Is Jeff Sessions Trying to Establish an American State Religion?

sessions
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I just found out that “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday announced the Department of Justice’s creation of a ‘religious liberty task force’ to ‘help the department fully implement our religious guidance'” over at CNN.

Actually, someone I know from my Powered by Robots sister blog reblogged an article called The First Amendment Under Siege posted at The Shinbone Star. You can find out more about their staff here (although discovering that one of their reporters used to work for MSNBC told me a lot about the particular bent of this publication).

I suppose I shouldn’t get into politics on my “religious” blog, but this topic is or should be of interest to all people of faith in the U.S.

It’s tough to get an unbiased view of what Sessions is up to, so I had to look at a number of differing sources, including The Hill and a memo on the Department of Justice website.

So “The Shinbone Star” states that the First Amendment is under attack, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he’s trying to defend it.

The “Star” believes that any government involvement in the realm of religion or religious institutions is a violation of the First Amendment, and at least hints that it’s an attempt to form a “state religion,” or rather:

We already know how 45 feels about the press and about free speech for anyone who dares oppose him. We also know that the neo-Nazis who march in favor of his policies are “very fine people,” according to him, while the opposition is repeatedly disrespected and dismissed.

So that leaves the first part of the amendment, a provision drawn up by men who opposed the idea of a state religion and who in fact did not mention a deity in the whole of the Constitution.

Sessions’ “religious liberty task force” is an outgrowth of the Trump Administration’s indebtedness to the Evangelical Right, which apparently doesn’t like being told that whom people marry and whether they choose to reproduce is no one’s business.

And this most telling passage:

So, baking a cake is an “ordeal’ for a baker, but being forced to have children isn’t an ordeal for a woman who can’t afford contraception? And I don’t know of any nuns who’ve been “ordered to buy contraceptives,” but in the light of revelations that religious sisters in Africa and elsewhere have been sexually molested and even impregnated by priests, it sounds like a good idea to me.

Not sure who is forcing women in the U.S. to have babies since you’d also have to force them to have sex first.

Okay, let’s find a counterbalance. What does “The Hill” have to say:

Sessions said the cultural climate in this country — and in the West more generally — has become less hospitable to people of faith in recent years, and as a result many Americans have felt their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.

“We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives. We’ve seen U.S. senators ask judicial and executive branch nominees about dogma—even though the Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test for public office. We’ve all seen the ordeal faced so bravely by Jack Phillips,” he said, referring to the Colorado baker who took his case to the Supreme Court after he was found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

This seems to present opposing views as to who should have rights and who should not. Are the rights of religious people and those belonging to other groups mutually exclusive?

If a person is an atheist, whether they’ve been religious in the past or not, that person might not understand the depth of the struggle a Catholic Nun might experience if she were forced by law to provide contraception to a patient. They might also not understand what Jack Phillips went through when forced by law to provide a service he felt violated his religious beliefs. In this case, can we say that religious people in the United States have a right to practice their faith without it being abridged by the law or not?

In theory, yes. That’s one of the things the First Amendment guarantees. In fact, the “Star” even quoted those rights from the Constitution:

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

–First Amendment to the United States Constitution

It seems that’s exactly what Phillips did, but somehow, he’s “wrong.”

Are Nuns being forced to buy contraceptives or to provide them to others? Not that I’m aware of, unless someone can point me to a relevant and credible news source. I’m not sure where Sessions pulled that from, but if Catholic medical institutions should one day be legally ordered to provide contraception and abortion services, then certainly someone’s rights are going to be trampled on.

Frankly, I’m a little uneasy about this summit and what it could mean. I don’t want the government (Trump’s administration or any other) to get too close to the freedom we enjoy here in practicing our faith. If somehow all of this results in people of faith gaining greater rights and freedoms, then it must be applied equally to all faiths across the board, not just Christianity. And in spite of what Sessions has declared, compared to many other countries, Christians don’t experience much, if any actual persecution in our nation. If you want to find out where Christians are really being persecuted, go to this page at Christianity Today.

But according to the “Star,” this all boils down to:

What this all boils down to is a backdoor way of making abortion illegal and forcing school prayer.

The bottom line from “The Hill” is:

Sessions said the federal government under the Trump administration is not just reacting but is actively seeking to accommodate people of faith.

“Religious Americans are no longer an afterthought,” he said.

These two publications have wildly differing interpretations over what Sessions is proposing.

I can see why the “Star” author is so upset, since any threat to abortion rights tends to trigger a very panicked response, but school prayer? Oh the horror (that last part is sarcasm). Then again, as I’ve written elsewhere, Toxic Fear is the basis for a great deal of hostility, including hostility aimed at religious people.

Actually, school prayer isn’t illegal. Any teacher or student may pray as an individual, and probably if a few religious students wanted to say grace before eating lunch, I can’t see that being particularly harmful or damaging to anyone around them.

It’s organized school prayer led by school staff where students who may not be religious (or of a different religion that has a different praxis) are compelled to participate that’s illegal. Of course, there are also religious schools where (naturally) the right to pray cannot be abridged.

I think there is some merit to what Sessions is saying about the rights of religious people sometimes taking a backseat to the rights of other groups. I guess that’s what the courts are going to have to hash out eventually.

As far as the whole “Christian Baker/Same-sex marriage” thing goes, I’ve said before that the simplest way to deal with the matter is to let the marketplace do what it does best. If one merchant refuses to provide you with the desired cake, then they don’t get your money. Find a different baker who will provide the cake, and then they will get your money. It really isn’t that complicated, and if the Christian bakers in the U.S. suffer a significant drop off in business, they’ll either have to rethink their convictions or stand by them and earn fewer profits.

Oh, to the degree that a Christian person has the right to sue based on a violation of their First Amendment rights, such as Phillips did, then there is, at that point, some sort of intersection between religion and government. The fact that we have an amendment that guarantees the rights of religious people is another intersection, so it’s not like you can completely isolate people of faith from legal recourse.

This isn’t a perfect nation, but to the degree that so many people want to cross our borders and live here, it can’t be all that terrible, either, or at least not as terrible as the countries many folks are trying to escape.

I agree that the rights of people of faith should be considered no higher than any other group, but then again, they shouldn’t be considered any lower, either. Every time leftist politics wins another social justice victory, conservative religious people lose a little more ground (I know I’m going to take criticism for that statement, and for having the audacity to write this blog in the first place).

I’d enjoy living in a country where we really all were equal relative to our basic rights, but Sessions had better walk, very, very carefully. One of the good things about our nation is that Christianity isn’t the state religion. Neither is Judaism, nor Islam, nor any other faith. We should keep it that way.

However, there seem to be other (non-religious) ideologies where the supporters want to have their values tacitly made “state values,” and to the degree that they’re getting laws passed, I’d say their plan is working. This is morally the same thing as a “state religion.” Certain ideologies, such as what I imagine the “Star” espouses, may not be a “religion,” but the “dogma” is just as passionately “preached” and defended (particularly in social and news media) as any theology or doctrine by any religious group.

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50 thoughts on “Is Jeff Sessions Trying to Establish an American State Religion?”

  1. I am concerned that Sessions and those on the right view our country as a “Christian nation” when, in fact, it is not, even though the vast majority of citizens are Christian. America is a secular nation, where the Constitution sets the laws of the land, not the Bible. But what Sessions SEEMS to be suggesting is that the Christian Bible is the ultimate law, and I think that’s dangerous and could lead to an American theocracy.

    I won’t get into the Colorado baker controversy here. I did on one of my posts the other day and things got kind of ugly.

    Anyway, I appreciate this post and your efforts to present a balanced perspective.

    1. The statistics seem to say that the majority of Americans claim to be Christians, but relative to the news and social media, I wouldn’t say so. Then again, they may be very quiet about it. For all your concerns that the U.S. is going to become some version of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” I seriously doubt it, and in spite or perhaps because of the Trump administration, a lot of this country is pulling to the left, and especially Christians are getting nervous that someday they may be the ones locked up in pens.

      Yes, I now follow your blog and I did read the article you wrote and particularly the comments (and yes, things did get ugly…welcome to the world of religious blogging).

      Oh, and see ProclaimLiberty’s comment in this discussion thread. I think you’ll find it highly informative.

      1. Thanks for the follow. And I did read ProclaimLiberty’s comment, which was interesting. I am genuinely worried that we are moving in a hybrid “Handmaid’s Tale”/“1984”-like direction, where the religious right is gaining more and more influence and where our government is spewing “newspeak,” refining truth, and revising history. And it’s beyond just Trump. I believe he opened up Pandora’s box, but when you have people like Pence and Sessions, and McConnell in high powered positions, even the removal of Trump might not be enough to stop the “Trump train.”

      2. In the 1980s during the Reagan administration, you probably recall the whole “Jerry Falwell and the Religious Right” thing. I believe people were worried back then about something similar happening. Of course, it didn’t. The pendulum swings back and forth across time, and so far, the conservative, fundamentalist, Christians haven’t taken over America. In fact, they’d have to do away with the Constitution to do it, which I seriously doubt they would since conservative fundamentalists also tend to be staunch constitutionalists.

        It’s interesting that you invoke Orwell’s novel “1984” and “newspeak,” since I consider the limitations to speech applied via “political correctness” to be more “1984-esque.” Orwell made his point very well that if you control language, you control thought, and I believe most of us would rather to continue having free will and self-determination as opposed to an outside movement thinking for us via news and social media. No, this doesn’t mean I believe people should hurl racist, sexists, or anti-LBGTQ+ epithets all over the place, but if I want to call myself “straight” rather than “hetero cisgender,” I should have that right.

      3. I do believe that we have gone over the ledge when it comes to political correctness. And “safe spaces” where people can be sheltered from hearing “trigger words.” But I don’t think political correctness is the same as “newspeak,” where war is peace and love is hate and lies are truth and “alternative facts” are facts. By the way, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that the term “straight” for a non-gay person is politically incorrect. That’s a new one for me.

      4. Online, I see straight people continually refer to themselves as “hetro cisgender,” as well as gay people referring to straight people that way. Since I don’t often have to state my orientation/identity, no one’s called me on how I think of myself yet, but I can see a day coming when it will be a “microaggression” to use the word “straight.” When I was getting all of those response tweets on twitter due to my comments on WorldCon and the Hugo Awards, I looked at what some folks were tweeting and clicked a few links just to find out more about them. I ended up at this one site which was completely written using gender-neutral pronouns (I can’t remember where I found it now). The topic didn’t seem to be about gender identity, and wasn’t addressing a particular individual as far as I can tell. And yet, I wonder if the author was attempting to so equalize different genders and gender identities, that the person felt equality = totally neutral?

        Of course, we’re getting pretty far afield relative to the original topic, so we might as well return to discussing whether or not the religious right or the progressive left is going to take over the world. 😉

      5. Well, pardon the hell outta’ me… or, in the terminology of the Old West, “Them’s fightin’ words, mister! I don’t care who thinks I’m aggressive, but I insist that folks who identify with their natural genetic sexual identity are, in fact, “normal”, as justified by statistical measures; and that anyone else is by definition “deviant”. That makes “me ‘n thee”, James, “normal” heterosexual males. Anyone using any other terminology is supporting a misanthropic agenda, contrary to the well-being of humanity and its continuing existence and health, both physiological and psychological. It is they who are the aggressors, and I’m willing to be equally assertive in response — stating in no uncertain terms that they are demanding that normal folks, who position themselves to ensure the survival of our species by normal reproductive processes, should accept denigration of normalcy and exaltation of deviance whose logical result is the death of the species. That is irrational, unreasonable, unacceptable, and intolerable. If they wish to call me intolerant, so be it. Such intolerance is well-justified and well-reasoned. And, just in case anyone has failed to recognize it, I’m quite thoroughly angry about having to defend the obvious. But if it’s a fight that’s wanted, a fight will be granted.

  2. More like extreme materialism (masquerading as patriotism… and as Christianity).

    James… Sorry if it seems picky, but you might want to fix this: … any actual persecution in our nation. If you want to find out where Christians are really being persecuted, go to his [I’m thinking you typed in “this” rather than “his”] page at Christianity Today.

  3. Let’s take another look at the clauses in that First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Let me begin by parsing them into individual requirements, as follows:
    (1) Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion
    (2) [Congress shall make no law] prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]
    (3) [Congress shall make no law] abridging the freedom of speech
    (4) [Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom] of the press
    (5) [Congress shall make no law abridging] the right of the people peaceably to assemble
    (6) [Congress shall make no law abridging] the right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

    The present essay is focused primarily on (1) & (2). Note that (1) doesn’t say that the Congress can’t actually establish a religion, or any number of them (though I can’t imagine any legislative justification for doing so). The key word here is “respecting”. What it means in this context is that Congress can’t make laws that give preference to any particular established religion over any other. Now, Jeff Sessions is not a member of Congress, and he can’t make laws of any kind. As Attorney General, the most partisan thing he could do officially is to prosecute lawsuits selectively against one or another religious organization, or constrain the defense of the government against claims by one or another such organization. Unofficially, he might attempt to use his influence toward obtaining favorable treatment from some lawmaker regarding one or another religious issue. In neither case is he capable of actually violating the first amendment, even if he might believe that a lawmaker truly ought to favor one religion over another, despite the prohibition of clause (1), or devalue the views of some particular religion, despite the prohibition of clause (2).

    There do exist, nonetheless, SCOTUS decisions, based on other amendments in the Bill of Rights, which constrain non-Federal lawmakers similarly to uphold these national constitutional rights. Consequently, if a local population segment wishes to erect and decorate a Christmas tree, and another segment a Chanukah Menorah, and yet another a Kwanzaa lamp, et al, none of them may be preferred over any other and none of them may be refused, a priori. Now, it might become necessary, in accordance with clause (6), to convene their representatives to resolve any conflicts of scheduling or location. And, no doubt, there could arise some conflict of values between religions which would require resolution in accordance with clauses (1), (2), (5), and (6) [and perhaps more].

    The problem of conflict between religions, say between Islam and secular hedonism, could require a court decision to determine whether the practice of Sharia might need to be respected within the confines of a practicing Muslim community defined by geographic borders. However, such a determination might also need to include exceptions that overrule Sharia — to prohibit honor killings of women, for example. It seems to me that other conflicts with traditional American values might also become relevant.

    Thus we may come to the question of whether recognized American traditions are religious in character, thereby becoming constrained by the 1rst amendment, or whether American legal principles have a force of law behind them that can overrule or take priority over the actions of a religious individual or community. For example, is a Muslim woman driving a car to be exempted from the legal requirement to be identifiable to police by a driver’s license photo? If not, she may not wear a hijab or veil while driving, or at least she must remove it if stopped by police. Or, do anti-drug laws or laws against public intoxication interfere with the religious rights of a peyote cult? Or would such a cult be constrained to private use only, and possibly also by a requirement for supervision by a non-intoxicated individual who would bear responsibility for public safety? I suspect there would be wide agreement that freedom of religious praxis cannot sanction murder. But what of other religious conflicts that may be harmful to the public welfare defined by the American values cited in the Declaration and the Constitution? What are the limits of clause (2) relative the general body of characteristically-American law and praxis?

  4. In my previous post, I neglected one very important topic, which is particularly germane to the perception of favoring one religion over another, or disfavoring a religion. The Constitution does require US lawmakers, and US government in general, to act in accordance with its preamble which states: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”. Consequently, if, pursuant to these goals and principles, the Congress passes laws that happen to coincide with similar values in one or another religion, that does not constitute favoritism toward an established religion. Similarly, if some religion’s principles or values are at odds with the laws that Congress passes for the general welfare, Congress is not guilty of prohibiting the free exercise of that religion, per se.

    No doubt, however, an aggrieved religion’s representatives will repair to the courts to seek redress of their grievances due to the limitations placed upon their religious exercise. Then the court will be required to evaluate the purposes and effects of the law, in the light of constitutional protections, in order to seek some balanced means of addressing the purported grievances. This may mean, as in the case of the Colorado Christian baker who refused on religious grounds to supply a cake for a gay “wedding” that violates and insults his religion’s tenets, that the court must uphold the religious man’s right to refrain from support of that activity. His rights were balanced against their impact on the general welfare and the rights of others. An alternative case asserting an Islamic right to commit murder would no doubt be ruled differently and contrary to the Islamic tenet that impels it. Similar results would likely obtain in a case where a pro-life advocate would murder an abortion provider, regardless of claims about religious tenets. In these cases, I suspect that the notions of ensuring “domestic tranquility” and “general welfare” would rank highly.

  5. This doesn’t directly pertain to the subject, but in my ongoing conversation with Fandango about whether or not it’s possible to have a liberal, progressive dystopia or totalitarian regime, and what it would look like, I found a possible answer based on what’s happening in Belgium right now. It seems that there’s a law allowing for the euthanasia of children, not just the terminally ill, but those in great pain but who otherwise were expected to live.

    Since the controversial decision was made to allow children to be euthanized, three children have been killed. The first child lost their life in 2016, and reportedly was a 17-year-old suffering from an undisclosed “incurable illness”. Two more followed in 2017. Their ages and the natures of their illnesses are not known.

    If the lives of babies and children are cheap, I guess they become disposable. As a parent and grandparent, I would defend their lives with my own.

  6. It seems that there’s a law allowing for the euthanasia of children, not just the terminally ill, but those in great pain but who otherwise were expected to live.

    Recently in Australia there have been a few stories about “elder abuse” where elderly people were being abused in various ways in aged care centres, or by their adult offspring. It’s a complex and wide-ranging issue.

    One of the disturbing suggestions that was raised in discussion on this topic was the need for aged people to have the right to choose euthanasia as an option to escape the sufferings of old age. Consider that in light of what I said in my first paragraph.

    Logan’s Run here we come.

  7. Every time leftist politics wins another social justice victory, conservative religious people lose a little more ground (I know I’m going to take criticism for that statement, and for having the audacity to write this blog in the first place).

    I’d enjoy living in a country where we really all were equal relative to our basic rights, but Sessions had better walk, very, very carefully. One of the good things about our nation is that Christianity isn’t the state religion. Neither is Judaism, nor Islam, nor any other faith. We should keep it that way.

    I’m not sure what to say about the first paragraph of this quotation. I agree with the second.

  8. It undermines your complaints that people you see as in that category don’t listen to you or want to have a conversation, as if you’re willing to listen to them (rather than tolerate words coming out of their mouths until you get to speak).

  9. Resorting to loaded political terminology isn’t the best approach to take.

    The old left-right, conservative-liberal divides aren’t profitable. (especially when things like “conservative” are additionally qualified to become associated with “religious people”).

    Personally my views and attitudes between the things those secular labels are supposed to identify aren’t fixed. On some issues I’d lean to “the left” while on other issues I’d lean to “the right”.
    Identifying solely with one particular political wing would make me complicit to a lot of things I find objectionable.

    I believe that “religious people” should be conservative regarding moral issues – and yet I see that much of “conservative” politics has crossed the line into the worship of $$$ and is socially corrupt, failing to care for the needy.

  10. I think slavery was immoral and that getting rid of it was progressive. Jim Crow laws were immoral; new versions of them are immoral. Redlining (and cousins of it) is (and are) immoral. Requiring a woman to choose between keeping her job or keeping her baby is immoral (and Ginsburgh fought against that oppression).

  11. The fact that people still pick on Ginsburg [not that she’s much bothered by this] to portray her as if she’s a representative of the devil — in order to gather their own power — shows (along with the very fact that she’s still alive) that it’s a quite recent timeframe these examples reach up through. (And they’re only examples, not exhaustive). Republicans used to be openly in favor of abortion and population control (even during my lifetime, but I didn’t know). They’ve gone on hating her and people like her, just flipped and decided they had a better shot at a voter base by pretending to be extraordinarily moral (the very definition of political and hypocritical). I remember when I was a young mother, of at least three of my children by then, and I carefully read the records of representatives and so forth. It didn’t matter that my local Democratic representative voted the right way on the key issues covered by conservative literature; Republicans put up billboards to attack him as an evil person when voting time came. Jumping to now, to give only one example, I think it’s immoral (to say the least) to purposely orphan children — including if they are Hispanic children.

    The followers of the right DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING (the ones who are forgivable, I’d say). Luke 23:34

    1. Hmmm… You touched on two topics, Marleen, under the rubric of what is moral: abortion and “purposely orphan[ing] children” — and you went on to assert that the “followers of the right DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING”. This brought to my mind a couple of questions. One, have I missed some news item about heinous politically-motivated murders of Hispanic or other parents (presumably criminal border violators), done systematically for the specific purpose of making orphans of their children? That would certainly be immoral if it were being done by anyone. But even if the policy of separating minors from adults for the purpose of adjudicating their legal problems had not been discontinued by recent presidential executive order, that is a far cry from killing anyone or leaving their children as orphaned wards of the state.

      On the other hand, my second question is: “If purposely orphaning children would be immoral (even if only in theory), what shall we say about actually killing them outright in the womb?” Now, the modern origin of advocacy for abortion and population control is to be found in the writings and advocacy of Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), whose belief in eugenics also tarred her with a racist taint. She has been a darling of liberals rather than conservatives, which is then expressed in terms of which side of the political divide has always tended to advocate for abortion.

      Somehow this seems to me to put the question on the other foot about whom is unaware of what they are doing or advocating, and about current fashions in the wearing of blinders.

  12. Onesimus said:
    JULY 31, 2018 AT 5:10 PM
    America has had an unofficial state religion for a long time – a hybrid of gospel-less “Christianity” crossed with extreme patriotism.

    I came across this a few minutes ago.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-news-oregon-protests-20180804-story.html

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    AUG 04, 2018 | 7:15 PM

    ………

    Demonstrators aligned with Patriot Prayer and an affiliated group, the Proud Boys, gathered around mid-day in a riverfront park.

    The hundreds of opposing demonstrators faced them from across the street, holding banners and signs. Many of them yelled out chants such as “Nazis go home.”

    ………

  13. …which is then expressed in terms of which side of the political divide has always tended to advocate for abortion.

    Abortion has mostly become a politically expedient issue being exploited for votes by politicians who have no intention of acting one way or the other to change the current situation, as long as people accept words with no follow-up action to back them.

    In recent decades those in power spouting anti-abortion (pro-life) rhetoric have not been hesitant to deal out death (and “justify” it) in other ways.

    And didn’t you read: “Republicans used to be openly in favor of abortion …”?

    Neither “wing” of politics can truthfully claim the moral high ground. One-eyed political allegiances are counter-productive.

    Identifying with the political agenda of either left or right (liberal or conservative) is foolishness. Both sides have serious flaws.
    .

    1. Vis-à-vis abortion, Onesimus, I cited liberals as against conservatives in favoring it, rather than Democrats versus Republicans. However, I would be quite surprised if you could cite me any major election where the Republican platform actually favored abortion or the authorization of any public funding to support it (viz: the 1976 Hyde Amendment). It’s just not a Republican plank, and I don’t believe that it ever has been so. I certainly can’t recall any such thing within the past 45 years during which I was an active voter. It may be significant to note though, that the Republican stance has generally not been to ban abortion outright, but rather to ensure that it is a private matter only, not supported by any public taxpayer funding. More recently, however, there has been greater emphasis given to discouraging it entirely, except in special cases such as rape, incest, or life-threatening medical conditions. There is always the possibility, of course, of some individual maverick RINO trying to broaden his voter base in some “blue” area by taking an uncharacteristic stance.

  14. Onesimus said: Neither “wing” of politics can truthfully claim the moral high ground.

    I can agree with that as far as it goes, but based on pontifications in the common news and social media, the more liberal elements in America (and elsewhere) certainly believe they’re on “the right side of history” and are willing to defame those who they believe are not.

  15. I don’t believe either should primarily defame the other. What should be discussed is issues. Always saying “the left” this and that and “whenever” and “whoever” thus and so does not help.

  16. Always saying “the left” this and that and “whenever” and “whoever” thus and so does not help.

    EXACTLY!!!

    To attribute things to “liberals” or to “conservatives” is a short-sighted, ill-informed practice through which actually addressing issues constructively can be avoided.

    While that practice is prevalent throughout “western” countries (another of those labels!) it seems to have become particular crippling in the USA.

    Every time I read or hear of some American “conservative” denouncing “liberals” (or vice versa) I can’t help thinking about how intelligent discourse is snuffed out before it can even begin, all because a particular dismissive label has been attached to someone with a different view.

    And to show how ridiculous that application of labels can be – in Australia the party making up the majority of our current “CONSERVATIVE” Government is called the Liberal Party.

    Labels are meaningless distractions from individual issues and policies.

    As I said before “Identifying with the political agenda of either left or right (liberal or conservative) is foolishness.”

  17. Republican stance has generally not been to ban abortion outright, but rather to ensure that it is a private matter only, not supported by any public taxpayer funding.

    In other words, abortion is okay but only for someone rich enough to be able to afford it. So it is a matter of ability to pay that is the issue, not any moral consideration.

  18. My previously posted comment should have read:

    PL said:

    Republican stance has generally not been to ban abortion outright, but rather to ensure that it is a private matter only, not supported by any public taxpayer funding.

    In other words, abortion is okay but only for someone rich enough to be able to afford it. So it is a matter of ability to pay that is the issue, not any moral consideration.

  19. In my previous comment I said:

    So it is a matter of ability to pay that is the issue, not any moral consideration

    Refer to my earlier comment in which I said “I believe that “religious people” should be conservative regarding moral issues – and yet I see that much of “conservative” politics has crossed the line into the worship of $$$…”

    full comment found here:
    https://mymorningmeditations.com/2018/07/31/is-jeff-sessions-trying-to-establish-an-american-state-religion/#comment-65338

    1. No, Onesimus, you have leapt to a false conclusion. The long-standing Republican approach has been limited by the existing SCOTUS ruling over Roe vs Wade. Unless that decision is overturned, the only available approach toward moral resistance against abortion is to ensure that no one is forced to support it involuntarily via their tax dollars or their professional services upon which their livelihood depends. Desire to resist more forcefully is the reason why there still exist efforts to overturn that faulty decision which was based on incomplete and inaccurate medical information. Removing the matter from Federal jurisdiction that is universally binding is a step toward allowing at least some localities to exercise their own moral scruples. It may even allow the matter to be decided solely by individuals with their own trusted physicians whose primary motivation should be to preserve life and health for all concerned. That will not eliminate the moral battle for hearts and minds, but it will place the responsibility with individuals where it belongs. Your accusation against Republicans that their purpose is solely to curry favor with monied folk in this matter or to disfavor poor ones is mistaken, and likely impelled by a socialist philosophy that would impose financial tyranny upon individuals rather than guarantee their American individual liberty to pursue their own morality. Influence to improve the quality of such morality is not to be imposed from above, but only by means of moral persuasion.

  20. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gop-platform-through-the-years-shows-partys-shift-from-moderate-to-conservative/2012/08/28/09094512-ed70-11e1-b09d-07d971dee30a_story.html?utm_term=.aaf30310787d
    The word “abortion” does not appear in a Republican Party platform until 1976, when the party concedes that it is deeply split between those who support “abortion on demand” and those who seek to protect the lives of the unborn.

    ………

    For decades, the party presented itself as “moderate” or even “progressive.” The 1960 plank, for example, touts “progressive Republican policies” such as “liberal pay” and says the government “must be truly progressive as an employer.”

    In 1972, the platform celebrates Republicans’ use of wage and price controls to curb inflation, a doubling of federal spending on manpower training, and a tripling of help to minorities.

    ………

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25841
    Political Party Platforms

    Parties Receiving Electoral Votes: 1840-2016

    Republican Party Platform of 1968
    August 5, 1968
    ………

    Air and water pollution, already acute in many areas, require vigorous state and federal action, regional planning, and maximum cooperation among neighboring cities, counties and states. …

    ………

    Enactment of legislation to control indiscriminate availability of firearms, safeguarding the right of responsible citizens to collect, own and use firearms for legitimate purposes, retaining primary responsibility at the state level, with such federal laws as necessary to better enable the states to meet their responsibilities.

    ………

  21. …….

    We call on public officials at the federal, state and local levels to enforce our laws with firmness and fairness. We recognize that respect for law and order flows naturally from a just society; while demanding protection of the public peace and safety, we pledge a relentless attack on economic and social injustice in every form. …..

    ………

  22. PL said:

    Onesimus, you have leapt to a false conclusion. The long-standing Republican approach has been limited by the existing SCOTUS ruling over Roe vs Wade.

    The Roe vs Wade ruling that legalised abortion was brought into effect during a Republican presidency by a majority Republican appointed (“conservative”) Supreme Court.

    1. Without analyzing the makeup of that court, it was still not reflecting the Republican platform. The decision also did not obligate governmental financial support. And it can be criticized and challenged just as was the infamous Dred Scott decision.

  23. Marleen
    AUGUST 3, 2018 AT 10:28 AM
    I think slavery was immoral and that getting rid of it was progressive. Jim Crow laws were immoral; new versions of them are immoral. Redlining (and cousins of it) is (and are) immoral. Requiring a woman to choose between keeping her job or keeping her baby is immoral (and Ginsburgh fought against that oppression).

    Marleen
    AUGUST 3, 2018 AT 10:02 PM
    The fact that people still pick on Ginsburg [not that she’s much bothered by this] to portray her as if she’s a representative of the devil — in order to gather their own power — shows (along with the very fact that she’s still alive) that it’s a quite recent timeframe these examples reach up through. (And they’re only examples, not exhaustive). Republicans used to be openly in favor of abortion and population control (even during my lifetime, but I didn’t know). They’ve gone on hating her and people like her, just flipped and decided they had a better shot at a voter base by pretending to be extraordinarily moral (the very definition of political and hypocritical). I remember when I was a young mother, of at least three of my children [in the ’90s] by then, and I carefully read the records of representatives and so forth. It didn’t matter that my local Democratic representative voted the right way on the key issues covered by conservative literature; Republicans put up billboards to attack him as an evil person when voting time came. Jumping to now, to give only one example, I think it’s immoral (to say the least) to purposely orphan children — including if they are Hispanic children.

    The followers of the right DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING (the ones who are forgivable, I’d say). Luke 23:34

    Marleen
    AUGUST 6, 2018 AT 11:10 PM
    [From a newspaper article for which there is a link (above), see below.]

    ………

    For decades, the party presented itself as “moderate” or even “progressive.” The 1960 plank, for example, touts “progressive Republican policies” such as “liberal pay” and says the government “must be truly progressive as an employer.”

    [From that same article in the same post of mine, see below.]

    The word “abortion” does not appear in a Republican Party platform until 1976, when the party concedes that it is deeply split between those who support “abortion on demand” and those who seek to protect the lives of the unborn.

    Regardless of platform, the Roe v Wade decision was in 1973.

    That doesn’t mean Republicans did nothing about it before then.

    1. It’s certainly true that one cannot infer that the Republicans ignored the issue of abortion prior to the 1973 RvW decision or their 1976 adoption of a party plank opposing it. Indeed, even the term “progressive” carried a meaning that was conditioned by other discussions occurring in that period. I can certainly recall political discussions in the late 60s, but abortion was not quite so much in the public eye at that time because other issues were in the forefront — many of them associated with Southeast Asia — and because it was still a very private and personal matter, and, though I don’t have handy the actual statistics of the era, I believe it was much rarer. No doubt, however, that conservatives would have opposed it on moral grounds rooted in historical religious values; and these folks characterized the Republican party.

      There was a statement you cited that I found rather misleading: “Requiring a woman to choose between keeping her job or keeping her baby is immoral (and Ginsburgh [sic] fought against that oppression).”. Now Ruth Bader Ginzburg may indeed have been fighting for women’s rights since as early as 1970, in one capacity or other; but at no time has there ever been any legally-supported requirement that a woman must abort her child in order to retain employment. Doing so would be subject to moral condemnation, certainly. Women have found alternative means to accomplish childcare where the demands of a career were given priority over their personal attention to it, though these means of resolving such conflicting responsibilities between natural imperatives and personal choices could be questioned regarding the best interests of their children or their communities. Note that I cited “natural imperatives” as a valid factor that must be accommodated. If one were to deny this as immoral, one would likewise have to accuse the Creator of humanity and definer of proper morality of fostering immorality. That, I assert, is a contradiction of definitions.

      Setting aside the misleading statement, however, I would suggest that it may be argued that businesses which accommodate the natural imperative of childcare simultaneously with employee business functioning may well benefit by saving the effort and expense of training replacement workers by means of retaining existing ones who have greater experience as well as the additional responsibilities of childcare. Indeed, it could be beneficial to such businesses to employ both father and mother simultaneously in order to diversify the impact on either of them when various ad-hoc demands arise from their childcare responsibilities. It’s all a matter of how broadly the working team and the business system are defined. But that discussion would take us off-topic altogether.

  24. ON topic, I don’t believe being anti-progressive is a good religion (nor wise or demonstrative of a knowledge of history on a rudimentary level — or, alternatively, of concern for logical language). Nor is being Republican [or the associated right wing or libertarian, which is markedly different from ethical conservatives in the country but not differentiated well enough] a good religion. (That is not to say being a Democrat is a good religion either, but no one is implying that… thus no response in that regard is indicated.) Additionally, while no one or most no one [other than slaves or the like, although there could be exceptions to the notion of no one beyond slaves per se] might have been forced to keep a job (and to have an abortion in order to keep it), it has been more the case that women have been precluded from keeping or finding jobs when pregnant (and, of course, that is where any woman could luck* upon being tolerated for a job anyway). Now, the freedom to leave one doesn’t mean there were fifty other jobs to choose from or even one or two if a woman left the one. (How do you propose that men eat without working?) Additionally, go back in time further yet and one will discover that women often had to remain not only not pregnant but also unmarried to remain employed. No doubt, some people do find such progressive changes to be harmful to the religious right (as was stated earlier — by someone else — possibly inadvertently or haphazardly in order to cleave tight to a party faith). I do believe also that you are mistaken in, defacto, assigning religious belief to Republicans prior to and yet after 1973 (and not to Democrats by way of contrast en mass, and particularly to excuse Republicans from the topic at hand). {And with your posited lack of knowledge on the matter in the population generally, it might not have had a lot to do with religion (the dominant religion in the U.S. I mean) to avoid abortion or not. But I myself am not claiming people were ignorant.}

    * I don’t normally use this word.

    1. One cannot rightly assert a notion of religion “trying to push it’s [sic] way into government.”, Spartan, because it is already present in the US founders’ views and the diverse views of the employees and appointees of government. Everyone operates under the guidance of some sort of religiously-held views and values, even if those views are atheistic or secularistic or otherwise entirely at odds with the quasi-Christian Enlightenment views of our US founders. These views are already present and intrinsic in our government; and they are expressed in all sorts of activities and policies. Religious lobbying is therefore much like that presented by any voter-interest group among the populace. This is a part of their participation in this democratic republic. Ultimately, elected officials must weigh the benefits of such suggestions against a variety of factors that must also include the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and several other documents that represent the founders’ views and define the liberties that the USA is bound to pursue and guard.

      The USA is not defined by whatever fluid outlook feels good to the aggregate populace at a given moment in history. It has a foundation and an unchanging definition, at least in broad strokes. While it views “all men [as] created equal” — which is not exclusionary toward women, if the language of the era be understood as it was then — it does not view all values or religions as equally valid. The implications of Constitutional respect and liberty for various religious establishments and their adherents has been discussed above already. But some religiously-held values are simply not acceptable and must be outweighed by Constitutional principles and fundamentally-defining American values. An obvious example is Islamically-inspired “honor-killing”. This motivation for pre-meditated murder is no less reprehensible than any other. If this were deemed the free exercise of a Constitutionally-protected religious practice, then the swift prosecution and execution of its perpetrators would have to follow, in accordance with American and moral law. It may be hoped that this combination should deter this form of un-American religious expression. Other kinds of conflict between religious values and American ones have also been discussed above; but there are some values that were derived from biblical religion which are intrinsic to American government and jurisprudence. Re-asserting them from time to time cannot be deemed a case of religion trying to push its way into government.

      1. Proclaim, you seemed like you were challenging my notion, but then really seemed to agree with me… So I’ll clarify.

        I agree there are religious folks and they carry these beliefs with them in public office.

        I think we also agree that institutionalizing any religion is not okay, and allowing any religion superiority over the constitution is especially not okay.

        The reason I assert that a “religious guidance” group is religion pushing into government is twofold. 1) It means that religious directives are coming from above, not from lobby or individual belief, and 2) it institutionalises the need for religion in policy.

  25. I think he may be trying to balance the power of secular non ideology with not punishing a biblical worldview.
    Christian culture has been largely cut out from participation in education and government since the 60’s. I think he may just be asserting that a culture of innocence

  26. Peace be to all and a good health.
    Hello guys, since many have already read our expose about the Ultimate Covenant Revelation Plan of God to A. Paul and A. John which is also the so called the 2nd Advent of Christ. And many could not still understand, its maybe they just only ignore it in their believe they could be also save without submission to this Will Plan of God for lack of knowledge? And from this, we would like to add few information that might enlighten everyone on the importance of knowing more of this Last Covenant Plan of God. And may not criticize or rejected it like a practical matter, for not knowing of their actuation will compensate them for a serious consequences, that they will cry out unto eternal. And what do we meant of this, if not those truth that were all been prophesies were all not already very close to its fulfillment. And we want also to others to know to fully understand what really is in this Plan of God! And besides of being already gradually applies these Final Hour Judgment of God to all. Which have also the meaning of being the “Vanishing Last Hour of this world” or already the End Time! But becuase of its very definite and limited time as a given grace extension of God mercy to all. Which we already shared in this blog. That we are already now in the remaining few minutes left from the One Hour (in God count) Set Period of this Covenant Plan. Which from this, thou can now observe or even can hear from many news the many calamities, freak accidents and rampant happening of sodomatic immoralities around the world. Which many do not know that these were all the given mojor signs that will happen the nearer the end time comes.

    Which almost all of the scholars of the scriptures (which Questor have also read) also know and understand that after this Vanishing Last Hour the Everlasting Age will follow and will be no more reckoning of years, months, days and hours. And none of all the religions knows this Plan of God. So as a reminder, read John 1-31 and John 6: 40-60.. And thou will understand here, that thou could not substitute other alternative teachings to Yeshua Messiah’s teachings to have one’s salvation. And who ever contradict to it will be automatically to thier final condemnation to this Will Plan of God. Although this was a very strictly and mandatorily imposed in Yeshua’s Messianic Covenant Period. But this will be also required in this our Parousia Period but with lighter consideration due to the very short period of time was alloted and the required high wisdom is optional to those Leftseeds that were now already crossbreeds with those different gentile nationalities and with those literal gentile that love God and observes God’s righteousness or have done good. And coincidentally have eaten the flesh of Christ or have read the whole Gospel of Yeshua M. and repented can avail this Last Call of God Promise Covenant Salvation and be Caught by the Clouds in 1Tes. 4:16-17, and be brought to heaven and meet the Lord there. And don’t forget to come out or separate to your affiliated religion, to show your full allegiance believe to Yeshua Messiah.
    May our living lord God Bless us all.

    LOVE : New Jerusalem – Holy City

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