Intruding Upon the Constitution by the Religious Right

 

by WALTER BRASCH

 

Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky, of Peoria, Ill., ordered all parish priests in his diocese to read a letter to their congregations condemning Barack Obama. The letter, to be read the weekend before the election, declared that Obama and the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate had launched an “assault upon our religious freedom.”

He wasn’t the only priest who used the pulpit to attack the President. Bishop David Lauren of Green Bay, Wisc., told his congregations that voting for Obama and other candidates who were pro-choice or who believed in embryonic stem cell research or gay marriage could put their “soul in jeopardy.” Others, primarily from evangelical Protestant faiths, were even more adamant in their religious intolerance, declaring that voting for Obama would definitely condemn their souls to Hell.

Southern Baptist evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, said President Obama was “waving his fist before God” by supporting same-sex marriage and women’s abortion rights. In full-page newspaper ads, shortly before the election, the 94-year-old Billy Graham, whose words may have been written by his son, declared that Americans should vote for “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles.” Those principles, according to the ad, include opposition to same-sex marriage. A spokesman for the Grahams said that neither person endorses candidates. However, Billy Graham reportedly told Romney he would do “all I can to help you,” and removed Mormonism from a list of cults on one of their web pages. In February, Franklin Graham, who earns about $600,000 a year as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, declared that Obama had plans to create “a new nation without God or perhaps under many gods.”

The re-election of President Obama didn’t stop the attacks. The Rev. Jerry Priscano, a Catholic priest from Erie, Pa., said Obama was the anti-Christ. On his Facebook page, he declared, “It will only be a matter of time before our nation is completely destroyed,” and that Hurricane Sandy, apparently a sign from God to the liberal northeast, “was only the beginning.”

A Pew Forum study of the 2012 vote showed that white Catholics favored Romney (59%–40%), Hispanic Catholics overwhelming supported Obama (75–21). Romney also had the evangelical Christians (79–20), and other Protestants (57–42). Although Romney pandered to Jewish voters, claiming he would be Israel’s best friend, and that Obama couldn’t be trusted, Jews went for Obama (69–30). The Pew exit poll measured only persons who identified themselves as Jews or Christians.

Factoring into the vote against Barack Obama is religious bigotry that drips with the hatred of anything not Christian. About one-fourth of all White evangelical Protestants believe he is a Muslim, although the President goes to a Protestant church and has never held Muslim values or beliefs. In one of the great leaps of faith, evangelicals also believe Obama is a “godless socialist Muslim,” something much rarer than a Klan leader voting for a Black Jew for president. Overall, about one-sixth of Americans believe he is Muslim, according to a poll by Public Religion Research Institute. Ironically, most evangelical Protestants also believe Mormonism is a non-Christian cult and refused to support Mitt Romney in the primaries. Faced by a “Muslim” and a Mormon in the general election, the evangelicals supported the Mormon, who had flip-flopped from moderate to conservative to get the nomination and then tried tacking slightly to the center for the general election.

The right-wing believe that America is a Christian nation and should elect only like-minded Christians to office. Even many Christian religions, such as Unitarianism, are suspect in the eyes of those who absolutely believe they absolutely know God’s intent, and everyone else is wrong. They support Israel, far closer to being a socialist nation than the U.S. ever will be, as a Biblical necessity, but would be conflicted if a Jew should ever become a major party candidate for president.

The religious bigots claim the U.S. was founded by Christians and is a Christian nation—or, reluctantly, say it is a Judeo-Christian nation. But, no matter how much they screech, the facts don’t support their beliefs. George Washington declared, “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” John Adams and the Senate later ratified a treaty with those exact words.

Most of the Founding Fathers were primarily deists, not Christians, and specifically rejected many Christian beliefs, including the virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus, and that the Bible was written by God. They also believed that God, having given mankind the power of reason, then stayed out of the lives of His people. Among the deists were Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Monroe. But they and the other Founding Fathers were explicit in their declaration, embedded into the First Amendment that established the principle that all people had a right to their own religious beliefs.

Several distinguished historians (including Drs. James McGregor Burns and Richard Hofstadter, each of whom won the Pulitzer Prize for history) have pointed out that in 1776 and much of the 19th century, as much as 90 percent of the population did not identify with the Christian church.

There is another aspect to the First Amendment, often overlooked by those who don’t know history or Constitutional law, yet believe they do. Jefferson, in his first year as president, in a letter to a Baptist congregation, referred to the intent of one of the five parts of the First Amendment as “building a wall of separation between church and state.” Numerous times, the Founding Fathers had reaffirmed this separation, creating what became known as the “establishment clause” in 1787. Several rulings by the Supreme Court reaffirmed this doctrine.

However, 28 percent of Americans, according to a Nate Silver poll in February, don’t believe there is a Constitutional separation of church and state. The Constitutionally-ignorant have established religious tests for persons seeking political office. It should make no difference if Mitt Romney is a Mormon. It should also make no difference if Barack Obama is or is not a Muslim, Protestant, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Pagan, Vodun, Vodouist, or even an atheist.

But it may be a Hindu, Gandhi, who has last the last word. Discussing his experience with missionaries in South Africa, he said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” He was specific in his dislike for some, but not all, Christians. He had never met the extreme right-wing.

 [Dr. Brasch is an award-winning syndicated columnist. His latest book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, which looks at religion, history, and social issues.]

           

 

 

 

Palin Needs 20+ Seconds To Name a Founding Father

Ouch:

This, from the leading Republican Presidential candidate in 2012. Even Glenn Beck(!) thought Sarah Palin's waffling on the question of her favorite founding father was "bullcrap." Another Katie Couric moment for Palin?

What Party Would George Washington Support?

Imagining what the Founding Fathers would think about our nation today always constitutes an interesting exercise. America's strength and enduring democracy probably would have delighted many of them. On the other hand, its political parties and many foreign alliances might have raised an eyebrow or two.

In fact, if one reads George Washington's farewell address, its quite amazing how much of his advice was not followed. "Avoid...overgrown military establishments" (nope); "steer clear of permanent alliances" (nope); "preserving the Union" (the Civil War ruined that one); "avoiding...the accumulation of debt" (funny, that); "party dissension...is itself a frightful despotism" (stopped following that advice even before his death).

Because this is a politics blog, however, the question here is what political party Washington would have belonged to.

On the surface, things look muddled. Washington's personal beliefs don't fit one particular mold. His commitment to isolationism, for example, wouldn't have made either the Democrats or the Republicans look appealing. He supported democracy and liberty - but doing that isn't exactly a Democratic or Republican-only thing.

We know that Washington held Federalist sympathies; thus his support of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton strikes one as a modern-day big-business supporter; perhaps Washington might therefore have leaned Republican.

The truth, however, is actually fairly obvious. Demographics provide the answer. If we look not at policy but at identity, we can tell what party George Washington would have belonged to.

Think about it for a moment. George Washington was a married rich rural Southern slave-owning Protestant straight white male who in all probability would not have voted for a black man. Sounds like a Republican to me.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

There's more...

Whose Values?

The Family Values Conference is now over, and having listened to the Republican candidates grovel and kiss up to their issues I think it is clear now what a Conservative is: someone who imposes his or her religious beliefs on everyone else.

Now, this is strange to me, since they constantly say they want to restore the values of the Founding Fathers. I don't believe any of the Founding Fathers were Southern Baptists, which appears to be the leading religion of these Family Values folks.

Nor do I believe that the Founding Fathers ever distinguished between Right To Life and Right To Choose... nor did they make it part of the Constitution, although these Family Values folks insist that they are the main supporters of said document.

What amazes me more is how people who are not from the Southern Baptist religious community, like Romney and Giuliani, assure the assembled multitude of the similarity of their beliefs... although they are not technically similar at all. And many of those assembled buy it (although those attending voted for Huckabee, a Baptist Preacher, in the straw poll).

So whose values represent Americans, really? And whose values represent those who put together the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? And whose values support the maintaining of life - I mean by not sending our sons and daughters to die for oil? And whose values allow for the participation in our society by Jews, Moslems, Episcopalians, Buddhists, and, yes, atheists and agnostics? And whose values support politicians who don't lie about WMDs?

If I were to vote for American Values today, it would be for a Democrat who supported an end to the war,  freedom of (and from) religion, and participation by all aspects of the American people.

Under The LobsterScope

There's more...

The Ron Paul REVOLUTION



So just how do you save a bankrupt Nation, awash up to the eyeballs in 80 Trillion Dollars ($80,000,000,000,000.00) of debt, with a declining middle-class, a declining standard-of-living, declining Civil Liberties, a declining currency, and that is mentally frozen into thinking it must behave as "an Empire" and maintain 750 unwanted Foreign Military Bases over all the planet, and Military systems littered all over even Outer Space itself-??

Answer:  The Ron Paul Revolution

Let the learning begin:

There's more...

Diaries

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