Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

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Addie
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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

#26

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Good fuckin grief :cantlook:

WaPo
State Department’s first-ever employee Christian faith group underscores Mike Pompeo’s influence

All year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made news for efforts that critics worry are crossing church-state separation lines. In July, he launched a Commission on Unalienable Rights, created by religious conservatives who have bemoaned growing LGBTQ equality. Then in October, a private Pompeo speech, “Being a Christian Leader,” was advertised across the top of the State Department homepage.

Less noticed was the creation of the State Department’s first-ever faith-based affinity group.

GRACE, announced in February, was founded “to highlight the value added by the perspective of people of faith in general, and Christians in particular to the Department and its mission.”

Using government email accounts, department portals and meeting spaces to organize and advertise, GRACE was, according to the mission statement of the group on the department website, created to advocate for religious freedom and expression within the department. It has hosted events with evangelical speakers and runs a “mentorship ministry” that brings together pairs of employees to focus on “how being a disciple of Christ impacts your professional experience at the State Department.”

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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

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ProPublica: How Mike Pence’s Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Groups

Officials at USAID warned that favoring Christian groups in Iraq could be unconstitutional and inflame religious tensions. When one colleague lost her job, they said she had been “Penced.”

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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

#28

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Salon - Phil Zuckerman
The unbearable wrongness of William Barr: Secularism doesn't destroy society or moral order

If secularism truly resulted in moral deterioration, then highly secular societies would be decaying. They're not


Last month, in what Jeffrey Toobin called “the worst speech given by an Attorney General of the United States in modern history,” Attorney General William Barr offered a lecture at Notre Dame Law School in which he denounced secularism as a “social pathology” that destroys the “moral order.” After blaming secularists for a host of contemporary problems — including depression, drug overdosing, and violence — Barr explained that without belief in a “transcendent Supreme Being” and adherence to “God’s eternal law,” the “possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.” Unless we follow “God’s instruction manual,” he sermonized, there will be “real-world consequences for man and society” — consequences that are not pretty, but quite grim. For without religion, there can be no “moral culture” and society will inevitably fall prey to humanity’s “capacity for great evil.”

Such hackneyed assertions are not new. Pious people of power have been scapegoating the non-religious for centuries, characterizing non-believers as threats to the nation, and declaring that without religion, there can be no moral social order. And like those before him who have made such claims — from Newt Gingrich to the prophet Muhammed — William Barr is wrong.

When lots of people in a given society stop being religious of their own accord, such organic secularization does not result in the evaporation of morality in society, nor national decay. For instance, the most secular countries in the world today fare much better on nearly every measure of peace, prosperity, and societal well-being — including infant mortality, life expectancy, educational attainment, economic prosperity, freedom, levels of corruption, and so forth — than the most religious countries. In fact, those countries with the highest murder rates — such as Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, and Brazil — are extremely religious, while those countries with the lowest murder rates — such as Iceland, Canada, Slovenia, Norway, and the Netherlands — are among the most secular nations in the world. Heck, Singapore and the Czech Republic are among the least religious nations on earth, while Brazil and the Philippines are among the most God-worshipping, yet the latter’s murder rates are over ten times higher than the former’s, and the crime rate of never-been-Christian, strongly secular Japan is 80 times lower than El Salvador’s, a Catholic nation neck-deep in worship of Barr’s “Supreme Transcendent Being.”

Similar correlations hold within our own country: on almost every measure of societal well-being — from poverty rates to STD rates to DUIs — the most secular states tend to fare the best, while the most religious tend to fare the worst. For example, among the states with the highest gun violence and murder rates, many are among the most religious — e.g., Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Arkansas — while among those with the lowest gun violence and murder rates, many are among the least religious states, such as New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

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Addie
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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

#29

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Newsweek
Americans Want Religion to Stay Out of Politics, New Survey Finds

While Americans largely have a positive view of the role of religion in public life, they overwhelmingly want religious institutions to stay out of politics, a new survey from the Pew Research Center has found.

Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults believe churches and other houses of worship should "keep out" of political matters. When asked if religious institutions should endorse political candidates, 76 percent say no. And a plurality of adults—at 37 percent—believe that religious groups already have "too much" political influence.

[Read the full report below.]

Despite the relative consensus regarding political speech from religions institutions, the Trump administration and some conservatives have been pushing for changes to federal tax law that currently prohibits non-profits—which include religious groups—from engaging in direct political advocacy.

A May 2017 executive order signed by Trump sought to alleviate some pressures on religious groups that constrain their political speech, but did not change any pertinent law regarding these restrictions.

On the whole, Americans still believe religion is a positive force in American society, even if they don't want these organizations to mingle with politics. Fifty-five percent of U.S. adults say that churches and other religious organizations do more good than harm and a similar proportion believes that religion strengthens morality in society, Pew found.
Pew Trust in Religion FULL REPORT (PDF)

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Addie
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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

#30

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Vox - Ezra Klein
The post-Christian culture wars

The Trump administration’s two most revealing speeches weren’t given by Trump.


Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. They have 27 governorships and governing trifectas in 21 states. But many conservatives — particularly Christian conservatives — believe they’re being routed in the war that matters most: the post-Christian culture war. They see a diverse, secular left winning the future and preparing to eviscerate both Christian practice and traditional mores. And they see themselves as woefully unprepared to respond with the ruthlessness that the moment requires.

Enter Donald Trump. Whatever Trump’s moral failings, he’s a street fighter suited for an era of political combat. Christian conservatives believe — rightly or wrongly — that they’ve been held back by their sense of righteousness, grace, and gentility, with disastrous results. Trump operates without restraint. He is the enemy they believe the secular deserve, and perhaps unfortunately, the champion they need. Understanding this dynamic is crucial to understanding the psychology that attracts establishment Republicans to Trump, and convinces them that his offense is their best defense.

If this sound exaggerated, consider two recent speeches given by Attorney General William Barr. Barr is a particularly important kind of figure in the Trump world. He previously served as attorney general under George H.W. Bush, and had settled into a comfortable twilight as a respected member of the Republican legal establishment. It’s the support of establishment Republicans like Barr that gives Trump his political power and protects him from impeachment. But why would someone like Barr spend the end of his career serving a man like Trump?

Speaking at Notre Dame in October, Barr offered his answer. He argued that the conflict of the 20th century pitted democracy against fascism and communism — a struggle democracy won, and handily. “But in the 21st century, we face an entirely different kind of challenge,” he warned. America was built atop the insight that “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people.” But “over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack,” driven from the public square by “the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.”

This is a war Barr thinks progressives have been winning, and that conservatives fight in the face of long institutional odds.

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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

#31

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WaPo - Jennifer Rubin
Should religion and politics mix?

At a time when Attorney General William P. Barr gives a fire-and-brimstone speech assailing secularism (“This is not decay. This is organized destruction. Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values") and right-wing evangelical leaders deify President Trump, the relationship between religion and politics is once again being hotly debated. What’s the line between religious accommodation and establishment of religion? What should be the scope of faith-based exemptions from laws? Should religious figures be as enmeshed in partisan politics as they presently are?

During his campaign, Trump pandered to religious conservatives by claiming he would protect them from a supposed war on Christianity. Once in office, he wasted no time seeking to inflame religious divisions by banning Muslims from entering the United States from certain countries. He continues to traffic in anti-Semitic tropes. Interestingly, several Democratic candidates are pushing back against Republicans’ claims to be the protectors of faith-based values.

Melissa Rogers, a visiting professor at Wake Forest University’s Divinity School and a nonresident senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, has a new book, “Faith in American Public Life,” which addresses these and other thorny issues concerning the intersection of religion and politics. As the special assistant to President Barack Obama and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Rogers wrestled with a plethora of policy issues, including protection from discrimination for those receiving social services from faith-based programs. Our conversation about her book follows.

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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

#32

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HuffPo - Sarah Posner
The Army Of Prayer Warriors Fighting Trump’s Impeachment

As the Senate takes up his impeachment trial, white Christian evangelicals remain firmly in the president’s corner.


In mid-October, less than a month into the House Democrats’ formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Jim Bakker, the televangelist and convicted fraudster, was in front of a studio audience at his Morningside Church complex in Blue Eye, Missouri, a remote village of less than 200 people in the Ozarks. As the crew prepared the semicircular desk where the 79-year-old conducts freewheeling interviews with evangelical celebrity guests, Bakker took a moment to deliver an important message to the hundred or so people who had come to watch the taping: “God’s sending judgment.”

God, Bakker continued, “anointed your president.” Anyone who crosses the divinely chosen leader, he implied, is risking God’s wrath.

That morning, news had broken of the unexpected death of Democratic Congressman and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, who aggressively investigated Trump and who would have played a key role in impeachment proceedings. But there would be no prayers or condolences for the civil rights advocate from Bakker, who would only call Cummings “that man.” Instead, Bakker concluded with satisfaction, “one of the number-one enemies of our president fell dead last night. A man who insists on impeaching the president of the United States, he fell dead.”

As Trump faces increasingly grim polling numbers over impeachment, white evangelicals have dug in as his most loyal defenders. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in late October, about a month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the official launch of the impeachment probe, 80% of white evangelicals opposed impeaching Trump and removing him from office (compared to just 47% of the public at large). Two-thirds of white evangelicals believed Trump did nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Among white evangelicals who identify as Republican, 99% of them opposed impeachment, according to an October analysis by the Public Religion Research Institute.

This unwavering support is consistent with white evangelical voters’ attitude toward Trump in general. In 2016, 81% of them voted for him, and over the course of his tumultuous presidency, polling has consistently shown white evangelicals to be unfazed by Trump’s scandals and corruption — from pussy grabbing to Stormy Daniels to family separations to Russian election interference. Moreover, white evangelicals approve of Trump’s job performance more than any other demographic does ― a rate 20 and 30 points higher than those of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics, respectively. These numbers have remained static even in the face of House Democrats’ probe into Trump’s efforts to shake down Zelensky for the public announcement of a corruption probe against Joe Biden and his son.

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Addie
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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

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New York Times OpEd - Katherine Stewart and Caroline Fredrickson
Bill Barr Thinks America Is Going to Hell

And he’s on a mission to use the “authority” of the executive branch to stop it.


Why would a seemingly respectable, semiretired lion of the Washington establishment undermine the institutions he is sworn to uphold, incinerate his own reputation, and appear to willfully misrepresent the reports of special prosecutors and inspectors general, all to defend one of the most lawless and corrupt presidents in American history? And why has this particular attorney general appeared at this pivotal moment in our Republic?

A deeper understanding of William Barr is emerging, and it reveals something profound and disturbing about the evolution of conservatism in 21st-century America.

Some people have held that Mr. Barr is simply a partisan hack — willing to do whatever it takes to advance the interests of his own political party and its leadership. This view finds ample support in Mr. Barr’s own words. In a Nov. 15 speech at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention in Washington, he accused President Trump’s political opponents of “unprecedented abuse” and said they were “engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.”

It is hardly the first time Mr. Barr stepped outside of long-established norms for the behavior of attorneys general. In his earlier stint as attorney general, during the George H.W. Bush presidency, Mr. Barr took on the role of helping to disappear the case against Reagan administration officials involved in the Iran-contra affair. The situation demonstrated that “powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office,” according to Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor in that case. According to some critics, Mr. Barr delivered the partisan goods then, as he is delivering them now.

Another view is that Mr. Barr is principally a defender of a certain interpretation of the Constitution that attributes maximum power to the executive. This view, too, finds ample support in Mr. Barr’s own words. In the speech to the Federalist Society, he said, “Since the mid-’60s, there has been a steady grinding down of the executive branch’s authority that accelerated after Watergate.” In July, when President Trump claimed, in remarks to a conservative student group, “I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” it is reasonable to suppose this is his CliffsNotes version of Mr. Barr’s ideology.

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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

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The Guardian
'He was sent to us': at church rally, evangelicals worship God and Trump

Friday’s rally recognized Trump’s need to retain the loyalty of the evangelical voting bloc that propelled him to victory in 2016


They came to pray with their president, though in truth many came just to worship him. Donald Trump’s Friday launch of his so-called “coalition of evangelicals”, an attempt to shore up the support of the religious right ahead of November’s election, had the feel of any other campaign rally, except this time with gospel music.

An estimated 7,000 “supporters of faith” packed the King Jesus international ministry megachurch in Miami to hear the word of the president, and decided that it was good. The Maga hat-wearing faithful cheered Trump’s comments on issues calculated to resonate with his churchgoing audience, including abortion, freedoms of speech and religion, and what he claimed was a “crusade” from Democrats against religious tolerance.

“My administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith,” Trump said at the conclusion of an often freewheeling 75-minute speech. “We will restore the faith as the true foundation of American life.”

Trump also gloated about Thursday’s military strike that took out the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad. “It was flawless strike that eliminated the terrorist ringleader,” he said, insisting the killing would save the lives of “hundreds and hundreds of Americans.

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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

#35

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The evangelicals have been given fair warning in their bibles. Trump is actually their anti Christ. And the bible predicts he will be worshiped as a false god.

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Addie
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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

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BuzzFeed News: Trump Said He’ll Double-Down On Prayer In School And Give More Federal Tax Money To Religious Groups

“Happy Religious Freedom Day,” his staff told reporters.

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Re: Issues 2020: Separation of Church and State

#37

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer »

Sterngard Friegen wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:05 am
The evangelicals have been given fair warning in their bibles. Trump is actually their anti Christ. And the bible predicts he will be worshiped as a false god.
:thumbs:
A 19th Amendment Centennial Moment:
The 19th Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1878, yet it was not approved by Congress until 1919 – 41 years later.
- https://legaldictionary.net/19th-amendment/

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