1/20/2006

Running With The Devil



So the Catholic Church has come out against tight border control measures, leading some to suggest that they view immigration as an opportunity to increase the rolls. Makes sense, given the stats on immigration and religious affiliations. Certainly they are not the first 'interest group' to express a 'less than altruistic' stake in public policy debates... Which begs the question about Churches, tax exempt entities, and civic groups: to what extent should they be able to 'lobby' or influence policy? And should they be in a position to endorse politicians or rally support on their behalf? Or to influence universities, particularly those that are publically funded?
The restrictions seem pretty clear when I peruse the law. So why do we keep having these discussions? Probably for the same reasons that we keep revisiting the constitutionality of a pseudo-theocracy.
As it is, the 'right' have been doggedly chasing academia. The appendages of their think tanks seek a variety of potential dogma conduits: rewarding departments that hire anti-Darwinists, or seeking to pay students to rat out profs with a penchance for punditry of the liberal persuasion. (continued)

But where do we draw the line? Secular Left has a post today about Ohio's Blackwell- and clergy leaders accused of using their pulpits for political promotion, alleged in suits filed with the IRS. Secular Left:

"The complaint alleges that Blackwell was the only gubernatorial candidate showcased in church-sponsored events conducted by Parsley and Johnson. It also alleges that the evangelists' voter-registration campaign was conducted to support Blackwell and that biased voter education materials were distributed by the churches for Blackwell's candidacy."
"And there you have proof that Rev. Johnson and Rev. Parsley are using their group to endorse one candidate and that my friends is a violation of the tax exempt status they enjoy for their churches.
I have no problem with churches encouraging their members to vote or to support an issue, like a ban on gay marriage, but one thing a church can't do is endorse candidates,"states the author.


The author does acknowledge that in many African American communities, the Church is a central hub, a place of historical safety.
Discussions about issues and their relationship to the beliefs held by a group of people differ from specific and exclusive actions aimed at boosting a candidate. The fine lines of 'permissable activity' can be interpreted very broadly.
Should churches and organizations with tax-exempt status be reeled in? Should universities bend to the lure of sizeable donations to influence the direction of curriculum? Does your position differ depending on the institution-public or private? What if the institution receives financial aid revenue for a student's education, paid by the public? Would you object to the scope of their learning being influenced by private interests, such as those that advance the cause of creationism or intelligent design?

21 comments:

Kvatch said...

...leading some to suggest that they view immigration as an opportunity to increase the rolls.

Should we expect anything less from the "baptize them early, then remind them that they're 'Catholics' for the rest of their lives," crowd?

The Catholic Church - Increasing the flock by any means necessary!

tp said...

oh, kvatch...well lets not beat around the Bush with pc. Fact is, Latino immigrants are often Catholic and thats the only reason the church is getting into this.

TB said...

The truth of the matter is the religious sects most involved in using the voting power of their congregations to advance their agendas are willing and ready to use the separation of church and state statutes when it suits them, for instance to keep the state from regulating their schools. The hypocrisy never ceases to amaze.

Daniel Gallagher said...

I'm about to complicate the matter even further.

For some bizarre reason, I decided it would be a really cool idea to move up to Wisconsin to be with my half brother Kyle, and his half brothers Brian and Brandon. Having been raised in both, Southern Illinois and Georgia, I had assumed Wisconsin would be a change from the red neck territory in which I had been adopted and raised. Boy did I get it wrong. I exchanged a Southern Baptist Theocracy for a Roman Catholic Theocracy. Here in Wisconsin State Law prohibits sex abuse survivors from suing abusive priests.

You're probably wondering what that has to do with anything, so here's the bombshell that I want to drop. I think there's an unexplored reason why George W. Bush is appointing right wing Catholic males to the court. Part of it has to do with the abortion issue. But I think there's another reason too. At some point the Supreme Court will probably be asked to rule on some of the lagalities surrounding the sex abuse scandal. This will be a dark day for sex abuse survivors with a pack of right wing Catholics on the court who will almost certainly do everything in their power to place the authority of the corrupt church in Rome over innocent victims. Not that we should be surprised. These Catholic appointments are nothing more than a payback to the Right Wing Catholics who, with considerable help from Cardinal Ratsinger,,,ur ah Ratzinger...managed to influence the Catholic vote from the Vatican in 2004. You know what I mean--the little campaign in Rome that was handed down through the American Bishops, warning American Catholics not to vote for certain politicians unless they accepted the authority of a forgeign church over the American Constitution.

Not that I'm thrilled with the Protestant camp either. What a glorious day it would be if we could only start a rhetorical feud between the crazy right wing American Catholics and the crazy right wing fundamentalists and then pick up the pieces while they are politically disemboweling themselves.

lily.. said...

Hmm. I hadn't considered the potential for such a case to get to the docket. Another example of laws of convenience...

enigma4ever said...

Hey there e4e here...

So email me..enigma4ever@earthlink.net,
I don't think I have your email-
but I would love to see the Jumpsuit tommyboy pics- I am sure they are lovely- maybe next week we should have Tommy tuesday- and post Tommy pics- and also caption contest and people could submit Songs for the DVD ? watcha think?

I gotta go watch John Doe and keep my sanity....

Eli Blake said...

You do raise some good points about the influence of religion in politics.

However, I believe their stand on immigration is a consistent one. This is the same Catholic church which consistently opposes abortion, assisted suicide, virtually every war, and the death penalty because of their dogma that any human life should only be ended by natural causes in all circumstances.

In that framework, and the fact that hundreds of people have died trying to cross the desert in 120 degree temperatures (and that number has gone up as border security has increased near more traditional crossing routes), their position is at least consistent. I don't buy that it is to increase church attendance because they are a transnational church, and a Catholic Mexican national who might attend church in the United States would likely also attend it if they were in Mexico.

Immigration is a complex problem. But as long as we don't do anything worse to employers who hire them than the $11 million settlement that was reached with Wal-Mart last year (which is an amount they ring up at the cash register in less than twenty minutes) for hiring illegal aliens for their night crew in 23 states, immigration will continue.

It's like this: tell someone who has nothing that we have a job waiting for them, and they will do whatever they can to get here, no matter how hazardous the journey or how difficult we make life for them when they are here. So border restrictions are destined to fail. Now, start sending employers who hire undocumented workers to prison in large numbers, then you will see the jobs dry up and then the illegals will no longer be drawn to the U.S. for work.

Eli Blake said...

Daniel:

Have you heard anything about Daniel B? His blog has been taken down and I haven't seen him on CRFA for a long time. Hope his dad isn't making him watch Hannity 24/7 until he forgets all about us.

lily said...

Thanks Eli. Good points on immigration.
I think the issue-as I understand it at least- is not necessarily the nation of residence but the amount of money earned at least from accounts I've read of that PARTICULAR criticism. (Honestly I don't think they need the money.)And it isn't about the humanity of border crossing, or there would likely be a 'position' on other such matters.
If that is not the reason, what IS the reason? I'm asking because I genuinely want to understand their position on immigration better. I read alot of the 'whats' but not enough of the 'whys'.
Not that they owe me an explanation. But government needs to do whats in the interest of the people- and your points about employers are a good start.

Neil Shakespeare said...

I say tax the hell out of the churches and start a special "Christian Super God Fund" to finance all of our current and upcoming wars. Should be plenty left over to run NASA, too, which should be out there looking for God.

tp said...

"super god fund"- like another think tank?

Wadena said...

Eli,

I believe the Roman Church position is consistent.

They want Mexican Nationals to get into America to make more money so they can give more to the church.

They oppose abortion so potential victims of religion will not be eliminated before they can be victimized.

They don't want anybody to die in the desert, die in a war, or die by execution.

They don't want anybody to practice birth control.

The Roman Church loves life.

Only living people can contribute to the church coffers.

Yes, they are pro-life in every way.

The Protestant Neo-Fascist FundaGelicals learned Pro-life from the Roman Church and will soon be backing the on the immigration issue because a lack of cheap labor cuts profit.....and their God is profit.

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

As a Catholic in the mold of Scalia and Alito (i.e. the America-loving kind,) I am troubled by my church's stance on this issue. I mean, can't we come up with some kind of compromise? I submit that we allow Mexican women, after being cavity-searched for illicit drugs, to enter the US and work their double-shift at Wal-Mart. Once they have been cavity-searched again for stolen merchandise, their paychecks deducted for payroll taxes, and have sufficiently tithed at a Brownsville or San Diego church, they may be allowed to return to their homeland.

Who could possibly be against this?

tp said...

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me, Rex.

enigma4ever said...

( I don't do well on the religous issues, esp Catholic stuff gets me way confused...although I do love the idea of sitting somewhere dark and confessing to a celibate swarthy old guy that keeps saying "And then What ?" with a bit of guilty glee in his voice ...but then when I think about it- it really is like making a prank phone call in an old stinky phone booth that reeks of Brut and urine...my best friend in 7th grade dared me to go to Confession....even though I wasn't Catholic, and you can guess what happened, of course what a silly girl, and I told the priest something that I knew would for sure give him a stroke ...yes, me very bad...and so now you know why I don't know shit about These Issues...)

And Now for something completely different....I loved your comments about the Chasing Dogma contest...Coutlergiest III....Now that Killed...

meldonna said...

Just a random opinion on The Church: It ain't so bad in some parts of the US -- I was treated very kindly by a couple of local parishes when times were really rough (I'm up in Puget Sound), I was not 'preached' to, and there was a bumper-sticker on the wall next to a crucifix at one that said "I'm Pro-Choice, and I VOTE".

While I find the edicts from Rome are often appalling, I do appreciate that individuals at the local level can and do often do good work. And don't always toe the Vatican line. The long-festering scandal of abuse of the young is disgusting, and more so since it is so regularily covered up, but it seems to me that there is more than a bit of the same nonsense going on in Protestant churches as well.

I believe in a firm separation of church and state -- you can bring your convictions into the voting both with you, but you can't ask me to pay for it with my tax dollars. The latest Christmas flap? What a freakin' joke. The religio-fanatics actually took the White House to task for sending out "Holiday Cards", even though they had a quote from the King James Version in them. How absurd. Protestants getting all wound up, not even starting to think that the word 'holiday' comes from 'holy day', while 'Christmas' is a shortened version of 'Christ Mass'. Seems a bit Papist on their part to me. But what do I know?

Great blog - e4e turned me onto you...will be checking in often.

Cheers!

Drew said...

The thing that people should know, that people don't know..unless you are a backslider from a truely evangelical church as I am... is that what Rod Parsley is doing has been going on in evangelical churches around the country for decades. I remember attending an Assembly of God church during my teens where the church elders handed out "voting guides" to church members as they came in the door for service. Of course, every politician endorsed on the guide was Republican.
So, why exactly isn't religious organizations taxed? It seems to me that if you can start any goofball b.s. religion and get some followers, you can avoid the I.R.S. indefinitly. And to make things worse, in some cases, the current government is giving preferetial treatment in handing out faith-based inititive grants to churches that have in some way shilled for the right. There's a large on in Pennsylvania that fits that bill.

Anonymous said...

Thats because PA has Sanitorium, dontcha know???? :)

Eddie81 said...

After reading these posts ... so much for freedom of religion in the US. I think you guys would do away with all religion in a heartbeat.

tp said...

Not true. I am a part of a religious community. Assumptions are the product of lazy thinking, Eddie. What I think many of us want is to do away with preferential and theocentric treatment for some groups over others. Sep of church and state does not mean we oppose the church or religion, it means the opposition to money and resources spent on one religious perspective or agenda when not all TAXPAYERS subscribe.
The same document that provides for religious freedom also provides for the rights of all to live in a country where we do not subsidize 'god'.
Why is it that anyone who dares utter that religion should be kept with religion is, in your view and people like you, AGAINST religion? Why can't religion know its place which is as ONE way of viewing spirituality? Its the same tired argument, "atheists don't want god on money" blah blah blah. "They hate god" When the better question should be WHY SHOULD IT BE ON MONEY??? When churches pay taxes on the money they collect, they can do what they please. but until they do they should follow the law which states that we do not give tax breaks so money can be used to promote republicans. Its against the law.
I THINK YOU WOULD HAVE US DO AWAY WITH LAW IN A HEARTBEAT. Obviously you are one of those that think the constitution is 'just a piece of paper'

Brandon said...

eddie81 has it backward. Separation of church and state, and the kinds of people who are writing ons this blog, are what create and protect his freedom of religion.

The problem here is that some people have a schizophrenic view of the Constitution. First they claim that the Constitution doesn't endorse Separation of Church and State. Then they fail to recognize that the Constitution doesn't need to mention separation of church and state because it defines the idea.

We have the nonestablishment clause which protects us from an official state religion, which protects our right to not fund religious beliefs which we may find offenseive or which may be hostile to our own beliefs. Then you have the freedom clause which protects our right to believe or not believe as we see fit, to associate or not associate with religious organizations according to our own personal conscience. Taken together the two clauses form a single, unified statement, the two clauses embracing and enhancing the same basic idea.

But then you have people like eddie who come along and they almost invariably tear the two clauses apart and set them at war against each other. They argue that their FREEDOM of religion is being threatened because they aren't allowed to ESTABLISH their religion. That is a very schizophrenic reading of the First Ammendment, and frankly a very dangerous one at.

In fact I would even go so far as to argue that the thing that frightens certain Christians in this country more than anything else is, in fact, freedom of religion. When they use the term freedom of religion what they almost invariably believe in is their right to harass you until you join their particular cult. In other words, they believe in THEIR freedom of religion--not freedom of religion for others.

Separation of church and state has made us one of the most religious countries on the face of the earth. We have more sects, denominations, and faiths than any country in the world, and that's what has the far right chewing the proverbial carpet--the idea that someone might actually join a faith or a denomination which doesn't pass a Fundamentalist litmus test.

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