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View Diary: Organized Religion is a Protection Racket (69 comments)

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  •  So.... How do we get Obama... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, Troubadour

    ... to issue a countermanding executive order to dismantle the unconstitutional 'office of faith-based initiatives' that Dumbya created via an executive order and is run through the White House...?????

    One would think a prof who taught the constitution would know how it violates the First Amendment and Constitution..., but apparently he's ignoring that in favor of the constant criticism he's not a self-identified Xtian.

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:26:31 AM PST

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    •  It's probably a deliberate choice to pick battles. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, Kevskos, Troubadour

      It's fairly standard for Presidents to continue all the programs and abuses of power arranged by their predecessors.

      Changing things, in general, from how they were previously expends 'political capital', and can upset a lot of people who would be impacted by the change.

      There's a chance he hasn't done anything about it because he's looking at more 'bigger picture' stuff.  Like health care reform, banking reform, immigration reform, the ending of DADT, gay rights in general...

      I'm willing to wait on this, if it means that major accomplishments are happening elsewhere in our government.

      Best spend the 'political capital' on stuff that makes the biggest, positive impact on peoples' lives.  Even if this particular thing is a bit silly and annoying.

      •  It's unconstitutional and illegal.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos

        ... not merely "silly and annoying."

        Reichwingnut religious fanatics have been screaming about their alleged trampled rights for too many years when no one was trampling on their friggin' rights, but just trying to follow the constitution by keeping a firm separation of church and state.  The Constitution mandates there shall be no religious test to hold office, but these assholes act like it's their right to mandate a politician have their religious values and no one else's and then they interfere by wanting laws that reflect their religious "values" shoved down the throats of everyone, whether they agree with these nut jobs or not.  They have freedom OF religion..., but their wanting to impose their religious values via laws is infringing on the rights of others who have a right to be protected FROM their religion.

        We have a secular constitution for a secular nation that is supposed to have a secular leader.

        Between illegal, unethical, immoral, dishonorable and unconstitutional wars based on lies for the record-setting profits of oil, MIC, & mercenary corporations, retaining the Repuke commanders for Dumbya's illegal wars, not returning our rights to us by repealing the Patriot Act, MCA '06 (adding insult to injury by adding MCA '09), FISA fiasco '08, not closing Gitmo, moving Iraq troops only to an adjoining country, keeping the illegal and unconstitutional war going in Afghanistan, the drone bombings that started less than a week after Obama was inaugurated, lack of reinstating Glass-Steagall and repealing Gramm-Leach-Bliley (which would go a long ways toward solving the chance of another 'too big to fail' crash again - I'm none too happy with Bill Clinton for signing GLB), lack of a sensible not-for-profit single payer medical insurance plan by transferring everything over to Medicare (no overhead, no executive bonuses or stockholders to pay out to, infrastructure is in place and working efficiently, hiring new people here in the US to take care of the extra paperwork would have a near instant impact on the economy) and now being forced to contribute to the profit margins of insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical corporations which will now be making record-setting profits..., I'm heartily sick of both Obama and nearly all of our Congress Critters kneeling before Repukes, corporations, banks, Casino Wall Street, and not doing a damned thing for the people who elected them.  

        Their behavior of caving in to Repukes, and Obama offering compromises before it's necessary, is so utterly predictable that I should have considered becoming a gambler; I'd have won lots of money betting on the fact that they'd cave every time.

        The time to deal with unconstitutional problems is before they become a problem... not afterward.

        Fascism, anyone?

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.
        -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

        Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.
        -- Benito Mussolini

        Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity, quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace.
        -- Benito Mussolini

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:04:32 AM PST

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        •  The Constitution constitutes the government... (0+ / 0-)

          ...not the people. The people establish the Constitution and the government.

          The Constitution mandates there shall be no religious test to hold office, but these assholes act like it's their right to mandate a politician have their religious values and no one else's
          And insofar as those positions are elected, and insofar as the religious leaders speaking in their personal capacity can convince enough people not to vote for someone who doesn't share their religious values, there is absolutely no constitutional problem with that.

          The Constitution does not limit the people; it limits government. The Constitution restricts the American government from implementing a religious test for a government position; it does not place any restriction on the people, who are allowed to make their voting decisions on the basis of whatever criteria they choose.

          Now, I'll agree that the imposition of laws based entirely in religious beliefs, with no secular or general justification for them, is in fact a violation of the First Amendment, as it represents a governmental establishment of religion.

          But except for the most obvious cases, some of which remain shamefully on the books (like "blue laws" preventing alcohol sales or other business practices on Sundays), it's really difficult to show that a given law has only religious motivations, and it gets into a lot of gray areas I'd rather we not be establishing with the force of law.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:42:24 AM PST

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          •  Faulty interpretation. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NonnyO

            Being tax-exempt conveys special privileges on religion.

            "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

            by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:36:23 PM PST

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            •  What's faulty about that interpretation? (0+ / 0-)

              The "no religious test" clause doesn't apply to people's voting decisions—and can't, really, unless you've devised some way to determine which votes are made on the basis of a "religious test" so you can throw them out.

              And religious personages have just as much a right to free speech as anyone else in their personal capacity, so they're free to advocate that people make their voting decisions on the basis of religion—just as they'd be free to advocate that people make their voting decisions on the basis of positions on a given issue, facial hair, height, or any other factor whether or not it has any bearing whatsoever on a person's fitness for office.

              Please indicate where the fault is in that constitutional interpretation.

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:42:58 PM PST

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              •  Tax exemption is subsidization (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NonnyO

                because everyone in society benefits from the services of government.  One has to pay some level of tax just to be in a state of economic neutrality.  Ergo, religious organizations receive free services from society without contributing anything back, and it's justified entirely on the religious premise that what they claim to give back - some metaphysical quality of spiritual salvation - is of value, and untainted by commercial or political motivation that, if explicit, would involve paying taxes.

                "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

                by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:48:16 PM PST

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                •  How doesn't that apply to other nonprofits? (0+ / 0-)
                  One has to pay some level of tax just to be in a state of economic neutrality.  Ergo, religious organizations receive free services from society without contributing anything back...
                  No more than any other nonprofit. Other nonprofit organizations don't have to justify their existence by demonstrating that they "contribute something back" to society; they simply have to prove that they are, indeed, not for-profit commercial ventures, and that they're not engaging in any partisan political activity.

                  Again, you seem to want to give religious organizations a higher bar to clear than any other nonprofit organization—in effect, creating a governmental presumption against religion. How doesn't that violate the Establishment Clause?

                  Further, that still doesn't at all address the content of my previous comment, which regarded the "no religious test" clause, and its (lack of) applicability to individuals' voting decisions or to our constitutionally-protected speech about political issues. How does your above comment apply to that conversation thread?

                  "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                  by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:56:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  What financial disclosure? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NonnyO

                    Check it.

                    Sorry, it looks like you're mistaken.  Let's give religious organizations the same bar a non-religious charity has to pass.

                    To do otherwise would be to endorse religion.

                    •  That's about IRS reporting... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...not about any organization having to justify their existence.

                      I don't see anything on there that indicates that any other nonprofit has to demonstrate that they "contribute something back" to society in exchange for their tax exemptions.

                      So it comes back to Troubadour wanting religious organizations to have to do something more than any other nonprofit organization does—in having to explicitly justify why they should be allowed to continue to exist.

                      As for the "endorsing religion" part... while the Constitution doesn't endorse religion, the Free Exercise Clause does specifically protect religion from the state just as the Establishment Clause protects the state from religion.

                      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                      by JamesGG on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:45:38 AM PST

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                      •  Looks like they're justifying it to me. (0+ / 0-)

                        What part of reporting one's finances to the IRS isn't justifying those finances?

                        Non-profits have to report their finances, unless it's a church.  Why do they not report their finances?  Why is that fair to the atheist nonprofit group?

                        We're supposed to be equal, but right now people who want to spread nonsense and hate have favor over those who don't.

        •  There's bigger fish to fry. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour

          Personally, I find that the president being able to order the death of a US citizen without due process slightly more problematic.  I'd rather save my most caustic rhetorical arguments for what I consider the most serious issues.

          It would be best to deal with and organize our priorities with the level of harm each problem causes, and since right now our problems are...  Economic catastrophe, intransigent opposition party, degradation of the social safety net, election integrity, people dying and being mutilated in wars...

          These things are more important.  That's a personal value judgement, of course, but in the political sphere, I consider a number of other issues more important than this one.  There are other issues I would rather solve, if I could only pick one.  (And religion is solved with education, not politics, so I think this is the wrong approach to take on this.)

          As a matter of personal wellbeing (as opposed to political, as above), religion is of course the most important, critical thing of all (what could trump infinite torture vs. infinite reward?).  When I criticize religion, I am usually talking about personal relevance, not political relevance.

          That's not to say there's not some external costs to religious thinking in society.  There are, and they're bad ones (anti-science, anti-women, anti-gay, anti-atheist...).  It's just that those externalities, in my estimation don't outweigh the other problems.

          It's important to keep in mind what actually causes harm, sadness and suffering in the world (some religions have reduced or no anti-woman or anti-gay external costs).  Religion plays a huge role in that, but there are reforms we can institute with good governance policies that has little to do with religion.

          Also, keep in mind that if this problem were solved by Obama right now, every religious group that benefits from the program right now would be angry.  It would set the narrative of the politics, and it might not even do anything (the congress could act to stop the president, or the next one could just set it up again).

          I don't like a number of decisions Obama has made, but there's more I do like.  I trust the President is picking the right battles and doing the best he can with the resources he has.  Pick your battles, keep yourself diplomatic, and try to be scholarly in one's approach to the office.  He's like the 21st century equivalent of Jean-Luc Picard.

    •  He won't. Not only because it's not anywhere (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NonnyO

      within the realm of political possibility in the current system, but also because I doubt he agrees. It's just not something your average centrist could get worked up about.

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries.

      by Words In Action on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:44:20 AM PST

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      •  Describing this President as "centrist" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NonnyO

        is completely ignorant.  Centrism is an ideology of choosing a course of action based on an average of the passion of opposing viewpoints - i.e., fully dependent on the Overton Window and lacking a moral compass.  If you think that's Barack Obama, then you're living in an alternate universe.

        "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

        by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:38:29 PM PST

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        •  Centrism is the Third Way - (0+ / 0-)

          it's hovering to the left of the Republicans, wherever they are...as a political calculus. Triangulation, pragmatism. It reduces the number of things worth getting worked up about considerably. And yes, as passionately as I campaigned for the President in '08 and '12, he's clearly a centrist. And this is why we're faced with the possibility of getting the tax increase on the rich for which we fought, but only at the cost of "reforming" the safety net, to which few of us would have agreed, let alone fought for...

          Perhaps TheAction will change all that. We'll see.

          The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries.

          by Words In Action on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:09:59 PM PST

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          •  Centrism is not pragmatism, nor vice-versa. (0+ / 0-)

            FDR was pragmatic.  Bill Clinton was centrist.  Obama is pragmatic.

            "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

            by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:23:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Sadly, I know he won't.... (0+ / 0-)

        I don't see Obama as "centrist."  I see him as appeasing the religious reichwingnuts and corporatists..., somewhere to the far right of the Repuke Conservatives.  He'd have to move a LOT to the left to get near the center.

        Since that newspaper article in '07 where he refused to support impeachment and investigation into the lies and war crimes of Dumbya, Dickie, and their lying criminal cohorts (the same views as the other "frontrunner" Dem candidates, which is why I didn't support them either), I've been disappointed in Obama.  The succeeding years have only made me more disappointed as time wore on.

        Yes, as the lesser of two evils, I voted "for" Obama (technically, I voted against the idiocy of the Repukes), but I can't wholeheartedly support someone who pretends to uphold the constitution and breaks laws & treaties, along with the constitution's mandates, all the time.

        Just ONCE in my life I want to vote FOR someone because I can agree with her/his policies, not vote "for" someone because s/he is the lesser of two evils.  That's still voting for evil.  [I'm 66, soon to be 67.  If things keep going as is in our government, my wish will never happen.  We're too far into a fascist government as is with all the corporations coming in and taking over government functions, from illegal and unconstitutional war to medical insurance, and too many religious wackos dictating misogynistic and racist laws they want our legislators to inflict on us, and we don't even have our constitutional rights restored to us since the Patriot Acts and the rest of the idiotic laws have not been repealed.  I don't foresee anything good in our future without a sharp turn to the left and kicking ALL corporations and religious assholes OUT of government and going back to basic constitutional values.]

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:47:46 AM PST

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