Monday, March 30, 2009

President Obama, End the Discrimination with Public Funds

Is it in any way fair or right or equitable or even American to have social programs funded by the taxpayers discriminate in hiring on religious grounds? Most people would agree that it is wrong to discriminate. Most Americans see it as, well, just plain wrong. There have even been polls that show that most Americans feel this way.

This is not rocket science. If taxpayers of all faiths (or no faith) are paying for a program, then taxpayers of all faiths (or no faith) should be able to work there. The job description shouldn't include a confession of faith or creed.

Yet, when the Office Faith Based Initiatives was formed by President Bush, that sort of blatant discrimination was allowed by executive order. Imagine that --- in the United States of America, public funds that were to provide a public service could only be used to hire a person with the "right" theology.

Then came some hope for sanity when then candidate Obama pledged that he would stop that sort of hiring discrimination. Promises made. Promises broken. Last month, President Obama didn't end the mistreatment based on religious ideas.

The Washington Post, the New York Times and the LA Times have both urged President Obama to do the right thing & put fair standards in place that ensure groups getting Faith Based dollars comply with the civil rights laws like all other groups receiving federal money: no discrimination. If these groups require religious confession to work there, then they should should use only the money of their faithful to pay their bills. Should a group receive tax money paid by
all Americans, then all Americans should be equally eligible to work there.

Here's your chance to urge President Obama to do the right thing --- the American thing --- & end hiring discrimination when public funds are used.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Pet's Write in Their Diaries

Excerpts from a Dog's Diary......

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary...

Day 983 of my captivity...

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good litt le hunter' I am.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now ...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Can't Use Graduation Speech as Excuse to Evangelize

I'm sure everyone remembers the controversy in Nevada a few years ago. Brittany McComb, valedictorian, decided to use her opportunity at the school's graduation ceremony to evangelize, despite the school already warning her the speech was not appropriate. Here's the youtube as a reminder:

Of course the extreme right wing cried foul & made up silly arguments, claiming her free speech rights were violated, etc.

After the school board pulled the plug on her evangelism on the school board's dime, the young lady sued. She lost. Now, she lost the appeal. (See the pdf of the ruling.)

Judge Kozinski, citing previous 9th Circuit law, said the young lady was not denied her free speech rights at all.

[School officials] did not violate McComb’s free speech and free exercise rights by preventing her from making a proselytizing graduation speech. Nor did they violate McComb’s right to equal protection; they did not allow other graduation speakers to proselytize.

It is unfortunate that some well meaning believers cannot stand not having the government give them special treatment. No other faith is allowed to evangelize, nor should be, on the government's dime. No other faith is allowed to hold a captive audience of spectators at a graduation. Nor should the price of admission to witness a high school graduation be an evangelistic effort or prayer meeting.

Freedom for all means exactly that. It does not mean one group gets preferential treatment.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Baptists No Longer for Separation of Church & State? How did we get here?

Waaaaay back in 1612, Thomas Helwys, the first Baptist, wrote The Mystery of Iniquity that outlined the basic ideas of what it is Baptists believe. Primary in that work was the concept of the separation of church & state, the theological concept that only God can judge a soul & therefore government should never compel anyone to follow or support any faith. Helwys went so far as to sign his name to a note he penned on the inside cover specifically for King James. For his efforts, Helwys was promptly arrested & died in prison in 1616.

wasn't alone. Roger Williams. Isaac Backus. John Leland. All of the early Baptist in the America supported the concept of the separation of church & state. In fact, until around 1980, the overwhelming majority of Baptists supported the separation of church & state.

So how did we move from overwhelming support for the separation of church & state, to the near unanimous approval of a Domionist ideology among Baptists in just 25 years?

I asked that question to Dr. Bruce Prescott back in November of 2007 & got an interesting answer. Paradoxically, the answer Dr. Prescott (the Baptist) gave is nearly identical to that a good friend of mine gave who happens to be Catholic. Odd.

After WW II, there was a surge in the effort of Catholic parochial schools to get gov't money. Obviously Protestants were opposed to their tax money being used to support Catholic schools. In 1947 the Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State was formed to oppose the funneling of tax money to Catholic schools. Religious & educational leaders fought to make sure Catholics weren't given any preference & the Protestants were danged sure to not let Protestant tax money be used unwisely. And, thus, the religious leaders, particularly Baptist leaders, recited well the history of Baptist support for the separation of church & state.

But something happened. Baptists began to grow after WW II with lots & lots of babies. The suburbs grew. And racial tension came fast & furious.

The turning point, according to both Dr. Prescott & my friend who happens to be Catholic, was school integration.

Now those Baptist kids --- mostly white --- would have to be in the same school with those "other" kids. To get their kids "away" from the "other" kids, Baptists began to populate private schools. That is an expensive proposition. That expense burden gave way to the call for vouchers in order to have those mostly white Baptist kids in private schools away from those "other" kids.

It came down to cost. As long as black kids were kept away from the public schools, Baptists were opposed to government money being used for private/religious education. But with integration, the color of green was more important than principle. Baptists needed money to keep their kids together & black kids out. The very thing they had opposed for 200 years was cast aside in order to use tax money to "educate," i.e., separate, their kids from another race.

Think the SBC wants to abandon public education because it is inferior? Oh, no. The reason is sinister in its scope: money & race. All those purported reasons are simply excuses. Protestants have sacrificed the sacred theological idea of fairness on the altar of mammon. They want the money to do the very thing they opposed the Catholics for wanting.

Now GA is trying to go the way of Arizona & get a school voucher law passed, that is nothing more than a back door attempt effectively bring a de facto segregation back.