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[P]
Bush to use taxpayer money for religious charities

By Wicket in Op-Ed
Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:26:18 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

I talked about this issue yesterday in my diary. I feel that it is an important issue for the k5 community to discuss.


I completely oppose Bush's faith based services package. It is only a week into his term and he is already opening a huge can of worms with this issue.

I agree with the ACLU in that Bush's proposal violates the US's law of separation of Church and State.

For one, I don't believe that taxpayer money should be used to support ANY kind of religion. If someone wants to turn to faith to work through problems in his/her life, that's his/her choice, but taxpayer money should not fund it.

The Bush initiative would not require that religious organizations hire trained and licensed counselors and therapists to deliver social services. People would go to these organizations seeking help, only to find that they are being "helped" by people who aren't trained to do so, but are practicing none-the-less because of their "faith". As the ACLU stated, "In Texas, where then-Governor Bush implemented many elements of his new federal program, a church-based drug rehabilitation program argued that drug addiction was a sin, not a disease, and offered prayer and Bible reading as 'treatment.'" The person in need does not need to be told that he has "sinned" by a member of a certain faith, but needs honest counselling by LICENSED professionals.

I worry that this initiative will funnel taxpayer money away from groups with proven results to faith based organizations who do not even need to have licensed counselors to provide the services!

Religious organizations are exempt from many civil rights laws, so they are allowed to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs and teachings about race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and pregnancy status. Under the Bush initiative, for example, a Catholic church receiving public funds for literacy programs could fire a teacher for getting pregnant outside of marriage or an Orthodox Jewish synagogue that operated a food bank could refuse to hire non-Jews or women. All of this done with TAXPAYER money.

Under the Bush initiative, there are no restrictions on how religious organizations incorporate their beliefs in the delivery of social services. These groups would be allowed to decide who gets priority for services and what services are actually provided. The lack of protections could lead to discrimination against those who most need help. A Baptist church that is running a local housing program could, for example, give preference to low-income people in their own congregation.

All in all, I think it would be a great disservice to the United States to even think of giving money to groups that would be free to discrimate who they decide to treat and how this treatment is administered. People that need these services should be talking to licensed therapists as long as taxpayer money is involved. If they want to involve faith, they can do it on their own time and dime, not mine.

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Poll
Using taxpayer money for faith based organizations is:
o a bad idea 20%
o wonderful 7%
o an assault on civil rights 31%
o if Bush wants faith in people's lives, he can pay for it himself!!! 40%

Votes: 210
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o yesterday in my diary
o faith based services
o ACLU
o Also by Wicket


Display: Sort:
Bush to use taxpayer money for religious charities | 282 comments (267 topical, 15 editorial, 1 hidden)
Don't confuse things. (3.50 / 24) (#4)
by Seumas on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:21:24 PM EST

There is a difference between faith-based charities providing services and faith-based solutions. The intent of this legislation is to allow religious organizations that already provide services to the homelessness and others to receive a bit of assistance from the government, since they do a large amount of the social work in this country.

The claim of "taking money away from services which already work" is completely unsubstantiated. If existing government services already worked, there wouldn't be any need for private and religious organizations to offer help. The government solution to problems is to throw more money and administration at the problem. The solution in a lot of these smaller private entities is to throw man-power and every last spare dime they have into the solution -- instead of overhead. They survive on good-will and a mindset for helping people, rather than making a career out of running a multi-million-dollar government cow.

As long as the spending of allocated funds is open to frequent audit, this is an idea worth trying. Besides, if the cost of rehabilitation is a little exposure to religion, that's an acceptable trade -- and I'm an agnostic. Look at Alchoholics Anonymous. They have an amazing success rate, and they promote non-specific spirituality as part of their process. Yet, there are hardly many people that would call them a religious organization trying to sucker desperate people into the fold.

I wish people would just calm down some times. The government isn't cramming religion down anyone's throat, they certainly won't stand bye while someone uses government money to simply prostelitize and they aren't closing down government services. They're offering money to people who are willing to assist in some of our social problems, and we should be thankful those people exist, instead of saying "Okay, well... you can help -- but only if you do it our way, all the way".

I'm surprised the ACLU, a group I usually support, is abusing this rediculous issue. They must be extremely desperate for money.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.

Two things (3.20 / 5) (#9)
by ZanThrax on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:27:38 PM EST

1a: If throwing money at the problem isn't a solution, then these agencies shouldn't need any government money in the first place.

1b:

government solution to problems is to throw more money
throw man-power and every last spare dime
Money's money, no?

2: If the members of these faith-based charities want to help badly enough, why not join (or form) an agency that isn't faith-based. If all they want is to help, then help. If they want to try to make converts, then go prostelyze. Doing one to get the chance to do another is not the same as doing the first just because you feel it should be done.


Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

"Seperation of church and state"? Please (3.42 / 7) (#14)
by Seumas on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:44:47 PM EST

As for "money's money" -- I'd like to see that stand up when you have one group spending 50% of the money to line their pockets and the other spends 90% to directly support the people their agencies are intending to help. Quite clearly, while money is money, that doesn't justify throwing it away to beauracracy.

As for asking people who want to help to just "set up their own faithless agencies"... Whey should they?! Should a bunch of nuns serving food to the homeless and shelter to teenage mothers give up service to their church and religion because, gee, we certainly can't have nuns helping the world!?

Seperation of church and state has gone a little far. Giving aid to religious agencies offering needed social services is far from a stat-endorsed religion or the state-endorsed prosecution of any of the religions. Church and state has become just another rhetorical battle-cry for people to convince others to join their cause, without thinking it through -- much like "it's for the children".

Finally, please educate me -- where in the Constitution or Bill of Rights does it require a seperation of church and state to begin with?

As far as I recall, there is only the statement: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

By giving religious charties money, how is that establishing a religion, prohibiting the free exercise of a religion, abridging freedom of speech, abridging freedom of the press or impeding the right of people to assemble or petition the Government?!
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Wrong question (4.00 / 4) (#25)
by pete on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:05:34 PM EST

You're asking the wrong Constitutional question. The question isn't: where is giving money to charities prohibited? It's: where is giving money to charities allowed? And it's not. If you don't know what I mean, read article 1 section 8 and the tenth amendment.


--pete


[ Parent ]
Where does it say about wellfare? SS?, etc? (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by Seumas on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:15:00 PM EST

Section 8 of Article 1 also does not say that taxation to raise money for birth control, drug treatment, free clean needles, wellfare, medicare or social security is 'allowed', but it is done, isn't it? The flat truth is that the government can do whatever they wish with the money, because it's theirs. You can do what you wish with whatever they allow you to keep.

I agree that I don't desire such a law, but I don't directly oppose it either. I'm passed the point of really giving a fuck what happens to money once it's no longer mine. It won't be going to something I approve of 90% of the time anyway.

What I do oppose is making it a federal mandate. We have far too many federal laws for a country which originally intended to avoid federal control. Granting refunds to the states for the taxes their citizens would be better than dishing it out to Prison Fellowships and other rediculous things (no, I don't want money that I could be spending on an education or savings to go toward helping a convicted felon find Christ or whatever it is he's supposed to find). If the individual states within the union care to assist charities funded by religious organizations, fine.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Nowhere (3.80 / 5) (#41)
by pete on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:56:38 PM EST

Section 8 of Article 1 also does not say that taxation to raise money for birth control, drug treatment, free clean needles, wellfare, medicare or social security is 'allowed', but it is done, isn't it?

Exactly right. Therefore, any conversation about what the government does with your money must start with "given the fact that the federal government is already assraping the Constitution..."

The flat truth is that the government can do whatever they wish with the money, because it's theirs.

Sure. But not legally.

I'm passed the point of really giving a fuck what happens to money once it's no longer mine.

You seem to contradict that a few sentences later. I'm not disagreeing with it though; I certainly do give a fuck. Anyway, we've kind of gotten off your point that started the thread off...I just wanted to add that if you're going to ask a Constitutional question, I believe it's deeper than the separation of church and state.


--pete


[ Parent ]
Please read my other reply... (1.50 / 2) (#44)
by gauntlet on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:16:46 PM EST

Here

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

common Defence and general welfare (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by gauntlet on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:15:02 PM EST

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
Now, I'm not constitutional scholar, but it seems to me that Taxes are left there to be used for the general Welfare. Everything else has to follow the rules that come after this section, but (to paraphrase) Congress shall have Power To collect Taxes to provide for the general Welfare of the Unites States.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

True, but for a comma... (3.50 / 2) (#90)
by Elmin on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:10:52 AM EST

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises-->,<-- to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Logically, this paraphrases to: [Congress will have power (to lay and collect taxes and duties and imposts and excises) and (to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United states)], etc.

The comma makes it an and, not a to.

[ Parent ]

Seperation of Church and State (2.00 / 2) (#119)
by Ratnik on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:34:36 AM EST

No its not written specifically in the Constitution, however the Supreme Court has interperated it as such. Which means the same thing, since their 'ruling' can't be overturned.

[ Parent ]
Discrimination (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by Wicket on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:52:35 PM EST

My main worry with this is discrimination. From the article- "Religious organizations are exempt from many civil rights laws, so they are allowed to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs and teachings about race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and pregnancy status." This is where it becomes less a church and state issue, but a civil rights issue, i.e. taxpayer money going to organizations that are exempt from holding the same hiring practices and civil laws as any other employer has to abide by.
intune.org - music discussion for the soul...
[ Parent ]
Ah, but what of... (4.00 / 3) (#23)
by Seumas on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:59:26 PM EST

I see it as coming down to this -- is it fundamentally wrong for such aid to be given to a religious group? I find no evidence suggesting that, as much as I wish I did. In fact, what I find in the following words suggests even that giving money to religious agencies and not allowing them to use it to provide not only assistance, but assistance based in and on religion may be required. That is, if they're going to give money to these groups, they cannot then require that they not preach or impregnate their solutions with religious tones and methods -- as that would surely be a lack of seperation of church and state.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. If they say "we'll give you money, but you better not pray for people" (or a derivative of that), it could be construed as abridging the free exercise of religion, especially since it does not specifically state that the church and state must be seperated in the way that is generally portrayed by the world.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

What we need now (4.26 / 26) (#5)
by ZanThrax on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:21:36 PM EST

are wiccans, satanists, and faithful of all manner of non-judeo-christian religions to set up various agencies to request help from this program. That way those people who want help that would be unwilling (I for example, would never take anything from a Catholic program) to recieve assitance from the church-based groups this program is intended for. Either they'd have to accept non-judeo-christian religions, or they'd have to admit that this is just another effort to give the 'christian coalition' types more power and influence...

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.

Then it gets sticky (3.71 / 7) (#20)
by spaceghoti on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:55:27 PM EST

Bush has already declared that he doesn't consider Wicca to be a religion, just a "cult." So then you get into the lovely mess of labels and categories, and the government gets to declare who qualifies as a religion and who qualifies as a cult. Guess what's going to qualify as a religion, and what won't?



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
Cult? Like this? (2.83 / 6) (#26)
by Seumas on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:07:15 PM EST

You mean cult as in the Latin 'cultus' with roots meaning 'worship' and 'to cultivate'? Find me a religion that doesn't fit the description of cultivating worship.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
How Bush used the word. (3.28 / 7) (#29)
by Wicket on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:16:22 PM EST

Bush said Wicca is not a religion, but a CULT, so going by his use of the word, one would see in the dictionary: "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious". But, with Dubya's use of language in the past who knows :) But it was very clear to me what the poster was implying.
intune.org - music discussion for the soul...
[ Parent ]
Of course. (3.66 / 3) (#97)
by Seumas on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:34:32 AM EST

Of course -- I know what he was saying (the original poster), but I was trying to make a flippant example of how ludicrous the use of 'cult' is by most people (not the poster, just people in general -- especially some self rightous religious people). : )

Again, I think it is unfortunate that the president has some very narrow-minded views, but I'm also thankful that we have a system that won't allow him to do much about those views.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Not exclusively for religious groups (3.42 / 7) (#55)
by ajschu on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:32:43 PM EST

The way I read the article, the program seems to put religious groups on equal footing with other, non-profit community service organizations. I don't think that such organizations would need to be religious in nature (ie. the Bush Administration's view of religious) in order to be up for funds.

I feel that, as the program is outlined in the CNN article, a satanist community-service group would be equally eligible for funds as a Christian group. Whether funds would be distributed in such a manner is another story...

AJS



[ Parent ]
It would be an interesting experiment. (3.60 / 5) (#66)
by static on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:40:16 PM EST

I'd like to see someone try it, actually. It doesn't have to be so radical as Wiccan; what about Buddhist analogues? or Taoist? (to pick two at random)

I suspect that they would - by and large - not put together the same types and structures of welfare that a Catholic church would put together, based of course on their religious views about providing welfare. This would affect how likely they qualify for government funding. But it would still be an interesting experiment...

Wade.

[ Parent ]

I got to thinking... (4.00 / 4) (#103)
by Seumas on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:42:29 AM EST

So, I've slept for a few hours, made some tacos and now I'm back (I can't seem to escape this place). But I'm back with a new thought.

Could this be a good thing, not only for people who need help and the main religious sects who provide that help -- but for every religious sect that wants money for an organization that helps people?

I know some people who claim to be satanists and I know a lot of wiccans, as well as a lot of other religions that have little following in this country but a vast following throughout the world. I don't know much about these religions, granted, but that's just because I'm not someone who particularly cares about religion. Period. Anyway, of all these different religions, I don't know of any satanist or wiccan organizations that help the homeless or other similar causes. This certainly doesn't mean they don't exist, but before we can argue in defense of them for monetary assistance, we need to be sure the groups are even there in the first place.

So, back to the thought I had.

If the government begins to allocate some funding to religious organizations, this could be a very good thing (for religions, that is). Why? Well, if those who make the choices give assistance to the Christians, Muslims and Jews, they better be damned certain to give it to the Bhuddists, the Wiccans and whoever else. The slightest indication of preferential treatment and everyone's political ass is in the proverbial sling. So they may be not only willing but eager to assist as many organizations from as diverse a cross-section as they can.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

bush the younger (4.80 / 5) (#124)
by chopper on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:12:16 AM EST

well, his views on religion and 'cults' aren't quite as bad as his dad's.

Robert I. Sherman (American Atheist Press): "Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?"

George Bush: "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

RS: "Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?"

GB: "Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists."

...so remember, all you wiccans and memebers of so-called 'cults': at least you're citizens!

Okay. I have now destroyed authority. --R.P.Feynman

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Faith Based? (3.53 / 15) (#6)
by reshippie on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:23:17 PM EST

I don't see why the government needs an entire office to deal with "faith based charities". Why can't they just look at the resources that they have, and simply make a decision based on that?

I don't think that religious groups should be automatically excluded from receiving government funds for providing community services, but they shouldn't be automatically helped either.

Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)

Well put (3.00 / 3) (#56)
by ajschu on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:35:03 PM EST

If an organization wants to really help the community and has the means to do so, the government should assist it as much as possible. Why Bush made a point to discuss "faith-based" charities is beyond me...it just seems to fan the ACLU flames. A similar announcement could have been made w/o the "faith-based" stipulation and made a lot more sense.

AJS



[ Parent ]
And they can decline the funding, too, if they lik (1.00 / 3) (#67)
by static on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:41:03 PM EST



[ Parent ]
A Partial Solution can be Worse than the Problem (4.14 / 21) (#7)
by avdi on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:24:48 PM EST

Taxpayer money shouldn't be used to fund charities at all. And this article demonstrates why. If the government is going to take away money that might otherwise have been donated to the taxpayer's choice of charities, they are under the obligation to choose worthy charities to give it to. But they are much more limited in their choice then the taxpayer, because they are under a constitutional mandate to keep religion and state seperated. So religious orginizations, frequently the most willing and able to help (if not always the most "qualified"), are deprived of the money they would otherwise have recieved. Bush is attempting to remedy this in a half-assed, controversial way by putting public money into religious charities. Nothing but controversy will result from this.

What needs to happen is the government needs to start letting it's citizens decide where their extra cash goes, and what charities are worth supporting. The president needs to stop all public funds to charities, come through on his vaunted tax cuts, and let the people use their newfound extra cash toward the charities of their choice. Only then will charity funding start to reflect the true local needs of every community.

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir

Wellfare (4.11 / 9) (#16)
by Seumas on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:47:55 PM EST

I don't recall ever being asked whether or not I'd like to contribute to wellfare, social security, medicare or any of the other social services of the mid-century. If that isn't charity, I don't know what is.

I'm not happy with my taxes being taken and spent -- period. But if we're going to spend money, we might as well be realistic about it.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

The Government Eliminated Diffused Responsibility (3.71 / 7) (#39)
by gauntlet on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:51:09 PM EST

What needs to happen is the government needs to start letting it's citizens decide where their extra cash goes, and what charities are worth supporting. The president needs to stop all public funds to charities, come through on his vaunted tax cuts, and let the people use their newfound extra cash toward the charities of their choice. Only then will charity funding start to reflect the true local needs of every community.
Evidently, you're making some sort of distinction between third party charities, and non-profit social programs run by the federal government. What that distinction would be, I'm not sure. Let me know, it might bolster your argument.

Let's say that the government collects one penny in tax from each taxpayer that goes toward charity. Let's also say that we adopt your plan, and give the penny back to the taxpayer, to do with as they please.

First of all, are you going to feel a responsibility to donate that penny to charity? Secondly, will you actually do it?

Yes, doing this would cause charity funding to reflect the local community. But not the community's needs. It would reflect the attitudes of the community's charitable givers, in whatever numbers they may be. This has a large likelihood of causing inequity.

Also, the federal government has a responsibility to benefit the entire country. If there are certain areas of charity that deserve more funding because they better promote the well-being of more of the country's citizens, then they have the ability to donate funds in that direction. Individual charitable giving would not be so vision-oriented, and as a result would likely be less effective at promoting the common good.

Suffice it to say rich communities would have rich charities, poor communities would have broke ones. And we'd all be worse off.

I wish there was a political party for centrists.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

shedding light on my position (3.33 / 3) (#115)
by avdi on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:24:46 AM EST

I considered putting the disclaimer: "Yes, I'm a libertarian" at the end of my post. Suffice to say, we disagree. IMO, charities shouldn't be supported by the government. That includes social programs like welfare. Regardless of how iniquitous would be people's charitable spending habits if they were able to determine them for themselves, the government has no business deciding where people's money should go. And no business taking care of the poor. Yes, this means that in my perfect world some people would probably get screwed. That's the price of freedom; that's what the revolutionaries fought for; and that's the system I choose. It may not be a morally "better" system, but it's the one this country is supposedly based on.

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
[ Parent ]
Extra cash (3.87 / 8) (#70)
by pete on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:12:11 PM EST

What needs to happen is the government needs to start letting it's citizens decide where their extra cash goes...

I'd argue that what really needs to happen is that we stop letting the government define the word extra.


--pete


[ Parent ]
Spread it around.. (3.46 / 15) (#11)
by enterfornone on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:33:47 PM EST

Just to use your examples, is Bush giving money to Jews, Catholics and Baptists, or just to his own religion. If he's spreading the money around then I don't really have a problem with it (keeping in mind that I don't pay tax to the US Government).

It doesn't sound like he's funding missionaries here, he's just giving money to groups that help people and many of those groups are run by religious organisation.

If he's spreading the money to religious and non-religious organisations and the primary aim of these organisations is not to convert people then I don't see the problem. Should he only give money to atheist groups?

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Re: Spread it around... (3.50 / 4) (#18)
by FyreFiend on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:53:05 PM EST

That's my question: How does a religion qualify for the money? If a Wiccan group sets up a program and asks for money will they get it? I don't think they would after what Bush said about the Wiccan's at Fort Hood.
Either every religion needs to be able to apply or none.

--
Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we".
-- Mark Twain


[ Parent ]
Re: Spread it around... (3.00 / 4) (#30)
by enterfornone on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:25:42 PM EST

I think if he's specifically giving to Jewish Flood Relief ahead of Wiccan Flood Relief on Non-Religious Flood Relief then that's bad. But if he's giving to all equally then I don't see the problem. My understanding was that previous governments have specifically not given money to Jews, Christians or Wiccans but have given money to non religious organisations.

There are a lot of organisations of all faiths doing good work for the community. They shouldn't miss out on funding just because they are religious.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Conditions (4.00 / 5) (#32)
by FyreFiend on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:33:28 PM EST

My question is what happens if a group, doing say a Flood Relief, will only give people food if they first sit through a religious service or will only help people if they are willing to be "saved"? If they're going to use the relief service to convert people then I have a problem with it. But, if they going to offer relief uniformly and only offer religious teaching to those that ask then I'm all for it (as long as my previous consern is moot)

--
Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we".
-- Mark Twain


[ Parent ]
I don't think that would happen (3.75 / 4) (#38)
by enterfornone on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:46:40 PM EST

There are plenty of groups doing good without letting their religion get in the way. The Salvation Army would probably one of the most obvious examples. Sure they have religious services and stuff, but they don't force people who are after help to take part.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
But it could (3.33 / 3) (#40)
by FyreFiend on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:55:33 PM EST

The Salvation Army is a great group. They are the best example of how this could be a good thing. I still think that there needs to be rules for that sort of thing set down before a cent is handed out. Good groups like The Salvation Army will have no problem. It will just weed out the bad groups.

--
Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we".
-- Mark Twain


[ Parent ]
What bad groups? (4.28 / 7) (#42)
by theboz on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:07:54 PM EST

Disclaimer: I live in the Southeast U.S., in the bible belt.

I was in North Carolina when there was cities being flooded in 1999 due to a hurricane. Many people lost everything they had, and wanted to go back to their homes to try to salvage what they could. A coworker friend of mine who belonged to a church group took a few weekends to go to these areas and help people. He told us of what happened and how they just went there to help people. They weren't preaching or telling people to pray, they were going in these people's houses dressed in protective gear, going through the filth that the floods left, and looking for photo albums and such. They were a mostly white group helping people in a black neighborhood in the south. There was no racism or religious bias involved when they were helping people. Also, they went and helped clear out a church that was in this neighborhood that the majority of the people went to. The interesting thing is that the church belonged to a denomination that his church wasn't in agreement with. They helped anyways.

My point is that you have to give these people more credit than that. Even though I get offended when someone comes to my door to disturb my dinner to ask me if I'm saved then try to force me to listen to them, the majority are not like that. Whether you think their beliefs are silly, mythological, and backwards, they are moral people for the most part. Even if they are idiots, they will try to help people and do good. That is the main thing I do respect about organized religion. Only the most callous people would try to preach instead of help in a disaster like that.

I do agree with you fundamentally that we really shouldn't donate tax money to charities that are not under strict guidelines, but please try to give people some credit in these groups. They really do want to help people, and in the majority of cases they will help someone even if they are of a different ethnic group or religion than they are.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Bad Groups (3.75 / 4) (#73)
by FyreFiend on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:25:45 PM EST

That church group did a wonderful thing. They should be praised for what they did.

I think you and I are arguing on the same side. I'm saying that as long as all religions are treated the same and there are controls in place to stop groups from going beond helping into preaching then I have no problem with giving money to help.

As for bad groups. There are some different beliefs out there such as prayer is better then medical treatment or that all illnesses are in your head. If they're going to get money from the govenment to help with say drug rehab, they'll have to be watched to make sure that they are doing what's best for the addict. Even if that goes agenst their religous teachings.


--
Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we".
-- Mark Twain


[ Parent ]
Mother Teresa comes to mind... (5.00 / 2) (#193)
by theboz on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:49:36 PM EST

as an example of a bad person who would prefer prayer to treatment. Honestly these people should think logically even within their religion. They want God to help cure a headache? Take tylenol, which if you believe someone created the earth, that same being created tylenol for us to find and use. :oD

Anyways, you are probably right. There are a few groups that would abuse this money. I think Bush took what is kinda a good idea and had a completely bad execution of this idea. The money should not be taken from taxpayers, but instead let us use our own money for charity. Most of the people I know give some money either to their church or to other various charities or both. If the middle and upper class had more money to spend, we might spend more of it on charity.

If the government wants us to give, perhaps there should be some incentives? People are greedy sometimes and need a little push. Maybe a free milkshake at McDonalds per $5 donated to the Salvation Army or something...that's a lame example but I think you get the idea. The intelligent people would give anyways, because we realize that if you can help eliminate poverty in the areas surrounding you, then you will benefit by lower crime, more business moving into your area because there are more people able to pay money, better parks and recreation areas that are safe, etc. If you help by donating towards finding a cure for cancer or aids, maybe it would save the life of a loved one or even yourself should you get an illness in the future. Or, if you donate money towards curing aids, and they find the cure, that will free up scientists to move on to the next disease which may be something that affects you. Doing good has benefits, even if they are vague.

Anyways, to go back to the point, I do agree that the execution of Bush's idea is possibly bad, and definitely open to corruption. What's to stop the Church of Beavis from asking for money in order to go buy some nachos? What's to prevent the money from only going to Baptists or a specific religion?

I would think maybe there needs to be some screening, and some reporting of what the funds are used for that they are held accountable for in order to get money the next year. Have these people report to the IRS just like we do with our taxes. I think if that is done this could be an extremely clever idea, because it would basically be having these organizations do the work of some government agencies, and not need to be paid as much since a lot more volunteer work is involved. It remains to be seen and I hope they don't screw this up.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Hiring practices (4.33 / 3) (#33)
by Wicket on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:36:52 PM EST

From the article- "Religious organizations are exempt from many civil rights laws, so they are allowed to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs and teachings about race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and pregnancy status." I worry that taxpayer money will go to organizations that are exempt from holding the same hiring practices and civil laws as any other employer has to abide by. They can refuse employment or even services to someone based on his/her color of skin, religion or sexual orientation.
intune.org - music discussion for the soul...
[ Parent ]
Hiring practices (3.00 / 2) (#45)
by enterfornone on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:29:25 PM EST

Well if you want to be a priest you have to be catholic. Most of the religious charities I've come across are volenteer run.

I've seen ads for various larger charities and they ask that staff "affirm to their values". Personally I don't see why a non-religious person would want to work for a religious organisation.

I was walking past the Church of Scientology and noticed they have a sign up asking for office staff. Didn't say anything about having to be a Scienologist, I would think they have better ways of sourcing staff internally since they have a reputation for knowing the whereabouts of their members.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Heh (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by Anonymous 7324 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:54:06 PM EST

this is the guy who, when asked on Slashdot about his attitudes towards atheists and alternative religions like Wiccan, replied (paraphrasing) that he would fully support religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

And now, you expect him to distribute money _equitably_?!? Even if you wanted to do so, I have no idea how you could.

[ Parent ]
Oh well. (2.00 / 2) (#24)
by Seumas on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:03:02 PM EST

His views on supporting those religions or lack of religion really doesn't matter, considering he doesn't have the power to ban any of them. I guess that's one of the silly quirks of this country. A president can dislike athiests and agnostics, but he can't prevent them from existing and practicing.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
No, he can't... (2.50 / 2) (#64)
by MrMikey on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:18:28 PM EST

yet.

But he, and his buddy Ashcroft, could be, shall we say, selective as to which cases get prosecuted and which laws get enforced. That's the problem.

[ Parent ]

It wouldn't fly. (3.00 / 1) (#99)
by Seumas on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:47:30 AM EST

With so many groups (ACLU, and the like), it's pretty likely that any attempts to circumvent the Constitution or the Bill of Rights would be exposed and attacked.

Again, this is the problem I have with people crying "seperation of church and state!". The only explicit comments on church and state are about not preventing people from practicing religions and not creating them by the state. It never ever said that a politician can't support a religion, work with a religious group, make his views known or even hate a particular religious or non-religious group.

So even if Ashcroft is as bad as everyone says (and I'm not yet convinced he's much worse than most others) and Bush is as narrow-minded as he sometimes seems to be, the very paragraph that doesn't mention that government can't mix with religion does explicitely forbid any prevention of an excercise of ones religion. It gives us a fair shake in both worlds -- you can be a political figure and let religion guide you to a degree and have strong religious beliefs, but while you apparently can encourage or promote your religion, all other religions are protected.

Of course, I'm not absolutely certain I think these are all good things, because I'm very tired of all the religious people in public positions using their religion as a reason to bring prayer into school or censoring movies, books, whatever... (ironic that the same people who are able to practice their religion due to a lack of censorship want to censor everything and everyone else). The only way the system can fail is when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are both ignored. So the problem, I think is not the religion or the viewpoints of those who have religious beliefs as part of their day to day life and job -- but the failure to adhere to the structure of our system when personal interests appear.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Yes and No, (4.04 / 23) (#13)
by FlightTest on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:41:17 PM EST

Yes, it violates the doctrine of separation of church and state, however (contrary to popular opinion) there is no law of separation of church and state. The relevant portion of the 1st amendmend states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;". This is neither establishing a religion nor prohibiting it. Presuming it is applied fairly and equitably to all religions, it's no different from providing tax breaks to established religions. Note that even the ACLU doesn't say "violates the 1st amendment", they just vaguely refer to the "separation of church and state"

Be that as it may, as I stated in my response to your diary, I strongly believe gov't shouldn't be in the business of handing out money to any charities. OT:And I agree with you, "... I don't believe that taxpayer money should be used to support ANY kind of religion." I would include tax breaks in that as well. For one thing, the tax breaks only go to "recognized" religions which would seem to violate the establishment clause.

And I do fear the Bush administration will not apply this fairly and equitably to all religions. I'm afraid they will tend to favor the Christian sects.


Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
Yes, it is an assault on the Constitution (4.16 / 12) (#63)
by isdnip on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:13:23 PM EST

The "establishment of religion" clause is generally taken to mean that any funding of a religious organization is forbidden. As soon as you give some religions money, you're favoring them. Thus there are tight limits on what money can be used to help students at parochial schools. For example, my city provides school bus service to students at private schools, including parochial, and some special services (which public school students get) can be provided to the students there, but nothing for general funds.

The Bushian view seems to be that it's okay to give money to churches so long as they go to both Southern Baptist *and* Pentacostal churches, since by giving to both they are not establishing one as the sole national religion. That view is, to put it mildly, at odds with the American tradition.


[ Parent ]
Atheism (4.00 / 4) (#85)
by slakhead on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:20:33 PM EST

So where do we atheists go to collect? Or are we not people because we don't have any religious organization to back us up? Are we supposed to pay for other religions to propogate their beliefs with our tax money? Giving tax breaks to religious groups isn't the same as paying them directly.

Not to be bitchy but I don't care one way or the other if someone somewhere decides to find Jesus or Buddha or Allah. That is cool. But just don't ask me to pay for it because I certainly don't believe in it. While we're at it, why don't we all pay for the government laundry bill. It will do me just as much good. I hear Bush needs some suits cleaned and pressed for Sunday mass...


[ Parent ]
atheism (2.00 / 1) (#166)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:36:47 PM EST

So where do we atheists go to collect? [snip] if someone somewhere decides to find Jesus or Buddha or Allah. That is cool. But just don't ask me to pay for it

I take it that you don't know that Buddha was an atheist? Most forms of Buddhism (but especially Zen Buddhism) still reflect this teaching.



[ Parent ]
Buddha (2.00 / 1) (#202)
by slakhead on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:23:39 PM EST

People still "find" Buddha and Buddhism is a religion.

Jesus was Jewish but when I talk about people who "find Jesus" I mean Christians. I guess that is derogatory and vague. Sorry.

[ Parent ]

the difference (3.00 / 1) (#221)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:10:58 AM EST

Christians are those who find Jesus. This is standard doctrinal fare for most variants (Gnostic forms excluded) of Christianity. In Christianity to find salvation is to find Jesus, Jesus is salvation.

Buddhists are not those who find Buddha, but those who find enlightenement. Buddha was just the most famous person to have found enlightenment, hence acquiring the Buddha-mind means finding the same enlightenment as Buddha, not that one has found Buddha.

This aside, my criticism was that you were contrasting atheism with religions and included Buddhism as opposed to atheism, when Buddhism is an atheistic religion.

While atheism is often used in the English language to describe not believing in religion, the word litteraly means against theism. Not all religions are theistic. So atheism, in the strict sense, should not be contrasted with atheistic religions. Only if athesim is used in a very general sense that is slightly contrary to its etymology can atheism be contrasted with atheistic religions.

Either way, you didn't offend me. I'm not Buddhist. :)

[ Parent ]

Sidhartha -- Atheist (none / 0) (#280)
by dkr on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 09:25:53 PM EST

One of my favorite quotes from good ol' Gautama:
"Believe nothing, merely because you have been told it, or because it is traditional, or because you have imagined it."


[ Parent ]
In theory, I don't mind. (3.82 / 17) (#21)
by chuqui on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:55:43 PM EST

In theory, I have no problem with Bush's plan. The local religious organizations many times have the best feel for what needs to be done on the local level and very low administrative overhead. Glide Memorial church in San Fransisco is a great example of the kind of organization that this program should be supporting, and the kind of organization that DESERVES this kind of support.

But if there aren't safeguards protecting the separation from the charitable arm of the organization and the religious one, or if the program is subverted into a program that pushes a religious agenda -- then I can't support it.

I think the main reason people seem against this proposal isn't the separation of church and state, which I think is in many cases overblown and used to argue against trivial issues -- it's because we (and I include myself here) don't trust Bush to do it properly, and instead expect him to politicize the program to his own religious goals.

I'm not against the program -- I think it can do much good at the levels that need good done. I'm hesitant to support it until I see the details, because I don't trust Bush to do what needs to be done. But I won't throw out the program because he MIGHT screw it up. I'll wait and see where it goes, and decide once I see the details.

Don't demonize things because they might be misused -- wait to see what is there, and work to fix the problems that appear.


-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
Trust (4.00 / 4) (#83)
by roystgnr on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:13:00 PM EST

I think it can do much good at the levels that need good done. I'm hesitant to support it until I see the details, because I don't trust Bush to do what needs to be done. But I won't throw out the program because he MIGHT screw it up.

Well, that's a recipe for killing a nation in a generation. Making these kinds of decisions is not about whether the current administration can be trusted to handle an easily abused extension of power; it is about whether every succeeding administration can be trusted to do the same.

When is the last time federal spending decreased from year to year? 1965? The last big decrease was after we won WWII. When was the last time preexisting government authority was removed at a federal level, or removed entirely?

Once a new program is there, it's going to stick for a long time; I hope you trust all the adminstrations and private charities that go in and out of power over the next few decades to keep it from being subverted.

[ Parent ]

Well, that's a recipe. (3.00 / 1) (#175)
by chuqui on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:14:15 PM EST

>Well, that's a recipe for killing a nation in a generation.

sorry, I don't buy it. If you actually believe what you post, you're arguing that nobody should ever do anything, anytime, because it leaves whatever was done open to abuse later, and anything that might be abused in the future, should never be done now.

Sorry. There are always risks in life. you manage those risks, you do the best you can, and you deal with problems when they occur. you don't refuse to do anything because something might go wrong sometime.


-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Good And Bad (3.44 / 9) (#27)
by LordHunter317 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:12:05 PM EST

I think this is both good and bad. On one hand, most local "faith-based" orginations are better connected to their local areas and could do a better job. I also believe that they could a better job than licensened consulors in many circumstances (worked for me and my friends). However, I think the money can and will be abused and it is not keeping in the spirit of our government to prefer one type of charity over another.

Man cannot be wonderful. Man can only lift big rocks and grunt - Me to Ex-girlfriend
prefer one type of charity over another. (2.50 / 4) (#31)
by enterfornone on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:30:21 PM EST

"Government, of course, cannot fund and will not fund religious activities," Bush said Tuesday. "But when people provide faith-based services, we will not discriminate against them."
From what I can see, he's not preferring one type of charity to another. He's instead not discriminating against religious groups in favour of non religious groups.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
What exactly is "separation"? (3.23 / 13) (#46)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:29:43 PM EST

"I agree with the ACLU in that Bush's proposal violates the US's law of separation of Church and State."

I haven't read his plan, but I seriously doubt that you and the ACLU are right. Here's why: What exactly does it mean for Church and State to be "separate"? When the government wants to encourage certain behavior (home-buying, etc) they give tax relief for people that behave that way. Churches are exempt from property taxes because churches are generally a good thing to have in a community. Does this qualify as "giving money to churches"? Yes, but I don't think it violates separation. The reason: All churches benefit equally. Anybody can start up any church and qualify for exemption of property tax.

Same here (I'm guessing). ANY "church" that wants to go to all the trouble of actually ministering to people in need can get funded by the State. The government isn't (AFAIK) mandating any particular message ("Jesus is Lord", "God groks", whatever)--it's just making money available to organizations that are helping people.

In other words, separation of Church and State doesn't mean "the State can have nothing to do with churches" (this is logically impossible--for example you either charge tax or you don't, but both impact the Church) it means "the State cannot mandate or sanction a particular Church over any other".

Play 囲碁
churches can't be taxed (4.75 / 8) (#49)
by Delirium on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:57:53 PM EST

Churches are exempt from property taxes because churches are generally a good thing to have in a community. Does this qualify as "giving money to churches"? Yes, but I don't think it violates separation.

This isn't the justification for it. Churches are exempt from property taxes because they (or at least some of them) claim that the government is constitutionally not allowed to tax them. They claim that government taxation of churches would entail government control of churches, which the first amendment prohibits.

I personally disagree, arguing instead that churches should be treated as any other organization (and only allowed to be tax-free non-profits if they follow the non-profit rules like everyone else). However, the courts have upheld the other view.

[ Parent ]

the key (3.00 / 4) (#52)
by SEAL on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:13:37 PM EST

and only allowed to be tax-free non-profits if they follow the non-profit rules like everyone else

That's an important point. If churches fell under these rules, we wouldn't have huge abuses like Scientology.

- SEAL

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]

here's the tricky part. (4.00 / 2) (#127)
by chopper on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:31:06 AM EST

Churches are exempt from property taxes because they (or at least some of them) claim that the government is constitutionally not allowed to tax them. They claim that government taxation of churches would entail government control of churches, which the first amendment prohibits.

so let's say i open a pagan church next door to the local catholic branch. now they don't pay for example property taxes, as you stated, because that would entail "gov't control".

of course, since *my* religion isn't 'recognized' by the government, i pay taxes. hmm... now it seems like a violation of the constitution, since by taxing me and not the church next door, in effect, the catholics are getting preferential treatment from the government.

what do we do? do we recognize any religion that comes out of the woodwork? or do we decide, like GWB, that, for example, wicca is a 'cult', and not a religion.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Churches pay property taxes (5.00 / 1) (#164)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:33:24 PM EST

Churches are also obligated to pay property taxes, sales tax when they sell things, and many other types of taxes.

What Churches don't pay is income tax. A for-profit organization pays taxes on all net-proft. Non-profit organizations (in theory) don't have any profit to tax. Churches get to make as much money as they want and not pay taxes. Of course, once that money flows from a Church to an individual (such as a pastor) it gets taxed at that point.

of course, since *my* religion isn't 'recognized' by the government, i pay taxes. hmm... now it seems like a violation of the constitution, since by taxing me and not the church next door, in effect, the catholics are getting preferential treatment from the government.

There are very well defined rules for deciding whether an organization qualifies as a Church. If you want to know more ask your local tax lawyer. If you feel your religion is improperly not recognized, you have the basis for a good lawsuit.

The whole process is open to abuse on all sides. Witness the recent controversy over whether the Church of Scientology would keep its status as a Church. Also witness the recent controversy over whether the US Armed Services would permit enrolled personel to practice Wicca on military owned property.



[ Parent ]
Fungible - a wonderful word! (4.66 / 30) (#48)
by Blarney on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:43:01 PM EST

Bush wants to give money to churches. Bush says that the money won't be used for proselytizing. Bush is either mistaken, or a liar, because money is fungible!

Fungible:

  1. Law. Returnable or negotiable in kind or by substitution, as a quantity of grain for an equal amount of the same kind of grain.
  2. Interchangeable.
Here's how the magic works!

The congregation of Christ's Holy Fellowship tithes up every month. Each month, $2000 is used to feed the hungry of the area, and $500 is allocated to purchase tracts by Jack Chick explaining the wonders of life with Christ and the torments of unbelievers in an eternal lake of fire and pain.

Now, some of the tracts are handed out on the street, some of them go to those who come in and eat, but they all get handed out. Perhaps they do not wish their charity to look like a bribe for converts - so they'll just have a couple guys outside, giving the tracts to anyone who wants them. Probably they don't actually attempt to convert the hungry until they've eaten - even if the believers consider God more important then food, unbelievers might not!

One day, Little Bush decides to give the good people of the Church $500 a month! All they have to do in return is continue their good work of feeding the hungry, and use the $500 only for that work.

The congregation accepts the money and the conditions thereon, but decides that it wouldn't hurt to have a little more spreading of the good news, after all. The food helps the hungry while they live, but eventually they will all die. If they die as unbelievers, they will burn for all eternity. But if they are believers, they can die of hunger and still inherit eternal Paradise!

The next month, they take their $2500 budget and allocate $1500 for food and $1000 for spreading the Gospel. Little Bush's money ensures that the same amount of food will still be distributed, so the hungry don't suffer! And the word of God is spread, verily, even to twice the extent. Hallelujah!

Meanwhile, a grumpy Jew is loudly complaining that he doesn't want to pay taxes to buy these goddam Chick comics that threaten him with the worst pain ever, for an infinite amount of time. His friends may agree, up to a point. But Jewish leaders get some of the money too, and to all appearances the money is being used for good, secular works, so why not just put up with it! At least the Government isn't spending it on nuclear weapons.



Excellent point -- Shrub breaches a previous law (4.22 / 9) (#61)
by isdnip on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:07:52 PM EST

Precisely because money is fungible, this money will be used, in effect, for proseletyzing and other religious activities. It's payoff to the Christian Right and the Bob Jones crowd for supporting him.

There are, under today's laws, "faith-based" charities. For example, Catholic Charities does a lot of government-funded work. BUT it's separated an arms-length from the religious activities of the church itself; it's technically a separate organization, subject to the usual laws. Bush proposes removing the structural-separation requirement, allowing taxpayer money to flow directly to Billy Bob's Bible Tabernackle Church and Bait Shop, ostemsibly to do whatever Shrub considers charitable.

I refer to the new office in the White House as the Office of Church-State Integration. A frontal assault on the Constitution.

[ Parent ]
read more at cnn.com (2.80 / 10) (#50)
by fluxrad on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:07:52 PM EST

ok. first off, even religious groups stated that, if they are given money that was "taken" from other social services then this plan would not work.

under the bush plan, he states that these religious groups will get money to help people out, etc. ,etc. Let me put it this way. i casn't stand the guy....but this idea isn't really all that bad when you think about it. Basically he's saying he's going to give these groups money because they've been proven to have a higher success rate than any other type of program. It's smart. And, like i said, i hate bush and i'm an atheist!

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
"Higher success rate?" (3.00 / 3) (#68)
by MoxFulder on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:43:54 PM EST

Where have you heard that religious groups offering social services have a "higher success rate" than governmental or secular groups?

I'd be very interested to see your sources for this information, since I've often wondered about this issue.

"If good things lasted forever, would we realize how special they are?"
--Calvin and Hobbes


[ Parent ]
like i said... (2.50 / 2) (#69)
by fluxrad on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:03:41 PM EST

cnn.com has alot of info. that's where i read several articles on the matter.

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
soccess rate bullshit for religious orginisations (4.50 / 2) (#77)
by Nyarlathotep on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:44:08 PM EST

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics, but there is also legitimate science. Alcoholics anonymous is the quenticential example of a religious based orginisation which hides it's religious aspects t oget state support. Specifically, the courts will oftin force non-christians to attend AA meatings.

AA dose this by the "lies" variant of statistics. If you read real psychology journal articles (you know the ones with control groups for their experements) on AA and Alcholoism treatment you find that AA has a rediculously low success rate. I seem to remember AA being worse then just leaving the problem alone. Regardless, this is a model example of a religious orginisation helping people which will probable recieve money under Bush's plan at the expence of lissenced treatment counselers.

now, I must admit that the treatment counselers have probable been trained with 20 year old science, but they will at least refer you to a real doctor when you have a serious problem.. unlike AA.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Why AA won't accept any money (4.50 / 2) (#87)
by trog on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:22:43 PM EST

Their own traditions (the 7th, specifically) prevent them from receiving any money from an outside source. They are self-supporting, declining outside contrabutions, and have been since their inception.

They are also sited as the most sucessful "faith based" treatment organization (while their failure rate is high, it is on par with the sucess rate for counseling programs, which do receive funds). I have volenteered at professionally run treatment centers, and almost all of them refer their patients to AA/NA for life-long recovery, in conjunction with the counciling.

So, if the most sucessful faith based recovery program will refuse the government money, AND have managed to exist for over sixty years without any form of government contribution:

  • Where is the money really going to go to?
  • And why give money to less sucessful organizations?
  • My own life is a testimony to the effectiveness of AA (having been clean for close to a decade now), and I STRONGLY oppose this proposed legislation.

    [ Parent ]

    AA success rate (none / 0) (#161)
    by Nyarlathotep on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:22:27 PM EST

    I should probable look up the research on AA, but their success rate is not that high. They claim a really high success rate by using diffrent statistics then legitimate treatment centers. Specifically they do not count people who leave the program. If your not going to count people who leave the program then you can have any success rate you want.

    If your problem is really serious then nothing will beat the compination of a trained psychologist who studdies the problem (i.e. someone who knows a lhell of a lot more then a counseler) and perscription drugs, but this solution is also REALLY expencive. OTOH, I think there are group counseling alternatives which are considerably more effective then AA and these will not be too expencive, but I would not recommend using any type of group counselling if your problem is really serious.

    Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
    [ Parent ]
    AA Rationalle for counting sucess differently (4.00 / 1) (#172)
    by trog on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:54:19 PM EST

    Having been through both counciling and AA myself, I can definately say that they both have their place. There is a difference between the two, however, and a couple of reasons why it is hard to get accurate statistics on AA:

  • AA are anonymous. There are no records at all of people coming in or out of the program, except for the memories of the members they interact with.
  • While counciling has a beginning and and end, the AA program is lifetime. Many people remain clean and sober for life, but after a few years, become less and less active in the program. Technically, they would have left the program, but they are still not drinking or using.
  • As a personal example, I have not been to an AA meeting in about 8 months. Technically, it can be said that I have left the program. However, I still practice the principles of the program, and am approaching 10 years of continous sobriety. My story is very common among those who have been in AA for some time.

    AA is a complete lifestyle change, which also encourages members to seek out counciling if they need it. It's effectiveness lies not only in the spiritual tools it teaches, but also in the environmental changes it gives (new friends, new activities, new things to do with life).

    While I do not have access to any online studies, I have access to studies offline comparing AA with professional counciling programs (this data is from a 1995 study in California). Using AA exclusively, the sucess rate is between 10-18%, depending on demographics. Counciling programs have a slightly better success rate, but only among middle to upper class whites. Counciling programs among minorities have about a 4-9% success rate. Far fewer minorities become involved with counciling programs, because as a group, they have a smaller income, and these programs tend to be very, very expensive (working as an intern in 1995, I made about $25/hour; professional councilers make 4-6 times that).

    Interestingly, 96% of the professional counciling programs included AA as part of a life-long recovery program, and of the clients who sucessfully remained clean, 100% of them took part in a 12-step program in conjunction with their counciling. Both professional counciling and 12-step membership are components to a complete recovery program.

    I am still against this legislature

    [ Parent ]

    taxes (1.93 / 15) (#51)
    by dave114 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:08:54 PM EST

    religious people pay taxes too...
    I say why not?

    So do non-religous people. (3.81 / 11) (#53)
    by Zer0 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:22:49 PM EST

    Work out a way to only tax religious people then.

    [ Parent ]
    As soon as (5.00 / 1) (#146)
    by finkployd on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:34:49 AM EST

    As soon as a way is worked out that the roughly 50% of the country who oppose abortion no longer have to pay taxes that support it. The current tax and spend system is filled with examples of things that people are forced to pay for that they oppose. Better to just cut taxes and let people fund what they want.

    Finkployd
    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
    [ Parent ]
    The Real Problem (3.00 / 9) (#54)
    by espo812 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:27:57 PM EST

    The real problem isn't what organizations the government is donating my money to. No, the problem is that the government is taxing me to just give money to charitable organizations. Here's a plan: Don't tax the shit out of everyone and maybe people will be able to donate to groups THEMSELVES. That would be too easy I guess... hooray for socialism.

    espo
    --
    Censorship is un-American.
    Yes, maybe they will. (2.75 / 4) (#62)
    by MrMikey on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:11:28 PM EST

    Then again, maybe they won't. I, for one, am damn glad that the federal government is funding school lunches, pre-natal care, and the like. They should be doing more of it.

    Warning! Rant: I am sick to death of listening to self-centered, greedy bastards who whine about "Taxation is theft!" when what they really mean is "Mine! Mine! Mine!" We don't all live in little castles.... we are a community, a society. You don't want to help anyone else? Fine. I suggest a nice, little igloo out by the north pole. You can pile your goodies all around you and not share to your little, shriveled heart's content. Because, after all, "Better Dead Than Red^H^H^HSocialist."

    [ Parent ]

    a moment of your time... (3.50 / 2) (#78)
    by dice on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:52:56 PM EST

    Can you tell me precisely how you believe those who are impoverished have more rights than those who aren't?

    Maybe I'm missing a vital point here, but I can't see any rationale behind the idea that because someone has a hard life they have a right to my property.

    Try to do this without becoming overly emotionally charged, or bringing "for the children" into it.

    [ Parent ]
    Religious charities should refuse this money (4.33 / 21) (#57)
    by wonderslug on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:41:17 PM EST

    As a Christian, I will refuse to support any Christian charity that takes money from the federal government. If my church decides to seek money from this program, I will just have to find a new church. The US Constitution only gives certain powers to the federal government, and social services is not one of them. The US government has no business running any of the programs this would apply to in the first place, so it's only a side note that they shouldn't be giving this money to religious organizations. But that side note is important to consider as well. The first amendment protections against establishment and prohibiting free exercise were put in to place primarily to protect religion from undue influence by the state, not the other way round. Programs like this will undoubtedly put unconstitutional restrictions on the use of the money if it is used by religious organizations. Even in Bush's initial proposal, the beginnings of the restrictions are evident. It cannot be used for proselytizing. As a member of my church, I will not accept that anyone giving us money can put any conditions on its use. I would hope that other organizations will see this contradiction and do the same.

    Change the country in my email to its initials if you want messages to get to me.
    Bravo! (3.33 / 3) (#106)
    by bgarcia on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:03:52 AM EST

    This is the first decent argument I've heard against Bush's proposed program.

    Every other post appears to be worried about "the church" gaining undue influence in "government matters". The real problem of Bush's proposal is that it ends up giving the government more control over religious organizations that accept the money.

    [ Parent ]

    Social Security Is Allowed For in the Constitution (4.25 / 4) (#116)
    by gauntlet on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:30:47 AM EST

    The US Constitution only gives certain powers to the federal government, and social services is not one of them.
    The Constitution says:
    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
    And thereafter lists the things that the monies can be used for. You will notice, however, that the list of things that money can be used for does not apply to "Taxes". It only applies to Duties, Imposts, and Excises. Taxes, only having been mentioned in the previous sentence, are free to be used for the "general Welfare" of the United States. This is where social programs are allowed for.

    Into Canadian Politics?
    [ Parent ]

    Confusing funding with existence (none / 0) (#245)
    by Robert Hutchinson on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 05:12:17 PM EST

    Your quote establishes that taxes, duties, etc. can be used to fund national defense. Why, then, does the Constitution later define exactly what powers Congress has in *establishing* a means of national defense? Second question: where does the Constitution define the exact powers of Congress to establish "general Welfare"? I suggest to you that your cite is a restriction on the spending of taxes, not an allowance for the creation of programs.

    Robert Hutchinson
    I, not being great with law, could be entirely wrong, of course.
    No bomb-throwing required.

    [ Parent ]
    Don't Be Too Harsh On Them... (3.00 / 11) (#58)
    by lucas on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:41:32 PM EST

    Religious groups are still groups and I don't think it would be right to descriminate against them just because they are religious. Having an uncle who was a narcotics trafficker and a state social worker, I can tell you that I would rather the money go to religious organizations than the system now.

    I've seen some really irrational examples (e.g., "Fundamentalist Group A dumps Jack Chick Brochures onto the entire town") that don't correspond to 95% of the religious people and organizations in America. Sure, there will be people that screw with the system, but that's just how the System works. Who here hasn't screwed with the System?

    All organizations have their message to spread and have their own regulations. It's opportunity cost and it's the "American Way". There is no such thing as a free lunch.

    It would be contrary to the events that have happened in the last few years to think that privatized, for-profit corporations handle these people any better. When an addict, for instance, who views himself as less than zero is also reduced to a commodity, then we're only fooling ourselves. This is privatizing, but it is moving it to the non-profit church organizations that handle this stuff for a living and know how to do it a lot better than any corporation or governmental body.

    Religious membership has severely declined in the last quarter century while religious attendance has gone up. This is mostly attributed to a fascination with religious ideologies like Christianity, but an inability to really "commit" (and thus donate money). Thus, the churches that used to receive generous amounts money do not anymore and many are struggling to get by. Having been in the theological community, I can say that most people there today are there because they like what they do and they like helping people.

    Some religious leaders have had to resort to drastic measures to raise funds and keep a roof over their heads. These "megachurches" are created from this. Benny Hinn, the "faith healer". It's entertainment, like television, because the masses don't want to go to church (or anywhere, really) to be introspective and/or contemplative, they want a good show.

    Let's be honest: it's a different timeperiod. Generation X are becoming religious leaders; there is a much more accepting attitude, much more laid back and pragmatic. No priest, pastor, or rabbi that I have ever met has tried to push his (her) religion on me or anyone... and I was there, studying alongside them every single day. They are normal people, just like you and me.

    Would I give them my money over governmental bodies and for-profit corporations? Hell yeah.

    There are few flaws in your position. (3.60 / 5) (#60)
    by MrMikey on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:04:07 PM EST

    Religious groups are still groups and I don't think it would be right to descriminate against them just because they are religious.
    Religious organizations are exempt from some of the taxation that secular organizations must endure. They are free to hire whom they wish, and are not required to have trained staffs. It would seem that, at worst, federal funding will mean they will have to comply with the same restrictions that secular organizations must comply with.

    Sure, there will be people that screw with the system, but that's just how the System works. Who here hasn't screwed with the System?
    Hardly a glowing recommendation.

    When an addict, for instance, who views himself as less than zero is also reduced to a commodity, then we're only fooling ourselves. This is privatizing, but it is moving it to the non-profit church organizations that handle this stuff for a living and know how to do it a lot better than any corporation or governmental body.
    Privatization reduces an addict to a commodity? Non-profit church organizations handle this stuff for a living and know how to do it a lot better? Do you have anything that supports these rather broad assertions?

    Thus, the churches that used to receive generous amounts money do not anymore and many are struggling to get by. Having been in the theological community, I can say that most people there today are there because they like what they do and they like helping people.
    I'm glad that they like what they do, and I'm sure they help people. No doubt there are secular organizations that are in the same position. I'm all for a government program that evaluates different organizations, funding those that are doing good in the community. I think that would be fantastic.

    I'm just a little troubled that this "Faith-based Program" support could devolve into our government funneling money into religious organizations because the party in power has a powerful, vocal, Fundamentalist constituency rather than for the sake of doing good. I wonder if GW Bush would be willing to sign the legislation giving federal money to a faith-based program run by Wiccans?

    [ Parent ]

    Does the Government Determine Religious Legitimacy (4.42 / 19) (#59)
    by Bensari on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:49:43 PM EST

    I agree that religion, for many people, is a positive force for health in general (with some glaring exceptions, as always). Nevertheless, I have yet to see how these religious groups will be chosen.

    Who decides what religion or religious group deserves government financial support?

    Is it Bush? Is it voters? Bush has already categorically stated that he doesn't think Wicca is a religion, for instance. Wicca, on the other hand, has been recognized by many state and local governments to receive such benefits as exemption from property tax for its places of worship. In 1985 a `High Priestess' was admitted to the roster of clergy members in the state of New York. Furthermore, since its inception in the early 1950s, Wicca has spread to over 66 countries and has hundreds of thousands--if not millions--of representatives in America alone. It has exceeded in membership numbers many mainstream Christian denominations, and some other groups like the Quakers and Unitarians that are not always included under the umbrella term of Christianity. So, despite this, Wicca is not a religion?

    On top of the very obvious opportunities for glaring religious discrimination, this opens up the question of religious legitimacy being determined by the government. If Bush makes a statement denouncing something as "not a religion" and denies it access to funds provided for what the government has termed "actual religions," then you set up a system in which the government directly evaluates the validity of religious expression. If you consider religious feeling and expression to be, at least in part, an emotional response, then this is tantamount to avowing that someone's joy or grief is invalid and undeserving of the recognition of mainstream America. What arm of bureaucracy--what cold committee or congressmen--has the right of this kind of judgment? Certainly here, if anywhere, is a strong argument for the separation of church and state and also a strong argument against instating Bush's plan.

    Voters (3.85 / 7) (#65)
    by enterfornone on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:32:10 PM EST

    Remember that something like 80% of Americans are Christian. I recall reading somewhere that the over 30% are considered Christian by the Baptist church's strict definition (ie conservative protestants, they exclude Catholics, Mormons, non-practicing believers). There are a lot of Americans that would very much like to see government enforced Christianity.

    Asking the voters to decide is not a good idea.

    Also keep in mind the First Amendment was not put there to protect Wiccans, it was put there to protect non-catholic and non-church of england christians.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    Demographics... (3.37 / 8) (#72)
    by pb on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:16:33 PM EST

    It's more like 2/3 of America, with many of them non-practicing. But the fanatical ones are definitely stricter about it.

    ...and the First Amendment was put there to protect us all, generally from each other.

    In any case, I'm an Atheist: where's my five bucks? :)
    ---
    "See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
    -- pwhysall
    [ Parent ]
    federal agencies will decide which groups to fund (3.60 / 5) (#81)
    by Jim Madison on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:01:04 PM EST

    actually, it is not a requirement that they be religious. on cspan I saw Ari Fleicher, whitehouse spokesman, clarify that these funds can go to any community non-profits -- not religious groups exclusively -- that provide social services. hence it is not a matter of defining what is a religious group but defining what the social service is. and then, a federal agency (being constructed now) will qualify organizations that wish to provide these services.

    Got democracy? Try e-thePeople.org.
    [ Parent ]
    Then why is it aimed at religious groups? (3.33 / 3) (#131)
    by Bensari on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:43:29 AM EST

    Most local churches, synagogues, etc., are registered non-profit organizations, but why would the proposed policy be aimed specifically at religious institutions if it were open to anyone? Good press for Bush or something? Wouldn't have been easier and more accurate to call it a fund for community based nonprofits?

    [ Parent ]
    Correct. (3.00 / 1) (#177)
    by AArthur on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:25:54 PM EST

    I'm pretty sure that Bush and/or his PR team decided that putting a religous spin on it, just made sense. After all, the religous right (and the helping hand left), does try to make it's voice load and clear (and annonying).

    Plus, the majority of non-profit .orgs which can have the applity to provide these services, are religous.

    I don't look at it as an all bad thing, after all, they are taking control out of the gov't hands, and giving it to other indivuals. On the flip side, this also means that the gov't can create their own standards for what applies as a valid organization, and use money to influence religon.

    Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264
    [ Parent ]

    I have to play devil's advocate.. (4.00 / 3) (#88)
    by sebastard on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:40:00 PM EST

    See how passionate you are about your religious beliefs? What makes you so sure that there aren't Christians out there who are just as passionate and logical about their faith, and of good "moral character", so to speak?

    The assumption that _all_ Christian people are fanatics or religiously obsessed, and therefore blinded from compassion and logic (that we all of course possess), is rather flawed, if you ask me. I know alot of practicing and non-practicing religious people, and most, if not all of them, are very good honest people.

    For the record, I am an atheist. I do not have an interest in spiritual issues beyond here-and-there speculation for my own amusement, but I still respect every individual's right to draw his or her own conclusions on religion. I don't assume that I'm more correct than anyone else on such infinitely theoretical issues, and like you said in your post, it's emotional in many ways and that's healthy, and important, for many people.

    All that to say that you (as a group of posters) seem to be generalizing Christians as mostly fanatics. Much like the government and media generalize hackers as mostly criminal, I might point out.

    It's prudent to stop and take a step back sometimes...

    [ Parent ]

    I agree. (4.25 / 4) (#104)
    by pb on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:52:52 AM EST

    I agree, you're right; many Christians aren't fanatics.

    However, just like any other group, the fanatics give you your reputation. No matter how quiet the average Christian is, we're all going to remember the fool who wandered up to us and told us we were wicked, and were all going to Hell. That's pretty rude, wouldn't you say? I haven't seen any other religion (ever) attempt to recruit with tactics like that; it doesn't make any sense!

    So I'm not saying that most Christians are religious fanatics. I'm saying that most (if not all) of the vocal, annoying, irrational religious fanatics I've seen are Christians, and they give all the other rational, honest, polite Christians a bad reputation. What's worse is I've talked to a couple of very intelligent, well-meaning religious fanatics as well, but I can't have a conversation with them for very long--there's really no point with arguing my personal knowledge of science and religion versus their fanatical interpretations of the bible. It doesn't even make for a coherent discussion.

    (try to explain that parts of Job were probably tacked on later to make the cut, or that parts of the Apocrypha might be just as worthy as the rest of the Bible, except for the bad light they put on the priesthood, or that there was no real concept of Satan until the Middle Ages or so--and see what reactions you get. Ask them why it's ok for God to break his commandments, or condemn his only son to a painful death; ask them how that's better (or different) from human sacrifice in any other form. And if you understand their answers, then explain it to me... :)

    And you're right again when you say that this is an emotional issue. It's emotional for me because I don't want the fanatics to get any more attention than they already do. The only way they can preach on my campus is by signing a permit that states (among other things) that they will not discriminate against people on the basis of religion, and they break that every day. I personally don't mind most of the time, because sometimes they provide interesting discussion, or entertainment, and usually they upset more Christians than they do anybody else. But sometimes what they do is simply socially unacceptable, and that's why some of them have been removed in the past.

    ...so understand if I don't want to give the Zealots any more funding or exposure to the world than they already have. If that interferes with the ability of other Christians to do their work, then they should take care of their own flock first, and teach them tolerance and respect.

    I do feel sorry for the kindly Hari-Krishnas, though; they just sit there occasionally, peacefully chanting and shaking their bells, offering food or information or books to any interested parties. They don't shout, but are very peaceful people. I had a long conversation with a nice young woman in an airport about this, talked about the vegetarian dinner I'd go to with them occasionally, and bought one of her books (or maybe she gave it to me? I can't remember). And I might do the same for any Christian that had the same attitude, and hope one day to have that opportunity.
    ---
    "See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
    -- pwhysall
    [ Parent ]
    I really dissagree (2.66 / 3) (#121)
    by jwallwebcaster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:57:52 AM EST

    You Said "However, just like any other group, the fanatics give you your reputation. No matter how quiet the average Christian is, we're all going to remember the fool who wandered up to us and told us we were wicked, and were all going to Hell. That's pretty rude, wouldn't you say? I haven't seen any other religion (ever) attempt to recruit with tactics like that; it doesn't make any sense!"

    To group all christianity into one group is wrong, close minded, and very inaccurate. You might as well group anyone who believes in any sort of god, diety, or higher power into one group. I don't like the idea of being, as a presbytarian, a christian group that openly supports gay ministers and same sex marrages, catagorized into the same group as southern baptists, who outlaw dancing, or Jehovah's witness', who can't celibrate birthdays or holidays without "burning in hell".

    Everyone trashes Americans because of statements which group all Europeans together, and most citizens of Canada I know don't want to be grouped in with citizens of the USA, in description.

    So if you want to say "the Catholics here is XYZ town ad intolerant, or the mormons are like this" that is your right, and you can judge a group. However, at least try to get more specific than "all christians".

    And remember, if I said that all gay men, were flaming cross dressers, who rape little boys, and I used your justification that I can judge a group by the radicals I have met, I would be very, very, very wrong. I also know of a black man who just got executed for murder. By your argument, every black man out there should be treated the same. You don't judge a group as large and diverse at Christianity, by the radicals.

    Just my thoughts.

    [ Parent ]
    Sorry, but... (4.50 / 4) (#129)
    by pb on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:34:30 AM EST

    No, to group all Christianity into one group is commonplace. It happens all the time--in fact, it happens every time anyone says the word "Christianity". Everyone who believes in a higher power is grouped into a category as well; they're "religious". I'm sorry if you don't like it, but people are grouped into large groups all the time. I'm a "white male". That doesn't mean that I belong to the KKK, but that does mean that the KKK didn't give white males a good reputation.

    Also, I *have* gotten more specific than "all christians". I think I've made it painstakingly clear that there are well-meaning Christians out there. My objection is to the religious fanatics, and Christianity seems to have a lot more of them than the other religions I've seen, which have had approximately zilch.

    A lot of people misunderstand stereotypes. The reason stereotypes exist is because they're true for some people in a group--not all people in a group. The reason Jews are stereotyped as being money-grubbing is because many of them were bankers. It was a good job for them a long time ago, because the Chrisitans couldn't do it--Christians weren't allowed to be Usurers back then, which meant charging interest for money lent. However, this naturally created some dissatisfaction with Jews at large, probably from broke, vocal Christians. And thus, a stereotype was born.

    The way a stereotype should be correctly used is like so: "This guy is a Jew, so he might be money-grubbing". It might not be accurate, but at least it can be challenged. The wrong way it should be used is like so: "This guy is a Jew, so he is money-grubbing". This is pre-judging someone based on your opinions. I'm using the stereotype in the first sense: "This guy is a Christian, so he might be a fanatic". That's because I know fanatics who are Christian. Also, I don't really know fanatics who AREN'T Christian--if they're out there, they are few, or not vocal, at least around here.

    I am a person, I have experiences, and from those experiences I make judgements. I'm not making any claims as to the morality of every Christian, everywhere. But I am letting *you* know that you should deal with fanatics who call themselves Christian, and actively tell people that they do not represent you. I'm sorry they're preaching what they also call Christianity, but that preaching will shape people's impressions of your religion. Groups are judged on their opinions and behavior, and the fanatics are the ones shouting the loudest in your group, and they get all the attention. Like it or not, it's the truth.

    Thanks very much for commenting on my post, and having the courage to actively disagree, instead of silently dissenting; that's definitely a start.
    ---
    "See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
    -- pwhysall
    [ Parent ]
    separation of church and state (3.66 / 3) (#105)
    by coastwalker on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:56:21 AM EST

    I agree the head of state should not allow one religious dogma to be expressed through the policies and actions of the state.

    This is because religion itself has the characteristics of a meme - a thought virus. As such it will behave in such a way as to seek out and destroy anything that threatens its continued propogation.

    If religion does behave as a meme then it must be excluded from total control of what we believe to be nominaly secular western democracy otherwise we will lose one of the great benefits of democracy - the tenet that minorities are supposed to be tolerated.

    If you look at what the Taliban are doing to women in Afganistan you can see the results of allowing religion to decide the shape of a society, its not nice.

    The Constitution of the United States like the Magna Carta of the UK no doubt expresses the right of people to freely practise their religion. Be very wary that fundamentalism does not once again stalk your country and return to witch burning and other illogical unpleasentness.

    [ Parent ]
    this is just part of the larger issue... (3.80 / 10) (#71)
    by maskatron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:13:38 PM EST

    it is clear that you've thought this through, but look at it this way: the government doles out our tax money to people and groups that conform to the behaviour the current government likes. for bush, it may be religious groups among others. under clinton it was...well, let's not even get into it. why do you think the tax code is so complex? it's due to years and years of credit loopholes to reward (actually penalize less) members of society that are in favor with the current administration. this is the problem. you're tired of the state forcing religion down your throat?! me, i'm tired of the state forcing everything it does down my throat. as far as the discrimination charge that religious based institutions are accused of, these days that's the equivalent of holding an opinion or having a position on a subject. the difference is that they don't force you in the door on sunday morning. social services section - if some church volunteer gets a junkie to kick their habit through prayer, is that worse than if a LICENSED person does it through their 12 step program? you are suggesting that it is. the last line: "If they want to involve faith, they can do it on their own time and dime, not mine." replace faith with "whatever" and i'm with you.

    Question (3.66 / 3) (#75)
    by Bensari on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:30:31 PM EST

    Is it really a larger issue, or does the government spend tax dollars in such a shifty and unstable way simply as a matter of the trial and error of public policy? If tax money shouldn't be allocated to support behavior the government approves of, which I would assume the majority of Americans approve of, then how should it be spent? I don't necessarily have a problem with money being used as a reward or punishment for behavior, only for when that spending is done in way that negatively impacts larger personal liberties or health (such as free speech, religion, human rights, etc.).

    For instance, I have no problem with the fact that government funded drug rehab. programs exist, yet that was once simply tax dollars being used as a reward. I'm sure the same is true of most laudable government programs.

    [ Parent ]
    It's better than burning the money (3.20 / 15) (#74)
    by DigitalRover on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:28:30 PM EST

    The problem with Bush's proposal, IMHO, is mult-fold. We can debate until we're blue in the face regarding the Constitutionality of the Federal government providing any sort of social programs (I think most people can figure out my stance!), but the fact remains that right now the Federal government is spending money on these things. I applaud Bush for at least coming up with a slightly different way to throw money at the problems.

    I do believe that the vast majority of "faith-based" and community organizations would be able to help many more people much more effectively then any sort of government program. These organizations have a staff composed primarily of people who are genuinely dedicated to helping their fellow man. Now, that isn't to say that there aren't truly dedicated public servants out there, but they are vastly out numbered by the beuracrats who have either forgotten that they are employed by the people, or who simply don't care. These are the people whose only concern is to maintain their office and are a blight upon the country. These people are also the reasons that the government programs have vastly larger overheads than their private sector counterparts.

    I am entirely unconcerned with the "fear" that some have of these religious organizations using the aid programs as an opportunity to proselitize (sp?). Yes, there will be some groups like the Super Christians who have only their singular goal in life to convert others, but there's no one forcing the recipients of aid to listen, or to stay. There will always be alternatives for thos seeking help. And don't forget, the government programs will still exist, they'll just be losing some money.

    The biggest danger, though, is to the groups that may be the recipients of my (and other taxpayers' money). With any sort of government money, will come government regulation. Unless they are extremely diligent, their organizations will become as bloated and top heavy as their government counter-parts. That said, I would hope that most would not take any taxpayer dollars.

    I would also propose that those who are most fiercely opposed to this proposal fall into at least one of two camps (but we all know there's always an exception): The polar opposite of the Super Christians, the rabidly anti-religious (I've never understood this stance), and the socialists/leftists who believe that the answer to all our problems lies in Washington.

    In the short term, I'm willing to back the President's proposals so that in the long term people will realize that social programs run by the government never work.

    I beg to differ... (4.50 / 2) (#86)
    by anthrem on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:21:24 PM EST

    Decide how you want to pay....now in the form of good social services, or later, in the form of jails.

    You decide...I deal with these people every day, and know them well. Most people shy away or cross the street to get away from them....Bush doesn't care about anything except himself, same as Clinton. Clinton destroyed entitlements in 1996, when he nuked the AFDC, and instated Temporary Aid to Needy Families, called TANF. This, unlike AFDC, is a time limited entitlement. So if some one runs out of eligibility on TANF, then they are screwed. End of story. Government programs are some of the only stopgaps to complete misery for many people. After all, 60% of the elderly in this country would be at or below the poverty level without the assistance of Social Security.

    Your assertion that government is unable to deal with the problem is ridiculous. So we should just fold up the government, make it the overseer of the military, and let business take care of it? Riiiiiiiight, and when it comes to profit margin versus people, people lose. That is why we have government. If we went with the attitude you seem to have, then we might as well roll the clock back to the twenties.

    So, logical K5ers, what happens when you have no legitmate avenue of getting what you need? Steal, kill, destroy... all of the things that social services work hard as a science to keep from happening.

    Religion is religion...social service is a science. Religious service may be well-intentioned, but ultimately, a bad idea.

    You don't think so. Get in to the local long term nursing home, wipe some butts. Or visit your community mental health agency, see the people they deal with every day. Find out about the people you are so callously condemning to the unregulated service of religious social agencies.



    Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist. I am a Social Worker. Filter all written above throught that.
    [ Parent ]
    More opinions, and info... (3.93 / 16) (#76)
    by pb on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:41:19 PM EST

    I've seen some people arguing about what "separation of church and state" means here; I thought I remembered rightly from Civics class, but just to help out, here's a link to the Anti-Defamation League; it contains a fair amount of historical context, as well.

    Basically, it's all about playing fair, and about equal representation, and not marginalizing citizens of the US for some of their very personal beliefs. And I'm all for it, because I've never seen a religion as impolite and uneducated as Christianity, especially here in North Carolina. Is this worse in Texas?

    Now, I didn't vote for Bush, and I couldn't vote for Nader, and I'm certainly not going to have him giving my money to support the religious groups that elected him instead of the American people at large, who didn't elect him.

    If that means not paying taxes, or at least some taxes, then that's fine; they can sue me. I'll write them a nice letter to the effect that I will happily pay whatever taxes on my income, provided that none of it is used for the funding of these religious groups.

    ...'cause it's still my money, and I can still remember The Constitution, even if SOME people can't.
    ---
    "See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
    -- pwhysall

    Umm.... (3.66 / 6) (#96)
    by elefantstn on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:32:58 AM EST

    Think about these two comments, made in the same paragraph.

    Basically, it's all about playing fair, and about equal representation, and not marginalizing citizens of the US for some of their very personal beliefs.

    I've never seen a religion as impolite and uneducated as Christianity

    You first extol the virtues of religious tolerance, then slam a major religion. Do you think hypocrisy of that level is ok? The fact that a group is a majority does not excuse stereotyping. And please don't give me any stories about how you were accosted on the street by some evangelical preacher, because I don't care what personal horror stories you have. You have no greater reason to negatively stereotype a billion people based on the few you know than someone whose only contact with an African-American was a mugging.



    [ Parent ]
    Oh boy... (3.60 / 5) (#101)
    by pb on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:21:48 AM EST

    Please, don't talk to me about hypocrisy unless you take both quotes in context, ok? I'm not stereotyping, I'm stating a personal opinion; that's where the "I've never seen.." comes in, and notice that I'm at least specifically talking about some people in North Carolina here...

    Also, if you don't want to hear my opinion, then don't solicit it; we are talking about First Amendment Rights, after all. I could tell you many experiences about Christians and intolerance, experiences that I haven't had with any other religion, sect, culture, or creed; the sheer cluelessness and closed-mindedness I've encountered is astonishing.

    To contrast, I've never met a Pagan or a Wiccan who wasn't completely polite and understanding about religious beliefs, and how people can hold a different religious belief without necessarily worshipping Satan. Maybe not being in the majority helps improve their perspective somewhat in this respect, but even by their own creed, Christians are supposed to be taught better than that.

    Now, I'm not saying that I don't know any rational Christians; a lot of my best friends are Christian, and I have nothing against going to church, or being a part of a community. But the only religion where I've seen this sort of intolerance, ever, is Christianity. Got it?

    Here's an example. "I've never seen an Open Source movement as impolite and uneducated as Linux." That is a statement which gives an opinion of the relative worth of the Linux movement, compared against other, similar movements. Is that ok? Can I say that? I'm not talking about any specific Linux Users, mind you; just the movement, and similarly, it's probably only a few Zealots that spoil the reputation of the whole bunch.

    The problem in this case is that one of those Zealots got elected President, so you'll probably hear more grumbling like this if such inane abuses of power continue. Get used to it.
    ---
    "See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
    -- pwhysall
    [ Parent ]

    oh boy also...... (2.66 / 3) (#118)
    by luethke on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:34:04 AM EST

    Please, don't talk to me about hypocrisy unless you take both quotes in context, ok? I'm not stereotyping, I'm stating a personal opinion

    ahhh, ok, so if you say prejudice is bad, then go and say a very prejudice thing that is not hypocrisy as long as it is a personal opnion? what does it take to be hypocrisy, legislation? "i've never seen a christian" is a different inferance that "the christian's I know". If i had said "I have never seen a jew/african american/insert some minority here that could work worth a shit or add two numbers together" I would be a racist, but say the same thing about a christian and it is ok and not prejudice (as long as it is personal opinion)

    Also, if you don't want to hear my opinion, then don't solicit it; we are talking about First Amendment Rights

    methinks first ammendment rights only apply to the govt. making laws, not what you seem to propose.

    I could tell you many experiences about Christians and intolerance, experiences that I haven't had with any other religion, sect, culture, or creed; the sheer cluelessness and closed-mindedness I've encountered is astonishing. To contrast, I've never met a Pagan or a Wiccan who wasn't completely polite and understanding about religious beliefs, and how people can hold a different religious belief without necessarily worshipping Satan.

    *sigh* this seems kinda dumb and intolerent to me. kinda like what you are complaining about christains. I have met pagans who are intolerent, close-minded, and clueless - it's called meeting people. Religion has not a single thing to do with any of those qualities, it's the person. As far as the teachings of religion go christianity teaches toloerance (not to hate an idividual) but says nothing about accepting another person's beleifs. At what point do you become close-minded. There is still a sect of the "flat-earth society" around. It is a religion to them. So in the act of openmindness i should say "yes, you are correct"? no, but I should not hate them for thier beleife.

    Is that ok? Can I say that?

    you can say anything you would like, other people also have the right to disagree with you (and you can disagree with me) and say what they feel also. you can be totally irrational, stubborn, cult of cthulu person for all I care (not that you are, just three terms that I think I know how to spell correctly :) ).

    [ Parent ]
    hey, feel free! (3.66 / 3) (#132)
    by pb on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:48:02 AM EST

    I can say whatever the hell I want. I think I'm being pretty consistent here. However, I'll explain it slowly, because I probably haven't been very clear. That first post pissed me off with its quick accusations of hypocrisy; if you look through his history, it's pretty typical for the few posts he's made, but it annoyed me. I think the fact that I've gotten no polite responses in this thread is pretty telling in itself, but that might just be a statistical irony, eh?

    I believe this is the quote in question:

    Basically, it's all about playing fair, and about equal representation, and not marginalizing citizens of the US for some of their very personal beliefs. And I'm all for it, because I've never seen a religion as impolite and uneducated as Christianity, especially here in North Carolina. Is this worse in Texas?
    In the first half, I'm talking about the First Amendment. It's about making sure people don't get unfairly persecuted because of their beliefs. I'm all for that.

    The second half is my personal opinion--one reason why I'm in favor of the First Amendment because my personal experience with Christians and Christianity often hasn't been a good one. Without that protection, I'm sure that the fanatics in question would be insufferable. Also, I'm making a true statement: Every other religion I've seen has been more polite and less pushy than Christianity as a whole. Fair enough?

    If I had met Pagans who were intolerant or closed-minded, (some of them are clueless... :) then maybe I'd agree with you. As it is, though, the opposite is true, in my experience. You become closed-minded somewhere you start judging people you don't know, condemning them to eternal suffering, and not listening to what they have to say.

    The Flat Earth Society isn't really a religion, but it is a belief, and it isn't quite that simple, either.

    Actually, one of my friends is a big fan of Cthulu, but I don't think he's very serious about it. The Sumerians don't have many real worshippers left.

    Oh, and if you want some more explanation from me, read my other posts on this article first; it might explain things more clearly...

    Feel free to disagree; that's the only way we get anything done around here! :)
    ---
    "See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
    -- pwhysall
    [ Parent ]

    ok (3.00 / 2) (#231)
    by luethke on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:01:21 PM EST

    I think I'm being pretty consistent here. However, I'll explain it slowly, because I probably haven't been very clear

    I can only go by what your post had said. Explaining it more slowly doesn't help. What you said before is not exactly the same as what you are saying now.

    That first post pissed me off with its quick accusations of hypocrisy; if you look through his history, it's pretty typical for the few posts he's made, but it annoyed me

    I am also guilty of being annoyed by a post and writing things that did not say what I meant. the point was that going by what you wrote it seemd like hypocracy also. I will concede that is not what you meant, but also look at it from my viewpoint, I only know what you write, not what you are thinking.

    The Flat Earth Society isn't really a religion, but it is a belief, and it isn't quite that simple, either.

    yes, I know. I find them fairly interesting as group, it was just a short example. Some of them I have read do treat it as a religion tho, "cult of cthulu" just sounds plain neat (I also like the title "the seige and investiture of baron von frankenstiens castle at weisseria" by blue oyster cult - one of the neatest titles for a song I have heard)

    Also I don't think close minded in and of itself is bad. At some point you hace to define a truth and become close minded. When it becomes bad is when you act out at strangers simply for that reason. at some level we are all prejudiced and close-minded (otherwise first impresions would not be so important), but how we act on them is more important.

    [ Parent ]
    Devil's in the details... (3.77 / 9) (#79)
    by Jim Madison on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:54:40 PM EST

    I've written my thoughts on this subject here, which in a nutshell is that 70% of Americans (!!!) think this could be a good idea but that research also shows that they haven't really considered its potential pitfalls.

    I think it worth taking a look at because this seem to run counter to the prevailing sentiment in this discussion.

    Got democracy? Try e-thePeople.org.

    Heh (2.50 / 2) (#84)
    by deeznuts on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:18:16 PM EST

    I think one of the lasting impacts of Slashdot trolling is that I immediately distrust any post that references "70%".
    ---
    Deez Nuts!!
    [ Parent ]
    Bush's ideas bad! A social worker's opinion (4.39 / 23) (#80)
    by anthrem on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:58:24 PM EST

    The Bush idea that religious groups can provide services better than government run agencies is nothing more than his Christian supremecy.


    In my town, there is one place that the homeless can go in the evening on a regular basis. However, that place is religously affliated. Not a good idea. Not at all. Most of the homeless, substance abusers and mentally ill, are often not able to stay due to their problems, and the religous folks have led the drunks out in to the cold - I HAVE SEEN IT HAPPEN. These are the same people that I have seen, in a medical setting, with fingers and hands swollen and infected to horrifying sizes by frostbite, because there is nowhere for them to go.

    The mentally ill, the sick, the users who need service do not need to be told they are evil or that when they come to Jesus, that the drinking problem will go away. Anyone who has suffered a drinking problem will tell you it takes more than religion to give that up.

    In addition, what kind of regulations is Bush willing to put on it? Can those who are Buddhist, like myself, be discriminated against, and not hired by an agency that is Christian? Will I have to sign a pledge to worship the Christian god? Will people be able to fire you for talking about abortion? Birth control? Homosexuality? Drugs?

    Leave it alone; instead of funding religous organziations, fund the community mental health centers that Kennedy replaced the state hospitals with, instead of allowing them to flounder as they have since the late sixties. Government has a responsibility to serve all; not just the Christians, the Jews, the Buddhists, or any one religion. This Bush plan comes dangerously close to the textbook definition of endorsement of religion.



    Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist. I am a Social Worker. Filter all written above throught that.
    Other religious 'aid' (4.28 / 7) (#102)
    by fluffy grue on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:33:30 AM EST

    I dunno how common this is, but in Albuquerque it's very common to see homeless people hawking 'Street News', a cheap newspaper put out by a "benevolent charity" which is supposed to help the homeless somehow (they get a cut of the sale price or something). Someone in my family (probably my brother) actually bought a copy recently, and it was full of the most paranoid, hateful, homophobic, anti-Semitic detritus I'd ever read. Apparently, 'the Jews' (that includes me) are trying to actively suppress the homeless from growing out of their ranks, and 'the homosexuals' are trying to use them as a vessel for spreading the AIDS epidemic. It read like some late-1930s German National Socialist Party spewings. (I'm not gonna say the 'N-word' since I don't want to violate Godwin's law. :)

    "Benevolent charity" my butt.
    --
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]
    [ Parent ]

    The Big Issue (3.66 / 3) (#107)
    by spiralx on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:09:40 AM EST

    We have a similar paper in the UK called The Big Issue which is sold for a pound IIRC by homeless people. In fact, it was apparently inspired by Street News, although I'm not sure if it contains the same kind of material since I haven't read it in years.

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    Yay, another tabloid (3.00 / 1) (#184)
    by fluffy grue on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:09:50 PM EST

    At least, with headlines like "Secret information leaked from the world's elite," it's pretty hard not to think of it as a tabloid. Funny how the "Jewish conspiracy" thing is presented as being a meta-conspiracy by them, though...
    --
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]
    [ Parent ]

    watch your generalizations. (3.62 / 8) (#114)
    by avdi on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:10:52 AM EST

    The mentally ill, the sick, the users who need service do not need to be told they are evil or that when they come to Jesus, that the drinking problem will go away. Anyone who has suffered a drinking problem will tell you it takes more than religion to give that up.

    I'm sorry Christianity is so badly represented in your community. I can safely say I've never heard of such callousness toward the homeless in the town I come from. Various churches cooperate to feed, clothe, and house the homeless and no one preaches to them or tells them they are evil. I can also safely say that without the churches, the homeless would be much worse off. Twenty years agot the local state-run asylum lost a bunch of funding and released most of it's occupants onto the street. The churches have been the ones to pick up the slack and take care of these people.

    There are some really lousy Christians in the world. Judging all of Christianity, and all Christian charity, from just one area is just stupid. I could judge your religion by the activities of certain vicious, cruel Buddhists of the past, but I choose not to.

    As for alcoholism, certainly it takes more than religion to defeat it; but AA, arguably the most successful alcoholism program around, recognizes the need to trust in a higher power before the addiction can be defeated.

    --
    Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Bush's ideas bad! A social worker's opinion (1.66 / 3) (#171)
    by technik on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:52:28 PM EST

    ...
    affliated. Not a good idea. Not at all. Most of the homeless, substance abusers and mentally ill, are often not able to stay due to their problems, and the religous folks have led the drunks out in to the cold - I HAVE SEEN IT HAPPEN. These are the same people that I have seen, in a medical setting, with fingers and hands swollen and infected to horrifying sizes by frostbite, because there is nowhere for them to go.
    ...
    the mentally ill, the sick, the users who need service do not need to be told they are evil or that when they come to Jesus, that the drinking problem will go away. Anyone who ...


    I have it on personal experience- my wife is a MSW/CSW and has administered programs in two states and a dozen counties and I've assisted her and occasionally donated my time- that more common is that these organizations are unprofessional and ineffective. Period. They mean well but that isn't the result. Your example

    Let's take the Homeless shelter example. Many homeless have other problems that directly affect their situation such as abuse of drugs or alcohol. Professional organizations have clearly defined limits as to what they intend to address, what they will tolerate, under what conditions services will be provided, and more often than not respect the people in their charges as "clients". Amateur organizations, driven to help by faith, lack the professional guidelines and training and waste their limited resources. They generally treat their charges as "consumers", or worse, and squander the most valuable resource they have (not money) but the opportunity to help. They staff their facilities at the minimum level, usually because they pay so poorly that trained or experienced staff won't take the job, creating a still worse environment of ignorance.
    I've seen first hand a few horrors:
    • Meals consisting of sweets and other odd donations. No nutritionist on staff, not even someone with basic food pyramid knowledge would put out a meal of candy bars, stale cookies, and soda.
    • Visibly drunk or drugged and abusive individuals mixing with the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, and the sick. This situation never ends well for the latter and could be easily defused by having professional boundaries for services.
    • Failure to refer out to qualified clinics. By trying to bring them into the fold, they do more harm than good when they don't send these people to the services they desperately need.
    • Ignoring mandates and grant guidelines.In an effort to collect as many dollars as possible or, more charitably, because they don't have managers and staff who know the guidelines and have experience, take in programs that they are incapable of fulfilling and then make a hash of it all to the detriment of the client population they meant to serve. This isn't limited to the faith-based organizations but it happens far more often with them.

    It's going to be a rough four years for a lot of very needy people.
    -technik

    [ Parent ]
    let's get real (4.76 / 38) (#82)
    by xah on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:11:58 PM EST

    First, let me give a factual description of what's going on. Then I'll analyze it. Gifts to any charity, faith-based or not, are already deductible from federal income taxes in the USA. These charities are often called "501(c)(3)'s" after the law that regulates them. Assume a 28% tax rate. That means if you earned $50,000, and contributed $5,000 to charity, your income tax is 28% of $45,000 (50,000 minus 5,000). If you hadn't contributed anything to charity, your tax would have been 28% of $50,000. This is a nice break, but it's only available if the taxpayer itemizes his deductions. To itemize your deductions means to list all of them on your tax form. If you don't want to itemize, you can take the "standard deduction." This varies every year, but is about $7,000 this year. As you can see, if our taxpayer had itemized his deductions, he would actually have lost money. He should have taken the standard deduction, so that his taxes would have been 28% of $43,000.

    People usually itemize only when their deductions add up to be more than the standard deduction. For most taxpayers, this only happens once they buy a house. Most Americans take out a loan (a mortgage) to pay for their first house. They obviously have to pay the loan back. They also have to pay back interest. This interest is deductible. If our taxpayer was a homeowner, paying $9,000 in home mortgage interest this year, he would want to itemize his deductions. After deducting the home mortgage interest payment, he would pay income tax of 28% of $41,000. If he also contributed $5,000 to charity, he would only pay income tax of 28% of $36,000.

    So what is Bush's plan? It would make certain charitable gifts "above the line deductions." All that means is that you don't have to itemize to get the deduction. You can take the standard deduction plus any faith-based charitable gifts, and deduct all that from your taxes. A quick definition can be found this web site.

    In other words, poor folks and renters (about 80 million taxpayers) will be encouraged to give more money to faith-based charities. Rich people and middle class homeowners, who already itemize their deductions, will have no extra incentive to give in this way. Of course, poor folks already give money to faith-based charities, and their gifts should be encouraged. But in most cases, the standard deduction will be far and away more than their charitable gifts. To put it concisely, Bush wants the government to indirectly transfer federal tax money to "faith-based charities." In practice, federal money will be diverted to local churches, faith based relief organizations, and Bob Jones University.

    If you believe that your taxes should be used to support other people's churches, then I guess you'll end up supporting the proposal. If you believe that when the First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . ." it means something, then I guess you'll be like me and oppose it.

    It's important to note that Bush would change the way charitable gifts are treated. If your charitable gift goes to a "faith based" organization, it will be an above-the-line deduction, available to every taxpayer. If your charitable gift goes to a secular organization, like, for example, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or public television, NPR, or public radio, then you can only take the deduction if you already itemize. There will be zero added incentive to contribute to these non-profit groups. In fact, they will likely lose contributions because people will siphon their money to where they get a tax break. That's not cynicism. It's just simple, hard-headed economics.

    Who will decide what constitutes a "faith based" charity? There are already many byzantine laws just to decide what a "charity" is (501(c)(3) in tax lingo). I guess we'll probably need a whole bunch of government regulations to decide this.

    What if someone set up a charity called "Atheists of Faith Feed the Hungry." Would that be "of faith"? Are all religions covered? Would Unitiarian/Universalists qualify? Quakers? What about "Pagan Toys for Tots"? What about a "Zoroastrian Free Anti-HIV Medicine Society "? Would that qualify? How about a "Satanist Animal Protection Association"? What government bureaucrat would decide? It appears that much time will be spent by the IRS in trying to figure out what constitues a "faith." Would the Branch Davidians qualify? Scientologists? What about groups like "Heaven's Gate?" Buddhists? Hindus? How about groups like Hamas? Hamas is accused of supporting terrorism, but they are a faith-based organization that also distributes food and medicine to people. Maybe they should get the deduction, too.

    Would the "Creationist Education Society" be entitled to a Bush deduction, but not an "Evolution Eduction Society"?

    Would the Republican Party qualify as a faith based charity?

    What if "National Public Radio" changed their name to "National Public Radio and Religion" and added an hour of religious programming a week? Would they then qualify for the deduction?

    The possibilities are endless.

    Hmm. (3.33 / 3) (#154)
    by Samrobb on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:02:56 PM EST

    I wonder if the proposal anticipates this sort of strong opposition...

    Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Bush administration wanted to propose "above the line deductions" for all charitable contributions. There are a good many people who think that "charity" and "religion" are synonymous. The administration decides that any proposal of this sort would be met with resistance from many different segments of the population and hardcore congressional Democrats, for exactly that reason.

    So... instead, they propose the exact same deduction, only limited to faith-based charities.

    What happens? The same people who would have dug in their heels before, do so now... yelling about how many non-religious charities there are, and how they derserve the same sort of respect, funding, etc., etc., etc. They become the biggest proponents for exactly what the administration wanted in the first place. After a while, the Bush administration "comes around" to their way of thinking and says something like "You know, you're right; and in the spirit of non-partisanship and cooperation, we'd like to amend the proposal and suggest an above the line deduction for any charitable contribution to a non-profit organization."

    ...and they get the legislation they wanted in the first place, by framing the political discussion in terms of whether or not charities are Good Things, instead of in terms of tax cuts and the budget. What politician is going to say that giving to charity is not a Good Thing? That would be a major faux pax; a politician would be about as likely to do that as get on network television and to announce that they despise children, drop kick stray dogs and hate apple pie.

    Farfetched? Maybe. Then again, while Bush may not be the sharpest tack in the drawer, he's managed to surround himself with some pretty competent and skilled advisors, and what I've proposed is not exactly an incredibly subtle strategy.


    "Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." Job 32:9
    [ Parent ]
    too farfetched a scenario (2.00 / 1) (#209)
    by xah on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:42:07 PM EST

    That's quite a scenario you've cooked up. If Bush or any President actually had such marionette-like control over the public it would be really scary.

    [ Parent ]
    Different Proposal(s) (3.50 / 2) (#180)
    by Parity on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:40:08 PM EST

    The proposal to give federal grant money to faith-based service organizations is not the same as the proposal to allow line-item deductions for charitable contributions even for taxpayers that do not otherwise itemize is not the same as the proposal that you describe (which I have not heard of before now) and, AFAIK, none of these proposals are anything more than discussion in washington at this point (ie, there is no bill for any of these things that I know of, though there are presumably drafts that might or might not become bills).

    The K5 article describes the situation much the same as it was described by NPR yesterday, and it is a real proposal, if not one of much more substance than rhetoric from Bush & aides yet. Hopefully it will die before it even hits the floor. Various tax changes are another issue altogether, one which has more merit.

    Parity None




    [ Parent ]
    not really (4.00 / 2) (#208)
    by xah on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:28:12 PM EST

    The proposal that I was describing in my comment was the proposal that Bush made to give all taxpayers a deduction for gifts made to faith based charities. The only way to do that is with an above the line deduction. I'm not commenting on federal grants to faith-based service organizations because that is not the topic.

    Let me explain how federal dollars would indirectly flow to religious groups under the Bush deduction. The federal government's revenue will decline under the plan because more deductions would be claimed. That money will show up in the pockets of faith based charities. The money would be transferred directly from individuals to the faith based charities, and it would never go through the government. But under the current system, it would have. Thus, while the transfer is not direct, there is an indirect, net transfer from the government to religion under this plan.

    [ Parent ]

    Yes, really. (none / 0) (#240)
    by Parity on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 04:02:22 PM EST

    From the first paragraph of the CNN article:
    President Bush took his push for allowing religious groups to receive public funds for social service efforts to a Washington school Tuesday as aides prepared to formally submit the proposal to Congress.

    And from the K5 Article:
    Under the Bush initiative, for example, a Catholic church receiving public funds for literacy programs could fire a teacher for getting pregnant outside of marriage or an Orthodox Jewish synagogue that operated a food bank could refuse to hire non-Jews or women. All of this done with TAXPAYER money.

    I realized belatedly that your discussion of above/below the line was precisely the proposal to allow deductions on non-itemized returns; nonetheless, the proposal discussed in this K5 article and in the CNN article is the proposal to allow religious institutions to compete directly for federal grant money. The proposals are clearly related, and your analysis is interesting, however it is not an analysis of the topic, but rather of a relevant and related topic.

    Parity Even

    [ Parent ]
    Just a quick note... slightly OT (1.50 / 2) (#205)
    by Notromda on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:57:45 PM EST

    Would the "Creationist Education Society" be entitled to a Bush deduction, but not an "Evolution Eduction Society"?

    Um, well, that depends on your outlook, I suppose. I think that believing in evolution takes a heck of a lot more faith than creation does.

    [ Parent ]

    Poor logic (2.66 / 3) (#219)
    by Vesuve on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 09:21:26 AM EST

    I'm with you for most of the message, but you've made a critical error in your logic:

    To put it concisely, Bush wants the government to indirectly transfer federal tax money to "faith-based charities." In practice, federal money will be diverted to local churches, faith based relief organizations, and Bob Jones University.

    This is absolutely false, and is a grossly misleading play on words. Allowing a greater deduction for one's income tax in no way 'diverts federal money'. It simply reduces the people's tax burden, which is always a good thing. You're behaving as if the money people earn is already owned by the government. The money in my pocket is NOT federal money! It's mine!

    I think Bush's proposal is silly, but only because it doesn't go far enough - all deductions should be 'above the line'. Anything that reduces the tax burden on working people is a good thing, and should be supported.

    [ Parent ]
    let me explain (5.00 / 1) (#252)
    by xah on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 09:57:57 PM EST

    Allowing a greater deduction for one's income tax in no way 'diverts federal money'. It simply reduces the people's tax burden, which is always a good thing.

    Yes, but the tax burden on non-faith-based-charitable-givers will go up relative to the tax burden on faith-based-charitable givers. That is unfair because it predicates an individual's tax burden on their level of religious devotion.

    [ Parent ]

    What is he proposing? The details please! (4.09 / 11) (#89)
    by yuri on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:24:51 AM EST

    As far as I can tell the big problem with this proposal is that we don't know what it is yet! The legislation has not yet been submitted! All we have is a sound-bite from Dubya saying he wants to support access to federal cash honey-holes for faith-based organizations.

    Many here agree that some church organizations would be worth funding. The problem is that we have no idea of how this program will be held accountable and fair.

    If he had said that he was nominating Janet Reno as the first faith-based cash distribution czar, I would have said O.K. that could work, I trust Janet to decide who's crap and who's not. Or, if he had announced a panel of non-christains to pick the deserving charities, I would have had some "Faith" that the money would serve the goals of the program.

    As it is, I am afraid of Dubya increasing the power of "christian" organizations in this already warped country (just turn the TV on on sunday morning). I do not trust George and followers to make sure the money is spent properly on religious organizations. I resent the idea that my money is supporting religious groups. I detest faith-based anything, it goes against everything I know to be true in this world. It goes against the scientific method. He should appoint a clearly non-religious group of people to oversee and distribute these funds. Anything else will piss-off the MAJORITY of Americans that voted against him and the "conservative" coalition.

    If the plan is implemented in a scientific fashion (no pork for politicians) by a non-religious panel, I would accept their plan. If it is just pork for bible thumpers, I will be upset.

    I am a scientist....and that is what I think.

    Feel free to dispute it, I will listen.

    Y

    Where does this lead? (3.50 / 12) (#91)
    by kibomaster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:47:34 AM EST

    Calling this a "faith based" service package is just a euphemism (see George Carlin) to get people to go along with this idea. The government has absolutely no right to give my tax dollars to any religous orginisation. There is such a think as seperation of church and state. What Shrub is doing is completely unconstitutional and I hope it will be struck down as such. I cannot condone giving away of my tax dollars to something I a) have no belief in and b) will NEVER use.

    Think about this for a second, how many people who will be using these services pay taxes? As a taxpayer I am outraged that Shrub thinks he can give my tax money to a church. If I wanted to give my money to a church I would have done so myself. I'm not saying these services are not necessary, but if people want to make use of them or have them available they should be willing to pay for them and I believe most people in this country are pretty generous when it comes to homeless shelters and similar services.

    One other thing that bothers me about this issue is this: What guarantee do I have that churches that receive these donations are going to use them for their intended purpose? What I see happening is the churches using the money to spread their view of the word of God. They are going to use this as an opportunity to gain support for their cause. A person can be persuaded a lot easier when he or she is hungry.

    The only way I could see supporting this is if I could have a guarantee that every group got equal attention. The way I see it the only way to be equal and fair to every religion is to not give them any taxpayer money in the first place.

    On a side note... The many thing I'm worried about is churches getting more people knocking on my door on Sunday morning, waking me up. I need my sleep damn it. Giving me a Bible at seven in the morning doesn't help me any.

    http://www.helixcomputers.com/

    Bonjour, hypocrisy (2.80 / 5) (#95)
    by elefantstn on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:25:51 AM EST

    Just because you're never going to use something doesn't mean that your tax money shouldn't go towards it. That's an incredibly short-sighted view that many liberal reactionists are taking to this proposal. I, personally, as a male, will never need breast cancer research. That doesn't mean that I should be able to specify "No Breast Cancer Research" for a deduction on my tax return.

    Secondly, you're right. There is a chance churches could abuse their grants. Of course, the same thing happens with secular charities. It's illegal, and violators will - to quote trespassing signs - be prosecuted.



    [ Parent ]
    Sorry to inform you... (3.66 / 3) (#100)
    by ti dave on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:11:20 AM EST

    but men get breast cancer as well.
    Several hundred deaths per year.
    ti_dave
    "If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

    [ Parent ]
    This leads to Progress. (3.00 / 2) (#123)
    by smythe811 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:07:50 AM EST

    The government has absolutely no right to give my tax dollars to any religous orginisation.

    Really? How do you figure that?

    I cannot condone giving away of my tax dollars to something I a) have no belief in and b) will NEVER use.

    How is a religious organization different from a secular one here. Have you ever Used the EPA before? (Note: I'm not knocking them I actually use them myself) It doesn't matter whether you believe in what the EPA or the Catholic Church does once your money goes to the Government it's NOT your money anymore. They can spend it in your "best interest" however they see fit. Personally, there are several things that I can't bear to know my tax dollars pay for, but they still do.

    What guarantee do I have that churches that receive these donations are going to use them for their intended purpose

    What guarantee do you ever have? You have the governments word and probably an auditing paper trail. I doubt the US Goverment will give any money away without requireing records of how it's spent.

    The only way I could see supporting this is if I could have a guarantee that every group got equal attention.

    Now you are beginning to understand. I hope that by this point in this discussion you have aquired a copy of the US Constitution and realize that it no where says "Seperation of Church and State". Instead it prohibits Congress from Favoring any one religion, and since the aethiests/secularists have now got themselvs the same federal status as Religious groups then they MUST fall under this as well. The current discriminating against religious charities favors secular ones.

    The way I see it the only way to be equal and fair to every religion is to not give them any taxpayer money in the first place.

    Refer to the above, and now consider that what you propose here is discriminating agains religion and favoring secularism (which a world view just as religions are).

    The many thing I'm worried about is churches getting more people knocking on my door on Sunday morning, waking me up.

    Hey, not every Christian, Jew or Muslum favors this way of evangelizing. I find this as annoying as you. Just because one Christian comes to your door evangelizing doesn't mean all Churches/Religions are bad. Just as one vacuum cleaner salesman coming to the door doesn't make all vacuum cleaners evil.


    http://www.tranzor.net Tranzor Data Systems Webhosting
    [ Parent ]
    progress? (none / 0) (#160)
    by kibomaster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:21:59 PM EST

    Really? How do you figure that?

    Oh, I don't know the 1st amendment that says congress cannot favor any religion. Tell me who decides what is a religion and what isn't?

    re.lig.ion n 1. a) Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe. b)A particular integrated system of this expression. 2. The spiritual or emotional attitude of one who recognizes the existence of a superhuman man or powers. 3. An objective pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    Based on this definition. If I say I believe that green men are going to drop out of the sky and take me with them. Is that a religion? Do I deserve money if I'm running a social service?

    It doesn't matter whether you believe in what the EPA or the Catholic Church does once your money goes to the Government it's NOT your money anymore.

    I think it does. If the Catholic Church is using the money to buy the pope a new hat I think that's wrong. There has to be accountability.

    Personally, there are several things that I can't bear to know my tax dollars pay for, but they still do.

    I completely agree. I just like to think I have a bit more control over my tax dollars.

    You have the government's word and probably an auditing paper trail. I doubt the US Government will give any money away without requiring records of how it's spent.

    Based on the last 8 years I have all the right in the world to doubt the government's word. The government can't keep track of welfare money. What makes you think they can keep track of this? I read an article that said in California it costs the taxpayers $14,000/yr per person who is on welfare.(This includes medical, food and cost of living)

    The current discriminating against religious charities favors secular ones.

    Secular charities aren't affiliated with any one religion.

    The main thing I'm worried about are churches getting more people knocking on my door on Sunday morning, waking me up.

    This was just a joke... not to be taken seriously. It was in reference to the fact that someone came to my door at 7 in the morning a few Sundays ago selling bibles.

    http://www.helixcomputers.com/

    [ Parent ]

    I agree but.... (4.00 / 1) (#144)
    by finkployd on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:28:58 AM EST

    As a taxpayer I am outraged that Shrub thinks he can give my tax money to a church. If I wanted to give my money to a church I would have done so myself. I'm not saying these services are not necessary, but if people want to make use of them or have them available they should be willing to pay for them and I believe most people in this country are pretty generous when it comes to homeless shelters and similar services.

    I agree, but do you support the half of the country that doesn't want their tax dollars spend on abortions? Or do you make a special exception for that in your reasoning?

    Finkployd
    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
    [ Parent ]
    To spend or not to spend (none / 0) (#163)
    by kibomaster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:30:08 PM EST

    I don't think tax dollars should be spent on abortions. I site the same reasoning. If people want a service they should be willing to pay for it themselves. The government shouldn't be getting involved.

    http://www.helixcomputers.com/

    [ Parent ]

    You know (4.00 / 1) (#165)
    by finkployd on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:35:53 PM EST

    I think when you get down to it, most people agree on basic things like this. Unfortunatly I've seen the reasoning on both sides go something like this "Well, they are spending tax money on X that we disagree with, so we must spend tax money on Y that they don't agree with". The problem is, this creates the 'us vs them' attitude that keeps politicians popular. Of course, the real losers in this situation are the taxpayers.

    Finkployd
    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
    [ Parent ]
    Every organization has a motive (4.10 / 10) (#92)
    by Saxifrage on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:52:54 AM EST

    Before we get too engaged into whether or not this is Constitutional, let's consider the question of, not can we do this, but rather why in the name of all that is still sacred and secular we should do this.

    I know that's going to sound nitpicky, but strikes me as a fair point to consider. CAN we view a faith-based alternative to secular government counseling/treatment services as a reasonable alternative? No!

    The reason that faith-based counseling and treatment are put on by organizations that have a religion. I don't care if it's my religion, your religion, my next door neighbor's religion, or (evidently) our President-select's religion. The principle of the thing is that, frankly, every organization has a motive, secular or religious.

    Because of the knowledge that every organization has a motive, or several motives, in mind whenever they do anything -- for example (and no bias here, I plan on discriminating equally) Planned Parenthood will always have contraception of some variety in mind when they counsel, and a family-planning organization run by Roman Catholics would by no means have contraception in mind -- it is imperative that faith-based and secular groups be given significant oversight and limited funding and leeway in order to do what amounts to proselytizing. Like I said, I don't care if I agree or not. You can't do that.

    What do I propose to do instead? Well, heck, I would let the government spend it. Let them produce pamphlets, and provide counseling. Sure, there's a place for faith-based counseling, for secular private counseling, but there is no place for it as anything other than an ALTERNATIVE to government services. They should not be used as a REPLACEMENT for government services.


    "I may disagree vehemently with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it." - Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire
    The motive is love (3.66 / 3) (#111)
    by avdi on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:53:04 AM EST

    I know that sounds trite, but every religious charity I've been involved with had one motive: helping people out, because our religion (Christianity) tells us we should. Not proselytizing. Simply, doing what we are told to do by the book we consider sacred, that is, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick.

    There may have been people involved in those charities who had ulterior motives. Maybe some of them decided to use the opportunity to discuss their faith with those being helped. I know I've heard plenty of stories of this happening in secular charities. Genuinely religious people can't be stopped from sharing, and sometimes preaching, their faith. It doesn't matter whether the context is rsecular or religious. But the religious charity orginizations I've participated with were motivated by the fact that they considered helping people to be The Right Thing To Do. Nothing more.

    --
    Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
    [ Parent ]

    Quotations (3.00 / 1) (#174)
    by electricbarbarella on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:06:57 PM EST

    I think the Daily Show put it best:

    "If you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day, but if you fund a religious orginization to give that man a fish he'll eat for as long as he attends services."



    -Andy Martin, Home of the Whopper.
    Not everything is quantifiable.
    [ Parent ]
    Nothing is wrong with helping people find God. (2.00 / 2) (#199)
    by duffbeer703 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 06:01:40 PM EST

    This is something wrong with the government paying you to do so.

    You can save souls all you want, but the federal government has no business helping you. I bet the burden of complying to federal regulations and doing paperwork will make it harder to help people too. I don't want my priest to be a buerecrat.

    I donate alot of money to the church, and they do alot of good for people. I even help out once in awhile. Once the government is involved, churches will be a sea of corruption and graft (just like medicare).

    [ Parent ]
    I don't care what Bush says... (2.76 / 13) (#93)
    by Elendale on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:07:15 AM EST

    If Bush is giving money to religious causes now then he's thrown us back into the dark ages where religion owned the government and forced everyone to think as they did. Maybe he's just trying to be nice right now, but next campaign how will something like this turn out? On the other hand, should a religious charity be barred from recieving funds just because it is religious? In any case, seperation of church and state exists for a reason.

    -Elendale (on a side note, i think it is somewhat funny that this is a 'big deal' while big buisiness buying out GWBush is 'not')
    ---

    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


    Is charity the issue, or religion? (4.40 / 15) (#94)
    by Pseudonym on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:57:24 AM EST

    Being from a Western industrialised country that is not the USA, I've been brought up to feel that the government has social responsibility. (The USA is the only Western industrialised country which doesn't feel that way. I'm going to base the rest of this post on the assumption that since the USA is the abberation, government-funded social programmes are in general the right way to go. Live with it.) If the government is not going to do the administration itself, they should pay someone else to do it for them (and regulate them closely). There is nothing particularly controversial about this: either you have a large public sector, or you privatise. Where you draw the line in each kind of "essential service" is a matter of debate. For example, here in Australia we do have a government owned and run police force, and we also have a phone company majority owned by the government. Most would argue that the police force is best operated by government and the phone company is better owned by private enterprise, but of course it still should be regulated.

    Now here's what I don't understand: If you're determined to privatise social welfare, why not religious organisations? If they're suitably regulated and independently audited (e.g. so that government money is spent on people and the infrastructure required to serve people rather than, say, religious evangelism), just like any other privatised service, who's to say they're not the best people to carry out the job? What I seem to see here is people saying that religious organisations specifically should be excluded from doing this, which seems ridiculous to me. Surely the major considerations should be a) effectiveness of service, and b) making sure the money is used efficiently. If religious charities put in the best tender, they should get the job. Deliberately disallowing religious charities from applying for the job screams of reverse discrimination. (Or should I say "affirmative action"?)

    Having said that, as I understand Bush's proposals, he is planning to treat "faith"-based charities differently from non-"faith"-based charities, by giving them some kind of preferred status in claiming donations on your income tax form. That is clearly wrong, as it gives religious charities an edge over non-religious ones. While that's still not even close to establishing a state religion (which the US constitution prohibits), it's still discrimination.

    Basically, both these kinds of discrimination (both "pro"-religious discrimination and "anti"-religious discrimination) are equally wrong. Furthermore, and I speak as a Christian here, I would love to see a Wiccan/Pagan/whatever charitable organisation founded. The inevitable discrimination against said organisation from the Bush administration (Bush is on the record as saying that Wicca is not a religion) should result in a nice court case and legal precedent establishing Wicca as a religion. Not before time, too.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    It's a civil rights issue. (4.33 / 3) (#170)
    by raygundan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:37:06 PM EST

    I don't think the real problem is giving money to religious service providers-- some of them do fantastic jobs with successful homeless shelters and the like. I have no problem giving them money to do the job they're doing, as long as they have to play by the same rules as everybody else.

    However, as other posters have pointed out, religions in america are exempt from a lot of important laws, primarily civil rights laws. Since religious organizations can legally discriminate, what's to stop a religion from offering services to or hiring employees from only its members? An orthodox Jewish church could refuse to offer services to non-Jews, or refuse to hire women. A baptist church could refuse to give service to anyone but its own congregation. This doesn't seem like a very socially-responsible thing for the government to do, undoing hard-won civil rights gains for precisely the people who need help the most.

    As if this weren't enough, care providers at religious organizations won't have to be trained or licensed in anything. For some types of services, this is a scary thought.

    And finally, Bush seems intent on limiting what he considers a "religion", which flies in the face of our tradition of keeping the government's hands out of judging religions. Wicca is on his list, to cite one example. While many people may agree with his list of "non-religions", what place does the government have deciding which ones get money to help people and which don't? You can't have it both ways. Either religions get money for programs, or they don't. Giving it to some is hardly a fair way to do things, and smacks of government-sponsored discrimination yet again.

    I agree that religious organizations should be able to get federal funding. But only if they are required to offer their services without discrimination to everyone, and to make sure their service providers are properly trained and licensed. And finally, only if the government refrains from declaring some religions more worthy of funding than others-- unless this judgement is based ONLY on the performance of the church as a service provider. (IE, if they can't do it, take their funding away.)

    [ Parent ]
    Point taken, but... (3.00 / 1) (#210)
    by Pseudonym on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:43:09 PM EST

    I take your point, however, I don't see how it affects my argument of what should happen in a perfect world. :-)

    In my slightly incoherent rant, I emphasised the role of regulation. If someone wants government money to provide a government service, they should play by stricter rules than they otherwise would have. If the organisation isn't willing to hire women or agnostics or whatever, they have no businesses acting on behalf of the government.

    Of course if I were running a "faith based" charity, I'd want to hire the best people whatever they do or don't believe, but that's probably just me.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    A flawed argument that keeps cropping up here... (3.53 / 15) (#98)
    by elefantstn on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:39:36 AM EST

    One argument I've noticed from some people here is that "because I would never want / need to use religious services, I shouldn't have to pay for it." Clearly, these people haven't clearly thought through the issues here before posting. There are many, many things we are taxed for that we don't use, including education (as most of us are past public education age when we pay the majority of our school taxes). Disagree all you want with the propriety of aid to faith-based charities, but please don't make the argument above. It just looks bad.



    In Oz, we fund religiously-oriented education... (3.00 / 1) (#108)
    by leonbrooks on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:13:07 AM EST

    ...and that's wrong. When a church school accepts aid (and control) from secular or atheist sources, it's a statement-in-action that they believe God can't support them - so what are they there for?

    It also seems fairly obvious that the control which is spent in exchange for support is used to largely annul any special character in the parochial schools it pollutes.

    I could make a much better case for State support of religious charities than for State support of religious education. For example, that ``cult charity'' called ADRA do disaster relief worldwide, a valuable service in any country, and help the locals by skills development instead of socially-addictive handouts. You can be sure that no-strings-attached donations to ADRA would be better spent than on the vast majority of secular charities.

    However, it would still be wrong. Religion and the State should have no part in each other. Religion corrupts the State and the State corrupts Religion, a lose-lose situation. To each their own.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    two comments (3.00 / 1) (#112)
    by spraints on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:56:04 AM EST

    ... it's a statement-in-action that they believe God can't support them ...

    God's bigger than any government or sum of governments on this beautiful earth, and so His means of supporting an effective ministry to feed the poor might very well be to use the government.

    Religion corrupts the State and the State corrupts Religion, a lose-lose situation.

    This statement sums up what is pretty much my only concern with this faith-based plan of G.W.'s. However, the wheels are in motion, and I'll be praying that it works out for God's glory and for the best of all those involved and effected.



    [ Parent ]
    Really? (none / 0) (#269)
    by leonbrooks on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 06:00:51 AM EST

    it's a statement-in-action that they believe God can't support them

    God's bigger than any government or sum of governments on this beautiful earth, and so His means of supporting an effective ministry to feed the poor might very well be to use the government.

    True. But so often used as a cop-out and so seldom the absolute truth that it's hardly worth considering as objective.


    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Study some civics (3.75 / 8) (#109)
    by gregholmes on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:28:41 AM EST

    Someone probably already brought this up, but I am not going to read 108 comments in two minutes before work ...

    Bush can't spend anything. Congress spends. He can propose spending.



    What you all forget... (3.00 / 14) (#110)
    by PacketMaster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:29:15 AM EST

    What everyone forgets in this argument is that there IS NO law of this supposed "separation of church and state". Find that in the constitution -- where it says the government cannot have anything to do with religion. Did anyone bother to watch the inaguration with two ministers praying to God? Do you know the Seate and House both open every morning with prayer? Did you know the Supreme Court sessions open with prayer? When you take a legal oath it ends in "..so help me God"? This is a country founded by Christians for religious freedom and in America no religion is discriminated against. Sure there's the small pockets of hate, but overall no one cares if you're a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Muslum, or anything else.

    Why are all liberals afraid of this program? If it helps, where's the harm? This is the US Government! Do you think they're really going to cut funding in other areas to pay for this? What people fear is the fact that faith works every time it's tried and that is what scares people. This nation has a vast majority of people that would identify themselves as Christian, so therefore the majority should rule as long as they don't crush the minority. A program like this doesn't join church and state, it just helps out programs with proven track records. When the President declares himself Pope or Bishop or High Priest or something, that's when you need to worry about the separation of church and state. The concept came from England where the King was automatically the head of the Church of England and everyone in the land was forced to be Church of England. Here you can be Christain, Jew, Muslim, etc.. or nothing at all! THAT is the true definition of separation of church and state, not a stupid political ideology that hinders the helping of the less fortunate in our lives. This program will hopefully work. Certainly the government-sponsored programs aren't, so why not try something new?

    Theory and practice (4.00 / 2) (#168)
    by SIGFPE on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:06:51 PM EST

    everyone in the land was forced to be Church of England. Here you can be Christain (sic), Jew, Muslim, etc.. or nothing at all! THAT is the true definition of separation of church and state, not a stupid political ideology
    On the contrary. The American example is a piece of empty ideology and the UK has real practice that works. In the UK there is no separation of Church and State. The Queen is the Head of the Church and the presence of the church is visible everywhere in the rituals of Parliament. But it makes no difference to how real people live their lives. On the other hand the US has a codified separation of Church and State and yet it is quite clear that churches have a big influence on policy. The US is very unlikely to ever have a non-Christian president even if that is allowed on paper. I believe that on paper Iraq is also a secular state. It clearly doesn't mean much.

    BTW Britain is on target for a 'new age' King any decade soon.
    SIGFPE
    [ Parent ]

    Religion-only funding's the problem (4.66 / 3) (#169)
    by Phaser777 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:18:43 PM EST

    Faith works every time it is tried? I don't believe that is true. It works a lot of the time, but not all the time with everyone. That statement also impies that nothing else works, and that faith is the only answer. Well, that's my interpretation, anyway. Maybe I interpreted it wrong.

    The government-sponsored programs aren't working very well, true, but I believe the non-religious programs are doing fairly well. Possibly better than the religion-based ones (like you, I don't have any examples, so I may be wrong on this).

    I also though that separation of church and state meant that the government couldn't encourage any religion on anybody, and funding is *very* good encouragement. I guess "separation of church and state" is kinda open to interpretation, and everyone seems to have their own slightly different interpretation of it.

    The problem with this program is it gives government funding to religious-based programs, and gives no funding to the privately funded non-religion-based programs. This would imply that the government is encouraging religion, even if the money is given evenly to programs of all religions. I think either the funding should be given evenly to all succesful programs, regardless of their religious status, rather than funding only the religious ones or only the non-religious ones.

    And of course the definition of religion is an issue too. Bush has said that Wicca isn't a religion, and I wouldn't be surprised if he started declaring more "fringe" religions as non-religions. I doubt Congress would agree with that, though, so his personal opinions might be harmless. We'll see, I guess. I am a Christian, but if Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism were the only "nationally recognised" religions, I'd still be a bit angry. Discriminating against someone by denying funding because they don't believe in what 99% or the rest of the world believes in is just wrong.


    Yes, I know what an incoherent rant this is, so don't bother flaming me about that. :)
    ---
    My business plan:
    Obtain the patents for something (the more obvious and general the better)
    Wait until someone else adopts the idea and becomes rich off it.
    Sue them.
    Repeat.
    [ Parent ]
    Will you object... (4.50 / 2) (#198)
    by duffbeer703 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:56:24 PM EST

    Will you object to the state giving money to the Wiccians to council youth?

    Will you object to the state giving money to a church in a rich, white area to support the community?

    Will you object to the state giving money to Bush's 'religious' cronies for getting him elected?

    [ Parent ]
    Amendment I, United States Constitution (2.80 / 10) (#113)
    by ehayes on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:06:32 AM EST

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


    Okay, let's break it down... (4.00 / 5) (#117)
    by PacketMaster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:33:17 AM EST

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

    Government isn't establishing or making a religion. Doesn't say the government must ignore or shun religion.

    ..prohibiting the free exercise thereof..

    Government isn't restricting access or freedom of worship or religion. Again, Doesn't say the government must ignore or shun religion.

    ..abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    This part has nothing to do with religion other can guarantee that religions can speak, print and asseble.

    So basically, where in here is this so-called separation? As long as the US Government isn't creating its own religion and forcing it upon the citizens, Congress isn't resitricted from giving money to religious organizations, helping them or not, or having to reject all forms of religion in the name of separation. This is what irks me about this subject. Everyone quotes the first amendment as the "separation of chuch and state" but all it says is that the government cannot force a religion upon you. That's not separation, that's protecetion from oppression. Try again.

    [ Parent ]

    Congress shall make no law respecting... (3.33 / 6) (#122)
    by aSkeptic on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:03:55 AM EST

    >>Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

    >Government isn't establishing or making a religion. >Doesn't say the government must ignore or shun religion.
    >[snip unrelated interpretation]

    Its establishing "faith based" socialism. That IS an establishment. Its redirecting tax payer money to the coffers of the churches. If I had any choice in the matter I wouldn't mind so much. I don't want this, I'll tithe my own way THANKS! ..My 20000 mils worth

    See establishment at dictionary.com

    http://www.dictionary.com/cgi-bin/dict.pl?term=establishment%20

    also look up socialism:

    http://www.dictionary.com/cgi-bin/dict.pl?term=socialism

    Now what do you think?




    [ Parent ]
    What?? (1.75 / 4) (#126)
    by PacketMaster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:28:32 AM EST

    Faith-based socialism? You've got to be kidding me. Bush's program is no way establishes a religion NOR does it give money to churchs. It allows for the giving of money to religious-affiliated charities and social organizations. You have every right to object to it, but don't claim it's illegal. I object to my tax money being spent to fund abortions, pay for the lazy people in society (welfare) and giving free money to third-world countires but I don't spread FUD by claiming they're illegal.

    [ Parent ]
    IANAL, but not withstanding... (2.00 / 3) (#130)
    by aSkeptic on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:43:22 AM EST

    <Faith-based socialism? You've got to be kidding me. Bush's program is no way establishes a religion NOR does it give money to churchs. It allows for the giving of money to religious-affiliated charities and social organizations. You have every right to object to it, but don't claim it's illegal. I object to my tax money being spent to fund abortions, pay for the lazy people in society (welfare) and giving free money to third-world countires but I don't spread FUD by claiming they're illegal.>

    You've illustrated my point well, thanks. Fear Uncertainty and Doubt? Not so! I'm quite certain this is bad. Read dictionary.com and comeback with a REASON you object.

    Secondly, you assume that I support the idea of welfare, abortion (esp TAX funded abortion). I find that highly offensive. But I'll let it slide because it seems you didn't even consider my words. word! Its ironic don't you think? I am against Socialism, why the Hal would I support the contrarys you present?


    [ Parent ]
    I've read them (2.50 / 2) (#140)
    by PacketMaster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:08:35 AM EST

    I've read your definitions, already knowing thier meaning, and still fail to find their relavance to your argument. Religion is NOT being established by the government nor is it a socialist movement. I don't assume that you support any of the things I mentioned. I simply offer those up as examples of things that goverment does that I object to having my tax money spent on. If you don't support socialism, that's fine and I applaud that. But giving money to faith-based charities does not increase sociaism in America.

    [ Parent ]
    reason: (4.00 / 2) (#148)
    by aSkeptic on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:43:12 AM EST

    <But giving money to faith-based charities does not increase sociaism in America.>

    Ok. I'm not asking you to agree with me but I would like to know why tax funded church based welfare is not the same as the tax funded goverment welfare. Welfare is socialism, is it not? Socialism is the redistrubution of weath by force, is it not? I'm not talking about state services or making a healthy leviathan. I'm talking about taking my TAXes to support religous charitys. Shall we name welfare a non-religious charity? I was under the impression the charity is a voluntary act. I have absolutely no ability to stop *_MY OWN MONEY_* from going to organisations that perpetuate religion. Charity != socialism. Force != charity.

    I find this very ironic because all this time most republicans and the US christain order denounce socialism but suck it up when it suites their needs.



    [ Parent ]
    I do agree with you... (2.00 / 1) (#151)
    by PacketMaster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:52:50 AM EST

    I agree that money should not be given to any forced re-distribution of wealth program. However what Bush is talking about giving money to (unless I"m mistaken) is counseling programs, teen help organizations and others that don't give away income but provide community service for those with troubles. Welfare is the forced redistribution of weath from one group to another in the form of direct money. I personally would rather get a tax cut that allows me to give money to charities of my own choosing than getting hit with a "charity" tax, but if they're going to tax and spend then I see nothing wrong with this program.

    [ Parent ]
    interpretation (4.33 / 3) (#137)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:04:02 AM EST

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion
    Government isn't establishing or making a religion. Doesn't say the government must ignore or shun religion.

    This certainly depends on whether establishment is being used as a verb or a noun. Does the first ammendment apply to making laws concerning establishing a religion or making laws concerning an established religious institution?

    So basically, where in here is this so-called separation?

    If one reads establisment as a verb, there is no clear seperation. In one reads establishment as a noun, there is a very clear seperation. I'm not a consitutional lawyer, so I'll leave answering this question of how the author of the first ammendment intended the word establishment to be used as an exercise to the reader.



    [ Parent ]
    Read it again. (4.80 / 5) (#138)
    by Jah-Wren Ryel on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:07:15 AM EST

    Government isn't establishing or making a religion. Doesn't say the government must ignore or shun religion.

    Actually, that is exactly what it says. It says "make no law respecting an establishment of religion" - it doesn't say "shall make no law establishing a religion," which is what you read it as. By forbidding Congress to pass a law that *respects* an establishment of religion, it is saying that Congress must have nothing to do with supporting or otherwise even acknowledging any sort of religion.

    Also, consider this: Just about the first thing Bush did was to discontinue federal funding of groups that in any way even acknowledge abortion as a choice, regardless of if the federal money had been directly used to provide abortions. His argument was that even if the money didn't go directly to abortions, by providing it, the government was allowing these organizations to free up internal funds for promoting abortion that would have otherwise had to go to other things like overhead or other kinds of counseling.

    The same argument applies to this "faith-based services" stuff. These organizations are more than just the community services that need funding, they are also fundamentally promoting their religion. By paying for their community services, the federal government will allow them to free up internal funding for promotion of their religion that would have otherwise gone to overhead or counseling.

    Bush wants to have his cake and eat it too, but that is no surprise, he is a politician and that's just the way they are.

    If he were serious about the issue, he would reduce federal control over taxpayer money and allow for a full tax credit, not just a deduction, for personal donations to charities. Get the government out of the business of deciding where and when to redistribute wealth and let the people choose what charities they want to support.

    [ Parent ]

    definition of religion is important (3.00 / 2) (#120)
    by luethke on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:54:49 AM EST

    by most standards of religion athiesim is still a religion, by your reasoning can not force it on me. So this means that the religion clause is the first amendment is self defeating (by you standards, one can not force the presence or lack of religion on anyone). Science can be a religion, lack of a god can be a religion, a diest can be a religion. When an law is made that removes my ability to practice my religion (whatever it may be) that is violating Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. at least last time I checked not letting me pray is abridging that, just the same as me forcing you. and yes there are places I am not allowed. In high-school (been out of therefor a while now thank goodness), even though every member of the football team was christian we were not allowed to pray before a game, if an official cought us we would not be allowed to pray - all in the interest of fairness.

    I've also never understood why an athiest has such a problem with prayer. If there is no god then it is just a bunch of meaningless words. If I was forced to sit through a hindu prayer (I have before) it was totally meaningless to me. I did not participate, but I saw no reason to be deeply offended - this was thier faith and I am going to let them practice it. free speech and free religion means that sometimes (and maybe even oftem times) someone is going to say or do something you do not believe or like. a school saying a prayer before a ball game is not legislating a religion. The first amendment says no legislation, not no practice. I will stand up for you right to say a muslim prayer, abstain, or whatever religios idea you have as long as you allow mine - athiesim is still a religion

    [ Parent ]
    Wow, the authors of the constition read kuro5hin! (4.00 / 3) (#128)
    by aSkeptic on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:33:49 AM EST

    1. The first artical of the bill of rights isn't the original reasoning of anyone on kuro5hin.org ;->

    2. Athesim is not a religion. There is absolutely nothing religious about the reason of science nor the product of science: knowledge. Lack of a belief in gods or God does NOT qualify as a religion. Religion cannot be disputed with reason, Atheism can be. There are a bazillion pages about these arguments, I suggest reading them.

    As for preying in school, I can simpathise on some levels. I don't see why anyone should be denied the practice of their religion. Religion is a very personal experiance. Having a public school offer a _manditory_ prayer is a violation of cival rights. Praying in school or reading the bible isn't a crime and should be allowed. But if the teacher says "lets ALL pray" there will be injustice to those who are:

    1. considering religion
    2. considering atheism
    3. Athiestic
    4. Christian

    Worshiping Christ is an abomination to Islam is it not? Thats why I don't like it when my employer or college profession reads from the Bible.. (yes, I'm being sarcastic to illustrate this). There is TAX money involved. The church is indirectly TAXing us for the direct purpose of religion. Hundreds of thousands of people fought and died to protect us from this.

    Pray in study hall. Gather into a group before the game to pray and don't shun those who wish not to join. If you want respect, you'll have to dish it out too.

    [ Parent ]
    areement + quibble: atheism vs. agnosticism (3.75 / 4) (#134)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:52:45 AM EST

    Athesim is not a religion. There is absolutely nothing religious about the reason of science nor the product of science: knowledge. Lack of a belief in gods or God does NOT qualify as a religion. Religion cannot be disputed with reason, Atheism can be.

    Atheisim is not a lack of belief about God. Atheism is the belief that God does not exist. Atheism is a religion, to the extent that it is an active belief (or set of beliefs) on subject matter that is widely thought to be unprovable. Agnosticism, on the other hand, is a lack of belief in or about God.

    Having a public school offer a _manditory_ prayer is a violation of cival rights. Praying in school or reading the bible isn't a crime and should be allowed. But if the teacher says "lets ALL pray" there will be injustice

    This I agree with. Take Orthodox Christianity that teaches it is immoral to pray with those who are heretics. How can one force an Orthodox Christian to pray with those who are considered heretical by the Orthodox Church such as Baptists or most Pentecostals. Or take Jews who believe that praying to Jesus is idolatry. Or Muslims. Or Janaists. Or Sikhs. Once upon a time, when the US was less heterogenuous, something of an argument (not necessarily a convincing one) could be made that non-Christian religions were not an issue, but now that we have people from many lands and of many different faiths, it is no longer possible to do so without stepping on someone's toes.



    [ Parent ]
    Faith? (5.00 / 1) (#143)
    by plug on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:28:33 AM EST

    Surely religion implies some form of Faith i.e relying on the irational to explain the rational.. Atheism implies logical rationalism and as such can surely not be a religion.

    "In the U.S., you have to be a deviant or die of boredom." William S. Burroughs
    [ Parent ]

    Faith (3.50 / 2) (#149)
    by MrAcheson on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:43:39 AM EST

    Faith is believing in something unproven and/or unprovable. It is not necessarily irrational since all logical arguments must start with an unproven assertion.

    Athiesm asserts that there is no God. This is unproven and unprovable. Therefore this belief must be an act of faith. Whether it is a religion or not depends on your views about what makes up a religion.


    These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


    [ Parent ]
    Ummm.....no - it's STILL not faith (4.50 / 2) (#207)
    by soulcatcher on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:18:11 PM EST

    Do you think faeries and dragons don't exist? what about the boogeyman?

    it's not a leap of faith to say that they don't, because there isn't any evidencs supporting that they do.

    it's the same way with God. there is not a SINGLE piece of solid evidence suggesting that god exists, so believeing in it is akin to believing in faries or dragons, and not believing in it is just the same as not beiliving other mythical creatures.

    What has been done is to use the null-hypothesis. Technically you CANNOT disprove anything, because you can always argue that the other person just cannot pecieve it. Personally I choose to live in a world that NEVER accepts something just because of a null-hypothesis. If you want me to accept something as true, you damn well better present evidence for that. Although I admit that I have not personally tested every scientific principal that I tend to live with as being true, the difference is that I CAN.

    [ Parent ]

    Tea (5.00 / 1) (#217)
    by plug on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 07:32:34 AM EST

    "theism \The"ism\ (th[=e]"[i^]z'm), n. [NL. & E. thea tea + -ism.] (Med.) The morbid condition resulting from the excessive use of tea."

    "In the U.S., you have to be a deviant or die of boredom." William S. Burroughs
    [ Parent ]

    yes it is (5.00 / 1) (#230)
    by luethke on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:40:20 PM EST

    it's not a leap of faith to say that they don't, because there isn't any evidencs supporting that they do

    we all "knew" that the ceolocanth (I don't know how to spell it, it's a fish) was extinct. There was not one shred of evidence that it had not died out. In fact this lack of evidence was so overwhelming it took catching more than one of the beasts to "prove" that it indeed had not died out (the first was considered a fake because everyone knew they were extinc). The people took it on faith that it did not exist because of observation. We still have not cataloged all species that live on the earth, even several years ago there was some strange looking animal found in the east that seemed to have gills (they were not of course, just resembled them) on it's snout. Scientist thought that the local natives had some form of diety that they made out of thier collective conscience, untill one was found alive.

    it's the same way with God. there is not a SINGLE piece of solid evidence suggesting that god exists

    lets look at some science theory for a bit. we look up at the sky through very powerfull radio telescopes. we find that when we look far enough back we see some strange things. Based on several axioms that we have no basis other than "it works in all other cases" we surmise that the universe was contained in one singularity (or something close). At some point far enough back our model of physics breaks down. we know this because our mathematics say this, there is not a SINGLE peice of solid evidence suggesting this is true. It is pure conjecture, but because we came up with it from a certain point of view many are willing to beleive it. Now, lets look at the univers again. What are the chances that during the big bang (i am going to assume it is close to correct) that the mix of matter/anti-matter was what it was (required for us to exist), very very low. Further lets say what are the chances that planets and suns would form, also very low. Now lets look at life forming, even lower than all of those. Using the grand and unfallible reason/logic/and mathematics calculated that the chance of life forming would take the equivelent of a sparrow flying the earth one grain at a time to the nearest star. In other words reason shows that life will not come into existence, but yet it has. Either three things, we do not have the math to represent this correctly, there is some "force" moving events, or we are very, very, very lucky. Look at all the odd things that must be true for life. Water must have hydrogen bonding. It must expand when it freezes (know how rare that is?), it must have one of the narrowest ranges that it stays in liquid form. If any of those things did not happen, if water was not soo unique then life would not happen as we know it. look at all the odd things. That purely by chance idea breaks down when enough variables are put in, you have an even smaller chance of a universe forming that life is the natural outgrowth, which leads to faith one way or another (at least if you like to think about these things, the other thing is I don't have an opinion and I don't care).

    Although I admit that I have not personally tested every scientific principal that I tend to live with as being true, the difference is that I CAN.

    no, you can not. In "a brief history of time" he discusses a theory (I don't remeber the name) that attemps to answer "why does the univers look as it does to us". The "scientific" answer is "if it was any different we would not be here to observe it". That is a very religious type statement, or one of the largest cop-outs I have ever seen.

    Personally I choose to live in a world that NEVER accepts something just because of a null-hypothesis

    then you might as well kill yourself as much of science is based on that. Science takes observations then tries to approximate it closely then says "prove me wrong". One of the fundemental things to learn in science is that you can not prove almost anything, even fundamental laws are broken sometimes, thats why nearly all of science is called theory. The evidence christians show are probably rejected by you (such as the complexity and the chance that it would happen, of course I understand statistics and that does not prove it can't, just that it probably won't. If you say infinite time than may I remind you that the universe was created once, only one chance to get it right - and fortunatly it was done right, there are ideas that there may have been multiple big-bangs but, since we should NEVER accept something without proof we will ignore that. one of the reasons for this idea was needing the time for chance to happen and what would happen if there is a "big crunch").

    the main problem with you argument is that science and religion don't neccassarily ask the same questions. Science says how, not why. What I mean is that yes, you may ask "why do objects seem attracted to each other" and the answer is gravity, but that is still a how. Religion would ask "why does gravity eist". Or to go down to a point of an axiom, "why is 1+1=2". science would say "because it is" or "that is the way the univers is ordered" (again on the second answering how, not why), religion would seek to answer that question - as does much of philosophy. Religion and science are independant. At the point they answer the "why" they become a religion, athiesm is science for the ultimate answer, <insert religion here> for other religions. you have ultimatly built you science on ignoring the question (because that is the way the univers is made) or you take it on faith (because it is).

    as for dragons take a look at the komodo dragons and some of thier ancestors, some were quite large (30-40 feet) and lived at the time humans did in pre-historic times. some of those things were taken from living animals.

    [ Parent ]
    no, no it's not. (5.00 / 1) (#263)
    by soulcatcher on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 01:56:19 PM EST

    we all "knew" that the ceolocanth (I don't know how to spell it, it's a fish) was extinct. There was not one shred of evidence that it had not died out. In fact this lack of evidence was so overwhelming it took catching more than one of the beasts to "prove" that it indeed had not died out (the first was considered a fake because everyone knew they were extinc). The people took it on faith that it did not exist because of observation. We still have not cataloged all species that live on the earth, even several years ago there was some strange looking animal found in the east that seemed to have gills (they were not of course, just resembled them) on it's snout. Scientist thought that the local natives had some form of diety that they made out of thier collective conscience, untill one was found alive.

    Hmm - I seem to remember saying something about being able to disprove scientific theories. The fact is, we KNOW very little, but we theorize much. I can accept theories, but frankly I don't BELIEVE them. They are theories, they fully could be false. Some theories are very entrenched, and so it is hard to get people to accept that they have been disproved - but that doesn't mean that there is not a single part of science that could not be disproved tomarrow. What you say proves my point. We thought the ceolocanth was extinct. Someone found one. we know better now.

    lets look at some science theory for a bit. we look up at the sky through very powerfull radio telescopes. we find that when we look far enough back we see some strange things. Based on several axioms that we have no basis other than "it works in all other cases" we surmise that the universe was contained in one singularity (or something close). At some point far enough back our model of physics breaks down. we know this because our mathematics say this, there is not a SINGLE peice of solid evidence suggesting this is true.

    Not true, there is some decent evidence, such as the background rediation, and expansion of the univers, and so on. That doesn't mean it's true, because there are currently some serious flaws in the theory. Things like - the expansion the the universe suggests that the univers is 8 Billion years old, but we know of stars older then 15 billion years old. If the univers is 8 billion years old, there can no be matter in it that is 15. that's why these things are called theories. Just because the big bang is a currently popular theory doesn't mean that it can't be wrong. Remember - from the atheist point of view, it is OK to be wrong. We jsut revise our theories to deal with it, and move on.

    It is pure conjecture, but because we came up with it from a certain point of view many are willing to beleive it.

    I'm willing to say that people who believe it, I mean REALLY BELIEVE it as the way the universe MUST have been formed are idiots. Science NEVER generates anthing that a person can be 100% sure about. It's just something that has to be lived with. You could always be wrong.

    Now, lets look at the univers again. What are the chances that during the big bang (i am going to assume it is close to correct) that the mix of matter/anti-matter was what it was (required for us to exist), very very low. Further lets say what are the chances that planets and suns would form, also very low. Now lets look at life forming, even lower than all of those. Using the grand and unfallible reason/logic/and mathematics calculated that the chance of life forming would take the equivelent of a sparrow flying the earth one grain at a time to the nearest star. In other words reason shows that life will not come into existence, but yet it has. Either three things, we do not have the math to represent this correctly, there is some "force" moving events, or we are very, very, very lucky. Look at all the odd things that must be true for life. Water must have hydrogen bonding. It must expand when it freezes (know how rare that is?), it must have one of the narrowest ranges that it stays in liquid form. If any of those things did not happen, if water was not soo unique then life would not happen as we know it. look at all the odd things. That purely by chance idea breaks down when enough variables are put in, you have an even smaller chance of a universe forming that life is the natural outgrowth, which leads to faith one way or another (at least if you like to think about these things, the other thing is I don't have an opinion and I don't care).

    See my comment later on for my view of this (as a theory mind you). And besides, a high level of unlikelyhood does not even count as evidence of a higher being, it at best means that there is likely somethign we don't understand (which is acceptable - there is lots we don't understand)

    no, you can not. In "a brief history of time" he discusses a theory (I don't remeber the name) that attemps to answer "why does the univers look as it does to us". The "scientific" answer is "if it was any different we would not be here to observe it". That is a very religious type statement, or one of the largest cop-outs I have ever seen.

    I believe a full theory on this goes somethign like: there are likely infinite universes. in all of these universes, most do not have the ability to generate life (too little energy, Ice sinks, what ever). Our perspective necessarily comes from a universe that CAN support life. the same argument can be worked back all the way to our planet. If we weren't the lucky ones, we wouldn't be here to posit why we were so lucky.

    This is admitedly a theory - perhaps there are no other universes, perhaps there are no other star systems, and perhaps there are no other planets. but at least for the last two - we have a hell of alot of evidence that they exist. So the argument is at least valid for everything up to the universe. Do the inhabitants of Venus wonder why they exist? no, why? because they don't exist in order to wonder.

    then you might as well kill yourself as much of science is based on that.

    I take exception to that. I'm curious, why are theists always so convinced that people should just kill themselves if they don't have a reason for things (or for existing). I happen to enjoy my life very much thank you, and I don't need the validation of anything other then myself in order to do so.

    Science takes observations then tries to approximate it closely then says "prove me wrong". One of the fundemental things to learn in science is that you can not prove almost anything, even fundamental laws are broken sometimes, thats why nearly all of science is called theory. The evidence christians show are probably rejected by you (such as the complexity and the chance that it would happen, of course I understand statistics and that does not prove it can't, just that it probably won't. If you say infinite time than may I remind you that the universe was created once, only one chance to get it right - and fortunatly it was done right, there are ideas that there may have been multiple big-bangs but, since we should NEVER accept something without proof we will ignore that. one of the reasons for this idea was needing the time for chance to happen and what would happen if there is a "big crunch").

    First off, I have to say there is absolutely no evidence that the universe had to be created at some point. We surmise that because everything we see in our lives has a beginning, that the universe must also have a beginning. I accept that it's possible the univers had a beginning, but I also accept that it is possible that it did not. I don't think we understand it well enough to make a final judgement on that.

    Oh, and yes, you are right, statistical unlikelyhood proves nothing, other then we were luckly. One can use it as an inticator that we might not understand everything related to it correctly.

    the main problem with you argument is that science and religion don't neccassarily ask the same questions. Science says how, not why. What I mean is that yes, you may ask "why do objects seem attracted to each other" and the answer is gravity, but that is still a how. Religion would ask "why does gravity eist". Or to go down to a point of an axiom, "why is 1+1=2". science would say "because it is" or "that is the way the univers is ordered" (again on the second answering how, not why), religion would seek to answer that question - as does much of philosophy. Religion and science are independant. At the point they answer the "why" they become a religion, athiesm is science for the ultimate answer, <insert religion here> for other religions. you have ultimatly built you science on ignoring the question (because that is the way the univers is made) or you take it on faith (because it is).

    More importantly in my mind is the ultimate question - is there a why. I don't see any reason for there to be. As far as I can tell most of the universe's WHY is the answer "". Why implies intelligence - I ultimately see no need for a why, the could be one - but why do we assume there is. We can give ourselves our own whys - but I ultimately think the universe doesn't care. Now this differs from reigion in that the ultimate answer to anything is "God", or "God made it that way".

    Chiefly - I think the main difference is that you can refute sucessfully a rational argument, but I don't think the same is true for religion. If I refute a religious argument need only reply with "because god said so". The ultimate difference between the two ways of looking at the world is one is refutable, the other is not.

    as for dragons take a look at the komodo dragons and some of thier ancestors, some were quite large (30-40 feet) and lived at the time humans did in pre-historic times. some of those things were taken from living animals.

    I don't recall komodo dragons breathing fire, and flying.



    [ Parent ]

    still wrong (mostly) (none / 0) (#271)
    by luethke on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 11:50:44 AM EST

    Hmm - I seem to remember saying something about being able to disprove scientific theories

    not in the article I replied to (i typically don't keep up with names over multiple threads - I read them at staggered times). I don't see how I proved your point of the article I was replying to. you say you only believe in what you can prove, procede to say you beleive in science, and I point out science is theory and unprovable.

    Not true, there is some decent evidence, such as the background rediation, and expansion of the univers, and so on. That doesn't mean it's true, because there are currently some serious flaws in the theory.

    not a single thing I said was "not true". I did not feel like writing very much on all the axioms and observations we use to build the big bang theory. We use math to show much of it that we only know "works in other cases". Something like before 1x10^-20 seconds or something (i don't remember but it is very small) our model of physics breaks down. We have seen the light from other stars red-shifted and can look "back" in time with powerful telescopes, but at this point we have about as much evidence as early people had about the sahpe of the galaxy.

    And besides, a high level of unlikelyhood does not even count as evidence of a higher being, it at best means that there is likely somethign we don't understand (which is acceptable - there is lots we don't understand)

    It is as much observation and "proof" as we have for much scientific theory we hold as cannon now (That was not meant to "prove" a higher being, just to show observation that may suggest it, much like a lot of scientific reasoning).

    This is admitedly a theory - perhaps there are no other universes, perhaps there are no other star systems, and perhaps there are no other planets. but at least for the last two - we have a hell of alot of evidence that they exist. So the argument is at least valid for everything up to the universe. Do the inhabitants of Venus wonder why they exist? no, why? because they don't exist in order to wonder.

    my point still stands. This is a cop-out. essentially it is saying that we should not exist, why do we. Since we need infinite possibilities (or at least very large) we have to figure out what ways we can have very large. So you need a near infinite supply of planets and near infinite universes for this to happen. that is taking an answer and trying to come up with a question that you (a general you, not you specifically) prefer over another. This scenario has just as much proof as a god creating the universe. I do not know that god exists, I have faith. There may be infinite universes with infinate planets, there may be a "god", there may be both for all I truly know.

    I take exception to that. I'm curious, why are theists always so convinced that people should just kill themselves if they don't have a reason for things (or for existing)

    you said you would only live in a world that never accepts anything based on the null-hypothesis. I was being rhetorical based on your statement. I don't think that just theists have that idea, you have a reason for existing - you like living. If one has no will or reason to live they tend to kill themselves, even if they are theists. many times these statements are not raelly serious as I was not, just demonstrating a point about using too strong of a language.

    I accept that it's possible the univers had a beginning, but I also accept that it is possible that it did not.

    interesting, you are aproaching a very religious thought (check out hinduism sometime) with the whole quote - waste of bandwidth to repost it all.

    Now this differs from reigion in that the ultimate answer to anything is "God", or "God made it that way".

    only in most of christianity. Hindu would take more of this stance with brahman. Some christians believe god created the univers, set laws that would leed to the creation of humans, and then let it go. Not all christians take the stories in the bible as literal, they can also be symbolic (many christians I know seem to pick and choose which ones they like to believe are symbolic/literal. I find this irritating).

    Chiefly - I think the main difference is that you can refute sucessfully a rational argument, but I don't think the same is true for religion.

    I totally agree with you. The thing is that this would still be evidence that athiesm is a religion. You are stating a 100% view. There is no god, not a theory but as a refutable law. Notice you did not do this with any of the science that we both quoted. This move science into the rational and athiesm into religion. Now agnostic is "i'm not shure", they can lean toward no or yes, but they typically leave a lot of wiggle room, athiesm leaves none. A religion requires faith, be it hindu, athiesm, or the worship of science (having science or reason infallible).

    I don't recall komodo dragons breathing fire, and flying.
    There is some reason why they believed fire but I don't remeber it (some primitive understanding of something). Flying is a relativly new thing. Fire was not always a big thing in each culture either. Mostly both of these we really pushed in literature. This is much like the idea of vampires have changed drastically since stoker's dracula. also if you have ever read shelly's frankenstien our idea of him has drastically changed (in the book he is muli-lingual and extremely supple limbs, better than a normal human). Pop culture has redifined many of the old monsters or gods to be very different from what they were initially believed.

    [ Parent ]
    Mmmm.. (none / 0) (#274)
    by soulcatcher on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 01:38:38 PM EST

    Well, we could go on round and round on this for quite some time, and you have some interesting points that I deffinitly have rebuts to, but we are kinda pushing the age envelope on this thread. So, basically I am replying to this just to let you know I read your comment, and appreciate the mental sparring.

    take care, Devon Jones

    [ Parent ]

    lack of belief vs. active disbelief (none / 0) (#243)
    by Anonymous 242 on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 04:46:10 PM EST

    If one simply states that he or she has doesn't belief that God exists, no faith is involved.

    On the other hand, if one states that he or she believes that God does not exist, that individual is making a profession of faith.

    See the difference? Lack of belief is not faith. Belief in a unprovable statement is faith.



    [ Parent ]
    misunderstanding of atheism (4.33 / 3) (#152)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:56:53 AM EST

    Surely religion implies some form of Faith i.e relying on the irational to explain the rational.. Atheism implies logical rationalism and as such can surely not be a religion. </blockquote.

    Most (not all) forms of atheism are irrational. Most (again not all) variants of atheism are simply emotional and psychological reactions to different types of theism. The fact that atheism asserts a statement of belief (that God does not exist) on an topic (the existence of something supernatural) that is widely (but not indisputedly) accepted as being beyond the realm of scientific inquiry makes atheism a faith.

    Also, be sure to not confuse lack of belief with negative belief. An agnostic doesn't believe that God exists. An atheist believes that God does not exist. Do you see the difference between these two statements? If you don't, the difference can be illustrated with the additional statment that the agnostic also doesn't believe that God does not exist. The agnostic has no belief on the subject of God while the atheist has a belief on the subject of God.

    Atheism is just as much about faith than theism. Agnosticism also requires faith, but in the case of agnosticism, faith is only required for the same axiomatic principles needed to make the scientific method work. (The axiomatic principles that must be taken on faith by rationalism are the law of non-contradiction, the law of universal conformity, and the assumption that some of our experiences are truly indicative of external reality.) Atheism requires additional belief which moves atheism out of the realm of logical rationalism.



    [ Parent ]
    I'm really not a good spokesman for atheism.. but. (none / 0) (#145)
    by aSkeptic on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:30:30 AM EST

    <Atheisim is not a lack of belief about God. Atheism is the belief that God does not exist. Atheism is a religion, to the extent that it is an active belief (or set of beliefs) on subject matter that is widely thought to be unprovable. Agnosticism, on the other hand, is a lack of belief in or about God. >

    Beyond the "Appeal to the gallery"..

    Well I'm just a sophmore in the field of Atheism. I never take philosopy as static, its too limiting. I cannot prove that there isn't a God. I cannot prove there is a God. Could you prove there is a city of Atlantis because you cannot prove there is one!? This is where _religion_ asserts "you just need faith". I was a born-again christian at one time. Yes, it was an exciting experience being a christian. I changed because I wanted a better understanding of my life. When the hockus pokus of BAC wore off I searched some more. I feel that I am improved. I can only reason with the stewards of this earth. I can offer no absolute truths. I can only attempt to offer resolution. We can make this happen. I do not condem christians, I love many of them. My mom is a christian and she is a spiritualy healthy person. I'm not out to convert people.

    Is spirituality a Religion? If yes, then I am religious. I can be spiritual in nature like christian is spiritual in supernaturalism. I dissagree that Atheists are by definition spiritualy bankrupt. Spirituality requires honest consideration. Peace :)




    [ Parent ]
    don't mind me, I'm an epistemological pedant (5.00 / 1) (#157)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:15:32 PM EST

    I cannot prove that there isn't a God. I cannot prove there is a God. Could you prove there is a city of Atlantis because you cannot prove there is one!?

    This is the classical agnostic stance, to have no belief on questions that can not be proved one way or the other. Agnosticism asserts that some questions (such as the question of the existence of God) are incapable of being proved one way or the other.

    This is different from athesim that holds that the non-existence of God can be proved.

    I changed because I wanted a better understanding of my life. When the hockus pokus of BAC wore off I searched some more.

    I can understand the change you went through entirely. The difference is that when I began to see the shallow roots of modern North-American Protestant theology, I began to examine the very foundations of Christianity and discovered that Protestantism does not accurately reflect Christianity as it has been known for thousands of years. (For that matter, neither does Roman Catholicism.) Instead of becoming agnostic, I happenstance upon a form of Christianity (Orthodoxy, if you're interested) that was internally coherent (something that Protestantism is not) and acccurately predicted a world that jibed with my perceptions of the world.

    Is spirituality a Religion? If yes, then I am religious. I can be spiritual in nature like christian is spiritual in supernaturalism. I dissagree that Atheists are by definition spiritualy bankrupt. Spirituality requires honest consideration.

    I mostly agree with what you say. I could continue to quibble with your semantics. I think you mean to use morality where you say spirituality in some places and mean to use something like self-actualization in others. Atheism, followed to its philosophical conclusion, leads to amorality. However, if Christianity is seldomly followed to its philosophical conclusion, why should I expect adherents to Atheism to do so? Most people are not all that interested in discovering the implications of their professed world view. I don't know whether or not that is an entirely bad thing. I really am in no place to judge what is inside other people's hearts. I am in a place to judge what is in my own heart. That is a large part of the essence of Christianity.



    [ Parent ]
    Little grievances (none / 0) (#155)
    by angrymob on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:05:10 PM EST

    Atheisim is not a lack of belief about God. Atheism is the belief that God does not exist. Atheism is a religion, to the extent that it is an active belief (or set of beliefs) on subject matter that is widely thought to be unprovable. Agnosticism, on the other hand, is a lack of belief in or about God.
    By your arguments Agnosticism would still be a religion. Having beliefs does not make you religious, the dogma does.

    Atheism does not fit any text book definition of religion. If you want to extend the meaning of 'religion' to fit atheism than it would fit any belief, whether it's about god or not. My belief that there is no god is no different than my belief that there is a coffee for me in the next room. Brian

    [ Parent ]

    the difference (5.00 / 1) (#162)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:23:43 PM EST

    My belief that there is no god is no different than my belief that there is a coffee for me in the next room.

    You can verify through empirical means whether or not your belief that there is a coffee for you in the next room is true. You can not verify through empirical means your belief that God does not exist. This added measure of faith is why agnosticism is not typically considered a faith and atheism is typically considered a faith.

    To be fair, agnosticism requires faith. Any world view requires faith. The difference is that virtually all people are willing to have faith in the tenets that agnosticism must take on faith: the law of non-contradiction, the law of universal conformity, that our sensory perceptions are to some extent indicators of an external world.

    Atheism, in going one additional step and asserting the nonexistence of God, takes itself beyond scepticism.

    BTW, I'm neither agnostic, nor atheist. I just read too much.

    [ Parent ]

    re-quibble: atheism vs. agnosticism (none / 0) (#159)
    by apocryphile on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:20:41 PM EST

    Atheisim is not a lack of belief about God. Atheism is the belief that God does not exist. Atheism is a religion, to the extent that it is an active belief (or set of beliefs) on subject matter that is widely thought to be unprovable. Agnosticism, on the other hand, is a lack of belief in or about God.
    This is not correct. Agnosticism is not a lack of belief in or about god. Agnosticism is a belief that there can be no proof as to the existence or non-existence of god.

    Atheism is the disbelief in or denial of the existence of god or gods. Thus, whereas some atheists may deny the existence of god, others simply don't believe in it.

    I do not beleive in any god. I don't claim that there can be no god. I make no claims about the possibility of proving or disproving the existence or lack thereof of god. This makes me an atheist, but not an agnostic.



    [ Parent ]

    your semantics support my distinctions (none / 0) (#167)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:50:10 PM EST

    Atheism is the disbelief in or denial of the existence of god or gods.

    This is also how I define atheism. Disbelief is notably different from a lack of belief. Disbelief entails a negative belief, whereas, a lack of belief is simply a lack of belief. Dictionary.com says:

    disbelief n. The act of disbelieving;; a state of the mind in which one is fully persuaded that an opinion, assertion, or doctrine is not true; refusal of assent, credit, or credence; denial of belief.
    Thus, whereas some atheists may deny the existence of god, others simply don't believe in it.

    This statement contradicts your definition of atheism.

    I do not beleive in any god. I don't claim that there can be no god.

    Which makes you an agnostic.

    I make no claims about the possibility of proving or disproving the existence or lack thereof of god.

    Which means you are not a classical agnostic in the vein of Huxley.

    This makes me an atheist, but not an agnostic

    Not by your own definition of atheism.



    [ Parent ]
    Untrue (none / 0) (#173)
    by apocryphile on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:05:17 PM EST

    This is also how I define atheism. Disbelief is notably different from a lack of belief. Disbelief entails a negative belief, whereas, a lack of belief is simply a lack of belief. Dictionary.com says: disbelief n. The act of disbelieving;; a state of the mind in which one is fully persuaded that an opinion, assertion, or doctrine is not true; refusal of assent, credit, or credence; denial of belief.
    Dictionary.com does indeed say that, for its second entry. For its first entry, however, it says:

    Disbelief n. Refusal or reluctance to believe.

    and for its third entry is says:
    disbelief n 1: doubt about the truth of something [syn: incredulity, skepticism, mental rejection] 2: a rejection of belief [syn: unbelief] [ant: belief]

    So, one of the three entries agrees with you.

    This statement contradicts your definition of atheism.
    No, it doesn't. I disbelieve in god, under the first and third definitions of disbelief. Therefore, I am an atheist. Simple enough.
    Which makes you an agnostic.

    No, again. An agnostic specifically believes that the existence of god can not be proven or disproven. To quote dictionary.com :

    ag·nos·ti·cism n. 1.The doctrine that certainty about first principles or absolute truth is unattainable and that only perceptual phenomena are objects of exact knowledge. 2.The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.
    The other two entries that contain information agree with this one, as did you in another post on this thread:
    Agnosticism asserts that some questions (such as the question of the existence of God) are incapable of being proved one way or the other.
    Which agrees with the definition above.
    Not by your own definition of atheism.

    see above

    [ Parent ]

    semantics (none / 0) (#189)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:52:32 PM EST

    To a certain extent, I appear to be wrong. I beg your pardon.

    Upon re-evalutation it seems to me that there is a certain amount of overlap between the terms agnostic and atheist. I still think the way you use the word atheist has more in common with an agnostic position. But I'll concede that if you prefer to think of yourself as an atheist, you are certainly within the bounds of the English language.

    [ Parent ]

    Fun with semantics (none / 0) (#239)
    by apocryphile on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 03:26:54 PM EST

    Thanks. I was afraid I'd have to stop callin myself an atheist.

    For my part, I'll concede that your usage may be more common than mine. The terms just don't map particularly well to the cases we want to use them to describe.

    The way I see it, the main cases that need to be described are as follows:
    1) Doesn't know whether or not a god exists. Makes no claims about provability.
    2) Believes that the existence of a god or gods in fundamentally unknowable.
    3) Believes that gods do not exist, but not that they could not possibly exist.
    4) Believes with a burning faith that God does not exist.

    1 & 3 are similar. they could be called weak agnosticism and weak atheism, respectively. 2 & 4 would then be strong agnosticism and strong atheism.

    I think that when people claim that atheism is a religion, they're generally referring to case 4. I could be persuaded that they're right, in that case. Then again, case 2 resembles a religion as well.

    There are still other definitons that are used with moderate frequency. Mnay atheists like to define atheism as simply 'a lack of belief in the existence of diety.' That's the definition I'd prefer, but it's not widely accepted enough to have a real claim on the word at this time.


    [ Parent ]

    *Bzzt* (5.00 / 1) (#206)
    by soulcatcher on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:00:06 PM EST

    Atheisim is not a lack of belief about God. Atheism is the belief that God does not exist. Atheism is a religion, to the extent that it is an active belief (or set of beliefs) on subject matter that is widely thought to be unprovable. Agnosticism, on the other hand, is a lack of belief in or about God.

    *Bzzzzt* try again, I'm an atheist, and I do not have a belief in god. You are confusing the term belief - in this case it's short hand for saying that we think that science holds no support for the theory of a god existing.

    You missed the important distinction anyhow: Religion CANNOT be disproved through reason, because it is based in belief. Atheism CAN be, because it IS based upon reason. Belief or no belief, if I accept that reason could disprove my stance (even if at the same time, I also accept that there currently is NO evidence in the other direction), then I am NOT participating in a religion.

    I think much of this comes from the fact that many religious people cannot fathom people looking at the world without the filter of belief.

    [ Parent ]

    I was wrong, but not in the way you think (none / 0) (#224)
    by Anonymous 242 on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:32:11 AM EST

    As someone else pointed out the word atheism can be used in the sense that you use it. I still think that this usage is a somewhat vague usage and that agnosticism better describes the stance of lack of belief in any sort of deity (opposed to an active belief in the non-existence of a deity).

    Religion CANNOT be disproved through reason, because it is based in belief. Atheism CAN be, because it IS based upon reason.

    This is completely incorrect. Any given religion can be disproved through reason. Reason can be used to demonstrate internal incoherency in any system of beliefs. Reason can also be used to demonstrate the external incoherency of a religion. Scientology, The Church of Latter Day Saints and the Jehovah's Witness movement are a few examples of religions that can be debunked fairly easily through examining their historical truth claims against recorded history.

    Aside from that many thesists throughout history were theists because of reason. Mortimer Adler, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm of Canterbury, Augustine of Hippo, Justin the Martyr, Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal and many others have held to their religious faith out of well advanced reasoning. To claim religious adherents never reason to their position is to ignore the history of many religions.

    I think much of this comes from the fact that many religious people cannot fathom people looking at the world without the filter of belief.

    This statement indicates that you have spent very little time reflecting on the nature of belief and of faith. The scientific method itself rests on several presuppositions that can not be proved, but must be taken as axiomatic.

    I will gladly concede that most religious people believe in religion simply because that is what they are taught and have no reasoned out basis for their belief other than that is what their parents, pastor, and/or teacher taught them. This has no bearing on whether religion can be arrived at through reason or not. Most people also don't understand the reasoning behind algebra or calculus, but simply accept what their hight school teachers teach them. The only difference in my mind is that the evidence behind the sciences is much less disputable than the evidences for most religions. But even with the sciences, what people accept blindly because that is what they have been taught has been shown to be erroneous on many occasions.

    I think that the real problem is that people misunderstand the role of reason and of logic. Reason and logic do no create axioms. Reason and logic do not create presuppositions. Reason and logic simply allow a person to find conclusions that are implicit within a set of explicit premises. If these premises (the axioms and presuppositions) are correct, the conclusion will be correct. If these premises are incorrect, the conclusion may not be correct (a correct conclusion can be arrived at from flawed premises). Reason and logic simply guarantee that a conclusion is correct if the premises are correct. Reason and logic are not magic bullets that can completely justify one world view or another.



    [ Parent ]
    well... (none / 0) (#264)
    by soulcatcher on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:09:20 PM EST

    As someone else pointed out the word atheism can be used in the sense that you use it. I still think that this usage is a somewhat vague usage and that agnosticism better describes the stance of lack of belief in any sort of deity (opposed to an active belief in the non-existence of a deity).

    Agnosticism is the belief that you can neither prove or disprove that god exists. I think you can. And currently in my mind the evidence does not support the "god exists" theory.

    This is completely incorrect. Any given religion can be disproved through reason. Reason can be used to demonstrate internal incoherency in any system of beliefs. Reason can also be used to demonstrate the external incoherency of a religion. Scientology, The Church of Latter Day Saints and the Jehovah's Witness movement are a few examples of religions that can be debunked fairly easily through examining their historical truth claims against recorded history.

    Right, but since the people have taken a leap of faith, reason cannot be used to disprove the religion in their minds. Because they have FAITH, and BELIEF. I can sit with a believer all day, and point out all the flaws, and even disprove their entire religion. All the have to say back is "God made it that way", or "you think that way because you don't have faith". I cannot ever win that arguement, because they believe in something that does not rest on rational principals.

    Aside from that many thesists throughout history were theists because of reason. Mortimer Adler, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm of Canterbury, Augustine of Hippo, Justin the Martyr, Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal and many others have held to their religious faith out of well advanced reasoning. To claim religious adherents never reason to their position is to ignore the history of many religions.

    True, there are many people who have attempted to have a rational belief in the supernatural.

    This statement indicates that you have spent very little time reflecting on the nature of belief and of faith. The scientific method itself rests on several presuppositions that can not be proved, but must be taken as axiomatic.

    But even those axioms are not taken as Truth with a capital "T". They are taken as theories. Theories can be disproven, and are all the time. The sucky thing about reality is that you can NEVER take something as fact. Nothing can every really be proven per se, instead it is possible to disprove theories.

    I think that the real problem is that people misunderstand the role of reason and of logic. Reason and logic do no create axioms. Reason and logic do not create presuppositions . Reason and logic simply allow a person to find conclusions that are implicit within a set of explicit premises. If these premises (the axioms and presuppositions) are correct, the conclusion will be correct. If these premises are incorrect, the conclusion may not be correct (a correct conclusion can be arrived at from flawed premises). Reason and logic simply guarantee that a conclusion is correct if the premises are correct. Reason and logic are not magic bullets that can completely justify one world view or another.

    This is correct. I know nothing for a fact. I ahve many theories in my life, many that I tend to accept as probable with little investigation of my own. All I place forward is that you CAN disprove any part of my world view, whereas because religion is based upon the pedestal of belief, and faith - there comes a point in an arguement where you hit that foundation. When you do, you cannot rationally disprove it, because FAITH is not a rational thing. The do not occupy the same part of the mental spectrum.



    [ Parent ]

    wrong (none / 0) (#228)
    by luethke on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:58:09 AM EST

    There is absolutely nothing religious about the reason of science nor the product of science: knowledge.

    somewhat correct. Science is independant of religion. But a religion can be based upon science. I don't remeber that name of the strictist one but look at humanism.

    Lack of a belief in gods or God does NOT qualify as a religion.

    yes it is, it's called agnostic

    Religion cannot be disputed with reason, Atheism can be. There are a bazillion pages about these arguments, I suggest reading them.

    can't say as I have read a bazillion of these pages but the study of religion I have done, both in college and out, tends to list agnosticism and athiesim as a religion. It tends to be athiest who claim it is not a religion and therfore must be what the govt practicies (don't like it when you are told not to do what you belive, well I don't either that's why there should be NO laws one way or the other FORCING you to do or not do anything - participate if you want, don't if you want). Worshiping Christ is an abomination to Islam is it not? Thats why I don't like it when my employer or college profession reads from the Bible..

    know what? that is one of the bad things about free speech. You can say something I don't like, and I can say something you don't like. I don't like it when an employer tells me that there is no god, but it is his right to do that. It is your right to tell me there is no god. It is also my right to tell you there is one, or my right to rread from the bible aloud to my employees if I so choose. That is very different from legilating that all muslims are evil, or every member of the US is now hindu. remeber the door swings both ways in this case, as much as you dislike religion I dislike not being allowed to practice it (it seems many of our freedoms are based this way, make both sides unhappy about what the other side is doing, but that is a good thing).

    Hundreds of thousands of people fought and died to protect us from this.

    well, most of the people I know that fought in WWII and korea(there are several my grandfather know) are aghast that prayer is not mandatory in school (I disagree with them, prayer should not be mandatory, neither should it be illegal). Of course I don't know the ones that died, maybe they were for prayer being illegal.

    Pray in study hall. Gather into a group before the game to pray and don't shun those who wish not to join. If you want respect, you'll have to dish it out too.

    I have never shunned an athiest for being an athiest, I have good friends that are athies and agnositc. But then again we can't legislate idea's (either repect or religion). You raction to this is similar to what many people feel about censorship in schools. You say prayer in school causes shunning and violence - the same arguments for censorship of the net. You want to censor religion - that's ok, but don't censor porn. I say don't censor either - make no laws abridging either of my rights.

    [ Parent ]
    challenge (none / 0) (#235)
    by aSkeptic on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:03:34 PM EST

    "You say prayer in school causes shunning and violence - the same arguments for censorship of the net." I beg your pardon.. where exactly did I say this? "well, most of the people I know that fought in WWII and korea(there are several my grandfather know) are aghast that prayer is not mandatory in school (I disagree with them, prayer should not be mandatory, neither should it be illegal). Of course I don't know the ones that died, maybe they were for prayer being illegal." I was thinking of the revolutionary war which wasn't fought soley for religious freedom (or excape from the anglican[sp?] church). But It was certainly on the agenda. Taxing a Christain to pay for a Muslim faith center is just as tyrannical as vice versa. We live in a free country. Part of this traditional definition is freedom from religious taxation. Tithing in your own way doen't mean taking MY MONEY by force (else the IRS takes me to jail). I'm not talking about building roads or funding schools. I'm talking about my traditional right to be free from tyranny! Please if your going to respond do so in context to WHAT I ACTUALLY WROTE. I am not your stereo typical anything, except an eccentric, which stereotypes are difficult to make for. Sorry to yell, its just a pet peeve. I'm ticked at this situation, like many others here. I'm still not sure what all of this means. So well should all have our answers soon. Perhaps this isn't as bad as it seems but.. Are we really going to be taxed strait out of FICA for funding a Jim Jones or a David Koresh? Are we really going to take taxes to fund the Catholic church. Results may be good but I do not believe that the ends always justifys the means. We already have the liberty to put our own cash into any religous institutions we like. We can go to any church we like. We have all these wonderful freedoms and libertys. Not every thing in life can be solved by buracracy and taxation just the same as not every thing in life can be solved by reason or quantification. I cherish the traditional right to be free, don't you? maybe good = maybe disaster I will argue no more points WE didn't make. EOF

    [ Parent ]
    i'll meet it (none / 0) (#247)
    by luethke on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 06:11:10 PM EST

    "You say prayer in school causes shunning and violence - the same arguments for censorship of the net." I beg your pardon.. where exactly did I say this?

    Gather into a group before the game to pray and don't shun those who wish not to join. If you want respect, you'll have to dish it out too.


    That at least implies christians shun those that are not christian. the second part was a point that I was making about what you had wrote.

    I was thinking of the revolutionary war which wasn't fought soley for religious freedom

    And of course these people never once mention god or religion in any part of the declaration of independance or constitution? at one time in early america states had official religions (it says congress shall make no laws - they took that to mean states were allowed). The way we define seperation of church and state is a new definition.

    Please if your going to respond do so in context to WHAT I ACTUALLY WROTE. I am sorry if I have offended your great and mighty senses but I can only go by what I have read, one of the reasons a put you comments in italics is so maybe someone could tell that I was seponding to what you wrote, in fact I probably tend to quote more than I need in an effort to make sure the whole context is there. Of course if you are incapable of forming sentances that mean what you intend, that is not my fault.

    I am not your stereo typical anything

    see above quote by you "WHAT I ACTUALLY WROTE". i don't remeber myself saying you are sterotypical. I responded to what had been wrote in your response.

    also if you notice what I have wrote (and I do not expect you too, I have to make a deliberate decision to see who is posting what where so i tend not too, unless it is in a thread replying to me) I have said several times that I do not like ANY law, either pro religion or anti religion. My point is simply that forcing athiesm is the same as forcing christianity or muslim or whatever religion you specify. taxing me to pay for the furtherment of athiesm is tyrrany, our tax money going to anti-gun literature is tyrrany (the CDC has classified gun ownership as a disease and there for the federal govt can and does give money to "fight" it). I hate being force to either do something or forced not to do something.

    I have not personally read exactly what bush has proposed so I will not make a final decision. if it is giving something to faith based institutions that secular ones do not get that is wrong. If only secular institutions get this advantage now that is also wrong. Again discrimination based on religion is wrong - there should be no law that takes into account religion. I have not heard these questions answered and untill I do I will only say I do not have enough information to take a strong position. As for a buracracy the smaller the better, tax money should only go to things that the private sector can not fund and is needed (national defense, certain types of energy research, etc.. etc..)

    [ Parent ]
    Religon is a meme (3.50 / 2) (#139)
    by coastwalker on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:08:25 AM EST

    Once the concept of religion is created it automatically supposes that anything which is not that religion is another religion and must be destroyed. Hence the plausible argument that non religion is a religion - tricky stuff these viruses of human thought.

    The problem with using the doctrine of one religion to determine the policy of the state is that it automatically excludes the rights of any minority that is not of that religion. So I agree if atheism is being rammed down your throat then that is wrong but you have not explained to me how you were prevented from exercising your religious rights - could it just be that the rest of the players did not want to participate in the prayer that you wanted them to participate in? In which case they were within their rights to decline your offer to partake of team prayer.

    Its time to make your mind up I say -

    Either you say ok we want to have a fundamentalist state where the law is determined by religion (see Iran / Afghanistan) or you have to live within a pluralist democracy where some people are allowed to behave in ways in their own "communities" which you regard as abhorrent.

    Of course they may well live in your street and you may meet them in libraries or schools or in your place of work. You have the choice to manage your relationship between people not of your faith or you can destroy them.

    In deciding where the boundary lies between acceptable exercise of a persons rights and the good of the community one cannot use the doctrine of a religion. That is why we have politics separated from the church.


    [ Parent ]
    I am somewhat agreeing (none / 0) (#226)
    by luethke on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:36:50 AM EST

    First off I don't want ANY laws, neither forcing the non-practice or the practice of religion.

    you have not explained to me how you were prevented from exercising your religious rights

    lets first look at christians in general. Look at govt officials that express they are christian and are derided for it, even though they are not accused of trying to legislate thier religion, just that they are. I am no longer allowed to pray openly in a school. We had before school a volutary meeting of christian (i didn't go because most of the people there were idiots) but that was stoped as it was "pushing a religion" though I never saw how. Now the athiest were allowed to have secular rants directed at the whole school and any other religion were not(including eastern religion or anything). As for the football team no one forced them to pray, you misunderstood my example. There were muslims from time to time there that declined to pray, as far as I could tell no-one cared (they were more popular than I was).

    In deciding where the boundary lies between acceptable exercise of a persons rights and the good of the community one cannot use the doctrine of a religion. That is why we have politics separated from the church.

    exacly what I meant. Athiesm IS a religion. Just like any other religion therre are ones that are tolerant and intolerant. In the area I currently live there is an activist Ms. Simms, she has permission to go through schools and look for any christion stuff in display. She nearly got one teacher fired because she had a small set of hands depicting prayer on her desk. You tell me that is not unlike what many athiest claim christians do, You could see the anger and hate in her eyes while talking about the filthy crhistians. There is a level between a theocracy and a completly secular society - that being if you want to be christian and pray openly - do so, if you want to be muslime and pray openly - do so, if you do not want to participate -don't. that is making no laws that infringe, not forcing people to ignore thier religion.

    [ Parent ]
    You want to know WHY atheists don't want prayer? (5.00 / 1) (#204)
    by soulcatcher on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:51:39 PM EST

    See - it's very simple why an atheist would not like to be forced to be subjected to prayer. It has to do with the fact that many people who practice christianity have absolutly no tolerance of people who do not. I am not christian, and I WILL NOT say words of prayer to waht I see as some imaginary force that is supposed to be controlling the world. I consider it to be embarassing, and demeaning to prostate myself infront of something that in my mind does not exist. So because of this, when there is prayer going on, I do not participate. Well - as I said, some people don't tolerate people who think differently (Read: Bullies, people who are unsure of them selves, football players who like to beat up nerds for no good reason, so on). Don't think they don't notice, because they do, and it gets used as a method to discriminate against a non religious person. It is an excuse for a person to be mean, it is an excuse for violence (Which it has been for 2000 years. If you think that christians as a large group don't hurt people who don't believe the same as them - just look at the crusades, the salem massacre of innocents as 'witches', and thousands of other such incidents).

    I'm not spouting this off as a bunch of BS - it has happened to me, and it will continue to happen in any place that is willing to respect the establishment of a religion.

    [ Parent ]

    I never said force you (none / 0) (#223)
    by luethke on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:23:47 AM EST

    I didn't say to force you to pray. If you live a predomintly hindu population, and at a soccer game before they play they wish to pray, they should have the right to do it, just as you have the right NOT to participate. As a christian I have no problem with this, it is meaningless words. If I was was an athiest the same would hold true. If I were hindu it would hold meaning. Nowhere have I forced you to lay prostrate and give undying devotion to a diety. The other point is that ATHIESM IS A RELIGION!!!! forcing me NOT to pray makes me feel the same as if I FORCED you to pray. Don't think they don't notice, because they do, and it gets used as a method to discriminate against a non religious person.

    yea, and if you look funny it is an excuse, if you dress funny it is an excuse, if you anything different it is an excuse. Again this is being among people, not religion in specific - at least according to the teachings of christianity that discrimination is a sin, it is not the fault of the religion.

    It is an excuse for a person to be mean, it is an excuse for violence (Which it has been for 2000 years. If you think that christians as a large group don't hurt people who don't believe the same as them - just look at the crusades, the salem massacre of innocents as 'witches', and thousands of other such incidents).

    And since when has a christian held the chalice of violence exclusivly, and since when has the bible proclaimed "if you find a non-beleiver destroy them!". last time I read it there where some places in the old testament but the new tends to preach a little more tolerant mood, again you are confusing the actions of people with the message they claim to use (if they didn't have religion to use they would use other - russia tended to kill off many ethnic and political people they didn't like, all in the name of the great state)

    [ Parent ]
    but it still is forcing (5.00 / 1) (#262)
    by soulcatcher on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 01:14:44 PM EST

    I didn't say to force you to pray. If you live a predomintly hindu population, and at a soccer game before they play they wish to pray, they should have the right to do it, just as you have the right NOT to participate. As a christian I have no problem with this, it is meaningless words. If I was was an athiest the same would hold true. If I were hindu it would hold meaning. Nowhere have I forced you to lay prostrate and give undying devotion to a diety.

    No - But what you ahve done is set up a system that allows a school to show favoritism towards a religion - which will lead to bad things (see former post). This doesn't stop you from praying anywhere else, or at other times - what it does is it stops anybody from pushing one religion over another inside a government sanctioned & paid for institution. The government is not pushing Atheism, the government is holding an Agnostic stance - the stance that god cannot be proved or disproved, and god will not be sanctioned or attacked. The public schoolyard is supposed to be OUTSIDE religion, or non belief all together.

    The other point is that ATHIESM IS A RELIGION!!!! forcing me NOT to pray makes me feel the same as if I FORCED you to pray. Don't think they don't notice, because they do, and it gets used as a method to discriminate against a non religious person.

    No, it's not. Atheism is the lack of belief in a god. lack of belief is not a belief. You are confusing it with the concept of believing that there is a not a god. It is a subtle but important difference. I only accept that which one can give good supporting evidence of, and frankly - the arguement that the world is to complicated for there not to be a god is flawed. Otherwise, I see no supported evidence that a god exists, so I am necessarily atheist. Second, even if Atheism is defined as the belief that there is no god, that only establishes the belief portion of a religion. for somethign to be a religion, there needs to be both belief, and dogma. Atheism has no dogma, it has no authority, no set of rules. it is not a religion.

    yea, and if you look funny it is an excuse, if you dress funny it is an excuse, if you anything different it is an excuse. Again this is being among people, not religion in specific - at least according to the teachings of christianity that discrimination is a sin, it is not the fault of the religion.

    Hmm - it's a world where people do bad things - <Sarcasm> I guess that's a great reason for us to want to make it worse, by exposing more methods of intollerance an hatred </Sarcasm>

    And since when has a christian held the chalice of violence exclusivly, and since when has the bible proclaimed "if you find a non-beleiver destroy them!". last time I read it there where some places in the old testament but the new tends to preach a little more tolerant mood, again you are confusing the actions of people with the message they claim to use (if they didn't have religion to use they would use other - russia tended to kill off many ethnic and political people they didn't like, all in the name of the great state)

    Since when have all christian required that something be in the bible for it to be a part of the religion. I know of plenty of christians who have no tolerance for people who are not christian. Genrally they spend all their time trying to convert, or failing that, trying to fore other people to ostrasize that person who will not submit to their religion. I honestly don't car one whit what the bible says, because what is important to me is how the people actually act. So what if the bible says love thy neighbor, so what if it says thou shall not kill, so what if it doesn't say convert all others. None of that mattered to the christians who were wipeing out the muslim population in bosnia. It didn't stop the christians who tortured 40+ innocent individuals in Salem. And it is NOT gong to stop the schoolyard bully from using it as a tool to beat his classmates who don't feel a need to be christian.



    [ Parent ]

    Definition of religion (none / 0) (#253)
    by thePositron on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:07:37 AM EST

    luethke,
    Instead of pulling a definition of religion out of a hat why not just use a dictionary.
    re·lig·ion (r-ljn)
    n. Abbr. rel., relig.


    Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
    A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
    The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
    A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
    A cause, a principle, or an activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
    Idioms:
    get religion Informal
    To accept a higher power as a controlling influence for the good in one's life.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [Middle English religioun, from Old French religion, from Latin religi, religin- perhaps from religre, to tie fast; see rely.]



    [ Parent ]
    i'm sorry.... (none / 0) (#257)
    by luethke on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 07:05:49 AM EST

    ....all those hours in theology and philosophy have now been invalidated by one looking up a word in a dictionary. I suppose I should write into the kind people at harvard that wrote the textbook on religion that lists athiesm as a religion. I will also need to go dig out the other books I have and mail thier authors also. I am humbled in the presense and infinite brilliance of dictionary.com.

    A cause, a principle, or an activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    oh wait, this fits athiesm (not agnosticism) maybe I don't have to mail them and tell them the err in thier ways. guess what, it is possible to have the cause, beleive in the principle with zeal, and have concientious devotion to the absence of god. Not only is it possible but many people DO that.

    To accept a higher power as a controlling influence for the good in one's life.

    uh oh, many athiest accept science/reason as the ultimate power (even though science says not a word one way or another on the subject, you can be a christian/muslim/hindu/athiest scientist). I will admit not all do (just as all christians don't discount science). higher power simply means a power greater than you, it is not super-natural (or they would have used that word as they did earlier), and the reverance displayed on www.athiest.org very much fills these requirements. So I would say don't ignore the definitions that disagree with what you feel the defintion should be (it encompases both supernatural and natural).

    When you have zeal toward an unprovable assertion with respect to a "higher power" (which is the crux of what the definition you quoted means) that is religion. you can not prove god does not exist, there is no evidence, there is just as much evidence for it as against it. The only truly rational aproach is agnostic. Agnosticism is the fine line here. You can argue they are not a religion and I would be hard pressed to disagree with examples.

    [ Parent ]
    out of curiosity, where will the line be drawn? (4.40 / 15) (#125)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:24:27 AM EST

    There is a well known Islamic group by the name of Hamas that does fantastic work in running orphanages and providing much-needed social services such as education and food to poor Muslims. Of course this particular group also trains and arms militant terrorists. I believe that, while president, Jimmy Carter commended Jimmy Jones' People's Temple for the good work it was doing down in Central America. Is it possible that an equivalent group could receive money from the George W. Bush adminsitration?

    To further stir up the pot, George W. Bush pronounced during his campaign that certain movements (such as Wicca, which GWB specifically named) should not be classified as being religions. Opening federal money to some faiths, but not to others is almost certain to lead to lawsuits that will cost the government far more than the government will save by paying faith-based organizations to engage in federally funded social services.

    Lastly, to be honest, I don't know that I trust the government deciding which faith based organizations are worthy of federal assistance.



    Exactly (3.50 / 2) (#188)
    by apocryphile on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:50:30 PM EST

    Lastly, to be honest, I don't know that I trust the government deciding which faith based organizations are worthy of federal assistance.
    This is what I see as the best argument against this idea.

    The agency in charge would have to make decisions, not only about which organizations to fund, but the level of funding they would receive. Since there's no way this program is going to have the funds to give all the organizations what they ask for, there will be complaints from all sides.

    Also, by choosing some faith based organizations over others, the government runs the risk of becoming the arbiter of what is or is not a valid religion. That moves them perilously close to violating even a fairly strict reading of the first amendement.

    [ Parent ]

    Here it comes (3.41 / 12) (#133)
    by Kaneda on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:51:32 AM EST

    Here comes that huge shit storm all of us feared when we found out bush won (all of us who didn't want bush to be pres). And this is only the beginning. Donating to religious organizations so that they can council people? WTF is he thinking? Why not put that money into the organizations we already have that DO work. I don't want my tax dollars going to a church because some bozo up in government thinks he can do whatever he wants. No offense to those who have faith, whatever you believe is fine, but I don't think we should all be forced to fund whatever bush believes in simply because he's the president. If that's the case though, then down with bush. Polititcs. What a bunch of crap.

    if it makes you feel any better (4.00 / 2) (#135)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:56:49 AM EST

    In the context of counseling:
    Why not put that money into the organizations we already have that DO work.

    The best studies in psychology and psychotherepy suggest that the method or basis of counseling is less important than the act of going to a counselor. In other words, it matters less as to whether a counselor subscribes to a "proven" method of counseling and more that the patient actually attends the counseling.

    Think of counseling as something approaching an in-person placebo. It likely doesn't matter what the counselor says as much as it matters that the patient thinks that the counseling helps.



    [ Parent ]
    Mmmmm! (none / 0) (#178)
    by tlaclair22 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:33:40 PM EST

    "programs that DO work" Please elaborate as these so-called working programs keep a terribly low profile........

    [ Parent ]
    What do you expect? (3.41 / 12) (#136)
    by mrfiddlehead on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:03:16 AM EST

    Bush is a known xtian. He comes from Texas, one of many states that are rife with xtians. The yew-ess is becoming more and more xtian with every passing minute. Last stat I heard there were only 3% of americans who claim to be atheists compared with about 10% in most western states (Canada and Europe). Of course he will pass on cash to other religeous charities but only as an excuse to pass more bucks to the xtians who control most aspects of the religeous right.

    God help us.

    :wq

    First off (3.44 / 9) (#141)
    by finkployd on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:16:17 AM EST

    Bush can't spend anything, he PROPOSES spending to a pretty evenly divided congress. Second, seperation of church and state ( a line so often repeted one would begin to think it appears somewhere in the Constitution ) does NOT mean that "never the twain shall meet", it only means that the government cannot have an 'official' religion, like Church of England. Religion was, and still is all over the place in government.

    All that said, do I agree with this? Heck no. Why should your tax dollers be spend on something you don't agree with. That is unfair, and quite frankly it is a slap in the face of anyone who opposes religion to make them fund it partially. HOWEVER, tit for tat. I oppose abortion. So does roughly half the country. I have no problem if you want to get one, but why should my tax dollers go to support it. Except for extreamly rare cases, it is NOT health care, it's really expensive birth control for irresponsible morons. I propose that NO taxed money ever be spent on religions, so long as no taxed money be spend on abortion. Fair? Or is there something substancially different between the two cases?

    Finkployd
    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
    Definitely fair. (5.00 / 1) (#147)
    by Wicket on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:43:09 AM EST

    I completely agree with you, as a pro-choice female. I too do believe that tax dollars should not be used to fund abortions. Does anyone have any statistics on this? It just felt like such a slap in a face that just last week Bush put the gag rule to overseas clinics that just COUNSEL on abortion, not even actually perform the abortions, if they even COUNSEL on abortions, then they lose US funding. That was last week, and only a week later he proposes that taxpayer money be used for faith-based clinics. I find that pretty hypocritical of Bush.
    intune.org - music discussion for the soul...
    [ Parent ]
    Yup (5.00 / 2) (#158)
    by finkployd on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:15:56 PM EST

    Even though I'm an evil SUV driving, Bush voting, Christian Republician, I still have a sense of fairness. This totally hypotricial of Bush. My preference is that government gets out of faith based stuff, and out of women's reproductive systems (but to me, that means not only not restricting abortions, but not funding them). You'll probably find that most of your younger republicians feel the same way and are becoming more socially liberal, while staying fiscally and governmentally conservative.

    Finkployd
    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
    [ Parent ]
    I just wanted to say... (none / 0) (#211)
    by MTDilbert on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:54:32 PM EST

    You summed up my thoughts perfectly. Thank you! It's good to know there's more of us than I think. <G>

    Don't mod me down because you disagree. Show me the error of my ways.
    [ Parent ]

    No Congressional Help Needed (none / 0) (#182)
    by End on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:57:48 PM EST

    What Bush is proposing is a modifcation of policies in the "Charitable Choice" initiative that Clinton enacted in 1996. Bush needs nothing from Congress to get started on this, and furthermore the government has already been doing this for a couple of years now.

    -JD
    [ Parent ]

    Ahhh (none / 0) (#183)
    by finkployd on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:09:00 PM EST

    Would this be one of those unconstitutional 'executive orders' then? I believe ALL of those need to be retracted and passed a laws with the full procedure described in the Constitution. Some of the ones Clinton slipped though are completly outragous.

    Finkployd
    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
    [ Parent ]
    no, not an executive order (none / 0) (#187)
    by End on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:23:53 PM EST

    It was a law that congress passed as part of the Welfare Reform act, and was signed by Clinton. No problem there.

    -JD
    [ Parent ]

    Amendment 1 US Constitution (2.14 / 7) (#142)
    by mrmouse on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:20:09 AM EST

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    I don't see how Bush's proposal violates the "Seperation of Church and State" as construed from the US Constitution.

    huh??? (4.25 / 4) (#150)
    by el_guapo on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:48:33 AM EST

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" oh...i dunno..., maybe by FUNDING them?
    mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
    [ Parent ]
    interpreting the constitution (4.00 / 1) (#153)
    by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:00:06 PM EST

    Read my comment to answer someone else that asked the same question.

    [ Parent ]
    Civics 101 (5.00 / 7) (#156)
    by Rand Race on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:09:10 PM EST

    Perhaps you missed the "respecting an establishment of religion" part. This doesn't mean that they can not establish a national church, it means they can not, in any way, give the impression that the government supports any religion (or no religion for that matter).

    The Supreme Court has ruled (Everson v. Board of Educ. of Ewing, 330 U.S. 1, 15-16 (1947)) that there shall be a "wall of seperation between Church and State". More directly effecting this situation is the ruling (School District of the City of Grand Rappids v. Ball, 473 U.S. 373, 390 (1985)) which states "An important concern of the effects test* is whether the symbolic union of Church and State effected by the challenged governmental action is sufficiently likely to be perceived by adherants as an endorsement, and by nonadherants as a disapproval, of their individual religous choices." As a 'nonadherant' myself I can tell you that yes, this does give me the impression that the government disaproves of my irreligiousness. If school prayer conveys a message of government endorsement of religion due to public property being used for a sectarian purpose (Lee v. Weisman, U.S. 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992)) and is therefore a violation of the establishment clause, then this certainly can be catogorized as a violation as well since it is public money being used for sectarian purposes.

    *= Under the "Lemon Test" (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)) a court must enquire whether the primary effect of the government's action is to advance or endorse religion, whether the action has a secular or religous purpose, and whether the action fosters an excessive entanglement between government and religion.

    What I find interesting is that there is already a noninfringing mechanism in place for 'faith based' charity. It's called tax deductions for charitable donations. Since you get to decide who to donate to and the government does not discriminate in giving deductions based on the religous (or not) nature of the charitable organization, it does not violate the establishment clause.

    I'll leave you with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of religous opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical."


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Pardon me, you're wrong (2.00 / 3) (#181)
    by End on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:51:29 PM EST

    Perhaps you missed the "respecting an establishment of religion" part. This doesn't mean that they can not establish a national church, it means they can not, in any way, give the impression that the government supports any religion (or no religion for that matter).

    Pardon me, it says no law respecting an establishment of religion, meaning no particular institution or denomination. The original drafts of the 1st Amendment, as well as the actual writings of the Founders, support this interpretion as the intended one:

    • Draft 1 : "Congress shall not make any law...establishing any religious denomination."
    • Draft 2 : "Congress shall not make any law establishing any particular denomination."
    • Draft 3 : "Congress shall not make any law establishing any particular denomination in preference to others."
    • Draft 4 : "Congress shall not make any law establishing religion or prohibiting the free excercise therof."

    When the founders wrote "religion," they meant "a single Christian denomination." This is supported by the historical context of the amendment, namely the problems caused in England and elsewhere where you had the government forcing you to worship in a particular denomination's church.

    Fisher Ames, who wrote the wording for the 1st amendment, also wrote an article in January 1801 expressing concern that Bibles not be taken out of public schools, and predicting that any such action would be followed by a sharp decrease in morality. So would you say that he was in violation of the Constitutional amendment that he wrote in 1789?

    -JD
    [ Parent ]

    Drafts don't count (5.00 / 4) (#195)
    by Rand Race on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:10:34 PM EST

    "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

    -Treaty between Tripoli and The United States, 1797; approved by the Senate under John Adams and signed by George Washington.

    If the founders meant one thing they should have written it thusly, as they didn't and as how they were not morons I must deduce that it means what it says.

    "So would you say that he was in violation of the Constitutional amendment that he wrote in 1789?"

    Of course not, it gives him the right to free speech as well. If he had attempted to legislate thusly in the federal arena then yes.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    What the published Constitution states (5.00 / 4) (#197)
    by duffbeer703 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:50:11 PM EST

    The first amendment of the Constitution of the US
    "Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

    The founders were intelligent men, and came to the conclusion that 'demonination' was too narrow a term for the Constitution.

    Providing a monetary contribution to an entity implies that you support that entity. This is why most politicians do not accept contributions from criminals or a foreign state.

    Churches are not in the social welfare business; they are here to promote the beliefs of their god. Contributing to church coffers is implicit support of religion, which is none of the government's business.

    The separation of church and state is not im place to prevent religion oppression. It is there to keep religion out of government. From the Spanish Inquisition to Ancient Rome to Iran, there are many examples of what goes wrong when religion and politics mix.


    Your mention of Fisher Ames further reinforces this point. Reactionary religious zealots have been complaining pushing the "sharp decrease in morality" myth since Adam and Eve.


    [ Parent ]
    Actually, he's not wrong... (5.00 / 2) (#218)
    by minusp on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 09:07:58 AM EST

    Because he cites the current interpretation of the meaning of the establishment clause. Whatever is written in the Constitution, or passed into law on whatever level, is only a framework, a list of suggestions, if you will. The REAL law of the land is the decisions and writings of the courts as they comment upon these laws. You may interpret any given law or Constitutional protection as you see fit, but that does not change how the courts have decided to interpret them. The only way to actually change the standing interpretation of any statute/right is by review by a higher court, or by subsequent review (in another matter) by the same court.

    "Establishment," at least for now, is held to mean that government may not assist any religious group unless it assists all reigious groups together. That's why this assistance has largely been tax-free status related, even though religious organizations need not exhibit "tax-free" behavior; it is something they "all get." Handing out money is something else again... who decides who gets how much, and on what basis. Open the spigot and hand it out blindly to all that hold out their hands? I doubt it. Give to the Big Three? Get ready for the lawsuits, and get ready to lose.

    This establishment of this office is something that, because of its very nature, will please SOME, offend MANY, and is certainly NOT a thing that I would call "unifying" by any stretch.
    Remember, regime change begins at home.
    [ Parent ]
    Why this will never come to pass (3.33 / 6) (#176)
    by slick willie on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:20:06 PM EST

    Motives and constitutionality aside, there is one simple reason that it doesn't really matter.

    Suppose for a moment that some sort of faith-based funding does pass. No religious organization in its right (ahem) mind would want it.

    Why? Because federal money always, always, always, always comes with strings attached, and the way this is shaping up, I would foresee about 20 million conditions on each grant. No one is going to want to compromise that much just to get their hands on federal money.

    Can you imagine a Catholic organization wanting to get a federal grant if it stipulated that said organization counsel birth control to homeless women with children?

    I didn't think so.

    "...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
    --Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

    sure, this could come to pass (1.00 / 1) (#185)
    by jacobito on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:09:56 PM EST

    Can you imagine a Catholic organization wanting to get a federal grant if it stipulated that said organization counsel birth control to homeless women with children?
    that's not really an issue with the Bush administration, now is it?

    [ Parent ]
    You're missing the point. (none / 0) (#191)
    by slick willie on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:58:56 PM EST

    Which is this: all spending must be approved by Congress.

    Congress != Bush Administration

    Any and all federal funding has strings attached. Go talk to your state highway department, if you don't believe me -- or look into Community Development Block Grants. My point is that for this thing to have a, -- uh, prayer -- of going through, there will be amendments and riders and stipulations of every sort attached to it, and no one will want the money, since it will effectively take control of it.

    "...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
    --Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

    [ Parent ]

    true... (1.00 / 1) (#250)
    by jacobito on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 07:29:56 PM EST

    no, i understand that. sorry, i was being facetious, more than anything. it will be interesting to see how well the bush administration and the 50/50 congress get along. ashcroft (shudder) was confirmed by the senate today; we'll see if the democrats put up more of fight in the time to come. perhaps we'll even get to see what the supreme court thinks of all of this.

    [ Parent ]
    Religion this, religion that (3.84 / 13) (#179)
    by ubu on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:37:51 PM EST

    From The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal:

    "By now there can't be a soul in America who doesn't know that somewhere in his adult life, George W. Bush got religion. And thanks to the Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, John Ashcroft had to answer questions about his. With due respect to both men, however, it strikes us that their belief in the Almighty doesn't begin to match the fervor of their critics, whose own belief in government as the solution to all problems remains unaffected by experience."

    Ubu
    --
    As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
    Seperation myth (2.90 / 11) (#186)
    by End on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:21:45 PM EST

    Seperation of church and state, defined as "government must not do anything to accomodate religion" is a modern myth.

    In 1801 the Danbury (sp?) Baptists in Connecticut heard that the Congressional Denomination was going to be made the national denomination; this was not true, but that's what they heard. The sent a letter to President Thomas Jefferson. He wrote back in January of 1802, saying basically "You have good reason to protest, but you needn't fear, this won't happen; the 1st Amendment has established a wall of separation between the church and state, the state will not control the church." He went on to say, however, that religious principles would be retained, and that they would be used to moderate conduct, but that Congress would not establish a single denomination.

    Jefferson's letter was used as precedent in a number of subsequent Supreme Court rulings. For instance, in the 1878 case Reynolds v. US, the entire letter was quoted, and the ruling was made in favor of religion.

    However in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education, they ruled against religion, and quoted a mere eight words of Jefferson's letter, taking it out of context and adding in conclusion "The 1st Amendment has erected a wall between church & state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable."

    In 1962, Engele v. Vitale, the Supreme Court redefined religion to mean "any religious activity" whereas for 170 years it had meant "a christian denomination" in this context. With this redefinition, there came the deluded idea that any "religious activity" in government is unconstitutional.

    You cannot find a shred of evidence or support for the modern idea of "seperation of church and state" before the early 1900s. It simply doesn't exist.

    -JD

    The Wall (4.36 / 11) (#192)
    by Rand Race on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:42:37 PM EST

    "You cannot find a shred of evidence or support for the modern idea of "seperation of church and state" before the early 1900s. It simply doesn't exist."

    Oh really? How 'bout:

    "Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate."

    - Ulysses S. Grant, "The President's Speech at Des Moines" (1875)

    Or even:

    "There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights. malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed."

    - Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Weiss v. District Board, March 18, 1890

    Bzzzt! Try again. Oh yea, and the missing context from Jefferson's letter is:

    "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 and state."

    - President Thomas Jefferson, 1802 letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut

    Woops, the context doesn't change the sentiment at all.

    Really a spurious argument anyhow. Hell, the Supreme Court upheld slavery in the 19th century too.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Full marks for effort (2.25 / 4) (#222)
    by End on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:21:53 AM EST

    There is more to Ulysses' letter than you have quoted. Look it up sometime.

    The Supreme Court of Wisconsin apparently did not realize that religion had been in the schools for more than a hundred years at the time of their statement, and the schools of the day were better then than they are now. (I don't mean to suggest that religion was the sole cause of this, but the point is that religion had not, in fact, destroyed the education system.)

    Finally, your quote of Jefferson does not anywhere refute my point:

    "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 and state."

    Again, you are assuming the modern definition of "seperation of church and state." Jefferson is assuring the Danbury Baptists that the federal government will not establish a national denomination, nothing more.

    -JD
    [ Parent ]

    Whatever (3.40 / 5) (#229)
    by Rand Race on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:30:52 PM EST

    "There is more to Ulysses' letter than you have quoted. Look it up sometime."

    I have, but why don't you point out the parts that contradict what I've shown? The fact is that the doctrine of "Seperation of State and Church" was well established by the middle of the 19th century at the latest.

    "The Supreme Court of Wisconsin apparently did not realize that religion had been in the schools for more than a hundred years at the time of their statement, and the schools of the day were better then than they are now."

    They very well realised it (to the small degree that schools were religous at the time) and still considered it unconstitutional.

    "Finally, your quote of Jefferson does not anywhere refute my point:"

    Your point is that the term was taken out of context. In context the meaning does not change. He even "Contemplates with sovereign reverance" rather than religous reverance.

    Jefferson is assuring the Danbury Baptists that the federal government will not establish a national denomination, nothing more.

    Show me the quote where he says "I am only refering to Christian denominations and not any other religous belief" Otherwise you have no point. We do not know the minds of the men so we can only go on what they actualy said. Even if he was only assuring them that no other denomination would be held above another, nowhere does he limit himself to only christianity.

    I will not take you, or your preacher's, word on this. Show me a piece of official state documentation (Law, treaty, court decision) that supports your contention and I'll give it a thought. Hell, even a decent scholarly piece supporting your contention would help.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Here's the point, sherlock: (1.16 / 6) (#278)
    by fester on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 05:39:48 PM EST

    "seperation of church and state" isn't a phrase you'll find in the Constitution. So you can aruge all you want about letters and interpretations of courts, but it aint there. Now go cry yourself to sleep.

    [ Parent ]
    Cantwell v. Connecticut (3.50 / 2) (#215)
    by apm on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:04:43 AM EST

    That's the case (in the 40's or 50's, I think) where the Supreme Court struck down a law which distinguished between religious and non-religious activities in its application (a tax on solicitation, IIRC). The Court said that having public officials determine what qualifies as a religious purpose violates the First Amendment. Seems like that might apply in this case.

    (Insert obligatory IANAL here :-)

    [ Parent ]

    False, false, false (4.00 / 10) (#244)
    by puzzlingevidence on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 05:05:43 PM EST

    The will of the Founding Fathers of the US seems to be that there should be a high, thick and spiky wall between the church and the state.

    I refer you to this collection. Jefferson, as one of the primary framers of the US Constitution, would have found Bush's plans abhorrent and tantamount to criminal.

    Read Jefferson's Bill for Establighing Religious Freedom in Virgina, 1785. Jefferson clearly wanted separation of church and state. Vis:

    We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.

    That's 115 years before 1900. Hence, you are utterly wrong.

    There are exceptions to the deists among your Founding Fathers; at least one signer of the US Constitution believed that all morals naturally follow from religion and therefore the Bible should be considered the source of all law. In 2001, such views are (rightfully) considered specious or absurd by most humans.

    This is a great collection of quotes supporting the separation of church and state.

    Were I a US citizen (and I'm not) and Bush's faith-based social service plan came into law, I'd stop paying taxes. I am absolutely certain that others will do the same.

    ---
    A man may build a throne of bayonets, but he can not sit on it. --Inge
    [ Parent ]

    A Libertarian perspective... (3.11 / 9) (#190)
    by weirdling on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:58:45 PM EST

    I guess my problem really isn't with where Bush chooses to throw my money, it is that he is throwing it away no matter what he does. Yes, faith-based systems have slightly higher success rates and significantly lower overheads than governmental systems and the governmental systems are significantly useless, but still, the faith-based systems won't be all that more successful and we're simply throwing away less money, rather than none at all.
    Don't get me wrong; I'm not against helping those who are in a genuine bind but who will some day recover and thus once again contribute, but for the most part, that is not the case. In most addiction cases, there must be a powerful need in the person to overcome the addiction if the addiction is to be overcome at all. As most addictions generally have an alternate source, such as family problems or coping problems, to which the addiction is escapism, overcoming them is not something that merely requires detoxification, as the instant the person is back on the street, the pressures once again are the same; people tend to do the same thing over and over again.
    Now, if a faith-based organization, or indeed, any organization, wishes to help them, more power to them, but until an actual, working solution exists, I don't see why my tax dollars need to be held hostage to their problems, which my tax dollars are most definately not solving.
    No matter how often or how freely the government gives away its money, that money is going to require something. Nationalized healthcare will result in Twinky taxes and banning. Federal retirement programs result in people who pay more getting less. I expect to get practically nothing, yet I pay a sizable chunk of my income for it. Any time the government benevolently hands out something, it ties a string to it, and that string results in reduced freedoms. What I want is a state where I can enjoy my shooting sports, drive on roads that won't destroy the suspension of my Camaro, and look at a cop without instantly distrusting him. What I get is people suspicious of my guns, people whom I'm supporting, roads that *suck*, police that, using the war on drugs or whatever as an excuse, stop innocents on the road and search/seize their vehicles, police that won't necessarily help me in case of a crime but are happy to give me a ticket for speeding in cases where it is clear that I endanger no one by doing so. That's the society we live in, so why is anyone surprised at this?

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    Maybe a Libertarian perspective but... (4.66 / 3) (#196)
    by broody on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:14:06 PM EST

    ...there just seemed to be something missing. Here is my attempt.

    I am not a Libertarian, I just play one on Kuro5hin. <:

    Government disbursments are inherantly inefficent. The government consumes an exhorbanant percentage of your tax dollar simply collecting your money. The process of determining a budget, allocating it to an agency, creating a disbursment process, validating the "qualifications" of the recipient orgainizations, and the inevitable government scope creap cosume even more of the funds before any "charitable organization" even sees them.

    There is an alternative is much simplier and effective. Who is a better judge then you to determine what reflects your values and promotes the changes that you want to see in the world? The government does not know what is best for you, politicians do not know what is best for you, the only true judge of how to enact you attitudes and values is you.

    Imagine being able to support your local community center in a way that you have never been able to do before, or the local homeless shelter, or your favorate charity that you have unable to support as much as you would like until now. By reducing the tax burden and returning to a constitutional level of government individuals will be able to fund activities in keeping with thier principles and values and do so in a more efficant manner.

    The government cannot deliver the mail on time, it cannot purchase a hammer at a reasonable price, and it cannot allocate your money more effectively then you can yourself.

    Sorry if this comes off as stereotypical or misrepresenative of a Libertarian perspective but to me this would be what I would expect a Libertarian to advocate. <:


    ~~ Whatever it takes
    [ Parent ]
    LIBERATARIAN BULLSHIT SPOTTED (3.00 / 2) (#225)
    by nictamer on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:36:03 AM EST

    Government disbursments are inherantly inefficent. The government consumes an exhorbanant percentage of your tax dollar simply collecting your money.

    Bzzzt. Wrong.

    Example: social security vs. private insurance.

    In France, the government-run social security spends about 2% of its income on overhead (98% being given back). That's what's spent to collect the money, provide information, answer phone calls, print forms, etc ...

    Competing Private Health insurance spends over 6%. Mainly, because they have to spend a *lot* on marketing, sales, and advertising for instance.

    Of course, the private companies might be more efficient since they will be more careful about what to reimburse to who, avoiding some wastes probably. The question being now, to what extent is this going to be more efficient overall -- but that is not as clear-cut as it might seem at first.


    --
    Religion is for sheep.
    [ Parent ]
    Hmm... (3.00 / 2) (#237)
    by weirdling on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:20:28 PM EST

    Are you sure about this? Does your tax money cover the administrative costs? How does your government enforce compliance? Are those overhead costs included? Supposing Jane Doe goes to a doctor, gets a percentage of the cut for playing she got a procedure she didn't get, and then the doctor bills the government for it. In this case, the police would probably be involved, and that cost has to be factored in. Here in the US, at least, insurance companies employ private investigators to research these things, while the Social Security Administration employs police forces, which are paid for by taxes. Our Social Security system, including Medicare and Medicaid, are a monument to innefficiency, wherein a person such as myself pays a lot but never gets anything in return while others pay next to nothing and get huge benefits. This is a form of socialism.
    I'd rather decide who I wish to help with my money, and giving it to a charity would generally result in a lower overall overhead.
    I guess it really is a philosophical difference. People who view Libertarianism as 'bullshit' believe that something *must* be done to help the unfortunate and people like me disagree. However, people who believe it is bullshit inevitably seize the moral high-ground, insisting the rest of us don't care, when all we were saying is that it should be an individual choice whether one wants to help someone, not something forced on everyone. If you want to help them, go ahead. I may or may not, on a charity-by-charity basis.
    My biggest gripe is that a lot of things I don't want money spent on are getting money while things I do want money spent on are lying idle. Police forces, roads, military, and so on, are not getting much money while social programs and entitlements are. Stupid laws are getting enacted with startling regularity while good ones on the books aren't being enforced. It may not be like this in France, but that's what's happening all over the US these days.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    not better (5.00 / 2) (#256)
    by nictamer on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:40:15 AM EST

    My biggest gripe is that a lot of things I don't want money spent on are getting money while things I do want money spent on are lying idle. Police forces, roads, military, and so on, are not getting much money while social programs and entitlements are. Stupid laws are getting enacted with startling regularity while good ones on the books aren't being enforced. It may not be like this in France, but that's what's happening all over the US these days.

    Arr, you're missing my point. I'm not saying things are better here. Actually, the gov't is wasting money like there's no tomorrow (but hopefully it can't spend it on religious bullshit or there would be yet another revolution).

    No, things are not better here.

    What I meant with this example is: beware of that efficiency argument, it's not as clear-cut as you seem to think.


    --
    Religion is for sheep.
    [ Parent ]
    I stand corrected. (none / 0) (#273)
    by weirdling on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:46:10 PM EST


    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    Talk about bullshit... (3.00 / 2) (#241)
    by trhurler on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 04:30:18 PM EST

    The French government uses some very creative bookkeeping to come up with those "2% overhead" kinds of numbers. In addition, it is rife with fraud and corruption, so much that the French are usually quite fond of joking about it. The US government eliminates much of the fraud and corruption in social programs(not all,) but pays a LOT of money doing so, grossly reducing "efficiency." Of course, both systems waste money - one on fraud, the other on less fraud and more procedures to avoid fraud. The US suffers further inefficiences because of sheer scale in both geographic and population terms; most governments do not have to handle anywhere near 280 million people spread across a space anywhere near the size of the US. France certainly doesn't.

    The true efficiency of the world's best government run social programs is probably not much more than 50%, and the average is probably less than 10%.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Typical libertarian: let's make sthing up (3.50 / 2) (#255)
    by nictamer on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:35:01 AM EST

    "The French government uses some very creative bookkeeping to come up with those "2% overhead" kinds of numbers. " Well, ok. With that kind of arguments ... You have no clue about what you're talking about, you're just making it up. I guess that's your typical libertarian argumentation. It's an interesting thought process though. "I'm a libertarian because I think the gov't is corrupted and unefficient. The gov't is necessarily corrupted and inefficient because I'm a libertarian". (Nobody here is claiming that kind of stuff about bookkeeping -- actually, with all the waste that there IS in the government, and I don't doubt that there is, there's also a government branch that's specialised in auditing gov't spending. They have a good rep, and are known for being uncorrupted.)
    --
    Religion is for sheep.
    [ Parent ]
    Auditing (3.33 / 3) (#260)
    by trhurler on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 11:19:12 AM EST

    Yeah, the US government has one of those audit agencies too. Funny thing is, it doesn't really make any difference. Why? Because they can release figures and say whatever they want, and guess what - nothing happens. Why? Because the people who have to actually decide whether to implement reforms are subject to elected politicians - and therefore, it will never happen.

    By the way, every government of which I am aware uses creative bookkeeping, and their accounting/auditing offices generally don't care. It is seen as a "necessary evil" or something to that effect. I take the word of the French people I know when they tell me that it happens there too, and you'll have to excuse me if your claim to the contrary, you being someone I do not know, fails to convince me.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    *yawn* (none / 0) (#267)
    by nictamer on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 04:20:38 PM EST

    "By the way, every government of which I am aware uses creative bookkeeping, and their accounting/auditing offices generally don't care. It is seen as a "necessary evil" or something to that effect. I take the word of the French people I know when they tell me that it happens there too, and you'll have to excuse me if your claim to the contrary, you being someone I do not know, fails to convince me"

    I take the word of the liberatarian I know who tell me that libertarians are liars.

    Pff ...

    Whatever. Come back with verifiable references, not just smoke and bullshit.
    --
    Religion is for sheep.
    [ Parent ]
    I haven't run the numbers, but... (5.00 / 1) (#265)
    by FriedLinguini on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 06:21:26 PM EST

    I'm pretty sure if you took the money that gets spent paying for social security and put it in, say, an index fund (or even a bank CD for that matter), I bet you'd get a lot more money out than what social security can provide, even with 100% efficiency. Personally, I'm planning my retirement on the assumption that social security will be bankrupt before I get a chance to collect on any of it.

    [ Parent ]
    Actually, that is pretty much what I meant (none / 0) (#236)
    by weirdling on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:06:08 PM EST

    Although you put it much better...

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    quid eratz demonstrandum (none / 0) (#268)
    by leonbrooks on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 05:57:23 AM EST

    In most addiction cases, there must be a powerful need in the person to overcome the addiction if the addiction is to be overcome at all. As most addictions generally have an alternate source, such as family problems or coping problems, to which the addiction is escapism, overcoming them is not something that merely requires detoxification, as the instant the person is back on the street, the pressures once again are the same; people tend to do the same thing over and over again.

    Teen Challenge have something like an 87% success rate. They are religiously oriented and use a thoroughly religious program, but call back 6/7 of their clients from the walking dead.

    Now, if a faith-based organization, or indeed, any organization, wishes to help them, more power to them, but until an actual, working solution exists, I don't see why my tax dollars need to be held hostage to their problems, which my tax dollars are most definately not solving.

    Your call.


    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    They weren't Christians! (4.54 / 11) (#194)
    by tommasz on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:03:53 PM EST

    Despite what some have said here, the founders of the United States were not Christians, but Deists. They believed in the "clockwork God", one that created the universe and then left it alone. Try this link for a concise definition. They reacted strongly to the concept of a state religion (and organized religion in general) but were not anti-religious. Notice, if you will, the references to God in the various aspects of the government, and the total absence of references to Jesus.

    HYPOCRISY (3.50 / 6) (#200)
    by /dev/human on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 06:34:22 PM EST

    The is a glaring hypocrisy here which seems to be overlooked. GWB took over the Presidency on a promise (one among many) to reduce taxes so Americans may choose how they spend their hard-earned dollars. To turn around and suggest spending more than 2 billion of those hard-earned dollars -- against the wishes of millions of Americans -- on faith-based counseling is ridiculous. The Republicans on the right hem and haw about overly-liberal programs spending money on "useless" programs - and now this? It doesn't make any sense.

    GWB doesn't seem to have any respect for anyone who: a) is not male, b) didn't attend Harvard or Yale, c) is not a Christian, d) is not in faith-based substance abuse program, or e) all of the above.


    There is more to life than increasing its speed.
        - Mahatma Gandhi
    what is religion? also: what is a service? (4.22 / 9) (#201)
    by jacwhite on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:10:03 PM EST

    I agree with many of the posters here who dislike the idea of the government deciding what is a religion. It's done somewhat with income tax laws, but not to the extent that this proposal would require.

    I also want to reiterate that this does not allow church-based charities "equal footing" with non-church-based. It would allow them to compete for funding without playing by the same rules; namely the civil rights act. A church-based charity can refuse to hire you for being black or female. (And a lot of other things, too, but these are the two that I can't imagine even a rational sounding argument for.) Well, if they can refuse to hire you, I guess they can also refuse to provide services to you. And then you have the issue of being licensed to provide counseling, nutrition, etc.

    Finally, one thing that I have not seen mentioned here (apologies if I missed it) is: who decides what counts as a community service? We can debate all day long whether religious drug counseling works, but how about some church that will decide to offer "reparative therapy" as a service to the gay community? Will they get funded? (In case you didn't know, these "ex-gay" ministries have no evidence of success and most likely cause psychological damage to their clients. The APA fact sheet on homosexuality covers this.)

    There already exists a way for faith-based charities to get corporate funding. They simply spin themselves off into a legal non-profit organization and abide by the same rules as other charities. Guess what? Those rules don't include abolishing spirituality. They mainly are there to make sure that tax money isn't funding Billy Graham's ministry or its equivalent, plus make sure they abide by civil rights legislation. And, quite frankly, if they won't serve the community in need (and by serve, I also mean to hire qualified people) without regard to race, gender, religion, politics (and IMHO sexual orientation, too, but that's not legally protected yet), then they don't deserve funding.

    Sadly, I have to view this as just another attempt by the Religious Reich to get its way through governmental means. I knew they were too quiet during the election! :-(



    Government is religion... (4.50 / 4) (#203)
    by beergut on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:44:58 PM EST

    I am, quite frankly, ambivalent about this matter.

    I see clearly that the government can potentially use money as a "carrot" for these "faith-based" programs, and then whack them with the "stick" of regulations stating that they cannot preach their beliefs when using this money. This is the way of government. Witness the outrageous mandates placed upon the states by the Federal government, with the penalty of non-compliance being the witholding of Federal highway funds. Nevermind that the Constitution clearly never mentions this sort of power in the hands of the Federal government.

    It is also clear to me that this will result in the "sanctioning" of some groups as "legitimate" religions, while writing off other, less powerful groups. In this way, government can be manipulated by the powerful to the detriment of those whose voices are not so loud. The race does not go to the swiftest, nor the match to the strongest. It is this tenet that those groups forget while foaming at the mouth for government funds. I wonder, then, how long it will take for "faith-based" groups that actually do work to become as inefficient, bloated, and useless as those governmental bodies that they are to augment or replace?

    It seems to me that all the people clamoring about "faith-based" groups not hiring "licensed" practitioners is a bunch of hogwash, too. Consider the proposition that "licenses" are simply a certification saying that a practitioner has paid a "license fee" to some organization or another. Licensing is simply taxation, and I would be more apt to be comfortable with someone who refused to pay a tax to regulators to obtain their blessing to practice a craft. "Professional Certification" is little better than the guild system that helps to hobble parts of the German economy - that was reinstated by Hitler (oh, no... Godwin states that this thread is now terminated!).

    I guess what really pisses me off about this whole mess is this: why am I forced to give my money to someone else with whom I do not agree, or to whom I would not willingly give my money, anyway?

    I have said before, and I will continue to say, that I would gladly, and wholeheartedly, give twenty percent of my income to local charities, were the government (at its several levels) not already stealing about half of it. As I have no money left to help others, I spend what money I can spare to help to protect my own Constitutional rights (I give to the NRA-ILA, EFF, PeaceFire, and a few others).

    I would urge anyone who has not done so to take a second look at the whole picture. Welfare, social programs, social security - all a huge scheme to line the pockets of politicians and bureaucrats. There is not a single thing that these government entities do that could not be done better, more thoroughly, and at less cost by private organizations and citizens.

    I have about $250.00 per paycheck extracted from my pay to fund the social security system. Given that I generally bring in two paychecks per month, I would feel much better simply giving that money to my grandmother to help her to pay her bills, buy her food and medicine, and to better her standard of living. As it is, she gets less from the government, at more cost, than what I could give her myself, were I to be able to keep the money. At that, all my grandmother would have to do is let it be known that she needed something, and I and my whole family would gladly pitch together and make it happen - this is what family is for. But, it would be less financially harsh, and better overall, if we could put the money we now "contribute" to the government's kitty toward, say, putting new windows in her house.

    Did you know that, by the government's own figures, this government spends more than $40,000 per year per family under the poverty line on anti-poverty programs? Would it not be more efficient, and more beneficial to all, to simply cut a check for $40,000 to each of these families and be shut of the problem?

    Point out to me, please, PLEASE, a government program that works!


    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    "can do" vs. "will do" (4.00 / 1) (#248)
    by jacwhite on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 06:23:09 PM EST

    There is not a single thing that these government entities do that could not be done better, more thoroughly, and at less cost by private organizations and citizens. Perhaps, but could is not the point: would is. In a capitalist-based economy, the government must fill in the gaps where the profit motive won't get things done. And I guess it's obvious that there should be less profit in charity than there is in a dot-com startup. :-) Yes, there are many people who do donate time and money to helping out society. Why is there always some assumption that cutting taxes would all the sudden create more people that voluntarily donate time and money? I think that's a foolish assumption. Just because you would, don't think that the average Joe is going to start doing more for his fellow man. Most will pocket the extra money and go on about their merry lives, forgetting about the ones that fall through the cracks. And even if private charities could do all that the government currently does, that would not leave much extra charity time and money to do the things that charities are currently doing. But I guess if you're all hell-bent in being a libertarian, you won't agree with this no matter what I say. Hell, I've read Harry Browne's book and it scares me how far he would like it to go. He doesn't even think that the government has a vested interest in having an educated populace, so I guess it's too much to ask a libertarian to think that the government should help make sure that the old, young, poor, or sick don't starve.

    [ Parent ]
    sorry! (none / 0) (#249)
    by jacwhite on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 06:27:33 PM EST

    I apologize for the lack of formatting. This isn't the only board I post to and I got confused. (Not that that's a valid excuse!) I:

    1. Left out the paragraph tags
    2. Hit the Post button instead of the Preview button

    May I humbly suggest that no one should post without previewing, so maybe it should be enforced? One button that takes you to a preview. The preview could then have the post button right below it, then the edit box with another preview button below that. Just my opinion.



    [ Parent ]
    Do you really know where your money is going? (2.08 / 12) (#212)
    by the_0ne on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:50:44 PM EST

    I am amazed at all the people that are saying they don't want GWB to spend their money on something they don't want it spent on. What the hell do you think taxes are? Do you think I actually opted to have 27% of my freaken check given to the government???

    Do you realize that 400 million dollars in government funds went to those whackos in N.O.W. just last year alone? Who these days only care about one thing, killing babies. Can any of you tell me any of the other funds that are tax monies are paying for? I'll tell you, every gay and lesbian organization there is. Yeah, you probably don't believe it, but it's true. I never got the letter from Clintler that asked how much I wanted to have taken out of my check so Mary who is 16 and didn't feel like making her boyfriend wear a condom, because it just doesn't feel the same as without, now wants to kill her baby. I don't know, I'm checking through the mail and I don't see it. Now I don't care what people do behind closed doors but I really do not want my money going to people that have to show their lifestyles in parades with mostly men in drag. No, I don't want to pay for that, but guess what, I am, and I probably always will.

    So, please get off the dillusion that you actually control where your money goes.

    It's about damn time that we pay for something that is good for people.

    So, most of you are basicly saying it's ok for NOW to kill babies with my/your money and all the other silly organizations, but it's not ok for a church to receive money to help a person on the street. I'm amazed at the hypocracy.

    Hypocracy... (3.66 / 3) (#220)
    by minusp on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 09:39:53 AM EST

    Hypocracy.... and I thought you just misspelled "hypocrisy."
    Remember, regime change begins at home.
    [ Parent ]
    RE: Hypocracy... (1.00 / 2) (#227)
    by the_0ne on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:43:21 AM EST

    Ok, yeah you got me, I had some hidden agenda in my post. Actually I don't think there was anything hidden, I definitely didn't hold anything back. Guess didn't spell too good either. <G>

    Now, to your link...

    How can an obvious liberal even type those words into a web page with any kind of conscience after we have heard the statement "it depends on what the definition of 'is' is".

    <QUOTE>
    "They have no connection between what they are saying and any other reality - they say whatever comes to mind that might help them at the immediate instant."
    </QUOTE>

    I am truly amazed now, this article is about the republicans?? I'll have to look back over that article because this obviously smells like a democratic situation. 'No, I had no idea that we were receiving thousands of dollars from the buddhist temple.', 'No, really, I took a $1000 investment and in 1 week turned it in a million.', 'Of course it's ok for me to receive $8 million for my book deal but kick the hell out of Gingrich for receiving $2 million.' and the infamous 'I did not have sex with that woman.'.

    Really, that article can pretty much be turned around on any politician, whether they be democratic, republican or independent. Just because I am a conservative republican does not mean that I agree with everything they do.

    But giving out my money to faith-based organizations to help people out when they need it seems like a good thing to me no matter if I was christian, hindu, jewish, <add your religion here>.

    Thanks for the post though, it started my Thursday morning off humorous.

    [ Parent ]
    HAHAHAHA! (5.00 / 2) (#232)
    by Lord Kano on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:45:58 PM EST

    Thanks for making my Thursday humorous too! Let me tell you a few things about Dubya that will show what hypocites the 'publicans are... For one, check this out.

    For more reading enjoyment....

    Lying Under Oath. Bush & Co. Squelch Investigation of Contributor's Funeral Homes

    In a (so far successful) attempt to stop a scandal, Bush perjured himself under oath, according to the sworn testimony of two of his political allies. The situation is amazingly similar to Clinton's Lewinsky problem: a potentially damaging lawuit arose (see below) that threatened to involve him. Just like Clinton, Bush swore an affidavit that he had no involvement in the case, which got him excused from testifying. And just like Clinton, the affidavit was proven false months later by new evidence. In this case, it's the recent sworn testimony of Robert MacNeil, a Bush appointee, that he had discussed the case with Bush at a fundraiser.

    This scandal isn't as sexy as Monica's, but perjury is perjury, and this scandal actually involves the governor's job, not his sex life. Texas' state commission on funeral homes (the TFSC) started an investigation of SCI, the world's largest funeral home company (with 3,442 homes, plus 433 cemeteries) after complaints that unlicensed apprenctices were embalming corpses at 2 SCI embalming centers. The commission visited a couple of these, and ended up fining SCI $450,000.

    But SCI pulled strings with the commission and with Bush himself. Shortly thereafter, the investigation was shut down and the agency's investigator was fired. She sought to question Bush for her lawsuit, and that's when he swore his admittedly false affidavit. In fact, that affidavit has been proven false twice now.

    DETAILS: SCI has long cultivated Bush and his allies. They gave governor Bush $35,000 in the last election and $10K in 1994, gave $100,000 to the George Bush, Sr. library, and hired the ex-president to give a speech last year for $70,000. They also spread money around the Texas legislature and the Texas Attorney General's office.

    After the investigation got serious, SCI's boss, Robert Waltrip, called the funeral commission's chairman and told him to "back off." If not, Waltrip said, "I'm going to take this to the governor."

    Still, the investigation continued. So Waltrip and his lawyer/lobbyist, Johnnie B. Rogers, went to the governor's office and dropped off a letter demanding a halt to the investigation. Rogers told Newsweek that he and Waltrip were ushered in to see Joe Allbaugh, Bush's chief of staff (who is now Bush's campaign manager.) Rogers goes on to say that Bush Jr. popped his head in and said to Waltrip, "Hey, Bobby, are those people still messing with you?" Waltrip said yeah. Then the governor turned to Rogers and said, "Hey, Johnnie B. Are you taking care of him?" Rogers said "I'm doing my best, Governor."

    The problem for Bush is that he swore under oath, in a July 20th 1999 affidavit, that he "had no conversations with [SCI] officials, agents, or represenatives concerning the investigation or any dispute arising from it." If Rogers is telling the truth, than Bush Jr. lied directly under oath. He filed the affidavit in an attempt to avoid testifying in a whistleblower lawsuit concerning this investigation and it's alleged squashing by Bush's administration.

    Back in August of 1999, Bush himself admitted that he spoke with Waltrip and Rogers -- in other words, that he lied under oath -- but used Clintonesque denials to claim that it was nothing substantial. Bush told the Associated Press that "It's a 20-second conversation. I had no substantive conversation with the guy. Twenty seconds. That's hardly enough time to even say hello, much less sit down and have a substantive discussion. All I know is it lasted no time. And that hardly constitutes a serious discussion. I did not have any knowledge at all of Waltrip's problem with this case."

    Of course, nothing Bush says here contradicts what Rogers said. In fact, his careful explanation of why this is not perjury is incredibly similar to Bill Clinton's weaseling about what the meaning of "is" is. And now MacNeil's sworn statement further confirms Bush's lie.

    Whatever Bush said out loud, Waltrip's complaints to the governor got quick results. Eliza May -- the investigator for the funeral services commission -- says that after Waltrip visited the governor, she received phone calls from three senior Bush aides asking if she could wrap up her proble quickly. She says she was also summoned to another meeting in Allbaugh's office, one month after the first one, and found Waltrip already there. The governor's top aide, she says, demanded that she turn over a list of all of the documents that she needed "to close the SCI investigation."

    Since then, investigator Eliza May has been fired, 6 or 10 staff members on the commission have been fired or resigned and not been replaced, and the Texas legislature -- led by members receiving substantial contributions from SCI -- passed a bill to reorganize the agency and remove it's head. On August 16, 199, Bush ordered his Comptroller to take over the agency and run it. May -- who, it should be noted, is a Democrat and was even state Democratic Treasurer at one point -- has filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging she was fired because she persisted with the investigation.

    Bush simply didn't show up for his scheduled deposition on July 1st, 1999 in the case. (He isn't a defendant in the case, because Governors are immune from lawsuits in Texas, but is being called as a material witness.) He filed his affidavit on July 20th to indicate that he had nothing to add.

    Now Robert MacNeil -- who was the chairman of the Texas funeral commission at the time, a Bush appointee -- confirms that he also discussed the case with Bush, at a 1998 Texas fundraiser. In a sworn deposition, MacNeil says that Bush asked him: "Have you and Mr. Waltrip got your problems worked out?" Replied McNeil: "We're still trying to work on that, governor." Bush then said, "Do your job." Bush's campaign says that MacNeil's statement is false. But the language MacNeil says Bush used is almost identical to what he admits saying to Johnnie Rodgers in the governor's office.



    Bush lied at his Press Conference, 11/3/2000 Bush said he paid a fine on the spot and never went to court. As you can see on this document that is clearly a lie. Here is the text from the press conference:

    Bush: "I told the guy I had been drinking and what do I need to do? And he said, "Here's the fine." I paid the fine and did my duty...."
    Reporter: "Governor, was there any legal proceeding of any kind? Or did you just -- " Bush: "No. I pled -- you know, I said I was wrong and I ..."
    Reporter: "In court? "
    Bush: No, there was no court. I went to the police station. I said, "I'm wrong."

    Bush Lied in Court, 1978 Bush got a court hearing to get his driving suspension lifted early, even though he had not completed a required driver rehabilitation course. He told the hearings officer that he drank only once a month, and just had "an occasional beer." The officer granted his request. But Bush continued drinking for 8 years after that date and has said publicly that he drank too much and had a drinking problem during that time. Presumably Bush was under oath during the hearing, though we haven't been able to pin down that detail. The Bush campaign refuses to comment on this contradiction.

    Bush Lied To "The Dallas Morning News", 1998

    "Just after the governor's reelection in 1998, [Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne] Slater pressed Bush about whether he had ever been arrested. 'He said, 'After 1968? No.'" Dallas Morning News, 11/03/2000 [Before 1968, Bush was arrested for theft and vandalism in college.]

    Bush Lied On 'Meet The Press', 11/21/99

    Tim Russert: "If someone came to you and said, 'Governor, I'm sorry, I'm going to go public with some information.' What do you do?"
    Bush: "If someone was willing to go public with information that was damaging, you'd have heard about it by now. You've had heard about it now. My background has been scrutinized by all kinds of reporters. Tim, we can talk about this all morning."





    [ Parent ]

    RE: HAHAHAHA! (none / 0) (#238)
    by the_0ne on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 03:23:52 PM EST

    Now this is what really gets me mad about the whole thing. If stuff like this is really happening, how can anybody, anywhere in our government even think about prosecuting after the mockery of the judicial system we've just seen the last 8 years. Reno didn't choose to investigate anything that has to do with anything that president of yours did, but then you want GWB prosecuted for some links you found on the internet. Come on, you have to be real here, because of your president, almost anything a politician does from those days forward can not even be questioned. Don't you see that, this is the legacy of the Clintons. And now it's going even further with this pardon bull. Do they ever do anything right?

    I'm only commenting on the funeral home scandal because that's the only one that is questionable. As powerful as the liberal media is, I can't imagine that this wasn't out in the open yet, so the jury's still out on that one.

    I do remember him saying he lied about the drinking and driving incident and I do believe that he did it to protect his family. It was a definite mistake and with the media as powerful as they are, it was pretty stupid to hide it, but he did. And I'm glad he admitted it because even up till now Clinton is still trying to get out of the Lewinsky thing. Now if you come back with, well Clinton only tried to save his family embarassment by lieing about Monica. Oh come on, he had 2 lawsuits up until that time already, there's nothing that would embarass the Clintons.

    But, we're getting off the topic, what does this have to do with faith-based organizations being given money by the government? I'm still for it no matter what the president did in his past.

    [ Parent ]
    Media is NOT liberal (none / 0) (#242)
    by Lord Kano on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 04:34:42 PM EST

    If it was, it would not have attacked Clinton with such ferociousness that it did, but let Bush's scandals slip by. And boy, does he have some skeletons. What do you think of the abortion he paid for an ex girlfriend to have in 1971? But, once this does get in the open (and it will) he'll use it to his advantage in some way, that the event was "so traumatizing" it's what drove him to faith. Yeah right. He killed a baby because he couldn't deal with it and needed to feed his cocaine habit.

    BTW, Clinton lying about a blowjob is NOTHING compared to what went on under Nixon's administration. Hmmm, let'ws see...a blow job compared to breaking and entering, wiretapping, burglary??? Or how about Reagan? Does Iran Contra come to mind? Reagan "forgetting" things about it, was "unaware" of this stuff going on under his nose? Bullshit. He's the president, he went through with it and Ollie North took the fall.

    [ Parent ]
    RE: Media is not liberal... (4.00 / 1) (#246)
    by the_0ne on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 05:46:13 PM EST

    Such ferociousness, what are you talking about? They acted like he did nothing wrong and that bastard Ken Starr was going after this poor man. Did you watch the same channels I did? What about Chinagate, which of course wasn't brought to light because Ms. Reno didn't want to investigate. What about Travelgate? People went to jail for these people and they come out scott free.

    I have nothing to say about Nixon, because I have no idea what happened back then. I'm under 30, I wasn't even aware then and don't care too much for history so I'm definitely not reading up on it to chat over it. From what I've heard though he really screwed up and in my mind was always a criminal, but again, I don't know much about what happened so I'm only going by heresay.

    Again, you got me on the abortion one because I've never heard that story, so until it comes out in the open, I can't doubt the man until there's some hard evidence.

    Iran Contra, are you kidding, that's because the democrats were too scared to engage in something that they knew was right. That's why it had to be hidden. If the dem's showed some patriotism for once instead of worrying about special interest groups, we wouldn't have an Iran Contra scandal.

    So, it's ok for Clinton to kill all those Kosovar's over a civil war that we had no business being in, but it wasn't right for Bush to back up for Kuwait who would have been taken over if it wasn't for our help. What did we do in Kosovar except for kill a bunch of innocent people? It's amazing how to this day people still put down Desert Storm, but didn't say a damn thing about the Kosovar situation. I still don't agree with the way GB ended Desert Storm, but at least he fought for what he believed in, he didn't do it to make brownie points with the dems and liberals.

    [ Parent ]
    Nixon (none / 0) (#254)
    by Brandybuck on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:34:17 AM EST

    I have nothing to say about Nixon, because I have no idea what happened back then. I'm under 30

    I'm slightly over thirty, and I can remember it. The media treated Nixon like he was Satan. They were vicious. Nixon deserved it, of course. He wasn't a conservative even though he was a Republican, which makes it seem odd that he was even brought up as a counter example.

    [ Parent ]

    media cont. (4.00 / 1) (#275)
    by depsypher on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 02:28:40 PM EST

    I still don't agree with the way GB ended Desert Storm, but at least he fought for what he believed in, he didn't do it to make brownie points with the dems and liberals.

    Sure he fought for what he beleived in: keeping the oil companies happy and allowing himself and his cronies to get rich in the process. And I'm sure there were no innocent people killed in DS, I mean Schwartzkoff told us so on CNN. As for Kosavo, are you honestly telling me you think that it helped Clinton score brownie points with liberals? Since when are liberals pro-war?

    I must say, your logic for justifying Iran Contra makes no sense to me whatsoever. Talk about grounds for impeachment. This is where the democrats really showed their weakness, in my opinion. But Reagan was really just a cheerleader for the country anyway. Everything wonderfull! Woo-hoo. Go America, go patriotism.

    I'm not saying I support Clinton's decision to go to war, but I suggest you stop getting all your information from Rush Limbaugh and start to look at things a little bit objectively.

    [ Parent ]

    RE: media cont. (none / 0) (#276)
    by the_0ne on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 10:28:25 AM EST

    First of all, I'm sure there were innocent people killed in DS, I didn't say there weren't. How can it make sense for the US to join in a civil war and just makes things much worse. What we did in DS was fight for a country, not pick sides in a civil function. It just didn't make sense for us to be in Kosavo at all.

    It's funny you mention the "liberals aren't pro-war". You wouldn't have known it back when we were attacking Kosavars. It's funny how it doesn't matter what "an individual" liberal thinks, if he doesn't go along with the majority, he's ostracized. Or he's pushing the middle or whatever statements liberals will use to hurt another politician.

    I'm sorry you feel that way about my assessment of the Iran-Contra scandal, but that is the way I feel. I agree with you on the Democrats showing their weakness, but I think we mean different things here.

    I didn't support Clinton's decision to go to war either and for the record I hardly ever listen to Limbaugh. I'd like to more often, but just don't get the time. You will never change my view of liberals. I believe the liberals will be the downfall of this country someday and I'm hoping we can keep them out of office as much as possible until my lifetime is over, but I really doubt it.

    [ Parent ]
    HAHAHAHA! (5.00 / 1) (#233)
    by Lord Kano on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:47:41 PM EST

    Thanks for making my Thursday humorous too! Let me tell you a few things about Dubya that will show what hypocites the 'publicans are...

    For one, check this out.

    For more reading enjoyment....

    Lying Under Oath. Bush & Co. Squelch Investigation of Contributor's Funeral Homes

    In a (so far successful) attempt to stop a scandal, Bush perjured himself under oath, according to the sworn testimony of two of his political allies. The situation is amazingly similar to Clinton's Lewinsky problem: a potentially damaging lawuit arose (see below) that threatened to involve him. Just like Clinton, Bush swore an affidavit that he had no involvement in the case, which got him excused from testifying. And just like Clinton, the affidavit was proven false months later by new evidence. In this case, it's the recent sworn testimony of Robert MacNeil, a Bush appointee, that he had discussed the case with Bush at a fundraiser.

    This scandal isn't as sexy as Monica's, but perjury is perjury, and this scandal actually involves the governor's job, not his sex life. Texas' state commission on funeral homes (the TFSC) started an investigation of SCI, the world's largest funeral home company (with 3,442 homes, plus 433 cemeteries) after complaints that unlicensed apprenctices were embalming corpses at 2 SCI embalming centers. The commission visited a couple of these, and ended up fining SCI $450,000.

    But SCI pulled strings with the commission and with Bush himself. Shortly thereafter, the investigation was shut down and the agency's investigator was fired. She sought to question Bush for her lawsuit, and that's when he swore his admittedly false affidavit. In fact, that affidavit has been proven false twice now.

    DETAILS: SCI has long cultivated Bush and his allies. They gave governor Bush $35,000 in the last election and $10K in 1994, gave $100,000 to the George Bush, Sr. library, and hired the ex-president to give a speech last year for $70,000. They also spread money around the Texas legislature and the Texas Attorney General's office.

    After the investigation got serious, SCI's boss, Robert Waltrip, called the funeral commission's chairman and told him to "back off." If not, Waltrip said, "I'm going to take this to the governor."

    Still, the investigation continued. So Waltrip and his lawyer/lobbyist, Johnnie B. Rogers, went to the governor's office and dropped off a letter demanding a halt to the investigation. Rogers told Newsweek that he and Waltrip were ushered in to see Joe Allbaugh, Bush's chief of staff (who is now Bush's campaign manager.) Rogers goes on to say that Bush Jr. popped his head in and said to Waltrip, "Hey, Bobby, are those people still messing with you?" Waltrip said yeah. Then the governor turned to Rogers and said, "Hey, Johnnie B. Are you taking care of him?" Rogers said "I'm doing my best, Governor."

    The problem for Bush is that he swore under oath, in a July 20th 1999 affidavit, that he "had no conversations with [SCI] officials, agents, or represenatives concerning the investigation or any dispute arising from it." If Rogers is telling the truth, than Bush Jr. lied directly under oath. He filed the affidavit in an attempt to avoid testifying in a whistleblower lawsuit concerning this investigation and it's alleged squashing by Bush's administration.

    Back in August of 1999, Bush himself admitted that he spoke with Waltrip and Rogers -- in other words, that he lied under oath -- but used Clintonesque denials to claim that it was nothing substantial. Bush told the Associated Press that "It's a 20-second conversation. I had no substantive conversation with the guy. Twenty seconds. That's hardly enough time to even say hello, much less sit down and have a substantive discussion. All I know is it lasted no time. And that hardly constitutes a serious discussion. I did not have any knowledge at all of Waltrip's problem with this case."

    Of course, nothing Bush says here contradicts what Rogers said. In fact, his careful explanation of why this is not perjury is incredibly similar to Bill Clinton's weaseling about what the meaning of "is" is. And now MacNeil's sworn statement further confirms Bush's lie.

    Whatever Bush said out loud, Waltrip's complaints to the governor got quick results. Eliza May -- the investigator for the funeral services commission -- says that after Waltrip visited the governor, she received phone calls from three senior Bush aides asking if she could wrap up her proble quickly. She says she was also summoned to another meeting in Allbaugh's office, one month after the first one, and found Waltrip already there. The governor's top aide, she says, demanded that she turn over a list of all of the documents that she needed "to close the SCI investigation."

    Since then, investigator Eliza May has been fired, 6 or 10 staff members on the commission have been fired or resigned and not been replaced, and the Texas legislature -- led by members receiving substantial contributions from SCI -- passed a bill to reorganize the agency and remove it's head. On August 16, 199, Bush ordered his Comptroller to take over the agency and run it. May -- who, it should be noted, is a Democrat and was even state Democratic Treasurer at one point -- has filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging she was fired because she persisted with the investigation.

    Bush simply didn't show up for his scheduled deposition on July 1st, 1999 in the case. (He isn't a defendant in the case, because Governors are immune from lawsuits in Texas, but is being called as a material witness.) He filed his affidavit on July 20th to indicate that he had nothing to add.

    Now Robert MacNeil -- who was the chairman of the Texas funeral commission at the time, a Bush appointee -- confirms that he also discussed the case with Bush, at a 1998 Texas fundraiser. In a sworn deposition, MacNeil says that Bush asked him: "Have you and Mr. Waltrip got your problems worked out?" Replied McNeil: "We're still trying to work on that, governor." Bush then said, "Do your job." Bush's campaign says that MacNeil's statement is false. But the language MacNeil says Bush used is almost identical to what he admits saying to Johnnie Rodgers in the governor's office.



    Bush lied at his Press Conference, 11/3/2000 Bush said he paid a fine on the spot and never went to court. As you can see on this document that is clearly a lie. Here is the text from the press conference:

    Bush: "I told the guy I had been drinking and what do I need to do? And he said, "Here's the fine." I paid the fine and did my duty...."
    Reporter: "Governor, was there any legal proceeding of any kind? Or did you just -- " Bush: "No. I pled -- you know, I said I was wrong and I ..."
    Reporter: "In court? "
    Bush: No, there was no court. I went to the police station. I said, "I'm wrong."

    Bush Lied in Court, 1978 Bush got a court hearing to get his driving suspension lifted early, even though he had not completed a required driver rehabilitation course. He told the hearings officer that he drank only once a month, and just had "an occasional beer." The officer granted his request. But Bush continued drinking for 8 years after that date and has said publicly that he drank too much and had a drinking problem during that time. Presumably Bush was under oath during the hearing, though we haven't been able to pin down that detail. The Bush campaign refuses to comment on this contradiction.

    Bush Lied To "The Dallas Morning News", 1998

    "Just after the governor's reelection in 1998, [Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne] Slater pressed Bush about whether he had ever been arrested. 'He said, 'After 1968? No.'" Dallas Morning News, 11/03/2000 [Before 1968, Bush was arrested for theft and vandalism in college.]

    Bush Lied On 'Meet The Press', 11/21/99

    Tim Russert: "If someone came to you and said, 'Governor, I'm sorry, I'm going to go public with some information.' What do you do?"
    Bush: "If someone was willing to go public with information that was damaging, you'd have heard about it by now. You've had heard about it now. My background has been scrutinized by all kinds of reporters. Tim, we can talk about this all morning."





    [ Parent ]

    Didn't mean to post that twice. (none / 0) (#234)
    by Lord Kano on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:52:55 PM EST

    Guess I just pulled a Reagan, no wait, I'd be letting all of my staff do my posting for me in that case :) Or I would "forget" certain details and let my wife plan my public appearances according to my horoscope.

    [ Parent ]
    Nooo!!! Not the baby killers (4.00 / 1) (#266)
    by zman on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 08:47:51 AM EST

    Ok, I agree that citizens should have some degree of choice as to what services they give taxmoney too. The government should provide this list however. If you're an idiot and think that the right of choice is the right of baby killing, I don't want you deciding where MY tax money goes. Likewise I don't want MY taxmoney going to fund some religious organization who 'treats' people by FORCING their views upon them and telling them they're evil. That is because in my view, Religious groups serve no purpose. If they wish to receieve federal funding, then they should conform to the non-profit restriction and give up their tax exempt status.
    - zman
    [ Parent ]
    Fair way to help out faith-based services... (4.14 / 7) (#216)
    by Cosmic Osmo on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 03:21:31 AM EST

    I'm of the opinion that social services provided by government are the least effective way to deliver services, and that the higher (less local) the level of government providing the service, the more ineffeective is. The reason is that the government has to provide uniform, one-size-fits-all service--both for political (everyone is equal in the eyes of governmanet and the law--and rightly so) and practical/logistical reasons. Churches, private charities and so on direct their services to particular communities (geographical, religous, ethnic) and are thus more responsive to theit needs. Nobody is better or worse than everyone else--it's just that different solutions work best for different people.

    Therefore, I think GWB's intentions are correct but the implementation is flawed. I agree with Wicket that GWB is skating a fine line in the separation of church and state, because here it is the state that ultimately chooses which church gets the most funding. It is not the fact that the government is helping these groups out that I have a problem with--it is that they are the ones determing how much and to which ones.

    I think the answer lies in re-working legislation for charities to encompass these groups. Perhaps allow citizens to donate a portion of income taxes (15% maybe?) to the faith-based service of THEIR choice. These groups can still be exempt from "certain civil rights laws" in the interest of freedom of religion. However, the government would be reduced to being a vehicle to deliver funds. The taxpayer would be the one directing the funds so government would not be as connected to any churches. Also, if people objected to a church excluding those of other faiths (and many people probably would), that church would have to accept the consequences of reduced funding or be compelled to be more accepting. At the same time the government could make a church's fundraising efforts easier in a fair, objective way (canvassing or passing the plate are very difficult ways to raise money).

    I know it's not a perfect solution (the real one would no doubt be a bit more complicated), but faith-based groups contribute a lot to their communities and deserve respect and help--even from government.

    Fair is fair... (4.00 / 5) (#251)
    by seebs on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 07:52:28 PM EST

    If we say "you can't get funding, you're religious", but we fund other charities, we're violating the separation of church and state rule, too. We have to be *neutral* about religion. The government should not be actively supporting one religion over another (or over no religion at all), but that doesn't mean we must *avoid* religious people.

    In a country with a lot of religious people, some charities will be run by religious groups. If they work, they should get funding.

    I'm in favor of anything that means that government money will be spent on the best-performing group, religious or otherwise, instead of on the "best-performing non-religious group" or the "best-performing religious group".

    Let's deal with charities in terms of effectiveness, not whether or not they're religious. From where we are now, that means that we'll start funding some "faith-based" charities. Fine by me.


    ...is fair. (4.33 / 3) (#259)
    by minusp on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 09:15:28 AM EST

    If we need to be neutral, in the way you described, then shouldn't the religious groups either comply with non-profit rules and regulations, or give up tax-exempt status?
    Remember, regime change begins at home.
    [ Parent ]
    The problem... (5.00 / 1) (#261)
    by Wicket on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 11:30:26 AM EST

    The reason this is a problem is that religious organizations can (and do) discriminate on who they hire, treat, etc. based on their religious affiliation, sexual orientation, race, gender, etc. LEGALLY. In some ways I see it as more a civil rights matter than separation of church and state. They can discriminate because they are a private organization and taxpayer money SHOULD NOT fund an organization with such a disregard for civil rights. It is their right as a private org, but thus it should not get public money.
    intune.org - music discussion for the soul...
    [ Parent ]
    Can != Do (none / 0) (#270)
    by seebs on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 09:47:56 AM EST

    There's a difference between "these groups are legally allowed to discriminate on certain criteria" and "these groups do discriminate on these criteria". Anyway, while I agree that discrimination is bad, everyone knows that now, so I say let the market handle it. An organization which descriminates on irrelevant grounds will be less efficient, and we *do* plan to give money only to the most efficient organizations, right?

    [ Parent ]
    in many cases can == do (5.00 / 1) (#279)
    by monkeyfish on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 09:14:20 AM EST

    the catholic church forbids women to be priests. likewise they discriminate against homosexuals.

    [ Parent ]
    Faith-based services? (4.00 / 1) (#258)
    by Spin on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:08:03 AM EST

    I'm sorry, but my tax dollars are going towards the outsourcing of social services? And these groups are tax exempt! Something is very wrong with this picture.

    Europe to make up the difference (5.00 / 5) (#272)
    by imperium on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 08:25:00 AM EST

    Well, in case anyone here was worried that abortions in the developing world would have to be done the old-fashioned brutal way, the European Union has agreed to make up some of the funding Bush has cut. See the Guardian for the full story.

    The new American government might get two useful lessons: there is a world outside the US, and, apart from them, few other first-world countries think that back-street coathanger abortions are better than surgical abortions and proper counselling.

    x.
    imperium

    Bush is right! (1.00 / 1) (#281)
    by lrwright on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 08:42:32 AM EST

    Several people have commented here that this seems to be out of sync with Bush's desire to cut taxes, when in fact it is totally in sync. The reason that welfare and other programs cost taxpayers so much money, is because of the many layers of beauracracy imposed by the government. Only a fraction of every dollar that you and I pay in taxes for these social services makes it to someone in need. By giving this money directly to local charities(yes, they are mostly religious in nature), much more of the money will go to someone who needs it. Another darn good reason we need to do this, is that there is no longer any stigma associated with getting a hand out from the government, but there is a good chance that people will think twice about asking a church for help. Gee, maybe they'll get a job.

    You need to think before you type. (5.00 / 1) (#282)
    by syrinx2000 on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 12:11:19 PM EST

    Did you completely miss the point of the article? It doesn't matter that Bush's plan requires fewer tax dollars given the plan's lack of fairness or quality. There are minimum standards of ethics and fairness that must be upheld by federally-funded assistance programs.

    Your final comment ("Gee, maybe they'll get a job") is irrelevant to the overwhelming variety of assistance programs diminished by Bush's plan. These assistance programs don't just provide money; they provide food, shelter, medical help, counseling, and numerous other resources to people who have been victimized in some way: women with children who have been beaten out of their homes by abusive husbands and have nowhere safe to go and no money of their own to purchase food; women who have been raped and cannot afford needed medical care or abortions on a minimum-wage job; legal immigrants from other countries who are trying hard to integrate and work toward citizenship but who need help learning English; etc. None of these people's problems will be alleviated by "getting a job", and in many cases these people already have the highest-paying jobs they are capable of working.

    Don't you understand that millions of people in our society are BORN into low-class levels from which they cannot escape despite their best efforts? If a child is born to a single teenage mother without a high school diploma, the chances of that child being able to get educational guidance from its parent or to afford college are slim. If that child has to attend public school in a district where violence, drugs, metal detectors at the entrance, and condemned school buildings are all the norm, the chances of that child graduating from high school with a decent set of skills and knowledge are slim to none. It's a cycle that passes on from one generation to the next, and best efforts are often rewarded with negative results. To imply that these people are lazy or stupid is a poor reflection on your character.

    As for stigmas or hesitation about approaching an assistance program for help, I know that as an atheist, I would never want to turn to a faith-based assistance organization for help for exactly the reasons described in this thoughtful person's editorial: I know that it would simply be one giant attempt to unfairly judge and convert me, rather than an honest attempt to provide qualified, humane help. By taking funding away from qualified, non-faith-based organizations and diverting it to religious groups, this country is immediately alienating many of the people who need fair and humane assistance.

    -----------------------------
    Free software is a great idea; making it usable by average people is an even better idea.
    [ Parent ]
    Bush to use taxpayer money for religious charities | 282 comments (267 topical, 15 editorial, 1 hidden)
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