"We want to fund programs that save Americansone soul at a time."President George W. Bush, January, 2004, in a speech in New Orleans
In this section:
Transformation from Secular to Religious Government Faith-Based Politics Faith-Based Bias Faith-Based Fiat Faith-Based Foray Faith-Based Victory Faith-Based Failure 'Faith-Based' Orders Faith-Based Sex-Education Faith-Based Lock Up Faith-Based Parks Faith-Based CoercionCompassionate ConservatismProselytizingThe Civil Rights Act, 1964Political Manipulationmore links
UpdatesTransformation from Secular to Religious Government
Under the Bush administration, our country is experiencing a major transformation from a secular to a religious government. The President's faith-based initiative is central to this transformation and raises serious questions about church-state separation. "Slouching toward theocracy. President Bush's faith-based initiative is doing better than you think," by Bill Berkowitz, 2/6/04 provides an overview of this transformation.
In his State of the Union address, Bush renewed a call for Congress to make permanent his faith-based proposals that would allow religious organizations to compete for more government contracts and grants without a strict separation between their religious activities and social service programs.
On February 4, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives voted for provisions in a social services bill that allow religiously based job discrimination in publicly funded programs run by churches.
How Much Money?
How much are taxpayers paying for what Barry Lynn, Executive Director of American's United calls "federally subsidized employment discrimination?" According to Daniel Zwerdling who produced two programs on faith-based initiative for Bill Moyers TV show NOW in September, 2003, "administration spokesmen say they can't break down how much money has gone so far to religious groups .. they claim they don't keep that information."
The March, 2004, issue of Church and State reports that the "Faith Czar" Jim Towey announced to reporters that $40 billion dollars was now available to religious charities.
By studying White House press releases and the White House web site, Daniel Zwerdling found that religious groups could apply to more than a hundred federal programs that gave out more than $65 billion. In addition, religious groups ccould apply for more money through state-administered programs.
From the Washington Post, January 4, 2005:
.. in 2003, groups dubbed "faith-based" received $1.17 billion in grants from federal agencies, according to documents provided by the White House to the Associated Press.
That's not enough, said H. James Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. An additional $40 billion in federal money is given out by state governments, he said..
This is the text of an executive order signed by Bush on June 1.
On September 22, 2003, the White House announced new rules making $28 billion available to religious charities that proselytize and discriminate in hiring. Susan Jacoby, director of the Center for Inquiry in Metro New York claims "The White House has taken what may be its boldest step yet to blur the constitutional separation of church and state." While the White House announced these controversial new rules, the media hardly paid attention.
While religious charities receive billions of dollars, federal programs are experiencing funding cuts. The largest federally funded after-school program, the $1 billion-a-year 21st Century Community Learning Centers program is threatened with a budget reduction of $400 million for the Fiscal Year 2004. The resulting cuts in Washington D.C. alone could eliminate after-school services for 2,902 District children.
As reported in the Washington Post, Congress has ordered more than $3 million in grants since 2001 earmarked for respected former Redskins cornerback Darrell Green's Youth Life Foundation, with the goal in part of opening more Green learning centers here and in other cities. But his center is directly serving only 38 kids, in a city where 35,000 live in poverty.From Church and State editorial, March 9, 2004:
The Corporation for National and Community Service has allocated $324,000 in Americorps funding for staffing at four daycare centers run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.
But The Children's Crusade, a mentoring program that has won national honors, lost all its budget of half a million dollars. The group had hoped to partner 35 young adults with poor minority children. That won't be happening now.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has been following Bush's Faith-Based Initiative since he assumed the office of President. They have filed lawsuits, and their magazine, Church and State, has many important, in-depth articles.
From Americans United, August 17, 2004:
A new study of the "faith-based" initiative raises troubling questions about the Bush administration's disregard for constitutional and civil rights protections, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The report issued today by the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy lists the many executive actions President George W. Bush has taken to fund a wide range of religion-based social services. The sweeping changes in federal policy, the report indicates, have come without congressional authorization.
Philadelphia Church That Endorsed Bush Gets $1 Million 'Faith-Based' GrantWednesday June 23, 2004
"The Rev. Lusk endorsed candidate Bush, and wound up getting a $1-million faith-based grant from the Bush administration," [Barry] Lynn said. "Now there's a heavenly payoff."
"Faith-Based Fiat," January, 2003, Church and State:
"On Dec. 12, speaking to over 1,000 religious and charitable leaders gathered at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia, George W. Bush launched another major offensive in his drive to implement his controversial "faith-based" initiative. Circumventing a reluctant Congress, which has refused to enact the administration's scheme, Bush announced a sweeping package of executive actions to encourage churches and other religious groups to apply for billions in government contracts to help the disadvantaged."
"Faith-Based Foray," From Church and State, October, 2002,
"Not willing to let a skeptical Congress delay its plan for government-funded religion, the Bush administration is moving ahead with the faith-based initiative anyway."
"Faith-Based Victory," Church and State, May, 2003, brings good news! A powerful coalition formed in the U.S. Senate to derail President Bush and U.S. Senator Rick Santorum's efforts to pass legislation making it legal to discriminate in employment. As a result, the final legislation is nothing like the Bush/Santorum plan. This 'good news' article affirms the power of coalition building in the Senate.
"Faith-Based Failure," Church and State, November, 2002, highlights a report documenting major problems with the Faith Based program that has been implemented in Texas for the past five year
"The Bush 'Faith-Based' Orders: Dangerous Decrees, Church and State. On Dec. 12, 2002, President George W. Bush issued two executive orders putting into place his controversial "faith-based" initiative, February, 2003. (So far, I haven't been able to find this article on AU's newly reformatted web site -jb) more
Sierra magazine, January-February, 2004, has a feature article on abstinence-only education in the public schools. Federally funded programs are based on fear and end up proselytizing. A Louisianna state judge has ruled that the proselytizing must stop or the programs risk defunding.
"For Louisianna seventh graders, abstinence-only education appears first and foremost to be about terrifying diseases: suppurating boils, endless rashes, sterility, cancers, and the physical and psychic morbidity with which they are to be punished for having sex before marriage."
"Hundreds of federally funded abstinence-only programs are run by faith-based groups. The Louisianna American Civil Liberties Union found that ... thousands of dollars went to programs that included prayers as well as continuous referrences to God, Jesus Christ, and the spiritual repercussions of sex before marriage."
Faith Base Lock UpIn Lawtey, Florida, Gov. Jeb Bush dedicated what is being called the nation's first religion-based prison.
A North Florida prison will be converted into the nation's first faith-based lockup. Critics say public money shouldn't be spent on religious programs.
"This is a clearly unconstitutional scheme," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "A state can no more create a faith-based prison than it could set up faith-based public schools or faith-based police departments."
Americans United filed a lawsuit to block a similar state-sponsored fundamentalist Christian project operating with public funds at a prison in Iowa. That case, which challenges state support of Charles Colson's InnerChange program, is pending in federal court.
How the the InnerChange Prison Fellowship program cooked the books so that the program's failure looks like a success. To read about Americans United current litigation, click here.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a non-profit group that represents park workers and public employees, charged in a release last week that the National Park Service is hell-bent on removing images of anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, pro-choice marches and gay rights marches from an eight-minute video tape located at the Lincoln Memorial covering historic gatherings that have taken place there and on the Washington Mall.
"The park service leadership now caters exclusively to conservative Christian fundamentalist groups," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch in his group's release. "The Bush Administration appears to be sponsoring a program of Faith-Based Parks."
"... morality conservative groups have a special entree with decision makers at the Park Service and the White House."
The federal government lost a lawsuit when a federal court ruled that a program crossed the line between church and state. From the Washington Post July 6, 2004: "America Corps Loses Suit on Religion:"
The federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps must stop financing programs that place volunteers in Catholic schools, a judge has ruled, saying it unconstitutionally crosses the line between church and state.
Increasingly--and more often than not, with the explicit cheerleading and support of dominionist groups--there is an emphasis for reliance on "faith based" initiatives, such as "faith based" rehab programs, "faith based" disaster aid charities, etc. Unfortunately, this is often turning into a chance for faith-based coercion--often on what is, quite literally, a captive audience. more
Compassionate ConservatismMarvin Olasky, a Reconstructionist influenced professor of Journalism, has served as a close advisor to Bush. Olasky's book, Compassionate Conservatism, creates a justification for Bush's policies on faith based giving. Bush wrote the forward to the book published in 2000. Olasky is a compelling writer who shares his philosophical ideas through heart-wrenching and inspiring human interest stories. He makes a strong case for faith based giving. Evangelical Christian charities succeed, according to Olasky, where government fails. Olasky sees no problem with government funds going to missions that proselytize. The fact that someone who is hungry and vulnerable might have to undergo a religious conversion to get food and shelter doesn't bother him.The Problem with Proselytizing
Bill Moyers program, NOW, (the first of a two-part series) aired on PBS September 26, 2003, makes clear the problem with proselytizing. The TV show focuses on one program that trains church volunteers to help lift people out of poverty. At first, the whole concept looked truly wonderful. A volunteer family infuses a young, struggling mother of three with love and a sense of caring -- which is very moving.
Then the pressure begins to join their church. This "loving" family is all the support this young mother has in the world, and she feels deeply conflicted about joining their church. When she was asked by the interviewer about joining the church, her face froze in what looked like silent terror. She hadn't wanted to join, but appeared to be terrified of losing the love and support of her sponsoring family. The sponsoring family told the interviewer that they're taught not to invite the family to their church for the first month, and that they never told the woman that she had to join. But it's clear that the invitations to go to church would not let up.
That look of frozen terror on the young woman's face illustrated dramatically the dangers of government funding for church sponsored charities. Millions of young, vulnerable mothers and struggling families will feel coerced to join the "correct" evangelical churches.The Civil Rights Act, 1964
The Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, poses a problem to faith base charities receiving tax-payer dollars, for it bans discrimination in employment on the basis of race, gender, or religion. But religious charities receiving faith based dollars don't want to be forced to hire people of other religions, and especially don't want to hire gays or lesbians. The President doesn't let the Civil Rights Act deter him from giving money to charities that discriminate in hiring.
The Washington Post reported back in July, 2001, that the Bush administration made a deal with the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army would spend upwards of $110,000 per month to lobby for Bush's faith Based Initiative, and the White House would give the Salvation Army a "firm commitment" allowing greater freedom in discrimination against gays in employment. The New York Times reports, 2/5/04, that the New York City Salvation Army is requiring employees to fill out forms stating their religion, among other things.
Senator Rick Santorum vowed to actually rewrite the anti-discrimination laws. There's a difference between executivte orders and changing the law. Executive orders can be changed by the next president, but laws are lasting.
Senator Santorum and President Bush have been trying to change anti-discrimination laws through Congress for religious charities, but they failed, and this is an important and little known success story. After haggling with the Senate for two years, the CARE Act was finally passed. It allows taxpayers who do not itemize tax deductions to write off a portion of their charitable donations for two years. It is vastly different from the Bush/Santorum plan.
The Bush/Santorum plan was stopped by effective organizing. Americans United for Separation of Church and State helped form the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination or (CARD). This coalition brought together fifty two religious, public policy and educational organizations. Members include the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Interfaith Alliance, the NAACP, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, the National Education Association, The National Association of Social Workers, The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Baptist Churches and the Rabbinical Assembly. For a full list of the 52 organizations, go to stopreligiousdiscrimination.org. The CARD coalition is a good example of effective grassroots organizing.
An article by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (12/17/02), discusses a move by the Bush administration to enable agencies that receive government funding to discriminate.Political Manipulation
Another problem with Bush's program is the potential for political manipulation. The Republican Party campaigned to bring traditionally Democratic constituencies into its fold in the 2002 elections. U.S. Rep. Anne M. Northup (R-Ky.) created a non-profit organization to steer federal money to religious groups in order to boost her political strength in the African-American community.From Church and State, "Preaching The GOP Gospel, Using His 'Faith-Based' Initiative To Try To Win Converts In The African-American Community, Bush Seeks To Make His Calling And Election Sure," Sept., 2003:
Rep. Northup was never popular in the black community before. Now her non-profit, Louisville Neighborhood Initiative Inc., (LNI) doles out federal money to poor, mostly minority neighborhoods. "I can't paint a clearer picture," said the Rev. C. Mackey Daniels, pastor of West Chestnut Baptist Church. "The support was given in order to get votes." U.S. Rep. Robert Ehrlich in his bid for governor of Maryland promised to use money from Bush's faith-based initiative to build support in African-American churches.
Justice Sunday III' Pastor Has Received $1 Million In 'Faith-Based' Funds, Americans United, January 4, 2005:
Pastor Herb Lusk, the Philadelphia preacher hosting the Religious Right-led "Justice Sunday III" rally this weekend, has a long history of partisan activity on behalf of Republicans and has been awarded more than $1 million in "faith-based" grants by the Bush administration ...
More LinksAs reported in the New York Times , January 23, 2003, another Bush assault on the 'wall' of separation of church and State is a shift in policy that, for the first time allows the federal government to give money to houses of worship to build buildings. Church and State, January 29, 2003: "Teen Challenge, Louisiana Church Program Proselytize Clients On Behalf Of Evangelical Christianity:" (So far, I haven't been able to find this AU Press Release on their newly reformatted web site -jb) more
"There are plenty of reasons for religious groups in America to run, screaming, from the notion of faith-based initiatives. A university theologian explains why." James Dunnmore
From The Associated Press, January 14, 2006:
A group can sue the federal government over claims that President Bush's faith-based initiative is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, a federal appeals court rule
Religious Institutions and Beliefs
"Politicization of Pentecostalism is one of the majorstories of modern American politics."Fred Clarkson, Public Eye,1994
In this section:
New AdditionsThe Church As A Force For GoodMoral ValuesMainline Churches: A Launching PadReligious Beliefs Evangelicals Fundamentalists Pentacostals Charismatics Premillennialism and Post MillennialismDominion TheologyChristian Reconstruction TheologyA Reconstructed SocietyReligion in the WorkplaceGlobal Spread of Evangelical Christianity
Related Topics:Middle East and Biblical ProphesyFaith Based InitiativeBiblical LawSatan
To read recent articles about religion and the Religious Right, click here.The Church As A Force for Good
Many religious groups including conservative Christians oppose the Religious Right. To read a list of progressive church organizations that favor church-state separation, click here.Moral Values
Dr. Robin Meyers is minister of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City, and professor of Rhetoric at Oklahoma City University:
We've heard a lot lately about so-called moral values as having swung the election to President Bush. Well, Im a great believer in moral values, but we need to have a discussion, all over this country, about exactly what constitutes a moral value I mean what are we talking about?
One More Moral Value: Fighting Poverty, New York Times, January 30, 2005
Mainline Churches: A Launching Pad
The Real Assault On The Church, Liberal Oasis, April 21, 2005
Mainline Christian churches have become a launching pad in the battle for dominion. Efforts to control church infrastructure began with the Southern Baptists Convention. On June 15, 2004 meeting on the 25th anniversary of the group's first declared rightward shift, Southern Baptist delegates voted overwhelmingly to approve another historic step by withdrawing from the Baptist World Alliance.
How Southern Baptists Have Changed, Talk To Action, March 3, 2006
Book CoverThe battle for dominion has now moved to the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopal churches. To shed light on tactics used to take control of mainline churches, the Institute for Democracy Studies has produced a report titled: A Moment to Decide.
The New York Times, May 22, 2004
As Presbyterians prepare to gather for their General Assembly in Richmond, Va., next month, a band of determined conservatives is advancing a plan to split the church along liberal and orthodox lines. Another divorce proposal shook the United Methodist convention in Pittsburgh earlier this month, while conservative Episcopalians have already broken away to form a dissident network of their own.
In each denomination, the flashpoint is homosexuality, but there is another common denominator as well. In each case, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a small organization based in Washington, has helped incubate traditionalist insurrections against the liberal politics of the denomination's leaders.
That Which We Call Renewal Groups, Talk To Action, January 30, 2006:
These are not renewal groups: they are trained activists intent on the demise, the destabilization, and the destruction of Mainline Protestant Christianity. They use cleverly chosen wedge issues to divide otherwise united congregations and denominations. They produce, print, and circulate periodicals, pamphlets, and diatribes filled with innuendo and misinformation intended to enflame the passions of otherwise content congregants.
This is not to argue that renewal groups should not exist. They should. It is simply an argument that what is sold today as a renewal group is anything but. They are well funded and well trained activists spent not on renewing, but destroying, the church.
Early Warning Signs, Talk To Action, March 7, 2006 (more on renewal groups with links to the entire series at the bottom of the page)
New IRD President Is a Schismatic Presbyterian, Talk To Action, march 18, 2006: This informative article describes not only the Institute on Religion and Democracy,, but also the the Presbyterian Church in America:
[The new President] is an ordained as a mininister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). PCA is a small, rightwing schism that broke with mainstream Presbyterianism in 1973 over the ordination of women and membership in the National Council of Churches. (Women are not allowed to be ministers or elders in the PCA to this day.)
The Guardian Unlimited, October 12, 2003, reports on a meeting of two organizations, the American Anglican Council, and the Institute on Religion and Democracy. The goal is to punish the Anglican Church for accepting a gay Bishop. The former is funded by Howard Ahmanson, the ladder by Richard Mellon Scaife, both major financiers of the Religious Right.
Now the two organisations are on the warpath. Last week they assembled their troops for a giant rally in Dallas in anticipation of this week's meeting of Anglican leaders in London. The chief target was the liberal baby boomer generation of the Sixties whose religious leaders were accused of betraying successive generations. At the end the conservatives had drawn a line in the sand.
Howard Ahmanson: "The Episcopal Church split is the best evidence yet that Ahmanson's plan to bring America closer to resembling Calvin's elitist "church of the elect," or what Rushdoony has called a "spiritual aristocracy," is working."From the New York Times, January 20, 2004:
Conservative Episcopalians opposed to a gay bishop's consecration and other liberal positions opened a two-day meeting in Plano to establish a "church within a church." The closed meeting of the group, the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, involves bishops, clergy members and lay delegates from 12 dioceses with a combined 235,000 members, a tenth of the nation's Episcopalians. Planners said the group was not a breakaway denomination or schism. Conservative parishes do not want to officially leave the church because under secular law they would probably have to surrender their properties to the denomination.
October 19, 2004, Church is Rebuked Over Gay Unions and A Gay Bishop, New York Times:
An Anglican Church commission rebuked the Episcopal Church USA yesterday for ordaining an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and for blessing same-sex unions, and called for a moratorium on both practices "until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges."
In a report issued in London, the commission asked the Episcopal Church to apologize for causing pain and division in the global Anglican Communion, the second-largest church body in the world, with 77 million members in 164 countries.
The report also calls for the bishops who consecrated the gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, to consider withdrawing from Anglican "functions" until they offer "an expression of regret." The current and former presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church were among the more than three dozen bishops who encircled Bishop Robinson last November and consecrated him with a laying on of hands.
Washington Post on Anglican report, October 18, 2004
Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the Anglican Communion's first openly gay bishop, speaking to the New York Times, October 21, 2004, sees a "glint of hope" in the Anglican report.
Two Last Masses for a Century-Old Church That Split Over a Gay Episcopal Bishop, New York Times, March 19, 2005
Anglican Leaders Seek Move to Avoid Schism, New York Times, February 25, 2005
Move to Halt Delegations Is Challenging Episcopalians, New York Times, February 26, 2005
Episcopal Newspaper Exposes Rightwing Agencies, Talk To Action, April 28, 2006
Respected journalist, Leon Howell, has written a book, UnitedMethodism@Risk, documenting efforts of groups from the Religious Right, operating as "renewal groups," to take over mainline churches. To quote from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School, July 10, 2003:
The political right-wing, operating in the guise of a gaggle of so-called "renewal groups," particularly one named the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), has acquired the money and political will to target three mainline American denominations: The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Episcopal Church. The IRD was created and is sustained by money from right-wing foundations and has spent millions of dollars over 20 years attacking mainline denominations. The IRD's conservative social-policy goals include increasing military spending and foreign interventions, opposing environmental protection efforts, and eliminating social welfare programs.
In a document entitled "Reforming America's Churches Project 2001-2004," the IRD states that its aim is to change the "permanent governing structure" of mainline churches "so they can help renew the wider culture of our nation." In other words, its goal extends beyond the spiritual and includes a political takeover financed by the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife, Adolph Coors, the John M. Olin Foundation, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee.
More on the IRD, Talk To Action, January 5, 2006
Names and Money Trail of Right Wing Termites in Mainline Christian Denominations, DailyKos, March 13, 2005 (About Leon Howell's book)
Bishop William Boyd Grove, a Methodist Bishop who served as the Bishop of The West Virginia Conference and now is retired, wrote: RELIGION AND THE ELECTION, A Caution Against Blasphemy.
The nation's Roman Catholic bishops approved a statement on June 18, 2004, on "Catholics in Political Life" that brands politicians who support abortion rights as "cooperating in evil" and leaves the door open for bishops to deny communion to such lawmakers. (NYTimes, 6/19/04)
The following link about the Institute on Religion and Democracy came to me through email. The sender wrote,
Just in case you have not seen the document (above), it is the Institute on Religion and Democracy's internal document, not intended for the likes of us, of course, but which I got from an impeccable resource which I have promised not to name until the source acknowledges it. It details the plans to take over the Methodist, Episcopal and Presbyterian churches and structures. I think it makes very clear that what they are after is the power, connections and financial resources of those large, mainline denominations.
As reported in the San Francisco Weekly, the IRD and its allies' strategy is to use right-wing nonreligious foundation money to smear liberal church leaders through mailings, articles in IRD-aligned publications, press releases, and stories in secular newspapers and magazines.
And from another email:
"What I found in Indianapolis was a powerful, networked, dedicated learning community taking a patient, long-term strategic approach to taking back the institutions of the mainline churches. There was absolutely no talk of splitting or leaving the church. They are convinced they are right and are willing to work long and hard to reclaim what they think is theirs." A report from "Confessing the Faith" conference in Indianapolis October 24-26, 2002.
Them Again: Faithful and Welcoming,, Talk To Action, April 10, 2006 - About a Renewal group's sublte attack on the UCC. " ... a group known as Faithful and Welcoming isn't, and is built to dismantle a group that is."
Divide and Conquer: Cell Churches and Hijacks, Talk To Action, May 10, 2006
From a Unitarian Universalist Minister in Austin, Texas, written for the Unitarian Universalist World, January/February, 2004:
In Texas, where I live, the state has refused to grant the Ethical Society in Austin a church tax exemption because its members don't believe in God. The state maintains that defining God as a concept won't do, that to qualify as a church the society's members must believe in God as a being. The case has been through two appeals, and the state's attorneys have now taken it to the Texas Supreme Court. If the state wins, the ruling will affect every Unitarian Universalist church in the state-not to mention Buddhists, Taoists, and Hindus. Austin has the largest Hindu temple in North America, and Hindus are quite clear that Brahman is in no sense a being, and that all his personified images-as Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, or the Divine Mother Durga and her manifestations-are all imaginative creations, not beings.
As posted on May 17, 2004, bY R.A. DYER for the Knight Ridder Newspapers, the Texas State Controller had decided that the Unitarian Church of Texas cannot be tax-exempt because it "does not have one system of belief."
Never before - not in this state nor any other - has a government agency denied Unitarians tax- exempt status because of the group's religious philosophy, church officials say. Strayhorn's ruling clearly infringes upon religious liberties, said Dan Althoff, board president for the Denison, Texas, congregation that was rejected for tax exemption by the comptroller's office.
"I was surprised - surprised and shocked - because the Unitarian church in the United States has a very long history," said Althoff, who notes that father-and-son presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were both Unitarians.
Due to a public outcry, the Church's tax-exempt status has been re-instated.
Terms such as Evangelical, fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and charismatic are frequently used, so it's helpful to understand the differences. Within each of these groups there is a wide range of doctrines and practices and this web site does not provide, nor claim to have expertise on the complexity and subtle nuances of the many beliefs and practices.
To read a comprehensive Glossary of terms, click here.
Evangelicals are very diverse and hold a wide range of beliefs. In general, they have undergone a conversion experience, often referred to as "born again." The literature generally puts the number of people who identify as evangelical at about ninety-eight million. But the term "evangelical" does not mean a certain political belief and should not be used as synonymous with the Religious Right. more
A New Kind of Christian, Talk To Action, November 25, 2005Fundamentalists
Fundamentalists are a subgroup of evangelicals who believe that the Scriptures -- both the Old and New Testaments --are the verbally inspired Word of God, written by men in God's control. Therefore, the Bible is inerrant and infallible. Christian Fundamentalists argue that the Bible must be accepted as the literal word of God, correct not only in its religious or moral teachings, but also in its scientific and historical claims. They believe that the theory of evolution is false, since it contradicts their reading of the Bible.
On The Innerrancy of The Bible: Come the Theocracy, Whose Bible Will Rule?, Talk To Action, December 30, 2005Pentecostals
Pentecostals believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but differ from fundamentalists and other Christian denominations by practicing exorcism, speaking in tongues, faith healing, and, in general, seeking supernatural experiences. Some of the better known Pentecostal denominations are Assemblies of God and the United Pentecostal Church. Pentecostalism is the fastest growing religion in the United States and the world today.
Pentecostal Centennial, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life April 4, 2006Charismatics
Charismatics share the basic doctrines of Pentecostalism but advocate working within affiliated churches rather than forming a separate denomination. The movement includes Roman Catholic churches as well as Protestant denominations. Some charismatic churches refer to themselves as "nondenominational." The Charismatic movement took shape in the 1960's.Premillennialism and Postmillennialism
There are competing theories about interpretation of Biblical Prophecy and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Premillennialists and Postmillennialists disagree about the timing of the Second Coming.
Premillennialists believe that God has a plan for the end of time which will be preceded by a cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Christ will return at the end of these events which are iimminent.
Postmillennialists believe that Christ will return after the millennium. Some believe the millennial phase of the kingdom of God is present, and others hold it will happen after most of the world has become Christianized. Postmillennialists are also called Dominion Theologists and Christian Reconstructionists. Postmillennialists advocate taking dominion, or control over political institutions. Cultural anthropoligist Susan Harding describes below how premillennialists opened a window to postmillennialism in the 1980s by advocating political activism in order to carry out God's plan.
Premillennialists believe that since God has a plan, the future is already set in motion. Historically premillennialists had focused on saving souls rather than political involvement. That changed in 1980 when preacher and best-selling author, Tim LaHaye published The Battle for the Mind.
Susan Friend Harding, a cultural anthropoligist wrote Chapter 3, Imagining the Last Days, the Politics of Apocalyptic Language in the fourth Volume of the Fundamentalism Project. The Fundamentalism Project was sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to study the rise of fundamentalism worldwide. The volumes are published by the University of Chicago Press.
Harding writes that the Reverend Tim LaHaye named humanists as the great evil which threatened to destroy America. He coined the term "pre-tribulation tribulation" to characterize what will come about if humanists are allowed to take control of the government. The Great Tribulation, LaHaye wrote,
is predestined and will surely come to pass. But the pre-Tribulation tribulation -- that is the tribulation that will engulf this country if liberal humanists are permitted to take control of our government -- is neither predestined nor necessary. (Harding p. 69)
LaHaye urged Christians to pray and witness as usual and also to help the victims of humanism ... [but also] to join the national drive to register Christian voters ... [and] to run for public office ... (p. 69)
[Falwell] argued that unless born-again Christians acted politically ... they would lose their ... [ability] to fulfill Biblical prophecy. (p. 70)
In otherwords, political involvement was required to get raptured. Harding credits national preachers and writers including Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth), Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell with adding political activism to the End Times Scenario. "If Christians responded to God's call through holy living and political activism, they would be spared." (p.68)
While Billy Graham strongly urged followers to get involved in politics, he did not advocate one political party which separates him from leaders of the religious right such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson of Focus on the Family who targeted the Republican Party. In Approacning Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, published in 1984, Graham, unlike leaders of the religious right, called on Christians to work for peace. He supported an end to the nuclear arms race and environmental protection.Dominion Theology
From Sociologist Sara Diamond in an article titled "Dominion Theology:"
More prevalent on the Christian Right is the Dominionist idea, shared by Reconstructionists, that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns -- and there is no consensus on when that might be.
From George Grant, a leading dominionist writer in The Changing of the Guard, Biblical Principles for Political Action:
Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less... Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. (pp. 50-51)
(The above quote comes from Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse by Thomas Ice, published in 1988 by H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice. pp. 412)
From Reconstructionism to Dominionism, Part 1, Talk To Action, November 25, 2005 -- Includes links to interviews Bill Moyers gave with Rousas Rushdooney in 1989Christian Reconstruction Theology
Christian Reconstructionism does not represent one particular denomination.
Its most common form, Theonomic Reconstructionism , represents one of the most extreme forms of Fundamentalist Christianity thought. The followers are attempting to peacefully convert the laws of United States so that they match those in the Hebrew Scriptures. They intend to achieve this by using the freedom of religion in the US to train a generation of children in private Christian religious schools. Later, their graduates will be charged with the responsibility of creating a new Bible-based political, religious and social order. One of the first tasks of this order will be to eliminate religious freedom. Their eventual goal is to achieve the "Kingdom of God" in which much of the world is converted to Christianity.
A Nation Under God, John Sugg, Mother Jones, November, 2005
From: The Covert Kingdom -- Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Texas, Joe Bageant www.dissidentvoice.org May 18, 2004:
Christian Reconstructionism has for decades exerted one hell of an influence through its scores of books, publications and classes taught in colleges and universities. Over the past 30 years, Reconstructionist doctrine has permeated not only the religious right, but mainstream churches as well, via the charismatic movement. Its impact on politics and religion in this nation have been massive, with many mainstream churches pushed rightward by pervasive Reconstructionism, without even knowing it.
The implementation of Biblical Law is central to the mission of building the Kindom of God on earth. The way to get to Biblical Law is through politics. Therefore, God's law as manifested in the Bible should govern. References to the Ten Commandments are more than symbolic. It reflects a belief that the Bible, not the Constitution, represents the final legal authority.
Reconstructionist theologian David Chilton described the goals:
Our goal is world dominion under Christ's lordship, a world "take over" if you will. (Paradise Restored, p. 214)
Former Reconstructionist, Thomas Ice, wrote in Dominion Theology, Blessing or Curse, (1988, H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice, 1988) warns:
The Reconstructionists cannot be dismissed as a passing and therefore irrelevelant side-current on the course of evangelical thought...
Christian Reconstructionism must be carefully scrutinized by Christians concerned about the Church's and America's future.
Politicians avoid association with the Christian Reconstruction movement because it is so extreme, yet Reconstructionist ideas provide the philosophical foundation of Religious Right political activism. From Church and State, October, 2001, Operation Potomac:
Although Reconstructionism may seem so far out as to be easily dismissed, the philosophy has in fact provided the intellectual basis for much of the Religious Right's thinking and political activism. Stripped of its more extreme features, watered-down versions of Reconstructionism are the driving force behind groups like the Christian Coalition, whose leaders, during the group's early years, talked openly of the need for far-right Christians to take control of government from local school boards all the way to the White House.
Core Reconstuctionist Beliefs Influencing The Bush Administration
One core belief of this movement is that the federal government should recede into the background. This should be accomplished through massive tax cuts. Another core belief is that churches will take over the responsibility for welfare and education. Whether or not the President has ever heard of the Christian Reconstruction movement, his tax cuts combined with his Faith Based Initiative and pursuit of school vouchers reflect these core beliefs.
The Bush administration shares with the Reconstructionists a strong belief that corporations should not be burdened with regulations including laws to protect the environment and workers. Many White House judicial nomninees would seek to move this country toward Biblical law.
The Christian Reconstruction movement was spearheaded in 1973 when a Presbyterian Minister, Rousas Rushdooney published Institutes of Biblical Law, a 800 page three-volume book on the application of the Ten Commandments to modern society. Rushdooney explains:
God's covenant with Adam required him to exercise dominion over the earth and to subdue it under God according to God's law-word.
Rushdooney invites his followers to
subdue all things and all nations to Christ and His law-word.
His basic thesis is:
The only true order is founded on Biblical Law.
Small foundation Seeks Big Change, Union Democrat, January 21, 2005, is an article about Chalcedon, the foundation founded by Rushdooney and now run by his son Mark.
We witnessed the House of Representatives placing Biblical Law above the U.S. Constitution when they impeached a president who had committed no constitutional crime. President Bill Clinton committed a crime against the Ten Commandments, but not against the United States Constitution.
The most shocking part of the impeachment proceedings was that all but five Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for the impeachment. What happened to the other moderate Republicans in the House? President Clinton's impeachment demonstrated the ability of the Religious Right to not only superimpose the Ten Commandments on constitutional law, but to also win the support of moderate Republicans in the process.Rushdooney's son-in-law, Gary North, is a prolific Christian Reconstruction writer, and founder of the Institute for Christian Economics. He said in Christianity and Civilization, Spring, 1982,
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.
Rushdoony Blog Tour, Talk To Action, December 2, 2005
United States Senator Rick Santorum, the number 3 ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, was thinking in terms of Biblical Law when he spoke to the Associated Press calling homosexuality and adultery illegal.
A Reconstructed Society
From What is Christian Reconstructionism? by Frederick Clarkson, The Public Eye:
A general outline of what the reconstructed 'Kingdom,' or confederation of Biblical theocracies, would look like emerges from the large body of Reconstructionist literature. This society would feature a minimal national government, whose main function would be defense by the armed forces. No social services would be provided outside the church, which would be responsible for 'health, education, and welfare.' A radically unfettered capitalism (except in so far as it clashed with Biblical Law) would prevail. Society would return to the gold or silver standard or abolish paper money altogether. The public schools would be abolished. Government functions, including taxes, would be primarily at the county level.
Women would be relegated primarily to the home and home schools, and would be banned from government. Those qualified to vote or hold office would be limited to males from Biblically correct churches.
One of the tenets of Reconstuctionism is that prisons will be empty because the death penalty will be applied to all capital crimes. Some of the more extreme leaders of the Reconstructionist movement include as capital crimes unrepentant homosexuality, abortion, adultery, blasphemy and even incorrigible children.
The New York Times reported, July 17, 2004, that former U.S. Representative Tom Coburn Coburn, a practicing physician, "caused a political uproar this week by declaring in an interview that he favors the death penalty for "abortionists and other people who take life." Coburn is running in the Oklahoma primary for the U.S. Senate. The Times needn't be surprised. Dr. Coburn is speaking as a Christian Reconstructionist.Are We Becoming a Reconstructed Society?
While the beliefs of Christian Reconstructionists are very extreme, there are striking parallels between the core ideas of the movement and Bush administration policies:
1) The federal government should recede into the background through massive tax cuts. (Bush's signature issue)
2) Churches take over responsiblity for welfare and education. (Faith-based initiatives and school vouchers are paving the way)
3) Capitalism should be "unfettered" by regulations (This is where the Religious Right has married big corporations by opposing environmental regulations, working safety requirements, civil rights laws, and by attempting to immunize corporations from lawsuits)
4) The U.S. Constitution should conform to Biblical Law.
America the Theocracy, by John F. Sugg, published in the Weekly Planet out of Tampa Florida, March, 2004, documents ways the Christian Reconstruction Movement has influenced the thinking of Religious Right:
How far has the doctrine spread? "The Reconstructionists have taken over the Southern Baptist Convention's national leadership," says Eternal Hostility author Clarkson. "And they've made great inroads into denominations such as the Assemblies of God, which in the past have been radically apolitical."
Southern Baptist spokesman John Revell acknowledged that Reconstructionists and Baptists agree on many issues -- from biblical infallibility to abortion to the primacy of men in the family and in church governance. But he denied the denomination is hell-bent on a dictatorship of the preachers.
Revell said, "Christian Reconstruction would be, in practical terms, a theocracy. People who agree with that would be a small minority" in his denomination. "The church should not resort to assuming civil power."
Clarkson commented that Revell is "technically correct, but at the same time very wrong. Groups like the Southern Baptists won't use the word 'theocracy.' What they do support is religious majoritarianism. They push a religious political agenda they believe is best for everyone. And when the litmus test for political office is a list of religious issues, that's a problem for a society organized around religious pluralism. In the end, you end up with a society that is indistinguishable from the theocracy advocated by Reconstruction."
Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and Dominionists: An Informal Guide , Talk To Action, December 7, 2005Miscellaneous
Religion in The Workplace
National Public Radio's Barbara Bradley Haggerdy has produced a series for Morning Edition on religion in the workplace. Firms Turn to Religion to Keep Worker's Happy, June 23, 2004
Some companies are embracing the belief that a faith-friendly workplace will create higher profits -- or at least happier workers. At Atlanta-based HomeBanc Mortgage Corp., employees can take part in prayer groups or speak with corporate chaplains.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Many companies pride themselves on encouraging a religion-friendly environment. But some employees of a Michigan company say they are uncomfortable with their employer's policy on religious meetings.
More Bishops Deny Communion To Pro-Choice Politicians, from Church and State, August 6, 2004
The "Smiling Preacher" Builds on Large Following , The Washington Post, January 30, 2005:
The charismatic, nondenominational church he inherited from his late father six years ago has quadrupled in size, and today is the largest and fastest-growing in the country, welcoming upward of 30,000 visitors a week, according to Church Growth Today, a research center that follows church trends. Osteen's television broadcast is shown in every U.S. market, reaching 95 percent of the nation's households, and in 150 countries.
Global Spread of Evangelical Christianity
Peter Hammond and Christian Reconstuctionism in Africa, Talk To Action, December 2, 2006
The Call, The New York Times Magazine, January 29, 2006
An article by Philip Jenkins in The Atlantic, October, 2002, describes the enormous spread of evangelical Christianity to southern, poorer counties.
The fact is, we are at a moment as epochal as the Reformation itself-a Reformation moment not only for Catholics but for the entire Christian world. Christianity as a whole is both growing and mutating in ways that observers in the West tend not to see."
For obvious reasons, news reports today are filled with material about the influence of a resurgent and sometimes angry Islam. But in its variety and vitality, in its global reach, in its association with the world's fastest-growing societies, in its shifting centers of gravity, in the way its values and practices vary from place to place-in these and other ways it is Christianity that will leave the deepest mark on the twenty-first century.
This article is very important, but Jenkins refers to Christianity in the northern countries as "liberal" compared to "conservative" Christianity in the southern countries. Is Jenkins aware of the Religious Right in the United States? However, his article in The Atlantic is still important to understand the global reach of conservative, evangelical Christianity.
The Fundamentalism Project was commissioned by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and published by the University of Chicago Press. It is edited by Martin Marty and Scott Appleby.
Around the world, fundamentalist movements are profoundly affecting the way we live. Misinformation and misperception about fundamentalism exacerbate conflicts at home and abroad. Yet policymakers, journalists, students, and others have lacked any comprehensive resource on the explosive phenomenon of fundamentalism. Now the Fundamentalism Project has assembled an international team of scholars for a multivolume assessment of the history, scope, sources, character, and impact of fundamentalist movements within the world's major religious traditions.
[It] is an encyclopedic introduction to movements of religious reaction in the twentieth century. The ... chapters are thematically linked by a common set of concerns: the social, political, cultural, and religious contexts in which these movements were born; the particular world-views, systems of thought, and beliefs that govern each movement; the ways in which leaders and group members make sense of and respond to the challenges of the modern, postcolonial era in world history.
The contributors include sociologists, cultural anthropologists, and historians, some of whom have been participant-observers in the groups under consideration. As an analysis of the global resurgence of religion, Fundamentalisms Observed sheds new light on current religious movements and cultures from North America to the Far East.
New York Times Magazine, October 7. 2003:
"This [the war on terror] surely is a religious war -- but not of Islam versus Christianity and Judaism. Rather, it is a war of fundamentalism against faiths of all kinds that are at peace with freedom and modernity. This war even has far gentler echoes in America's own religious conflicts -- between newer, more virulent strands of Christian fundamentalism and mainstream Protestantism and Catholicism. These conflicts have ancient roots, but they seem to be gaining new force as modernity spreads and deepens. They are our new wars of religion..."
This opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times is called "God, Satan and the Media." Kristof doesn't distinguish between Evangelicals, fundamentalists, and Pentecostals, or Evangelicals and the Religious Right, but the article makes an important point.
"Children in the Christian schools of America are the Army that is going to take the future."Joseph Morecraft, Christian educator, 1987
Abolish The U.S. Department of Education? The A Beka Curriculum Home SchoolingGood News ClubsReligion in the ClassroomPatrick Henry SchoolVouchers and Government Funded Religious EducationSecular HumanismEvolutionIntelligent DesignSchool PrayerAbstinence-Only Sex EducationRecent ArticlesAbolish the U.S. Department of Education?
Christian schools and a strong home schooling movement are the foundations of dominionism. "Until the vast majority of Christians pull their children out of the public schools," writes Gary North, "there will be no possibility of creating a theocratic republic."
From journalist Frederick Clarkson:
Among the top Reconstructionists in education politics is Robert Thoburn of Fairfax Christian School in Fairfax, Virginia. Thoburn advocates that Christians run for school board, while keeping their own children out of public schools."Your goal" (once on the board), he declares, "must be to sink the ship."
The Texas Republican Party Platform, 2004, a document that reflects the values of the Bush administration, has no use for the U.S. Department of Education:
We call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education and the prohibition of the transfer of any of its functions to any other federal agency.
Rev. Jerry Falwell wrote:
"I hope to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we don't have public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them." (America Can Be Saved!, Sword of the Lord Publishers, Murfreesboro, Tenn. 1979, p. 52-53.)
Rob Boston sums up the goals of education in Church and State, 2002 writing about the best selling author, the Reverend Tim LaHaye:
In LaHaye's perfect world, voucher subsidies for private religious education are freely available. Public schools are turned into centers for fundamentalist indoctrination with daily prayer, promotion of the Ten Commandments and creationism firmly ensconced. The Department of Education has been abolished, and teenagers are given no sex education at school. Instead, children are taught revisionist history about how the United States was founded to be a "Christian nation."
Will Southern Baptists Replace Public Schools?, Talk To Action, March 1, 2006
The A Beka Curriculum
A Beka is one of three curriculum packages (the others being Bob Jones University and Accelerated Christian Education/School Of Tomorrow) that are commonly used in school programs run by dominionists--both private schools operated by dominionist churches, and correspondence schools operated as "Christian Homeschool Programs" in the dominionist community. more
Here's what kids in dominionist "homeschool"/private school households are often learning, Dark Christianity, July 17, 2005line in the sand
A line in the sand, Talk To Action, December 16, 2005
Good News Club: Converting Young Children
From Americans United , January 12, 2001:
Good News Clubs are sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship, a national group that seeks to convert young children to fundamentalist Christianity. At the weekly meetings, children are divided into groups of "saved" and "unsaved." "Unsaved" children, who may be as young as 5 or 6, are pressured weekly to make faith professions.
A Supreme Court decision in 2001 upheld the right of Child Evangelism Fellowship to hold Good News Clubs after hours in public school buildings. The high court ruled 6-3 that religious clubs such as CEF, which had contact with 4.9 million children last year, couldn't be prevented from meeting after hours if other private groups also are allowed to gather.
American's United Executive Director, Barry Lynn, said about the Supreme Court decision:
"This decision is a terrible mistake. The court's ruling means aggressive fundamentalist evangelists have a new way to proselytize school kids."
Mathew Staver founded Liberty Counsel in 1989. Staver was quoted in the Orlando New Times (p.3) as saying,
"Now, every one of those schools has become an open door for evangelism," Staver declares, "so that right after the last bell on a public school, you can now begin a Good News Club, which I describe as a high-powered Sunday School program that not only teaches morals and character and values and respect but most of all introduces young people to Jesus Christ who will change their mind, renew their mind, and restore the culture. Every public school in America is an open area for evangelism, and every school should have a Good News Club or an after- school Christian club to reach these young people in America."
Liberty Counsel won a lawsuit against a Los Angeles Unified School District policy that allowed Boy Scout and Girl Scout meetings for free on school property but charged a fee for church, community, and business groups.
Liberty Counsel represented the Child Evangelism Fellowship in California which sponsors an after-school religious program called the Good News Club. A federal judge ruled that the fees discriminated against the Good News Club and were a violation of the First Amendment.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled September 3, 2004 in favor of a teacher who was running a Good News Club directly after school. (Wiggs v. Sioux Falls School District)
Christianity Today, July, 2004, "The 4-14 Window:New push on child evangelism targets the crucial early years" reported on a gathering in April, of 94 children's ministry leaders from 54 organizations.They focused on ways to effectively reach children between the ages of 4 and 14.Religion in the Classroom
A fundraising letter from American's United for Separation of Church and State states: "Religious Right leaders have recently launched a renewed campaign to bring religion into the classroom."
In Michigan, the Frankenmuth School District recently considered adding to their curriculum a Bible course created by a fundamentalist Christian group that says its goal is to "expose the kids to the biblical Christian worldview."
In Kentucky, Bullitt County officials planned to allow preachers to join public schoolchildren for lunch.
In Texas, a school official at Morningside Elementary spelled out how students should pray during the daily moments of silence.
In Pennsylvania, the Dover Area Schools considered approving science textbooks that promote creationism, and children in several grades at Tamaqua Elementary were given a "cut-and-paste" assignment which featured the biblical story of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus fleeing to Egypt and a passage reading, "A savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Patrick Henry College: A Pipeline into Conservative Politics
Colleges such as Patrick Henry College, the first college primarily for evangelical Christian home-schoolers offers a pipeline into conservative politics.
Of the nearly 100 interns working in the White House this semester, 7 are from the roughly 240 students enrolled in the four-year-old Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville. An eighth intern works for the president's re-election campaign. A former Patrick Henry intern now works on the paid staff of the president's top political adviser, Karl Rove. Over the last four years, 22 conservative members of Congress have employed one or more Patrick Henry interns in their offices or on their campaigns, according to the school's records.
The Patrick Henry College Statement of Biblical Worldview explains their philosophy.
Funding the Culture Wars, TomPaine.com, February 16, 2005
GOD AND COUNTRY, The New Yorker, June 27, 2005
Student Body Right, At Evangelical colleges, what they're taught and what they learn are two different things, The American Prospect, August 10, 2005Vouchers
Last Friday, President Bush released his plan for helping students and schools recover from the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. While there are good components, what stands out is the administration’s attempt to use the devastation wrought by Katrina as political cover for pushing school vouchers on the nation. more
To read about problems with school vouchers, click here.Secular Humanism
The Reverend Tim LaHaye spearheaded the "war" on secular humanism with the publication of a book in 1980 called Battle for the Mind. From Church and State, February, 2002
In the book, LaHaye asserts that "secular humanists" have taken control of all American institutions, including public schools and universities, the political system, the news media and the entertainment industry, with the aim of driving Christianity from American life and creating a totalitarian state.
The goals of humanists, according to LaHaye, is to create an "Orwellian Big Brother complex, which will enable the elite humanists to merge America with the Soviet Union and all other countries. This will culminate in the humanist dream of a one-world, socialist state."
Then in the year 2000, LaHaye updated his treatise against secular humanism with the best selling book Mind Siege, which is a call to arms for Bible-believing Christians to rid the government of secular humanists who are destroying America. In the book, LaHaye declares that secular humanism is a religion.
In a textbook written for fundamentalist Christian schools, America's Providential History, the authors ask us,
"What was 'Biblical Scholarship' that formed the basis for all education in America for over two centuries? Simply stated, Biblical Scholarship is the ability to reason from Biblical principles and relate it to all of life. Not only did early American Christians reason from the Bible, but even non-Christians were trained in this manner and held to a Biblical worldview. This is quite the opposite of today, for both non-Christians and even many Christians view life from a man-centered, humanistic worldview.
Briefly stated the Principle Approach to education inculcates in individuals the ability to reason from the Bible to every aspect of life."
Programs that don't assume a "Biblical worldview" are labeled as "secular humanist." The Religious Right calls programs "secular humanist" that are designed to enhance a student's self esteem. They would ban programs that encourage self reflection such as the writing of autobiographies or engage in small group discussions. They mostly oppose programs that encourage children to think for themselves.
In a court case in 1987, Judge Brevard Hand stated the same principle in his court opinion: "...this court must [also] purge from the classroom those things that serve to teach that salvation is through one's self rather than through a deity."
To purge secular humanism from the schools, Judge Hand ordered more than forty textbooks removed from shelves. He stated: "For purposes of the First Amendment, Secular Humanism is a religious belief system." Judge Hand's rulings were overturned in the higher courts, but with the kind of judges Bush is appointing to the higher courts, opinions such as those issued by Judge hand may not be overturned in the future.
The theocratic right also labels as secular humanist classes teaching subjects of international relations or global studies that support a one-world view. From The Texas Republican Party Platform:
The Party opposes a one-world government which is in direct opposition to the basic principles of the United States of America..." (p. 23)
"The Party believes it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership, as well as financial and military contributions to, the United Nations... The Party urges Congress to evict the United Nations from U.S. soil." (p.24)
The battle to teach evolution has been going on since the Scopes "monkey trial." In 1986 the State of Louisiana passed a law requiring creationism be given equal time with evolution. The Balanced Treatment Act , 1986, was overturned in the courts with Justice Scalia writing the dissenting opinion. To read updates on the Christian Right and evolution click here.Intelligent Design
From Church and State:
While supporters of church-state separation frequently consider groups such as the Christian Coalition and Family Research Council their principal adversaries, the Discovery Institute has quietly positioned itself as the most effective and politically savvy group pushing a religious agenda in America's public school science classes.
Founded in 1991 by former Reagan administration official Bruce Chapman, the Seattle-based Institute has an operating budget of over $2 million. "Intelligent design" creationism has become such a central feature of the organization's work that it created a separate division, the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, to devote all of its time to that cause.
The Institute enthusiastically endorses what law professor and ID champion Philip Johnson calls the "wedge" strategy. (See "Insidious Design," page 8.) The plan is straightforward: use intelligent design as a wedge to undermine evolution with scientific-sounding arguments and thereby advance a conservative religious-political agenda. more
Intelligent Design: Creationism's Trojan Horse, Americans United, February, 2005
For updates on Intelligent Design, click here.School Prayer
School prayer is a defining issue for the Religious Right, for it crosses the line in church-state separation enabling teachers to actually impose their religious beliefs on their students. There are some misconceptions about school prayer. Contrary to what many people believe, prayer is allowed in schools - just not teacher led school prayers during classroom instruction. The law requires school neutrality on religion, nothing more. Students already have the right to read their chosen sacred texts in their free time, organize after-school religious clubs and say prayers before meals or at any time they seek spiritual guidance.
The theocratic right has been trying since 1962 to overturn a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which declared unconstitutional the inclusion of state-sponsored school prayer as a part of instruction in public schools. The late Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black said of this decision,
"A union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion." Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, Engel v. Vitale, 1962. more
August, 2004, Appeals Court Strikes Coercive Prayer At Public Schools:
... the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction covers the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas, concluded that prayers held at mandatory public school staff meetings violate the First Amendment principle of church-state separation.
On February 7, 2003, the Department of Education issued a directive: schools could lose federal funds if they don't comply with a mandate to allow students and teachers to pray outside the classrooms. According to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, "The Guidance punishes students by threatening to withhold federal funds from public schools."
The ... document - entitled the "Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools" - is not an objective presentation of the state of the law. Rather, it is an unprecedented effort to coerce school districts, through the threat of the withholding of federal funds, to comply with a selective and inaccurate interpretation of constitutional law. more
Two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives would enable teachers to lead prayers during classtime. One calls for a constitutional amendment that would overturn the 1962 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning teacher-led school prayer in the classroom. more
For a history of the Istook bill calling for an amendment to allow school prayer more
Americans United calls the Istook Prayer Amendment " Unnecessary, Divisive And Dangerous." (May 9, 2003)
On April 7, Retiring Secretary of Education, Roderick Paige wrote in the Baptist Press:
"all things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith."
A letter from Congressman George Miller to the Secretary of Education:
I am writing to request that you clarify recent remarks which appeared in the "Baptist Press" on April 7, 2003. Many of the comments attributed to you in this article - "Rod Paige: America's Education Evangelist" - are extremely troubling in light of your role as the "chief superintendent" for our nations public schools. more
Gary North, a prolific writer for the Christian Reconstruction movement, stated frankly the ultimate goal of education in Christianity and Civilization, Spring, 1982:
"So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God."
In this section:A Constitutional AmendmentChronology of Legislation and Events"Who and what is next?"Alliance Defense FundPolls on Public Attitudes about Gay MarriageMarriage Protection ActAn Explicit Political AgendaStatements from the theocratic rightUpdates
The late Dr. James Luther Adams, ethics professor at the Harvard Divinity school, made a powerful impression on his young student, Christopher Hedges, who went on to become a New York Times journalist and author:
Adams told us to watch closely the Christian Right's persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. (Soldier's of Christ II, Harper's, May, 2005)
A Constitutional Amendment
Last spring the Reverend Don Wildomon, founder of the American Family Association, held a meeting with 14 leaders of the Religious Right in Arlington, Virginia. Mr. Wildmon's meeting gave birth to a concerted campaign for a constitutional amendment blocking gay marriage.
"I have never seen anything that has energized and provoked our grass roots like this issue, including Roe v. Wade," said Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has 16 million members. (NY Times, Feb. 8, 2004)
Cities and state legislatures have been scrambling to define their laws in respect to gay marriage. Cities from Portland and Corvallis Oregon, and San Francisco, California to New Palz, New York have been performing gay marriages.
For an interactive map of Anti-Gay Marriage Initiatives across the U.S. go to NPR
In What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? (It's the Gay Part):
Their [the anti-gay marrige movement's] passion comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: it seeks to spread itself. (New York Times, June 19, 2005)
Adam Liptak of the New York Times suggests we go back 50 years to a time when a majority of states banned interracial marriages:
Legal scholars say that an examination of the last wrenching national debate over the definition of marriage - when, only 50 years ago, a majority of states banned interracial marriages - demonstrates that the president misunderstood the legal terrain.
"No state has ever been required by the full faith and credit clause to recognize any marriage they didn't want to," said Andrew Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern University and the author of "The Gay Rights Question in Contemporary American Law."
Indeed, until the Supreme Court struck down all laws banning interracial marriage in 1967, the nation lived with a patchwork of laws on the question. Those states that found interracial marriages offensive to their public policies were not required to recognize such marriages performed elsewhere, though sometimes they did, but as a matter of choice rather than constitutional compulsion. That experience is instructive, legal scholars say, about what is likely to happen when Massachusetts starts performing gay marriages in May.
Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer of New York has provided an example of what the analogous patchwork in the gay marriage context might look like. Mr. Spitzer, in an informal advisory opinion issued on March 3, said he expected New York to recognize gay marriages from other states because they are not "abhorrent to New York's public policy." Thirty-eight other states, on the other hand, in enacting Defense of Marriage Acts, have expressed the view that such marriages do offend their public policies.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX): "We are pushing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage."
"In a bid to attract new recruits, raise gobs of money and polarize American politics, Religious Right leaders from an array of groups have launched a major crusade to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman." more
Just before the Senate adjourned for Thanksgiving, three senators introduced what would be the first constitutional amendment in the nation's history to require discrimination and to restrict the civil rights of a targeted group of people. The Federal Marriage Amendment would prevent any state from extending equal marriage rights to same-sex couples and would possibly invalidate domestic partner and civil union laws that provide some legal protections to same-sex couples and their families. more
To read a Chronology of anti-gay legislation and events, click here."Who and what is next?"
Roberta Sklar, spokeswoman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force responded to the President's support of a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage:
"If he endorses amendments such as this, which blatantly discriminates against a class of people, you would then have to wonder who and what is next."
Ms. Sklar's statement brings to mind another time in history. One of Hitler's first acts after taking office on January 30, 1933 was to ban homosexual organizations. From the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
" Soon after taking office on January 30, 1933, Hitler banned all homosexual and lesbian organizations. Brownshirted storm troopers raided the institutions and gathering places of homosexuals."
"On May 6,1933, Nazis ransacked the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin; four days later as part of large public burnings of books viewed as "un-German," thousands of books plundered from the Institute's library were thrown into a huge bonfire." more The photo below shows the burning of homosexual books in Berlin.
"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings." Heinrich Heine, nineteenth century German author.
"On Sunday evening, members of the Harvest Assembly of God Church in Penn Township sing songs as they burn books, videos and CDs that they have judged offensive to their God."
Published in the Butler Eagle, March 26, 2001. Courtesy of the Butler Eagle
From "Playing with Fire" by James Carroll of the Boston Globe (3/9/04):
Politicians who spark a culture war for the sake of their own power are playing with fire, and journalists who exploit a culture war for the sake of its unleashed furies are throwing gasoline on the flames. At the beginning of the presidential election contest, that is history's warning to America.
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF)
The Alliance Defense Fund (Church and State, June, 2004) is the largest national organization leading the fight against same-sex marriage.
ADF has raised millions of dollars for Religious Right legal cases and been active in federal and state lawsuits that seek to blast holes in the wall of separation between church and state.
For years, the ADF had been opposing "domestic partner" laws in various cities, fighting ordinances protecting gays from discrimination and even working to deny gay parents custody of their own children. When battles over same-sex marriage erupted in California, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Mexico and New York earlier this year, the ADF spearheaded the opposition.
At least one ADF project, the Blackstone Fellowship for law students, has ties to the Christian Reconstructionist movement. Christian Reconstructionists advocate a society anchored in "biblical law" and would literally base U.S. law on the legal code of the Old Testament.Polls on Public Attitudes about Gay Marriage
Gay marriage and civil unions will be among the most divisive issues of the 2004 presidential election, according to the latest NPR poll. NPR's Mara Liasson interviews Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg. more
Marriage Protection Act
On July 23, 2004, with strong backing from the Bush administration, the Marriage Protection Act was adopted in the U.S. House of Representatives 233 to 194. The bill would strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law passed in 1996 that purports to leave the recognition of same-sex marriage entirely to each state.
To read comments on the Marriage Protection Act, Click here.
The Gospel On Gay Marriage, Alternet, June 16, 2005An Explicit Political Agenda
People for the American Way acknowledges "an explicit political agenda that seeks to criminalize gay relationships and deny basic rights to gays and lesbians in a range of critical areas: employment, housing, and families. Anti-gay politics have long been at the core of Religious Right fundraising and organizing efforts." moreStatements about homosexuals is not new for the Religious Right.
From Salon.com, May 18, 2004:
Gay-marriage licenses are "death certificates" With a new wave of same-sex couples marrying in Massachusetts this week, conservatives once again launched the expected attack. Monday's 50th anniversary of the landmark civil rights case Brown vs. Board of Education provided a poignant backdrop, with some of the rhetoric in heartland states like Colorado and Pennsylvania -- the latter considered key in this year's election -- turning rather ugly:
"I think this is going to awaken people," said Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, according to an AP report published in the Denver Post. "It [gay marriage] is not a civil right. It is a behavior. [Gay-marriage advocates] never had to drink at different water fountains or ride in the back of the bus."
James Dobson, chairman of the Colorado Springs-based Christian group Focus on the Family, offered a grave assessment of the jubilant same-sex couples flocking to court houses in New England.
"We will look back 20, 30, 50 years from now and recall this as the day marriage ceased to have any real meaning in our country. The documents being issued all across Massachusetts may say 'marriage license' at the top but they are really death certificates for the institution of marriage as it has served society for thousands of years."
Lancaster Newspapers reported that The Pennsylvania Family Institute, a conservative organization based in Harrisburg, dubbed Monday "Destruction of Marriage Day.''
"[T]hese perverted homosexuals.absolutely hate everything that you and I and most decent, God-fearing citizens stand for.Make no mistake. These deviants seek no less than total control and influence in society, politics, our schools and in our exercise of free speech and religious freedom..If we do not act now, homosexuals will own America!" 1999 fund-raising letter (reported in Church & State, October 1999, p. 9)
Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition:
Our little children are being targeted by the homosexuals and liberals who are pushing for this legislation," wrote Sheldon. "They want our preschool children.. They want our kindergarten children..They want our grade school children..They want our middle school and high school children..To be brainwashed to think that homosexuality is the moral equivalent of heterosexuality. We can't let that happen." more
Dr. James Kennedy, Senior Minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale and the president of Coral Ridge Ministries, calls for a constitutional "Firewall" to protect the nation from counterfeit marriage. more
From the Baptist Press:
"I see this becoming probably the largest domestic issue that will be addressed in this election cycle -- if the economy continues to improve," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Baptist Press. Conservatives are pushing for a constitutional amendment protecting the traditional definition of marriage, and one such effort -- the Federal Marriage Amendment -- already has some 100 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. If passed, it would trump the Massachusetts ruling as well as any other such ruling by a court. To become law it would require passage by two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-quarters of the states. more
From Don Wildmon of the American Family Association:
The sacred institution of marriage is under attack. There are those who want to redefine marriage to include two men, or two women, or a group of any size or mix of sexes: One man and four women, one woman and two men, etc. If they fail to secure legal protection classifying these arrangements as 'marriage,' they want to include all these mixtures under the definition of 'civil union,' giving them identical standing with the marriage of one man and one woman.
They have gained the support of the national media and many politicians. Their efforts are intended to force, by law, 97% of Americans to bow down to the desires of the approximately 3% who are homosexuals. more
From the Concerned Women for America's Janet LaRue:
"These are the court jesters of the century. The Massachusetts Legislature should summon the moral courage to impeach the majority for their abuse of power and distortion of the state constitution." more
President of Family Research Council, Tony Perkins:
"This is THE wake-up call for both the American public and our elected officials. If we do not amend the Massachusetts State Constitution so that it explicitly protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and if we do not amend the U.S. Constitution with a federal marriage amendment that will protect marriage on the federal level, we will lose marriage in this nation."
People for the American Way provides regularly updated headlines from the Religious Right more
Much of the homophobic hyseria is focused on the schools.
"Homosexuality is a Satanic counterfeit to God's created design," according to a speaker whose group sponsors workshops in Winston/Salem, North Caroina. Don Martin, superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools encouraged his staff to attend a fundamentalist Christian presentation on homosexuality, that said conversion to Christianity can turn gays into heterosexuals. more
Radio show host James Dobson of Focus on the Family was so upset with "homosexual propaganda" in the schools that, for the first time in twenty-five years of radio programming he called for his followers to pull their children out of the public schools.
The "homosexual propaganda" that Dobson was referring to was legislation in California that adds sexual orientation to a list of forms of discrimination that are banned in public schools. The legislation was designed to give schools new tools to combat bullying and harassment of gay students.
"Amendment 2 is a ballot initiative that seeks to amend the Colorado Constitution. The amendment was passed by a majority of Colorado voters in November 1992, and was to take effect on January 15, 1993." Jean Hardisty, founder and Director of Political Research Associates, explains the history of homophobia in the Religious Right.Updates
TRUTH WINS OUT is a new website "that will counter right wing misinformation campaigns and disseminate the facts about GLBT people."
Sex As A Weapon, Jeff Sharlet, Nerve.com, April 25, 2005
A High-Tech Lynching in Prime Time, New York Times, April 24, 2005
Episcopalians Affirm Pro-Gay View, Washington Post, February 26, 2005
A Child Learns a Harsh Lesson in Politics, New York Times, February 5, 2005
Judge's Ruling Opens Window for Gay Marriage in New York City, New York Times, February 5, 2005
Backers of Gay Marriage Ban Use Social Security As Cudgel, New York Times, January 25, 2005
THE FUTURE OF MARRIAGE, MORALITY AND THE SUPREME COURTBy Matthew D. Staver, President and General Counsel, Liberty Counsel, Vice President of Law and Policy, Liberty University (Matthew Staver is a leading attorney who successfully represented the Good News Clubs at the Supreme Court)
The Price of Homophobia, New York Times, January 20, 2005
A New Target, SpongeBob SquarePant, New York Times, January 20, 2005
Maureen Dowd on Sponge Bob, New York Times, January 23, 2005
White House Again Backs Amendment on Gay Marriage, New York Times, January 17, 2005
Lutherans Recommend Tolerance on Gay Policy, New York Times, January 12, 2005
ILLINOIS: A VOTE TO BAN DISCRIMINATION AGAINST GAYS, New York Times, January 12, 2005
Same-Sex Couples Receive Legal Boost, Washington Post, January 2, 2005
Montana's Universities Must Offer Benefits to Gay Employees Partners, New York Times, December 31, 2004
United Methodists Move to Defrock Lesbian, New York Times, December 3, 2004
Love One Another? Not on ABC, NBC or CBS, The Nation on the refusal of the three big networks to air an ad by the United Church of Christ that welcomes inclusion of all people into the Church. December, 2004
"So when God made homosexuals who fall deeply, achingly in love with each other, did he goof?" asks NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, a New York Times columnist. The column just gets better from there. (October 23, 2004)
From Michael Moore, "17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists," November 5, 2004:
Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't have to buy now.
Talking about Congressional intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, Republican representative Christopher Shays of Conneticut said:
"My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing. ... This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy." (New York Times, March 23, 2005)
Progressive Federalism Under Attack, TomPaine.com, May 6, 2006
Scalia, States Rights, and "Legitimate Medical Procedures", Talk To Action, January 23, 2006
GOP Agenda vs. States' Rights, TruthOut, March, 2005
The Midnight Coup, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2005:
Conservatives are the historical defenders of states' rights, and the supposed proponents of keeping big government out of people's lives, but this case once again shows that some social conservatives are happy to see the federal government acquire Stalinist proportions when imposing their morality on the rest of the country. So breathtaking was this attempted usurpation of power, wresting jurisdiction over a right-to-die case away from Florida's judiciary, that Republican leaders in the end had to agree to limit this legislation's applicability to the Schiavo case.
Blueprint Calls for Bigger, More Powerful Government, Washington Post, February 9, 2005
REBELLION OF THE STATES, New York Times, January 16, 2005:
The mandates... emanating from Washington are coming not from big-government Democrats but conservative Republicans. And thanks to the party's successes in recent years, more of the state and local officials who are complaining about those actions are Republicans, too.
From Adam Cohen of the New York Times, December 14, 2004:
We take for granted today the idea that Congress can adopt a national minimum wage or require safety standards in factories. That's because the Supreme Court, in modern times, has always held that it can.
But the court once had a far more limited view of Congress's power. In the early 1900's, justices routinely struck down laws protecting workers and discouraging child labor. The court reversed itself starting in 1937...
States' Rights Turned Upside Down
There is an inconsistency from leaders of the Religious Right between a belief in states' rights, or minimal federal government, and a drive for control and domination of a nation. As a member of the Federalist Society and leader of the Religious Right, former Attorney General John Ashcroft espoused the value of states' rights. His effort to overturn the state of Oregon 's Death with Dignity Law, however, demonstrates how quickly he will intervene in a State's democratically legislated law when this law conflicts with his religious beliefs. Under Ashcroft's leadership, much of the work of the Justice Department was focused on intervening in state laws.
Fighting Oregon 's Death with Dignity Law
In his zeal to stop assisted suicide, Mr. Ashcroft, a self-described legal conservative, turned his back on two principles that are sacred to legal conservativism. First, he refused to strictly, or even accurately, construe a Congressional statute. Instead, he inserted meaning in it that did not belong there, giving himself power that he should not have had. Second, he ignored conservative dogma about deference to the states, especially on matters like regulating medical practice, a core state concern. more
Mr. Ashcroft and other critics have so far lost in their efforts, in the courts and in Congress, to block the Oregon law. But instead of moving on and letting Oregon proceed with its path breaking experiment, the Justice Department asked a federal appeals court for a new hearing. (NYTimes , Choosing Death, July14, 2004)
From the Washington Post, October 6, 2005, referring to the Supreme Court Bush administration challenge to Oregon's Death with Dignity Law:
Roberts's questioning provided the first hints, however tentative, of his views on end-of-life issues. They could also imply a difference on federalism between Roberts and the man he succeeded, William H. Rehnquist. Last term, Rehnquist was one of three justices who voted, on grounds of states' rights, to let California uphold its legalization of homegrown "medical marijuana" -- notwithstanding a federal ban. But Roberts sounded yesterday like a supporter of federal authority.
Opposing California's Medical Marijuana Law
From the New York Times, February 1, 2003:
A federal jury today found the author of marijuana books and advice columns, Ed Rosenthal, guilty of marijuana cultivation and conspiracy. '"What the federal government is trying to do is destroy Prop 215 and eliminate medical marijuana from California," Mr. Rosenthal said.
Demanding Harsher Prison Terms
From "Rethinking the Key Thrown Away," New York Times, Sept. 28, 2003:
As the Ashcroft Justice Department demands the harshest prison terms and goes out of its way to track federal judges who do not give them, state lawmakers are openly advocating less time for the same crime and giving judges more discretion in choosing punishments.
Seeking The Death Penalty
From the New York Times, February 7, 2003:
Attorney General John Ashcroft has directed federal prosecutors in New York and Connecticut to seek the death penalty in a dozen cases in which they had recommended lesser sentences. Mr. Ashcroft's orders are a triumph of ideology over good prosecutorial practice.
Opposing Stronger Emission Standards
The Bush administration joined in a lawsuit to prevent the state of California from setting its own automobile emission standards because California's standards are tougher than those of the federal government. It appears that states' rights apply when the federal government imposes regulations on corporations, or upholds the separation of church and state. When states attempt to address problems of pollution or global warming, then "states' rights" are not applicable.
From the Natural Resources Defense Council:
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard oral arguments today in a case pitting Detroit automakers and the Bush administration against California's Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program. The auto industry's legal challenge is the latest chapter in a sordid story of resistance to California's clean air rules, according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). The group said the federal government's siding with Detroit is an unprecedented attack on California's legal right to regulate air pollution.
Joining in Local Zoning Disputes
A Christian nondenominational Church on the island of Maui in Hawaii, Hale O Kaula, wanted to build a proper sanctuary, but the Maui Planning Commission, citing traffic and safety concerns, turned it down. In response, the church sued. From the New York Times:
Ordinarily, a local zoning dispute would hardly seem likely to attract the attention of the authorities in Washington. But the Justice Department's civil rights division has weighed in, accusing Maui County of religious discrimination and threatening a lawsuit of its own that would be the first brought by the government under a 2000 law that was intended in part to give churches a leg up in many zoning battles.
The Supreme Court
Washington Post, July 13, 2004:
ONLY A FEW years ago, the Supreme Court appeared to be on the verge of gravely altering the balance of power between the federal government and the states. A string of opinions had restrained Congress's authority and bolstered state power in a fashion that, while appealing in certain areas, was badly off-base and dangerous in others. What made the court's newfound interest in what is called "federalism" scary was that nobody knew where it would stop. And if taken too far, the reinvigoration of state-level power threatened to encumber the federal government in such critical areas as civil rights and environmental protection.
But over the past year, the court has handed down a series of rulings that seem to indicate the limits of its enthusiasm for pumping up state authority.
From the Los Angeles Times: by staff writer, Elizabeth Shorgun:
No recent president has been quicker than George W. Bush to embrace the virtues of state and local control. But when it comes to the environment, William Becker discovered, that commitment can evaporate when state regulation would be tougher on industry than federal rules.
Becker, who represents administrators of state air-pollution programs in Washington, met with White House officials last month to appeal to them not to weaken the Clean Air Act.
He used the administration's own rhetoric about the value of local decision making to support his case. Surely, he said, the administration would not stand in the way of states that wanted to enforce tougher clean-air rules on utilities and major polluters.
"My argument was totally ignored," said Becker, executive director of the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Assn. of Local Air Pollution Control Officials. "They talk about states' rights, but they take away key tools states have needed to clean up the air."
Becker's experience reflects a pattern apparent throughout the Bush administration's implementation of environmental policy, according to state officials and environmental activists. When state and local interests collide with what industry wants, these activists and officials say, the administration has tossed its states' rights ideology out the window. "We've seen a dramatic curtailment of states' rights," Becker said.
"The States' Rights Principle" by Gene Karpinski, Executive Director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group:
"The record shows that the Bush administration trumpets states' rights when strong federal law displeases its campaign contributors but quickly and conveniently abandons this principle when the interests of its corporate cronies are threatened by state governments acting to safeguard the environment and consumers."