Bobby Jindal School Voucher System Blasted As ‘Destruction Of Education’ By Religious Group

About that Louisiana constitution:

Art. I, sec. 8 – Freedom of Religion

“Section 8. No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Sounds a lot like the First Amendment, so why doesn’t it work the same in Louisiana?

We got a bit more explicit in Minnesota:

“nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for
the benefit of any religious societies or religious or theological seminaries.”

Yeah, republicans ignore it here too, just the same. They pick and choose from their constitutions just like they pick and choose from their Scripture.

Call them Cullists. Or cultists.

August 7, 2012
The Honorable Bobby Jindal
Office of the Governor of Louisiana
P.O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Dear Governor Jindal:

I write to you as the President of Interfaith Alliance to express my disappointment, concern and indeed, outrage at the school voucher program you have implemented in the state of Louisiana. Not only do I represent this national organization whose members come together from 75 faith traditions and belief systems to protect religious freedom, champion individual rights, and promote policies that protect both religion and democracy, I also serve as Senior Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, and thus, I am one of your constituents. Your school voucher scheme is bad for religious freedom and bad for public education as well as a blatant attack on the religious freedom clauses in the United States Constitution. Continue reading

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Thomson Reuters: Gay Marriage Ban Bad For Business

During the 2010 election, Target donated money to a Tom Emmer (R) PAC, which was exposed by Minnesota’s transparency laws. There was a backlash, particularly from their gay employees – who Target has otherwise been good to. It was a miscalculation by someone seeking to support a fiscal conservative. The problem is that fiscal conservatism comes bundled with social conservatism. Target is now selling T-shirts in support of gays and gay marriage. Emmer was among the first to be glitter bombed.

Last year, I watched some amazing testimony and debate against the amendment. (MN Senate Media Services and the House equivalent make video recordings of the House and Senate in action, and the local PBS station broadcasts it on a digital subchannel. Our own local CSPAN.) The testimony for the amendment was the usual religious persecution, fake science, reproduction, and redefinition arguments.

The Catholic Church sent out a propaganda DVD produced by the Knights Of Columbus, and right-wing talk radio was all over it.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the inquisition…

A LOT of the DVDs were returned, and a nun artist in residence got in trouble for recycling them. That didn’t sit too well, even among Catholics.

There was a flurry of gay teen suicides, and gay-bashing in schools became a hot issue. There was one particularly high-profile case of a school board refusing to protect their students in the name of religious liberty. They were eventually forced to back down.

The polls now show that most Minnesotans support gay marriage, which is why republicans want to handcuff future legislatures by carving the ban in the state constitution. They may be too late.

The amendment has to get a “YES” from the majority of MN voters. A non-answer counts as a “NO”.

Religious leaders are organizing against the amendment, in addition to groups supportive of gay rights – and now businesses. Minnesota is home to a large number of Fortune 500 companies, and they are realizing that this battle is coming to their own back yard.

We are hoping that Minnesota will be the turning point in the war on equality, that we will be the first state to reject this type of constitutional ban. 8-D

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Senator Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park/ Golden Valley) says “be afraid of the tyranny of the majority” not because the majority doesn’t rule, but because the constitution is there to protect the rights of the minority, even if we disagree with them. Latz says a proposed constitutional amendment that would enshrine religious views in our state constitution is a “political tactic”. Religious freedom, Latz says is for everyone, not just the majority.

Representative Steve Simon (DFL Hopkins/St. Louis Park) says a proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment is largely about religion. He says if sexual orientation is innate as science is showing us, and not a lifestyle choice, then God created gay people. He asks how many gay people must God create before we accept that he wants them around.

Senator Scott Dibble, who is gay, talks about how hurtful a proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment is to him and his husband.

Senator Barb Goodwin (DFL-Fridley) says Republicans are spending too much time worrying about how other people live instead of focusing on the budget. She says putting discrimination into the Minnesota constitution is “craziness”

Rachel Maddow On Minnesota’s Anti-Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment

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Bill Clinton Opposes North Carolina Gay Marriage Amendment

What the Bible says is irrelevant. The marriage laws are not written to support the Bible, “Holy Matrimony”, or “the sanctity of marriage”.

They are written to support families. There are thousands of laws defining the rights and responsibilities of spouses, parents, and children. Laws of inheritance. Laws that recognize that a stable society needs a stable family structure.

Laws that have arisen to address the legal and financial problems that have evolved around the family unit.

None of which has anything to do with religion. The objections to same-sex marriage are contrary to the interests of the state in recognizing and supporting marriage.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Catholic Bishops’ Contraception Coverage Argument Ridiculed By Pacifist

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensa­ble necessity of government­, and it is equally undeniable­, that whenever and however it is instituted­, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”
John Jay, Federalist 2

No single liberty is absolute. There is always a point where it begins to infringe on another liberty. In this case, church doctrine butts heads with public health and reproductive rights.

Within the Catholic community, Church doctrine has authority. But as Church activity extends outside that community, their rights begin to conflict with the rights of others. It is not the role of government to give preference to one faith over another, but to mediate disputes between them.

It illustrate­s the conflict between religious ‘conscienc­e’ and the rights of others. If supremacy were given to ‘conscienc­e’, then medical treatment would become subject to the unpredicta­ble religious behavior of any and every person involved.

I heard of one case where a woman got pregnant because it was against the beliefs of an emergency room physician to tell her that the medication he gave her would interfere with her birth control. That was a high price to pay for not knowing the religious beliefs of a total stranger in an emergency situation.

A pharmacist changing a prescription without consulting the doctor or notifying the patient. A lab technician who fudges the results without accountability or repercussion. A doctor substituting government propaganda for accepted medical advice, or not identifying all the options or misrepresenting the risks.

Trust between patient, doctor, lab, etc, would dissolve. Suddenly, medical outcomes would become unpredicta­ble. The American health care system would be thrown into anarchy.

The country needs a functionin­g health care system far more than it needs to protect absolute rights for a few. This is not a new idea or a shocking revelation­, it is a natural law.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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New York Times reports on Catholic Charities pull-out in Illinois

English: It's the original logo

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“For the nation’s Catholic bishops, the Illinois requirement is a prime example of what they see as an escalating campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom while expanding the rights of gay people. The idea that religious Americans are the victims of government-backed persecution is now a frequent theme not just for Catholic bishops, but also for Republican presidential candidates and conservative evangelicals.”

The rights of gays are not being expanding, we are beginning to recognize the rights they have always had but been denied. The Catholics still get to discriminate against gays within the bounds of their religion, but not when providing public services with taxpayer dollars.

“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., a civil and canon lawyer who helped drive the church’s losing battle to retain its state contracts for foster care and adoption services.

I suppose he thinks he is being clever, turning it around to make Catholics out to be the victims. To buy into his argument, one would have to believe that they have a unilateral right to be intolerant, or that attacking the rights of others is somehow an act of tolerance. Only blind prejudice could make this seem logical.

The time has come for some charities or organizations that respect equal rights to take over what the Catholic Church is unwilling to do: impartially provide a government service.

It would also help to get the Vatican out of the United States government.

New York Times reports on Catholic Charities pull-out in Illinois.

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Lowe’s, Bank Of America, And Others Pull Ads From Muslim Reality TV Show After Pressure

The TLC reality TV show All-American Muslim chronicles the lives of a group of Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan. The show has been well-received for its fair and realistic portrayal of the Muslim American experience in the United States. Watch a trailer for the show here. But a reality TV show that lets Americans relate to to the lives of Muslims in the United States is an offensive idea to those who want to demonize Islam. The Florida Family Association (FFA) launched a campaign earlier this year to get companies to pull their advertising from the program. FFA claims that 65 of the 67 companies targeted have done this, including home improvement giant Lowe’s and megabank Bank of America […]

The conservative line is that all Muslims hate America and want to kill us. They demonize Muslims as wanting to inject Islam into American law. Then along comes a group that wants to inject the American way of life into Islam. Retaliation is a given for the Religious Reich, which is, itself, trying to inject Christian Dominionism into American law.

The self-professed “Christian Conservatives” are at war with religious freedom, and they are not prepared to tolerate for others, the unlimited freedom they demand for themselves.

Shutting down a show like this is also an assault on freedom of speech. That’s half the First Amendment rights in one tidy Christian Jihad.

via Lowe’s, Bank Of America, And Others Pull Ads From Muslim Reality TV Show After Pressure.

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Concerning the role of religion in society

St Paul's Cathedral and the remaining tower of...

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One of the reasons I believe in Separation of Church and State, is that I see the Church as an alternative to government in times of crisis. Where one fails, the other should step in. This way, society as a whole is served. Neither religion nor government are all-encompassing, nor should they be if we are to have liberty. Each should compensate for the failings of the other.

One ancient role of religion is to provide sanctuary to those who need it. Another is to seek justice for the people. In this vein, I wish to applaud Giles Fraser, “A top cleric at the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral in London”.

“I cannot support using violence to ask people to clear off the land,” he said. “It is not about my sympathies or what I believe about the camp. I support the right to protest and in a perfect world we could have negotiated. But our legal advice was that this would have implied consent.”

This is a man who retains the spirit of sanctuary, and lives up to it.

His move has prompted an outpouring of appreciation from the demonstrators. “The fact that he is standing by his values, shown through his resignation, is really so important to us,” one told the Telegraph. “We have a lot of respect for him. He’s an honorable man.”

And I applaud him for being an honorable man, and a blessing to society. It is disappointing disturbing to me that a church has to worry about losing control of their property if they grant sanctuary.

[UPDATE 11/20/2011]

Several Churches in New York City are also sheltering Occupiers. Among them are:

  • United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, on the Upper West Side
  • The Riverside Church, in Morningside Heights
  • Judson Memorial Church near Washington Square Park

In some churches, police have been stalking protesters who are guests of the church. A woman was seen photographing people who came out of one of these churches. This is an ominous development.

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