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Friday, May 30, 2008

Where's the Beef?

Well, Obama's church is in the news again. Rev. Michael Pfleger preached at his church and assaulted Hillary. Now, I'm sure you've seen enough news and blogs about it. I don't want to make this an Obama thing. The preacher has apologized. Fine. Frankly, I don't care. But here's what does disturb me.

Recently certain organizations announced that they would be monitoring churches for the next 6 months to see if they preach politics. You know ... separation of Church and State ... all that stuff. If a church preaches on politics, these groups promised to immediately seek the removal of the church's tax-exempt status.

Regardless of what I might think about 1) the Trinity United Church of Christ, 2) Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, or 3) whether or not a church should be allowed to discuss politics (that whole "separation of Church and State" concept), it seems to me that there is a problem here. I don't hear the uproar. I don't hear the doors being knocked down as the "Freedom from Religion" folks seek to remove Trinity United Church of Christ's 501c3 status. I don't hear anyone with a beef about this church preaching politics. What's with that?

I can only see one of two possible explanations. First, it is possible that they don't have that status. Maybe they refused it. Maybe they already lost it. That would be fine. But if they have it, then the only other possible explanation is hard to avoid. Could it be that only conservative churches with conservative politics are to be scrutinized? Could it be that only the religious right and not the left needs to stay out of politics? It sure seems odd to me.


Jim Jordan said...

During the 2004 campaign a preacher at a black church said this in introducing Joh Kerry; "God has come here to speak today!"

"God" lost the election.

I think all Christians play with fire with this false interpretation of the separation of church and state.

It is Father Pfleger by the way. He's Catholic, but who could tell. Like Reverend Wright, he is a left-wing demagogue with tenure at a politicized chruch. Not much Christian love about either of them.

Anonymous said...

The goal of liberals is not truly separation of church and state, it's separation of the conservative message from the people.

The ACLU routinely comes to the aid of liberals and liberal causes when separation issues surface - and also when there are opportunities to protect their freedom of speech. Yet they are nowhere to be found when conservatives or their causes are in need. In fact, conservative speech is increasingly being labeled as "hate speech" - so they argue it is unprotected.

If you haven't already heard about this one, Google the works "muslim school minneapolis"... you will find that there is a publicly funded charter school that is essentially a Muslim school, complete with time set aside for Muslim prayer and volunteer prayer helpers. The school is over 90% Muslim. The ACLU is curiously absent (except for a cautionary letter), and a Democrat state politician has actually called for the resignation of the Star-Tribune reporter that broke the story. If this were a charter school run by Christians, the ACLU and liberals everywhere would be on the sidewalk outside protesting.

It's really back to the issue of post-modernism and the rejection of the notion that there is truth that can be known. You see, not only do liberals deny truth - they change what they believe truth should be depending on how and whether it affects their cause. Bottom line for them: Republican do it = bad; Democrat do it = not important.

Stan said...

Hey! It's Scott!!

It really does look like the goal is to prevent a particular group (conservatives) from being able to speak as they want.

(Note, however, that the ACLU has at times actually defended conservatives. They defended Rush Limbaugh, for instance.)

(Note, also, that we have many religious charter schools here in Arizona. No one complains. Our "charter schools" are all by choice.)

Anonymous said...

I'll agree that the ACLU has made exceptions, but they are quick to pounce on conservatives, and slow to act as liberals.

My understanding is that publicly funded charter schools may not be religious in nature, although they can teach about religion from a secular viewpoint. My guess is that if you have truly religious charter schools there in Arizona - they are not receiving public money.

It was fun reading through your blog posts - it's been awhile since I've had a chance to visit. I'll try to "stop by" more often.

will said...

You're drawing the inevitable conclusion.

However, I would point out a factor. Relatively few conservatives believe in the separation of church and state. They believe in the Constitutional prohibition against the establishment of a religion, and in the guarantee of its free exercise. These tend to be more concerned with maintaining religious freedom than with crying foul when someone violates the 'wall of separation'.

It is usually those on the left who are inclined to place great emphasis on the 'wall of separation' phrase which has somehow apparently magically inserted itself into the Constitution.

[I should mention, however, that I don't favor 501c3 status in any case. I don't believe non profits should be taxed at all. But I certainly don't believe the government should give incentives to those who contribute to what those in power deem desirable. Just me, I know.]

At any rate - people are much more able to see offenses on the other side from them. Since it is less of an issue on the 'right', it is FAR more tolerated on churches on the 'left'. The ability of the 'left' to police itself and abide by its own professed convictions is sorely lacking in this evident hypocrisy. However, 'rightists' have their own share of hypocrisies, I guess.

Stan said...

Okay, true, most of us don't believe in that wall of separation. True. And I wouldn't even think of disagreeing that the "right" has its own problems.

The thing is, I deeply appreciate consistency. An atheist who says, "I believe there is no god, and, therefore, there is no basis for morality, no reason to hope, no ultimate purpose in life" is, in my book, wrong, of course, but at least he's consistent. I really appreciate consistent. "You guys can't do it, but we can" isn't consistent.