About This Religious Liberty Stuff

When did the 1st Amendment change from basically saying that you can practice whatever religion you want and you won’t be burned at the stake as a heretic and we’re not going to form or recognize a national religion like the Church of England? When did it change to “everyone everywhere has to do what a bunch of old catholics in funny hats wants, because otherwise it hurts their feelings?” And why does it only apply to certain religions?

I seriously wish other religions would get in on the act. I wish Keith Ellison would start sponsoring bills that allow insurers to cut people’s benefits if they don’t pray to Mecca a certain number of times a day. Or someone Jewish proposing a bill requiring circumcisions or you can’t get health insurance. Just flood the zone with bullshit so people can see how out of control our concept of religious liberty has become.

And who gets to decide what religions are real? I’m going to form my own religion, and the central tenets of my religion will be pizza every Friday, the only thing you are allowed to do on Sundays is watch sports, and I am forbidden by my deity to pay taxes. I’ll call it Norquistism. How would the feds react to that? How is my religion any less real than burning bushes, virgin birth, transubstantiation, and the like?

Does no one realize how absurd the Catholic Bishops are behaving? They are attempting, by dictate, to do precisely what the 1st Amendment bans, which is the establishment of a national religion.

It’s obscene. And it is completely political. They are no longer functioning as a religious organization, but as a political party.

This madness has to stop.

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141 replies
  1. 1
    Martin says:

    And who gets to decide what religions are real?

    If you have lobbyists and bought members of Congress you are real. If not, you are not real. SATSQ.

  2. 2
    SensesFail says:

    Amen!

    Awesome post, John. I agree 100%.

  3. 3
    aimai says:

    In reading the Bishop’s latest statement I really wondered why no one asked them to simply go ahead and sue if they thought they had a legal case to be made. I mean–its pretty clear that the current argument they are making is entirely non rational and non legal. Hypothetically you could argue that some insurance company somewhere might have a legitimate case to be made considering whether its religious conscience was violated by being forced to pay for X for its clients. But not formally and legally. Because “this infringes my religious rights” requires standing, a religious claim, and a bunch of other things. Not just “my feelings are hurt every time someone uses contraception.”

    Can the Bishop’s even prove “harm” let alone standing? I’d like to see them argue that someone else’s rights to contraception are harming their free excercise of religion. It would be like the moment in the Prop 8 trial when Boies demolished the anti gay forces because they weren’t prepared to offer any kind of testimony on the harm they were facing or the history of the issue.

    At any rate and in conclusion fuck them all, with and without contraception.

    aimai

  4. 4
    MikeBoyScout says:

    flood the zone I like it.

  5. 5
    Trentrunner says:

    It’s been a real pleasure listening to men whose semen coats the throats of altar boys and whose penises are stained with their anal blood lecture the rest of us about moral sexual behavior.

  6. 6
    Suzan says:

    What shocked me was how fast the male talking heads supported the funny hat wearing idiots. Mark Shields, EJ Dionne, Tweety and Lawrence O’Donnell last week were all screaming about how bad Obama’s move was because it undercut the church’s moral authority. I’m thinking without those four, this would not have gotten such traction. The looney right could point to Mark Shields for cover.

    Nothing would give me greater pleasure than slapping each and every one of them.

  7. 7
    zmullls says:

    I think we should be reasonable with them and meet them somewhere in the new middle.

    Does this get me an op-ed column?

  8. 8
    HelpThe99ers says:

    Form your own religion?

    I’m not so sure the Flying Spaghetti Monster would approve.

    (Oh, who am I kidding? The FSM is a benevolent deity.)

    May you be touched by His Noodly Appendage. Ramen.

  9. 9
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    (delurking)

    Anyone remember when a certain John Fitzgerald Kennedy had to promise the whole freakin’ US of A — cross his heart — that he wouldn’t take orders from the Pope?

    Marx was wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of the masses, it’s the rufies of the masses.

  10. 10
    Barbara says:

    Actually, I think this is why the exemption was so narrow — because lawyers who actually understand constitutional law realize that an exemption tailored to specific credal pronouncements veers into violating the Establishment Clause — but if you give a full sweep “conscience” protection, you have basically allowed any religious doctrine to usurp any neutral public health measure. I give Obama credit for finding any compromise, even though I do not think that one was required, and do not like even tacitly admitting that there was something improper about the rule to begin with. But drawing a line in the sand over denying contraceptive coverage has to be one of the stupidest steps a politician could possibly take.

  11. 11
    Felinious Wench says:

    Stupid question…I know most of the American Catholic church HATES the Beanies. Why not break away?

  12. 12
    beltane says:

    I’ll join this new religion but only if we get to keep Festivus.

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    Note that the Bishop’s demands would make us more Catholic than the fucking Irish:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....of_Ireland

    and vice versa, as Dorothy Parker would say.

  14. 14
    gene108 says:

    If Catholics can’t get birth-control banned in Italy, why are they trying to export their failures over their to us?

    I mean really, which Italian isn’t or doesn’t have at least on Catholic or Catholic ancestor in the family?

    If the Catholic Church can’t get its own backyard to do its bidding, I say leave us alone.

    Get your peeps in line, before you start imposing on the rest of us.

  15. 15
    Brian S says:

    When did it change to “everyone everywhere has to do what a bunch of old catholics in funny hats wants, because otherwise it hurts their feelings?” And why does it only apply to certain religions?

    Fundies and some evangelicals have been making a similar argument for years. The Catholic Bishops (as opposed to rank and file Catholics) are just getting into the game now, but they’re catching on quick. I have to hope that this continued whine fest will result in a big old backlash from people who are only nominally faithful in the first place (and who are at least half the churchgoing population (I hope–gods, I hope)).

  16. 16
    Nylund says:

    Just last night my wife said, “This makes me want to convert to Islam or some other religion that the Right hates and deny people federally guaranteed benefits that Republicans like so that the religious right creates a law that bans religions from doing that.”

    It’s pretty obvious that they think this are “rights” only their preferred religion gets. How they reconcile the notion that one religion get preferential treatment over another and the constitution’s establishment clause is just bonkers. It’s basically the idea that while the US said it won’t establish a religion in it’s own constitution it’s actually an established Christian state.

  17. 17
    PTirebiter says:

    At least they’re consistent. Who can ever forget John Boehner’s impassioned invocation of the 1st amendment as he stood shoulder to shoulder with Muslims building their Mosque a few miles from ground zero? Or the palpable fear we all heard in Mitch Daniel’s voice as he warned of the consequences awaiting us all if we persecuted an honest Mormon man in TX simply for having more than one 14 year old wife?

  18. 18
    General Stuck says:

    This madness has to stop.

    It will per the previous thread “over reach”. This country is a religious one, up to a point. The evangelicals only make up less than a third of the population, and the others who claim to be religious have a fail safe point of no return when the fanatics starts overtly bringing god into the public square to make social policy in this country. They like presnits to go to prayer breakfasts and talk about jeebus, and make it known they are gawd fearing types, but only the fundies want to replace the constitution with the Bible. It is in our DNA from the founding, and until the hardcore fundies increase their numbers dramatically, they will be shut down by the rest of the country. At least through a democratic process. These same type folks were around back when we began and we called them murrican tories who wanted to stick with the CoE. They were tolerated then, but lost out in the end. And will today as well.

  19. 19
    Brachiator says:

    And who gets to decide what religions are real? I’m going to form my own religion, and the central tenets of my religion will be pizza every Friday

    As long as anchovies are forbidden, I’m with you.

    Food schism!

    Does no one realize how absurd the Catholic Bishops are behaving? They are attempting, by dictate, to do precisely what the 1st Amendment bans, which is the establishment of a national religion.

    As I noted in another thread, the bishops are also defending the right of Catholic hospitals to merge with other hospitals and then change the rules so that religiously proscribed procedures are banned.

    Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky has stopped a controversial merger between the University of Louisville’s teaching hospital and a Roman Catholic health system. The idea for the merger provoked an uproar in the state last year. Beshear cited loss of public control over the hospital as a main reason for rejecting the merger, which he said had more risks than benefits, The Courier-Journal reported. The merger was controversial because the hospitals would all have had to follow Catholic health directives, including restrictions on abortion and sterilization, and some groups feared they would interfere with medical education at the public institution.

    I love the religious wars even more than I loved the political and cultural wars.

  20. 20
    Teddy Salad says:

    Fun Fact: 6 out of 9 sitting Supreme Court Justices are Catholic.

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Suzan:

    Mark Shields, EJ Dionne, Tweety and Lawrence O’Donnell last week were all screaming about how bad Obama’s move was because it undercut the church’s moral authority.

    The Church’s “moral authority” was pretty much shot to hell after about the 500th victim of the cult of pedophile priests came forward.

    The red beanie brigade has no moral authority. They long ago tossed that out the window. They’re no longer welcome, even in Ireland, of all places, the last bastion of Catholic theocracy.

  22. 22
    Elizabelle says:

    Almost makes you want to go to Mass tomorrow so you can walk out mid-sermon.

    Almost.

  23. 23
    dr. bloor says:

    And who gets to decide what religions are real? I’m going to form my own religion, and the central tenets of my religion will be pizza every Friday, the only thing you are allowed to do on Sundays is watch sports, and I am forbidden by my deity to pay taxes.

    What time is mass tomorrow, your holiness?

  24. 24
    Sly says:

    And who gets to decide what religions are real? I’m going to form my own religion, and the central tenets of my religion will be pizza every Friday, the only thing you are allowed to do on Sundays is watch sports, and I am forbidden by my deity to pay taxes. I’ll call it Norquistism. How would the feds react to that?

    “The government’s ability to enforce generally applicable prohibitions of socially harmful conduct, like its ability to carry out other aspects of public policy, ‘cannot depend on measuring the effects of a governmental action on a religious objector’s spiritual development.’ Lyng, supra, 485 U.S. at 451. To make an individual’s obligation to obey such a law contingent upon the law’s coincidence with his religious beliefs, except where the State’s interest is ‘compelling’ — permitting him, by virtue of his beliefs, ‘to become a law unto himself,’ Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. at 167 — contradicts both constitutional tradition and common sense.”

    “Any society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy, but that danger increases in direct proportion to the society’s diversity of religious beliefs, and its determination to coerce or suppress none of them. Precisely because ‘we are a cosmopolitan nation made up of people of almost every conceivable religious preference,’ Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. at 606, and precisely because we value and protect that religious divergence, we cannot afford the luxury of deeming presumptively invalid, as applied to the religious objector, every regulation of conduct that does not protect an interest of the highest order.”

    Antonin Scalia, delivering the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in Employment Division v. Smith, 1990.

  25. 25
    Mark B. says:

    As a Mayan, I assert my right to observe the rite of human sacrifice.

  26. 26
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Felinious Wench: And give up the chance of having an American named Pope?

  27. 27

    …pizza every Friday…

    Is there a conscience clause about choices of toppings?

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Sly:

    Yeah, but that’s Fat Tony opining on a non-actual religion.

    As we all know, various flavors of Christianity and, grudgingly, Judaism, are the only “actual” religions in the United States.

  29. 29
    LT says:

    Something that needs to be exposed gets a little closer to exposed because of this shit, at least: If you claim to be against legal abortion because it’s about the “innocent unborn babies” or something like that, which is what every “pro-lifer” I’ve ever heard on the issue says it’s about, and you’re also against contraception—you are basically admitting that the abortion thing isn’t about the “innocent unborn babies,” aren’t you?

  30. 30
    TheOtherWA says:

    I seriously wish other religions would get in on the act.

    Me too! I want a bunch of rabbis to demand no farm subsidies for pig farms. It’s not Kosher so no Jewish taxpayers should be forced to subsidize it.

    Or Hindus demanding all public school meals be vegetarian. (Ok, not all Hindus are vegetarian. Whatever.)

    Let’s show those Catholics and fundies just how obnoxious they are.

  31. 31
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The Church’s “moral authority” was pretty much shot to hell after about the 500th victim of the cult of pedophile priests came forward.

    Actually, just speaking in terms of their political activism and not their own personal sins, and judging them by their own supposed values, their credibility was shot ages ago when they decided to become an arm of the Republican Party rather than a voice for the values they claim to cherish.

    You’re talking about bishops who claim universal health care is a Very Important Thing but, when they had the opportunity back in 2009, completely refused to involve themselves in the discussion except by concern-trolling about abortion. Then, when Stupak committed career suicide in order to get them the abortion amendment they wanted, they ignored/opposed the final bill anyway. You’re talking about bishops who openly pressure politicians by denying them communion if they support abortion or gay marriage, but yawned through a decade of wars and a massively TARFU’d economic system without so much as a slap on the wrist, even though they claim both of these things to be Very Bad Things, possibly even sinful ones (given, you know, the amount of innocent people hurt in both cases).

    If some of the Catholic institutions out there have finally started applying ALL of their values, not just those that’re politically convenient, good for them. As far as the bishops are concerned, they’ll have some credibility again when they stop acting like an arm of the Republican Party.

  32. 32
    Mark B. says:

    Not to mention that Scientologists are generally opposed to mental health care, and they could logically ask for the same sort of exemption.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Suzan:

    Can we have Rachel Maddow line them up and slap ’em like she’s Moe slapping the other three Stooges?

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    They also kicked their moral authority in the teeth when they publically sided with the shitty grade Z movie star against Archbishop Hunthausen in the 80’s. Leading the charge: Cardinal Ratzinger, the current Pope Benedict.

  35. 35
    28 Percent says:

    I’m going to form my own religion, and the central tenets of my religion will be pizza every Friday, the only thing you are allowed to do on Sundays is watch sports, and I am forbidden by my deity to pay taxes. I’ll call it Norquistism.

    You left out the hookers and blow.

  36. 36
    poco says:

    @dr. bloor: You heretic! Tomorrow is Sunday–you are only supposed to watch sports.

  37. 37
    wrb says:

    @Felinious Wench:

    Stupid question…I know most of the American Catholic church HATES the Beanies. Why not break away?

    Been done.

    Several hundred years ago.

  38. 38
    Mnemosyne says:

    This is a good place to point out again that the head of the Catholic Health Association (which actually runs the hospitals) has issued a press release saying that she’s “very pleased” with the compromise. So now the bishops have to go up against the very hospitals they claimed to be protecting if they want to keep fighting this.

    That’s what I call a wedge issue. Nicely done, Mr. President.

  39. 39
    scav says:

    Breakaway Cult of the Anchovy over here, but I’m otherwise generally on board. Also, Caper-friendly congregation (of 1, so far), so be forewarned.

  40. 40
    Holden Pattern says:

    This is just a large-scale version of the standard wingnut troll complaint that people won’t tolerate his intolerance. If they’re not allowed to piss in everyone’s cornflakes because their petty little god tells them to, their religious liberties are BEING INFRINGED, MAN!

  41. 41
    36fsjuvat says:

    Agree with you 100 percent John. This is total bullshit what the bishops are doing.

  42. 42

    […] at Balloon Juice: When did the 1st Amendment change from basically saying that you can practice whatever religion […]

  43. 43
    Rita R. says:

    @gene108:

    Italians ignore the church on this and many other issues, just like Catholics in most other Western nations, despite being home to seat of the Church for nearly 2,000 years. Italians are very culturally Catholic, of course, but familiarity breeds contempt, and they’ve seen the corruption and hypocrisy of the Church up close for a very long time.

  44. 44
    Brachiator says:

    @scav:

    Also, Caper-friendly congregation (of 1, so far), so be forewarned.

    Capers, on pizza, are the tools of the Divil. Heretic!

    Food schism and religious persecution. Damn, this is fun.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Felinious Wench:

    There actually is a separate American Catholic Church that has broken away from Rome and says that they’re following the dictates of Vatican II. I should check them out sometime.

  46. 46
    Jimbo316 says:

    @aimai: Great post! Very solid argument. They’re asking for special treatment at the same time as they want to discriminate against others who don’t share their beliefs (and I say this as a (lapsed) Catholic.

  47. 47
    cathyx says:

    I really like the pizza on Fridays tenet. Oh, and the no tax one too.

  48. 48
    RedKitten says:

    It’s regoddamndiculous how much power the “persecuted” Christians have in your country. Seriously. It’s obscene, and they need to be collectively told to STFU already.

  49. 49
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    who gets to decide what religions are real?

    Pragmatically, in this context, the religions that administer a fuckload of hospitals get to decide, because for better or worse, they’re vital to the success of healthcare reform. Obama’s satisfied the nuns in charge of the CHA, who are the people he needs on his side for this. The bishops can go fuck themselves.

    @Suzan:

    What shocked me was how fast the male talking heads supported the funny hat wearing idiots.

    Didn’t shock me: all middle-aged men who grew up under the shadow theocracy in Boston (Shields, Dionne, O’Donnell) or Philly (Tweety) and had the Latin Mass beaten into them at school. Their lives span Vatican II; they probably were part of large families and have small families. Their kids aren’t anywhere near as conflicted.

  50. 50
    Robert says:

    John, I think you’re exposing yourself here more than you realize. One could retort (with far more historical and constitutional justification, mind you), “When did the First Amendment change from ‘we’re not going to form or recognize a national religion like the Church of England’…to prohibiting the erection of nativity scenes on local government property and the reimbursement of parochial schools for even their secular textbook costs.” Neither of the latter practices can honestly be considered violations of the Establishment Clause, as historically understood. And yet they are deemed to be violations of the “separation of church and state” (another phrase not in the Constitution and only ever parroted by Mr. Jefferson in one miscellaneous letter, who had nothing directly to do with the drafting of the Bill of Rights) by the Supreme Court and legal liberals everywhere .

    The deep paradox in the current debate over birth control and religious liberty is that the “robust” interpretation of the Religion Clauses is largely an invention of the 20th century judicial left. In other words, the Establishment Clause was likely only intended to prohibit denominational preferentialism — i.e. taxing some adherents for the benefit of others. The clause simply simply does not demand governmental secularism and “equal” treatment between religion and non-religion. Only in the mid-20th century did relatively liberal elements on the Supreme Court and in the legal academy start arguing on behalf of strict separationism.

    The same goes with the Free Exercise Clause. It likely was only intended to provide absolute protection to religious belief. In other words, religious citizens of any denomination would not have to subscribe to any articles of faith to exercise their legal rights under the law. It probably prohibited taxation of the kind described above as well. Only in the middle decades of the 20th century did judicial liberals argue that religious adherents should be constitutionally exempted from general, non-discriminatory laws if obedience to the latter required violation of their core religious beliefs. Indeed it was legal conservatives that argued for the more generic understanding of the Free Exercise Clause that Mr. Cole and his colleagues have voiced in the current controversy.

    I apologize for the length of this post, but I have been confounded (and somewhat amused) by how ahistorical the discussion has been on this issue on both liberal and conservative sites. To repeat myself, the paradox here is that the traditionally “conservative” and “liberal” sides of this debate have reversed themselves. One of the ironies of history, I guess.

  51. 51
    RedKitten says:

    @Holden Pattern: Holden’s got it exactly right. Evidently, persecuting others is a key part of the Christian faith, because trying to curtail that is a HUGE imposition on their religious freedom, the prickwads.

  52. 52
    jl says:

    @Sly:

    Thanks for the quote from the (I think) case on ritual use of peyote case, and opinion from Scalia. I was wondering about that angle, but not being a lawyer, wasn’t sure.

    So, legally and constitutionally, democratically determined social interests override some aspects of freedom of religion, even in acts of worship. So, seems like that argument would apply with even more force to nonprofit businesses and public services run by religions that did not have anything to do with worship.

    On other hand, who know what Scalia, and his conservative buddies, would say if this dispute went to supreme court? They are not known for intellectual consistency, and might do whatever they want, which ‘Onesies This Time Only Calvinball’ written in Latin and slapped onto the majority opinion.

    Edit: I disagree with how U.S. ‘democratically determined social interests’ have ended up deciding that most ‘recreational’ drugs should be illegal and their use be sanctioned with criminal penalties. But that is a different issue.

  53. 53
    Trakker says:

    From an investigation by ABC 2 in Baltimore:

    The owners of a $2.1 Million mansion in Lutherville (MD) don’t pay a dime in property tax. Neither do the people who live behind the gates of a $2.6 Million estate in Upper Marlboro…those multi-million dollar homes are tax exempt. They’re parsonages. Robert Young, the deputy Director of the [Maryland]’s Department of Assessments and Taxation, explains, “It’s the house that’s furnished to a minister by an identifiable religious congregation for use by that minister.”

    Tax records show religious exemptions in Maryland totaled nearly $8 Billion in 2008, with a big piece of that money coming from parsonages…

    We asked the churches who own each of the homes seen in the video for our story to comment (Higher Dimensions Christian Center, Spirit of Faith Christian Center, German Lutheran Church and the Archdiocese of Washington), but none were interested in speaking on camera. Only the Archdiocese of Washington, DC issued any statement to ABC2, telling us the Potomac property seen in our video is one many church owned properties. That home is located behind a nearby Catholic church and is used as a rectory…

    Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny6NNUZCaY8

    The non-religious who own homes in Maryland must pay more than our share of property taxes to make up for the exemptions allowed for religious parsonages. How is that right? I am being forced to pay taxes for something that betrays my conscience.

    You can be sure my elected officials will hear from me.

  54. 54
    hildebrand says:

    I am as religious as the day is long (though one of the vanishing breed of liberal Christians – one who keeps banging away at the idea that perhaps religious tolerance is exceptionally a good thing – in fact, I gave a six part lecture series on World Religions this year, the last lecture about secular humanism (not as a religion but as a way of thinking about the world) – but the bishops have completely and utterly lost their minds (not that they were actually in residence after their appalling reaction to the horrifying clergy abuse scandal) on this one, and I hope that folks abandon them in droves.

  55. 55

    Being pro-anchovy, I’m sensitive to any slights upon its special powers. What other topping is so powerful it cannot do halfsies?

  56. 56
    Thymezone says:

    I pretty much agree with your top post John. But if this is a political party, it is one that long ago declared war on its own base. Catholics unambiguously reject the Church’s teachings on contraception. And in the category of so-called moral values, the Church has declared war on its laity again by playing games with cleaning up the sexual abuse disaster luring within their organization. If this is a political party, it’s the worst fucking political party on earth. Their current poster child, Santorum, lost his last political campaign, as an incumbent, by something like 18 points.

  57. 57
    Yutsano says:

    @RedKitten: The worst part is Harper is a god-botherer too. I have zero doubt if he could pull it off he’d be imposing the exact same religious bullshit up north. Fortunately it’d cause a huge Conservative rebellion.

  58. 58
    RedKitten says:

    @Yutsano: No doubt. I like to comfort myself with the thought that it would mean an instant election call with a crushing Conservative defeat. There ARE a lot of pro-lifers up here, but as far as I’m aware, there are VERY few people who are against contraception.

    That’s what I tell myself, anyway. I’m still nervous, though, that the crazy that has infected the U.S. right wing is communicable…

  59. 59
    eemom says:

    My forefathers saw through this shit 1,000 years ago, and got the hell out.

    Jussayinzall.

  60. 60
    gnomedad says:

    @scav:

    Breakaway Cult of the Anchovy over here, but I’m otherwise generally on board. Also, Caper-friendly congregation (of 1, so far), so be forewarned.

    Fellow schismatic here! Wheeee!

  61. 61
    My Truth Hurts says:

    They are no longer functioning as a religious organization, but as a political party.

    You are right. They should no longer be tax exempt.

  62. 62
    Not Sure says:

    @28 Percent: That’s blackjack…and hookers.

    /smokes cigars just to annoy the meatbags
    //bite my shiny metal ass

  63. 63
    Sly says:

    @jl:

    So, legally and constitutionally, democratically determined social interests override some aspects of freedom of religion, even in acts of worship.

    Almost. Scalia wrote that laws burdening free exercise were constitutional so long as that burden was incidental. They have to be non-discriminating and generally applicable.

    So, seems like that argument would apply with even more force to nonprofit businesses and public services run by religions that did not have anything to do with worship.

    The scrapped rule would’ve been upheld under the precedent set by Smith because it is generally applicable (it applies to all employers) and it is non-discriminatory. It was the same kind of rule that has been the law of the land in about half the states, and it has survived at least one constitutional challenge.

    The new rule, mandating that insurance companies have to cover contraceptive services free of charge, doesn’t even come close to creating the same kind of controversy. With this rule, the burden on free exercise is plainly incidental. Unless, of course, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops seeks to argue that selling health insurance is a religious practice, at which point they’d be laughed out of the room.

  64. 64
    patb says:

    John,
    Can…ooops…may I just LIKE this? I’m not as witty/concise as other balloon-juicers. I just totally agree.

  65. 65
    Chris says:

    @hildebrand:

    the last lecture about secular humanism (not as a religion but as a way of thinking about the world)

    Are your notes or anything like that online, by any chance? You’ve piqued my curiosity. I’ve thought for ages that religion and secular humanism don’t have to be at each other’s throats and can be quite compatible, but there seem to be fewer and fewer people every day who agree with me on that.

  66. 66
    Lyrebird says:

    @PTirebiter: Word.

    And another AMEN to your post, John C!

    Go Rep Ellison Go — not that I think he’d be silly enough to do this — but yes, introduce that amendment that lets any employer reduce employee health care coverage as a matter of conscience, especially if the employee consumes pork products. SIGH!!!!!

    Seems like the religious leaders here are ending up with serious mud on their faces anyhow.

  67. 67
    Lyrebird says:

    @Chris: Dunno if this helps, but I recommend googling this guy — super kind in person, and very motivating to our secular students:

    NonProphet Status (NPS) is the blog of atheist and humanist interfaith activist Chris Stedman and Panelists Serah Blain, Vlad Chituc, Chelsea Link, Walker Bristol, and Tim Pate. It is meant to be a forum for stories promoting atheist-interfaith cooperation that hopes to catalyze a movement in which religious and secular folks not only co-exist peacefully but collaborate around shared values.

  68. 68
    Richard says:

    Anyone remember the “deny communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians” letter that Bushco managed to convince the Vatican to put out 2004? The current Pope wrote it, after Bush’s wife visited the Vatican.

    In that close election, it quite likely got Bush reelected, because Kerry didn’t get the majority of the Catholic vote, the first Democratic nominee to fail to do so in decades.

  69. 69
    Woodrow L. Goode, IV says:

    It’s very simple, really. When I was growing up, there was an unspoken agreement between the world and the people who believed in an oogedy-boogedy (named Jehovah, Allah, Moron-I or whomever):

    1. You can believe whatever you like as long as you don’t overtly interfere with how the world operates.

    2. We’ll be polite and deferential towards your beliefs and not point out any hard truths.

    It worked well. They didn’t demand that schools taught the Bible instead of Darwin, or that the laws reflect church dogma, so nobody had to go all P.Z. Myers on them and point out that the Bible is a crock of shit.

    There were generations of politicians who were, for all intents and practical purposes, atheists. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford claimed to follow some deity and they would invoke him every so often and show up with Billy Graham (although he pretty much known his place). But you couldn’t, by watching them, differentiate the Quaker, the Episcopalian and the Disciple of Christ.

    (John Kennedy was Catholic and Jimmy Carter was Baptist, but neither tried to push it. There was a lot of talk about the trappings, but just the trappings.)

    Reagan was the one who let the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells get hold of the levers of government and started talking about God’s laws. And, bit by bit– and then more and more– they began to cross the line.

    What needs to happen is that the people who don’t believe in religion– or don’t believe in mixing religion and politics– need to start pushing back.

    Hard, if need be.

    Not that long ago, I had to go to a meeting of my school board where there was a discussion about whether it was proper to teach evolution. I waited to see how it was going, but when nobody was willing to say it, I stood up and said, “I object to any suggestion that we teach our children lies. Some people might have doubts about the validity of evolution, but there is absolutely no scientific proof that God exists. The Bible is a work of fiction, and it is wrong to teach that nonsense as fact to our children. If you want your children to believe in God, take them to church. But I’m not letting my tax dollars support religion.”

    What followed wasn’t a lot of fun, but defending rights isn’t supposed to be.

    This is going to be very painful, but every generation has the responsibility to make things better in some ways. We have, as a society, been pretty lax about that since the 1960’s… and, as a result, we have a lot of work to do now.

    We shouldn’t have let the balance slip this much– and we’re going to need to be ruthless, to some degree, in order to restore it.

    BTW: Mark Shields, E.J. Dionne, Tweety and Lawrence O’Donnell are upset about this because they all snap the mackerel. People who didn’t go through it as a child– or see their friends go through it– forget how much of an impact religious indoctrination can have.

    (I keep reminding my friends who still read the site and seem confused by some of its positions that TPM is run by Joshua Micah Marshall and his wife Millet Israeli.)

  70. 70
    burnspbesq says:

    @RedKitten:

    Remind me again why we should pay attention to what people who persist in letting Steven Harper run their country say on any matter of importance.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Robert:

    I don’t think you can complain about liberals ignoring history when you ignore that there was an actual increase in public religious declarations by the government in the 1950s as part of the McCarthyite campaign to battle “godless Communism.” The Pledge of Allegiance didn’t contain the line “under God” until 1954, more than 60 years after it was written. “In God We Trust” was only adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956.

    I would argue that a lot of the liberal pushback was in response to that conservative overreach and did not appear out of the blue as you seemed to suggest.

  72. 72
    WJS says:

    Why don’t we require each and every Catholic bishop in the United States to register as an agent of a foreign power? It would have the added advantage of actually making sense because that’s really all they are. They are agents of a foreign power, based in Rome, who do not understand the American way.

  73. 73
    JustBeingPedantic says:

    @Lyrebird: Why stop there? How about stopping agricultural subsidies for pork producers so our fellow Jewish and Muslim citizens don’t have their fee-fees hurt. And not just the pig farmers, the whole bunch of ’em who take part (apologies in advance for the pun) in the food chain that makes little piggy grow: Monsanto, Cargill, and all the rest of the corporate welfare whores.

    Maybe we can call the inevitable reaction the Bacon Revolution.

  74. 74
    burnspbesq says:

    @Robert:

    “Separation of church and state” should be thrown in the same semantic shitcan as “the public’s right to know.”

  75. 75
    kindness says:

    It’s simple really. Religions shouldn’t have tax exempt status. Make them all pay taxes on their land, on their holdings, on their businesses.

  76. 76
    General Stuck says:

    The danger in this country isn’t about the fundies taking over and instilling a theocracy type situation. It is a long festering class war, that is augmented by a still viable and virulent undertone of the defeated, but not conquered southern way of life, and how it has evolved past slavery.

    It is the same now as then, that class was the real aim for these people, or creating an underclass and ruling class, using race and another other thing they can muster to divide peoples loyalties to the country and constitution, and most of all steal the labor of the masses for their own riches.

    Now that they were stopped from owning human beings outright

  77. 77
    scav says:

    @burnspbesq: Possibly because we were governed by George Fucking W Bush for 8 and we hope to not be voted off the planet? Or, more succinctly, they exist on said planet and, to your intense fury I’m sure, are worth just as much as you and that’s even if we ignore everything you’ve both said to date and judge accordingly.

  78. 78
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @JustBeingPedantic:

    Actually, the private sector goes out of its way to provide kosher and halal products (Jewish and Muslim dietary laws, respectively) to the public. In fact, some people are jumping up and down screaming that they offer halal products at all, claiming that it’s pushing Islam on everyone. Too bad halal is very similar to kosher as far as what actually takes place to make them certified…

  79. 79
    Woodrow L. Goode, IV says:

    @jl: It’s foolish to hope for any consistency from Samuel Scalito, Long Dong Silver and most of the other yutzes on the court. They’ve issued a string of decisions which have made it amply clear that they’ll cite whatever precedent justifies their political views.

    If I were working for the ACLU, I would be terrified about trying any major issue before these hacks and morons. I honestly can’t think of a single Bill of Rights case (other than the second amendment) that I would be certain they would uphold.

    It’s the main thing you’re supposed to learn in law school: the opinions should follow the law, and not the other way around. The only times you are allowed to be creative is when there really is a situation that isn’t covered by the text. Most of these folks can’t wait to legislate from the bench.

  80. 80
    mclaren says:

    This madness has to stop.

    Tagline for the entire decade from 2001 – present.

  81. 81
    debbie says:

    The bishops should take care. The last time they acted like this, they got the Reformation.

  82. 82
    Sly says:

    @Robert:

    “When did the First Amendment change from ‘we’re not going to form or recognize a national religion like the Church of England’…to prohibiting the erection of nativity scenes on local government property and the reimbursement of parochial schools for even their secular textbook costs.”

    Since you asked: When the Establishment Clause was incorporated under the 14th Amendment against state and local governments as a result of Everson v. Board of Education. The meaning of the Establishment Clause hasn’t substantively changed; just its jurisdiction.

    In other words, the Establishment Clause was likely only intended to prohibit denominational preferentialism—i.e. taxing some adherents for the benefit of others.

    1) So what? The 2nd Amendment was crafted to prevent the Federal government from disbanding state militias, and was not a general prohibition against the regulation of firearms.

    2) It wasn’t to create denominational preferentialism in general, but denominational preferentialism within the confines of the Federal government. States had taxes that supported specific churches or religious services as far in as the 1830s (some even had official religions), and some of the political elite at the time of the Constitutional Convention were fine with that. Others were not.

    But all that’s irrelevant anyway, because incorporation makes the whole question of founder’s intent a moot point.

  83. 83
    Keith says:

    @efgoldman: Ha, got their first.

    I was musing …
    Perhaps some wiseacre should start a health insurance company under the guise of a branch of the Christian Scientists – rates would be superbly low. Coverage slim. Even regular blood transfusions would not be covered.

    Customer turnover numbers would be brutal though

  84. 84
    Brachiator says:

    @RedKitten:

    Evidently, persecuting others is a key part of the Christian faith

    This is often a feature, not a bug, of many religions.

    @Sly:

    But all that’s irrelevant anyway, because incorporation makes the whole question of founder’s intent a moot point.

    Someone should let Scalia in on this.

    Agree with your other points on the Establishment clause. Used to have a good paperback on this. Got washed with my clothes one day.

  85. 85
    Sophia says:

    I think to the extent you see non-right wing Catholics taking offense to the Obama policy, it can be credited to a bad case of “please don’t make Daddy angry, he will beat me.”

    They are attempting, by dictate, to do precisely what the 1st Amendment bans, which is the establishment of a national religion.

    In some ways it’s worse/funnier than that. Before they get around to imposing their beliefs on non-Catholics, they need the government’s assistance enforcing the rules against their own flock. It’s amazing the Bishops can whip up a fury when reportedly 98% of Catholic women have used some form of birth control. I think it’s almost too absurd for people to fully process.

    This isn’t like the prohibition against suicide, which gets so fully ingrained that people who haven’t practiced Catholicism for decades find themselves unable to pull the trigger. Of all the things cradle Catholics have difficulty dodging guilt over, using birth control is near the bottom of the list. It’s probably below masturbation, FFS. It’s not some grand crisis of conscience to most actual practitioners.

  86. 86
    jp7505a says:

    Well from the recent Vatican meeting on abusive priests the Monsignor Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippinesl is quoted as saying priests with mistresesaris a bigger problem in his country than priests abusing children. I’m glad they cleared that one up.

  87. 87
    Robert says:

    @Sly: I am somewhat puzzled by your response, given that with my earlier comment I was largely elaborating on the quotes you posted above from Scalia’s opinions. Do you honestly contend that incorporation by itself altered the substantive meaning of the First Amendment? Let’s put aside the issue whether the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment actually intended to rotely “incorporate” the exact same prohibitions in the first Eight Amendments against the states — a question of legitimate historical dispute. Your comment suggests that the mere fact of incorporation means we can throw up our hands and say, “We’ll they’ve been incorporated now. Guess we have free reign to interpret them however we want.” Even the most ardent living Constitutionalist might blush at that.

    Even assuming your premise, you leave out certain facts. Blithely reciting Everson as if you settled the debate won’t do it. Everson was issued in 1947, seventy-nine years after the Fourteenth Amendment was framed. No federal court up to that point had even suggested that the Establishment Clause (rather than the Free Exercise Clause) was ever intended to be incorporated against the states (Indeed, liberal Yale Law professor Akhil Amar argues forcefully in favor of this proposition). Much less did any court suggest that the Establishment Clause demanded secularism or government neutrality between religion and non-religion.

    You undermine your own point in another way by citing Everson. In fact, its dicta notwithstanding, the Court in that case ruled in favor of state legislation that reimbursed Catholic school-children for their transportation to school. You might want to read it again.

    My point still stands. Those who claim nativity scenes on government property, the Ten Commandments in state courthouses, monetary distributions to religious schools, et cetera are violations of the Establishment Clause occupy the same ideological space as the Catholic bishops who desire religious-based exemptions to public health legislation. Whether they choose to recognize this fact or now is not my problem.

  88. 88

    we live in an insane asylum, what do you expect Cole??

    now pardon me, there is beer to be guzzled, weed to be smoked, and boudin that ain’t gonna cook itself.

    and after that some movies.

    that said, i may call up that idiot Bob Casey on Monday and claim to be a christian scientist or jehovah’s witness/small business owner. “I am morally opposed to blood transfusions, I want Bob to stand up for my religious rights too: I don’t want to offer my employees insurance that pays for medicine.”

  89. 89
    Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy) says:

    @Polish the Guillotines:

    Marx was wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of the masses, it’s the rufies of the masses.

    Hallucinogen of the masses?

  90. 90
    eric k says:

    clearly there has been a strategy on the right to turn the election into a cultural war, how else to explain this coming up now? There are IIRC 28 states that have rules in place requiring birth control coverage and the cathloic hospitals and universoties comply with no controversy, inlcuding many of the states that the Bishops making a big deal about this now reside.

  91. 91
    gelfling545 says:

    Ever since Constantine gave them delusions of grandeur the Catholic Church has spent a lot of time and effort trying to establish themselves as an authority above the government. The US, being formed post Reformation, post enlightenment, etc.; and being home to diverse religious groups never appeared to be a likely spot for anything but tolerance of Roman Catholicism until just recently. How odd that when most of Europe has finally come out from under the influence, as it were, that the US suddenly seems like promising ground for asserting their privilege. I suspect that a part of this is that many of us here tend to be a little naive and sentimental where religion is concerned. With any luck, this may be the last gasp and they can finally be resigned to recognizing that their “kingdom is not of this world.”

  92. 92
    John M. Burt says:

    @jl:

    ‘Onesies This Time Only Calvinball’ written in Latin

    That would be Odio Hoc Tempus Tantum Calvinpila, by the way.

  93. 93
    j says:

    Taxation is the admission slip to the public square. If those rich child molesters in dresses want to get into politics, they can start paying taxes.

  94. 94
    Robert says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Most of what you say there is certainly accurate. However, I don’t think you can credibly argue that an increase in public affirmations of religion on the part of the American Right justifies the extreme breadth with which the Supreme Court has infused the Establishment Clause. It is beyond parody now. In 2005, the Court declared that a sectarian symbol such as a creche was unconstitutional on government property standing alone but mysteriously constitutional when one part in a melange of secular and religious symbols. This type of ridiculousness seems to be exactly what Mr. Cole is complaining about in regard to the Catholic Bishops in only a slightly inverted context. He is right to say that the Free Exercise Clause likely was not intended to be so elastic as to provide arbitrary exemptions to otherwise general laws. It would be nice if he had the intellectual honesty to admit that a similar development has infected the interpretation, both by the courts and by the public, of the Establishment Clause. I doubt he would, though, because his proclivities tend toward the secular.

  95. 95
    jimmiraybob says:

    Does no one realize how absurd the Catholic Bishops are behaving?

    Are you kidding me? Challenging the secular authority of a foreign government for political superiority in controlling the minds of the masses? This is right up their medieval alley….it’s their ecclesiastical bread and butter. Holy woodies all around.

  96. 96
    Rawk Chawk says:

    You forgot college sports all day Saturday also, too.

  97. 97
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Robert:

    In 2005, the Court declared that a sectarian symbol such as a creche was unconstitutional on government property standing alone but mysteriously constitutional when one part in a melange of secular and religious symbols.

    IIRC, in that case representatives of other religions had requested that they be allowed to include their symbols in the display with the creche and were denied, which was the basis for the entire lawsuit. I’m not sure how you can honestly say that a government agency putting up the symbol of a single religion and simultaneously denying the participation of other religions isn’t them giving preference and priority to one religion over others.

    Sorry, but the right wing’s own insistence on overreach is what caused the backlash against them. If that city had said, “Okay, sure, you can put your menorah up, too,” the whole issue would have been avoided, but the city decided to try and argue that they had the right to give primacy to one religion and predictably lost.

  98. 98
    Heliopause says:

    When did it change to “everyone everywhere has to do what a bunch of old catholics in funny hats wants, because otherwise it hurts their feelings?” And why does it only apply to certain religions?

    Because the Roman Catholic Church is still a player on the world stage, and I mean beyond religiously. So the old guys in funny hats will continue to get a say in world affairs until we finally decide to treat them like a third world authoritarian junta, which is what they’d be if we stripped away the PR apparatus and looked at them honestly.

  99. 99
    Rawk Chawk says:

    Gawd, I’m sick of supposedly grown-up people, especially so-called liberal/progressives, acting like Stockholm syndrome victims when it comes to their membership in the corrupt, sick-ass Catholic fucking Church.

    I was born and raised and indoctrinated thru a childhood of parochial school and church services and sunday school, and god knows what else in a prominent Protestant Church, and when I figured out, at the ripe old age of 17, that the church was full of shit, I walked away. That process began in my head at 10 or 11 when I began to call bullshit on all the inconsistencies.

    So, pray tell, why do all these spineless catholics have such a hard time leaving their stupid church? It’s bullshit.

    Is it simply a sentimental attachment to decrepit cocksuckers in red dresses, and the smell of incense?

  100. 100
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Robert: I’m so very glad to hear your opinion that nothing in the constitution prevents me from holding Satanic black masses on public property. I think I’ll hold the next one right in front of a nice publicly funded nativity scene.

    Of course, this black mass will be paid for with your tax dollars. It’s only fair, right? If you Christians can use public money to put an expensive granite slab on public property with a list of your religious laws engraved on it, I can have a bit to promote the worship of our fire-lord Satan and his death-angels.

    Sure, I’ll have to arrange some kind of schedule so I’m not stepping on the toes of the Scientologist thetan scanning, Breatharian starvation parties, or the blood-sacrifices to Voudun loa, since all of these things will be happening in the courthouse right next to the ten commandments. But I’m a good citizen like that, so it’s no problem!

    Or do you think that only Christians should get to use public funds and property to promote their religion?

  101. 101
    Robert says:

    @Baron Jrod of Keeblershire:

    I am not a Christian, and I do not believe any religious sect should be able to post their symbols on public property or use public funds as a matter of policy. I merely argue that, as a matter of history and (properly-conceived) constitutional law, the burden is much higher to demonstrate that such would be a “law respecting an establishment of religion.” It might behoove you to interpret my comments outside of the lens of conventional partisan politics.

    I do commend you on your snark though.

  102. 102
    Lojasmo says:

    @burnspbesq:

    For the same reason we treat the opinions of those who believe the pope’s word is the word of god have to say with any regard.

    No reason at all. We should disregard those crazy fuckers entirely.

  103. 103
    Robert says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You evidently know the factual background of that case better than I do. My understanding of the opinion, however, is that the posting of several different sectarian symbols would be as violative of the Establishment Clause as posting one of them. In other words, putting such symbols on public property would only be permitted if they were part of a collection of symbols, both secular and religious.

    God knows (a small pun) that the Christian Right would love to have a monopoly on government sponsorship, small and large, of religion. I vehemently oppose this. My argument is that neither ideological side can have their cake and eat it too. There seems to be little warrant to justify an expansive interpretation of the Establishment Clause while simultaneously having a restrictive view of the Free Exercise Clause.

  104. 104
    msskwesq says:

    I appreciate that I am not alone in my outrage over this birth control/war on women and children that the Catholic Bishops and the GOP are waging. I have been just blazingly pissed off. As a former Catholic(sadly), I just want to blow my top. Remember when the GOP was against JFK because he was Catholic and they feared the Catholic hierarchy would interfere with government by forcing JFK to do their bidding? As Huckabee said this week, we are all Catholics now! I say the IRS needs to revoke the churches tax exemption immediately.

  105. 105
    Rick Taylor says:

    I assume this is a parody: Catholic bishops accept Obama compromise, reject insulin.

    “The human body is wondrously designed by God to regulate all its internal systems,” stated Michael O’Toole, Bishop of Springfield. “In his encyclical Periculum Medicinae, the Holy Father clearly instructs us that interference in God’s holy creation is a grave error.” The bishops are also opposed to coverage of other artifical hormones, such as thyroid hormone, currently used by millions of Americans to treat underactive thyroid glands. O’Toole added that using such hormones is a “matter of conscience” for Catholics, but that the Church could not be forced to be involved in something so morally repugnant.

  106. 106
    farmette says:

    Hear Hear! So as John has spoken. Spot on and such. The madness must stop.

  107. 107
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Robert: Well, to be honest, who cares how you (or me or anyone who isn’t a Supreme Court justice) thinks the establishment clause should be interpreted? I don’t think the 14th amendment should be interpreted to give corporations all the rights of human beings. I don’t think the text supports that interpretation. The fact remains that the 14th amendment is interpreted that way by the people who matter, so that’s what it means.

    Beside that, I fail to see how using government resources to promote a certain religion is not “respecting an establishment of religion.” I’m not really interested in arguing about it, TBH, just stating that I don’t see the distinction you’re trying to make.

    As you say, it’s good policy to prohibit religious displays on public property and the use of public funds for such. That’s part of why I’m not interested in pretending that the constitution, its clear-as-day language aside, doesn’t actually prohibit that. I’ve had to watch every other part of the bill of rights (except big number 2, of course) eroded to a vestigial nub in my short lifetime, so I’m not about to help cut another one down. If the last few weeks of god-botherers overtly attempting to contort the government and society according to their twisted and hypocritical rules hasn’t convinced you that we need a strong 1st amendment, then I’m not sure anything could.

    I do apologize for calling you a Christian, though. That was a low blow.

  108. 108
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Robert:

    There seems to be little warrant to justify an expansive interpretation of the Establishment Clause while simultaneously having a restrictive view of the Free Exercise Clause.

    Wait, that’s your issue? I really, really don’t get it now.

    Government does not support or endorse religion. Government also does not oppose religion in any way. Laws are passed or not passed, and if churches don’t like it, that’s too bad. Where’s the big contradiction?

    While you’re busy pondering these big deep questions, I’ll continue fighting against these theocrats with every tool at my disposal. And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.

  109. 109
    gex says:

    We’re paying for this shit. $3billion a year. And since they are so fond of pointing out the fungibility money, I see that as paying to campaign against gays and women and to pay for the defense and ultimately the settlement of child rape cases.

    Now that’s some shit I don’t want to fund with my taxes. But if they won’t pay for their own “works” they’ve got nothing left but being a political organization. They’re just a money making cult.

  110. 110
    Chris says:

    @gelfling545:

    I suspect that a part of this is that many of us here tend to be a little naive and sentimental where religion is concerned.

    This.

    We’ve had our good times and bad times, but the First Amendment’s always shielded the American public from the full blast of just how fucking bad things get when organized religion is allowed to control politics. And the result is what you said.

  111. 111
    gex says:

    @Felinious Wench: This. They HATE them, but they still count on the rolls and they probably tithe too. I don’t want to hear complaints about the RCC from practicing members who are part of the syndicate.

    @Brian S: It takes supermajorities to pass constitutional amendments. They got 30 ssm bans that route. If about 85% of Americans are Christian and 60-65% of them vote for marriage bans, it seems that well over half are reactionary.

  112. 112
    Robert says:

    @Baron Jrod of Keeblershire:

    The contradiction is the following. Mr. Cole, yourself, and others are free to complain about the wildly elastic way in which conservatives such as the Catholic Bishops interpret the Free Exercise Clause. You point out, rightly, that the conscience exemption they seek from an otherwise nondiscriminatory federal law would be highly impractical if it were extrapolated throughout the country. Such an understanding of the “free exercise of religion” does appear to be incoherent with what the Constitution mandates. I follow you all to this point.

    What I say, however, is that you cannot then turn around and argue on behalf of a sweeping interpretation of the Establishment Clause. Transforming rather muted disestablishment language in the First Amendment from a simple ban on formal religious establishments to a blanket prohibition on religion in public life is intellectually dishonest in a way similar to that of the Catholic Bishops in the current controversy.

    I do like a “strong” First Amendment, but I fear it would have to cut both ways.

  113. 113
    Chris says:

    @msskwesq:

    As a former Catholic(sadly), I just want to blow my top. Remember when the GOP was against JFK because he was Catholic and they feared the Catholic hierarchy would interfere with government by forcing JFK to do their bidding? As Huckabee said this week, we are all Catholics now!

    I said the same thing on Sadly, No! yesterday.

    Thing is, the GOP, the National Association of Evangelicals and all these other guys weren’t opposed to the Catholic hierarchy interfering with government so much as they were afraid of scary, filthy, unfamiliar Other People having a say (any say) in government. It’s not like they had any objection to churches interfering in government in principle: most of those guys had spent the entire previous decade doing things like inserting the words “Under God” in the pledge of allegiance.

    Back then, Catholics were Other People. Today, they’ve more or less been let into the country club, so they get to do that shit too.

  114. 114
    Suzan says:

    @Mnemosyne: I really want to do it myself but I’d be happy if Rachel did it on the TV

  115. 115
    Sly says:

    @Robert:

    Do you honestly contend that incorporation by itself altered the substantive meaning of the First Amendment?

    It altered the substantive practice of enforcing the Establishment Clause. If that, in your estimation, counts as altering its substantive “meaning,” then yes. There were ramifications inherent in applying the rule to state and municipal governments that did not exist prior to it, because Federal, state, and municipal governments do different things.

    Your comment suggests that the mere fact of incorporation means we can throw up our hands and say, “We’ll they’ve been incorporated now. Guess we have free reign to interpret them however we want.” Even the most ardent living Constitutionalist might blush at that.

    Strike the “however we want” from your characterization and replace it with “unless we want the law to be meaningless” and you’re about right. Incorporation forced the Courts to examine in the Establishment Clause, as well as virtually every other right, in new contexts.

    Blithely reciting Everson as if you settled the debate won’t do it. Everson was issued in 1947, seventy-nine years after the Fourteenth Amendment was framed. No federal court up to that point had even suggested that the Establishment Clause (rather than the Free Exercise Clause) was ever intended to be incorporated against the states (Indeed, liberal Yale Law professor Akhil Amar argues forcefully in favor of this proposition).

    The timeline of incorporation is irrelevant, and the debate is settled until Everson (and the precedents that stem from it) is overturned. Everything else is either academic or hypothetical.

    Much less did any court suggest that the Establishment Clause demanded secularism or government neutrality between religion and non-religion.

    The Court doesn’t suggest government policy. It states what policy is constitutionally permissible and what is not. Policymakers pursue neutrality because it is the only generally applicable rule that makes sense given what the Court has ruled to be impermissible. Everything else risks litigation. Some officeholders are fine with that, thinking litigation will overturn precedent. They are welcome to try.

    Only in the mid-20th century did relatively liberal elements on the Supreme Court and in the legal academy start arguing on behalf of strict separationism.

    It appears you’re putting the cart before the horse. No one is arguing that the modern strict separation doctrine did not emerge in the middle of the 20th century. Without Everson, a debate over strict vs. non-strict separation would be meaningless. It was the result of real changes in the law spawned by incorporation. “The law now applies to the states. How does that change things, and how can we preserve a sense of continuity?”

    You undermine your own point in another way by citing Everson. In fact, its dicta notwithstanding, the Court in that case ruled in favor of state legislation that reimbursed Catholic school-children for their transportation to school. You might want to read it again.

    Because the payments were made to parents and not to religious institutions. I am familiar with Everson.

    My point still stands. Those who claim nativity scenes on government property, the Ten Commandments in state courthouses, monetary distributions to religious schools, et cetera are violations of the Establishment Clause occupy the same ideological space as the Catholic bishops who desire religious-based exemptions to public health legislation.

    That only makes sense if you position the Bishops as the victims of discrimination, which, despite their protestations to the contrary, they clearly are not. The Bishops want to continue discriminating against employees of their Church and receive a tax break to do it.

    Whether they choose to recognize this fact or now is not my problem.

    You do understand that this reads like “If you disagree with me, you can fuck off,” right?

  116. 116
    DanielX says:

    John, this isn’t that hard. The good bishops and a lot of other denominations think that if they aren’t allowed to impose their views on others, they’re being oppressed in violation of the First Amendment. Some of the more fundamentalist churches makes the bishops look like models of toleration – hell, they think Catholicism is a pagan religion, which by comparison it is. (Ritual symbolic cannibalism, anyone?)

  117. 117
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Polish the Guillotines:

    Hi!

    Yeah, they were afraid of JFK being controlled by the Pope and now they want the President to obey the assholes. How times change.

    As a well adjusted lapsed RC, I want freedom from religion for everyone; do what the fuck you want but don’t impose your beliefs on nonbelievers through the force of law. Believers want respect for their religion? Respect the privacy and private lives of others and you just might get some. We don’t need any RC mullahs telling us how to live our lives.

    I’m very sorry, I didn’t mean to associate the good holy leaders of Islam with the pedos that make up the Catholic church.

    My apologies.

  118. 118
    Robert says:

    @Sly: I like the conversation but have to run for a bunch of reasons, so I would like to make a few (hopefully succinct) points:

    1) There is nothing about states qua states that would necessarily imply a distinct mode of substantive enforcement of the Establishment Clause on the state level versus the federal level. If the Establishment Clause was historically interpreted to bar only denominational preferentialism on the federal level (as it was) rather than strict separationism, nothing about the language, history, or nature of the Fourteenth Amendment would alter such a meaning when the clause was incorporated against the states (assuming that’s what the 14th Amendment does — again, a highly disputed proposition).

    2) The timeline of incorporation is highly relevant. Before Everson, no federal court previously had thought to conclude that the Establishment Clause applied against the states through either the Due Process Clause (dubious) or the Privileges and Immunities Clause (more promising, but gutted by the Slaughterhouse Cases). By the time of Everson, the Supreme Court had for decades considered the free speech/press protections and free exercise clause to be so incorporated.

    3) The inconsistency I point to is that the same judicial liberals who argue on behalf of widespread application of the Lemon Test now seek a stringent interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause a la Oregon v. Smith. Whatever views you hold on the Religion Clauses, it is incoherent to argue for an expansive interpretation of the Establishment Clause and a restrictive view of the Free Exercise Clause. Such a combination of positions lacks historical and constitutional warrant.

    4) The comment, “Whether they choose to recognize this fact or now is not my problem” merely alluded to the fact that people in echo chambers rarely want to recognize some of the inadequacies inherent in their arguments. I wouldn’t be telling you to fuck off when I am quite clearly inviting your response.

  119. 119
    maus says:

    Sounds like a bunch of filthy SHARIA LAW to me.

  120. 120
    scav says:

    Nothing to add except a general and perpetual Fuck Off to the Bishops, for Ages upon Ages, Amen.

  121. 121
    RDave says:

    I used to have a professor whose favorite saying was ” Your rights end at the tip of you nose” I guess that is accurate. “Your religious liberty/rights end at the tip of nose/paunch/genitalia (whichever is longest)

  122. 122
    dmbeaster says:

    Those who claim nativity scenes on government property, the Ten Commandments in state courthouses, monetary distributions to religious schools, et cetera are violations of the Establishment Clause occupy the same ideological space as the Catholic bishops who desire religious-based exemptions to public health legislation. Whether they choose to recognize this fact or now is not my problem.

    Twaddle.

    One of the big recent fallacies in this debate is to equate neutrality toward religion with hostility toward it, which is what this argument does. The implementation of the Establishment Clause in the examples that are cited all involve neutrality, which is immediately obvious to anyone non-Christian when they are faced with governments that use government property to celebrate the Christian holidays, promote the Christian faith or subsidize Christian institutions (and the ten commandments is permissible when displayed as part of the law giving tradition alongside Hammurabi’s Code for example). It is a perversion of logic to then equate the neutrality with favoring “secularism.” It is part of the nonsensical trend to argue that secularism or atheism is the “religion” being established by the government, which is “hostile” to religion.

    Similarly, it is a recent perversion of logic to argue that freedom of expression is constrained if government does not allow me to implement my religious beliefs in areas of public policy. There is absolutely nothing remotely similar to the Bishops argument and traditional establishment clause doctrines.

    Your argument adopts both of these false constructs.

    Before I read that quoted passage, all I really wanted to do was point out how “free exercise” has been misconstrued recently to justify oppression of others in the name of religious belief. After all, if one’s religion is telling one that I must impose my morals on you, then the free exercise of my religious fascism is being repressed. That is essentially what the Bishops are arguing, and to say that there is some restriction of free exercise by telling them to stuff it has never been supported by any understanding of these liberties.

  123. 123
    DougL says:

    When I was in my later college years to early post-college independent adulthood years, my parents (well really, my dad) hung around with the god-bothering crowd, going on pilgrimages to various Catholic shrines around the world. My mom had (still has) multiple sclerosis and I think my dad hoped that if he was pious/religious enough, my mom might experience some miracle cure. I remember at the time, a couple of the big controversies in the Catholic church was about whether to allow girls to be altar servers, and there were still quite a lot of people that were still butthurt that masses weren’t in Latin anymore. Anyway, I remember people my parents knew griped about how if people didn’t like this policy or that practice of the Catholic church, they should (rather than try to change/reform the church) leave the church and start their own “American” Catholic church separate from the Roman Catholic church.

    Fast-forward to the past few years. The Catholic church, having experienced declining attendance (certainly due in no small part to disgust over child sex abuse, cover-ups and revelations), has been running the “Come Back to the Catholic Church” commercials. Ha ha…

    Irony…

  124. 124
    dmbeaster says:

    @Baron Jrod of Keeblershire: Robert’s contention, as I understand it, is that the Establishment Clause allegedly allowed the government to provide favor to religion – it just could not officially adopt one religion over another. The doctrine of neutrality toward religion gets redefined as allegedly “hostile” toward religion, and overstepping the alleged scope of the Establishment Clause.

    As Patrick Henry once said, that argument is like a dead mackerel in moonlight — it simultaneously shines and stinks. To use a parallel, at one time some judges once decided that separate but equal was a proper implementation of various constitutional rights. One of the killer arguments in Brown v. Bd of Educ. that overcame that tradition was that no matter what you did, separate never ended up being equal. It was empty sophistry that ended up serving as a means to do exactly the opposite of that intended.

    The same can be said for Robert’s version of the Establishment Clause, which is not completely out of line in terms of logic. Sure, you can pretend that the government support of one religion is not an establishment because other religions can line up for a piece of the pie, and no one religion gets a cut in the line. But in all practicality for how human beings work, once you start giving them a place in the line, you are going to start favoring one over the other. That is why the policy is neutrality since there is no workable way to do otherwise – just as separate but equal never actually worked.

    There are religious legal scholars who argue Robert’s position, but I hope that no one is ever sold on it. There is certainly no history of the clause that mandates his version over current neutrality doctrine.

  125. 125

    This whole thing is so depressing to me. I’m a fairly religious guy. I go to church every Sunday (or at least nearly every Sunday). I try to understand what God wants from me, and pretty much, that comes down to: Do what you can to help others; if you’re hurting them, then you’re doing something wrong, genius.

    And the thing is, I don’t know that I’m right. I’m doing my best to work it out, but I sure as hell don’t know much at all, if, indeed I know anything. And I also think that most of us, maybe not all of us, but most of us, are working toward the same thing. I’m not a Hindu; I’m not Muslim or Taoist or Atheist or Buddhist or Shinto or Jewish or Sikh or… Well, I guess you get it. I’m a lowly Baptopalian. But I think that most people are really reaching toward the same thing. We might not call it the same thing; we might not always even believe it’s the same thing; but I think it is. I call it God. Others call it the Way or Allah or truth or Truth or ethical living or by any number of other names.

    And nobody can do this for us; we all have to work these things out for ourselves. I know that sometimes people’s most deeply held beliefs smash up against somebody else’s most deeply held beliefs and against somebody else’ casual behavior. That can be hard. I mean, after all, devout Christians were some of the most fervent abolitionists and then 100 years later they were some of the most fervent civil rights leaders.

    But when somebody else’s behavior upsets me because it violates my religious beliefs, well, then I can do something about it. I can speak out. I can write. I can work to change their minds. I can try to learn to deal with it. What I can’t do is to ask the government to make others live by my religious rules.

    Now, if I can find a way to argue my beliefs in a way that isn’t religious, as the abolitionists did, or as the civil rights leaders did, then it’s fair for me to try to sway the government. The trouble the Catholic church is having, as I see it–and I’m not a Catholic, so I could be wrong–is that they haven’t found any way to argue their case that isn’t a religious one, or at least they haven’t found a way that has worked well enough to change many minds. So they’re stuck with only religious, doctrinal arguments. And that just won’t work, since we have that First Amendment.

  126. 126
    Sly says:

    @Robert:

    1) There is nothing about states qua states that would necessarily imply a distinct mode of substantive enforcement of the Establishment Clause on the state level versus the federal level. If the Establishment Clause was historically interpreted to bar only denominational preferentialism on the federal level (as it was) rather than strict separationism, nothing about the language, history, or nature of the Fourteenth Amendment would alter such a meaning when the clause was incorporated against the states (assuming that’s what the 14th Amendment does—again, a highly disputed proposition).

    The expansion of jurisdiction makes such a change in meaning a matter of necessity.

    To summarize: The Establishment Clause was written to prevent the establishment of a state religion at the Federal level (in large part because Madison needed the support of Virginia Baptists, who just fought a protracted battle against the Anglican elite in that state to enact the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, but I digress). This creates a Federal right against compulsory religious observance mandated by the U.S. Congress. States are free to do as their legislatures wish. With Everson, state legislatures are enjoined from creating any law that respects an establishment of religion.

    None of this, I think, is controversial. I’m just stating it to find the point of fundamental contention, which I think is the following:

    Where the substantive meaning, to use your phrase, of the Establishment Clause differs is with respect to the non-overlapping functions of state, municipal, and Federal governments. Enjoining the Federal government from such actions has different ramifications than enjoining states and municipalities. Schooling being the biggest non-overlapping function, along with other functions that we could probably categorize under “social services.”

    This is why I said you’re putting the cart before the horse. We’re talking about the immediate post-War era, when the roles of Federal and state governments is in a period of transition and expansion. Government is doing more. How does the law, as it exists, play into this?

    To draw a somewhat inelegant analogy, I’m arguing that modern strict seperation doctrine arose much the same way that the “reasonable expectation of privacy” doctrine emerged through Katz. In that case, the government wiretapped a phonebooth without a warrant, believing it to be permissible under the 4th Amendment because the phonebooth, they argued, did not constitute private property that could be searched under the conventional understanding of the time.

    But the context of searches changed, brought about by the adaptation of things like the phonebooth, so “reasonable expectation of privacy” became the new test.

    Establishment Clause jurisprudence followed the same path, though its more difficult to see because we’re not dealing with something as immediate and tangible as a phonebooth.

    This is where the strict separation doctrine comes in to play. Now, I would argue that there is not much in the way of practical difference between the modern strict separation doctrine and the strict separation doctrine employed by Madison and Jefferson, as well as other founders. There is differences in language, to be sure, but not much in the way of substance. The old doctrine provided a rough template for the modern doctrine; if government (whether Federal, state, or local) is to maintain proper order and justice, it must be neutral with respect to religion. This does not eliminate a religious dimension to public life, it just removes the coercive power of the state as an agent of that dimension.

    That Madison’s notion was not as popular in his day as the modern notion is in ours speaks to the expansion of government, and the entanglements that would arise through that expansion, that has occurred since 1789. It is also due to the extremes to which he would take it, such as prohibiting the Federal government from employing military chaplains. Strict separation, as a doctrine, is not new. It’s just become more necessary so it seems new.

    2) The timeline of incorporation is highly relevant. Before Everson, no federal court previously had thought to conclude that the Establishment Clause applied against the states through either the Due Process Clause (dubious) or the Privileges and Immunities Clause (more promising, but gutted by the Slaughterhouse Cases). By the time of Everson, the Supreme Court had for decades considered the free speech/press protections and free exercise clause to be so incorporated.

    First, the Court does not make rulings ex nihilo. The precedents for interpreting the Establishment Clause in such a fashion is scarce prior to 1947 because the case history itself is sparse.

    Second, I don’t think the method of incorporation is relevant beyond an academic discussion, and I’m not interested in that kind of thing because it is largely immaterial to what this discussion is about: what the law is. Either a right is incorporated against the states or it is not. If, as an example, Clarence Thomas thinks that the Establishment Clause does not enshrine a fundamental right of an individual citizen, and as such does not warrant incorporation, then his opinion is meaningless until four other justices agree with him (or would at least sign on to a concurrence). Getting into hypotheticals as to the future status of the Lemon Test is largely pointless; the people who want it overturned do not care about the rationale by which it would be overturned.

    3) The inconsistency I point to is that the same judicial liberals who argue on behalf of widespread application of the Lemon Test now seek a stringent interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause a la Oregon v. Smith. Whatever views you hold on the Religion Clauses, it is incoherent to argue for an expansive interpretation of the Establishment Clause and a restrictive view of the Free Exercise Clause.

    Is it? Under an expansive view of the Establishment Clause, no government may take affirmative steps to promote religious practices, or, if you prefer, “religion in general.” Under a restrictive view of the Free Exercise Clause, the government is not required to take into consideration conflicting religious beliefs and/or practices when it is shaping and/or enforcing policy that has nothing to do with religion in general or any specific religious belief and/or practice.

    The government makes laws which are generally applicable but does not weigh in on areas outside its purview, demands all its citizens comport themselves respectfully towards the law, and does not play favorites when creating laws as to the objections of any party based on their own religious preferences because that would render the law unenforceable.

    Seems perfectly coherent to me.

  127. 127
    Whatevs says:

    The first ammendment is simple, the government shall not mandate a national religion, therefore we are free to worship as WE see fit. If, in fact, you practice an organized doctrinal religion, then you are subject to the tenets of that doctrine, and the government cannot affect that one way or the other. The first ammendment works both ways, the government cannot mandate a religion for the masses or AFFECT the religion of your choice, just as said religion cannot affect the government. The catholic church is not wantonly trying to make the US an all catholic nation, it is simply refusing to be dictated too by the federal govermnent how it should practice it’s doctrine, that would be it’s constitutional right. Just as the government can simply ignore any influence the catholic church would try to have on it’s practices, as it does! If the federal government cannot MANDATE a national religion, it cannot DICTATE or AFFECT an established religion’s doctrinal practices in order for it to violate a foundational tenet of it’s faith, that, in essence, is an act of dictatorial tyrrany. Being atheist, agnostic or otherwise simply religion hating is one’s choice, but supporting an administration that would refuse a religion it’s right to practice as it is doctrinally ruled is a violation of it’s first ammendment right, therefore unconstitutional. So then where? Who’s next? The atheists? Are they not allowed to practice their faith in nothing, if the federal government deems it so? Or are they protected by the first ammendment also, I would argue yes they are, but it seems 99% of the people posting here would have to say no they are not, because they are organized and follow a doctrinal practice.

  128. 128
    PRSguy says:

    “I’ll call it Norquistism”

    I already refer to the religion that taxes can never be raised as Norquistianity.

  129. 129
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Whatevs:

    The catholic church is not wantonly trying to make the US an all catholic nation, it is simply refusing to be dictated too by the federal govermnent how it should practice it’s doctrine, that would be it’s constitutional right.

    I’m not a lawyer and this thread is full of lawyers, but this doesn’t work for me, because “worship” and “doctrine” are different things. In my view, the First Amendment protections are aimed at things like praying, religious rituals, and going to church. The government can’t abridge those. But “doctrine” extends “worship” rather far. And in this case, Catholic bishops are claiming that having Catholic church money paying for someone else’s birth control offends their doctrine. Saying that’s an invalid complaint doesn’t actually prevent them from worshiping as they see fit.

    Look, they’re not being forced to _take_ birth control pills. They’re not being forced to _hand out_ birth control pills. They’re being told that the benefits package with which they compensate their employees at non-profits they set up has to include coverage for birth control pills. If the employee is Catholic, well, she isn’t being forced to take birth control pills, so she can have it in the health plan and never use it. If she does, that’s her sin. If the employee isn’t Catholic, Catholic doctrines and preferences don’t have to concern her one iota.

    In essence, “my religion tells me that I can’t contribute money that might go towards a practice by a stranger that I find sinful” is a screwy argument that may have something to do with “doctrine” but has nothing to do with “worship.” And if the government tells you, “Um, sorry, you’re just going to have to get over it, perhaps by seeing it as the other person’s money she earned, not yours to claim forever,” that’s not thwarting your religious liberty.

  130. 130
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Plus, and I forgot to say this before, haven’t there been cases where Christian Scientists have been charged with child endangerment because of refusing to seek medical treatment? Or is that just a Law & Order premise? At any rate, it’s not hard to imagine a church whose cherished doctrines violated US law — with US law getting the upper hand. A few of them might run for president one of these years.

  131. 131
    SRW1 says:

    “everyone everywhere has to do what a bunch of old catholics in funny hats wants, because otherwise it hurts their feelings?”

    Not quite a full description. Because it leaves out the salient fact that these ‘old catholics in funny hats’ are all of the male persuasion, whereas the objects (thought about this, and yes, it’s objects, not subjects) of their strong ‘feelings’ here, strangely enough, are not.

  132. 132
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Whatevs: Atheists don’t “practice” anything related to faith. Atheism isn’t a faith. Stop being stupid.

    Nobody is forcing your precious brainwashing institution to do anything. We merely expect that if the church chooses to own a business or any other secular institution it will abide by the same rules as the rest of us.

    Furthermore, the prohibition on birth control is ridiculously stupid, and the vast, vast majority of Catholics use birth control at some point during their lives which indicates that Catholics as a whole agree that the prohibition on birth control IS. FUCKING. STUPID. So please forgive the rest of us if your bawwing over the fact that people will be better able to afford birth control (which is easily in the top ten greatest things ever invented by humanity, and I’ll be glad to piss all over your hypocritical assbackward morals if doing so allows more people to enjoy the fruits of our species’s progress) doesn’t faze us.

  133. 133

    There have been a number of dioceses that should have lost their tax exempt status because of their involvement in electoral politics. As have a number of other religious organizations. It would have to be on a case by case basis because if anyone thinks they’re going to see religious organizations all lose their tax exemptions anytime during our life times, they are dreaming. No politician in their right mind would push it, I can’t think of anything that would cause more of a backlash putting the Republican-fascists in total control.

    There have been public school teachers convicted of pedophilia, not to mention the very much in the news sports industry. You want to use that as an argument for their abolition?

    Contraception could so easily be a winning issue for the left except that the religion bashers will grab the mic and turn it into a win for Republicans.

  134. 134
  135. 135
    Svensker says:

    @Rawk Chawk:

    You went to a Protestant church that had parochial school? I ain’t never heard of that afore. Episcopal?

  136. 136
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    There is a case locally right now of parents being charged with 2nd degree manslaughter for failure to seek treatment for their son. They’re members of some “heal through prayer” church, not Christian Scientists per se.

  137. 137
    Rawk Chawk says:

    @Svensker:

    You went to a Protestant church that had parochial school? I ain’t never heard of that afore. Episcopal?

    Lutheran Church/Missouri Synod. The most conservative of the Lutheran branches.

    PAROCHIAL, in this sense, simply means associated with a parish. It is not exclusively a Catholic word. :)

    Yes, I went grades 1-8, as did my siblings. Lots of good memories about it, but overall a mind fuck too.

  138. 138
    J R in WVa says:

    I think the red beanie-wearing leaders of catholicism should be subject to a combination of criminal procecution for controlling a secret society dedicated to protecting pederasts, and a RICO suit to confiscate all property controlled by the red-beanie-society at the time any act of pederasty was ongoing by any in-charge member of the red-beanie society.

    Seriously, these bishops and cardinals protected every member of their club who cared to rape little kids for generations. They lied, twisted the truth, accused their victims of being insane, tortured people for
    telling the truth about red-beannie priests, put sadistic women with damaged minds (damaged by red-beanie society leaders!) in charge of little kids…

    If you made a sci-fi movie about a secret conspiracy that did the things that have been proven about the roman catholic church, people would tell you it wasn’t a good movie because it was so unbelievable.

    These people are evil monsters, wealthy because they have stolen from people who starved to make their tithes to the bishops. They built a huge infrastructure to insure that the children of their duped followers would continue to be available to them for their use as objects to have fun with, sucking and fucking games any time.

    I can’t believe that the bishops and cardinals still aren’t in jail after the things that they have admitted to… everywhere except in a court of law. I don’t think passing a few millions of their ill-gained loot to their victims ameliorates their guilt at all. I think anyone who made payments to victims needs to be prosecuted, and any settlement agreement that required a victim to be silent should be regarded as proof of guilt.

    The catholic hospitals and schools should become state schools and hospitals. The churches andarc rectories should become museums where people can go to learn about the harm that hierarchical control structures in society cause. Like Holocaust museums, these religiousity museums could teach about the inquisition and holy wars that killed more people than the black death in Europe after protestant religions came into being.

    Remember what protestant religions were protesting – the utter corruption of the roman catholic church. That church is still utterly corrupt, and the protestants are too, for the most part.

    I know there are good people mired in these corrupt institutions, and we shouldn’t paint them all with the shameful colors the evil ones deserve, but we shouldn’t let our desire to protect the good people keep us from stopping the evil people from their evil actions.

  139. 139
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Tout les eveques a la lanterne!

  140. 140
    Lidia says:

    FlipYrWig: The Twitchells were a big case in the Boston area (home of the “mother” church of christ, scientist).

    It was a grotesque episode in which a young couple presided over their toddler’s agonizing death from a perforated bowel.

    It began with his screaming and vomiting. By the second day, his parents Ginger and David Twitchell were calling the Christian Science church’s worldwide public relations manager for advice. He assured them that the law granted them the right to use Christian Science treatment instead of medical treatment.

    On the fourth day, a church nurse recorded: “Child listless at times, rejecting all food, moaning in pain, three wounds on thigh.” The nurse force-fed him and directed his mother to feed him every half hour. On the fifth day, he was vomiting “a brown, foul-smelling substance.” Autopsy photos showed bright red lips and chin, probably because the acid in the vomit had eaten the skin off. His scrotum and about 15 inches of his ruptured intestine were jet black because their blood supply had been cut off. He was so dehydrated that his skin stayed up when pinched. Neighbors closed their bedroom window so they would not hear the boy’s screams.

    At the Twitchells’ trial, a Christian Science practitioner testified that she had achieved a complete healing of Robyn and that he had run around happily chasing his kitty cat 15 minutes before he died. Rigor mortis had set in before the parents called 911.

    ====
    The couple was convicted of manslaughter, but the case was overturned.

    Lotsa nuts out there.
    http://childrenshealthcare.org/?page_id=132

  141. 141
    andrei says:

    i love this, so succinct, and so pithy…i mean the catholic church does not pay taxes and is a very profitable enterprise..the fiery rhetoric could have been written bu Goebbles, and it is really, really scary…

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