Archive for August 2005

Pat Robertson Urges Murder

August 23, 2005

“You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if [Chavez] thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. “–Pat Robertson, 700 Club, August 22, 2005 Click here to see the entire video http://mediamatters.org/items/200508220006

Pat Robertson doesn’t like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and he knows how to handle people he doesn’t like. Apparently Robertson has discarded his “What would Jesus do?” bracelet and replaced it with one that says “What would Stalin do?”

Chavez is not a lovely person. I wouldn’t vote for him. He admires Castro, he’s too manipulative. He’s clearly a frustrated totalitarian. Robertson called him a “strong arm dictator.” That is, of course, a lie. Chavez is the democratically elected leader of Venezuela. He’s up for re-election soon and he’s looking good in the polls. The Venezuelan people like him and everything else is none of our business.

So why is Robertson suddenly calling for his death? He says Chavez is going to make a launching pad for “communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.” I’m surprised he didn’t throw in Darwinism. It’s the latest in a long string of lies from the mouth of this fundamentalist “religious” leader. He’s hoping you won’t notice the difference between communism, Islamism and socialism or that Venezuela is 98% Christian and unlikely to have anything to do with Islamists.

Chavez has been critical of Bush, calling the invasion of Afghanistan “fighting terror with terror.” He tried to nationalize Venezuela’s oil industry and failed. He says he wants to reduce Venezuela’s dependence on the US as a market for their oil. Venezuela is the fourth largest supplier of oil to the US. In Pat Robertson’s mind, that is the kind of evil that merits the death penalty.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said Venezuela was looking into its legal options and asking for a response from Washington.

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield was asked about Robertson’s remarks he said “Our department doesn’t do that kind of thing. It’s against the law. He’s a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time.” The glaring omission in that statement is some kind of acknowledgement that Pat Robertson was wrong to suggest that the US commit a cold blooded murder.

Acording to a CNN story, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday that Robertson has the right of any private citizen to say whatever he wants, but added that the televangelist’s remarks “do not represent the views of the United States. . . . His comments are inappropriate and, as we have said before, any allegations that we are planning to take hostile action against the Venezuelan government are completely baseless and without fact,” McCormack said.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel called Robertson “a man who seems to have quite a bit of influence in [the US].” He’s right about that. Robertson credits himself with delivering the ’04 election Bush. Like most fundamentalist leaders, he is deep in bed with the Bush administration. Rangel added sarcastically Robertson’s words were “very Christian.”

Indeed.

Don’t believe me, though. Listen to Pat Robertson preaching his version of Christianity:
http://mediamatters.org/items/200508220006

Driven From Public Life: The Persecution of Christians

August 19, 2005

“Persecution — that’s the name for it. Tolerance might be the highest virtue in our popular culture, but it doesn’t often extend to Christians these days. Christians are increasingly being driven from public life, denied their First Amendment rights, and even actively discriminated against for their beliefs.”–David Limbaugh (brother of Rush), author of Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War against Christianity.

Persecution against Christians in America – For those who say it can’t happen here – it is already happening here in America. Christians are being increasingly persecuted for their beliefs and bold stand for Jesus Christ.” (Paul McGuire. Who Will Rule the Future? p. 102)

“Apart from a great revival of true religion, we may expect hostility and persecution from the powers that be in the West.” (Edmund P. Clowney. The Christian and American Law. p. 283)

“We live in an age in which only one prejudice is tolerated – anti-Christian bigotry…Today, the only group you can hold up to public mockery is Christians. Attacks on the Church and Christianity are common.” (Dr. D. James Kennedy. What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? Introduction.)

“With each passing year, people of faith grow increasingly distressed by the hostility of public institutions toward religious expression. We have witnessed the steady erosion of the time-honored rights of religious Americans – both as individuals and as communities – to practice what they believe in the public square.” (Ralph Reed Contract with the American Family. p. 1.)

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The Christian Right loves to paint itself as a persecuted minority. It is one of their most persistent lies.

It is “persecution” not to allow them to use the power of government to establish their twisted version of Christianity as the state religion. It is “persecution” if they can’t tell you when and to whom to pray. It is “persecution” if their bigotry is not the law of the land. They are persecuted. They mention it in almost every speech. Just about every right wing evangelist has thundered at his audience that they are soldiers for Christ and they must fight to defend their religious rights against the onslaught of the Satanic Left Wing Secularists.

It’s the kind of rhetoric that brings them political power and millions of dollars.

How persecuted are they? According to Theocracy Watch The Christian Coalition gives scores of 100% to 41 of 51 Republican Senators and 1 Democrat. To get a 100% rating a senator must vote with the Christian Right on every issue. Only three Republicans scored as low as 60%. This “powerless” minority has the US Senate in its pocket. Seven of the highest ranking Republicans–including Bill Frist–do the bidding of the Christian Right on every issue. Senators who score 80% are considered “moderate!”

If this means they are “driven from public life,” exactly what kind of domination do they want? They are totalitarians. They want it all.

One of the ways the Christian Right is persecuted–according to them–is the lack of school prayer. “Bible reading and prayer in schools have been outlawed,” according to James Dobson of Focus on the Family. This point is nearly always mentioned in Christian Right fundraising letters, rallies and websites. What they hope you do not know is that school-led prayer is all that has been outlawed. Voluntary prayer and Bible reading are alive and well in public schools.

The student prayer movement “See You at the Pole” (http://www.syatp.com/info/faq.html) didn’t get the persecution memo. In their on-line FAQ they say “The right of students to gather and pray outside of instructional time—while at school—is clearly a Constitutionally protected form of free speech. This has been affirmed in regard to “Equal Access Clubs” by the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court Westside Community Schools v. Mergens decision.” The site lists as “Supporting Ministries” dozens of religious groups including–are you ready?–Focus on the Family! (http://www.syatp.com/info/supporting.htm)

Student Bible Study clubs get more constitutional challenges than student prayer clubs for two reasons. First they tend to be more aggressive at proselytizing and second, adults seem to not be able to resist getting into the act. Even so, higher courts generally uphold their right to exist. http://www.crosswalk.com/news/religiontoday/1272487.html

So let’s recap. They lie about not having any political power and about being driven from public life and they lie about prayer and Bible study in public school. Since prayer has not been outlawed, it is clearly the voluntary nature of those prayers to which the Christian Right objects. Voluntary religion is not the goal.

In the end I have to wonder–why lie? If you have the truth on your side you don’t need to lie and if you don’t have the truth on your side, you are on the wrong side.

The Ten Commandments Aren’t Religious!

August 16, 2005

A year or two ago while discussing Judge Roy Moore and his 10 Commandments monument, one of my co-workers asked “Why shouldn’t the 10 Commandments be displayed in a courthouse? What’s wrong with it?” I answered “Because it advances one religion over all the others in this country.” She then asked: “What religion does it represent?”

After I picked my chin up off the floor I answered “The Christian religion. The 10 Commandments are Bible passages.” She looked confused and left. She didn’t want to start an argument. Neither did I.

“Of course, the Ten Commandments are religious,” Chief Justice Rehnquist said; some supporters of displaying the Commandments had tried to argue to the court that the monuments should essentially be regarded as codes of secular law. The chief justice said that in addition to their religious significance, “the Ten Commandments have an undeniable historical meaning.” He added, “Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause.” (Source: New York Times, June 28, 2005)

Rehnquist’s remarks are very puzzling. I would think that religious content would be considered, well, religious content. Not so, Texas successfully argued in the Brief for Respondents in Van Orden v. Perry:
“Thus the reasonable observer, knowing the context of the specific and deliberate location of the Ten Commandments monument on a line between the Capitol and the Supreme Court, would rightly perceive that it is the civic aspect of the Ten Commandments’ contributions to legal history and development that is being singled out and acknowledged. . . . The monument does not rely exclusively on its context to negate any possible message of religious endorsement; its design also highlights the Ten Commandments’ civic significance.”

According to Law professor John Eidsmoe, one of Judge Roy Moore’s advisors:
“‘Our position is that the Ten Commandments are not, strictly speaking, a religious document,’ said Eidsmoe. ‘They are a legal code, they are a civil and criminal code, and they are a moral code that applied to Israel and have been foundational for other societies.’ (Source: http://www.reclaimamerica.org/)

Judge Rhenquist is correct, the Ten Commandments are religious. Mr. Eidsmoe is being a great deal less than honest. The Ten Commandments are not the foundation of US laws. Only three of the commandments–killing, stealing and lying–are dealt with in US law. Those three nasties are forbidden by every society from the Kalahari Bushmen to Red China. They are hardly unique to the Ten Commandments. Three of them are good advice: respect your parents, don’t commit adultery, don’t covet. The first four Commandments, though, are utterly contradicted by the First Amendment: No other Gods, no swearing, no graven images, keeping the Sabbath holy. Your freedom to pick your God, say what you please, carve what you please and do whatever you please on Sunday is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

That’s the problem. It’s too much personal freedom. That is why the Christian Right wishes to con the public into believing the Ten Commandments have anything to do with the US legal system. Personal freedom is not their goal, and they don’t like to be contradicted, even by implication. They have every intention of destroying the First Amendment and replacing it with that “secular” document we used to think of as Exodus 20:1-17.

The Dreams of Mr. Hutchins

August 12, 2005

Madisonville, Monroe County (WVLT) – The Ten Commandments continue to be a hot topic here in East Tennessee and one man is making it his business to bring the Commandments back to Monroe County.

Friday marked the third day Jim Hutchins showed up at the Monroe County Courthouse, his mission, simple, to preach the Gospel and tell everyone why it’s so important to have the Ten Commandments present in government buildings.

Hutchins holds up a poster with the ten commandments, as motorists drive by, when it gets too hot outside, he heads indoors to spread the word. . . .

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What people like Mr. Hutchins don’t realize is that they have a constitutional right to do what he is doing. He can stand outside the courthouse all day and wave his sign. All the time he does that, the hand of the 1st Amendment is over him, protecting him.

The government does *not* have that same right. The 1st Amendment specifically forbids the state from establishing a religion. The 14th amendment applies the federal law to the State of Tennessee and all other states. A government monument erected to Bible verses amounts to establishment. There can be no doubt that the Bible is a religious text, though the lawyers for the Christian Right argue that it is not. Therefore a government erected monument to the Bible is “making a law respecting religion.”

The government can’t keep Mr. Hutchins from promoting the 10 Commandments almost wherever he will. That would “prohibit the free exercise thereof.” Mr. Hutchins’s relationship with God is his own and no arrogant politician can interfere with that relationship.

Unfortunately Mr. Hutchins doesn’t seem to think others should be allowed the same freedom he enjoys. He dreams of gaining the the political power to decide your relationship with God for you. He dreams of getting the government to help him make you read the Bible. He, along with most of the Christian Right, doesn’t see the irony of government enforcement of empty lip service to God. He seems to think it is important for him and the government to impose themselves upon your relationship with God.

The founders trusted you with your own religion. They trusted you to decide your own relationship with God. They set up the 1st Amendment–and there is a good reason it is the *first* amendment–to protect you from a government that thinks it knows how, where, when and what you should worship. Mr. Hutchins dreams of writing your prayers for you, picking your Bible passages for you. The Christian Right has assaulted the Constitution many times in the past. Every time they failed to destroy your right to worship–or not worship–as your own conscience dictates.

Always before the Constitution and our right to our own conscience has survived all onslaughts. This latest assault will tell us whether America still desires freedom or if Mr. Hutchins’s dreams will become our nightmares.

The Laws of God and the Laws of Man

August 9, 2005

“The laws of man originate with God, and man is consequently bound by the laws of God.”–Judge Roy Moore in his book So Help Me God.

When Madison et al. were writing the US constitution every country in Europe was ruled by the divine right of kings. Each king was backed up by God. This had a nifty consequence–nifty for the rulers–if you broke a law or did something the king didn’t like, not only was it illegal, it was blasphemy.

That is the government Roy Moore and the Christian Right plan for us. It’s a two-step process. First you insist that all laws come from God. That has the nifty consequence above. Of course Moore & Co. are the ones who will tell you which laws are from God and which ones are from Man. They know. God told them. And they can’t be wrong. So, with that little problem solved you move on to the next step: replacing the constitution with “divine” law, that is, any law *they* like.

Another implication of the statement by Moore above is that he can pick and choose which laws to follow. He is above the law. Man’s laws don’t apply to him. This is a recurring theme among the Christian Right. They can blow up abortion clinics because the laws against murder don’t apply to them. They can beat their children because child abuse laws don’t apply to them. They can apply a religious test for public office because the Article 6 of the constitution doesn’t apply to them.

They may be in for a rude awakening. The Christian Right was proud of Moore for standing up for God and the laws of God. They were furious when the laws of Man prevailed.

I’ve been told by a right wing Christian that the Christians are going to rise up and violently overthrow the US government and replace the constitution with the Bible. I can be pretty paranoid, but I don’t think those plans are in the works. I think even James Dobson would be horrified with the idea, but it *is* a logical conclusion of the Christian Right’s rhetoric. The laws against violence don’t apply to them. They are following God’s orders, doing God’s work. They can lie, inflict violence, even death. When you are doing the Lord’s work you are following the laws of God and not the mere laws of man.

If you are thinking by now that laws against fraud, deceit, violence and murder are sort of, maybe, God’s laws, I would agree. But when God has told you to do something he can give you a waiver for his laws. Just ask D. James Kennedy.

The Limits of Tyrants

August 7, 2005

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.

They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.

The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must pay for all they get. If we ever get free from all the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and, if needs be, by our lives, and the lives of others.”

Frederick Douglass, from an address on West India Emancipation, August 4, 1857

Rick Santorum has a Right to Your Bedroom!

August 4, 2005

NPR interviewed Rick Santorum this morning. [Click the title above for a link.] He has written a new book “It Takes a Family.” Apparently the title is a take-off of “It Takes a Villiage” by Hillary Clinton [aka The Great Satan]. Santorum accuses the “extreme” left of being individualistic, hoping you will ignore the word “village” in Clinton’s title. He also says–and this is the fun part–that the extreme right wing of his own Republican party are also rugged individualists and therefore resemble the left wing. The individualistic, small government Republicans, according to Santorum–are so extreme in their views they have circled around and met the leftists! Don’t you love it? I bet the libertarian-style Republicans are loving it. Not.

It wasn’t even a few years ago that the left–especially the extreme left–was accused of being commie and therefore collectivist. That is an accusation not too far from the mark since extreme American leftists tend to resemble moderate European socialists.

Republicans, on the other hand, have always stood for rugged individualism. It’s the standard, cheesy excuse Republicans use to allow little old ladies starve in the streets while giving billions away to rich people. The Social Security set are supposed pull themselves up by their bootstraps or whatever footwear the elderly may freely choose.

Enter the Christian Right which is utterly committed to totalitarianism. The irony is extremely rich. The left has always been accused of totalitarianism–in the face of the left’s record of struggle to extend civil liberties to every member of society. The Republicans supposedly stood for individualism. To get into power they have pandered to the very people they should be hotly opposing. They are riding a tiger that considers individualism, civil liberties, and freedom of conscience to be no less than blasphemy against God. The Republican politicians have seen themselves get replaced by the kind of people who will toe the Christian Right’s totalitarian party line. The Republicans who are disturbed by the kind of government interference in people’s lives that Santorum & Co. propose, have been replaced or soon will be.

Santorum said openly he is opposed to people who think you have personal privacy. He made it clear that he belongs in your bedroom and anywhere else in your life he wishes to go. He is opposed to people making their own choices about lifestyle or religion. In this small NPR interview he carefully lays out the Christian Right agenda. The Christian Right are after no less than complete control of your life from conception to whenever they think you should die.

Over and over in the NPR interview and, I assume, his book, Santorum paints himself as mainstream. If the Republicans don’t wake up, he will eventually be correct. They thought they could control the tiger they are riding. Now it is eating them alive.