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THE VEXED QUESTION OF RELIGION

 
 
Setanta
 
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 10:05 pm
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 6,567 • Replies: 146
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Ethel2
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 10:20 pm
yup, I agree
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blatham
 
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Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 10:27 pm
setanta

As you know, I share your understanding of your founders' (clear) intent, and your considered opinion that the christian right is the most clear and evident danger to liberty in your own country. A passionate and well penned screed, my boy.
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pueo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 10:27 pm
bookmarking
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 09:46 am
Too many clerics representing political forces that would advance their agenda of tearing down what the writers of the Constitution intended. So far, so bad for them.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 10:01 am
Bravo to you Yanks !

"The child is the father of the man". It would be a great shame if you introduced the lunacy of funding separatist schools as is the case in the UK.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 10:10 am
Interesting comment, Fresco, could you expand on that? How does that work?
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fresco
 
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Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 01:10 pm
Jewish and Catholic "Faith Schools" have long been part of the British public education system which for the most part is historically "Church of England". There has recently been a proposal to extend the system to include Moslem schools. partially from a "political equality" point of view, and partly based on the relatively higher standards of education achieved in the minority Faith Schools with their more disciplined atmosphere.

Some insight into the ensuing debate can be gained from articles such as:

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,5500,553241,00.html
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 02:42 pm
Quote:
It is my contention that the modern demagogues of the religious right are attempting to tear down the wall of separation, as Jefferson put it, and so many others after have called it. I am sceptical of the motives of the leadership of the charismatic christians, although i hold no brief to denigrate the membership of those confessions--i simply consider them misguided. Their leaders, i believe, seek personal power, for however much any of them might claim a higher moral mission--some few might be sincere in this, although i doubt if that describes many. The laity of these religions i doubt not are sincere, and their belief in a moral system which ought to be imposed makes them easily the tools of their leadership. I believe this to be unconstitutional, as well as opposed to the traditions of our nation's finest leaders throughout our political history. I would like to know your thoughts on the issue.

I have no interest in tearing down the wall Jefferson--in his wisdom--intended be built, fortified and maintained. I wish only to see that wall remain and not be replaced by a greater wall, a bastardization of what Jefferson and others intended.

In whatever ways that beast called government might reasonably be required to interact with that beast called religion, it should do so without prejudice towards any religion or towards all religions. The government should no more be barred from hiring a religious organization to do secular work than it should be barred from hiring a religious person to do secular work.

I think that you, Setanta, and others may have some misconceptions regarding what I think on this matter. Some of these may be based on failings in my ability to make a cogent argument. Others may simply stem from a tendency to assume that--having championed faith-based initiatives and questioned the modern interpretation of the separation of church and state--I must be for a more Christian federal government. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let me copy my comments from another discussion to better delineate my position here...

Quote:
All the federal government needs to do is not espouse a specific religion, and avoid grey areas where it might appear that they are doing so. Should you have to swear on a Bible in a federal court? No. Should "In God We Trust" be on our money? No. Should ALL comers be allowed to compete for federal aid dollars whether secular or faith-based, so long as all faiths are permitted equal access? Yes.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 05:00 am
In the first place, religious organizations receiving federal dollars would do so without regard to their proportionate representation within the populace--it would be impossible to guarantee equality of this access which you always tout, and this would lead to recrimination and resentments.

In the next, religious organizations always have and always will discriminate in hiring based upon professed religious belief, and that would amount to government participation in unfair labor practice at whatever point such a group received a "secular contract."

In the next, there would ever be a justifiable suspicion that the organization in question had prosletizing as its primary goal rather than the stated purpose of the "secular contract," leading once again to the recrimination and resentments i earlier made mention of.

Finally, there is no reason to assume that a religious organization has the necessary expertise to carry out the contract. Quite the contrary, religious organizatons are headed by those who studies are in a field for which the government currently has no applicable use, and the membership who would perform such activties are not assuredly qualified to do so. The government does not contract with persons or organizations to do environmental studies because of their professed good will, but because of their demonstrable expertise--and the same applies to any other area in which the government lets contracts. There is no area in public life in which religious organizations can by their nature be said to possess an expertise which warrants spending government revenues to employ them.

Quite apart from all of this, anyone who would claim that the Shrub's plan for "faith-based initiatives" is intended to get the best bang for the taxpayers buck is either playing fast and loose with the truth, or is hopelessly naive.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 05:14 am
Fresco, i found the text of that Guardian article to be surreal. There will always be exclusion, because there will always be unrepresented religious minorities. The madness just multiplies when government become involved in religious issues.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 08:16 am
"Quite apart from all of this, anyone who would claim that the Shrub's plan for "faith-based initiatives" is intended to get the best bang for the taxpayers buck is either playing fast and loose with the truth, or is hopelessly naive." Setanta

Oh, but it can be both, a hopeless naivety playing fast and loose with the truth.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 08:17 am
Does anyone seriously believe there would be equal opportunity for federal funds for all religions?
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 08:56 am
the LDS church (LDS) they had the good sense to refuse to participate in any govt $$ on the basis that they wanted no strings attached to their efforts. nice to see their honesty and I applaud them for it.
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 08:57 am
LW

Yes, faith based initiatives are NOT to the end of efficient use of taxpayer dollars (though that hope may be why some support the notion on hearing of it). Anyone who took the time to read Didion's piece 'God's Country' from the NY Review of Books (if you didn't when I first linked it, then it serves you right you'll now have to pay) understands the genesis of this program, and the aim of it, is evangelical - the forwarding of christian right values via government agencies. Some of this history can be found in the book "Political Fictions" as well...
Quote:
Take Didion's chapter on Christian journalist and would-be social policy expert Marvin Olasky. A journalism professor at the University of Texas, Olasky authored the book, Compassionate Conservatism, the title of which became a central theme of George W. Bush's 2000 campaign.

Didion notes that the conservative Christian magazine Olasky edits, World, has run articles featuring headlines such as "Homosexuals take the offensive," "Abortion Speech Police," "Texas students fight for pre-game prayers," and "Darwinists circle wagons against science teacher."

In one issue, the World agonized over the dilemma of whether or not music fans should buy the CD's of divorced Christian singers. "How credible can evangelicals be in condemning such sins as homosexuality and extramarital sex when so many seem so tolerant of the sin of divorce?"

This is all cute and funny, until one realizes that Newt Gingrich, upon taking over leadership of the House of Representatives in 1995, said this: "Our models are Alexis de Tocqueville and Marvin Olasky."

Cute and funny until you realize that Olasky served as an early advisor to candidate George W. Bush, who then drew upon Olasky for a key campaign speech in 1999, calling for federal funding to religious groups for social programs. Mind you, this proposed funding is not for religious groups like Catholic Charities, which serve a broad clientele, and bring in their religion around the edges. Catholic Charities and other groups already receive federal funding. The Olasky-Bush plan was to give federal money to social service groups in which religion is the method of treatment, in which religion is essential to the program's mission.

"Sometimes our greatest hope is not found in reform. It is found in redemption," then-candidate Bush said in a key 1999 speech in Indianapolis, a speech that drew little derision from the mainstream news media. The then-candidate promised that his administration would fund the religious social service groups "without changing or corrupting them."

Hello, Didion quietly screams. Why is this blatantly conservative religious talk being allowed into the public sphere without so much as a murmur of objection on the part of the mainstream news media, the Democrats or the broad national political class?

The point is not that the mainstream media failed to cover Olasky. The mainstream newspapers ran several articles on him. Rather, the point is that Bush got away with affiliating with such a man at a time when he was calling for the Republican Party to "reach out" to non-traditional Republican voters.
http://www.drexel.edu/doj/archives/2002/artsand/polioticalfictions.html
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 10:38 am
Setanta wrote:
In the first place, religious organizations receiving federal dollars would do so without regard to their proportionate representation within the populace--it would be impossible to guarantee equality of this access which you always tout, and this would lead to recrimination and resentments.

If that's true then the same is true of racial disparities, and the only cure in both cases is quotas. I disagree with the premise that equal access can only be measured by outcome, and while I don't doubt that some people will always complain about something or the other, that doesn't always mean there is a problem.

Setanta wrote:
In the next, religious organizations always have and always will discriminate in hiring based upon professed religious belief, and that would amount to government participation in unfair labor practice at whatever point such a group received a "secular contract."

I remain unconvinced that this is such a stumbling block. Government contracts often include variances for hiring for other reasons; why not for faith?

Setanta wrote:
In the next, there would ever be a justifiable suspicion that the organization in question had prosletizing as its primary goal rather than the stated purpose of the "secular contract," leading once again to the recrimination and resentments i earlier made mention of.

Suspicions don't matter. Like any government contract there would be oversight. Further, whilst I suspect it is only religious proselytizing that concerns you, secular groups do in fact sometimes push their agenda on the people they serve. Just as a religious university receiving federal dollars does not constitute government funding religious thought, neither (I think) would a faith-based group using government monies to run a soup kitchen, even if they offered a prayer before the meal.

Setanta wrote:
Finally, there is no reason to assume that a religious organization has the necessary expertise to carry out the contract. Quite the contrary, religious organizatons are headed by those who studies are in a field for which the government currently has no applicable use, and the membership who would perform such activties are not assuredly qualified to do so. The government does not contract with persons or organizations to do environmental studies because of their professed good will, but because of their demonstrable expertise--and the same applies to any other area in which the government lets contracts. There is no area in public life in which religious organizations can by their nature be said to possess an expertise which warrants spending government revenues to employ them.

If you assume that religious persons have no other skills or areas of expertise, I suspect I won't be able to change your mind about that, but I will state that nothing could be further from the truth.

Setanta wrote:
Quite apart from all of this, anyone who would claim that the Shrub's plan for "faith-based initiatives" is intended to get the best bang for the taxpayers buck is either playing fast and loose with the truth, or is hopelessly naive.

I wondered whether you could get through this without tossing out an insult. Rolling Eyes
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 02:28 pm
I think what Setanta is addressing is the notion that church volunteers will have the necessary credentials to adminster all that is needed in the existing programs. I don't believe they do. I didn't see any insult in the final statement unless someone is volunteering to fit the profile.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 03:45 pm
Scrat, you needn't take it personally that i criticize the Shrub, so saying that i've tossed out an insult is non sequitur. Anyone having expertise to offer for a government contract may do so in the normal bidding or grant application process, and there is no need to involve the church, temple or whatever of their religious choice. A church per se, however, has no expertise to offer the government, since the government is not in the religious business. There is nowhere in what i wrote any basis for inferring that i believe equality of access is to be measured by outcome, rather, i'm pointing out that suitable government contracts are finite, and the probability that a significant segment of religious organizations who would fail of access for that reason is great. The only "discrimination" allowed in government hiring is based upon security considerations--if you believe that are others, then you need to back that up, which i don't expect, because i cannot recall that you ever back up such claims. You've repeatedly stated that the intent of the first amendment is to provide access to government by all religions, but have never produced a shred of evidence for the claim--and i have provided evidence to the contrary, which you don't attempt to dispute, other than by your unsubstantiated claims. You've now several times claimed that the government allows "variances for hiring for other reasons," but have never made any more specific a statement, or provided any evidence that this is true. How anyone can contemplate the abuse of contracts with the Defense Department and make the bald statement: "Like any government contract there would be oversight." -- is completely beyond me. That statement flies in the face of the historical record since the end of the Second World War. Our government is notorious for handing out money without any oversight. The only possible way you could take my final observation as an insult, is if you claim that "faith based initiatives" will get the biggest bang for the taxpayers buck--prove it.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 04:23 pm
As far as the grant application process is concerned, I wonder how many besides Haliburton and Bechtel put in bids for the reconstruction of Iraq? c.i.
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 04:42 pm
Lightwizard wrote:
I think what Setanta is addressing is the notion that church volunteers will have the necessary credentials to adminster all that is needed in the existing programs. I don't believe they do. I didn't see any insult in the final statement unless someone is volunteering to fit the profile.

There is no logical reason I can think of to assume that workers at a secular agency would be any more qualified than those at one associated with a faith. I suspect there is a bias at play in both your and Setanta's "belief" here.

And as to not seeing any insult in his comments to me; then I'm sure you won't be offended if I comment that the only way you could make the statements you have made is if you either are a liar or are hopelessly naive. (Or is "playing fast and loose with the truth" a nice thing to say about someone where you come from?)
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