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Old April 13th, 2007, 11:12 AM   #1
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First Amendment Discussion

This article was in yesterday's email to me from Christianity Today and I found it relevenat to discuss in keeping with some recent threads here at the DtT.







"Freedom Fighters

Department of Justice ramps up efforts to enforce the First Amendment.

Brad. A. Greenberg | posted 4/11/2007 08:32AM





In the five years before President Bush took office, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reviewed one education discrimination complaint involving religion and investigated none. In the six years since, 82 cases were reviewed and 40 investigated.






Now the Bush administration wants to enhance those efforts with greater governmental resources. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced at a Southern Baptist leaders' meeting in February that the DOJ was launching the First Freedom Project, an initiative to further combat religious discrimination and protect religious freedom.

"One of the great strengths of America is the fact we are a nation of tolerance. We respect different viewpoints; we respect different beliefs," Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general for civil rights, told CT. "That separates us from a lot of other nations. When we do this work to protect against religious discrimination, we strengthen America. And we do so in a way that is nondenominational."

The initiative will include the Religious Freedom Task Force, chaired by Kim, which will employ various divisions of the DOJ to review discrimination complaints. The new firstfreedom.gov website touts previous successes, educates Americans about their rights, and provides a channel for filing complaints online. The department also will hold a series of regional training seminars. Events have been scheduled for Tampa on April 25 and Seattle on May 10.

Even before the First Freedom Project, the DOJ's stepped-up efforts have generated greater religious freedom, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Government lawyers convinced a federal court last year that a New Jersey school had unconstitutionally censored a Christian song from a talent show. The DOJ compelled the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2005 to accommodate religious beliefs, even if it meant bus drivers wouldn't work certain days.

The First Freedom Project comes at a time when concern about religious persecution has heightened. Between 1992 and 2005, religious-discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission jumped 69 percent.

Given the Bush administration's ties to religious conservatives, some experts greeted the initiative with skepticism.

"They need to reach out to many different constituencies that have different approaches to church-state issues to give people confidence this will be a straightforward educational project and not a political battering ram," said Melissa Rogers, visiting professor of religion and public policy at Wake Forest University Divinity School. "[The unveiling] sends the opposite signals."

But Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, said the Bush administration has a track record of defending religious minorities.

"It is unfortunate we are so polarized today that we can't even acknowledge opportunities where we can agree," Haynes said. "Just because it is coming out of the Bush administration, some people decide it has to be condemned completely and labeled a fake and a fraud and that the work being done to protect religious minorities doesn't matter. Well, it does matter to Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus and Jews. Whether you are on the Right or the Left, this is exactly the kind of Justice Department you should want. This is exactly what we want them to be doing to protect religious freedom."

Copyright © 2007 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.





Related Elsewhere:

The DOJ's First Freedom Project website (not to be confused with the Baptist First Freedoms Project) has many resources, including a report on the "Enforcement of Laws Protecting Religious Freedom: Fiscal Years 2001-2006," newsletters, and explanations of what constitutes religious discrimination in education, employment, and in other settings.



Related news articles include:
U.S. Attorney General unveils 'First Freedom Project' at SBC Executive Committee meeting | U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales met with Southern Baptist leaders Feb. 20 to unveil a new Department of Justice initiative aimed at educating Americans about their religious liberties and to ask for the Southern Baptist Convention's help in identifying and reporting abuses of those liberties. (Baptist Press)
Gonzales touts religious-freedom plan to SBC; others question Bush record | Gonzales chose the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee meeting to announce a new Justice Department focus on religious freedom. But some Christian leaders questioned the move. (Associated Baptist Press)
DOJ report says department has defended religious liberties | A 43-page document was released by the U.S. Department of Justice Feb. 20. (Baptist Press)"



Link To Complete Article



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Old April 13th, 2007, 11:33 AM   #2
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The ability of the "religious" community to con the elected officials into letting them gather wealth with tax exemption status, even though it is not a church, is nothing more than the greedy men in business suits who want you to think they are religious.



This obvious violation of our constituion, funding education of religion, is one of the many reasons why the born-again evangelical republican party leaders are a worse threat to our nation than the AlQaeda.



Here's the source of their power, and it is anything but christian.



The Despoiling of America



Anyone who can read this and not understand that the evils of this push for religious endorsement of our nation is anything BUT a direct attack on our way of life is part of the problem.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 12:38 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Sally Numor
The ability of the "religious" community to con the elected officials into letting them gather wealth with tax exemption status, even though it is not a church, is nothing more than the greedy men in business suits who want you to think they are religious.



This obvious violation of our constituion, funding education of religion, is one of the many reasons why the born-again evangelical republican party leaders are a worse threat to our nation than the AlQaeda.



Here's the source of their power, and it is anything but christian.



The Despoiling of America



Anyone who can read this and not understand that the evils of this push for religious endorsement of our nation is anything BUT a direct attack on our way of life is part of the problem.
I'm reading "American Fascists" right now, which is a very recent work on dominionism and government.



But I do hold a lot of skepticism with this decision. Is Bush gonna use this to advance religious freedom, or just a front to push the SBC's agenda for social change? My guess is it will be both.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 03:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Antithesis
I'm reading "American Fascists" right now, which is a very recent work on dominionism and government.



But I do hold a lot of skepticism with this decision. Is Bush gonna use this to advance religious freedom, or just a front to push the SBC's agenda for social change? My guess is it will be both.




I don't think religious "freedom" is the goal so much as religious "control" to gain wealth.



The Carlyle Group,



Meet The Carlyle Group - Former World Leaders and Washington Insiders Make Billions from the War on Terrorism



contain key people who make their billions through war. If the bin Ladens can push for a militant Islamic state, and the New World Order group can push for radical Dominionism, the money keeps flowing in.



To promote religious freedom is to include those aspects of real religions which are about compassion and love. Something which hurts the military complex as it did in the resistance to the VietNam War.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 04:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Sally Numor
I don't think religious "freedom" is the goal so much as religious "control" to gain wealth.



The Carlyle Group,



Meet The Carlyle Group - Former World Leaders and Washington Insiders Make Billions from the War on Terrorism



contain key people who make their billions through war. If the bin Ladens can push for a militant Islamic state, and the New World Order group can push for radical Dominionism, the money keeps flowing in.



To promote religious freedom is to include those aspects of real religions which are about compassion and love. Something which hurts the military complex as it did in the resistance to the VietNam War.
That's part of it. This kind of unbridled corporatist approach is actually endorsed by dominionists. Their view is that, apparently, camels can fit through needles very easily because god loves the rich and powerful. Don't ask me how they got that twisted notion. Corporate leaders are seldom strict followers of this approach, but they love it because it gives them a license to greed and abuse of power, so they sponsor people like Pat Roberson who preach stuff like this. In return, the dominionists act like the corporatists are saints and advocate conservative economic approaches.



Thus, it cycles in a vicious circle and undermines everything Jesus taught about modesty, generosity, and self-sacrifice. Now, for some reason, christians have the reputation of being pro-business, which is a COMPLETE contradiction of all that's good about the faith!



I'm almost completely sure that Bush is doing this to push christian ideals. it won't be long before people come to this group with complaints about doctors being fired for refusing to supply contraceptives, schools not allowing teacher-led prayer, and public displays of the Ten Commandments. Then it becomes a place where any restriction is seen as an assault on christianity.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 09:52 PM   #6
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From Slate Magazine



Who's the Boss?



How Pat Robertson's law school is changing America.



By Dahlia Lithwick



Posted Saturday, April 7, 2007, at 6:52 AM ET



Monica Goodling has a problem. As senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Justice Department liaison to the White House, Goodling no longer seems to know what the truth is. She must also be increasingly unclear about who her superiors are. This didn't used to be a problem for Goodling, now on indefinite leave from the DoJ. Everything was once very certain: Her boss's truth was always the same as God's truth. Her boss was always either God or one of His staffers.



This week, through counsel, Goodling again refused to testify about her role in the firings of several U.S. attorneys for what appear to be partisan reasons. Asserting her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, Goodling somehow felt she may be on the hook for criminal obstruction. But it was never clear whose truths she was protecting or even whose law seems to have tripped her up. She resigned abruptly Friday evening without explanation.



Goodling is an improbable character for a political scandal. She's the mirror opposite of that other Monica—the silly, saucy minx who felled Bill Clinton. A 1995 graduate of an evangelical Christian school, Messiah College, and a 1999 graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University School of Law (this seems to be her Web page), Goodling's chief claim to professional fame appears to have been loyalty to the president and to the process of reshaping the Justice Department in his image (and thus, His image). A former career official there told the Washington Post that Goodling "forced many very talented, career people out of main Justice so she could replace them with junior people that were either loyal to the administration or would score her some points." And as she rose at Justice, according to a former classmate, Goodling "developed a very positive reputation for people coming from Christian schools into Washington looking for employment in government."



Start digging, and Goodling also looks to be the Forrest Gump of no comments: Here she is in 1997, fielding calls from reporters to Regent's School of Government admissions office. Asked whether non-Christians were admitted, she explained that "we admit all students without discrimination. We are a Christian institution; it is assumed that everyone in the classes are Christians." Here, in 2004, she's answering phones at the Justice Department about whether then-Deputy Solicitor General Paul Clement knew about the abuses at Abu Ghraib when he told the Supreme Court that the United States does not torture. Said Goodling, in lieu of taking the Fifth: "We wouldn't have any comment." (Jenny Martinez, who argued against Clement that day at the court, suggested to Salon's Tim Grieve: "When Mr. Clement said to the court that we wouldn't engage in that kind of behavior, either he was deliberately misleading the court or he was completely out of the loop." Sound familiar?)



Goodling is only one of 150 graduates of Regent University currently serving in this administration, as Regent's Web site proclaims proudly, a huge number for a 29-year-old school. Regent estimates that "approximately one out of every six Regent alumni is employed in some form of government work." And that's precisely what its founder desired. The school's motto is "Christian Leadership To Change the World," and the world seems to be changing apace. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft teaches at Regent, and graduates have achieved senior positions in the Bush administration. The express goal is not only to tear down the wall between church and state in America (a "lie of the left," according to Robertson) but also to enmesh the two.



The law school's dean, Jeffrey A. Brauch, urges in his "vision" statement that students reflect upon "the critical role the Christian faith should play in our legal system." Jason Eige ('99), senior assistant to Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, puts it pithily in the alumni newsletter, Regent Remark: "Your Résumé Is God's Instrument."



This legal worldview meshed perfectly with that of former Attorney General John Ashcroft—a devout Pentecostal who forbade use of the word "pride," as well as the phrase "no higher calling than public service," on documents bearing his signature. (He also snatched the last bit of fun out of his press conferences when he covered up the bared breasts of the DoJ statue the "Spirit of Justice"). No surprise that, as he launched a transformation of the Justice Department, the Goodlings looked good to him.



One of Ashcroft's most profound changes was to the Civil Rights Division, launched in 1957 to file cases on behalf of African-Americans and women. Under Ashcroft, career lawyers were systematically fired or forced out and replaced by members of conservative or Christian groups or folks with no civil rights experience. In the five years after 2001, the civil rights division brought no voting cases on behalf of African-Americans. It brought one employment case on behalf of an African-American. Instead, the division took up the "civil rights" abuses of reverse discrimination—claims of voter fraud or discrimination against Christians. On Feb. 20, Gonzales announced a new initiative called the First Freedom Project to carry out "even greater enforcement of religious rights for all Americans." In his view, the fight for a student's right to read a Bible at school is as urgent a civil rights problem as the right to vote.



We may agree or disagree on that proposition, but it certainly explains how Goodling came to confuse working to advance Gonzales' agenda with working to advance God's. But while God may well want more prayer in the public schools, it's not clear He wanted David Iglesias fired on a pretext. In an excellent 2005 article about Regent in the American Prospect Online, Christopher Hayes points out that more than two-thirds of the students at Regent identified as Republicans, and only 9 percent identified as Democrats. As he concludes, "what students are taught at a place like Regent, or even Calvin and Wheaton, is to live out a Christ-centered existence in all facets of their lives. But what they learn is to become Republicans."



Is there anything wrong with legal scholarship from a Christian perspective? Not that I see. Is there anything wrong with a Bush administration that disproportionately uses graduates from such Christian law schools to fill its staffing needs? Not that I see. It's a shorthand, not better or worse than cherry-picking the Federalist Society or the bar association. I can't even get exercised over the fact that Gonzales, Rove, and Miers had their baby lawyers making critical staffing decisions for them. The baby lawyers had extremely clear marching orders.



No, the real concern here is that Goodling and her ilk somehow began to conflate God's work with the president's. Probably not a lesson she learned in law school. The dream of Regent and its counterparts, like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, is to redress perceived wrongs to Christians, to reclaim the public square, and reassert Christian political authority. And while that may have been a part of the Bush/Rove plan, it was, in the end, only a small part. Their real zeal was for earthly power. And Goodling was left holding the earthly bag.



At the end of the day, Goodling and the other young foot soldiers for God may simply have run afoul of the first rule of politics, codified in Psalm 146: "Put no trust in princes, in mere mortals in whom there is no help."

A version of this article also appears in the Outlook section of the Sunday Washington Post.



------------------------------------------------------------------------

Remarks from the Fray:



It's kind of funny—but completely typical—that minions of the Bush administration would claim a higher purpose for actions that are in essence completely unprincipled. The only consistent principle that I've detected so far with this administration is having the gall to grab every single thing they can get their claws into, and daring anyone to stop them. The only ideal that seems to matter is advancing the political power of the Republican Party and the corporate and economic elites who comprise its real constituency. After all, the Republicans are about almost nothing but earthly bread.



The problem the Republicans have always had is convincing enough middle- or lower-class voters to support them even though their policies and the things they really care about—cutting taxes and reducing government oversight—are, if anything, inimical to those voters' best interests. The supposed Christian agenda—and the "culture wars" rhetoric that goes along with it—is nothing more than pandering to a certain demographic segment. At its core it is completely cynical and exploitative.



I'm sure the Republicans wouldn't be above wrapping their desired one-party state in the trappings of a theocracy if that's what it took to solidify their "base." Many of them might even be sincere in their faith—although how that squares with supporting torture, scorning poor immigrants and working to exacerbate economic disparity and social injustice may seem a mystery to the rest of us. But the Party leadership is much closer in spirit to a money- and power-grubbing weenie like Grover Norquist than to a sincere Christian like, say, Billy Graham. They're all about politics, and their supposed ideology is little more than rhetoric. Anything is OK as long as it helps the party's interests. What would Jesus do? He'd take the Fifth.



ARTICLE
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Old April 13th, 2007, 11:21 PM   #7
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That's part of it. This kind of unbridled corporatist approach is actually endorsed by dominionists. Their view is that, apparently, camels can fit through needles very easily because god loves the rich and powerful. Don't ask me how they got that twisted notion. Corporate leaders are seldom strict followers of this approach, but they love it because it gives them a license to greed and abuse of power, so they sponsor people like Pat Roberson who preach stuff like this. In return, the dominionists act like the corporatists are saints and advocate conservative economic approaches.


Exactly antithesis. It justifies building temples to God and not helping the poor. The idea is is that God must like them because they are doing well but since the poor are poor or others are suffering, then God must not like them and since God doesn't like them, there is nothing the people who are well off can do.



Perhaps the most twisted form of logic in this contortion of religion comes from the idea that you pray to be wealthy. Allows for greed to be worshipped because the wealth is good. Allows you to have wars for oil, because, well, God doesn't like the oppressed in the world; if he did, he would not have allowed them to be oppressed.



Pretty junior high thinking in the "in-crowd" fashion. Comforting ways en masse to be evil and hateful and still go to heaven.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 11:23 PM   #8
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oodling is an improbable character for a political scandal. She's the mirror opposite of that other Monica—the silly, saucy minx who felled Bill Clinton. A 1995 graduate of an evangelical Christian school, Messiah College, and a 1999 graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University School of Law (this seems to be her Web page), Goodling's chief claim to professional fame appears to have been loyalty to the president and to the process of reshaping the Justice Department in his image (and thus, His image). A former career official there told the Washington Post that Goodling "forced many very talented, career people out of main Justice so she could replace them with junior people that were either loyal to the administration or would score her some points." And as she rose at Justice, according to a former classmate, Goodling "developed a very positive reputation for people coming from Christian schools into Washington looking for employment in government."


Part of the Dominionist master plan. Scary stuff all right. And nothing honest in the teachings at the "Christian" university. The means justify the end...so that you lie, deceive, cheap, contort, spread propaganda, create lies anything so that you get what you want. It's more along the line of satanism when you study it. These people are satanists and nothing less.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 03:19 AM   #9
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They want to protect the rights of religious minorities, and THIS is the responce you people give? Come soon Jesus, please come soon.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 03:57 AM   #10
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Oh yes, even here we see the conspiracy theorist wackos show their true calling. Charles Haynes was exactly right, because it came from the Bush administration it must be evil, and that is exactly what we are seeing.



Despite all the clamouring and denouncing you seem to forget a few simple premises. You clamour about Antonin Scalia stating that the government derives it's moral authority from God, yet ignore the fact that the Declaration of Independence, our country's founding document declares the exact same thing. Lest we forget:



Quote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent fo the governed....


Hmmm a noble belief, our rights come from God. That is the basic premise of this country. All men are equal in the eyes of God and the Law. Without God, there would be no God-given rights. That would mean our Rights are given by the Government, that which the Government can grant, it can take away. That is the danger of having no God in this Country, for once you say there is no God, there can be no unalienable rights, only the rights bestowed upon us by a benevolent government, which any time can then take those rights away. Becareful what you wish for, you may just get it.



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