Doctor Cleveland's picture

    The Romney Paradox (and the Crybaby Bishops)

    Mitt Romney used to be Governor of Massachusetts, a commonwealth which has at various times been A) the closest thing to a theocracy America has ever had and B) the poster child for tolerant secular liberalism. Many vocal religious conservatives now insist that the tolerant secular liberalism is an infringement on their religious liberty, and that they can only fully exercise their religion when the state actively endorses and promotes their religious values for them.

    Back in the early days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, of course, the government did actively promote religious values, and the official magistrates were under the indirect supervision of the ministers. (Massachusetts was never such a theocracy that the ministers were directly in control, but the religious leaders could make and break the politicians; they weren't officeholders, but they were political bosses). This is the closest resemblance that any historical fact bears to the Christian Nation narrative popular with today's religious right.

    Here's the thing, though: none of the people currently demanding a Christian Nation would have been able to exercise their religion under that system. Virtually without exception, today's right-wing religious activists belong to denominations that were banned in colonial Massachusetts (or would have been, had they been founded in time). Mitt Romney, likewise, would not have been allowed to practice his faith or even to remain in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

    The Massachusetts authorities in the 17th century were given to expelling members of dissident religious groups, such as the Baptists, with an instructive public whipping to hasten them on their way. They executed people for the crime of being Quakers. (Those executions led the English government to tyrannically curtail Massachusetts' religious freedom by forbidding the colonists to hang people for being a different flavor of Protestant Christian.) After the King outlawed religious executions, the God-fearing colonists had to content themselves with whippings, expulsions, and breaking into to private homes to see if anyone was holding a Quaker service inside.

    Baptists were outlaws; the Pentecostalists and other later evangelical denominations would surely have been outlawed too. Practicing Catholicism was out of the question; Massachusetts Puritans looked on the Catholic Church as a diabolic organization headed by the Anti-Christ. The Catholics didn't enjoy religious toleration in England, let alone Puritan New England, and as late as the 1830s a mob burned down a convent in greater Boston, because it was full of, you know, nuns.

    And as for being a Mormon, if there had been any Mormons yet, forget it. Groups that got driven out of 19th-century Illinois wouldn't have stood a chance in theocratic Boston. If Mitt Romney had shown up in the Massachusetts Bay Colony he would have been immediately thrown in jail, publicly flogged, and (if he caught a few bad breaks) hanged. In fact, every single Republican candidate for the presidential nomination, including Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty, belongs to a church that would have been criminalized in early colonial Boston.

    On the other hand, "Godless" liberal Massachusetts, that terrible threat to religious freedom, has treated Mitt Romney remarkably well. Not only did he get two degrees from Harvard (whose Puritan founders would have never admitted anyone of his faith), and he was actually elected to John Winthrop's old job as Governor! (We're still trying to harness the original colonists spinning in their graves to make green electricity.) He didn't do any of that on a wave of religious support from his fellow Mormons, of whom Massachusetts has approximately none. He did it with the votes of people who don't believe in his religion and have no particular sympathy for it, even some people who view Mormonism as slightly crazy. Those voters disagree with Romney's personal religious choices, but respected his right to make them and did not penalize him for them. Tolerant liberal values gave Mitt Romney the maximum freedom to practice his faith.

    The people of Massachusetts did expect Romney to live up to the traditional separation-of-church-and-state deal, in which the elected magistrate represents the interests of the whole commonwealth and not his private religious convictions. If Mormon Governor Romney felt that, as a Latter-Day Saint, he had to close down all of the state's bars, liquor stores, and coffee shops, he wouldn't have been Governor Romney for even a week. In fact, Romney signed the repeal of the old Puritan-inspired Blue Law against selling alcohol on Sundays. He acted on behalf of the voters who had delegated him his authority, rather than using that authority to express his own religious concerns or impose them upon the public.

    Was this a limitation of his religious freedom? No. It was a recognition that an elected leader is a representative of the public. If Romney had insisted that his freedom of religion entitled him to use his office to promote his specific values, he would have been barred from that office, because under that system no reasonable voter would ever choose to empower any candidate whose religion differed from their own. If we all agree that the President of the United States will keep his religious practice separate from his public duties, then anyone can be President. But if we considered the President of the United States free to use the powers of office to promote his or her own faith, then no one who doesn't share my particular faith, or yours, would be acceptable to me or to you. We can have, say, a Quaker president (like Nixon), because we know that the president won't simply disband the armed forces to keep with his Quaker faith. If Nixon had undergone a (spectacularly unlikely) crisis of conscience and decided that he had to be true to his religious upbringing he had to abolish the army and navy, he would have been impeached faster than he could resign.

    Today's religious right complain about the separation of church and state as a hindrance to their religious freedom. Most recently, some Catholic bishops have complained that they can now longer receive taxpayer funding for adoption-placement services that exclude gay couples from adopting. They are free to run a Catholic adoption agency, and free to turn away gay couples if they choose, on the principle that children are better off orphans than raised by two men or two women. What they view as "government-backed persecution" is that the taxpayer will no longer underwrite this. Apparently, the bishops feel the government is obligated to fund an adoption service that deliberately limits the pool of adoptive parents, rather than giving its money to adoption services that accept more potential parents and therefore place more kids. “In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” one of the bishops has told the New York Times, which reports that these bishops fear "an escalating campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom."

    To those bishops, I can only say: get over it. If you feel that it is important to keep orphans from being adopted by gay couples, and want to run a heterosexual-only adoption service, you can do it with donations from like-minded donors. You're not being "persecuted" because the government won't fund it for you. Taxpayers don't want their money spent to keep orphans from being adopted. Keeping orphans from being adopted because your religion currently teaches certain ideas about gayness is also not a public benefit. And as far as intolerance for the Catholic faith goes: baby, if this feels like persecution to you, you have clearly arrived. Nobody's set fire to a nunnery in this town for a long, long time.

    Today's religious right defines "freedom of religion" as the freedom to use public resources, and public authority, in order to further the goals of their own specific religion. But almost without exception, the groups who feel "persecuted" by the government's religious neutrality are the groups who would never have been tolerated in the United States under the kind of arrangement they're currently agitating for. The Catholics, evangelicals, and Latter-Day Saints, for example are all traditionally disfavored religious groups who have only managed to thrive in this country because the Establishment Clause defends their religious freedom through tolerant neutrality. Their attacks on "tolerance" and "liberalism" as a kind of persecution is an attack on the very things that have shielded them from persecution in this country. It's like watching people trying to tear the roof off their own house. They might succeed in leading this country into a new period of deep religious intolerance. What they won't succeed in doing is escaping that intolerance themselves. It wouldn't just be the people that the religious right dislikes who would become targets if they ever got their way. And God forbid that they ever do.



    Precisely because an orphan should be placed in a home with a mother and a father, and because the Catholic Church has a long, respected history in the field of adoption and social services, its agencies should not be denied funding for things that promote the common good of all simply because (a) some government officials intolerantly make the wholesale promotion of "gay rights" more important than children's welfare and/or (b) the government hates the Catholic Church (see President Obama's administration re program to help victims of human trafficking).

    I think the Catholic Church's long, respected history is at an end. I take no joy in this because I grew up Catholic, but given recent history, their bureaucracy should be kept as far away from children as possible.

    some government officials intolerantly make the wholesale promotion of "gay rights" more important than children's welfare.

    As opposed to some church officials intolerantly making the wholesale promotion of their religious beliefs more important than children's welfare, by preventing gay couples from adopting them?

    We've had a Catholic president, and we could easily elect another. Very few people would consider Catholicism a mark against a candidate. The majority of voters would not vote for an atheist, even if s/he belonged to their party. So, as the good Doc suggests, if this is your persecution, can I have some please?

    1) A collection has been taken up, out of the public funds, to pay for the care of orphans. The job of matching orphans with foster parents and adoptive parents is being contracted out, using that money, to private charities.

    Catholic Charities of Illinois feels that it is owed this public money, even if it refuses to use it as the authorities issuing the contract intended. That is frankly undemocratic; if you want to take taxpayer funds, you don't get to veto some of the uses for which the taxpayers and their representatives dedicated that money.

    If I am hiring a caterer for a large family event, and I refuse to work with a caterer because he is a Jew, that is religious discrimination. If I am hiring a caterer for a large family event and one caterer demands that the event be changed from Saturday to Sunday because of the Jewish Sabbath , and that all of my family's favorite shrimp, meatballs, and Italian coldcuts be replaced by nice kosher alternatives, like whitefish, then the caterer cannot claim to be persecuted if I take my business elsewhere. That is NOT discrimination.

    You aren't allowed to take public money and set your own limits on how it's used.

    2) What's really scandalous here is the extent to which Catholic Charities has become dependent on government-funded contracts, rather than on Catholics' charity. As someone who's donated to Catholic Charities, I'm pretty upset to learn that.

    It's startling how many private and religious charities, which conservatives tout as the alternative to federal anti-poverty spending, are actually just disguised forms of federal anti-poverty spending.

    3) Is it "intolerant" to accept gays in our community? Really? I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, stranger, and presume that you are otherwise more Christian than that comment makes you sound.

    That's one way to look at it.  Here's another point of view on this issue:


    Either you like government programs or you don't, but the article tries to have it all ways, in other words: "This government food we're getting is terrible, plus my religious beliefs don't allow me to eat these items--besides which there's not enough here to go around." If a government food program had to be tailored to meet the religious beliefs of every potential recipient, it would indeed be expansionist---isn't that what is being argued against, that there's too much government?

    The article asserts that there are too many regulations involved in setting up a foster care program, or for that matter a health insurance plan---presumably in a company or within a private entity. I myself have set up a long term care insurance program which I can offer for about a third the cost of anything else on the market. Anon---please send me the name of your organization and a mailing list if possible. 

    Anon---the article reveals quite clearly---we want our own charities, foster care, health care---the Utopian quest at the root of the social conservative movement, in essence, the same as the Bay Colony, including particular views on salvation and social mores.  That's fine with me, have it your way---but not to the extent of coercing others in your religious views or sabotaging all government to the point of making it dysfunctional for those who believe there is a role for government.

    As far as government programs I actually trust government workers, who are essentially well intended citizens, to come up with reasonable solutions that meet specific needs. Either take the standard menu, or don't. But don't argue that it should be tailored to your religious beliefs. 

    Honestly, this link speaks to exactly what turned me off about Doc's piece here. I'm not really comfortable with government contracts being used the way they are being used.

    It is somewhat unfortunate in my opinion, because this piece opens so strong with what should be a universally compelling argument. But then it jumps to attacking a specific group over an issue that is hardly cut-and-dried and essentially demands that those who agree about the need for maintaining our secular form of government and not declaring a national religion also agree that a specific position on a stupid wedge issue is an implicit and required stance to be true to this underlying ideal.

    Turned a great piece into a just another meh political attack IMO.

    A stupid wedge issue? Keep in mind that the Catholic Church can still run their adoption agency, they just won't get government funds if they deny homosexuals the right to adopt.

    It wasn't that long ago that some churches* still held that mixed race couples were against their beliefs. Would it have been a stupid wedge issue if an adoption agency that denied mixed race couples the right to adopt were not given government funds?

    *Actually, some churches still do believe this. However, it's not that long ago that it was even more wide-spread. I went to grad school with someone who graduated from a college that did not allow mixed race dating as recently as the '90s. Unfortunately, I can't recall the name of the school, but it was not an obscure religious school.

    Yes a stupid wedge issue. Reasonable people can disagree with your interpretation. More importantly, people who disagree with that interpretation might still be inclined to totally reject the premise that America should be declared a Christian nation if such an argument were crafted with respect to their position and based on sound reason ... which the bulk of Doc's article does with aplomb.

    One debate is fundamental to the nature of our approach to government and indeed to the nature of our government itself - the other debate is mostly about access to special benefits. By combining the two truly unrelated issues, Doc ensures that anyone who disagrees with him on the second issue will immediately conflate that disagreement with his position vis a vis the nature of our secular government. IMO, it wasn't worth the dig.

    It's certainly true that the two paragraphs just before the last one take on a much narrower issue (a topical application of a wider principle), while the rest is a more general piece about that wider principle. Most of this post was a slow-brewer that I've been planning to write at some point; the two paragraphs about the Catholic bishops are a topical hook related to what was in the news when I did write the blog.

    As for the narrowness of the wedge issue; are you uncomfortable with government contracts being used by religious charities? Or are you uncomfortable that the government insists that religious charities follow the same terms as anyone else?

    I am uncomfortable with government contracts being used to implement un-vetted random policy objectives of the party in power.

    Are you uncomfortable with government contracts being used by religious charities? Or are you uncomfortable that the government insists that religious charities follow the same terms as anyone else?

    Both.  If you want to play church, do it on your own time with your own dime. 

    I'm totally OK with that too ... assuming the prohibition applies to all charities and doesn't discriminate based on the religious beliefs of those providing the charity.

    ...with your own dime.

    This bit intrigues me. Are you saying that the religious people don't contribute to national revenue? Or are you saying that because they have a religion that their desire to see revenue collected from them directed to the things important to them is moot?

    Catholics put up a shitton of taxes ... it's every bit as much their dime as it is your dime or mine.

    Sure, as earners Catholics contribute to the Federal piggy bank.  But as "Catholics" they can potentially reduce their tax liability by deducting their contributions to the Church, as can any "religious" contributor.  Of course, anyone can play that game, as there is no shortage of eligible 501(c)3 and other tax deductible orgs out there.  But a general difference between those and The Church is, the Church can go about its business with little to no scrutiny, whereas Planned Parenthood's books, for example, are publicly reported and lots of its funding is democratically distributed.  You can't say the same about, say, the American Roman Catholic church.

    So no, I'm not saying either of those things.  I'm saying let's put the separation back in of Church and State.  Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, etc, etc, and give to god whatever the hell you think it's worth so long as Caesar gets his first, so to speak.      

    There may be a difference between tax deductions from and cash payments to an organization. We ALL support all kinds of organizations and their activities via their tax deductions.

    But when it comes to giving them cash to do things, then secular rules should rule. An organization shouldn't be able to take money from the general coffers and then decide to contravene the will of the general population, e.g., on who gets to adopt.

    As an aside, when I read Jesus' line to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's", I took it to be a clever play on Jesus' part: if you're a Christian (or Jewish, etc.), what is not God's? I've not heard others make this connection, but to my mind it was crystal clear and very deliberate.

    Oh it was clever, for sure.  A perfect duck.  It made Forum Times' Top X Political Dodges of XXXII.

    I've always heard it interpreted that God was concerned with matters of the spirit, and not petty nonsense of materialism, so that the 2 domains were exclusive.

    Have you ever seen the Vatican? wink

    In all seriousness, there's some logic to what you say, but this is the same Jesus (presumably) who told the story of the widow and the two coins. I'm not accusing him of being money hungry, but at the same time, that particular story seems to suggest that he did want the temple to get its money as well.

    It is worth noting that there's an intriguing alternate interpretation of the widow and the two coins as well. (Which I discovered while searching if anyone has written about that story being added to Luke and Mark after the fact, which I turned up nothing on.)

    It's not like there's only 1 aspect to the story - certainly there's the meme of the downtrodden who tries harder than those in better circumstances, as well as the railing of the rich priests abusing the poor, and several other motifs. Easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than a rich man into heaven? Doesn't seem like he's saying the widow should be upping her giving, but that it's more the attitude behind the giving and not the $ amount.

    That has been the general take on the quote, yet if one believes God is all pervasive and created and interacting in all of the material world, it doesn't take much of a leap to say that everything is related to the spiritual world of God.  This kind of leap can be seen in Prosperity Gospel.where one's spiritual path is directly tied to one's success materially, and directly provided by and thus related to God.


    Well, once you really take into account an "all powerful God", there aren't many messages that can't be steamrollered with "why's he messing with us, he could just snap his fingers and arrange whatever the hell he wants". It's one thing to talk about suffering as important in learning lessons, it's another to extend that children's romper room exercise to the brutal killing fields of Cambodia or decade of atrocities in the Congo.

    I am not sure whether you saying that I am personally somehow extending that romper room exercise in such a way (which I am not and not what I was referring to), but the question "why bad things happen to good people" is one with which humans have struggled ever since they had some inkling there was a director or directors behind the scene.  Some would posit we created these metaphysical forces in order to answer that question.  Seeking an answer to the question "why do some prosper and some do not" has unfolded in a similar fashion.  Even today there are those who see their material success as a sign that they are blessed and the chosen ones (there are a good number of them in my community), which is a way of saying that whatever happens on this material plane is manifestation of the spiritual plane, in other words the material world is a mere reflection, a shadow.

    You clearly miss the point.  First, of course religious people – i.e., taxpayers who have religious convictions – contribute to national revenue.  Churches are not taxpayers, and don't.  The issue is about churches, not religious people.  Second, being a taxpayer (or of course a church) does not entitle you to receive a Government contract, then substitute in it your own terms for proper performance, on the basis of your religious (or other) beliefs.  The state is entitled to enter into contracts to provide state services on the basis of the state's standards, standards that were adopted through the democratic process.  In this case the state's standards include nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual prefernce.  No individual or private interest (religious or not) is entitled to subvert that, regardless of whether it is one of his/her/its own standards. 


    Actually insofar as churches provide services that replace public tax-funded services, they do contribute to national revenue. Homeless shelters, soup lines, clothing and assistance finding work are some of the ways that charitable organizations help augment our constantly stressed public services budget.

    In Germany, there's a much more explicit tie between church services and tithing taken directly from paycheck - it's a pretty great social insurance that even atheists are loathe to reject.

    Actually insofar as churches provide services that replace public tax-funded services, they do contribute to national revenue. Homeless shelters, soup lines, clothing and assistance finding work are some of the ways that charitable organizations help augment our constantly stressed public services budget.

    Actually, no they don't. They augment those public tax-funded services, but they don't replace them. (Don't get me wrong, I'm glad churches do the good things they do.) If they truly replaced them, then those services wouldn't exist, or at least they wouldn't be available to the people getting those services from the church.

    It's simple: if churches want to act with complete autonomy, they need to be funded entirely by their own means. Of course, they're also able to form subsidiaries, etc., so that part of them can continue to discriminate against homosexuals, while other parts receive federal funding, but they can't use federal funding to run an agency that discriminates against homosexuals, or mixed-race couples, or minority race couples, etc.

    Freedom to use federal funding to support religious ideals is not enshrined in the Constitution. In fact, its opposite is (i.e., in the anti-establishment clause).

    But nobody's talking about acting with complete impunity. An adoption agency isn't an unregulated and unmonitored entity. There is a defined set of standards which they must meet to be in operation. Obviously, if these are not met ... the adoption agency would be shut down.

    Now, this is the important part. These defined standards were created based on democratic decision making - with all of the public rulemaking procedures that are involved with this. I propose that, absent a similar democratic process conducted by the federal legislature creating a more concrete national definition, the definitions set by democracy within state jurisdictions are the standards which the federal government should be using to assess distribution of funds without *ANY* consideration of the religious beliefs of those who run an organization that meets the definition of standards required to operate.

    The freedom from having one's religious beliefs used as a metric by which the full benefit of access to government resources is removed, limited or curtailed... is THE ENTIRE PURPOSE of the religious freedom clauses in the constitution.

    You've bastardized this ideal to carry out a political agenda of cutting off equally-licensed entities from federal funds on the basis of the beliefs underlying the people running the entities. To me, it doesn't matter what reason you're doing it for - it sucks.

    The freedom from having one's religious beliefs used as a metric by which the full benefit of access to government resources is removed, limited or curtailed... is THE ENTIRE PURPOSE of the religious freedom clauses in the constitution.

    Not following that, kgb999.  Not only do I doubt it's THE ENTIRE PURPOSE, I don't think it's as much as an after thought.

     equally-licensed entities

    This is the point, I think.  They stop being equally licensed when they demonstrate their unwillingness to operate under the same rules.

    OK, there's a valid point hiding in what you wrote, and you've brought it up before, but then (similar to what you criticize the Doc as doing) you bury it with that religious stuff.

    You wrote:

    These defined standards were created based on democratic decision making - with all of the public rulemaking procedures that are involved with this.

    Am I to take from this, that you'd be fine with the regulation if it had been a result of a law passed by Congress rather than by (state) agency guideline? If so, that's more nuanced than I was giving you credit for.

    I do, however, have to point out that many (most?) of the rules that adoption agencies follow (which you presumably have little complaint about) are not the explicit result of Congressional laws.

    I hate to tell you but there are a zillion decisions made by governmental bureaucracies impacting such things as who gets what funding that are not subject to democratic decision making.  This is just one case which is making the news.

    This really comes down to whether one believes it is okay for a religious organization should have equal access to funds in order to provide services even if they turn around and deny access to those services to others based on sexual orientation. 

    But you may not be aware (obviously you haven't applied for a federal grant or work for a government-funded nonprofit) but within the world of the federal government discrimination based on sexual orientation has been a serious no-no for quite awhile. It has been the standard practice of the federal government.  Just as a federal government human resource department cannot not hire someone who gay because they are gay, an agency who receives federal funds cannot likewise discriminate.  In this particular case the federal agency involved expanded this long-standing perspective to those who attempt to access adoption services. 

    Ultimately it is about the belief - homosexuals are equal under law and should have equal access to federally funded services like education, food banks, and adoption - and anyone who does discriminate will not receive the funds.  Whether the motivation or basis of that discrimination is religious or not is irrelevant.

    Just to clear up a misunderstanding that I myself had earlier, this particular case is for Illinois state adoption agencies, not federal ones. All of your points stand, of course.

    Good points, all. A lot of people don't know how the government works and has worked forever.

    And, in fact, some things DO change when the baton is passed from Democrats to Republicans and back again. That's why elections are important.

    More generally, we've moved to this place--for some time now--where you're discriminating if you "discriminate" against discriminators.

    This, I think, could turn into an infinite regression, no?

    Weren't Jim Crow southerners being discriminated against when they were forced--at gun point--to admit black students to their schools? Well, yes, in a way they were.

    This is a little bit Ron Paul's point about allowing private institutions, like restaurants, to serve whomever they wish and turn away others. Or at least not forcing them to serve everyone. He would say it's wrong to force anyone to do anything or not do anything with his private property.

    At bottom, it's a phony argument that ignores the social reality to play semantic games. The same thing is true of so-called "reverse discrimination."

    The truth is, when you lose an election, a lot of your views are NOT represented by your government and some of them are contravened by practice. We used to be able to suck it up or reserve judgement or even say, "maybe they know something I don't." But no more...

    Also, that piece didn't argue things should be tailored *to* their religious beliefs. The argument was that things should not be tailored *against* their religious beliefs.

    It's similar to my reaction to that ass-clown who wanted to cut off any historic buildings that were owned by religious groups from preservation funds ... but at the same time perfectly happy to hand tax dollars to maintain a *former* church building if it were held by a non-religious group.

    I think that many Democrats tend to use the idea of separation of church and state as an excuse to use the state to attack people of faith. This is no less wrong than when the religious try to cram their ideas down everyone else's throat using government authority. The government belongs to the religious as much as it belongs to the secularists. You can't just pull money out of everyone's pocket and use it to force your beliefs down their throats either ... even if your beliefs are masqueraded as "government  proper" under the premise antitheism is appropriate in policy because there is no "god" underlying the beliefs.

    Keep in mind that (a) they're still allowed to run an orphanage that discriminates against homosexuals if they don't take government funds, and (b) they're still allowed to take government funds if they don't discriminate against homosexuals.

    Serious question: Would you be taking the same position if it were blacks instead of homosexuals that they were discriminating against?

    At some point, we have to decide who can be discriminated against (e.g., former sex offenders) and who can't (e.g., minorities).

    How about a faith-based adoption agency that ruled out Catholics? It's happened before, because Papists are, naturally, unsuitable parents.

    How about if there are federal funds being made available to help cover the operating overhead of recognized (licensed?) adoption agencies, that all agencies meeting  the requirements to be in legal operation are treated equally?

    Maybe the solution is to let charities be charities and not funnels for government money. The government (whether state, local, or federal) can have its orphanages with its laws, and charities, using money they themselves have raised, can have theirs.

    Many foresaw this problem when Bush championed the idea of funneling government money to faith-based organizations to do the government's job.

    Good thought. The issue, as I recall, was the observation (don't know if it's true) that some religious organizations had high success rates at things like curing addiction. If this is a national goal, why shouldn't the nation help them do it?

    The conservative argument tends to be that government should be replaced with PRIVATE charities, so that individuals can contribute to the causes and organizations they think will best use their money.

    You shouldn't receive federal funds if one of your organization's central principles contravenes one of the central principles that the general population has mandated (voted for) in the secular sphere.

    That "general population" includes people like Catholics, Mormons, etc.

    It's a Venn diagram--public money should only be given to organizations whose activities fall within the common area of the intersecting circles. Those things everyone has, in essence, agreed upon.

    At a more simplistic level, it's like traffic laws. You didn't vote for them--but then again, you did.

    So I guess those anti-war demonstrators in 2003 should be denied any federal money, as the war obviously had very high popular support (80%+ at one point, I believe).

    And if you oppose Gitmo, well, off with your funding too - we have a war on terror to run. Elections have consequences, and I guess those damn liberals deserve their come-uppance.

    Off with her funding, said the Red Queen.

    I missed the part where the anti-war demonstrations were being funded by federal money.

    If your point is that some demonstrators were probably getting federal money, well, that's probably true. But the rule in question isn't preventing those affiliated with the orphanage from getting money for other projects, just not for the orphanage, and only then while they choose to continue to discriminate against homosexuals.

    I would be taking the same position regarding any adoption agency in legal operation.

    What's really happening here is that you guys don't have the support to pass the laws you would like to have in place to ban the practice, so instead of staying the course and winning legitimately in the marketplace of ideas you are doing an end-run around democracy.

    So, what happens when President Romney decides that he'll do just one MINOR tweak to the policy and withdraws access to federal funds from licensed adoption agencies that *do* feel it is proper to place children in homosexual families? Certainly you realize any moral authority you have to protest such an action is nonexistent now, right?

    using your logic, pretty much everything is an end around democracy.  The government sets up criteria on every single dollar it hands out.  One could argue just about any one of those criteria is truly motivated by some political agenda. 

    It isn't that there is criteria set up for access to federal dollars - it is what is the justification for the criteria.  In this case, it is a matter of ensuring all individuals and households have equal opportunity and access to adoption regardless of certain attributes - such as race, sexual orientation and religion. 

    Romney's little tweak cannot be justified except by referring to specific religious texts for justification, which then breaks down the separation of church and state. 

    This isn't about moral authority but that little thing that we are "all created equal"

    You imply that there is some mechanism assessing the various justifications and rendering judgment on them prior to promulgation.  That simply isn't an accurate description of how the executive works.

    Romney is going to do exactly the same thing Obama is doing - but in the furtherance of his equally un-vetted and unapproved objectives. And Democrats have made the decision to do so totally justified. Race to the bottom.

    When no member of any party will apply standards to themselves, we are simply cursed to live in a nation without any standards.

    On some level this makes absolutely no sense - you would have provide the definition of what you mean by the word "mechanism." 

    Moreover, you seem to be operating on the notion that unless the American people literally  vote on some policy and the methodology of implementation, the representatives elected to office have no justification to do so.  If this is where you are coming from, we really just need to end the conversation now.  Just as the Board of Directors hire a CEO and give him or her the marching order, it is up to the CEO to make the day to day decisions without referring back to the Board every single time their is a decision to be made. To claim the executive of our government would need to refer to the people is just plain ludicrous.  Usually this kind of assertion is thrown out there in some attempt to claim the government is not following the "will of the people," and cannot wrap their mind around the realities of a representative government (which is not perfect, but is a good as it gets).

    Justification is irrelevant. It holds no bearing on if the executive is empowered to act in a certain fashion. As such, your observations about justification are specious and don't apply in the context.

    We aren't a corporation. We are a democracy.

    We are actually a Republic that believes in democracy as a means to elect our representatives at the seats of power, whether it be local, state or federal.  As such, the relationship between the Board and the CEO (whether for-profit or non-profit) is a good analogy for the relationship between the voters and the individuals they have given the power to go represent them.  In both cases, the ultimate authority rests with the board/voters, yet in neither case do they provide all the exact details of how the executive is to proceed.  Nor do they micro-manage on a day to day basis.  In both cases, the general rule is there are times when the board/voter assesses the quality of performance, a performance review one might say.  Sometimes the actions of the CEO, however, are such that the Board/voters demand action be taken to investigate and even remove the CEO (see Nixon and Clinton). 

    Again though I have to say you don't make a whole lot of sense here.  Just what do you believe the executive is empowered to do in the case of adoption?  How should the executive proceed, year and year out - over say eight years, in overseeing the department /agencies involved in this endeavor. To what exactly is he or she, and those under him or her, suppose to look to exactly in order to develop policies and the parameters of the implementation of those policies. 

    The certain fashion you refer to - in the case of the president and the vast federal government he or she oversees - is a vague agenda at best, in part built on the campaign promises and the party's platform as adopted during the convention.  Can you show me where Obama made any mention of adoption during the campaign or where in the Democratic Party's platform it specifically discusses adoption.  

    One can however look at the content of what Obama said on the campaign trail and look at the party platform and see that it would lead to this.  One would be surprised if they took the opposite approach.  So the voters, by putting in Obama rather than McCain, basically said - yes we want federal dollars to go only to those agencies that allow homosexuals to adopt.

    You are correct here. KG seems to be coming from a place where, as he said before, the president is simply the "burger flipper in chief." We hire him based on what he says and he needs to do precisely what he said he'd do regardless of what transpires after he's hired.

    In short, he isn't supposed to use his judgment or discernment of the principles he ran on. If the specific move isn't in his--of necessity fairly lengthy--contract, then he needs to be fired on the spot. Now, of course, this is partly right because he can and should and will be thrown out if he disappoints sufficiently--generally at the next election.

    None of this has anything to do with "the Democrats." Republican presidents have done all kinds of things--good and bad--that they didn't run on and therefore were omitted in the contract.

    The government belongs to the religious as much as it belongs to the secularists.

    A small, but important point: Secular and religious are not opposites. Secularists can be very religious. It's just that they believe in a civic sphere where NO religion rules.

    They believe in separation; they aren't anti religion and may well be very religious.

    A must read, indeed.  Not much I can think of to add to it.  This is particularly to the point:

    The Catholics, evangelicals, and Latter-Day Saints, for example are all traditionally disfavored religious groups who have only managed to thrive in this country because the Establishment Clause defends their religious freedom through tolerant neutrality. Their attacks on "tolerance" and "liberalism" as a kind of persecution is an attack on the very things that have shielded them from persecution in this country. It's like watching people trying to tear the roof off their own house.

    There's nothing more maddening than watching people tear the roof off their own house while they tell you they are putting a roof on their house.

    It's also worth noting that you could get arrested for observing Christmas in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and even as late as the 19th century, it was strongly frowned upon.

    Yes, well done. Well phrased. Well itemized! ha

    I am a day late but I hereby render unto Cleveland the Dayly Line of the Day Award for this here Dagblog Site, given to all of the Doctor from all of me for this gem although there were several I could have cited:

    Here's the thing, though: none of the people currently demanding a Christian Nation would have been able to exercise their religion under that system.

    I agree with the award. That is a classic line. 

    Methodism, Presbyterianism, Mormonism and several other denominations were all spread from Massachusetts.The leaders of the early Mormon church have very deep roots in Puritan Massaschusetts. The Bible Belt is so religious in large part due to the Great Awakenings, a movement led by Puritans. Now that the times call for a different take on religion, the northeast can't tame the monster it created. Or was it a set-up for conflict and dueling mind-control all along. Massachusetts elite cannot be trusted. 

    Latest Comments