Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

The House of Representatives passed this important piece of legislation: HR847 Recognizing the Importance of Christmas and the Christian Faith. East Tennessee's jolly old Saint Davis was one of the sponsors.

This is just weird. After a bunch of Whereas clauses, they came up with this:

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

      (1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world;

      (2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide;

      (3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith;

      (4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;

      (5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and

      (6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.

Here is my Christmas present to Rep. Davis and the House. It is a website that has the text of a mysterious, secret document that our congressional representatives will want to read.

Hat tip to Ponderings.

37 comments:

  1. For the record, here's the list of No votes:

    Ackerman (D-NY)
    Clarke (D-NY)
    DeGette (D-CO)
    Hastings (D-FL)
    Lee (D-CA)
    McDermott (D-WA)
    Scott (D-VA)
    Stark (D-CA)
    Woolsey (D-CA)

    Voted "Present" (i.e., showed up but refused to vote either way):

    Conyers (D-MI)
    Frank (D-MA)
    Holt (D-NJ)
    Payne (D-NJ)
    Pence (R-IN)
    Schakowsky (D-IL)
    Schwartz (D-PA)
    Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
    Welch (D-VT)
    Yarmuth (D-KY)

    My own Rep, John Lewis (D-GA) voted in favor, and he's got some 'splaining to do.

    However, this has the legal force of those dumb resolutions honoring motherhood and Sorghum Awareness Week. Still, it'd be nice if they'd use their time to pass something to end the war.

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  2. flycandler, you forgot my good ole man Ron Paul, who also voted no:

    No Vote TX-14 Paul, Ronald [R]

    see:
    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2007-1143

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  3. John,

    Isn't it sad that we Grinches and Spawns of Satan hate Christmas so much that we would question the value of a resolution such as this.

    Won't you join me in a little repenting? I'm sure it's the least you and I could do -- after all we do hate Christmas!

    Oh, by the way have a Merry Christmas!

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  4. Considering that a hate crime was recently conducted by Christians against Jews who said "Happy Hannukah" on a New York subway, a resolution like this addresses a non-problem. The real war seems to be by Christians against non-Christians who may celebrate non-Christian holidays (or no holiday at all) this time of the year.

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  5. By the way, Ron Paul does NOT support the separation of church and state. See what he wrote here for an example of this. In that essay, Paul wrote that "the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view," and he claims that there is no constitutional separation of church and state. Bill O'Reilly, launcher of hysterical tirades against the alleged "War on Christmas") couldn't have said it better himself.

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  6. Next week we will see this resolution:
    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

    (1) recognizes that all puppies are inherently cute;

    (2) expresses continued support for puppies in the United States and worldwide;

    (3) acknowledges the international historical importance of cute puppies;

    (4) acknowledges and supports the role played by cute puppies throughout the world in making all but the most hardened say "aaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwww";

    (5) rejects the argument that kittens are at least as cute as puppies; and

    (6) expresses its deepest adoration of cute puppies throughout the world.

    It is going to unlease a firestorm throughout the cat-loving community.

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  7. Ordinarily, laws about religion make me Mighty Nervous. But I actually like this one. Why? Because it reassures those who are worried about things that are NOT ACTUALLY HAPPENING (restrictions on practicing the Christian faith in this country) while doing no damage whatsoever in real ways (by restricting the practice of any other religion, or by claiming any kind of preferential treatment of Christians over other people.)

    I'd hope a similar resolution could be passed in the US regarding any religion. I'd especially love it if we passed one like that regarding Muslims.

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  8. Makes one wonder how Jesus even managed to be born without the "protection" of the US House of Representatives. Nothing puts me in the Christmas spirit like having a bunch of liars, crooks and adulterers making sure that we don't somehow forget that it's Christmas on the 25th of December. I might have forgotten otherwise.

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  9. The House did pass one regarding Muslims and Ramadan in October.

    I didn't know that before I made this post. So I suppose on one hand, fair is fair for the Christians to get one as well.

    Yet there is something else going on here. For the U.S. Congress to recognize Muslims in America is about cultural awareness and understanding. It is a form of welcome to a tradition that has not been represented here. It is a form of education and a commitment to build bridges of tolerance and understanding. It was intended to curb this Christian vs. Muslim antagonism.

    This latest measure seems to smack of Christian imperialism. Everyone knows it is freaking Christmas. Christianity is everywhere. The resolution states that Christians make up the vast majority.

    Also, I don't know how Christians are persecuted in the U.S. How is a vast majority persecuted?

    There is something else about this resolution that is odd. It doesn't represent my understanding of Christianity. The Whereas clauses contain a bunch of theology that doesn't reflect my belief anyway.

    As a Christian, I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed that it is a statement that says: "America is ultimately Christian and don't you forget it, foreigners."

    I think this resolution is part of the larger skirmish over the direction of our nation. I, for one, would prefer a religion-less one. Others would prefer a religion-based one.

    What I mean by religion-less is this: Religious belief should not guide our foreign and domestic policies, law, science, or education.

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  10. I see your worry John, but I disagree with you totally on this one. Religion should play a vital role in our domestic and foreign policies, but it should not be imposed upon the citizens. If Christians, Muslims, and Jews would just sit down and talk about their views (I mean really talk) then I believe that they would come to the conclusion that ultimately their faiths have the same goal in mind: that we are all God's children and should be treated with the respect and god-given right that we have been endowed with. The war we are fighting today is religion versus pseudo-religion and secularism.

    I would be more worried about taking God completely out of the picture. If we become a religious-less state and take God completely out of the picture, what would prevent the state from treating us like a herd of cows? "Religious concepts that regard man as being created in the image of God according to Christianity, or as the vicegerent of God on earth according to the Koran, provide the proper underpinning for human rights. If we regard human beings as mere flesh and blood, as economic consumers or as animals in a human zoo, we would have fewer qualms about suppressing their rights than if we believe that human beings have an intrinsic value in themselves, that they are masters of their own fate, that they are the children of God and that they are related to us as members of a universal human family." see
    http://lass.calumet.purdue.edu/cca/jgcg/2007/sp07/jgcg-sp07-jahanpour.htm

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  11. Rachel,

    I also just commented on your question regarding education on the Ron Paul post.

    I think the difference here is between religious belief and/or creed on one hand and ethics and/or wisdom on the other. We can know the intrinsic value of human life without religion.

    The spiritual traditions do have common values regarding wisdom (ie. the Golden Rule). The problem is when creeds isolate us, pit us against one another, or are confused with absolute truth.

    At First Pres. we do celebrate wisdom from different traditions and dialogue with folks from different religious traditions quite often, despite the howl of heresy from my evangelical colleagues.

    Certainly, our great spiritual traditions contain wisdom and ethics. We should avail ourselves of those resources. On a previous post I even recommended that we teach religion and sacred texts (from an historical, literary, and sociological perspective) in public schools. I think we can teach wisdom in school as well. Wisdom is what I mean by values such as care for ourselves, for others, for Earth.

    The reason we have separation of church and state is because creeds and absolute truth claims become battle grounds rather than uniting forces.

    What prevents us from being treated as a herd of cows? Democracy and our Constitution and guts to speak and act so that those rights are not taken away from us by religious zealots of any stripe.

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  12. Thanks Reverend Shuck for clearing that up.

    I am exactly on the same page as you, and I believe wholeheartedly, despite claims by some on this blog, that Ron Paul holds a similar stance. Why else would he vote against the resolution being passed?

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  13. A meaningless resolution that's basically a "ok, ok here's your sudo-faith-on-paper now shut up and go home" kind of a thing.

    After all, these people like David Davis and his minions that like to drag Jesus through the political mud at every opportunity, have only the faith that they can touch. Nothing of the spirit.

    If it's not on paper, or in the flesh, or in the form of a Cadillac or some green-mail, they simply cannot conceive it.

    This resolution accomplished nothing other than to pat the Evanganoids on the butt and send them home. Maybe now they'll feel secure in their "faith" since congress told them it was ok to believe in God.

    Perhaps congress passed this in hopes that the whining will stop.
    If so, the shouldn't hold their breath.

    I speak in opposition to this not because it collides with the constitution (jail for poor attendance comes next), but because it portrays faith in Jesus as something that must be legislated instead of kept in one's heart. Perhaps if one has no heart in which to keep Him....

    Woe to those that need man's approval to worship God.

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  14. Hey TN, you wrote:

    "... it portrays faith in Jesus as something that must be legislated instead of kept in one's heart."

    Very nicely put...

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  15. Rachel, you're entirely wrong on Ron Paul's vote on this resolution. Follow the link I gave; it's the actual roll call vote from the Clerk of the House.

    Ron Paul did not show up to vote at all, along with 39 of his colleagues (including Tom Tancredo, who is probably also out in Iowa).

    RON PAUL DID NOT VOTE AGAINST THE RESOLUTION.

    Ron Paul does NOT believe in the separation of church and state, which is crucial to the integrity of both entities.

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  16. John you said:
    "Yet there is something else going on here. For the U.S. Congress to recognize Muslims in America is about cultural awareness and understanding. It is a form of welcome to a tradition that has not been represented here. It is a form of education and a commitment to build bridges of tolerance and understanding. It was intended to curb this Christian vs. Muslim antagonism."

    Yet which Muslim cultural tradition is being taught: Pakistani, Indonesian, Moroccan, Iraqi, or better yet Baluch, Bahasa, Berber, or Turkomen? To say this is the Muslim culture is like describing Sudan's culture for all of Africa. It isn't about culture, it's about religion.

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  17. Flycandler, I was wrong. I misinterpreted No Vote to mean a no vote on the bill.

    You are totally wrong when you say he does not support separation of church and state.

    PAUL IS A STRICT CONSTITUTIONALIST, PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

    You believe what you want to. I am going to do my part to save the freedoms I enjoy for the future of my son by voting for Dr. Paul in the primaries, which he will win. Look for the money that will be raise on Dec. 16th, tea Party 08'.

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  18. **Religion should play a vital role in our domestic and foreign policies, but it should not be imposed upon the citizens.**

    But if you remove the creeds from the picture, you are removing religion. All you're left with is a value system of morals in that all humans deserve respect. You don't need religion for that.

    **If we become a religious-less state and take God completely out of the picture, what would prevent the state from treating us like a herd of cows? **

    People have been treated like herds of cows even with God in the picture. Look at how kings treated peasants throughout the centuries.

    People don't need God in the picture in order to find value in human life, or in order to feel that every human should be equal.

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  19. You are totally wrong when you say he does not support separation of church and state.

    Wrong.

    Read what Ron Paul himself said. I provided a link in an earlier comment to what he wrote. He has totally pandered to the religious right in his views on this subject. If you go the link and read what he himself has said, he insists that there is no constitutional separation of church and state (not true, but this assertion is constantly repeated by those on the religious right who want to promote Christian primacy in American society). He also claims that "the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage," and that "Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war." In other words, Ron Paul has bought lock, stock and barrel into the Bill O'Reilly "war on Christmas" BS.

    Ron Paul, with all due respect, is a total moron.

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  20. People don't need God in the picture in order to find value in human life, or in order to feel that every human should be equal.

    Exactly. Atheists are perfectly capable of being moral people, human rights does not depend on religious belief, and religious societies have often done a pretty good job of herding people like cows.

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  21. OneSmallStep,

    What a wonderful world that would be, if all humans were intelligent enough to reach self-actualization and the highest level of morality.

    We are not ready to do away with religion. How many people do you know have reached the highest level of morality acording to Kohlberg's theory on the six stages of moral reasoning?

    Here are the six levels:

    Stage One: Children obey rules in order to avoid being punished.
    Stage Two: Children do things out of their own needs and desires, but they are aware of others desires.
    Stage Three: Good-behavior is whatever pleases or helps others and is approved by others.
    Stage Four: Law and Order-doing one's duty and showing respect to authority.
    Stage Five: "Social-Contract Orientation" -What is right is determined by general individual rights that have been agreed on by society.
    Stage Six: "Universal Ethical Principle Orientation" -What is right is defined by decision of conscience according to self-chosen ethical practices. These are abstract and ethical (such as the Golden Rule), not specific moral prescriptions (such as the Ten Commandments).

    Humans are not ready to remove religion. We need religion because most of the population has not reached the fifth or sixth level of moral reasoning and probably never will. I would bet that most people are in stage four, and that is why I would argue that we need religion. Religion lays out a good set of values and morals, such as the Ten Commandments for example, that help people define the way in which they can live a moral/ethical life.

    Since humans haven't reached the highest two levels, and they mostly do things based upon law and order, I believe that we should have limited government. For example, I don't believe that smoking marijuana is any less morally wrong than drinking alcohol. But since our society has legalized alcohol and prohibited marijuana, many people, or preachers for that matter, would say that smoking marijuana is a worse evil than drinking alcohol. Or take abortion. It should not be left to the state to decide if this is a moral or immoral act. It is an individual thing to each person. Roe vs. Wade legalizes abortion (before so many months). Since many people are on Stage Four, they might feel that abortion is morally acceptable based primarily on it being a law.

    I believe, we need religion to keep our standards of morality high. I also love diverse religions because it defines who we are culturally. Religion also gives us tradition and it provides us with hope.

    What hope or traditions or diversity will a religious-less world or nation provide us with?

    Why do we need a single religion or a single non-religion?

    I believe diversity is what defines who we are as humans.

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  22. ** How many people do you know have reached the highest level of morality acording to Kohlberg's theory on the six stages of moral reasoning?**

    I would say Stage Five is used a lot -- society had a huge factor in ending slavery, in promoting women's rights and child labor laws.

    **Since many people are on Stage Four, they might feel that abortion is morally acceptable based primarily on it being a law. **

    I realize you are using this as a general example, but I don't know anyone who finds abortion morally or immorally acceptable based on it being a law. It has nothing to do with how legal abortion is itself.

    **Religion lays out a good set of values and morals, such as the Ten Commandments for example, that help people define the way in which they can live a moral/ethical life. **

    The 10 Commandments? Three/Four of those have nothing to do with moral/ethics. It has to do with not taking God's name in vain, not building an idol, and not having other Gods before God. The only way those define anything is if there's a pre-determined idea of what God is, and that varies between religions. There's also keeping the Sabbath holy.

    The others have nothing to do with religion, in terms of theft, false witness, murder, adultery, honoring parents, and not coveting.

    **we need religion to keep our standards of morality high.**

    Except throughout history, we can see that religion accomplishes the exact opposite. We simplly need to keep the moral standard high, for the sake of morality itself or for the sake of our fellow neighbor.

    **What hope or traditions or diversity will a religious-less world or nation provide us with?**

    No one's pushing for this -- they simply do not religion, as a set of beliefs about God, to dictate laws passed or policies followed. If your religion advocates that Jesus is coming back in the next two years, then it's going to radically alter how you defend this nation, or even help this nation.

    **Why do we need a single religion or a single non-religion?**

    You have diversity without religion. People are unique, without it. I'm not advocating for one religion/non-religion to use in one's life. But religion cannot be used to govern people. Any time the church and state have mixed, it has not gone well, because of the connections between the church and absolute truth.

    It might help if we define "religion." As I said earlier, if the creed aspect is removed, you no longer have religion, you simply have a value system. A religion is defined by a service/worship of God, or commited to a faith. But part of that involves a definition of God. Saying that one shouldn't kill or steal is not making a statement about God. Saying that God is the Father is making a statement about God. So if religion is being used in policies, then it's using the creeds -- an idea of God or Allah or a Hindu God. And those should not be used.

    But to use the concept of loving one's neighbor? Of serving social justice? Those should be, but they do not require religion in order to followed.

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  23. Mystical Seeker,

    I did read Ron Paul's letter. Let me give you my interpretation of it:

    He is expressing his concern that we are losing the Christmas tradition in America to secularism. He gives examples of plays and nativitiy scenes that have been banned in America over the past decade. Essentially he says he feels like Christmas is being turned into a Season's Greetings Holiday where the traditions of Christianity are being replaced with secularism---the Christ story has been down-played.

    The last two paragraphs of his letter our vital. He is reminding the people that the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. I quote what he says: "The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life."

    "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government. This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war."


    There is a war going on in this world, and I believe it is a war of religion versus psuedo-religion and secularism. It is on a personal level, national level, and global level. The Middle East does not want our materialistic, secular ways, and I personally can't blame them for that.
    But military war and violence is not the answer to find peace- dialogue is the only way to peace, and this is Ron Paul's message.

    Ron Paul, like myself, is religiously tolerant of all people, including atheists. I believe he puts God before the world--spirituality before material--where is the harm in that?

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  24. Ron Paul, like myself, is religiously tolerant of all people, including atheists. I believe he puts God before the world--spirituality before material--where is the harm in that?

    As a matter of personal morality, there is nothing wrong with that. As a matter of public policy, I happen find it extremely objectionable. Unlike Ron Paul, I believe in the separate of church and state. Unlike Ron Paul, I don't believe that Christianity should be given primacy in public policy. And unlike Ron Paul, Bill O'Reilly, and the others of that ilk who believe that there is a supposed "war on Christmas", I recognize that there is in fact no such thing, that saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is about respecting people of non-Christian faiths, including, for example, Jews.

    And Ron Paul's comments about how people on the left hate religion is utter nonsense. That kind of crap might play well with his Texas constituency, but it simply isn't true.

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  25. Mystical Seeker,

    You have misconstrued Ron Paul's position.

    Ron Paul upholds the Constitution and the separation of Church and State- everyone is allowed to worship how they wish, including Christians. He says "The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life."


    Ron Paul is against federal laws that don't allow Christians to worship how they wish, for example laws that don't allow bible study or prayer during private lunch breaks in government offices for eg. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. should have a right to practice thier religion as well.

    And for your information, Bill O'Reilly hates Ron Paul. YouTube Bill O' Reilly and Ron Paul to see an interview where Bill O' Reilly slams Dr. Paul's foreign policy of peace.

    Ron Paul is a radical compared to the other Republican candidates.

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  26. Ron Paul upholds the Constitution and the separation of Church and State

    You continue to insist this despite his own words to the contrary.

    And Bill O'Reilly can hate Ron Paul all he wants over the subject of the Iraq War, but that has no bearing on the fact that they are in agreement on the subject of the so-called "War on Christmas". Even Paul's diatribe against the "Left", particularly his sweeping generalization that the "Left" hates religion, is right out of Bill O'Reilly's playbook.

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  27. Thanks Mystical Seeker. You are really forcing me to look at my beliefs.

    I believe that we differ in how we interpret separation of church and state and individual freedom. I quote the following from other blogs on the WWW:

    see: http://digg.com/2008_us_elections/Ron_Paul_on_Religion

    and

    http://liberalvaluesblog.com/?p=1881


    "All I hear when I read this article by Dr. Paul is a man with values and morals. Good morals, despite specific religious affiliation, should always be smiled upon. He is clearly for your freedom to be whatever religion you choose, and he has that same right.

    One blogger writes "I'm a hard line athiest and I'm for Ron Paul, because I know he will never force his religion on anyone. I respect that. He puts freedom and the constitution above all else... that's not something many seem able to do, but he does and to me that makes all the difference."

    Paul says "The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers”
    It depends on what you mean by “rigid separation”, I think you’ve got to take Paul’s quote in the context of the article it was written in. The founders definitely never meant for religion to be stricken from public life, and they certainly never wanted the government to be the tool to do so.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” in no way keeps a congressman from voting on religious principle, or keeps public schools from teaching religion if that is what the constituents of those schools want. All it means is that “congress shall make no law”. They can’t promote religion or damn it. They cannot rule on it at all; its none of their business. The separation is only between legislation and state, not state in its entirety.
    Paul’s objection in the article you cite (where he makes a few serious factual errors I’m surprised you didn’t mention) is that government is often in the business of actively removing religion from public life. This isn’t what the founders intended, and this isn’t what the people who ratified the Constitution thought it meant. I’m agnostic, and I find the idea of parents teaching their children about creationism and not evolution totally abhorrent. But its not my place to force them to do something because I feel I’m smarter than they are.
    I think the prime misunderstanding behind Dr. Paul’s position is because a lot of people today don’t really know what freedom is, as silly as that sounds. They are taught in schools that America is a free country because it is democratic, when of course nothing could be further from the truth. Democracies were not new, and the founders hated the idea of pure ones. People are not free when they have the freedom to use government force to make people live or behave a certain way. People are free when government cannot use force to make people live how other people want them to.
    In my opinion, federal government promotion or abolishment of religion (often through the Supreme Court these days) is a complete perversion of the 1st and 9th amendments. But then, the 9th amendment has been dead for a long time now…

    PLease read this letter by Dr. Paul and let me know if you like his version and the Founding Father's version of Freedom.

    http://www.ronpaul2008.com/articles/161/what-does-freedom-really-mean/

    Oh, and check out how much money (over 4 million) freedom lovers donated to Dr. Paul today on this 16th day of December, in remembrance of the Tea Party.

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  28. Reverend Shuck, I though you might like this since you don't take the bible literally. Neither do I. This is what a fellow supporter of Ron Paul has to say:

    "The strength of a religious tradition will rise or fall in the free market of ideas, right?

    Indeed. Which is exactly what Ron Paul is saying. I am 100% sure that the Bible is a bunch of boring nonsense. However, there is no reason why should prayer be banned from schools or 10 commandments from the courts. Market and individuals should decide locally about these - and not federal courts."


    Secularists who want to tell Christians how to live scare me just as much as fundamentalist Christians!

    What do you think?

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  29. Hey Rachel,

    I am glad you are here and I am quite curious about this Ron Paul movement. I saw high school or college age students (those whom I wouldn't think be interested in politics) passing out Ron Paul literature on the street corner in Elizabethton. I am all for our youth getting interested in politics. If Ron Paul wakes people up, then good for him!

    Now, to your question. I argued something similar, I think, on this post Should the Bible Be Taught in Public Schools

    The post received mixed reviews. My basic argument is that anytime something is banned from the conversation, it increases its dark power. Put the Bible and religion in the light of higher criticism is what I suggest. Get it out of control of the church (and the Republican party).

    What is scaring me now as I read Naomi Wolf's "End of America" is that our nation has the potential and is arguably moving toward a more and more closed society (fascism). We are gradually giving up freedoms and basic human values, let alone the principles of the constitution, for the sake of supposed "security" and an endless mythological war on an undefined enemy.

    The most persuasive argument she has provided so far is the move toward acceptance of torture (by any other name a rose smells as sweet) and prisons (Guantanamo) which now by order of the president any U.S. citizen could be placed as an enemy of the state. She argues that in her book.

    This endless 'war on terror' against evil-doers has taken on mythological overtones in which the American Christian Good Guys are defending the homeland against 'the axis of evil' and so forth.

    I don't think this move toward fascism will work without a religious mythology and Christianity seems to fit that bill. It also will not work if Americans speak out and get involved. That is why I applaud you and your passion.

    Americans need to know that Democracy is fragile and it requires people to think for themselves and to become informed. We are always in danger of losing it. When we reach the point that we think fascism cannot happen here is when we are most vulnerable to it.

    FOX news (the propaganda machine for this new fascism) is all for ten commandments, prayer, 'piety', Christmas, and the myth of a Christian nation in every public place.

    FOX demonizes the secularists. Why? FOX is not pious in the best sense of that word. I don't think any of them has a pious bone in their bodies. But they know good religious medicine when it can serve their cause.

    FOX is not dumb. For instance, they are not looking stupid by doing this 'War on Christmas' nonsense for nothing. This is about creating a mythology of good versus evil.

    Back to your question: my hunch is that you (and perhaps Ron Paul, or at least Ron Paul as you see him), by emphasizing local control over education sees this as one way to beat this move toward fascism and empire-building. More power to local and state governments means less power at the federal level. Is that close?

    I am not a believer in messiahs. I don't get on bandwagons for any particular candidate. I think there is kind of a messiah movement around Ron Paul. Don't get me wrong. I am interested in the movement, not the messiah.

    That is why I am curious about it. What nerve is he touching for folks like you?

    I am not so much interested in you as a supporter of Ron Paul as I am interested in you and your ideas and concerns.

    What do you see as our big problems and what do you think Americans ought to do about them?

    Thanks for reading my long, circling answer to your question!

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  30. Rachel,

    I think I learned something today. At least you made me pay attention to Ron Paul. Thank you! And he voted against the Patriot Act.

    "We must reassert that America is a republic, not a democracy, and remind ourselves that the Constitution places limits on government that no majority can overrule. We must resist any use of the word “freedom” to describe state action. We must reject the current meaningless designations of “liberals” and “conservatives,” in favor of an accurate term for both: statists".

    I have been observing that our democracy is in danger, but what I really mean is that our republic is in danger - from statists on both sides? From totalitarian statists from both sides maybe? Is this why we don't see the liberals making any progress in checking the neo-con abuses? - Are they both statists hoping not to throw out the statist baby with the wash?

    (I do believe it is the right that has the biggest chance at success in bringing about totalitarianism in the US, but I'm against it whether it come from the right OR the left)

    Interesting...

    As the Basks used to say, "Si hay gobierno, soy contra"

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  31. But on second thought,

    America is both a Republic AND a Democracy - >both< of which are in jeopardy.

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  32. I apologize for my silence; I've been at the mercy of a monopolistic cable company whose name shall go unmentioned.

    Rachel, I think it is much more instructive to look at what Ron Paul himself has said, over his entire career and not simply since he announced his run for the Presidency this time around. Someone identifying themselves as a "hardline atheist" telling about their opinion on the separation of church and state tells me nothing about what Ron Paul himself thinks. As I mentioned elsewhere, I've listened to Paul himself on the Thom Hartmann program and he scares me. He's right on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments, but he's wrong on the 1st. The position on church-state relations that I talk about is incidentally the same as that of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

    Whether or not Americans are emotionally "grown up" enough to do without religion as a moral basis (a premise I reject entirely) is irrelevant to government. A government of the people, by the people and for the people will, if the people tend to be religious, has to respect the religiosity of its people. However, the idea of equal justice under the law requires the government to withdraw itself from the religious debate. Whether Roman Catholicism, Protestantism (and its many flavors), Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca or Scientology are superior to the others is not the business of government. Yes, most of the people in the US may be religious, but the government is still obligated to protect people of no religion from being exploited or oppressed by organized religious institutions.

    As a committed Christian, I do not want my church corrupting the government any more than I want the federal government corrupting my church.

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  33. "What do you see as our big problems and what do you think Americans ought to do about them?"

    Sorry it has taken me so long to get around to replying to your letter.

    I believe the biggest problem that faces America is losing our national sovereignty. I do not believe that America can be defeated by a foreign enemy, but I do believe that it can destroy itself from the inside, hence the book you are reading "The End of America."

    There are two battling ideologies happening around the globe. The Elite and powerful of the world want to force their form of globalization on the world. Don't get me wrong, I am for the globalization of moving people, capital and ideas across borders. But the term Globalization has taken on the ideals that the Elites have conceptualized. Their form of globalization is to put most of the resources into the hands of a few small people. They do this by creating so-called free trade agreements, such as the North America Free Trade Area of Americas (NAFTA), which passed by Bill Clinton in '94, and essentially wiped out many of the rural, farming jobs of the Mexicans, polluted their environment, led them to grow and sell drugs, and forced massive migrations to the US. NAFTA took Mexico's economy from 50% totalitarian control to 66% totalitarian control by one elite family. Other trade deals include CAFTA, and deals with South America, where American investors through the working of the Inernational Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) essentially steal the resources of those third-world countries. And you have the Middle East. The war in Iraq is mainly about oil, which was openly admitted by Alan Greenspan himself.

    There is a move now by the Elites (behind closed doors of course) to create the North American Union, uniting America, Canada, and Mexico. They are already making plans to build a Superhighway to connect these neighboring countries. Essentially, when this happens we will be similar to the European Union, except instead of the Euro, we will have the Amero and our constitution will no longer exist. We'll still have the dollar, just like the Europeans still have the pound, it just won't be worth as much. I don't think we will see this happen until a catastropic event hits America, the dollar collapses, we go bankrupt, hit a major recession. Bush will have his war with Iran, in order to put us further in debt and collapse our economy.
    I don't believe that Americans are going to go for this move toward globalization that the Elites have planned out. So you have the so-called war on terrorism. Do I believe that there are Extreme Fundalmentalist Muslims? Yes. Do I think they are a threat to our national soverneighty? No. Bush and the Neo-Cons (who exist on both sides of the parties) have created this myth that you allure to in your poster via mainstream media. You have every right to be worried about the mainstream media propragandizing the people into believing that there is a real threat of our national security from terrorists. The media is controlled by 6% of the Elite, and the airwaves are controlled by the Federal Government. There are plenty of anchors who have gotten out of media who write books about how deceiving the media is. A good read on how the media is used and has always been used as a propaganda tool is Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman.

    Bush and his fellow Neo-con buddies are war criminals and should be tried as such. Look at what he did in Pakistan. The Bush Administration paid the Pakistanian Government between $500,000 to $800,000 for every terror suspect that they turned in. The Government (President Musharraf) was turing over innocent civilians who were kidnapped from their homes just to get this huge sum of money. Wives and mothers reported this to lawyers and the Supreme Court was about to confront Musharraf, but he declared Marshall Law. These abductees were sent to torture shops, where their human rights are being violated, and I'm sure you know the rest of the story. This was in the USA Today, for heavens sake. What is it going to take for people to realize that if our Administration lets this happen overseas, it won't happen here one day?

    "Failure of government programs prompts more determined efforts, while the loss of liberty is ignored or rationalized away...whether its the war against poverty, drugs, terrorism, or the current Hitler of the day, an appeal to patriotism is used to convince the people that a little sacrifice of liberty, here and there, is a small price to pay...The results, though, are frightening and will soon become even more so." -Congressman Ron Paul, December 9th, 2003.

    "If Americans don't wake up soon, our country is going to go broke from all of its foreign policies. We should be spending the 2 trillion dollars that it's going to take to secure the borders in the Middle East here at home." -Ron Paul
    What and who do I listen to and read:
    Mainstream Media, mainly CNN and NBC and USA Today. I have learned how to filter the biases.
    Freespeech TV and public radio: NPR, FSTV, Link TV
    Google or YouTube: Pinky on Globalization, Noam Chomsky on Globalization, Lou Dobbs, One World Order, the Bilderbergers, the North American Union
    Documentaries to watch: ENDGAME: Blueprint for global enslavement; America, Freedom to Fascism; Loose Change Final Cut.
    "The Global Class War", by Jeff Faux

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  34. "As a committed Christian, I do not want my church corrupting the government any more than I want the federal government corrupting my church."

    Thanks Flycandler, I agree with you 100%. I will continue to look into Ron Paul on this issue to make sure that he won't let this happen.

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  35. Rachel,

    Thanks for that great answer! I am not sure I'd vote for Ron Paul, but I might vote for you!

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  36. Dear John,

    What can you say about the issues I wrote about that I believe America faces-globalization, one world order, central bankers, etc.

    I don't mean to be mean but I believe worrying about the issue of separation of church and state is minimal. The media is just making it an issue to distract the populace from the real truth.

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  37. Rachel,

    I didn't intend to dismiss you but to affirm what you wrote. I have written about these issues previously. You might be interested in my post on Empire or check the sidebar, scroll down to to some of the posts under the heading, "Theology for the 21st Century: Context."

    Energy, Economy, Ecology, Empire. You might be interested in the documentary, The End of Suburbia and the Peak Oil reality.

    Yes, church/state issues are a distraction except that they form religious legitimation for the neo-con vision.

    Obviously, since I am a minister, that issue is of importance to me.

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