purposes which they would not approve of. It troubles me a great deal that one of our local elementary schools is essentially used as a church by a local congregation which is trying to save money to build a church. Admittedly they pay rent to use the school after hours, but it seems like a singularly inappropriate use of the space.

    Dave

  • SonnyD

    Dave: Our county fairgrounds is tax supported, but the buildings are rented out year round for all sorts of purposes. It helps defray the cost of maintaining the facility and saves the tax payer money. How is a school any different if students are not present?

  • JP II

    Dave, I sympathize with you. But —

    DAVE SAID: The government forces kids to go to school. They should not be forced into an environment where they are made uncomfortable or subjected to undesirable influences.

    I agree with that — but we must always walk a tightrope, in a society that holds free speech as necessary to enable debate and free decision making. I am, first, a free-speecher.

    I’d say it’s unreasonable to tell students that while on campus they may not talk about contraceptives to each other, and unreasonable to prohibit talking about death metal music, unreasonable to ban discussion of smoking or drugs, unreasonable to prevent them talking about Andy Warhol or Robert Mapplethorpe or Catcher In the Rye, unreasonable to deny them the right to talk about organizing protests against Republican policies – and for the same reason, I also say it’s unreasonable to prohibit them talking to other students about their particular god.

    DAVE SAID:> There is no reason why prayer has to be anything but private and personal, and I don’t object to that.

    I agree there’s no reason, I agree it’s best when its personal and private, I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus said too… but should the government insist that it MUST be private??

    DAVE SAID: But there’s no justification for intrusive proselytizing.

    The justification to allow it is that to ban it you’d have to ban all speech.

    DAVE SAID: My personal experience with this was at my elder daughter’s public elementary school where a group of kids at a talent show essentially held a prayer meeting as their ‘talent’. It was totally unacceptable.

    I agree that’s at least close to the line, or maybe over the line. But I have difficulty immediately defining HOW it has crossed the line. Maybe it’s just offensive to me personally (which it is). A talent show is a quasi-official event at least. But if my son’s band wanted to sing their anti-war lyrics uncensored at the talent show, then what right do I have to tell the Christians they can’t spout their rhetoric too?

    Free speech is difficult stuff. Clearly it would be bad-bad-bad if the principal or teacher opened the talent show with an endorsement of that particular Christian act — “and kids, make sure you pay special attention to Dodie’s group, you may find a special resonance in what they say.” But if there are no speech restrictions on the other talent show acts (other than the usual anti-sex/drugs bias), then I would err on the side of allowing the speech by the Christians.

    I’m offended by students (and their church leaders) who pull that kind of crap at talent shows. But honestly, my response if that happened at my kids school would be to encourage my kid to get out there and create a compelling talent show act, or a newsletter, or whatever, highlighting whatever it is they don’t like about Christian organizations, leaders, religions, the faith — whatever: the hypocrisy of their judgmental pronouncements, their greed, their funding of anti-poor politicians, their efforts to bend everyone to their will….

    : )

  • SonnyD

    JP II: Do you make a habit of teaching your children that two wrongs made a right? I think I would rather tell them that I didn’t think what was done in the talent show was appropriate and I would rather they didn’t do anything like that.

  • Alice

    JPII: The following needs a disclaimer:

    “I’m offended by students (and their church leaders) who pull that kind of crap at talent shows. But honestly, my response if that happened at my kids school would be to encourage my kid to get out there and create a compelling talent show act, or a newsletter, or whatever, highlighting whatever it is they don’t like about Christian organizations, leaders, religions, the faith — whatever: the hypocrisy of their judgmental pronouncements, their greed, their funding of anti-poor politicians, their efforts to bend everyone to their will.…”

    DISCLAIMER: The pronouncement of “the hypocrisy of their judgmental pronouncements, their greed, their funding of anti-poor politicians, their efforts to bend everyone to their will.…” is not meant to be a judgmental pronouncement or hypocrisy.

    That should help clarify what otherwise could be construed as judgmental and as such would be hypocritical.

  • Dave Nalle

    their funding of anti-poor politicians

    Let’s be fair, not all churches give their money to democrat causes.

    Dave

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    ” their funding of anti-poor politicians”

    No, they just give directly TO the poor.

    Vic

  • Nancy

    No, in my experience, they give all the money to themselves.

  • Alice

    “No, in my experience, they give all the money to themselves.”

    What is this experience you speak of?

    Consider this…

    “Save the Children Receives $60 Million Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Save Newborn Lives Globally”

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    60 million…not bad…about the equivalent of me giving…say $50…he’s the richest man on the planet! He’s only worth around $50 billion.,,,isn’t that like $50,000,000,000? $60 million is like 1% of 1% of $50 billion…so in reality, I think I gave more to the Salvation Army in front of the local K-Mart this Christmas season.

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    You ought to spend more time reading and less time writing.

  • Alice

    “Being the richest man in the world has enabled Gates to create one of the world’s largest charitable foundations. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of more than $28 billion, with donations totaling more than $1 billion every year. ”

    $28 billion divided by $46 billion is about 60%.

    Check it out…

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    No, in my experience, they give all the money to themselves.

    Then you’ve been going to the wrong churches.

    BTW, here’s part of what drives me nuts… religion in school = bad, but a teacher giving 14 and 15 year olds a homework assignment to research pornography on the internet? No problem.

    Twisted friggin’ priorities is what we’ve got and I don’t care what you all say.

    Vic

  • Dave Nalle

    Hey Rant. How about you join us in stopping the religion and we’ll join you in stopping the pornography. Neither belong in schools.

    Dave

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Better yet, how about we support school vouchers so we can send our kids where we want them to go where they’ll get the best education and meet up with parents priorities instead of letting the government decide how to best raise our kids?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Alice – that $60 million number was YOUR number not mine! and something tells me that the $28 billion you mention didn’t all come from Gates…I’d bet only a small portion came from him…but you keep kneeling before your knighted computer geek…the college drop out that only hires college grads…hypocrite…that’s what he is.

  • http://screenrant.com Screen Rant

    “Hey Rant. How about you join us in stopping the religion and we’ll join you in stopping the pornography. Neither belong in schools.”

    Dave,

    Heh. :-) Ya know at least that would even things out a bit…

    John,

    I’m with you. I send my daughter to a private school and it’s tough financially. Since a large percentage of people carry a car payment, I just look at the cost as a substitute for that.

    Vic

  • gonzo marx

    John B sez…
    *Better yet, how about we support school vouchers*

    as i have pointed out in other places, Vouchers are nothign but theft from the Community and no sane fiscal Conservative could possibly back them once they understand the basic mathematics of what is being proposed

    if the “vouchers” were JUST fo rthe amount of the individuals proprty taxes that were being used for the local schools…fine, i have NO problem with that

    instead, those advocating “vouchers” want the ENTIRE per student budget given to them, which SUBTRACTS not only their own contribution, but those of their neighbors form the pool of funds that are designated for the public service of said school

    if those interested woudl spend a fraction fo the time and effort they put forth in advocating THEFT from their communities into actually studying the mistakes of their locally elected School Boards(who, after all allocate how the budget is spent)…and insured that far less resources went into say…sports teams, and more went into the ACTUAL education fo their children…supplemented by parental involvement directly into what said children are learning and the amount fo Work they actually do towards said education…

    much more would be accomplished …

    objects in mirror are closer than they appear

    Excelsior!

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Gonzo-

    Your statement that it is theft is interesting, but unconvincing. The community pays for education, and the public schools simply aren’t delivering. If you want to say it’s theft, how is it not theft when people without kids are docked for education?

    The fact is, the community pays X for someone to get educated. I have no problem with vouchers being something reasonable but less than X because the more I look at things the more I see private schools producing better students at 1/3rd to 1/2 the cost. But that’s an aside.

    It’s simple economics, the money will flow to the schools that perform. Is it so bad that community funds are being used in such a way to emphasize better education?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    honestly…I think it’s more like stealing BACK!

  • gonzo marx

    John and Andy…

    as i said, look at the Math…pure and simple, then read what i typed again

    as i have stated, i have NO problem with you requesting a return of what you pay in taxes that is used for the school…essentially “opting out” of the public school program for your child

    but let us look at this as an “equal protection” bit

    does that mean that since i have NO children, i could “opt out” of my share? and thus save approximately 60% of my annual property tax bill?

    the Reality is that the vast majority of said annual Budget for public education comes form those contributors who have NO children in the system…and what you propose form vouchers essentially steals their contributions, made towards financing the “public work” , for the private use of a small goup of Individuals

    a very simple excercise in basic Logic and Mathematics when examined

    as i stated, far better to bend the Efforts expended towards this Plan for “voucher”/theft into actually examining and fixxing the public school system rather than some shceme to “starve the beast” by pillaging a public resource financed by the Community

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • Dave Nalle

    as i have pointed out in other places, Vouchers are nothign but theft from the Community and no sane fiscal Conservative could possibly back them once they understand the basic mathematics of what is being proposed

    Taking our money to educate our kids and then not educating them is also theft from the community, Gonzo.

    if the “vouchers” were JUST fo rthe amount of the individuals proprty taxes that were being used for the local schools…fine, i have NO problem with that

    As I’ve said before, that would be fine with me, though I don’t agree with your rationale for that limitation. If we do that then we ought to allow those who have no kids in school not to pay school taxes at all.

    instead, those advocating “vouchers” want the ENTIRE per student budget given to them, which SUBTRACTS not only their own contribution, but those of their neighbors form the pool of funds that are designated for the public service of said school

    Actually, no voucher program I’ve ever heard of gives the full amount paid for a kid in public school to the parent for private school. They usually only give about 75% value. The rest still goes to the public school. That answers the issue of depriving the public school kids of money, because the kids who stay in public school end up getting more money for each person who uses a voucher – and if what the NEA keeps claiming is true that spending more money will solve the problems, then vouchers should result in GREAT public schools as more kids leave and there’s more money left for those who remain. Except, of course, money isn’t the answer. The answer is accountability and the pressure of competition, and that’s what vouchers provide.

    if those interested woudl spend a fraction fo the time and effort they put forth in advocating THEFT from their communities into actually studying the mistakes of their locally elected School Boards(who, after all allocate how the budget is spent)…and insured that far less resources went into say…sports teams, and more went into the ACTUAL education fo their children…supplemented by parental involvement directly into what said children are learning and the amount fo Work they actually do towards said education…

    I worked for 6 years in the PTA and the CAC in our school district to get them to do something about even the smallest problems and despite being elected as a leader by the parents of our school and having access to board members and administreators I couldn’t get a single damned thing done because of the teachers unions and the entrenched bureaucracy.

    Dave

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    what about this…when I lived here on active duty, the school district applied to the fed for funds…I didn’t pay property or sales tax most of the time…shopping at the commissary and exchange…so you suppose a private school would be able to apply for those funds??? prolly not…

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Actually, Andy. They certainly could. When my parents were in the foreign service those funds were available to us too when we were overseas and could be used at any kind of school including private schools and boarding schools. Same was true for military folks we knew at the time.

    Dave

  • SonnyD

    The whole idea behind all tax payers pay to educate children is that an educated society is better for everyone, whether they have children or not. Each school district receives X dollars for each student enrolled. If part of that X dollars is used for a voucher to attend a private school where the student receives a better education, then you get a better educated society. The taxpayer gets more bang for the buck. Everyone is better off. Nothing was stolen from anyone.

    The only reason tax dollars went only to public schools in the first place was the question of whether the private schools would deliver the same level quality of education. If the schools that accept vouchers agree to give the same standardized tests that public schools give there should be no problems.

    Nobody is stealing money from the taxpayer. In fact, they will finally start getting what they have been paying for all along and not getting.

    I fully agree, something should be done about improving the public school system. Good luck with that. The quality of public education has been going downhill for the last 50 years. Parents and the public in general have been complaining and trying to come up with solutions, all to no avail. Cutting back on a few programs, like sports, doesn’t even scratch the surface.

    Then, there is another major problem that nobody is addressing at all. Most of today’s teachers are a product of this same failed system. They can’t teach what they were never taught. Not all teachers, of course, some of them went to private schools or were home schooled or had parents who were able to supplement what the public schools gave.

    There are so many reasons why schools are spending tons of money on everything but the job they are supposed to be doing. I don’t see how it can ever be fixed.

  • gonzo marx

    alas, it seems some have missed a crucial part of my Point

    you see, those schools are a Public asset for the town whose taxes pay for them

    can we Agree there?

    and whereas i Understand the frustration and point being made in the last paragraph of comment #135, i must strenuously assert the problem lies with those who manage and assign the budget…the local School Board

    THERE is the root of the difficulty, they are the ones who set the priorities, hire the Administrators, buy the book and basically are supposed to manage the public asset of the schools in the names of the local taxpayers…

    it is those elected Representatives who are charged with the Responsibility for ensuring the highest level of education for our children

    it is therefore THEIR Responsibility, in a very real and literal sense

    comment #135 laments the “NEA and entrenched beaurocracy” for the problems…and this is partially correct, but not completely…for NEITHER control the Agenda nor the purse strings

    the School Board does

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Ah, but the school board is controlled by the NEA and their threats, lawsuits and money. Did you see the John Stossel report last night? In New York they have a special room at one of their public schools called the ‘rubber room’ where they assign teachers who have molested students but who they can’t fire because of the NEA. They just sit in the room all day and draw their salary. That’s the system you’re making excuses for, gonzo.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    comment #140 again mistakes my rants and Observation for “defense” of something

    nothing can be further from the Truth

    in actuality what i am attemnpting is to communicate the underlying root cause of a Problem for Identification and Repair

    systemic diagnostics is what i do for a living, after all..i just can’t help it

    as for Stossel..no i missed that report, as i would intentionally skip any alleged “journalist” who begins from a partisan viewpoint (hence why my news quotes come from AP, Reuters, Xinua and other “who,what,where,when,how” sources)

    if what you allege is correct, then of course it is wrong and shoudl be corrected

    but start at the Root…the School Board, and much will become easier…anyone who has observed their petty squabbles, clueless decision making, spineless behavior, and blatant pandering in order to gain favor for re-election…has observed much of what is inherently wrong not only with our School system…but with the current state of american politics in microcosm

    /end hijack of Thread

    Excelsior!

  • SonnyD

    Gonzo: Have you ever diagnosed a system that was so riddled with errors that the best solution was to throw it out and start fresh with something better?

  • gonzo marx

    interesting take, SonnyD…

    the short Answer is…that isn’t an Option and that ANY “systemic failure” can be repaired if the Resources are available

    you begin by finding the Root cause of the errors, and then work your way “outward” as you correct them

    but i digress

    Excelsior!

  • SonnyD

    That’s a mighty big IF, Gonzo. “…if the Resources are available.” Go back to around 1960 when there was a big push to modernize education. New classes were introduced, like the New Math, that didn’t teach math at all. New methods of teaching like don’t teach phonics. Just put books in front of children, they’ll pick it up on their own. The whole system went a little crazy trying to be modern.

    Then it was get rid of all these old fashioned small neighborhood schools where teachers knew all the students and most of their parents. Build consolidated schools, it was supposed to save money. Big schools were built, big administrative departments were filled with overpaid people who did little but dream up more crazy modern ideas. Then huge fleets of buses were bought and maintained or bus services contracted for. Don’t have to tell you what happened when fuel prices started going up. It was costing much more than the old local schools.

    They had to save money somewhere. Did they cut back on the top heavy administration departments? No, they cut the number of classes offered and made the classes larger and harder to manage. They cut all the frills like music appreciation. Did you know that exposure to good music can improve a childs ability to learn. Well, they didn’t.

    After the move to large schools, problems with drugs and other disruptive behavior increased rapidly. Then the teacher’s job changed from teaching to just trying to maintain order and keeping anyone from getting hurt-including the teacher.

    Now, add the problem I mentioned earlier of two generations of teachers that were not properly taught, themselves.

    There’s your underlying problem-problems, already identified. As far as repair goes, refer back to Dave Nalle’s comment. I give up.

  • gonzo marx

    SonnyD…i agree with much of what you have stated…

    but you seem to have missed my Point..

    in each of the Instances you mention, who made those Decisions?

    who controlled the pruse strings and made those Choices

    simplicity itself…as i stated, the local School Boards did..

    some from the highest, but simpleminded Ideals….many from pure politics

    unfortunately, since those are not “glamorous” positions…very few qualified individuals run for those Offices…and good folks stood outside the “Board” and tried, but were stymied by those self serving politicos who held their seats on the Board

    you want to change and repair the System we are speaking of?

    engage the positive/negative feedback loops

    fire the School Boards, and elect those who are willing to do the WORK for the kids, rather than hold the Office for their own egos/purposes

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • SonnyD

    Gonzo: I follow your reasoning, but you are the one missing the point. In your own words again, “…if the Resources are available.” How does one undo 50 plus years of mismanagement and wasted funds? How does one overpower The Old Boy Network and get their cronies tossed out of office? If the school board were to be replaced, how does one fight the power of the teachers union that protects even the most incompetent teacher? What do you do with the mega-schools, how do you move students back to their neighborhoods where parents could get involved even if they were allowed to? In case you were not aware, teachers no longer welcome parents who question the quality of education their children are getting, even when they approach the subject politely.

    So what do you do, take another 50 years making it right? If I had my druthers, I would much prefer having a really good public school system. But, if you would admit that your lovely theories just cannot be put into practice in real life, you could see that people are just trying their best to get decent schooling for their kids, now, not when and if the public schools can be fixed.

  • gonzo marx

    well SonnyD, i can understand your Frustration, and as i said…i DO agree with a lot of it

    but then again, i also see quite a bit of it being “fixxed” all around me, all the time

    to be fair, i also Observe quite a bit getting fucked up too

    i do think that many of the Obstacles you speak about need to be addressed, regardless of which Approach you choose to take…

    overpowering the “Old Boy Network” requires political Will by those effected…they need to do the Work to toss the bastards out, and more Work to get the right folks elected…

    i don’t know where anyoen gets the notion in this day and age that ANY kind of Union, teacher’s or otherwise is so fucking “powerful”…this is quite the Myth perpetrated by Management types and the Wall Street Journal that those who actually DO the Work are the Evil Ones Incarnate

    most of the wrong and waste occurs in Adminstration, Sports Programs, and that type of false “priorities” imposed by the School Board and their petty “pet projects”

    as for the anecdotal bit you raised about teachers not wanting parents involvement…is this a direct Observation on your part or another generality?

    my direct experience is that the exact Opposite is MUCH more prevalent…that Teachers WANT parents to be MUCH more involved…a decent portion of the Problem is that not enough Parents ARE involved in the education of their own children…expecting them to be warehoused and babysat for the day…

    and of course, NEVER wanting to admit that their little Johnny could EVER do anything wrong

    THAT is as much a problem as the poor Administration of the school systems themselves

    i don’t know about you, but i knew better than to ever think i could “get away” with any of the bullshit that is very common with some kids currently…my home work HAD to be done, and my grades exemplary…or else

    this still occurs in many segments of the population…more frequently with the children of naturalized Immigrants, it seems…far too many American born Parents just can’t be bothered

    do i think “bad” teachers need to be fired?

    of course

    do i think that the Waste in bloated Administration budgets could be better served in actually teachign kids?

    yep

    but then again, i would like to see gym teachers be ex-military martial artists…to ensure that there woudl always be at least ONE person around the school that NO kid could bullshit their way past (ex-Boot camp Instructors would be best)

    plenty of Options…but they ALL involve Involvement and Work

    but hell, it’s easier to place the blame on scapegoats rather than examine and repair that ACTUAL problems

    you want to help your kids NOW?

    pay attention to what tey are Learning..or not…buy what books you know they SHOULD read, and make them read them…talk with them about the Subject matter…STOP spoiling them by giving them things rather than giving them your Time and Attention…be their Parent not their Friend

    but i know you know that…spread THAT “word” to those who express their concern…and while you are at it…kick the fucking bums out and take back the schools you have

    it happens here in Maine all the time (taking over the school board thing, would that more Parents Be Parents)

    i sincerely hope that helps

    Excelsior!

  • SonnyD

    Gonzo: Re: The cost of sports programs, parents,at least in my neck of the woods, have to pay a hefty fee for their kids to take part. There isn’t any money in the school budget to cover it. I’m not wild about them being bussed all over the state to play other teams, but there are kids, boys especially, who only stay in school because they love sports.

    Re: Teachers wanting parent involvement. I would venture a guess that better teachers want it and less qualified teachers are the ones who are too busy to give you a few minutes except the required five minutes on parent-teacher day when they blow a bunch of smoke about how great your kids are and rush you out the door.

    Yes, there are parents who don’t give a damn. I hope they are the minority. The parents I know do care.

    Come to think of it, my parents never paid any attention to whether or not I did my home work. They both worked and I don’t think either of them ever spoke to one of my teachers. As it happened, I took some personal pride in my ability to make good grades. Must have been a weird kid.

    I understand your call for action. I’m glad some people in Maine are having success. But, how many school districts are there in this country and how many will have that kind of success? And, if not enough parents are willing or able to do the same, what, they get the schools they deserve? Yes, the parents do, but it’s the kids who will suffer. I still say, if all else fails, and this voucher system wakes up some rotten school systems and they realize they had better get their poop in a group or lose the money they haven’t been earning, then use the tools you have at hand.

    Have a good trip and return safely.

  • Dave Nalle

    as for Stossel..no i missed that report, as i would intentionally skip any alleged “journalist” who begins from a partisan viewpoint

    Stossel’s ‘viewpoint’ is that of supporting individual liberty and common sense. I don’t have a problem with that particular bias. I wish more reporters had it.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    a fair enough assessment and set of Concerns, Sonny..and my appreciation for your well wishes on the trip(gotta head for the airport in a few hours)

    thanks as well for the calm and rational discussion

    the Concept of vouchers doesn’t bother me..it is the actual theft from the system, and the town asset of the school

    as you obviously understand, when something goes wrong, i tend to hold those in charge Accountable and expect them to fix the problem..or they get replaced

    my worry about vouchers is that not only the math i outlined previously…but the dismal spiral it will induce

    if the school is decent or borderline…and some folks start taking money out of said system..it will deteriorate…this may “fix” a short term problem for some fo the students…but will make those that remain infinitely worse…so more leave…more money gone…until only a handful remain in a facility that cannot be maintained adequately

    you see the problems with your “fix”?

    no one said it would be easy, either way…but it is in discussion such as this that the Problem can be defined, chewed on and hopefully…eventually…made better rather than worse

    Excelsior!

  • gonzo marx

    comment #149 sez…
    *Stossel’s ‘viewpoint’ is that of supporting individual liberty and common sense.*

    i disAgree…as with many, such may indeed be the alleged position he espouses…but such may not be the actuality as perceived by others

    Editorializing is fine and provides much useful info

    but when it is attempted to be “sold” as straight journalism or reporting…i do NOT care WHO is doing it…then i go to another source

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior!

  • Dave Nalle

    So no argument no matter how well supported will persuade you, gonzo? Then what’s the point of even bothering to try to talk to you? You apparently have a completely closed mind.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    again..comment #52 seesm to miss the Point

    my Mind is not closed, or even inflexible about most Issues

    however, i will not call a “duck” a “chicken”…nor a “use of force” a “declaration of war”…nor an “editorialist” a “reporter”…no matter who may assert it is so

    definitions are crucial, and very Important to me

    those that attempt to redefine things to suit their needs and Agenda have difficulties with the likes of me…

    and no one needs to “bother”, i comment to gather my own Thoughts, learn some things and in the hope i can get even one person to think or grin due to my crazed typings

    but it’s still a “duck”

    Excelsior!

  • Dave Nalle

    But gonzo, you admitted in #149 that you’re basically not listening or interested in listening no matter how valid the argument or how strong the evidence. Self reliance is a virtue, but nothing is virtuous when taken to extremes.

    Dave

  • Alice

    gonzo, you’re not listening no matter how valid the argument or how strong the evidence.

    Just because it walks, quacks, and looks like a duck, the evidence is inconclusive.

    Listen to Elmer Fudd.

  • simp-boy 88

    So far, gonzo is my hero. I’ve been reading and
    I love arguments. I say that our county was founded by xtremely religious people. So having a separation was (or should’ve been) a major problem seeing as most pilgrams wanted freedom of religion. Religous leaders often equals religious government. Am I right?

  • Sully

    You are incorrect on a point of fact. The Catholic Church is not, nor has it ever been the official church of the Republic of Ireland. The 1922 Constitution that established the Free State made no mention of the church. The 1937 Constitution acknowledged the Church’s “special position” as the church of the majority of the population, however it also recognized several Protestant denominations and Juadaism. The Church was removed from its “special position” in the 5th Amendment of the 1972 Constitution and freedom of religion was fully ensconced in the political fabric.

    That being said, despite the lack of official standing, the Church is VERY influential through its civic organizations at influencing the nature and passage of legislation to ensure a pro-catholic and dogmatically compliant government environment.

  • Joel

    This is obviously an old post, but I wished to chime in. As the author stated, baby America wanted to sever itself from the historical tyranny of heads of state and church. I think it fair to consider that whilst the founding fathers may have had their religious views, they realized a government run by one part government of the people and another part government of the morals was too excessive.

    And that is what it boils down to, really. Government regulates society while church regulates individuals. To pair them both is a political atomic bomb that has never gone too well in the past. Spanish Inquisition, Crusades, Jihad….

    Government should only seek to maintain standards of society based on actions that could cause harm. Anything more, especially in the realm of the subjective topic of morality, is an abuse of power. Period.

  • jadams

    touché Joel… touché.

    On a larger note, I too found the sum enjoyingly, insightful, from the entirety of raillery, net argument, view, cause & spin. Well done!

  • Thomas Zachary Seward

    I read your post and feel sad. Yours is a position of hate and digging heels into the ground so deep that you don’t care what is fact and what isn’t. I’ll rebut, but please read what I say before you reply, if you reply. My argument is not aggressive, but informational.

    “To those from the secular humanist persuasion, it means that the state can make no public acknowledgement of religion.”
    Actually, the state can acknowledge the existence of religion all they want. They just can’t support one over the other.

    “Have no religious displays”
    Actually, they /CAN/ have religious displays if they are open to having any and all willing religions displaying.

    “recognize no tax exemptions for churches”
    Actually, if the church had a homeless shelter or anything of merit to be legally considered ‘charity’, the actively protesting secular humanists would absolutely be willing to make an exception. As it stands, churches are raking in the dough with nothing coming back to the feds.

    “and goes so far to regulate even religious expressions of private individuals in the public arena out of line.”
    I don’t know where you heard this, but secular humanism isn’t an organization. It’s an ideology. Public expression is fine as long as it doesn’t go into hate speech. I think even you’d agree that hate speech is wrong.

    “One also hears that any attempt by others to ‘moralize’ or use any religious values to argue for a policy should be silenced.”
    That’s because it’s the government or an entity of the government supporting one religion over another.

    “On the other hand, there are those who believe the matter is simply that the government should not establish an official state church”
    This is another point with which secular humanists agree.

    “or that a church should not be anointing officials in the government.”
    Well that’d make the USA an oligarchy, wouldn’t it?

    “Other than that, people should believe and practice how they see fit.”
    Absolutely. Just because I am a humanist doesn’t mean I think everyone should blindly follow suit.

    “Both sides couch their arguments on constitutional theories, some involving Thomas Jefferson’s ‘wall of separation’ letter.”
    Thomas Jefferson’s letter, no matter how persuasive to his constituents, was not a legal bill or law. Just because he believed that the federal government and the churches should be separated in all matters does not mean he was right in these beliefs. There are many people (the congress of 1878 for instance) who believe this document is a translation of the terms within the first amendment. Actually, there was a man named Roger Williams who fled Massachusetts to form Rhode Island to form a “hedge of or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world” to keep the government out of his church. How’s that for turning the argument against the humanists?

    “To consider this issue, it is important to look at the historical situation of the framers and what they intended.”
    Let’s do this, but take out any opinions from the author and add facts that were conveniently removed.

    “To recap, they [the whole of the colonies] were declaring independence from the King of England. There is *an* important title for the monarch of England that is relevant to this issue, ‘Supreme Governor of the Church of England’. *The Church of England is the national religion of England.* This ensured that his political reach *was absolute.* This led *to absolute monarchical power.*

    The founders wanted to set up a secular state[1][3]. They declared independence because of a long train of abuses and usurpations *which isn’t actually true. Although a constitutional monarchy, England’s king had absolute sway over what passed into law. Call it royal influence.* of government power against its people. They were concerned about matters of tyranny, not theology. The Boston Tea Party was about taxes. The Declaration itself made liberal use of religion[2] in general, as did the Founders in their public statements. Even in Jefferson’s Wall letter, he expresses religious sentiment and asks for prayers[1][3].

    The choice of phrase is important, “separation of church and state”. Jefferson doesn’t say separation of religion and state.-(that’s why the religious are allowed to serve in the government) *sadly, Jefferson never stated anything about institutional separation, or there would be no debate to have.* It wasn’t the ideas *of religion* that the Founders were afraid of which is why they were perfectly free praying together and expressing religious sentiment in public documents and speeches[1][3].

    The results of institutional mingling of churches and governments are quite clear in history and it hasn’t been beneficial for the state or the church. However, this is a far cry from divining an intent that projects the idea that ‘religion is all that’s wrong with the world’ upon the Founders[1][3].
    There was a camp among the Founders who believed that a free society required a religious people and yet still continued to allow free association between the various churches *which has nothing to do with religious influence on the government through politicians or religious institutions*.

    However, the crowd pushing separation most vigorously also is the crowd that’s trying to regulate certain religious beliefs out of existence.(This last sentence is completely untrue and it’s insulting to generalize a whole ideology as hateful and anti-freedom.) Pharmacists aren’t allowed to express their religious sentiments about abortion and retain their jobs. (They absolutely are as long as hate-speech/slander and threats are not involved in the expression of such sentiments.) The argument is that they shouldn’t take the job if they don’t follow a pre-defined ethical construct approved by the government. Catholic hospitals are consistently fighting attempts to force them to provide abortions despite their clear religious teaching. (This is only in a Catholic monopolized area. Again, the generalizations.) Catholic Charities in California are required to recognize ‘gay marriage’ despite their own beliefs. (this is a state issue, and since the state of California recognizes same-sex partnerships, the institutions performing the ceremony and writing up paperwork are legally bound to their own contractual obligations. Additionally, the Pope has recently spoken for same-sex marriage) Schoolchildren (a.k.a. individual citizens not to be confused with government officials) are told that they aren’t allowed to pray or have Bible studies on school property *AKA state and federal property*. In one case, school children *legally adults* were threatened with federal prison if they *prayed during a state funded public school activity*. The IRS has investigated churches for preaching against abortion*, posted full page ads against Clinton as a presidential candidate, and preached a sermon entitled ‘if Jesus were to debate Kerry and Bush,’ something that is illegal. Support of any candidate negates tax-exempt status*. In short, the wall of separation is growing to enforce *the law*.

    When right-wing churches complained about IRS harassment, the left-wing told them to stop talking about abortion instead *which is the reason for IRS scrutiny. Speaking on issues of law is how tax exemption is revoked*. However, when an anti-war sermon brought the IRS, the left-wing cried foul, *which is ignorant. The law is the law.* The problem with state regulation of *state-endorsed religion* is that its regulation will serve its own interests, usually on sale to the highest bidder. *Oh, how true. The government is full of inept, greedy politicians.* The Founders were rightly concerned about this abuse, which is why in the same breath of saying the State should establish no official religion; it should also in no way restrict reasonable expressions of religion. *By reasonable expression, I hope you mean stopping just short of writing bills and proposing laws based deeply in religious views.*

    The First Amendment doesn’t require regulating religion into hiding; it requires that church and state remain separate. The mere expression of the word “God” in a speech does not a theocracy make. *By theocracy, you mean oligarchy.*”

    [1] http://www.ecis.com/~alizard/founding-fathers-xtianity.html

    [2] http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

    [3] http://www.barefootsworld.net/founding.html

    My rebuttal is within the confines of your article. While I agree that the separation of church and state does not allow for sway, your points about secular humanism are so wrong it’s not funny. Yes, there are some hypocrites out there who want a state non-church endorsement, but most of us realize that is not what the first amendment states. Most of the founding fathers were anti-religion, but they supported religious freedom, so long as it didn’t influence the government in any way. The links (1 & 3) I have presented you are quotes from both letters and speeches by the founding fathers on why they were against religion. The link (2) is actually a transcript of the Constitution of the United States, and there is only one mention of “Lord” and that is when they are stating the signing date. That’s tradition. No mention of the words god, Jesus, messiah, holy, or any other religious term except twice. The word “religion” in the first amendment and the word “religious” in the 6th article saying there will be no religious test required to qualify for office. THAT law has been broken in 8 states’ constitutions. Since Texas’ constitutional rights are “higher” than most others’, it doesn’t actually count, but it is a state.

    Arkansas (Article 19 Section 1)
    Maryland (Article 37)
    Mississippi (Article 14, Section 265)
    North Carolina (Article 6 Section 8)
    Pennsylvania (Article 1 Section 4)
    South Carolina (Article 17 Section 4)
    Tennessee (Article 9 Section 2)
    Texas (Article 1 Section 4)

    I look forward to your reply.