Separation of church and state

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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:15 pm

Is it necessary to specify that it is illegal already to attempt in some cases to persuade action on some things? That the first amendment is not absolute? And I don't understand your use of "duty" either.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:43 pm

William Thornton wrote:Here's Jim: "Any entity, individual or institutional, should exercise the right to attempt to influence any other entity concerning any matter. The media do this all the time. It's called "freedom of speech.""

Keith calls this a "plausible viewpoint" which is an awfully tepid way to support the first amendment.

Keith continues with, "I still believe the institution of the church should stay out of purely political matters if it expects the state (and the media) to stay of purely religious matters in order to preserve religious liberty."

It is unclear if Keith misunderstands the first amendment or is sliding into offering his opinion on what is best for churches to do in regard to political speech. Churches clearly have a constitutional right to make political speech and is is not abridged by the gummit deciding what speech is political or religious or overly aggressive in secular politics or whatever. The only restriction, aside from speech adjudicated to be unprotected, is on tax exemptions which isn't being enforced anyway. Churches in their official institutional speech as well as individual speech are protected.

Which is why when he made a statement, not followed by making any sensible argument, that "soft persuasion" on "legitimate religious content" got the attention of myself and Rvaughn. Neither of these ("soft...legitimate") has anything to do with the constitution but a lot to do with some rather sordid historical precedents.


The first amendment is meant (among other things) to enshrine free speech of people. But groups of people (like churches or corporations) are not implied in that free speech despite what the SOTUS said about corporations. True, churches can speak on political subjects but only under threat of losing their tax exemptions if that talk is purely political (recommend who or what party to vote for, or what to donate to). That the US is not exercising its prerogative to withdraw tax exemption from churches does not change the principle.

What “sordid historical precedents” do you have in mind? I can ensure you I had no such precedents in mind.

Also note I have said there is murkiness (grayness) in whether not a political subject matter has religious content or not (and I’m not recommending a new Dept of Legitimate Religious Content; we do have courts to make the close calls). As stated before, I would grant leeway to religious organizations to persuade/recommend on those murky matters that are inherently both political and religious (e.g. abortion, care for the poor, care for creation, going to war, school curriculum content). I know the fundamentalist mindset wants clear black and white issues; but many issues have two or more sides.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:22 pm

Tough to know if you truly do not understand these things or are just being contrarian. There is no restriction on free exercise and speech by pastors or churches (save for the same exceptions that apply to all). Gummit has no prerogative to classify speech as political, or religious or whatever nor do they have any right to assess church teaching, even if it is on secular subjects. Gummit has rules for organizations whose donors receive donation credit for income taxes. There is no restriction on that orgs speech, only on whether the org is able to offer donors IRS approved tax deductions.

You seem to be saying that gummit should restrict speech that is too political or not truly religious. If not...simple to say so.

As for precedent, it is well known that the National Socialists specifically targeted dissent by the churches. Gummit at the time deemed such speech as unacceptable, unpatriotic, or whatever. You seem to be looking down that road with the difference being that our Gummit is more capable of restricting speech in a proper manner for the common good as they determine it.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:33 pm

William Thornton wrote:Tough to know if you truly do not understand these things or are just being contrarian. There is no restriction on free exercise and speech by pastors or churches (save for the same exceptions that apply to all). Gummit has no prerogative to classify speech as political, or religious or whatever nor do they have any right to assess church teaching, even if it is on secular subjects. Gummit has rules for organizations whose donors receive donation credit for income taxes. There is no restriction on that orgs speech, only on whether the org is able to offer donors IRS approved tax deductions.

You seem to be saying that gummit should restrict speech that is too political or not truly religious. If not...simple to say so.

As for precedent, it is well known that the National Socialists specifically targeted dissent by the churches. Gummit at the time deemed such speech as unacceptable, unpatriotic, or whatever. You seem to be looking down that road with the difference being that our Gummit is more capable of restricting speech in a proper manner for the common good as they determine it.

Tough to know if you are really trying to comprehend what I have been saying in this Topic or you are just pulling my chain or obfuscating. Especially when you think I mean what is said in red above. What I am saying is that SoCaS means churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters (like who to vote for or who to give contributions to). If they do, the IRS ought to end their tax exemption. I’m saying more than that, but see if you can get that much straight by re-reading all my posts in this Topic paying attention to everyone noun, verb, entity distinctions (church, state {gummit in your language}, media, corporation). For clarification and examples I often have used parentheses. I think I speak with adequate precision but you always seem to take me incorrectly.

Right now I have far more important things to do than argue with someone who is not giving me a close read and assumes I am “looking down the road” somewhere.

Maybe by tomorrow afternoon (my morning is jammed packed), I'll have time to respond to whatever you come up with in the morning (if you do). Now I need to help put grandchildren down to bed.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:58 am

You said: "What I am saying is that SoCaS means churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters (like who to vote for or who to give contributions to). If they do, the IRS ought to end their tax exemption."

So, you favor law as it stands but would like for Gummit to be aggressive in enforcing the Johnson amendment? It is not being enforced currently.

Your problem is that you have been given a close reading.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:56 am

Briefly
William Thornton wrote:You said: "What I am saying is that SoCaS means churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters (like who to vote for or who to give contributions to). If they do, the IRS ought to end their tax exemption."

So, you favor law as it stands but would like for Gummit to be aggressive in enforcing the Johnson amendment? It is not being enforced currently.

Yes and I know it is not being enforced.
William Thornton wrote:Your problem is that you have been given a close reading.

What problem?

What have I been “given”? (a close reading I presume) by who?

A “close reading” of what? (Posts on BaptistLife? Johnson Amendment?)
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:11 am

You said: "SoCaS means churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters "

It doesn't mean that at all.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Rvaughn » Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:41 am

KeithE wrote:What I am saying is that SoCaS means churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters (like who to vote for or who to give contributions to). If they do, the IRS ought to end their tax exemption. I’m saying more than that...
There is a provision in the U.S. tax code known as the Johnson Amendment (since 1954, not 1791) that prohibits 501c3 organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates, on threat of losing their tax exemption. This is the Johnson Amendment, not SoCaS or the first amendment to the constitution -- so it is confusing to me when you say (or seem to be saying) that it is enshrined in the Constitution that "churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters."
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:11 pm

A good place to start would be to understand that the us Constitution is directed at the state with provisions that prevent the gummit from interfering with religious free exercise. You word it as if the church is bound by the state, thus achieving separation.

The state may establish tax policy for the common good so long as such doesn't interfere with church first amendment freedom. I don't think the Johnson amendment has been litigated to scotus.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:23 pm

William Thornton wrote:You said: "SoCaS means churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters "

It doesn't mean that at all.


Well you cut off the parentheses - which was "(like who to vote for or who to give contributions to)”. That parenthetic statement describes what I mean by “purely political matters”. What is said above is what SoCaS means in practice long before any Johnson Amendment or after it. With the Johnson Amendment a penalty for violation was enacted (and then largely ignored). I’m talking what “ought" to be the case (not necessarily what the “legalities" are - although with the Johnson Amendment the “ought” and “legalities” are just about the the same). Traditional Baptists from Roger Williams to John Leland to James Dunn (and most Baptist ministers between) agreed with me on these matters.

I do not deny any church body (or spokesmen thereof) the right (w/o penalty) to speak up when the matter has some religious component (like abortion, care for the poor, going to war, pronouncements on LBGTQs) no matter what I think of the matter. In fact I wish churches would speak up more in such matters (especially when aligned with a Jesus view). Just don't get into purely political matters (like who to vote for or who to give contributions to). Got it?

Let’s take a current example. FBC Dallas Rev Robert Jeffress ought to be free the comment/persuade/coerce people to be against abortion or protest against a war (something i doubt he would do). But if he is promoting people to vote for Trump or give to the RNC from the pulpit or at a political rally where he is given a speaking role, he should be censured and if he persists in doing so, FBC Dallas should lose their tax exempt status. Same goes for Rev William Barber or his church Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Got it?
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:12 pm

William Thornton wrote:A good place to start would be to understand that the us Constitution is directed at the state with provisions that prevent the gummit from interfering with religious free exercise. You word it as if the church is bound by the state, thus achieving separation.

The state may establish tax policy for the common good so long as such doesn't interfere with church first amendment freedom. I don't think the Johnson amendment has been litigated to scotus.


But it also prevents religious organizations from interfering with government apparatus like elections.

The so-called wall is between the institutions of church and state, not between religious people’s opinions and their political opinions. I would hope religion would affect political opinion. But when the church institutions (including spokespeople like ministers) try to effect voting or giving patterns of their flocks that is in violation of the Spirit and, with the Johnson Amendment, the Law of the SoCaS.

When government tries to tell people what to believe (relatively rare), that would be a violation; but inevitably there will be people who feel the government is doing so (e.g, demanding employers provide contraceptive insurance coverage to their employees, child immunization). In these cases, Christian people should either go along with the government’s practice or take whatever persecution arises like Jesus and Paul did. The religious RW is far too apt to cry “persecution”.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:42 pm

KeithE wrote:But it also prevents religious organizations from interfering with government apparatus like elections.

The so-called wall is between the institutions of church and state, not between religious people’s opinions and their political opinions. I would hope religion would affect political opinion.

When government tries to tell people what to believe (relatively rare), that would be a violation; but inevitably there will be people who feel the government is doing so (e.g, demanding employers provide contraceptive insurance coverage to their employees, child immunization). In these cases, Christian people should either go along with the government’s practice or take whatever persecution arises like Jesus and Paul did. The religious RW is far too apt to cry “persecution”.


No. No. No. Your division is artificial.

You say: "But when the church institutions (including spokespeople like ministers) try to effect voting or giving patterns of their flocks that is in violation of the Spirit and, with the Johnson Amendment, the Law of the SoCaS."

No. Completely wrong. There is no restriction on ministers. There is no restriction on churches, save for the same TAX law that applies to all 501(c)3 organizations. The penalty is merely revoking the 501(c)3 status which affects not one whit the speech, message, or thrust of the institution.

The friction on the margins has always been litigated and there is a body of law and precedent on health stuff, etc.

You need some remedial work here. Rvaughn tried to tell you. Listen to him.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:39 pm

William Thornton wrote:
KeithE wrote:But it also prevents religious organizations from interfering with government apparatus like elections.

The so-called wall is between the institutions of church and state, not between religious people’s opinions and their political opinions. I would hope religion would affect political opinion.

When government tries to tell people what to believe (relatively rare), that would be a violation; but inevitably there will be people who feel the government is doing so (e.g, demanding employers provide contraceptive insurance coverage to their employees, child immunization). In these cases, Christian people should either go along with the government’s practice or take whatever persecution arises like Jesus and Paul did. The religious RW is far too apt to cry “persecution”.


No. No. No. Your division is artificial.

You say: "But when the church institutions (including spokespeople like ministers) try to effect voting or giving patterns of their flocks that is in violation of the Spirit and, with the Johnson Amendment, the Law of the SoCaS."

No. Completely wrong. There is no restriction on ministers. There is no restriction on churches, save for the same TAX law that applies to all 501(c)3 organizations. The penalty is merely revoking the 501(c)3 status which affects not one whit the speech, message, or thrust of the institution.

The friction on the margins has always been litigated and there is a body of law and precedent on health stuff, etc.

You need some remedial work here. Rvaughn tried to tell you. Listen to him.


I read rvaughn. He at least made an calm effort to explain (you shout "No No No” and No. "Completely Wrong”). Sorry if such endorsements were your practice when you were preaching. I won’t hassle you over that. I’ve made mistakes as well.

I'd say there is a “restriction on ministers” if their church’s tax exemption could be revoked. Perhaps we take the word “restriction" differently.

Now there was no formal legal restriction prior to the 1954 Johnson Amendment, but good practice (what “ought” to be) was that preachers ought not endorse candidates or suggest giving to particular political parties/particular candidates. That certainly is the Baptist tradition from early America on. They wanted religious liberty. They did not wanting government to dictate religious views or fair one religion over another. This fear among other things led to the Jeffersonian SoCaS. Baptists were behind that concept from day one (the Danbury Letter 1802)

rvaughn said:
There is a provision in the U.S. tax code known as the Johnson Amendment (since 1954, not 1791) that prohibits 501c3 organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates, on threat of losing their tax exemption. This is the Johnson Amendment, not SoCaS or the first amendment to the constitution -- so it is confusing to me when you say (or seem to be saying) that it is enshrined in the Constitution that "churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters."


To rvaughn: I never said "it is enshrined in the Constitution that "churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters.” “. What I said was enshrined in the Constitution was (1) free speech of individuals (not corporations) and (2) the extra-Consititutional practice of the SoCaS "means churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters (like who to vote for or who to give contributions to)”.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:11 pm

Shouting would be "NO!" You made several assertions. All were wrong; hence, no, no, no.

I think your problem is in being reflexively contrarian and I'm no stranger to that. Close to that would be your feeling that the Gummit needs to be protected from churches. The Bill of Rights was exactly the opposite.

Tax law is keenly subject to litigation. Perhaps SCOTUS will get to the JA. You are aware that the IRS bluffs and blusters but chooses not to enforce the JA. I think it good churchmanship not to be partisan as a church or pastor.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Rvaughn » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:52 pm

KeithE wrote:I’m talking what “ought" to be the case (not necessarily what the “legalities" are - although with the Johnson Amendment the “ought” and “legalities” are just about the the same). Traditional Baptists from Roger Williams to John Leland to James Dunn (and most Baptist ministers between) agreed with me on these matters.
I think Leland probably will not fit well with what you have been advocating. I don't know about Williams and Dunn.

Here's a couple quotes from "John Leland and James Madison: Religious Influence on the Ratification of the Constitution and on the Proposal of the Bill of Rights" by Mark S. Scarberry in Penn State Law Review, pp 735-739
Professor Hamburger discusses Leland’s role to some extent, as do others, but there is more to be said. In each case, it could be said that Leland assisted Madison
at Madison’s request, using his influence as a religious leader to help Madison win the election.


In fact, Leland remained a staunch Jeffersonian Republican (and, later, a Jacksonian Democrat) his entire life and continued to use his religious influence as a very popular Baptist preacher to advance that party’s cause—apparently without any objection from Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, or Van Buren—until his death in 1841.

http://pennstatelawreview.org/articles/113%20Penn%20St.%20L.%20Rev.%20733.pdf

KeithE wrote:I never said "it is enshrined in the Constitution that "churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters.” “. What I said was enshrined in the Constitution was (1) free speech of individuals (not corporations) and (2) the extra-Consititutional practice of the SoCaS "means churches ought not comment/persuade/coerce people in purely political matters (like who to vote for or who to give contributions to)”.
Thanks for clarifying. I'm a slow learner in certain types of discussions (I had to look up the letters SoCaS to even know what you meant). If I'm grasping you, you are saying that Separation of Church and State is a philosophy and practice that some people derive from [their ideas about] the first amendment.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Sandy » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:40 pm

Keith has a point. The first amendment guarantee of religious liberty is an individual right, just like every other right guaranteed in the first ten amendments. It essentially makes any "religious" belief or practice a matter of individual conscience. But the other provision is the establishment clause, which means that there is no official government recognition of the church. The inherently religious nature of a church body is protected by the government's restriction to recognize and relate to it as an institution. If you want to read some fascinating arguments for this position, go to just about any evangelical conservative source that protested the sending of an ambassador to the Vatican. Put simply, that's the same argument used to support the tax exempt status of a church. If a church is not recognized as an entity by the government, and what takes place inside is protected religious liberty, then taxing it would be official recognition, i.e. "establishment of religion." Technically, in the government's eyes, as defined by court rulings and law, it ceases to be a "church" in this sense when the content of its message is no longer purely religious in nature. It is then an organization subject to taxation.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Rvaughn » Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:13 pm

I'd be surprised to find two people who can agree on what constitutes a message of a purely religious nature.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:36 am

Sandy wrote:Keith has a point. The first amendment guarantee of religious liberty is an individual right, just like every other right guaranteed in the first ten amendments. It essentially makes any "religious" belief or practice a matter of individual conscience. But the other provision is the establishment clause, which means that there is no official government recognition of the church. The inherently religious nature of a church body is protected by the government's restriction to recognize and relate to it as an institution. If you want to read some fascinating arguments for this position, go to just about any evangelical conservative source that protested the sending of an ambassador to the Vatican. Put simply, that's the same argument used to support the tax exempt status of a church. If a church is not recognized as an entity by the government, and what takes place inside is protected religious liberty, then taxing it would be official recognition, i.e. "establishment of religion." Technically, in the government's eyes, as defined by court rulings and law, it ceases to be a "church" in this sense when the content of its message is no longer purely religious in nature. It is then an organization subject to taxation.


Now I wouldn’t go as far as saying churches cannot comment on issues that have both religious and political content. There is probably some murky point when a nominal church body is so much about politics and not at all religious in nature, that it should lose its tax exemption. That is why we have judges to make such rulings.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:45 am

William Thornton wrote:Shouting would be "NO!" You made several assertions. All were wrong; hence, no, no, no.

I think your problem is in being reflexively contrarian and I'm no stranger to that. Close to that would be your feeling that the Gummit needs to be protected from churches. The Bill of Rights was exactly the opposite.

Tax law is keenly subject to litigation. Perhaps SCOTUS will get to the JA. You are aware that the IRS bluffs and blusters but chooses not to enforce the JA. I think it good churchmanship not to be partisan as a church or pastor.


Reflexively contrarian huh? Whatever you want to imagine.

“Gummint” does need protection from religious bodies when a majorian religion tries to overtake free elections or legislation. The Massachusetts Bay Colony is such an example and that is one big reason why we have the establishment clause in the Bill of Rights.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:08 am

Back to your original misguided view of the separation of church and state: "Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for..."

This is categorically incorrect. Maybe one day you will figure it out. Tax and election laws are probably what you are mixing with C/S issues in your confusion. What I find dangerous is what looks like an attitude and approach to church and state that acts as if the government needs to protect itself from the church by restricting the free exercise of religion by defining matters as religious or secular/political and punishing the church if it strays into the latter.

Another cruise might clear your mind on this.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Sandy » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:23 pm

William Thornton wrote:This is categorically incorrect. Maybe one day you will figure it out. Tax and election laws are probably what you are mixing with C/S issues in your confusion. What I find dangerous is what looks like an attitude and approach to church and state that acts as if the government needs to protect itself from the church by restricting the free exercise of religion by defining matters as religious or secular/political and punishing the church if it strays into the latter.


Punish the church? By removing its tax exempt status? The church should have complete control over how "secular political" matters are defined by the way it conducts itself, by avoiding activity which requires a court to decide. Part of the problem has been that while most churches don't cross the boundaries, some are more interested in the power of being a group than they are in their Christian mission and purpose. Some get into owning stocks and investments in for-profit businesses to finance their operations. It would be great if some kind of motivating consequence weren't necessary, but that's not the case.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:53 pm

William Thornton wrote:Back to your original misguided view of the separation of church and state: "Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for..."

This is categorically incorrect. Maybe one day you will figure it out. Tax and election laws are probably what you are mixing with C/S issues in your confusion. What I find dangerous is what looks like an attitude and approach to church and state that acts as if the government needs to protect itself from the church by restricting the free exercise of religion by defining matters as religious or secular/political and punishing the church if it strays into the latter.

Another cruise might clear your mind on this.

Well go ahead and approve of preachers endorsing candidates or asking people to financially support particular candidates/parties/PACs from the pulpit or speaking officially. Of course one-on-one discussions are fine.

You know government employees are also not allowed to endorse candidates, etc. Hatch Act. As a worker who was embedded in government facilities, I do not recall government workers ever making such pronouncements via email or at meetings.

I wish that such a law would be made to end those letters from Company Presidents to 'make sure you remember our friend Sen x,y,z when you are in the voting booth.You know that Sen xyz is working to keep funding on project abc which we need to keep your job'. Keeping our elections free from the influence of money is even more important (imo) than keeping religious leaders out of having undo influence. Citizen’s United must be overturned!

Democracy is fragile and we need to carefully make it a true democracy free from undo influences from the wealthy and/or venerated people.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Jim » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:25 pm

KeithE wrote:
William Thornton wrote:Back to your original misguided view of the separation of church and state: "Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for..."

This is categorically incorrect. Maybe one day you will figure it out. Tax and election laws are probably what you are mixing with C/S issues in your confusion. What I find dangerous is what looks like an attitude and approach to church and state that acts as if the government needs to protect itself from the church by restricting the free exercise of religion by defining matters as religious or secular/political and punishing the church if it strays into the latter.

Another cruise might clear your mind on this.

Well go ahead and approve of preachers endorsing candidates or asking people to financially support particular candidates/parties/PACs from the pulpit or speaking officially. Of course one-on-one discussions are fine.

You know government employees are also not allowed to endorse candidates, etc. Hatch Act. As a worker who was embedded in government facilities, I do not recall government workers ever making such pronouncements via email or at meetings.

I wish that such a law would be made to end those letters from Company Presidents to 'make sure you remember our friend Sen x,y,z when you are in the voting booth.You know that Sen xyz is working to keep funding on project abc which we need to keep your job'. Keeping our elections free from the influence of money is even more important (imo) than keeping religious leaders out of having undo influence. Citizen’s United must be overturned!

Democracy is fragile and we need to carefully make it a true democracy free from undo influences from the wealthy and/or venerated people.

What you and other elitists are saying is that the average citizen is so dumb that he/she can't sort out anything about church-state, tax-exemption (nothing to do with religion but with 501(c)3 not-for-profits like the NAACP), or much of anything else. Does anyone believe that the government is trying to coerce/exert any pressure vis-a-vis religion? Oh yeah, go back to the 1700s or Salem and tremble. Does anyone actually believe that government is trying to muzzle any dissenters? The media is hot to trot on this but Trump made it clear that Charlottesville was all about the attempt by one group to shut down another by violent means if necessary. White supremacists and the KKK are wing-nuts but they have the same right to rally as the NAACP, which practically glorifies black supremacy...or the Black Panthers, organizations that the white self-righteous elites believe should never be bothered. The main culprit in the Charlottesville caper was the Charlottesville Police department, which abrogated its sworn duty to protect ALL the public, not just stand back and let one group attack another with virtual impunity. If a preacher-politician oversteps, his congregants most likely have the good sense to just ignore him. Employees have the same good sense to ignore their employers. Give the people some credit. I'm not part of Citizens United but how do you propose to have the group overturned? Maybe the National Guard with AK-47s? How about giving the citizen enough credit to just ignore it...or, the right to endorse it? You've decided it's bad so it has to go! EGAD! What hypocrisy!
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:59 pm

Jim wrote:
KeithE wrote:
William Thornton wrote:Back to your original misguided view of the separation of church and state: "Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for..."

This is categorically incorrect. Maybe one day you will figure it out. Tax and election laws are probably what you are mixing with C/S issues in your confusion. What I find dangerous is what looks like an attitude and approach to church and state that acts as if the government needs to protect itself from the church by restricting the free exercise of religion by defining matters as religious or secular/political and punishing the church if it strays into the latter.

Another cruise might clear your mind on this.

Well go ahead and approve of preachers endorsing candidates or asking people to financially support particular candidates/parties/PACs from the pulpit or speaking officially. Of course one-on-one discussions are fine.

You know government employees are also not allowed to endorse candidates, etc. Hatch Act. As a worker who was embedded in government facilities, I do not recall government workers ever making such pronouncements via email or at meetings.

I wish that such a law would be made to end those letters from Company Presidents to 'make sure you remember our friend Sen x,y,z when you are in the voting booth.You know that Sen xyz is working to keep funding on project abc which we need to keep your job'. Keeping our elections free from the influence of money is even more important (imo) than keeping religious leaders out of having undo influence. Citizen’s United must be overturned!

Democracy is fragile and we need to carefully make it a true democracy free from undo influences from the wealthy and/or venerated people.

What you and other elitists are saying is that the average citizen is so dumb that he/she can't sort out anything about church-state, tax-exemption (nothing to do with religion but with 501(c)3 not-for-profits like the NAACP), or much of anything else. Does anyone believe that the government is trying to coerce/exert any pressure vis-a-vis religion? Oh yeah, go back to the 1700s or Salem and tremble. Does anyone actually believe that government is trying to muzzle any dissenters? The media is hot to trot on this but Trump made it clear that Charlottesville was all about the attempt by one group to shut down another by violent means if necessary. White supremacists and the KKK are wing-nuts but they have the same right to rally as the NAACP, which practically glorifies black supremacy...or the Black Panthers, organizations that the white self-righteous elites believe should never be bothered. The main culprit in the Charlottesville caper was the Charlottesville Police department, which abrogated its sworn duty to protect ALL the public, not just stand back and let one group attack another with virtual impunity. If a preacher-politician oversteps, his congregants most likely have the good sense to just ignore him. Employees have the same good sense to ignore their employers. Give the people some credit. I'm not part of Citizens United but how do you propose to have the group overturned? Maybe the National Guard with AK-47s? How about giving the citizen enough credit to just ignore it...or, the right to endorse it? You've decided it's bad so it has to go! EGAD! What hypocrisy!


If there is some truth behind Jim’s sardonic* tirade here, it is that he believes (and so do I, to a degree) that the US population does not just fall prey to what their preachers, their government bosses, and/or their employers tell them. They do make up their own minds and vote thusly. But influences do play a substantial role (as I say “to a degree”). If we allow all these external forces to pump their propaganda, and we start to join bandwagons (always conservative or always progressive or always libertarian or always evangelical or always status quo or always seeking middle ground or ...), our democracy becomes a contest of powers (not people) where money and the prestige of influencers became determinate.

Jim seems to be particularly peeved at “elitists”. Maybe he could elaborate on who these people are (apparently from his lead-off phrase, I am one of those). His “elitists” try to influence people as well.

But as Jim implies, we do ultimately make up our minds ourselves on issues and that is democratic (small d). Still to a degree there are too many loud influences on us, causing us to join bandwagons and we end up in shouting matches with little search for innovative solutions for the common good. But even my mentioning the "common good" is troublesome to some.

The role of the media is also very determinate on our hearts and minds. FoxNews viewers will favor conservative/libertarian/GOP ideas, MSNBC will favor progressive/common good advocates/Democratic ideas, and CNN viewers somewhere between but always careful not to criticize their money sources (advertising corporations). I try to rotate between these channels as well as Democracy Now (many seldom-mentioned-on-other-channels newstories) and Common Dreams (for more long term opinions pieces). I find the RW sources (e.g. Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson’s DailyCaller, Breitbart, Anthony Watts’ WUWT and many more) to be particularly sarcastic, inaccurate, and inadequately sourced. When someone brings those RW pieces up, it is usually very easy to discredit them. For me, DATA and verifiable facts (like actual quotes or documents or pictures), BaptistLife posts (of course), followed by listening to the Spirit, are the final word.

* Merriam-Webster Definition of Sardonic: "disdainfully or skeptically humorous : derisively mocking"
Informed by Data.
Driven by the SPIRIT and JESUS’s Example.
Promoting the Kingdom of GOD on Earth.
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