Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Random Thought...

One thing I'd like to see addressed by candidates or even someone in Congress is to reverse the IRS code regarding political speech by non-profits. Lyndon Johnson apparently couldn't hack the smack dished out by ministers and such regarding his policies and ideas. So in his arrogance, he decided to silence at least this segment of society by having the IRS lift their not-for-profit status and tax the hell out of them if they should engage in political suggestion. How freakin' unAmerican!

Now some may say this conforms with the separation of church and state. But seeing as how that's mythical and also unAmerican, better support for such a heinous policy is required. No matter what the tax status of a group or organization in this country, the members are still citizens and as such have a right to voice their opinions, concerns and philosophies as regards the political process and it's participants. To think that their religious faith, or whatever ideology of the group in question, should prohibit them their Constitutional rights to free speech, and the very speech the First Amendment was designed to protect, is simply preposterous, and, as I said, unAmerican.

I'm surprised this hasn't been dealt with since Johnson had his hissy fit in the first place. I would imagine that most politicians fear the idea of defending their positions against Biblical teachings that might contradict them, but hey, get some stones! Churches were given their status due to the notion, one with which I wholeheartedly agree, that they serve a vital purpose within our society. To have a church nearby was considered a good thing. Now? May God have mercy on us all!

Recently, I believe it was Senate Bill 2, further attempts to stifle the work of grass roots organizations to rally the people or merely inform them, was narrowly defeated (at least I think it was). Reversing the Johnson policy would also protect speech in the same way.


Mark said...

Churches who want to be involved in the election process usually get around the restrictiin by issuing a voter information kit or card. This kit gives the information on all the candidates without endorsing any. In this way, the candidates who the church doesn't support because of anti-Christian ideology will indict themselves.

Marshall Art said...

That ain't bad, but I kinda resent the fact that it has to be done that way. During the revolution, the churches played a huge part in the direction of the colonies. They were definitely the moral conscience of the time as well as out and out cage rattlers. They'd all be paying taxes by today's rules. It simply ain't American and I can't believe that it has never been a point of contention for any candidate since LBJ brought it about.

PCD said...

I think Churches should enjoy free speech. The problem is that right now the Democrats want to tax Churches out of existance, at least the ones they don't campaign in for Sunday Services and the collection go to the candidate or the Democrat party.

blamin said...

The ACLU, The Rainbow/Push Coalition, Planned Parenthood, The National Action Network, The National Organization for Women, etc.

Yes, I'm glad the IRS is so even handed in its enforcement of this code section, and I'm equally glad that politics never, ever play a part in said enforcement.

Erudite Redneck said...

1. Churches are not to have a voice in partisan campaigns. They are utterly free to talk about ISSUES, pending legislation or anything else. And with Bush in his second and last term, and not a candidate, he is fair game, so support him from the pulpit, or attack him from the pulpit. It's OK.

2. The wall of separation of church and state IS mythical, but not in the sense you mean it, which is made-up. Its like the Garden of Eden story: It's true, although almost no one believes it's literally factual. And like it or not now, I promise you will NOT like it if you were to succeed in getting the wall torn down, and then enough Hispanics get here to make Catholicism the religion of the land. Take down the wall and it will happen. And in pockets of the country, there will be Buddhist governments, Islamic governments and other religions -- as opposed to people -- in power.
God keep this country free by keeping religion out of its government!

Marshall Art said...

I'm not referring to theocracy, though the Amendment refers only to federal establishment. Punishing a church for it's opinions, or using the tax code to control it's speech, is in a sense, if not in fact, a violation of the free exercise clause.

From the perspective of a given church or faith, one's spiritual life is to guide all other areas of one's life. This would include the political. I'm sure you would agree on this, that how one votes would be based on the vote aligning with the faith. For a minister, or anyone representing a church or congregation, to preach against or for a particular politician or piece of legislation based on the tenants of the faith, is no different than anyone else basing their decision on their philosophy or ideology. In fact, I would maintain that it is consistent with the general feeling of the founders pertaining to the quality and character of the people of the nation for which the form of government was intended.

I think it was during the last presidential election, some Roman Catholic bishops believed that Catholic candidates that supported abortion rights, or perhaps it was gay rights, or both, should be refused Holy Communion, since the position is in conflict with Church teaching. It didn't restrict the candidate from continuing as he was, it was only a response to his position as it concerns the Church. Likewise, it would follow that the Church would encourage it's flock to place their votes with someone who is more inline with Church doctrine. How is that different than what any voter does, and why should they be penalized for it?

PCD said...

The so-called wall between Church and state stems from a deliberate misinterpretation of Jefferson's letter to the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Society.

Now, E. Redneck, if you are going to mention Bush, you have to chide "Liberal Black" churches for letting Clinton and Kerry practice their campaigns from the pulpit during regular services, otherwise you would just be a party hack hypocrite.

Les said...

It's about time you got your own site, Art. I was getting tired of you blogging vicariously through the rest of us. ;-)

I'd be more than happy to offer my services as resident devil's advocate. Don't worry, folks - I bark but I don't bite.

Marshall Art said...

Introducing Les. A great guy who leans left, backs the Bucks, and he's got game. He'll challenge without insulting and he brings beer.

Erudite Redneck said...

PCD: Call me ER. aND You are correct, Sir. I want no PARTISAN stuff in any pulpits left or right, except those who are willing and ready to give up their tax-exempt status.

Re, "Punishing a church for it's opinions, or using the tax code to control it's speech, is in a sense, if not in fact, a violation of the free exercise clause."

It's not that churches are being "punished." It's that churches are given RELIEF from taxation, which they can forfeit if they violate the tax code. Any church is as free to speak on any topic, partisan or not -- but if it goes partisan it gives up its tax RELIEF. It is not PUNISHED.

Churches are free to campaign for any individual politician they want. But they have to give up the PRIVILEGE of not paying taxes.

Marshall Art said...

I understand how it works, ER, and that's what I resent and object to. The churches were given their relief with the feeling that they were important for the character of the community. It was believed, and I concur, that they provide a wealth of benefits to the people of the community. As I stated before, this was never a problem until LBJ, who's policies did not impress some members of clergy as very Christian. If one believes a policy is unChristian, it doesn't necessarily correspond to a desire for theocracy. The feeling is that unChristian behavior is bad for the nation. I agree with that as I'm sure you do (at least in general). What does it matter the motivation of the feeling that a politician or a policy is bad for the nation? How does the source of that feeling, that is, how is a minister from his pulpit, any different from a columnist or talk show host or the guy's opponent saying the exact same thing, and why does it harm our society any more or lesss coming from a minister? In other words, there is no change to the dynamic of our culture and how it operates by allowing the clergy to guide his congregation in this manner. It's totally arbitrary and subjective, and more to the point, oppressive censorship that LBJ enacted under the guise of honoring a Constitutional Amendment it doesn't even violate. It was simply a means of shutting someone up. No doubt there were others he wanted to quiet for whom he couldn't find a workable scam. And that's all this code is, a scam. It should be abolished and free speech honored in every form, be it on a soap box or from the pulpit. Unlike saying "Fuck!" on television, it's the very kind of speech that the 1st Amendment was designed to protect.

Erudite Redneck said...

Again, the speech is not threatened. The tax-exempt status is. So, argue that the tax-exempt status should be changed. But you muddy it up by insisting that anyone's rights to speech are being denied, because they are not.

Marshall Art said...

But you're not looking at it in the proper context. Johnson's goal was to stifle speech. He knows that such organizations would not want to lose their tax-exempt status. So he pulled this scam to put them between a rock and hard place. And for small congregations, it is indeed a hard place. It's unconscionable and so is your position on the issue. The reasons they were originally exempt had nothing to do with churches "sticking to religion". There was never any such restrictions upon them and rightly so. Johnson's move IS an attack on the free speech rights of churches and that is the reason the tax code should be changed back, which is exactly the argument made in my original post. No muddying on my part whatsoever.

Kirk said...

As much as I love Art, I doubt that my presence here would be much appreciated. I am the advocate for a non-theistic, existential viewpoint. My position, as brief as I can make it, is this: We are 6 billion animals living on the face of this planet. Everything else about us we have made up.
Regarding Johnson: He was the consummate political animal, so it should come as no surprise that his action was politically motivated. Many, if not most, political actions have ulterior motives. So what. The religious right is so deeply ingrained in the ruling republican regime that it is beyond terrifying. Read Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy.
If a preacher wants to make a political statement from his pulpit, he ought to at least have the brainpower to cloak it in a religious context. That shouldn't be so hard, even for the hatemongers out there.

Regarding the Old Testament and homophobia:

Good Go..lly Art, are you a Christian or a Jew? Or just a homophobe? Don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are gay Jews. But who cares? Get over it, man. You can wave a 2500-year-old rule book from a bunch of middle eastern goat herders all you like. You're probably not going to change anyone's sexuality, nor do you have the right. There are many more important issues in society to get worked up over. If you're so keen on what the Old Testament has to say on matters, you should be ecstatic that the greatest alliance Cheneybush has made during their frightening reign is with the state of Israel. 3500 American soldiers dead to protect Israel - oh yeah, and the oil. Why aren't your preachers screaming about that? Read Scott Ritter's Target Iran if you want a preview of coming attractions. Read anything written in this MILLENIUM.

And a btw to pcd:

Many of my "Democrat" churchgoing friends would be surprised to learn that they want to tax churches out of existence. And please explain to me the deliberate misinterpretation of the following statement:

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

- from Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists

OK, so there you have it.

Have a nice day.


Marshall Art said...

Kirk, one of my best and oldest friends. I can't say how happy I am that he actually posted his thoughts, and I couldn't be more sincere as he surely knows. His thoughts are wrong, but welcome.

Seriously though, I don't think, Kirk, that you are aware of what lead up to the OT discussion. It was at it's core, a discussion about how believers view Mosaic Law and whether they are relevant today, which they are. So it's not surprising one with a more "unbelieving" worldview would find the discussion a bore. But as to goatherders of 3000 years ago, the difference between their natures and ours today is about this () much.

But when you can find some evidence that there is a real reason to fear the religious in this country, you'll win a shiney new dime. Such fears are unfounded. The Fred Phelps types are in such low numbers as to not even qualify for a percentage of the country. Far more harm has come to this nation as a result of the stifling of the religious than there ever was from when it's voice could be easily heard. Before the tax code was changed to it's current unAmerican state regarding expression from the pulpit, political speech WAS wrapped in the theological. As you apply whatever standards and beliefs you have to your public life, i.e. your vote, so too do those of faith, and they have every right, as per the Constitution as anyone else. The truly terrifying is the position that there's something to fear coming from the religious. Shame on you for that.

I also know you have more intelligence than to still throw around such a worn out and never accurate cliche like "homophobia". If a single digit percentage of the population wishes to push for legislation intending to normalize a harmful and destructive practice, I have every right to move against it out of concern for my country.

And now I'll explain the deliberate misinterpretation of the Jefferson piece: Jefferson was not stating that there should be no religious input in the public/political dialogue as modern Christophobes would have folks believe. He was merely re-iterating that the Danbury Baptists had no need to worry about setting up in what was, if I'm not mistaken, a Calvinist state. The feds could not force them to adhere to a particular denomination of Christianity, or restrain them from freely exercising their Baptist faith.

And finally, rest assured that your presence here IS appreciated. I don't know how much time you've spent checking out blogs, but you'll find that most right-leaning blogs welcome lefty input, as long as it's respectful (with a little snarkiness for fun), and some left-wing blogs feel the same about rightwing input. It's absolutely no problem at any of the blogs I routinely visit, whether left or right. None of them ban opposing points of view. You are welcome. Right Erudite Redneck?

PCD said...


Johnson and modern Democrats use the Tax code and enforcement of that code as a selective weapon to punish their opponents and reward their supporters. Constutionality be damned. That is the context you are missing.


You are obviously selectively reading Liberal Democrat tracts and postings. They are the new Communists who want to destroy Churches on their way to power.

Erudite Redneck said...

"Johnson and modern Democrats use the Tax code and enforcement of that code as a selective weapon to punish their opponents and reward their supporters."

What flavor was that Kool-Aid?

The most recent cases I recall reading about involved liberal churches being investigated by the IRS, which, I insist, is nonpartisan in its evil.

The fact is, I don't care what stripe a church is: If it promotes a candidate for office, or opposes a candidates for office, it should have its tax-exmpt status stripped away. Because that's not the "good" the tax-exempt status was meant to encourage.

Oh, and PCD:

"You are obviously selectively reading Rightwing Religious Republican tracts and postings. They are the new Inquisitors who want to destroy secular government on their way to creating a Theocracy."

No. No really. That's about as mind-bogglingly idiotic as what you wrote.

Les said...

"How does the source of that feeling, that is, how is a minister from his pulpit, any different from a columnist or talk show host or the guy's opponent saying the exact same thing, and why does it harm our society any more or lesss coming from a minister?"

Well, my personal opinion is that the difference lies in the oft-manufactured threat of the eternal consequences attached to one's vote, Art. Such spiritual exploitation is a remarkably manipulative - and thoroughly unverifiable - power play to lord over believers that may trust the word of their minister simply because said minister has accepted a role of "moral captaincy", if you will, for his aforementioned congregation. It's my belief that if members of religious institutions want to involve themselves in the political arena, they should get their political information by researching issues of policy on their own - NOT by listening to the guy behind the pulpit. I realize we're not on the same page with this one, but the muddling of church and state, however minimal it may be, is the concern here. Religious values don't always mesh with secular values, and government shouldn't conform to - NOR RESTRICT - matters of faith.

Marshall Art said...


If a church views a specific candidate as worthy/unworthy from a Christian perspective, or proposed legislation for that matter, it is indeed doing the "good" that is it's purpose. My concern regarding politics from the pulpit is that the preacher show how the perpspective aligns with the tenants of the church. One of the duties of the church is educational. A sermon often instructs how the theology is applied in the lives of the congregants. Politics is part of a person's life. There is no conflict here that should result in IRS action without that action being a distinct violation of the free exercise clause, which this policy is. There are indeed some politicians that support policies and legislation that runs counter to church doctrine. It is proper that church leaders point out those politicians who do. Conversely, some support that which concurs with Biblical preaching and it is equally proper that ministers bring those people to the attention of the congregation. In pre-revolutionary days, it was the ministers of the churches, known as the Black Regiment, who preached liberty to the people and helped inspire them to stand for up for themselves against the Crown. How much more political can a church get? Shame on those who would insist today's ministers do less or suffer monetarily.

Kirk said...

Art, I did sense that I was walking into the middle of your discussion. But I have to tell you, I got the feeling I was overhearing a bunch of old rabbis sitting on a park bench in Flatbush. Oi! If by Mosaic law, you're talking about Don't kill, don't steal, don't schtup your neighbor's wife - sure that's relevant, and yes, human nature hasn't changed much in the last few thousand years. But those injunctions are hardly unique to the ancient Hebrew tribes. Those are the sorts of rules that keep any close-knit group from destroying itself. You can find the same proscriptions in every culture.

As to fearing "the religious", I specifically said the religious right, and I would further qualify that by applying the vague label of right-wing Christians. Mind you, I'd have no problem with a right-wing Buddhist.

I refer you again to Kevin Phillips excellent book American Theocracy. (btw to pcd - Phillips is a life-long conservative Republican, and I don't think he ever wrote a tract, unless you count speeches he wrote for Nixon.)
I might also recommend American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America by Chris Hedges, but I don't want to push you over the edge.

I suppose I could go all historical on you, citing things like the Crusades, the Calvinist's proclivity for burning people they disagreed with, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials. But I would be much more interested to hear examples of "harm that has come to this nation as a result of the stifling of the religious."

And don't be shame oning me for being afraid of religious types. Anybody who bases their life on mythology scares me.

Now, on to the homos. First of all, I don't know where you get your 1% figure. I don't know what the percentage is, but that's because I don't care. Please clarify the "harmful and destructive practice" thing (without going into the icky details) and how it causes you concern for your country. You think gays are going to destroy the country? I think fascists already have. This is where I would suggest you review your priorities.

I still don't get "the deliberate misinterpretation" thing. Jefferson misrepresented something, somebody misrepresented Jefferson? Remember, the Puritans left England because the state church was telling them what to do.
That's creepy man, sort of like the mullahs, huh? It's ironic that Shrub and Abidinawatzizname are cut from the same cloth. They both thrive on stirring up the basest instincts of their religious followers. Of course, after Shrub scamed the RR for their votes, he basically deserted them.
Read Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction
by David Kuo, for that story.

The tax-exempt thing. The christian fascist party was in control for six years. Why didn't they repeal that unconstitutional, mean old Democrat tax ruling?

Well, I'm winded. I used to do a lot more of this, but gave it up to go back to playing the piano. So I'll take my leave, and go tickle another keyboard. Peace


Marshall Art said...


The discussion you walked into was specifically regarding the relevance to Christians in today's world. How much weight does a Christian give OT law in light of faith in Christ over works and such. The fact that other cultures have similar standards regarding behavior would be besides the point.

I would say I'm fairly typical of a right-wing Christian, perhaps further right than many, and aside from the fact that my entire body is a weapon, what could you possibly fear from any like me? Such fears are totally baseless. I have a passing familiarity with all three books having heard much about them including an interview or two and I don't think I'll find much that is of legitimate concern. But I'll take your recommendations under advisement. (Gotta update my library card.)

Your hysterical, I mean, historical references mean little in discussions on the dangers of today's Christian right. But I understand how people like to pull those tired examples out to wave them about like Semiphore flags. But the stifling of faith in today's culture has had a terrible effect. One only has to review the number of abortions, the spread of STDs, the depths to which inner city schools have sunk in terms of what dangerous environments they've become, these are just a few of the problems that have worsened as a result of religion being stifled without any comparable alternative put in it's place.

Mythology? This from a guy who compares George with Mahmoud.

"Now, on to the homos." Sounds like a battle cry from some slapstick comedy. I said "single digit percentage" not 1%, and at this time all I can say is my sources are not pro-homo sources. (Those place the percentage at like 53% or something.) Unfortunately it is in the icky details where any doctor who is honest will confirm that homosexual sex acts are inherently dangerous. So the harm is done to those within the lifestyle, the increases in medical costs, the increases in insurance costs, the confusion exploited in our young who may engage with the encouragement of pro-homo supporters, the psychological damage to children raised by same sex parents, (happens more than is reported), as well as higher out of wedlock births as heteros begin to feel "marriage" has no meaning (something that is happening in the Netherlands). We don't need it. Add to all that the pressure to institute hate crimes legislation and we now have true fascism as thoughts will be judged and penalized. That's the fascism you're talking about, right?

Yes. People, those separationists, are misrepresenting Jefferson. Once again, he was NOT saying that there should be no "religion in the public square". He was only saying that no one could tell the Danbury Baptists that they couldn't practice their form of Christianity in a state that had an official religion of a different denomination. This is what the Pilgrims and Puritans came here for, to worship as they pleased, not as the King of England ordered them to.

There is no Christian fascist party in these here United States. "I'm surprised this hasn't been dealt with since Johnson had his hissy fit in the first place." That's what I said in my post. Neither party has addressed this any better than either has addressed illegal immigration.

So there ya go, my friend. I'm glad I could clear all that up for ya. See ya next time.

Marshall Art said...


"Religious values don't always mesh with secular values, and government shouldn't conform to - NOR RESTRICT - matters of faith."

But religious values are there to guide members of a religious sect, and those values are to be applied throughout the lives of the believers. A minister can help his flock understand how those values are applied to their lives. How does loving thy neighbor apply to warfare or capital punishment? How does sexual purity apply to gay rights, abortion or prostitution? How does caring for the poor apply to tax legislation? Both sides of each of these issues can be addressed from a Biblical perspective. Liberal Christians will see each in a manner differing from traditional Christians (the libs are wrong, mostly). But as an issue, or a candidate, or even a sitting political leader supports one side or the other of a given point, the people may look to their minister or priest or rabbi to help them understand the Scriptural applications. "If I vote this way, how does it square with my faith?" This is not to say that each individual should use only their minister as their guide. He might be an idiot. But the point is that his opinion on current events has bearing on their religious understandings.

Whatever drives an opinion or helps to shape it is not a point with which any government should concern itself. How citizens discuss and debate and learn about issues as they form their opinions is also no concern of the government. My faith plays a part in my opinions, but it is one part. For others, it may be the only thing that forms their opinions. What difference is there in how? The fact is people are allowed their opinions and are free to discuss them without governmental interference of any kind. That it might happen during a church service is of no consequence. That it might or might not had absolutely nothing to do with the tax exempt status they were granted. In fact, I'd wager that politics from the pulpit was more widespread at the time the exempt status was granted.

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "how is a minister from his pulpit, any different from a columnist or talk show host or the guy's opponent saying the exact same thing ..."

The columnist and the talk show host and the guy's opponent do not enjoy tax-exempt status, generally. That was easy!

Marshall Art said...

A shot of Dickel for you, sir.

Les said...

Sorry for the tardiness of my response. Just got back from camping in Montana's beautiful Bitterroot National Forest.

"The columnist and the talk show host and the guy's opponent do not enjoy tax-exempt status, generally."

Yeah. What he said.

But getting back to how MY point ties into that...

"What difference is there in how?"

I'll most certainly agree with you that people have the RIGHT to get their political info from whatever sources they please. The question of yours to which I responded asked why there should be any difference attached to those sources. As Erudite Redneck touched on, the issue is tax exemption. I guess we simply feel differently about said tax exemption, Art. For me, it all boils down to the fact that spiritual leaders (tangibles), who offer political advice based on spiritual beliefs (intangibles), shouldn't benefit from tax codes (tangibles).

Marshall Art said...

"As Erudite Redneck touched on, the issue is tax exemption."

No. The issue is inhibiting speech in a manner that conflicts with the very intention the founders had in mind when crafting the right to free speech. As stated, Lyndie's actions were to stifle the speech of those ministers who were speaking out against him and his policies. No doubt he would have preferred to inhibit all speech against him, but there was no way to accomplish it. How fortunate for him that not-for-profits had a tax exemption that could be used against them.

But it was not intended that not-for-profits were to be given tax-exempt status in return for their non-participation in the public square. The point of this privilege, and really, at the time, it was Christian churches they had in mind, was that the benefit to the community was essential to maintaining and educating society in those virtues and character traits that were the manifestations required of the people for whom the new government was intended. It was felt, and I agree, that this system of self-government requires a moral people for it to work. The privilege was not predicated on the churches sticking to religion.

In fact, as I alluded earlier, in the early days politics from the pulpit was a common occurrence. The clergy were key in fanning the flames of revolution and the Black Regiment, which is what the British called the clergy in the colonies, were more feared by the English for their sermons than were the colonial militias. Where would we be if they resisted the urge to speak out against the politics of the time?

So what it comes down to is that the change to the tax code had nothing to do with any notion of separation of church and state, as goofy as that term is understood by some today, but to supress political speech that was uncomfortable for one man to hear. I suspect the reason this issue has not been revisited since the LBJ administration is largely due to the fear of other politicians to ever find themselves on the wrong side of religious opinion. But as I said before, the motivation behind an opinion is irrelevant to whether or not one is free to express it.

Les said...

"The issue is inhibiting speech..."

Wrong. I don't care one way or the other what LBJ's intentions were, and I'm not going to act as his defender here, Art. I could give two s**ts about what he believed - I'm talking about the relevance of the issue RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. If every social and legal issue were decided based simply on the motivations or beliefs of those who came before us, then we'd still be auctioning off black folks. As society progresses, it constantly re-examines its norms and mores, and inevitably adjusts its laws accordingly. The motivations of any given act don't necessarily determine the quality of said act. Hitler had this silly notion to bolster Germany's roadways into a futuristic highway network in order to better serve the logistical needs of his rising Third Reich. Eisenhower liked the idea so much he copied it here. Today we call it the Interstate system. Was the Autobahn a bad idea simply because the Fuhrer endorsed it?

The fact that we disagree on the tax exemption issue simply reaffirms our ideological political disconnect - I'm a liberal and you're a conservative. Again, I just think it's crazy to award a tax exemption to an organization whose beliefs are based solely on ideas that can never - EVER - be verified in this life when that organization decides to actively influence the candidate pool of a governing body that will ultimately have consequences on everyone's lives - not just those of believers.

So, no - it is NOT about stifling speech in any way, shape, or form. And again, I'm separating this ISSUE within the context of our conversation from that of LBJ - these are two completely different entities here, and it's important we're clear about that, or this debate is pointless. A church can endorse whomever it chooses to endorse. However, once it does, it surrenders its status as a portal to all things spiritual and becomes just another species of punditry.

Finally, as you know, I'm a believer, Art. It's always a tall order for moderate liberals like myself when discussing social issues with believers who interpret the roles of church and government differently than I. For this particular issue, it all boils down to the following point for me:

While voting records and campaign promises may be helpful tools in sizing up any potential political candidate, they're not foolproof by any stretch of the imagination. Any church that claims to know the moral fabric of any particular candidate and awards said candidate its endorsement on faith is setting itself up for a major disappointment. I always think of a popular Old Testament verse whenever I see or hear religious figures enthusiastically offering their support to political figures. You may know it:

"Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)"

1 Kings 8:39


Marshall Art said...

"Peace"? Who was that wacky dude at the Museum who always signed off that way? Gosh, I miss that lunatic. He was such fun to mock.

Anyway Les,

The following quote leads me to believe we aren't so far apart on this:

"If every social and legal issue were decided based simply on the motivations or beliefs of those who came before us, then we'd still be auctioning off black folks."

In the case of political speech from the pulpit, that is exactly what was done. Because the motivations of the preacher are religious or Biblical, it was decided that their tax status should be at risk for speaking politically. The policy change was based simply on it's religious motivation. Of course that was the public version, not the real reason as stated earlier.

Also, using your Autoban example, it is also true that a tenant of the Christian faith, or any other faith for that matter, can be extremely beneficial for all, even if some don't believe the faith or their take on the issue in question. In fact, the edict may be for spiritual reasons and also have a practical real world benefit as well.

But in any case, you still haven't explained why it does our nation well to thwart the opinions of the faithful in this manner. As I explained, their exempt status did not have any such conditions attached. One could argue that churches no longer have the same influence as they once did, but that is more an indictment of the people, not the churches. The churches aren't supposed to change their ways for the people, the people are supposed to change their ways for God.

If the church is wrong in their position on an issue or a politician, let the politician or his supporters rebut the church's position and let the people decide. Either way, no harm is done that should risk the church's tax status. Frankly, there really is no connection between the public speech of a church representative and that church's tax status.

Les said...

"Who was that wacky dude..."

"steve". That flower child hijacked my "Peace" sign-off years ago. Idiot.

"...thwart the opinions..."

I'm not arguing they CAN'T make endorsements. If they want to, they can - they just surrender their exempt status. That's not "thwarting" free speech at all. The CHURCH is the one altering their status as merely a religious institution when they enter the realm of political endorsement. That's no different than campaigning. Again, I don't care what LBJ's original motivations may have been - I agree with the idea. Help me out here - what part of my argument am I not explaining clearly?

"The churches aren't supposed to change their ways for the people, the people are supposed to change their ways for God."

THIS is the crucial part of this whole debate, Art. In America, NOBODY should have to "change their ways" to conform to someone else's beliefs that are BASED ON THEIR PERSONAL RELIGION!!! When pastors convince their congregations to support a candidate who, say, states that homosexuality is a sin and promises to "legislate accordingly", if you will, they are NO LONGER simply shepherds for their flocks' personal relationships with God. Their actions now have a DIRECT effect on the rights and freedoms of said gay folks - who pay REAL TAX DOLLARS - because that very candidate can influence legislation that bans them from living their lives as they please! This is obviously not the same as the establishment of A state religion, but it IS the establishment of legislation based ON religion! This, to me, is absolutely unacceptable for a society that professes to be the land of the free. Once that invisible line is crossed, a church is no different than any other political organization subject to a tax burden.

" harm is done..."

Tell that to the gay couple who faces CODIFIED discrimination from the very government they support with their tax dollars due to a subjective religious evaluation of morality. Such beliefs can NEVER be proven right or wrong, and laws shouldn't be written to PREVENT individual liberties when they're based on a hunch, for lack of a better word. Again, it's the land of the free here, people.

" is also true that a tenant of the Christian faith, or any other faith for that matter, can be extremely beneficial for all..."

Well, of course it can, and I'm not arguing it can't. Faith, hope, and charity are all wonderful attributes that everybody would do well to attain. In fact, I wish churches would do even MORE to help our citizens acquire those traits. But those tenets DON'T IMPEDE ON ANYONE ELSE'S FREEDOM!!! That's the key.

Marshall Art said...

Well, I guess the first thing is to accept or deny that there's some Constitutional protection for absolutely any activity one can imagine. I don't believe this is the case now, nor has it ever been. Only the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed, not the aquisition of it. Thus, if it makes me happy to drive at high speeds through a crowded city street, I should be able to do it.

Of course that's lunacy and a very extreme example, but for the gay folk, since you brought it up, they do not have a right to be viewed by the state as equal to traditional married couples. They only have the right to pursue that end. Good for them if they get there, bad for us.

However, if a minister is counseling his flock to vote against the politician who supports that position, he's applying Christian teaching to everyday life, thereby satisfying that which you believe to be his purpose. But because that application might influence the voting decisions of the flock, you believe that justifies attacking his church's tax status. As you know, a good preacher doesn't just teach what the Bible says, but teaches what it means for the listener in his daily life. It just so happens, that a case can be made for the very same position that does not require Biblical teaching. And just as in many other cases, a benefit to the community is had by the widespread adoption of this belief. There's no downside when it works as it is meant to.

As to the hapless gay folk, should they desire their plans to succeed, they need to find a way to persuade those who have been persuaded by others, some of whom may have been their pastors. (Or they can do what they always do and find an agreeable Supreme Court Justice to override the will of the people.)

But none of this matters to the issue. "The CHURCH is the one altering their status as merely a religious institution when they enter the realm of political endorsement." This is not true as I have explained earlier. The church has always played such a roll in American history. Frankly, I'd say it can reduce the incidence of asshole politicians winning elections if church goers had a religious influence in how they view politics.

Now we can say that other organizations have to pay for their involvement in the political process. The truckers union doesn't stick to trucking and they pay taxes (I think). We can name a ton of other orgs that do as much. But none of them have the spiritual influence and guidance that the founders found so essential to our culture and it was THAT that won them their exempt status, not the promise to avoid politics.

Now let's take another example. Fred Phelps. Time Magazine's Asshole of the Year. (they should have that issue) Here's a preacher who spews hateful venom of the type for which every Christian is accused but doesn't do. Who, besides the 13 people in his church (all family members) listens to this guy? How much influence on the voting public do you think this dude has? While he's allowed to have a church, I don't deny him his status either (though I don't think a sharp dude couldn't find a legal way to shut him down because of his radical activist activities). I don't like him, I don't like what he says, but his status doesn't bother me in the least. Only his hypberbolic rhetoric does and I would debate against him any day.

"In America, NOBODY should have to "change their ways" to conform to someone else's beliefs that are BASED ON THEIR PERSONAL RELIGION!!!" But I'd have to change my religion, or more precisely how, when and where I practice it, based on the beliefs of those who support something contrary to it. Will my church get extra tax breaks then? And how is it different from changing my ways to conform with someone else's beliefs based on their personal philosophy or secular humanist ideology? It still doesn't matter as to the granting of exempt status to churches. The status simply was not contingent on restricting their speech in this way. Considering that there are tons of small congregations out there counting every penny, to threaten their tax status because you don't like the way they apply their faith to the political process is indeed thwarting their speech.

The idea behind subscribing to religion, is that it is something that one shapes one's life around. That would be every aspect of one's life. You know as well as I that as a Christian, God's Will is paramount and everything in our lives is to be based on our perception of God's Will. Though your belief differs from mine, you act with your beliefs in mind (more or less--in our own humble and stumble ways)and your vote is based on those beliefs as well. How are you hurting anything by doing so? You bring up the gay issue, but that's your perception as well. You think you're helping them. When a pastor preaches against homosexuality and the politicians that enable them, they're helping, too. They have their souls in mind of course, but as it so happens, many are also aware of the physical dangers the practice has for the homos as well as the danger to the fabric of society. There's practical aspects of religion as well as spiritual. But it's the spiritual side that garners them the exemption.

And it really is no one's business what motivates the beliefs and positions of another. If you don't like what you're hearing, vote against it. And really, I don't think all the scientific, sociological, logical and pragmatic arguments against homosexuality matter to you anyhow, so why should the religious argument? If you don't like an argument, what difference does it make if it's supported by science or faith? Vote against it. If you really don't like a position, would it really matter if religion spurred its adoption? If you don't agree, science wouldn't convince you either.

Johnson was wrong. This policy is wrong. It should be reversed. It doesn't accomplish it's goals anyway. They just preach the same stuff in a manner that complies with the law. Sorta like McCain/Feingold.

Marshall Art said...

Wow! Was I rambling or what?!!

Les said...

"Only the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed..."

And you don't think discrimination of any stripe impedes that very pursuit?

"...if it makes me happy to drive at high speeds through a crowded city street..."

Did you miss the part of my comment where I mentioned I have no problem whatsoever with tenets that don't impede on the rights of others? I would think speeding through a crowded street would definitely endanger others' right to life, no?

On to theology for a sec...

"But I'd have to change my religion, or more precisely how, when and where I practice it, based on the beliefs of those who support something contrary to it."

How so? Sticking with the gay issue, how would offering gay couples equal rights under the law force you to change how you practice your religion? As a Christian, you should know that God's laws and the laws of Man are two completely different standards. Christians are IN the world but not OF the world, right? If one's eternal destiny is based on one's performance in life, then shouldn't everyone have the opportunity to live his or her life in a state of free will? Again, as long as that very free will doesn't entail endangering the rights of others? Why would God judge you for allowing someone else to make their own choices, uninhibited by the state? If God didn't want us to have choices to make, He wouldn't have created evil now, would He?

"Considering that there are tons of small congregations out there counting every penny, to threaten their tax status because you don't like the way they apply their faith to the political process is indeed thwarting their speech."

I'm confused - why do these people have to "apply their faith to the political process" through their churches? What's stopping them from doing so in any other venue? If they're so concerned about the financial situation of their church, then don't endanger it! LEAVE POLITICS OUT OF THE CHURCH. It's that simple.

" is it different from changing my ways..."

Please qualify this statement for me. Give me a hypothetical example of you changing your ways and I'll respond.

" why should the religious argument?"

As I've already stated, because tax dollars (of both gay AND straight folks, for example) are real, while spiritual beliefs are unverifiable intangibles and ALWAYS will be.

"The church has always played such a roll in American history."

You're dipping into a variation of the whole "the way things used to be" mindset again, Art. Again, I could care less how things used to be. I could care less about Johnson. I could care less about certain values held by our founding fathers that have since proven despicable for a civilized and rational society (like slavery). I'm addressing the applicability and relevance of policy in the present, and how any given policy will either help or hinder social progress in the future. I'm not a conservative, remember? Our nation, its codes, and its values ARE a work in progress, and they always will be.

Brewers rockin' & rollin'...

Marshall Art said...

Fine, dude. If you wanna get shitty, keep bringing up baseball! We got no baseball in Chicaga this year! It's freakin' killin' me!!!!

yeah I bit it with the Bucks.

"And you don't think discrimination of any stripe impedes that very pursuit?"

No more than it does for polygamists (who have started using the same arguments the homos use), bestial and incestuous. In order to be discriminated against, they need to be denied what others are permitted. They are not.

"I would think speeding through a crowded street would definitely endanger others' right to life, no?" I'm an excellent driver. But homosex endangers others' right to life as well, and not just because of AIDS. Here again we see the spiritually based argument has practical applications.

" how would offering gay couples equal rights under the law force you to change how you practice your religion? "

You're kidding, right? Hate crimes legislation alone would impede a Christian's right to openly preach on Lev 18:22. No priest could refuse to marry a homo couple. I could not prevent a school from teaching my child that homosex is equal to heterosex. Those are just off the top of my head.

"I'm confused - why do these people have to "apply their faith to the political process" through their churches?"

I'm confused as to why it bothers you so much. You don't care if two homos are sodomizing each other behind closed doors, why do care how a minister preaches behind closed church doors (figuritively speaking---we like to leave our doors open during pleasant weather)? But to answer you question more directly, church is where some go to learn how to apply Christian teaching to their personal lives, which includes their political lives.

" a hypothetical example of you changing your ways "

As a landlord, I wouldn't want to knowingly rent to a gay couple. I would be forced to based on their humanist philosophy that says they're lifestyle is equal to mine. As an employer, I'd have to allow homo cheek to cheek dancing at the company Christmas party, and considering there's four sets of cheeks to consider... As an employer, I'd be forced to hire a transvestite or transexual and problably be forced to allow a style of sartorial statement I'd otherwise disallow. Keep in mind, what is or isn't permissable under hate crimes laws would be determined by homos. Don't kid yourself it would be otherwise.

"As I've already stated, because tax dollars (of both gay AND straight folks, for example) are real, while spiritual beliefs are unverifiable intangibles and ALWAYS will be."

First of all, it's not my problem that certain tax-payers choose to indulge their urges. Since thousands have left the lifestyle, I'm not sympathetic to those that choose not to. It's hard for gamblers and alcoholics, too. Secondly, any philosophical or ideological belief is equally intangible against spiritual beliefs because they all purport to explain truth, which is itself intangible. Science can support any of those, but by itself it is only a set of data that is interpreted in light of spiritual, philosophical or ideological understandings of truth. Frankly, science supports the Christian admonitions against homosex because of the inherent dangers of the lifestyle. Once again, as we can so often see, God's Law ends up having a practical value as well as a spiritual value.

"You're dipping into a variation of the whole "the way things used to be" mindset again, Art."

Yes, and despite black marks such as slavery, we often find great value in looking backward. Indeed, in the realm of civil law, precedent looms large. And what is precedent but the legal version of "the way things used to be"? I have no problem with change, but it has to benefit all of society. The change to the tax code has a serious negative effect on society by how it adds to the overall stifling of Christian influence in the culture. This stifling has been a great wrong that is still working it's black magic on society. So the effect of this policy on the present is why I say the policy should be reversed.

As you've said, one needn't use the pulpit to get the same message out. I'd say that the same message gets out now. What effect has it had on society? Seems to me the homos have gained quite a bit of ground in recent years while Christians of all sorts and varying groups have waged the battle for the souls of these lost and their supporters. Thus, to do it from the pulpit would have no different effect. The message has not been articulated in the most persuasive manner from wherever it has been spoken. So any way you look at it, nothing has changed, whether tax status was risked or not. Thus, to maintain the policy is a phantom gesture anyway. It's pointless. It should be reversed for the symbolic value of recongizing the church for what can be, is meant to be, has been and will be again. It is the right move to make. To maintain it is simply a gratuitous attack on the church.

Les said...

"We got no baseball in Chicaga this year!"

Don't kid yourself - this is STILL the Brewers we're talkin' about here. I'll delay the celebration until they're actually mathematically IN the playoffs - not just flirting with them. BIG series coming up with the Cubbies. Anything can happen in this division.

Down to bizznizz...

"They are not."

So gays can marry anywhere in the U.S.?

"But homosex endangers others' right to life as well..."

As does unprotected hetero sex. Why single out gays?

"Those are just off the top of my head."

1. Hate crimes dictating sermon content - I think the First Amendment has got you covered there.

2. Priests refusing gay weddings - See number 1. Also, why can't the gay folks just pick another church?

3. Preventing schools from teaching homosex = heterosex - You can't tell that to your kids at home? I'm a firm believer in parents' responsibility. Same with the teaching of evolution. I have no problem whatsoever with that.

In issues 1 through 3, you should know I also firmly believe that the opposite of the "churches should stay out of politics" philosophy is as true as the original. Namely, the government shouldn't mess with a church - as long as the church doesn't meddle in politics. Are we clear on this point?

"...why do care how a minister preaches..."

Because endorsing a political candidate isn't "preaching", as I believe the word is being used within this particular context. A preacher's political endorsement isn't a spiritual lesson - it's one man's INTERPRETATION of his own spiritual beliefs and how HE BELIEVES they should apply to our secular political system. Again, the laws of the land - which are determined by elected lawmakers - are not the laws of God. It's my belief that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE can truly know God's will so completely that he/she would have the authority to definitively say who would best represent God's will. I feel like I keep having to say some variation of the same thing with you on this point, Art - ONLY GOD knows the hearts of men, and when preachers claim to know God's will, they're either deluded or straight-up LYING, and they've devolved into nothing more than pundits.

"I'm confused as to why it bothers you so much."

It bothers me because one of the fundamental principles of our nation involves not having to worry about ANY form of oppression based on subjective religious values.

"...I wouldn't want to knowingly rent to a gay couple."

Art, I know you're a good guy, and I know your heart's always been in the right place in the years we've been debating. I also realize you've got two decades on me, so I'll play the "different attitudes for a different time" card just this once. Please forgive me for that ;-). So here goes - you already know I view gay rights in the same vein as I view civil rights for black folks/women/whatever. (Before you say anything, as per previous conversations of ours, I already know we disagree on that, so don't waste your time.) Since I view these issues as one and the same, then you shouldn't be surprised when I compare your response to that of a racist landlord unwilling to rent to a black couple. PLEASE realize I already UNDERSTAND your position on this - I simply disagree with all my heart, as I'm sure you do with mine. Again, different strokes for different folks, all that jazz. If you were anyone else, I'd say "Well, get over it." But you're not, so I won't. But, wait - I just did. Damn! I'm digging myself a hole here...

Moving on...

"...because they all purport to explain truth, which is itself intangible."


"tangible - 1. capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch 2. capable of being precisely identified or realized by the mind 3. capable of being appraised at an actual or approximate value"

When I punch you, it hurts. That's tangible. When I drop a pencil, it falls to the ground. That's tangible. When I pay my credit card bill, I see a decrease in my balance owing. That's tangible. When politicians claim their policies have a specific effect on the economy, experts can examine the available hard data - i.e. facts and figures - and make an educated, calculable estimation of said claims. That's tangible. When I say God created the heavens and the earth and inspired select men to codify his laws within the pages of the Biblical canon, I have absolutely no MEASURABLE data to verify that claim. THAT'S intangible.

"...the inherent dangers of the lifestyle."

Um, hello? Safe sex, anyone? Are you saying gay people are INCAPABLE of practicing safe sex? Are you saying gay people are INCAPABLE of living their lives - sexual or otherwise - with at least some modicum of safety? If so, I've got some friends I'd like you to meet...

"...we often find great value in looking backward."

We most certainly do, and you know I often invoke the past myself. The difference, perhaps, is that I don't use the past as a blanket endorsement or condemnation of any particular issue. Again, I view issues in terms of their value right here, right now. If the past can offer some insight into how I view those issues, then great. If I feel an example from the past is irrelevant, that's fine too. I'm a pragmatist with a splash of idealism, Art. In the end, the future is all that really matters. I'd like it to be a certain way, and I'll do what I can to make it so.

"Thus, to maintain the policy is a phantom gesture anyway."

Says you. If churches were truly held accountable for making political endorsements, they'd think twice about doing it. I attended a Christian school connected to our church from grades 3 through 8. Let me tell you - the animosity aimed at the Democratic party was palpable. One would have thought Beelzebub himself was chairman of the DNC. You can't tell me such blatant partisanship doesn't have an effect on the early formation of one's political belief system. This kind of brainwashing, for lack of a better word, from a religious institution that should be teaching what the Bible has to say - and letting the individual make up their own mind from there - is downright wrong, in my opinion. My parents attended that church and enrolled me in its school to get a good education and hopefully instill in me a core set of values from which I could reach back on as an adult - not to teach me that Walter Mondale was going to hell and that I'd go too if I ever voted for people like him. To me - as someone keenly interested in politics - this is a spiritual and moral violation of the highest order, and I will continue to fight these shameless abuses of the "tax exemption" umbrellas provided to our churches.

Unfortunately, I think this might be one of those issues with you and I where we're not gonna be able to find a common ground. What say you?


Marshall Art said...

I agree, we're at loggerheads. (I don't know what that means, I just like saying "loggerheads".) But just the same,

Cubs were on a six game winning streak last I heard. Don't know if it's still going. Sox were on a 3 gamer. Dont' know about them either. Can't bear to watch. And they're thinking of trading Burhle! Jeez, it's like the Cub trading Maddox the 1st time!!

The Biz:

"So gays can marry anywhere in the U.S.?" Yes.

"As does unprotected hetero sex."
I could find a link to a piece that describes the problems of each of the various methods of sex by homo men. Some are used between heteros, but the main act between heteros is not threatening to their health, whereas repeated anal intercourse is. There, now I went and got "icky". But it also leads to the point if their lie that there's nothing wrong with homosex, when clearly in the physical sense, there is.

Points 1&2 off the top of my head...this falls under the heading of "this can't happen here". Don't bet all your chips on that one. Once they are granted their special rights, there'll be no stopping them. Many of them don't buy into religion because they feel resentful for being called the sinners they are, and you don't need to seek out the most militant gay activist org to find on their agenda a total acceptance desire on their part. Hate crimes will be dictated by what THEY feel is hateful toward them. It's happening already with PC mandates. And don't forget, if a Supreme Court Justice can fabricate an unknown justification for Roe v Wade, anything is possible. In addition, some gays will look for a different church, others will sue the first one that denies them. There's no doubt about that.

As to #3, I'm sure you heard of the Massachusetts man who has a restraining order on him after questioning the policy of his kindergarden aged daughter's school. This guy, like me, wouldn't approve of ANY sex related crap taught to a child that young, but they insist on indoctrinating the kids as soon as they can.

The government is already denied input into the church, particualarly the federal government. But there's no such restrictions on the churches in the other direction until LBJ put one there. "'s one man's INTERPRETATION of his own spiritual beliefs and how HE BELIEVES they should apply to our secular political system." Just as any sermon might be. But because now he's referring to politics he's gonna get punished? No way. You mentioned earlier, we are in the world but not of. The preacher's job is to show how to live in the world we are not of. Politics is part of that world.

A brief digression here:

This blog started with the tail end of a discussion that often touched on the subject of knowing God's Will. It is true that we can't know all of His Will, but it's untrue that we can't know any of it. That's what Scripture is for; explaining God's Will for us while we're here on earth. We are to shun evil and wickedness. Biblically speaking, abortion and homosex is evil and wickedness. A candidate who supports those policies supports evil and wickedness. Sad to say, there are Christian churches that don't abide this belief. They are wrong. So when a candidate is making hay on those two issues, it's appropriate for a preacher to warn against supporting evil and wickedness. He's applying Scripture to the secular world in which we live. It's not so difficult to know the Will of God in a variety of areas, especially if one is intent on putting God's Will above all.

"It bothers me because one of the fundamental principles of our nation involves not having to worry about ANY form of oppression based on subjective religious values."

By the federal government only. That's what the Constitution says. Perhaps a read of the Federalist Papers can support your premise, but I'm unaware of quite that interpretation. Plus, there is no oppression without force. There's no force except the force of a good sermon. Not the same.

Skippin' the next bit for ya.


No, I'm right. I understand the word intangible, and truth, especially these days, is intangible. Philosophy doesn't rely on hard facts, just observations interpreted to arrive at their conclusions. And frankly, I believe that the evidence for the truth of the Gospels is pretty compelling and so by extension, the OT has weight and credibility as well. Not enough for law, but plenty for reason and logic. So when persuaded on the social level, public policy will align to some extent. This is normal and natural and it's origins are irrelevant if the majority votes it in. BTW, when you punch me, it doesn't hurt. I'm like a rock! *cough cough*

I understand whence you come. Exposed to such unChristian behavior isn't unique to you. But I try to look at the intent of a policy and not at how the policy is abused or ignored in determining its value and benefit. It's why I'm still a Christian, a somewhat fundamental one, because of the sense and logic inherent in the teachings of the faith. I don't concern myself with those who have bastardized it no matter their intentions. I firmly believe that even for atheists, if everyone were to live life as the Bible teaches, the world would be a happy place, not because they'd be doing things my way, but God's way. Not because they'd be agreeing with me, but with God. I'm no different than anyone else. Much of SCripture doesn't agree with me. But that's not how it's supposed to work. I have to agree with it. Since doing so, it's gotten much easier. And I benefit the more I do. The founders understood this and that's why the exemption was allowed. But what they understood is far more relevant and necessary today than it was back then when everyone knew Scripture better than the average modern Joe.

There is more harm to the nation by interfering with the preaching of honest ministers by squeezing money out of them for arbitrary reasons of no impact or import.

But I don't begrudge you your opinion on this topic, since there are ways to accomplish the very same thing without threatening one's status. Kinda like McCain/Feingold.

Peace back at ya.

OH! I almost forgot! I went to a blog and saw the Museum on her blog roll. I clicked on it and there it was. I don't know what happened to it, as I had resigned up and put it in my favorites. Then one day it took me to a page that suggested it was no longer viable, so perhaps the Curator made changes again. Anyway, stevie boy is still there, and so is that goof who always typed in caps. Do you remember his name? He now signs in under the name "White Indian". If I see mooney, I'll crap my pants. Same old same old. I resigned up again. Should be fun.

Les said...

Oh, for Pete's sake, Art - I just KNEW you'd respond accordingly if I left out this key portion of the statement of yours I quoted:

"...any philosophical or ideological belief is equally intangible..."

THAT'S the part that makes you wrong. Sorry for any confusion. And let's be clear on what's meant (at least by me) by "philosophical and ideological beliefs" within this political context here. "Beliefs" such as economic theories or health plans or budget proposals or tax policies or military strategies or environmental protection plans are all formulated with MEASURABLE FACTS AND FIGURES. Beliefs that include Lazarus rising from the grave or Jesus walking on water are not. Even if it has to be history itself that ultimately judges any given economic model or labor law of today, at least there will be HARD EVIDENCE to evaluate. Good luck finding any footage of Lazarus walking out of the cave. Do you understand the distinction I'm making here?

Since we're gettin' icky...

"...whereas repeated anal intercourse is."

A condom all but eliminates your concerns. Believe it or not, people CAN be careful. At any rate, who are you to say they haven't got the right to take any such risk - real or imagined - that they please? They're consenting adults, aren't they?

And, as you touched on, what of heteros who enjoy butt sex? How do they fit into your argument? Should butt sex be outlawed altogether? Should oral? Hell, should a handjob? How about kissing between two people with cold sores? If I hold hands with an arthritic partner, should laws be written to protect her from the pain I may cause her? Where does it stop for you, Art? Until the definition of legal sexual contact becomes identical to your version as demonstrated by your faith?

"'So gays can marry anywhere in the U.S.?' Yes."

C'mon, man - stop making me spell everything out for you when the point of the comment should be clear. I think you know what I was getting at with my question. If not, I apologize and I'll try again:

The underlying context of our conversation was obviously dealing with equality, no? Let me reword my question for you and hopefully we can avoid more pointless tip-toeing:

So gay spouses wedded in the accommodating church of their choice are recognized by their government and rewarded with the same marital rights and benefits as straight spouses anywhere in the U.S.?

"But I try to look at the intent of a policy and not at how the policy is abused or ignored in determining its value and benefit."

Not I. I look at the policy. Remember the Neville Chamberlain example? He had good intentions, didn't he? How'd that work out for the world?

"'s appropriate for a preacher to warn against supporting evil and wickedness."

Aha! Now we're getting somewhere! I agree with that statement with the following caveat:

I actually see no problem whatsoever with a church maintaining its tax exempt status by addressing the issues in a manner something like this:

"Saints, as you all know, I preach quite often about how the Bible essentially states abortion and homosexuality are synonyms for evil and wickedness. Sadly, they're quite symptomatic of today's society. From my conversations with you, I know that these are sentiments nearly all of us share. As Christians, we MUST fight to ensure our values and our way of life do not get swept under the rug by our leaders."

That's all fine and good. The following is not:

"Saints, as you all know, I preach quite often about how the Bible essentially states abortion and homosexuality are synonyms for evil and wickedness. Sadly, they're quite symptomatic of today's society. From my conversations with you, I know that these are sentiments nearly all of us share. As Christians, we MUST fight to ensure our values and our way of life do not get swept under the rug by our leaders. OUR USHERS ARE NOW HANDING OUT FLYERS WITH THE NAMES OF ALL THE GOP CANDIDATES. GO VOTE FOR THEM."

See the difference? God, I hope so. In any case...

"So when a candidate is making hay on those two issues..."

And this one goes right back to my point about knowing both the will of God AND knowing truly the hearts of men. First, wouldn't it be ironic if God's first priorities were universal health care and ending a war because He knows something we don't? Secondly, how well have those who've promised action on the abortion issue really performed? They kinda ditched y'all once they got elected, didn't they?

"Plus, there is no oppression without force."

No, there's no oppression without POWER. Or the unjust use thereof, that is.

"...without threatening one's status."

So you believe it's impossible to live as a Christian without threatening one's equality?

"...typed in caps. Do you remember his name?"


I've gotta get some sleep. I'm in Fargo tonight, and I've got a long drive tomorrow. We'll chat later...

Marshall Art said...


LOL. I've raised some hackles! I pictured you there pounding furiously on your keyboard, vocalizing each sentence in frustration as you did. I love to tease.

But still, what ever it is you use to counter a given Scripturally based argument by another is how it's supposed to be done. For the Christian, I agree that it won't usually do to only use Scripture to wage his argument in a secular arena. He'll likely not win because the appeal won't sway a good portion of other Christians either. He'll also need other data to support the argument. But that doesn't have anything to do with the notion of a preacher speaking to his flock. His concern is to guide the people with his knowledge of Scripture. His knowledge may differ from the preacher on the other corner. So what? It's irrelevant. He may be totally right in his interpretation and not move the people on a given issue. None of it matters. Some issues, such a porn, can be difficult to defend or attack for either side of the issue. It's all irrelevant to the idea of whether or not it should detract from the church's tax exemption.

Your second scenario is a little goofy. I think the preacher would say it this way, "Don't vote for John Kerry because he supports abortion and gay rights and that is counter to God's Will." I believe that's probably the type of thing that pissed off LBJ. Or they might say that the people should support a guy because, unlike his opponent, he doesn't support such issues.

And really, people don't support the gay cause because of anything other than personal opinion, "Why not? I don't have a problem with it." If the state, by which I mean the people, see a benefit of hetero marriage not inherent in any other alternative matchup, it is not discrimination to deny such sanctions to homos, polygamists, the incestuous, polyamorous, or any other types. Yet they are all stil free to partake of the traditional. But even that is irrelevant to the issue of tax exempt status for churches.

I did state that some homo sex practices are done by hetero couples too. But the idea is to accumulate as big a number of points and together they form the basis for or against an argument. Thus, if one point is weak, is is bostered by all the others, thereby retaining the strength of the position. On this point, you're dealing with points within the point, as well as adding irrelevant points to your side, such as holding hands with someone with arthritis. But the basic activity of hetero sex, aside from the procreative aspects upon which it derives it's uniqueness, does not result in the permanent damage that the basic homo equivalent does. Apparently, the anus will lose it's resiliency from repeated penetration, as well as the fact that the rectum/colon (whichever) is not designed for the repeated penetration either. The vagina is. So the problem for society is that with acceptance of the practice, medical costs covered by the insurance that would be forced to cover this sort of thing (think employer/employee plans) would rise and now I, who knows the practice to be sinful and wicked as well as unhealthy, would be forced to pay for it. Should we be so unfortunate as to be forced to go to a single-payer socialist plan, now there's less choice for the righteous. So though everyone has the right to take their own risks, in this case they would not be taking all the financial responsibility. I also don't care for limited hospital beds being used by people who could have prevented their ailment (no matter what it is). The more risky the lifestyle, the less I like it. Evel Kneivel? Pisses me off. So my faith is only one aspect of my objections. Sure, if the majority votes against me, then that's the way it is. But these arguments are not given the media recognition they should considering the impact on society. So the preacher, just basing his message on Scripture, accomplishes the same goal.

"Not I. I look at the policy. Remember the Neville Chamberlain example? He had good intentions, didn't he?" He thought so. Others disagreed. They saw the downside before the policy was put in place, just as preachers see the downside of certain policies, and others with different motivations, but the same position see the downside. And the policy of granting special privileges to traditional marriage is sound when put into practice as hoped and intended. Chamberlain's policy was bad despite his intentions. Granting the same privileges to gay couples has too many negatives for society without having the one unique feature of hetero marriage. I guess I look at both the policy AND the intent behind it, actually.

"And this one goes right back to my point about knowing both the will of God AND knowing truly the hearts of men."

But the preachers are talking about what we DO know about God's Will, and Scripture informs us of quite a bit, against what we Do know about a candidate. We have to take the guy at his word if there's no record on the issue. If a candidate has always voted for higher taxes in his background, of course you'd be suspicious if he's talking like he won't continue doing so. But if he's always been consistant on a position that contrary to Scripture, then there's no mind/heart reading required. Plus, your position assumes abuse, mine assumes proper behavior. I would have to say that if a church was encouraging law breaking, tax 'em. In that, I'd concede eagerly. But speaking one's opinion, no.

"No, there's no oppression without POWER. Or the unjust use thereof, that is." Which would be force.

"So you believe it's impossible to live as a Christian without threatening one's equality?" Yes, assuming that you mean someone who lives as a Christian by Scriptural standards. There are those who are mistaken, such as the Klan. And there are those who believe they are being oppressed but aren't because what they want to do is wrong or somehow unnacceptable by most people.

Mark Patterson. Yes. What a killer that you remembered. I'll be going back to the Museum now that I know those two are still in action. What fun it will be.

Fargo. Vacationing? If so, enjoy.

Les said...


Just got back from Montana. I was visiting the folks for a couple weeks.

"...what ever it is you use to counter a given Scripturally based argument by another is how it's supposed to be done."

Explain this statement please.

"It's all irrelevant to the idea of whether or not it should detract from the church's tax exemption."

Well, I guess this is just where we'll have to agree to disagree. Apparently, we really ARE getting nowhere here. You're as convinced of your position as I am of mine. What a bummer.

"Or they might say that the people should support a guy because..."

Either you're not getting my point or you're just disagreeing with me, Art. I can't really tell. When a preacher says "Vote for Candidate X", he's allowed his pulpit to become a political commercial. To me, this is wrong. You obviously don't think so. We're not gonna make any headway on this.

" is not discrimination to deny such sanctions..."

Again, this is a fundamental difference between how you and I view the gay issue. Going back to the racial example, would it be wrong to deny married black people the same rights as married white people? Of course it would! I understand your point of view on this - I just disagree with you. I need to know you understand mine or this is pointless.

"Thus, if one point is weak, is is bostered by all the others, thereby retaining the strength of the position."

Huh? Talk about irrelevant! Look, if two consenting adults want to engage in sexual relations, they have every right to do so. Any risks they take on by doing so have absolutely nothing to do with it. You have no authority over what goes on behind closed doors. End of story.

"...would be forced to pay for it."

Oh, please. You're going to single out gays because of medical costs?!? If that's the case, you better start fighting to take away mens' driving rights. God knows, they're much more prone to serious injury than chicks. Wouldn't want those damn male drivers running up my insurance costs. Please.

"He thought so. Others disagreed."

Wait a sec - your point was about intentions. What in a million years would the opinions of others have to do with CHAMBERLAIN'S intentions?

"...then there's no mind/heart reading required."

Really? Then why is Roe vs. Wade still in effect? Where's the "works" to back up the "words"?There's so much more to this game than "taking a guy at his word".

"Yes, assuming that you mean someone who lives as a Christian by Scriptural standards."

Wow. It's impossible to be Christian and not endanger someone's equality as a human being? I gotta tell you, Art - that's not any brand of Christianity I want a part of!

"Which would be force."

Define what you mean by "force".

Marshall Art said...

"Explain this statement please."

I left out a word or two. Whatever you use to counter a Scripturally based argument with another argument, that is one based on another ideology or philosophy or even science, that's the way it's supposed to work. So if a congregation is being preached to regarding one point of view, you merely preach your point of view.

Bummer, truly.

Yes, I do understand your point of view regarding the comparison to blacks. And I'm sure you understand that I don't subscribe to that comparison due to the fact that one group can change, the other can't, Michael Jackson notwithstanding.

I have no cares whatsoever regarding what people do behind closed doors, aside from the care for their souls, but I do care about whether or not I would have to have MY costs negatively affected by the desires of some to willfully engage in harmful behavior. Driving isn't harmful by virtue of simply driving. As I've attempted to point out, the same can't be said for gays.

"Wait a sec - your point was about intentions." I did rephrase my position here. One can't really ignore intentions behind legislation or policy, though often the policy itself is blatantly stupid. For example, one can understand that there are supposedly good intentions behind raising taxes, but obviously the idea is stupid for it's obvious affect on the economy.

Roe v Wade is still in effect because of what it is as a piece of law. It's "Constitutional" and changing such is not a simple thing. Believe me, I'm impatient with it all and don't buy into the excuses. But there's such a thing as precedent that good Justices will adhere to and the fears of public reaction that spineless politicians adhere to. Yet, I think in time it will be changed as a federal policy, and such will revert to the states. But as far as a politician and his track record together with his campaign rhetoric, one doesn't need to make judgements at all about him in sense that we must discern what's on his heart. He's proven it for us.

"that's not any brand of Christianity I want a part of!"

You mean you'd PREFER to be part of a Christianity that endangers someone's equality as a human being? I don't get it. I don't think true Christianity endangers anyone in that manner. What am I missing here?

I gotta go. I'll define "force" later. The job, and my daughter awaiting her ride to day camp, beckons.

Les said...

Two quick ones for today...

"...but I do care about whether or not I would have to have MY costs negatively affected by the desires of some to willfully engage in harmful behavior."

This is why I brought up the driving example. My point was that ANY potentially dangerous behavior fits your criteria listed above, so why single out male gay sex? For example, why not attack people who enjoy athletics? Look, it's the same principle as the tax conundrum. Namely, why should MY tax dollars be allocated to programs I want nothing to do with? Like, for example, funding a war I COMPLETELY disagree with? Well, I guess you can just think of it as the "cover charge" for living in the United States. I'm not gonna agree with every little policy my taxes help fund, even if I disagree with that very policy. I can live with that. Can't you?

"I don't get it."

I think you may have misread my comment there. It sounds like you're seeing the very opposite of what I wrote. If so, sorry about the confusing wording.

Looking forward to that definition of "force"...


Marshall Art said...

Force in this context would have to be a compulsion to act in a manner contrary to one's rights. The preacher is forced to stifle his speech by the threat of his church's exemption being lifted. So, the unjust use of LBJ's power to impose his will through the tax code had forced a restriction on the expression of the church's free speech rights.

Regarding your driving analogy, the state sanctions and provides for the instruction to qualify for the license to drive. The idea is that everyone should drive safely, though the potential for danger exists. That's why they take part in educating with the Rules of the Road and such. So despite driving's inherent dangers, one proves one is capable to the satisfaction of the state in order to gain the license. But the state has the right and duty to deprive some of the privelege of driving. Age, ability, repeated offenses, etc, are all used to restrict licensing. No one has the "right" to drive.

In the same manner, no one has the "right" to marry and receive state sponsored benefits. The state reserves the right to sanction those relationship it deems beneficial to the state. (thus the state can sanction or restrict on its own criteria) The state, which of course is the people through their reps, has determined thus far, that only hetero unions merit license and bennies due to their unique qualities which the state deems beneficial. No other union qualifies by the state's criteria. Certainly, with changing attitudes, the scales can tip (God help us if they do), but thus far, where the issue is put to the ballot, at least 60% prefer the status quo (God Bless us for that).

Marshall Art said...

I forgot something...

The dangers of engaging in homosex are just one reason that the state might deny sanctioning their unions. Even doing it "safely", according to what I've read, will still likely cause damage (I guess unless their tools are very small). But I really don't care to enter into the clinical stuff, particularly on a thread about free speech.

Les said...

"No one has the 'right' to drive."

You're getting off topic. This particular segment of our discussion was dealing with your misgivings about potential increases in your medical costs due to the risks associated with anal sex. Again, you're ignoring the fact that risks can be associated with ANYTHING, yet you've still chosen to single out gay sex. Maybe in the name of consistency you should start campaigning against kayaking, snowboarding, football, in-line skating, skydiving, skateboarding, hunting, jogging, etc., etc., etc. Injuries from those activities suffered by others are driving up my medical costs, but do I complain? Nope. It's all a package deal I understand and accept anytime I utilize any aspect of our nation's health care system.

"The preacher is forced to stifle his speech by the threat of his church's exemption being lifted."

Clever. You've taken my usage of the word "oppression", morphed it into a variey of "force", and applied it to the poor ol' pundit preachers, when I originally used the word to describe denying equal rights because of one's sexual orientation. Nice try.

You're either missing or intentionally ignoring a crucial point though, Art. The church isn't BANNED from making political statements. It's free to do so - there's simply a change in its tax status. That's not oppression. On the other hand, you know as well as I that there's a movement to constitutionally define marriage as one man and one woman, which would essentially BAN gay marriage. To me, THAT'S oppression!

Marshall Art said...

"You're getting off topic."

That happened long ago.

"you're ignoring the fact that risks can be associated with ANYTHING,"

Not really. However, I only brought up the risks to those who indulge to add it to other points against the agenda. You brought up the driving analogy and I sought to discount it and I believe I did so. If you want to bring up other things that carry risk, I suppose I could go down the risk and show how each is irrelevant to your argument. The fact that I won't be successful in every case won't matter. There's too much downside for society in my humble opinion and as far as a preacher preaching against it or it's supporters running for office, they are focusing on those negatives that matter to him and his religion's tenants. Some of those are more than spiritual concerns, some aren't. Doesn't matter. And as I said, I really don't want to go on with another debate on homosexuality. I can refer you to the blogs where I battled over it for a few weeks. I believe ER closed the comments on his because it went so long.

The preacher might certainly have other issues of concern to his flock regarding a politician. To run on over the homosex issue is really beside the point for this thread.

"Clever---Nice try." Nice try?!?!
Dat's a tree-pointer, my fren. You axed for a definition, and for the sake of this context, it's perfect.

If you're going to fret over the banning of gay marriage, will you not do as much for the sake of polygamists, polyamorous, the marriage of siblings or other blood relations? Where do you draw the line, if you draw one at all. Is the United States of America an anything goes nation with no limitations or restrictions if it means some might not get their way? Is a 15 yr old oppressed because he has to wait another year to drive legally? If a guy wants to marry his goat, is he oppressed if he's denied? How do you know the goat doesn't like it? Perhaps its a platonic marriage just for the tax advantages. Jeez. They are not oppressed for lacking a license any more than the preacher is oppressed being taxed for speaking his mind. They still can shack up. They still can get visitation at hospitals. They still can will their assets to each other. They still can proclaim their lust, I mean, love for each other, dress in a nice white gown and honymoon in Hawaii and carry each other over the threshold. But just like my "pundit" preacher, there's a catch, something they have to do in addition to a NORMAL couple. And it's because they lack that which only a NORMAL couple has and can offer the culture. You know what that is, they know what that is, everybody knows why it'll be quite awhile before they convince enough people of that which isn't true. In short, this thread ain't about gay rights.

And the church isn't banned from making political statements, it's PENALIZED. That's oppression. Mild, but oppression nonetheless. It says,
"Don't talk politics, or else!" That's totally unAmerican and unConstitutional.

I believe I've lost my temper. Oh, wait, here it is. Never mind.

Marshall Art said...

I love a spirited discussion.

Les said...

"It says, 'Don't talk politics, or else!'"

No. It says, "Make an ENDORSEMENT, and your status changes." I have no problem whatsoever with that policy. We're of two schools of thought here.

"Nice try?!?!"

Yes. Nice try. You wanna equate denying equality for gay couples to a church knowingly surrendering its tax status by endorsing a candidate? Cry me a freakin' river. Ain't even the same ballpark, and if you can't see that, this argument is useless.

"If you're going to fret over the banning of gay marriage, will you not do as much for the sake of polygamists, polyamorous, the marriage of siblings or other blood relations?"

Listen, Santorum - we're talkin' gays here. But since you brought it up, then yes - I have no problem with a government LEGALLY recognizing such unions. You know me - I'm not going to dance around this question like some on my side of the gay marriage issue have done. Have I lost you yet? No? Good. Read on...

I don't believe in legislation influenced by the "ick" factor, Art. I believe in freedom. At the same time, that doesn't mean I think there shouldn't be caveats. Again, as long as consenting adults aren't endangering others by their actions, then wtf do I care if they wed? For example, if Joe wants to marry his sister Sally, then I think one of them should get fixed. Incest obviously has health consequences for the offspring, so an incestuous union would be infringing on that child's very life. Gross? You bet. But the way I see it, we either live in freedom or we don't. That doesn't mean I have to socialize with creepy Joe and Sally - it just means Joe and Sally can enjoy the same freedoms as I. I'm fine with that. Live and let live. This is where your driving age and goat marriage rebuttals have problems. Children need to mature enough before they're not endangering others by getting behind the wheel, and goats can't say "I do". It's all about a CONSENTING ADULT enjoying the same rights as another consenting adult. I know you don't even come CLOSE to agreeing with me on this, but do you at least see what I'm saying?

Marshall Art said...

Yes I do, and no I don't. I see what you're saying, but I don't agree in the least. If a 10 year old can pass a driver's exam...

If the state, that is, the people through their representatives, see a compelling reason why the state should sanction anything other than the traditional marital arrangment, then I suppose we have to abide the decisions and make our peace with the Lord. But it is NOT a discriminatory situation just because 3% of the population is getting all whiney. To insist that the general population has no say in the matter is truly contrary to every intention of the founders. Thus far, the people don't want it. In every situation where the subject was on a ballot or referendum, at least 60% of the people voted against. Would you do away with THAT piece of our original plans? I don't have a problem with change. I just like to see some compelling argument or some sign that it will be of benefit for the nation. With the homo situation, the list of downsides is too great, and I'm not certain the list I've offered is complete. The Netherlands hasn't shown a boon to it's society following legalization there. And I've seen no list of positives from the other side beyond a few selfish points.

But it's interesting. You're cool with the interference with religious speech, but support special rights (and I'm purposely using these terms) for the homo factions. I can't believe, even with all that, that you would take the position that allowing just about anything in the realm of marriage, with all the rights and bennies associated, as if it wouldn't greatly impact our culture. It seems shortsighted, if not downright naive.

Oh, and thanks for the Santorum remark. He's a great man.

Les said...

"It seems shortsighted, if not downright naive."

What, pray tell, are you afraid of? Are you concerned that equal rights for gays would suddenly magically turn everyone gay and stop population growth or something?

"...just because 3% of the population..."

I'm not gay, I don't want to marry a relative, I don't think I'll have multiple wives (although that sounds interesting), and I wouldn't want an open marriage. Yet I still find fulfillment in defending the notion of equal rights for all of our citizens. I don't fit into your 3% category, but I have no problem standing up for them. What's the problem?

"...special rights (and I'm purposely using these terms) for the homo factions."

You'll have to help me out there - how is recognizing gay couples the same way as straight couples considered "special" rights?