Tag Archives: Separation of Church and State

Soulless Supreme Court Sponsors Corporate Christian Religion

7 Jul

Roberts CourtThe United States is still reeling from the Supreme Court decision last Monday, July 1 — now a day living in infamy. Disappointing, but not wholly surprising to see the Koch Bros. purchased Justices: Alito, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy imposing their collective Catholic male dominated perspective on a nation that purportedly honors separation of church and state.  Our SCOTUS is starting to feel and look more like a branch of the Papacy pre-Vatican II, rather than part of a system of checks and balances among the three branches of American Government.

This infamous decision by the Catholic Five is not just about access to birth control — it is directly about women’s health and who gets to determine women’s health.  This decision also reinforces the never accurate and consistently sexist idea that sex is solely for the purpose of procreation and must never be considered for recreation by consenting adults. It sends a clear message that women are here for the sole purpose to produce children — they are objects owned by their husbands.  Yes, I am astounded that we are even having this conversation in 2014.  What will the next decision be? Shall the Catholic Five on the Supreme Court designate a police force to police every bedroom to ensure people are only have sex for the purposes of procreation?

What happened to separation of church and state? What will be the ripple effects of this monumental disaster of a decision? Do we now have a set precedent where corporations can limit services or goods to the LGBTQ community or the Muslim community? The intersections of race, class, gender, and religions other than Christianity are apparently now targeted officially by the highest court in the land. The Hobby Lobby decision shores up any potential cracks in the Citizens United decision where we witnessed how corporations can purchase their very own supreme court justices.

Fortunately, we have the sage voice of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If you have not read her dissent, I encourage you to read her wise words and warnings. We also have an ally in President Obama, who is dedicated to using executive orders wherever possible to minimize the damage. However much the Teahadists may bemoan his actions, we must remember that the Presidency is part of the three-party system. The Executive branch can — and at times MUST — check the judiciary when it over-reaches!

Don’t let the complacent, corporate cogs at the major news outlets fool you. This is no “narrow” decision! If corporations have free speech and religion rights, what else might they do? Do they have the right to form “well-ordered” militias? If one religious sect can impose its will on a common good like health care — based on their “firmly held” but scientifically false beliefs — what else might lower courts decide they can do? With the death of DOMA we saw how quickly lower courts will adopt a major SCOTUS ruling and effect a sea change in state laws. Is Hobby Lobby the next wave? If so, this will be a tsunami of hate and bigotry.

Sadly, we now see the floodgate of religious hate sanctioned and legalized with the Wheaton College injunction.

CALL TO ACTION: The Justices are in it for life. Little can be changed on the Judicial front for now. We need Congressional action to reverse Citizens United and Hobby Lobby, restoring the corporate veil and re-affirming that corporations are NOT people. That won’t happen in Boehner’s house or if the GOP takes over the Senate. Vote wisely this November. Targeted populations, like women, African Americans, LGBTQ people, and other intentionally marginalized populations who tend not to vote in mid-terms must mobilize to send the message: We will not stand for this!


Wednesday Word of the Week, October 12: Secular

12 Oct

Today’s word is SECULAR

not religious, or not connected with religion – Macmillan Dictionary Online

which is the kind of government we supposedly have. Clearly enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

the principle that government and religion have no business intermingling is part of the bedrock of our country, from Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation” through multiple court cases (including recent decisions by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court). Try telling that to our political leaders.

The absurd dominance of evangelical christian posturing on the Republican side of the aisle is well documented. From anti-choice maneuvers to anti-gay pledges, members of the right from Presidential candidates to participants in local government meetings use their faith as a bludgeon in political issues.

Sadly, Democrats are not immune, as President Obama demonstrated in his misguided invitation to the rabidly anti-gay Rick Warren to speak at his inauguration. Even assuming that a gesture of outreach to the faith community was necessary, the plethora of non-denominational (or at the very least non-demonizing) options made Warren a deeply offensive selection. How ironic that Obama, who has been dogged by “accusations” of being a Muslim, was so insensitive.

Similarly ironic were the attacks on Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress (in 2007!). For his 2007 inauguration, Ellison opted to be sworn in on a Quran rather than a Bible. This prompted a firestorm from the right. Setting aside for a moment how inappropriate it is that secular officials would be sworn in with any religious document, it seems fitting that Ellison would choose the document that has personal meaning to him. Underscoring that point, he used a Quran from the library of none other than Thomas Jefferson.

The latest bizarre manifestation of this intrusion of religion into politics comes (big surprise) at the hands of Rick Perry. At the hideously misnamed Values Voter Summit last week, Perry was introduced by a pastor who attacked Mitt Romney as a member of a “cult” because of his Mormon faith. Let us be clear: his faith is utterly irrelevant unless he (like so many of the Republican candidates) says that it will be a foundation of his politics, which would violate the Constitution. Amusingly, the other candidates assumed vividly contorted positions, trying to attack Perry while not supporting Romney. Perhaps equally amusing was the winner of the Summit’s straw poll, Ron Paul, who, despite his faith-based opposition to any form of reproductive choice for women, is one of the least religion-wielding of the Republican candidates, more proof that polls can mean little or nothing.

When it comes to faith, in fact, the greatest irony of this latest tempest in a baptismal font is that any of these candidates would be lousy presidents fully independent of their faith. The rigid adherence that most of them display to the sacrament of the teapot is just further proof that they have no business in governance.

For anyone who is interested in protecting our electoral process from these religiously inappropriate fools, I offer this prayer to Saint Dymphna.

Hear us, O God, Our Savior, as we honor St. Dymphna, patron of those afflicted with mental and emotional illness. Help us to be inspired by her example and comforted by her merciful help. Amen.

Amen, indeed.

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 10, Harvey Fierstein

10 Jun

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Harvey Fierstein.  A pivotal film for me during the wakening of my sexual orientation was Torch Song Trilogy; while affirming of being gay, it also showed the struggles of being openly gay in the 1980s.  As a gay man, that movie had a tremendous impact on my life. Fierstein also wrote the book to the musical La Cage aux Folles, and starred as Edna Turnblad in the musical Hairspray.  Fierstein is one of the most recognized LGBT civil rights activists we have today and a personal hero of mine. An Athiest/Jew, Fierstein is very vocal about separation of church and state, specifically that separation as it pertains to the protection of the LGBT community:

We are lucky enough to be living in a country that not only guarantees the freedom to practice religion as we see fit, but also freedom FROM religious zealots who would persecute and prosecute and even physically harm those of us who do not believe as they do. . . . If you refuse to salute the flag and say God in your pledge, you’re actually judged un-American. But that’s not the way America is supposed to be. That’s the way Iran is. . . . Predicating patriotism on a citizen’s belief in God is as anti-American as judging him on the color of his skin. It is wrong. It is useless. It is unconstitutional.

Click here to learn more about Harvey Fierstein. TSM would also like to wish him a Happy Belated Birthday.

Kidnapping for Jesus

25 Apr

Kidnapping for Jesus

Thanks to my friend Jennifer Lockett for pointing me to this story. One of the very cruel and unfortunate implications of denying marriage equality is the profound effect it has on the children of LGBT couples. In 2009, the very bitter dissolution of the civil union between Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller became very public and captivated the media’s attention for several months.  The issue of custody of their daughter was at stake. Miller became an evangelical Christian and refused to abide by the custody agreement settled in a Vermont court. Here is where we have legalized discrimination and where this story could have turned out very differently had the couple been allowed to marry and then go through a regular legal divorce. Miller moved to Virginia (State of Lovers, unless you are gay) where the civil union was not recognized, consequently nor was the dissolution.  Miller garnered the support of the homophobic conservative bigots in her action to keep her daughter from her other mom.

Thankfully, the Vermont court did the right thing and then awarded custody to Jenkins because of Miller’s non-compliance.  Here is where we get to the real crime which highlights the need to REPEAL DOMA.  Pastor Timothy David Miller of Crossville, Tennessee helped to kidnap the child and arrange for Miller to leave the country and live in a beach house in Nicaragua.  Miller had help and support from  Liberty University, an evangelical school in Lynchburg, Va.  Just a side note, Mary Cheney and her partner live in the homophobic state of Virginia with their daughter–I’m guessing Cheney and her family are above the law.  The case of Jenkins and Miller is evidence enough to show that we need separation of church and state and that the collateral damage of DOMA also effects the children of LGBT couples.  Click here to see the full article.

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