Category Archives: separation of church and state

Behind the Scenes- Changing America

If you don’t think that the Republicans, in their current incarnation, are extreme then you need to concentrate not just on what they are saying, but on what they are doing. They are using stealth tactics that they hope will fly under our radar to achieve their agenda through “creative” and small, but still legal strategies that are wiping out years and years of gains in the civil rights of Americans. They are tweaking local and state laws to achieve ends they have not yet been able to achieve on a national level. Consider the following:

  1. They are undoing decades of hard-won freedom for women that has allowed women to make decisions about their own health. Mississippi, Alabama and North Dakota are all passing or trying to pass laws that require Ob/Gyn’s who do abortions to have hospital privileges near their clinic and then the states set it up so that these physicians will never have hospital privileges. End effect – they get rid of abortions without technically breaking federal law. Nullifying federal laws by using tricks doesn’t sound exactly kosher. If the courts won’t shut these tactics down then I hope we keep really good statistics about the effects of blocking accessibility to abortion, wherever it occurs.
  2. Union busting is already gaining popularity. However, we remember the sacrifices our ancestors made to make unions possible and the important role they have played in ending bad practices in the work place. Again, if these actions against labor unions are not overturned, let’s collect data to see how this loss of power for unions will affect the pay and benefits of workers and the workplace treatment of workers. Let’s also determine how long it takes for significant changes to occur.
  3. Some states are voting to allow a broader interpretation of topics taught in schools. Ostensibly, this is meant to give student ideas more leeway in terms of creativity, but many fear that this is another of those tricky Republican strategies to wedge “Creationism” into school curricula.
  4. Voting rights are also under attack. We know Republicans have advocated passing voter ID laws in a number of states and have made voting more complex in other ways. The Voting Rights Act is being challenged in the Supreme Court right now because it is being argued that the protections offered by this law are no longer needed. If such protections are no longer needed I see no reason to challenge the law.
  5. Watch for a Republican push to change the way electoral votes are counted. Although this tricky strategy has already been exposed on TV and in the news, Republicans seem to be continuing to work quietly behind the scenes through their political support groups and PACs to accomplish their voting goals.
  6. Republicans continue to defy the tradition of separation of church and state. They argue that America is in a moral decline and that only Christian values will turn things around. It looks like the GOP would like the American government to become an evangelical Christian theocracy.

And then there is this really fringe nonsense. Get a load of this video.

 I do not want to become paranoid. If you watched the video you saw where that can lead. But I do want to be prepared and to keep a tennis racket handy to divert the bats. (It’s a metaphor.)

Thanks for the image, Google.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

Have We Lost Our Moral Compass?

People are worried that the separation of church and state is bad for America, or there is a movement afoot to make America a Christian nation, maybe even a fundamentalist Christian nation. I read an article on Sunday that seemed to suggest that we are misinterpreting the 1st Amendment. Texas is trying to rewrite textbooks. Many seem to believe that America has lost its moral compass, that, without religion in government, evil and depravity will seep into government and into our everyday lives. In fact they believe this has already happened.

I do not believe that one must belong to any particular religion or even any religion at all to be moral. The entire idea of America is based on humanistic ideals that build in morality. It doesn’t matter what religion you study. All religions have acceptable morals and values. Even atheists probably do not condone murder and mayhem. We need to live a life of morals and values because we believe “all men are created equal.”

It is our dual nature as humans, our flawed nature, that leads to moral slippage in society. We know the right way to behave but we are led astray by human desires. And, it seems, there are a lot of gray areas. Even very vivid images of Hell did not create highly moral societies. An existentialist existence with all its baggage of personal responsibility still does not allow one to do anything one pleases without some expectation of consequences. Existentialism has just as great a chance as the Heaven-Hell belief of engendering either morality or depravity.

People came to America seeking a freedom of religion that was definitely lacking in Europe. I’m fairly certain they were all or almost all Christians. Our forefathers did not consider Muslims and Buddhists, etc. because they were not on their radar. So they left us with an idealistic Constitution, with ‘morality by design’, a morality not necessarily of any one religious tradition, rather a morality of humanism. There is very little difference between “all men are created equal” and “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”