Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Wall Comes A'Tumbling Down

At last, we have a major liberal declaring that the wall of separation between church and state is a misreading of the Constitution and historically incorrect. Following in the footsteps of Chief Justice Roberts who declared a mandate a tax, this constitutional liberal scholar declares that political issues are moral issues. And where better to look for moral guidance than the churches? She even said so from the pulpit. And who is this mystery liberal? None other than First Lady Michelle Obama.

Appearing in the role of lay pastor at the African Methodist Episcopal Church's forty-ninth general conference in Memphis, Michelle told the gathering: “To anyone who says that church is no place to talk about political issues, you tell them there is no place better—no place better. Because ultimately, these are not just political issues, they are moral issues.”

Aside from specifically endorsing political candidates or ballot measures, many of us conservatives have been saying the same thing for decades. We have been called “religious zealots” and “fascists” for doing so. But when Michelle speaks, the sheeple listen. And let's face it, Michelle wasn't talking about moral issues, she was talking about following Barack Hussein Obama, the self-appointed messiah. That takes the moral ground out from under her argument and turns it into the very politicization of religion that the Founders actually intended to prevent when they instituted both secular government and freedom of religion.

Says Bill Donahue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights: “Michelle Obama followed in the footsteps of her husband yesterday when she called for the politicization of religion.” In the spirit of “if you can't lick 'em, join 'em,” Donahue went on to say: “Since the Obamas have taken the gloves off—in effect calling for Americans not to be restrained by separation of church and state legalisms—others should follow suit. I hope that the bishops, priests, evangelical ministers, and the orthodox members of all religions are taking note.” Amen, Brother!

Neither Donahue nor I call for the pulpits to become political forums. But quite simply, religion has a major role in our political lives. It was the churches of the 1800s that led the people toward the eradication of that great stain on American freedom—slavery. It was the churches of the mid-1900s that fostered the Civil Rights movement, eliminating de jure segregation of the races and culminating in the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education. We are simply saying that for most Americans, moral and religious issues are intertwined, and speaking of them in church is a perfectly valid constitutional exercise. If an issue which contains moral and religious ramifications is preached from the pulpit seems to favor or disfavor a candidate or party, so be it.

Obamacare is a perfect example of what we mean, and what Michelle doesn't mean. The Catholic Church (and my own Missouri Synod Lutheran Church) have declared the mandate/tax/penalty which requires religious institutions to participate in birth control measures such as abortifacients to be an absolute violation of religious freedom. Though it has not yet come to it, they are suggesting future civil disobedience, just as their predecessors did with slavery and segregation. They would be crossing the line by saying “defeat Obama” or "vote for Candidate X because he will vote against Obamacare.” But raising the issue is a religious imperative that leaves the congregants to draw their own conclusions using their own individual consciences.

What Michelle wants from the pulpit is “Vote for my husband. He's black, he's beautiful, and he knows what's best for you because he is in personal contact with the deity. Do this in remembrance of him, and ye shall be saved.” Of course there's that little matter of the Obamas' marriage and twenty years of faithful attendance at a church where Barack's pastor and mentor boomed from the pulpit: “No, no, no. God damn America.” Somehow, I don't think that Michelle's understanding of religion and politics is the same as mine. How about you?

I'll be around during the Fourth of July week holding down the fort while Andrew takes a mini-vacation. When you're not too full of hot dogs and hamburgers, and after your barbecue fire has safely died down, come and join me.


19 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

bravo, Hawk - - well said. It has always been a sham how some churches (who are tax exempt) participate in "community outreach" programs designed to increase voter turnout. Of course, they only register people as Democrats, but hey, they have no control over that do they?

Anthony said...

Lawhawk said:

But quite simply, religion has a major role in our political lives. It was the churches of the 1800s that led the people toward the eradication of that great stain on American freedom—slavery.

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I support you and Mrs. Obama's point that one can't separate religion from politics and morality, but its worth keeping in mind that churches (sometimes the same denomination) were on both sides of the slavery debate. Churches influence and are influenced by the values of the society in which they exist.

On that note, I think it makes no sense to complain about the politicization of religion. Both politics and religion touch upon pretty much all aspects of life, so its impossible that the two things stay separate.

T-Rav said...

Standard conversation with a liberal regarding "separation of church and state":

C: Why are you determined to stop people from praying in public?
L: Hey, people praying is fine with me, I just want everyone to follow the Constitution.
C: Huh?
L: We have to maintain separation of church and state. That's one of the most important ways the Constitution protects our freedom.
C: You're aware that that phrase never appears in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, right? That it's from a private letter of Jefferson's years later?
L: ....That doesn't matter. It's a good principle to follow. Otherwise people would force their beliefs on others.
C: But that wasn't your argument. Your argument was that it's in the Constitution, and it isn't.
L: Oh, so that means we should just impose some kind of theocracy where men can keep women chained up at home and kill gays and all, huh?
C: ....

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: Funny how that works out, isn't it?

LawHawkRFD said...

Anthony: By politicization, I mean advocacy for a candidate or a party, not for a cause. And of course you are right about the churches taking both sides on the slavery issue. There have always been religious debates just as there have always been political debates. In that case, the anti-slavery view won, at great cost.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I see you've read the script from the play Liberal Follies.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, I must have been around liberals longer than I thought. I promise that's exactly how our debates go on Facebook; and I know many of them too well to think that they're motivated by anything other than an intense dislike of religion.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I often wonder if the "dislike" is actually a deep-seated fear of religion. Acknowledge God and/or religious truths and you have to admit that man may not be able to control everything and everybody after all.

Individualist said...

The First ammendment states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

So why can't a pastor in a church ask individuals to vote for a specific candidate if they so choose. Evidently because the donations to the Church are considered non taxable by the government. If they try to influence the government then these are somehow subject to tax.....

Why? Why should the rights to free speech in a church, the rights to assemble and to petition the government have a price tag..........

That is not free speech and it most certainly is making a law regarding the establishment of a religion.

Rule one: if it limits you from doing something it probably can't be justified as protecting your rights......

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: I'm with you in spirit. But tax-exempt status is very important to the churches which are already being preempted in many of their foundational activities by a profligate government passing off welfare as charity. It ain't charity if it ain't voluntary (at least until Justice Roberts decides to change the definitions).

I don't think the establishment provision is the correct one in this debate. I think the right that is being infringed is the free exercise provision.

As long as there is an IRS Code, there will be the need to steer clear of specific candidates or parties simply because of the byzantine nature of the tax code. Of course there is a quick solution to that. Eliminate the IRS and repeal the Sixteenth Amendment. I'm not holding my breath for that obvious fix to occur.

On the other hand, something as simple as repealing the entire tax code and replacing it with a very simple and understandable "flat tax" or "fair tax" with a simple exemption for religious institutions would also help. But we've already seen in the Obamacare mess that the gummint has an infinite talent for muddying the waters and making its own findings as to what comprises an exempt religious institution.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, it's basic to liberal thinking that if one believes a, then one must also believe b, c, d, e, f, g.... Because they are so nuanced.

tryanmax said...

Indie, not to poke holes, but I can think of way that a liberal might pick apart "Rule One." I much prefer the grade-schooler test. If a law can't be broken down into terms that a kid can understand, then it's too complicated.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Well said.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Excellent, but one small problem. Even if a grade-schooler could understand it, it doesn't necessarily follow that liberals like Pelosi and Reid could. On the other hand, not knowing, reading or understanding what they're voting on is par for their course. And that leads to Supreme Court justices defining the words their own way. I think a grade-schooler would be able to tell the difference between a mandate and a tax.

Individualist said...

Tyranmax

There is a difference between being stupid and obuse. Stupidity is the lack of ability to understand something and obtuseness is the lack of willingness to understand something.

Liberals are obtuse

tryanmax said...

I concur with Patti.

LawHawk, I think the 4th of July is one of those occasions where "you've got to fight for your right to party" is a good enough motto.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: Maybe they're obstupid.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I'll allow that. LOL

Doug Indeap said...

I guess fun is fun, but your light-hearted poke at our First Lady confuses and conflates three related but different items: (1) the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, (2) the political doctrine that commonly goes by the same name, and (3) the federal statute limiting the activities of tax-exempt organizations (including qualifying churches) in political campaigns. Your post, in the end, makes a hash of it all.

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