blue electrical storm wallpaper, understanding words is hard and the separation of church and state

We may have found Christine O’Donnell’s (R-DE) Constitutional mentor – GOP Senate Candidate Ken Buck: ‘I Disagree Strongly With The Concept Of Separation Of Church And State’

GOP Senate candidate in Colorado Ken Buck is less equivocal about his view. At a forum for GOP Senate candidates late last year, Buck said that he “disagree[d] strongly with the concept of separation of church and state,” and that “it was not written into the Constitution,” and then went on to rip President Obama for supposedly getting rid of the White House Christmas tree:

I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state. It was not written into the Constitution. While we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not gonna have a religion that’s sanctioned by the government, it doesn’t mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion. And so that, that concerns me a great deal. So I think there are cultural differences, I think there, we are as strong as we, our culture, our culture gives us our strength, I guess is the best way to put that. And, and I am worried about the fact that we seem to be walking away from culture. And, and one thing that President Obama has done that I would certainly speak about is calling the Christmas tree, which has historically been called a Christmas tree in Washington DC, a holiday tree. It’s just flat wrong in my mind.

The issue of separation of church and state has come up so often lately everyone is probably already familiar with Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Church he which he uses the term separation of church and state. That letter is important for those reading the Constitution and looking for some clarity on other possible interpretations of what Jefferson meant. Jefferson also wrote the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Constitution whose first draft read “All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution.” he doesn’t say the words wall or separation here. It s a matter of defining the limits of freedoms by how far they extend. One may have religious freedom up to the point where that freedom infringes on another. This is a tricky business. One has freedom of religion. My religion compels me to convert everyone to what I believe. Either I or those I vote for must attend to this theological mandate before puny human laws. If that means infringing on someone else’s belief then so be it for the greater good and glory of my deity. That circle of belief or twisted logic hits the secular wall and never comes out happier for the experience. Buck and O’Connell might benefit – though it is doubtful – from visiting an early attempt to impose religious law on American colonists in 1649 – Maryland Toleration Act; September 21, 1649, An Act Concerning Religion.( The toleration part is some early doublespeak reminiscent of G.W. Bush’s pro-pollution initiative called Clear Skies)

Forasmuch as in a well governed and Christian Common Weath matters concerning Religion and the honor of God ought in the first place to bee taken, into serious consideracion and endeavoured to bee settled, Be it therefore ordered and enacted by the Right Honourable Cecilius Lord Baron of Baltemore absolute Lord and Proprietary of this Province with the advise and consent of this Generall Assembly:

That whatsoever person or persons within this Province and the Islands thereunto helonging shall from henceforth blaspheme God, that is Curse him, or deny our Saviour Jesus Christ to bee the sonne of God, or shall deny the holy Trinity the father sonne and holy Ghost, or the Godhead of any of the said Three persons of the Trinity or the Unity of the Godhead, or shall use or utter any reproachfull Speeches, words or language concerning the said Holy Trinity, or any of the said three persons thereof, shalbe punished with death and confiscation or forfeiture of all his or her lands and goods to the Lord Proprietary and his heires (emphasis mine)

Sounds a lot like the Catholic Church of the Holy Roman Empire. That didn’t work out as well as many well meaning followers planned. On the other hand the early America colonies did have some early attempts at honestly addressing religious tolerance. A Colony With a Conscience

THREE hundred and fifty years ago today, religious freedom was born on this continent. Yes, 350 years. Religious tolerance did not begin with the Bill of Rights or with Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom in 1786. With due respect to Roger Williams and his early experiment with “liberty of conscience” in Rhode Island, this republic really owes its enduring strength to a fragile, scorched and little-known document that was signed by some 30 ordinary citizens on Dec. 27, 1657.

It is fitting that the Flushing Remonstrance should be associated with Dutch settlements, because they were the most tolerant in the New World. The Netherlands had enshrined freedom of conscience in 1579, when it clearly established that “no one shall be persecuted or investigated because of his religion.” And when the Dutch West India Company set up a trading post at the southern tip of Manhattan in 1625, the purpose was to make money, not to save souls. Because the founding idea was trade, the directors of the firm took pains to ensure that all were welcome.

For example, while the Massachusetts Bay Colony was enforcing Puritan orthodoxy, there were no religious tests in the Dutch colony. So open was New Amsterdam that at least 16 languages were being spoken there by the 1640s; by 1654, the first Jews in what is now the United States had been able to settle there peaceably.

But religious tolerance had its limits in New Amsterdam, especially when it came to Quakers, who then had a reputation as obnoxious rabble-rousers. Peter Stuyvesant, the provincial director general and a Type A personality if ever there was one, was not going to tolerate a Quaker presence in his domain. To make his point, he ordered the public torturing of Robert Hodgson, a 23-year-old Quaker convert who had become an influential preacher. And then he issued a harsh ordinance, punishable by fine and imprisonment, against anyone found guilty of harboring Quakers.

Almost immediately after the edict was released, Edward Hart, the town clerk in what is now Flushing, Queens, gathered his fellow citizens on Dec. 27 and wrote a petition to Stuyvesant, citing the Flushing town charter of 1645, which promised liberty of conscience.

As Hart and his fellow petitioners so elegantly wrote, “We desire therefore in this case not to judge least we be judged, neither to condemn least we be condemned, but rather let every man stand and fall to his own master.” Their logic was impeccable: “the power of this world can neither attack us, neither excuse us, for if God justify, who can condemn, and if God condemn, there is none can justify.”

The Flushing Remonstrance was remarkable for four reasons.

First, it articulated a fundamental right that is as basic to American freedom as any we hold dear.

Second, the authors backed up their words with actions — they did not whisper their opposition among themselves or protest in silence. Rather, they signed the document and sent it to the most powerful official in the colony, a man not known for toleration or for an easygoing or gracious manner.

Third, they stood up for others; none of the signers was himself a Quaker. The Flushing citizens were articulating a principle that was of little discernible benefit to themselves.

And fourth, like all great documents, the language of the remonstrance is as beautiful as the sentiments they express. “If any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egress and regress unto our town,” its authors wrote in the conclusion. “For we are bound by the law of God and man to do good unto all men and evil to no man.”

Hart was arrested and after a month or so in jail on a bread and water diet recanted. Another Quaker named John Bowne was arrested soon after and even though the Dutch West India Company had a a very low opinion of Quarkerism, when Bowe plead his case of unjust persecution they ruled there would be official tolerance of Quakers. The Most Important Church-State Decision You Never Heard of

Everson was not the first time the Supreme Court made note of Jefferson’s wall, either. The Supreme Court cited the metaphor in one of the Mormon cases, Reynolds v. United States (1879). In this ruling, a unanimous high court mentioned Jefferson’s wall-of-separation metaphor favorably, remarking, “Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] amendment thus secured.”

[  ]…Everson opponents zero in on a 174-word passage in the lengthy decision in which the majority, led by Justice Black, observed, “The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.

“Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion,” Black continued. “No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance.

“No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion,” Black added. “Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa.

“In the words of Jefferson,” Black concluded, “the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State.'”

blue electrical storm wallpaper

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s Ethics Problems, Then and Now

The issue in 1991 wasn’t just the vicious and crude sexual bullying Hill ascribed to Thomas, who had been her boss in the Reagan administration’s Education Department and later at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The issue was perjury: was he lying under oath?

It is now nearly forgotten that Thomas’s ethics record gave Hill’s accusation traction. Briefly a federal appeals judge, and before that a Reagan operative charged with undercutting civil rights enforcement, Thomas had a long habit of telling untruthful stories. As the late civil rights scholar Haywood Burns, dean of the law school at City University of New York, testified during the ’91 hearings before Hill’s accusations surfaced, Thomas’s testimony and record were marked by “a lack of candor, compassion and ethical judgment.”

Reporting to Congress as head of the EEOC, Thomas misrepresented his agency’s nonenforcement of age discrimination law. As a federal judge he sat on an appeals court review of the criminal conviction of Col. Oliver North, despite having spoken out in support of North’s actions in the Iran/Contra scandal. He failed to recuse himself from a case involving his political patron, Senator John Danforth.

To score points, Thomas even lied about his sister: falsely describing her in speeches as pathetically welfare dependent, a mocking depiction utterly at odds with the proud and hard existence of a woman who worked a series of minimum-wage jobs for most of her life to support her family.

Perhaps Ginni Thomas’s phone call was a smokescreen—an attempted distraction from the reporting on Liberty Central’s funding. Maybe it was unrelated. Either way, twenty years later it bears remembering that Hill’s accusations were not just a matter of “she said, he said.” Hill, in 1991, testified as a credible witness of unquestioned probity. Thomas had a documented ethics problem then—and, it appears, an ongoing ethics problem now. Back then, Thomas’s truth problem obscured his shameful role in undoing the very civil rights tradition that made his nomination possible. Today, the Thomases’ evocation of that old episode obscures an ethically challenged Supreme Court justice complicit in handing American politics over to corporations and anonymous far-right donors—that is the real scandal.

The phone call by Ginni Thomas was inappropriate. If she wanted to mend bridges that would have been better done through intermediaries. And if you want to meet someone half way you don’t start out by calling them a liar whose apology you’re waiting for. If Mrs Thomas was feeling the pressure of two decades of ethics questions piling up against her husband perhaps Hill was the only option as a target at who she could strike personally. We’ll probably never know unless she or her husband have some kind of moral epiphany and become, not just brutally honest with the public, but with themselves.

This Rand Paul(R-KY) supporter ( picture at link) attacked a woman from MoveOn with some assist from another male friend once she was down. Two large conservatarians versus one small woman. That seems to be the kind of odds cowards usually like.