S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Separation of Church and State

From the ridiculous to the sublime . . . the latest from the war front

This is ridiculous. There is actually a book called "The War on Christmas." TV personality Bill O'Reilly thinks George Soros is behind it. The latest politically correct thing is to label things for marketing purposes as "Christmas," rather than "holiday." Not long ago it was just the opposite. Who can keep up?
Dr. Bruce Prescott, an Oklahoma Baptist, has a blog called "Mainstream Baptist." He heads the Oklahoma chapter of an organization called Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. His post is about Jerry Falwell and the so-called "war against Christmas."

Molly Ivins
column this week is devastatingly funny and serious at the same time. She warns against certitude and suggests that we "let God speak for himself." To quote:
Another reason why religion and policy make such a bad mix is that religion brings the dread element of certitude into what needs to be a constant process of questioning. In the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh quotes a former Defense Department official who served in Bush's first term: "The president is more determined than ever to stay the course. He doesn't feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage, 'People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.'"
"Marcel" at TPM Cafe asks why the U.S. seems to be so bent on ousting secular governments in the Middle East. To quote:

It's almost as though our social conservatives have hijacked our foreign policy. Maybe they secretly admire the Saudis, and are jealous that the mullahs can give a "sermon" that gets people killed, makes governements rise and fall, etc. The power! Maybe Dobson has Sistani envy is hoping that the transformative fundamentalism we've unleashed in Iraq will bleed back into the US.

This Slate article by Emily Bazelon discusses Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito's First Amendment views. Bazelon says that:

Alito's religious-liberty opinions are mechanistic applications of precedent. They reveal little about the stance he'd take toward religious liberty as a justice of the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, his church-state opinions are consistently, predictably, conservative. When his rulings on religion are taken as a whole, their most noteworthy aspect isn't Alito's independence. Rather, it's his fealty to the view—fervently espoused on the current court by Antonin Scalia—that the government must give religious groups the same access to public benefits that it gives secular ones.

This is the sublime part and really, pretty simple. The First Amendment reads, in its entirety:

"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."


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