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Subject: Individuals vs. Separation of Church and State rss

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Lynette
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I have to admit my verbal skills may not be up to normal today and I am short of time. But one thing that has been driving me crazy in the RSP forum through numerous threads this past month is the idea that some individual people or groups shouldn’t be trying to have political impact because of *why* they hold certain views.

If I am a rabid environmentalist because:

I am secular humanist and want to save the planet for the future of humanity

I am a crystal worshiping new age hippy who wants to work for world harmony with nature.

I am a health freak and want less chemicals and more organics for my own personal health and family

I am a committed wing-nut believer in a traditional religion that takes the idea of stewardship seriously.

I am a money grubbing earth hater but have invested in a major recycling plant and hope to make a killing if I can get everybody in my area on the “recycle” band-wagon.

I happen to love puppies and the local kennel club president is an environmentalist and I want to impress him.

Or any other reason one can possibly think up, than these are the reasons and issues that get to inform my vote. If I want to form a political action group called “Puppy lovers who are pro Green” that is my choice and the voice of choice for anybody I can get on board with my agenda and concerns enough to participate or give me money.

You don’t get to pull out reasons 2 and 4 and say all the people who want to save the planet because of religious beliefs should be nullified and must stop voting and campaigning on environmental issues or they are attempting to violate “separation of church and state”.

People’s views are people’s views. Understanding where they come from might help you “change” their views with rational argument. But implying that somehow they shouldn’t be allowed to count because of why they hold a specific opinion or worse that they in some way are “Bad” or anti- Freedom, America, the Constitution, excetera just because they want their opinions and voices to be given the same political weight as all the other opinions and voices trying to influence government is crazy.

Some cultural values that sway our laws are based on religion; some on non-religious ideas, some are based on the fact that we as a culture love puppies. Cultural values and ideas are what they are regardless of why they are and everybody has a right to push whatever political agenda they have based on those values.

Separation of Church and State in the USA was designed to protect religion from government interference. It was never intended to keep religious people from having an equal voice in the government or the laws that govern our society.

It is no more "wrong" for people with cultural values based on religious beliefs to try to sway culture and laws as a "voting bloc with shared views" than it is for PETA or any other social/political action group to do so.

Anybody want to try to make a case that somehow it really is "wrong" for them but not for others?
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Bela's dead and Vampira won't talk
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The one thing I've seen touching in this direction lately is in the Prop 8 thread, with regard to large amounts of out-of-state money coming from churches in support of Prop 8. (I'm not sure if there have been other mentions elsewhere lately, but that's what I'm addressing.)

I don't think anyone here is objecting to the right of people to vote on issues or people for whatever reason they like. They may dislike those reasons, but I don't think they oppose them. If a generally kind religious person wants to vote against (say) gay marriage because she believes it's morally wrong, I'll shake my head the same way I would if it were a hateful heterosexual atheist doing the same thing.

But a Christian voting as a Christian is a whole lot different than a church acting as a political organization. One of the issues in this case (at least as I see it) is particular churches donating huge amounts of (out-of-state!) funding to a particular political cause.

Now, I have no problem with people making groups to support whatever political causes they want, from environmentalism to low taxes to Kill the Treefrogs(tm). But part of the issue with churches, as separate from the state, is that they're not subject to the same taxes as other political groups. When they throw money at political causes tax-free, one gets the impression that they're having their cake and eating it too. They're exempt, in other words, from their obligation to the state (as it should be), but still throwing their organizational weight behind strictly political issues ("Vote X on Prop Y," as it shouldn't).

I'm not saying I personally have strongly established an opinion on this, but as an atheist and a supporter of gay rights, I do sympathize with the position and the frustration there.
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Jorge Montero
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Our problem, legally speaking, is not that churches are trying to affect policy. I don't really like it, but I do see how any group of people with shared views might organize to exert political power.

What we really don't like is that churches don't pay taxes, while for all intents and purposes they are the equivalent of a political association. If I formed a group of tree huggers, trying to get people to vote our way on the environment, would the group be be exempt from taxes? Would I be able to donate money to a political group, and claim it as a deduction?

The moment the group claims it worships something, the tax situation changes, and that's screwed up.
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Jorge Montero
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le_cygne wrote:
The one thing I've seen touching in this direction lately is in the Prop 8 thread, with regard to large amounts of out-of-state money coming from churches in support of Prop 8. (I'm not sure if there have been other mentions elsewhere lately, but that's what I'm addressing.)


Prop 8 is a great example: A good chunk of the funds that paid for the ads in favor of it were funneled through a church. So a member of the church can make a tax-deductible contribution that will, in the end, put ads on TV to change policy. If I give the same money to a PAC running for the other side, it's not tax deductible.

So, in essence, speech is free, but the tax system makes religion-driven speech naturally 'louder' than others. That's anything but fair.
 
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William Boykin
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You're sure that donating to an NGO that isn't a church isn't tax deductible?

I know that the donations I made to the Austin Women's Shelter was tax deductible.

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Jonathan Takagi
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hibikir wrote:
Prop 8 is a great example: A good chunk of the funds that paid for the ads in favor of it were funneled through a church. So a member of the church can make a tax-deductible contribution that will, in the end, put ads on TV to change policy. If I give the same money to a PAC running for the other side, it's not tax deductible.

So, in essence, speech is free, but the tax system makes religion-driven speech naturally 'louder' than others. That's anything but fair.


Just want to make sure that, in case you're referring to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), you know that no money was contributed from the church to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. The church leaders encouraged its members to donate, and these donations were not tax deductible. A lot of people are saying that the Mormon Church bought out Prop 8, but any money came directly from private individuals, not from church funds.
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Bela's dead and Vampira won't talk
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Thanks for stating that explicitly, jtakagi.

I'm just objecting to a protected and tax-exempt church making that kind of purely political "suggestion" to its members (again, I'd prefer that CSS worked both ways), but you're right that it's an important distinction. thumbsup
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Lynette
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hibikir wrote:
le_cygne wrote:
The one thing I've seen touching in this direction lately is in the Prop 8 thread, with regard to large amounts of out-of-state money coming from churches in support of Prop 8. (I'm not sure if there have been other mentions elsewhere lately, but that's what I'm addressing.)


Prop 8 is a great example: A good chunk of the funds that paid for the ads in favor of it were funneled through a church. So a member of the church can make a tax-deductible contribution that will, in the end, put ads on TV to change policy. If I give the same money to a PAC running for the other side, it's not tax deductible.

So, in essence, speech is free, but the tax system makes religion-driven speech naturally 'louder' than others. That's anything but fair.


Actually they do keep that money totally seprate and the money given to "poltical" issues is not tax deductible and doesn't come directly from churches.

My mother used to get mail from "Focus on the Family" because of she had given money to a faith based feed kids in Africa program. They have two totally separate mailing groups that ask for money. Ones that are tax-exempt and do charity or faith based stuff and ones that they say every explictly are political action funds, going to target these specific issues and in huge BOLD LETTERS make clear these are not tax deductible. They come in totally seprate envelopes and have different return addresses and even slightly different names for the groups.

So no their money doesn't have any more bang per buck on political issues.
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Meerkat, I agree with the general sentiment of your post. Nonetheless, not in the U.S. and certainly not in almost all Western democracies, is there a carte blanche on expression.

For example, legally, a contract is not legally valid if it contains elements that are themselves illegal. You can't contract just anything you like.

Likewise, certain societal issues have been mandated, legislated, and been decided upon. Slavery is illegal, for example. In the U.S., the freedom of expression is more liberal than elsewhere. So, although you cannot work to make certain discrimination legal, you are free to express yourself about it, hence the neo-nazis.

In other countries, such as Canada, certain ideas are just plain banned. The most obvious forms of discrimination, although legal to speak of in the U.S., are out-and-out banned in Canada. We have actual hate laws that are enforced. You very simply cannot express your prejudiced opinion about Blacks, Gays, or Jews, for example, and publish it. It is illegal.

All that to say that not every stance is morally equivalent. It is correct to argue that someone's claim is a priori unfounded based on this type of reasoning. It is why, for example, rights are a fundamental and necessary element in the argument for Gay marriage. It is meant to trump any political argument and action.
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Lynette
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hibikir wrote:

The moment the group claims it worships something, the tax situation changes, and that's screwed up.


Actually in the USA the moment it claims it is a "non-profit" it changes the tax situation. I get to deduct the money I send to the World Wildlife Fund too and it has political agendas which actively try to change governments all around the world.

It isn't like churches get some free pass that other groups not looking to make a profit don't get.

I can deduct donations to Planned Parenthood from my taxes. And those get a lot less scrutiny than the ones to the religious based organizations as far as I can tell. My mail from WWF and Planned Parenthood never had any special “not tax exempt” mailings. So does that mean none of the money I gave them ever was used for a political agenda? And I know I got mail from political action groups based totally on my finanical support of certain non-profits.

It is hilarious during election years, I get mail from both the Pro Life groups and Pro Choice political groups asking for money based on my proven previous support to like minded groups. Funny - supporting Planned Parenthood's education and health programs doesn't mean I am totally pro-choice and giving money to church based social programs for unwed monthers doesn't mean I am totally pro-life.
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Lynette
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isaacc wrote:
In other countries, such as Canada, certain ideas are just plain banned. The most obvious forms of discrimination, although legal to speak of in the U.S., are out-and-out banned in Canada. We have actual hate laws that are enforced. You very simply cannot express your prejudiced opinion about Blacks, Gays, or Jews, for example, and publish it. It is illegal.



Wow!! That is just plain too scary for words.

(all pun intended, but my horror quotient is still real)
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Lynette
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le_cygne wrote:
Thanks for stating that explicitly, jtakagi.

I'm just objecting to a protected and tax-exempt church making that kind of purely political "suggestion" to its members (again, I'd prefer that CSS worked both ways), but you're right that it's an important distinction. thumbsup


I get lots of purely "political" suggestions from my nature supporting non-profits, including upcoming environmental issues that are being voted on, and specific candidate profiles and petitions to sign.

I know they are tax exempt because I get the little tax statements from them every year.

The ACLU I believe is a non-profit you can donate to tax free and that organization certainly has political agendas. Heck Lambda Legal is a non-profit and I bet you get to write off donations to them and they only work on advancing civil rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people living with HIV.

So how is this different?
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Meerkat wrote:
Separation of Church and State in the USA was designed to protect religion from government interference. It was never intended to keep religious people from having an equal voice in the government or the laws that govern our society.


This paragraph is both directly on target and missing a critical sentence. You're 100% right that the First Amendment is intended to protect religious practice and provide religious freedom. And I firmly believe that the day that any church is forced to perform a religious ceremony that they disagree with as a part of their faith (such as a homosexual wedding) that we'll have violated that fundamental protection.

But the First Amendment doesn't stop there. It also says that the government shall not attempt to establish a religion. That not only means that we don't have an "official American" church, it also means that laws cannot be passed strictly on the basis of religion. You can't outlaw birth control unless you can demonstrate that there is an overriding public interest in doing so that justifies the removal of choice from individuals.

And this is where the religious arguments against things fall apart. We may have common cultural roots as a nation, but what we have seen over our history is that religious laws have been systematically rejected in favor of the rights enumerated in the Constitution (and those that are extensions of said rights, such as privacy). Blue laws have fallen. Laws against sexual conduct have been struck down. And we've corrected some "errors" in equality the original Constitution established (slavery, male-only voting).

Is it wrong for someone to hold religious views and discuss them? Absolutely not. Should those views be reflected in our laws? I'd give the exact same answer.

Why don't churches have the right to participate in political speech? Well, they do. They voluntarily ask for and receive tax-free non-profit status. Churches aren't barred from political participation because they're churches. They're barred from such participation because they are exempt from taxation as a non-profit group, all of whom are barred from such activities. Any church that wants to back a candidate, support a proposition, or endorse a campaign is free to do so. But they will forfeit their protected tax status as a result.

Churches aren't singled out. So is the food bank down the street. The Salvation Army, the United Way, and the Red Cross as well.

Should these groups have the right to act politically? I'd say no. It raises potential abuses in the use of such groups as PACs or 527 groups to "launder" money in our political system. And our system is already far too focused on money. Plus, if you remove this restriction, why not remove the restriction on corporate donations to political campaigns? They're entities recognized by the state but prohibited from participating.

If there's a preacher that wants to preach politics he need not accept the exemption. It's his and his church's choice to do so.
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hibikir wrote:
Prop 8 is a great example: A good chunk of the funds that paid for the ads in favor of it were funneled through a church.


Not unless that church gave up or is willing to lose their non-profit & tax exempt status they didn't. Such a contribution would void them. The members may have donated, but not the church.
 
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Lets put the tax issue aside for the moment- Churches seem to be doing a good job in having their taxable activities seperate from their non-taxable activities.

Taxation being equal, is there a difference between PETA using thier organization to enact a general change in the culture, and the Catholic Church doing the same thing?

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Define what you mean by "using their organization." If PETA organizes a meeting where issues are discussed and suggestions to act are given that don't impact a specific race, campaign, proposition, ballot initiative, etc. by name, then there's no problem (nor is there for a church, by the way). "We urge our members to support pro-puppy candidates" isn't any different from "We urge our members to support pro-life candidates." Both a permissible.

If either says "Vote for Joe the Hatchet Man because he's pro-puppy/pro-life," they've crossed the line.
 
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perfalbion wrote:

But the First Amendment doesn't stop there. It also says that the government shall not attempt to establish a religion. That not only means that we don't have an "official American" church, it also means that laws cannot be passed strictly on the basis of religion. You can't outlaw birth control unless you can demonstrate that there is an overriding public interest in doing so that justifies the removal of choice from individuals.


No you cannot establish an offical "Religion" but nothing says that laws based on relgious ideas are not allowed.

I am going to use your birth control arguement exactly BECAUSE it is perfect.

There is no constitional right to birth control. (BTW I am all for birth control, I am even for passing it out free to poor people who can't afford it)

If the majority of people wanted to ban birth control for some reason, let us say a major plague came though killed 80% of the population and made 50% of people left sterile and suddenly the "majority" wanted to bring back up the birth rate for totally nationalistic non-religious reasons so they voted to elimante birth control choices. You might call that over-riding public opinion. That would be ok? But if over the next 10 years Catholics won over 80% of the population convinced them birth control was a form of murder and got it banned that would not be ok, even though it was over-riding public opinion?



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Blue laws have fallen. Laws against sexual conduct have been struck down. And we've corrected some "errors" in equality the original Constitution established (slavery, male-only voting).


Blue laws fell because they become obsolete when opinion changed, not because it was determined they violated sparation of church and state. The consitiution was changed because people changed HEARTS and MINDS. Which by they way when it comes to slavery was done almost TOTALLY by appealing to religious principles ususally THROUGH churches.

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Is it wrong for someone to hold religious views and discuss them? Absolutely not. Should those views be reflected in our laws? I'd give the exact same answer.


Smoking is illegal inside even private establishments in many states now. Many religious people have been anti-smoking for decades. If they had been as persuasive as the intolerant politcal anti-smoking wing would their law have been less ok because it was based on a religious view?

If specific views become the prevailing views of society for what ever reason they have a right to pass laws expressing those views as long at they don't violate a specific set of civil rights protected by amendments. Which as we were discussing in another thread, even those can be changed with enough effort and a super-majority.

How if those shared views come from a shared religious view are they less valid than if PETA really does finally convince 60% of the people that eating meat is immoral and gets mandatory vegetarian laws passed?

Like it or not a huge percentage of our laws are reflections of religious views that have become cultural standards. On serious things like the idea that murder is wrong and on less serious things like not being able to run around naked. How close you can come keeps changing as society changes. Seriously is a bikini shows more skin than the bra and panties I usually wear to work. Still I cannot go out, even on the beach, in my bra and panties without getting in trouble, a hold over from our Puritan past.

Saying that reflection of relgious morals into law is wrong but we pulled it out of the ether morals being reflected into law is just fine is a double standard.


Quote:

Why don't churches have the right to participate in political speech? Well, they do. They voluntarily ask for and receive tax-free non-profit status. Churches aren't barred from political participation because they're churches. They're barred from such participation because they are exempt from taxation as a non-profit group, all of whom are barred from such activities. Any church that wants to back a candidate, support a proposition, or endorse a campaign is free to do so. But they will forfeit their protected tax status as a result.

Churches aren't singled out. So is the food bank down the street. The Salvation Army, the United Way, and the Red Cross as well.


As I already pointed out there are certainly much more poltically active groups that regularly skirt these laws restricting "non-profit" activism than churches. And I don't hear a lot of complaints about how the they should lose their tax exempt status.

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If there's a preacher that wants to preach politics he need not accept the exemption. It's his and his church's choice to do so.


Preaching ideas is not the same as politics. Saying homosexuality is a sin from the pulpit is an ideology. Not one I specfically agree with but still it is an idea and as such is protected by both freedom of speech and religion. And expressing that idea should have no impact on tax exemption laws.
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I think perfalbion has it right, although there is gray area between theory and practice.

"God says that marriage is between a man and a woman" is not a legal grounding for a US statute. That said, laws do not generally have to have a "grounding" other than that they were passed by duly elected representatives. Thus, if people want to ban the sale of alcohol in a town, they can use their political power to make the appropriate law and it doesn't matter if their reason is "Drinking is sinful" or "drunk driving is a problem" or whatever.

Some laws, however, do require a clear grounding -- specifically a "compelling interest" on the part of the State -- because they infringe on the liberties or equal treatment under the law of individuals. Such laws would be unconstitutional without such compelling interest. The issue of same-sex marriage is an example (or, if you prefer, miscegenation was 40 and a bit years ago). In these cases, religious reasons are not lawfully sufficient for a compelling interest.

The examples you discuss -- birth control and smoking -- are good examples, but I think you're wrong. A ban on smoking holds up because the state can argue a compelling health interest (as well as economic interest related to healthcare costs). One can argue over whether this is justification, but without it I suspect the laws wouldn't hold up. Birth control is even more clear -- in order to restrict a medication that has FDA approval, a state needs a clear and compelling interest. Perhaps a disaster would justify it (although I doubt it) but "it's wrong according to our Church" cannot. Thus, Catholics might get such a law passed but it would not be constitutional.
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perfalbion wrote:



And this is where the religious arguments against things fall apart. We may have common cultural roots as a nation, but what we have seen over our history is that religious laws have been systematically rejected in favor of the rights enumerated in the Constitution (and those that are extensions of said rights, such as privacy). Blue laws have fallen. Laws against sexual conduct have been struck down. And we've corrected some "errors" in equality the original Constitution established (slavery, male-only voting).

Is it wrong for someone to hold religious views and discuss them? Absolutely not. Should those views be reflected in our laws? I'd give the exact same answer.



I am going to chime in here with something slightly OT because this comment gets at a somewhat related pet peeve of mine. Many religions have some set of restrictions / laws / commandments. Many of these laws are intended to improve the interaction of individuals with each other. Consequently, many of these same laws make good laws even from a purely secular standpoint.

The mere fact that a religion agrees with or supports a particular law does not, by that fact alone, mean that such a law is unconstitutional. (This point should be obvious. You couldn't have any laws given the number of religions and the diversity of beliefs.)

Yet, whenever a religious person supports a position that happens to agree with their religion, the response seems to be that they are "forcing their religion on others." The fact that there is often a good societal rational for those positions is somehow voided. This frustrates me because it often cuts off an important discussion of whether the particular position is beneficial to society.




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Meerkat wrote:
No you cannot establish an offical "Religion" but nothing says that laws based on relgious ideas are not allowed.


Please find a Supreme Court case where a religious belief that did not reflect a compelling public interest was upheld.

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There is no constitional right to birth control. (BTW I am all for birth control, I am even for passing it out free to poor people who can't afford it)


Except that this is false. And this is not my opinion, it's a Supreme Court decision. The Griswold case specifically and unequivocally overturned a law against birth control as a violation of a woman's right to privacy in 1965, which the court ruled existed as an "emanation from" other rights we are granted.

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let us say a major plague came though killed 80% of the population and made 50% of people left sterile and suddenly the "majority" wanted to bring back up the birth rate for totally nationalistic non-religious reasons so they voted to elimante birth control choices.


Meerkat, you just contradicted your own argument. This would is potentially a "compelling public interest" that has literally nothing to do with religious beliefs. I personally think that the courts would still strike it down, but if they upheld it that would be the basis.

If you want my personal opinion, I would not support such a law, I'd argue it was unconstitutional, and I'd be happy to break that law. You can no more force a woman to bear children or force a man to father children than you are justified telling a woman that she cannot end a pregnancy. We've a right to control our own bodies.

Quote:
The consitiution was changed because people changed HEARTS and MINDS.


You're right. I agree. I don't dispute it. You still have not addressed the question that I've asked - what is the compelling public interest to exclude homosexuals from marriage given that their rights to participate in our civil government are no different than heterosexuals?

Quote:
Smoking is illegal inside even private establishments in many states now. Many religious people have been anti-smoking for decades. If they had been as persuasive as the intolerant politcal anti-smoking wing would their law have been less ok because it was based on a religious view?


Why do you continuously argue this point, Meerkat? If there is a compelling public interest, then the religious motivation is irrelevant and coincidental. But without the compelling public interest the law cannot, should not, and will not stand. All of your arguments focus exclusively on the idea that religious motivations either are not all bad (which they aren't) or that they should be codified because they're the majority wants it. Our system simply doesn't work that way.

Quote:
Like it or not a huge percentage of our laws are reflections of religious views that have become cultural standards.


Let me be very clear on this - I don't care. Neither does the Constitution or the Supreme Court. Murder is wrong in the US not because God said so, but because it is the ultimate intrusion upon a person's rights. Assault is wrong, theft is wrong, etc. for the same reasons. The religious foundation of law is not of interest to our system of government or jurisprudence.

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Saying that reflection of relgious morals into law is wrong but we pulled it out of the ether morals being reflected into law is just fine is a double standard.


Let me be similarly clear - an atheist can be moral, ethical, and a good person. Morality and ethics need no divine origin to exist. And this entire argument is useless. If God were to show up tomorrow and say that wearing the color taupe was wrong in his eyes our system of government would not permit you to outlaw it.

There is no double standard. There is a single standard - how does the Constitution of the United States of apply?

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As I already pointed out there are certainly much more poltically active groups that regularly skirt these laws restricting "non-profit" activism than churches. And I don't hear a lot of complaints about how the they should lose their tax exempt status.


Then talk about them more. I'm not aware of them, and I'd raise a stink if I were.

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Preaching ideas is not the same as politics. Saying homosexuality is a sin from the pulpit is an ideology. Not one I specfically agree with but still it is an idea and as such is protected by both freedom of speech and religion. And expressing that idea should have no impact on tax exemption laws.


Sure it should. For exactly the interest that I stated - it is a means to funnel money into campaigns, particularly for corporations. We've an interest in our electoral process and protecting it from abuse. This is primarily targeted at corporate interests, but it's appropriate. The church members are free to act as they like, probably guided by their faith and belief. Why is that not enough?
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Chad_Ellis wrote:

Some laws, however, do require a clear grounding -- specifically a "compelling interest" on the part of the State -- because they infringe on the liberties or equal treatment under the law of individuals. Such laws would be unconstitutional without such compelling interest. The issue of same-sex marriage is an example (or, if you prefer, miscegenation was 40 and a bit years ago). In these cases, religious reasons are not lawfully sufficient for a compelling interest.

Meerkat, I'm with Chad on this one. I do think that Christians have an obligation as citizens and as "the salt of the earth" to involve themselves in politics. However, they cannot (in Chad's words) "infringe on the liberties or equal treatment under the laws of the individuals". So Christians should fight for social justice, women rights and many other Christian agendas on the political arena. But they cannot enact stuff that is unconstitutional.

However, if you are arguing against the double standard against faith-based agendas and ideological-based agendas, I support your cause.
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Latria wrote:
Meerkat, I'm with Chad on this one. I do think that Christians have an obligation as citizens and as "the salt of the earth" to involve themselves in politics. However, they cannot (in Chad's words) "infringe on the liberties or equal treatment under the laws of the individuals". So Christians should fight for social justice, women rights and many other Christian agendas on the political arena. But they cannot enact stuff that is unconstitutional.

However, if you are arguing against the double standard against faith-based agendas and ideological-based agendas, I support your cause.


I am arguing against the double standard.

In specific the "social" double standard that gets leveled against people in debates. I would happily not only accept but might even join a debate arguing that as Christians we should support out of love and tolerance a law that would make gay marriage legal for example. But that would be a debate about changing minds. What I object to is the idea that it is ok to force ideology down peoples thoat as long as you DON'T have a religous reason to do so.
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Meerkat wrote:
I would happily not only accept but might even join a debate arguing that as Christians we should support out of love and tolerance a law that would make gay marriage legal for example.

Yes! Yes! YES!!!!
"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one!" C.S. Lewis (British Scholar and Novelist. 1898-1963)

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But that would be a debate about changing minds.


Everybody likes the simple, black and white version of stuff. It's the same with understanding religion, politics, ideology, social issues. One baby step at a time.
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perfalbion wrote:
Meerkat wrote:

Smoking is illegal inside even private establishments in many states now. Many religious people have been anti-smoking for decades. If they had been as persuasive as the intolerant politcal anti-smoking wing would their law have been less ok because it was based on a religious view?


Why do you continuously argue this point, Meerkat? If there is a compelling public interest, then the religious motivation is irrelevant and coincidental. But without the compelling public interest the law cannot, should not, and will not stand. All of your arguments focus exclusively on the idea that religious motivations either are not all bad (which they aren't) or that they should be codified because they're the majority wants it. Our system simply doesn't work that way.

Oh please, the "compelling public interest" for anti-smoking laws is just a smoke screen. (sorry I can't resist a good pun)

It is because smoking fell out of favor. I am not a smoker, I hate smoking I would never date a smoker. But when a whole bunch of people smoked, even though it was bad for you and everbody knew it, it was legal to do it every place. When a bunch of people quit and became zealots demanding everybody adopt the same standards they now wanted since they decided to quit then it became illegal.

There is zero over-riding public interest that should keep a private bar owner from openly declaring his establishment to be smoking allowed and to then let only smokers or people who didn't care choose to patronize it.

And these laws in my opinion are a far more OBVIOUS violation of established constitutional property rights than a lot of the other stuff we are debating.

That is why I keep arguing this. There is a double standard socially. And a whole lot of laws are outside the perview of the Constitution. As they should be. I am a strong supporter of state and local rights for most of these issues.

The Constitution is supposed to lay a broad framework of specific absolutes, the rest is supposed to be locally controlled.

Guess what, seriously there are places that fuchsia IS outlawed as paint for homes for no compelling public reason and nobody as niffty as God showed up to weigh in on that decision. The Constituion can not do much of anything about it. Have you ever seen city "zoning" codes?

There are public schools that prohibit certain colors from being worn.

It doesn't matter one iota if the reason my neighbors hated fuchsia enough to make it illegal was religious or just because they have a limited ablity to appricate art.

There are great things about living in a Constituional representitive democracy. There are things that suck about it. One of the things that suck is that for some people some "freedoms" really do stop at the inside of your own house.

More debate tomorrow maybe. Have to go for now.





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Vote to level the playing field and then devote yourself to living a life that is widely seen as a city set on a hill.
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