Framing the Dialogue

News Briefs – Volume XXX Separation or Suppression

News briefs are a collection of interesting news stories. This edition is all about how the progressive, secular left is waging war on religion allegedly in the name of tolerance.  The false claim of a constitutional provision requiring a “separation of church and state” has been liberally interpreted to attempt to remove any hint of religion from public places while the constitution actually states;

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

You decide whether the following briefs demonstrate a attempt to limit the free exercise of religion:

Brief 1:  Obama’s HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been given extra-constitutional power in Obamacare and one of her decisions affects christian health care and charitable organizations.  Sebelius had decreed that Catholic hospitals, Catholic charitable institutions, and Catholic universities and colleges would be forced to choose between dropping all health-care coverage for their workers or paying for health-care services that violate the teachings of the church..  Many churches supported Obamacare believing that they would be exempt from many of the mandates.  Sebelius, however, set the exemption rules contrary to their liking:

“the “religious exemption” proposed in the regulation holds that a church organization is “not a religious employer if it (a) serves those who are not already members of the church, (b) fails to hire based on religion, or (c) does not restrict its charitable and missionary purposes to the inculcation of religious values.”

Running roughshod over religious groups may give Sebelius pleasure, but the Catholic Church is pushing back;

“Moral opposition to all artificial contraception and sterilization is a minority and unpopular belief, and its virtually exclusive association with the Catholic Church is no secret. Thus, although the mandate does not expressly target Catholicism, it does so implicitly by imposing burdens on conscience that are well known to fall almost entirely on observant Catholics–whether employees, employers, or insurers. Such religious discrimination is forbidden by both the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment.”

Brief 2:  Let’s stay with Christians.  The IRS has been leaning on some churches where preachers openly discuss political issues from the pulpit.  The threat is the removal of the “non-profit” designation and their tax exempt status.  Again the pastors are pushing back with a “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” this weekend;

“ADF [Alliance Defense Fund] is not trying to get politics into the pulpit. Churches can decide for themselves that they either do or don’t want their pastors to speak about electoral candidates. The point of the Pulpit Initiative is very simple: the IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status. We need to get the government out of the pulpit…contrary to the misunderstandings of many, tax-exempt status is not a ‘gift’ or ‘subsidy’ bestowed by the government…Churches were completely free to preach about candidates from the day that the Constitution was ratified in 1788 until 1954. That’s when the unconstitutional rule known as the ‘Johnson Amendment’ was enacted. Churches are exempt from taxation under the principle that there is no surer way to destroy religion than to begin taxing it. As the U.S. Supreme Court has noted, the power to tax involves the power to destroy. The real effect of the Johnson Amendment is that pastors are muzzled for fear of investigation by the IRS.”

Brief 3:  A principal from a Tennessee middle school reported reported some of the football coaches for their behavior during a post game activity.  Yes these evil coaches had the audacity to bow their heads when the players initiated a pray after the game.  What kind of tiny, little person would even take note of a head bow, note who did it and then file a report.  The school board’s spokesman offered this gem;

“the coaches were not reprimanded or written up for the incident, but reminded that they may oversee the players, but can not give the impression that they are participating in the prayer.”

God forbid that they may give the impression.  Oops I said God.  How long until the students will be reprimanded?

Brief 4:  It seems that Dartmouth College has put some christian student organizations on double secret probation for discrimination.  These folks are trying to force christian organizations to allow officers who do not share the beliefs of the organization as required by their by-laws.  Thou shalt elect an atheist to be president of the Christian Men’s Society.  In searching for a pertinent news article I was surprised at the number of colleges who have similar rules and an equal number of lawsuits.

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