Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Church and State Question

I've moved this back to the top of the blog, due to its importance, and added some links. No matter your faith or in this case your right to be an atheist if you so choose, you've got a stake in this ruling.

You know those guys that Newsweek called the King Makers? (that would be Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson)? All three are dominionists, meaning they believe the United States is destined to be a Christian nation, a theocracy if you will, and anyone who does not fall into their narrow view of what a Christian is will be destined to a more subordinate role in society (kind of the same role they put women into in their churches and families).
this ruling brings them one step closer to that theocracy. And all three are lobbying their constituency especially hard to have this ruling over-turned. The fact that these three are for it, should make any rational person strongly against it.

From today's New York Times Editorial

The Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case that could have a broad impact on whether the courthouse door remains open to ordinary Americans who believe that the government is undermining the separation of church and state.

The question before the court is whether a group seeking to preserve the separation of church and state can mount a First Amendment challenge to the Bush administration’s “faith based” initiatives. The arguments turn on a technical question of whether taxpayers have standing, or the right to initiate this kind of suit, but the real-world implications are serious. If the court rules that the group does not have standing, it will be much harder to stop government from giving unconstitutional aid to religion.

Under the Bush administration, federal grants to religious organizations have increased 38% and faith-based intitiatives are providing everything from sex education (generally abstinence based) to food for the poor.

As the child of a preacher man, I believe that church groups can do many things better than federal programs can, but I object strongly to federal dollars being used to fund programs that can discriminate based upon religious preference. And faith-based groups are discriminating based upon religion.

This means that if you're not an Evangelical Christian, your own tax money actually funds a program where you can be denied employment for which you are qualified. These groups can't discriminate based upon color, but they can and do discriminate based on religion. Which is fine-- as long as they aren't taking Federal money.

The Bush Administration has done serious damage to the wall that separates church and state. Hopefully, this ruling will provide a way for Americans to challenge this slide toward a theocracy.

3/1 UPDATE: Americans United, an organization headed by the Rev. Barry Lynn, reports on the hearing yesterday.
Slate's take on yesterday's hearing. Most chilling quote from this wry essay?
"When most of the justices are treating the key precedent as a punch line, it's a good clue they are preparing to pull the plug."
Findlaw has the legalese take on this.
Crosswalk reports that "humanists and atheists" gathered.......
Jay Sekulow, regarded by many as the Christian Right's finest legal mind weighs in.


fletch said...

With the recent appointments to the SC I'm not expecting a favorable outcome for separation. Revealing my ignorance of the SC, if they heard arguments Wednesday when will they make a ruling?

mainelife said...

Fletch-I believe it will take some time for them to rule (I've searched but can't find an indication of when the ruling will be made), but everything that I read indicates that your intuition is will be correct.

Most legal analysts believe that the Supreme Court will overturn the lower court's ruling.