Category Archives: Religious Liberty

The Right to Life Also Implies a Right to Die

Dr. Jack Kevorkian has finally completed an eight year prison term. For what exactly? For helping a terminally ill and suffering man exercise his right to a have a dignified and peaceful death. I find it very irritating that the media has given Dr. Kevorkian the nickname “Dr. Death” as if he were some kind of serial killer.

Dr. Kevorkian has done our society a great service by bringing this issue into the national debate. On what basis can society deny a person his or her right to die? If we truly believe that every individual has the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property, then the individual cannot be denied this right on any of these measures.

The individual has the right to life but this does not mean that government can force an individual to live. The individual has the right not to exercise his or her rights. The individual has the right to keep and bear arms but the government cannot force an individual to own a gun. The individual has the right to his or her liberty (provided he or she does not infringe on the liberty of others) but he or she can willfully surrender his or her liberty to be subjugated to a cult or religion. The individual has a right to his or her property (which would include his or her body by the way) which means he or she can do with it whatever he or she wishes (again, provided he or she does not infringe on the life, liberty, or property of others).

Thomas A. Bowden has an excellent piece on this issue at Capitalism Magazine.

The Declaration of Independence proclaimed, for the first time in the history of nations, that each person exists as an end in himself. This basic truth–which finds political expression in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–means, in practical terms, that you need no one’s permission to live, and that no one may forcibly obstruct your efforts to achieve your own personal happiness.

[…]

For these reasons, each individual has the right to decide the hour of his death and to implement that solemn decision as best he can. The choice is his because the life is his. And if a doctor is willing (not forced) to assist in the suicide, based on an objective assessment of his patient’s mental and physical state, the law should not stand in his way.

The fear by those who oppose the inherent right to die is that the government would eventually start killing those who are suffering regardless of the wishes of the individual. But upon closer inspection, recognizing an individual’s right to choose his or her manner of death is protecting the individual’s right to life. The individual does not live for the purpose of pleasing society or the religious sensibilities of others.

The Woman Who Refuses to Submit

Cross-posted here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one brave woman who refuses to submit to Islam. Ali grew up in a devout Muslim home in Somalia and witnessed the brutal treatment of women first hand. When her father arranged a marriage to a complete stranger to whom she would be required by Islamic tradition to obey his every command, Ali refused. Ali moved to Holland to pursue her own dreams (an act is strictly forbidden by the Koran).

After some time outside of Islamic culture and after the events of September 11, 2001, Ali rejected her religion of Islam in favor of reason (she is now an atheist). Since that time Ali has worked, at great personal risk, to educate the West of Islam’s subjugation of women and confront the politically correct Western media for its apologetic approach to her former religion.

In 2004, Ali co-produced a short movie with Theo Van Gogh entitled Submission to bring attention to the plight of women in the Islamic world. On November 2, 2004, Theo Van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim man who took offense to the blasphemous film. A note was found on Van Gogh’s body warning that Ali would be next.

Ali now lives under the protection of body guards in the U.S. but continues to speak out for the women who are victims of Islamic society. In April, her book Infidel hit the shelves (I just picked up the book myself; very fascinating what I have read so far).

The first of the 2 videos is a short interview with Ali where she explains the message she was trying to get across in Submission. The second video is the movie itself (Be patient, the video begins in Arabic with some non-English subtitles but the dialogue from that point on is mostly English).

What Separation Of Church And State Really Means

At USA Today, Notre Dame Law Professor Richard Garnett uses the current battle for religious freedom in China as an example of why separation of church and state is important, and how it has been misunderstood by people on both sides of the debate:

It is precisely by failing to respect the separation of church and state, and by trying to co-opt and domesticate what the government regards as a dangerous rival, that China is trampling on religious freedom. In a way, China and the Holy See are replaying one of the oldest and most fundamental religious-liberty scripts.

Today, many regard church-state separation as a reaction to church control of government. In fact, it was for a millennium the ambition of kings to expand their power, and keep down their rivals, by controlling the church and its affairs.

By resisting, the medieval church affirmed the foundational and still fundamental principle that the state and its power are limited.

And for that the world should be eternally grateful. It was in the efforts of the Catholic Church to assert its independence from the rulers of Europe that the ideas that formed the basis for the Enlightenment eventually sprung. More importantly, it was the fact that those efforts succeeded, and the Church became a powerful force in Europe outside of the state, that we can point to as the reason why despotism of the type that existed in Asia and Central America, which were dominated by state religions where the role of priest and poltician was intertwined, never really manifested itself in Europe.

In his conclusion, Garnett points out why separation of church and state is important for everyone:

The struggle for the church’s freedom in China reminds us that what the separation of church and state calls for is not a public conversation or social landscape from which God is absent or banished. The point of separation is not to prevent religious believers from addressing political questions or to block laws that reflect moral commitments. Instead, “separation” refers to an institutional arrangement, and a constitutional order, in which religious institutions are free and self-governing — neither above and controlling, or beneath and subordinate to, the state. This freedom limits the state and so safeguards the freedom of all — believers and non-believers alike.

Properly understood, the church and the state are neither enemies nor rivals, they are independent institutions, and the doctrine of separation allows both to exist in a way that is most beneficial for human liberty.

H/T: Brendan Loy

Christian Pharmacists And Muslim Cashiers

Just a question. Is there any moral difference between these two?

Muslim cashiers won’t ring up pork products

So Dsouza was taken aback when the cashier – who had on the traditional headscarf worn by many Muslim women – refused to swipe the bacon through the checkout scanner.

“She made me scan the bacon. Then she opened the bag and made me put it in the bag,” said Dsouza, 53. “It made me wonder why this person took a job as a cashier.”

In the latest example of religious beliefs creating tension in the workplace, some Muslims in the Twin Cities are adhering to a strict interpretation of the Koran that prohibits the handling of pork products.

Instead of swiping the items themselves, they are asking non-Muslim employees or shoppers to do it for them.

Some pharmacists say no to filling birth-control prescriptions

An increasing number of pharmacists around the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth-control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs.

“There are pharmacists who will only give birth-control pills to a woman if she’s married. There are pharmacists who mistakenly believe contraception is a form of abortion and refuse to [dispense] it to anyone,” said Adam Sonfield of the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, which tracks reproductive issues. “There are even cases of pharmacists holding prescriptions hostage, where they won’t even transfer it to another pharmacy when time is of the essence.”

Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t see any difference between these actions. Can anyone see any logical rational to stand up for one while denouncing the other?

Is Islamofascism a Legitimate Threat to Liberty?

In my recent post about Michael Charles Smith, I received a response from a reader by the name of Carl Deen regarding my support for the war against terror Islamofascism (Not the war on terror. Terrorism is the method the Islamofascist uses to accomplish his political-religious goals). I think his challenge is worth a post of its own so rather than responding in the original post, I have decided to answer him here.

Deen writes:

Let’s see if I understand the author. Without provocation, much like Germany did to Poland, the USA invaded Iraq, a country that was no threat to us; however, because, we did, we cannot admit our mistakes and withdraw. I suppose, by that reasoning, we must stay there forever at a cost of $500 billion and the lives of several hundred solders a year.

According to the author, Islam is a threat to us; therefore, we must attack and meddle in their affairs. It doesn’t occur to the author that if you attack and meddle in their affairs, you make more enemies than if you leave them alone.

Oh, I forgot; they hate us for our freedoms. Therefore, by using the war as reasons to turn the USA into a police state, they will stop hating us because we will have lost our remaining freedoms.

Was Iraq a threat to the United States?

First of all, the comparisons of the U.S. to Nazi Germany are getting very tiresome. Whatever ‘atrocities’ the U.S. has committed pale in comparison to the Holocaust. I also reject the premise that Iraq was no threat to the U.S. Regardless of whether or not Saddam had WMD, he was a threat to the U.S. Saddam did in fact invade Kuwait in the early 1990’s to steal the Kuwait’s oil. Had Saddam been allowed to proceed, there would have been national security threats as well as economic threats to the U.S. and the world.

When Saddam surrendered to the international coalition, there were certain conditions that he agreed to so that he could continue to be in power. Among those conditions were that he was not to reconstitute his WMD program and was restricted from flying in the ‘no fly zones.’ To enforce the agreement, coalition fighters patrolled the no fly zones from the time of the surrender to the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Saddam routinely fired with anti-aircraft weapons on the coalition fighters patrolling the no fly zones, directly putting the lives of U.S. and coalition pilots at risk. These attacks were provocative acts of war.

Let’s also not forget that Saddam attempted to assassinate former President Bush. Regardless of how you feel about President Bush, he was a president of the United States. An attack on the president—any American president is a provocative act of war against the United States.

And then there were the families of the suicide bombers who Saddam paid to spread terrorism throughout Israel. Sure, he was not paying suicide bombers to make attacks in American cities (as far as we know anyway), but this still proved that he was not above such tactics. Though the 9/11 commission found no links between Saddam Hussein and the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the commission did find that attempts were made between Saddam and Bin Laden to form an alliance. Their ties however, were non-operational. Had Saddam been as far along in his WMD program as most of the world’s intelligence agencies and world leaders had thought, it is not out of the realm of possibility to believe that those ties could have eventually become operational making it possible for Islamofascits to gain access to this material and carry out an attack on the U.S. Based on Saddam’s track record (his use of chemical and biological weapons on his own people, for example), there was no reason to believe that he did not have WMD. U.S. intelligence had underestimated Saddam’s progress in his WMD programs in the past. If left unchecked, he would have.

» Read more

Meet Michael Charles Smith

If the 2008 presidential campaign wasn’t about electing the first woman, African American, Hispanic, or Mormon president but rather about ideas, candidates like Ron Paul might have a fighting chance to be the next president. For the purposes of this post, I’ll pretend that this race is about ideas.

Ron Paul seems to be a fan favorite here at The Liberty Papers. I also have a great deal of admiration for Ron Paul. I hope that he draws a great deal of attention in the debates so that certain libertarian issues will be discussed that the G.O.P. front runners wouldn’t touch with a 10’ pole. As far as domestic issues go, I think Paul is right on the money…its some (but not all) of his foreign policy positions I have problems with (the same problems I generally have with the Libertarian Party platform in regard to foreign policy). More specifically, Ron Paul’s inability to understand the very real threats to the U.S. by Islamofascists makes it very difficult for me to endorse him or pull the lever for him.

So what is a liberty and small government minded person who also recognizes the threats of Islamofascim to do? The G.O.P. front runners (Giuliani, McCain, Romney, etc.) all seem to want to combat these threats but will also most likely continue to grow the government in much the same way as President Bush has. Ron Paul would work to decrease the size of government and restore some of our lost liberties but would cut and run in Iraq and leave America vulnerable (as would most if not all of the Democrats who are running). No good can come from a defeat in Iraq. There is at least one candidate who is perhaps even less well known than Ron Paul that might be a reasonable compromise between the G.O.P. front runners and Ron Paul; meet Oregon Republican Michael Charles Smith.

For those of you who are looking for the perfect presidential candidate, I have some bad news: there is no perfect candidate. But as I went through the list of things I am looking for in a candidate, Michael Charles Smith is about as close as I can find who reflects my views. Smith is not your typical Republican and certainly won’t be receiving any support from the Christian Right. Smith calls himself a “fiscal conservative” and “social libertarian.” By fiscal conservative he means that federal spending should only be used for functions specifically mandated in the U.S. Constitution (what a concept!), federal taxing and spending should be reduced in favor of state and local control, and the federal income tax should be abolished and replaced with the Fair Tax. By Social libertarian he means that he is pro choice, that illicit drugs should be de-felonized (not a complete withdraw from the war on drugs but a start), and that gays should have the same rights of marriage and be able to openly serve in the military.

In matters of war and peace Smith was opposed to going to war in Iraq but does not believe the troops should leave until the job is done. Though I did support the reasons for going to war with Iraq and continue to support the war, the president and the congress did not use the constitutional approach and was therefore; reckless and possibly illegal (I’ll leave that up to the lawyers to decide). Smith, on the other hand, actually believes the founders had it right in the first place. Smith explains:

Fundamentally, our approach to military engagement should be reset. The threshold for military commitment should be stringently limited to specific threats to Americans, not American “interests.” Any extended commitment of military force should require a formal declaration of war from the Congress. Discretionary commitments and preemptive justifications are too prone to political motivations and lack sufficient checks and balances.

Let’s honor the sacrifice of those who volunteer to protect our freedom by not carelessly putting them in harm’s way.

While I don’t think Smith would be as strong of a leader in the war on Islamofascism as Giuliani, at least Smith seems to recognize both external and internal threats to liberty in the United States. Most importantly, he wants to restore what he calls “constitutional integrity” by returning to a smaller government, less spending, returning more responsibility to the states, restoring the Bill of Rights by upholding church/state separation, civil liberties, and state’s rights.

Obviously, the chances of Michael Charles Smith being the next POTUS is a long shot (lack of campaign funds, name recognition, the MSM, the G.O.P. establishment, etc.) at best. He probably will not even qualify for the early primaries. Though I’m not prepared to give Smith my endorsement at this moment, I think he deserves some careful consideration by those of us with libertarian leanings. How great would that be to have not one but two ‘true’ Republicans in the Republican debates with the likes of Rudolf Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Duncan Hunter? Is it possible that perhaps one of the front runners might adopt some of the Smith and Paul platforms? In this 2008 beauty contest, this is probably the best we can hope for.

Memo: The Earth Doesn’t Move

Cross posted here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds

Kansas’ government school science curriculum is no longer the laughing stock of the nation and the world; the dubious honor may next be bestowed on Georgia. Georgia state representative Ben Bridges has circulated a memo to other state lawmakers around the country encouraging his colleagues to challenge the teaching of evolution (while promoting of I.D. creation “science”) in court by stating that evolution is not science but part of another religion thus violating the separation of church and state. This in itself is nothing too unusual; those who promote I.D. have made that argument before. Bridges memo goes even further: evolution is part of an ancient Jewish conspiracy! Obviously, this did not sit well with the Anti-defamation League.

Just when I thought this story couldn’t get nuttier, the memo has links to a site called fixedearth.com as its authority. Fixedearth.com not only takes on well-established scientific theories of evolution and the big bang (what the site calls “big bangism”) but the very fact that…the earth revolves around the sun! According to the site the earth DOES NOT MOVE and the sun REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH. No shit.

Marshall Hall, the sites creator and former government school teacher (scary), believes that the idea that the earth revolves around the sun is also a giant conspiracy to discredit the bible. Hall references two bible verses “The world is established and cannot move” (Psalm 93:1) and “He hangeth the Earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). Following these verses, Hall goes on to say:

The Bible and all real evidence confirms that this is precisely what He did, and indeed:

The Earth is not rotating…nor is it going around the sun.

The universe is not one ten trillionth the size we are told.

Today’s cosmology fulfills an anti-Bible religious plan disguised as “science”.

The whole scheme from Copernicanism to Big Bangism is a factless lie.

Those lies have planted the Truth-killing virus of evolutionism in every aspect of man’s “knowledge” about the Universe, the Earth, and Himself.

I can’t say that I am all that surprised that there are such people out there who have not left the dark ages. What is a little surprising and very disturbing is the idea that a U.S. lawmaker on any level would listen to moon bats such as Marshall Hall to put forward an agenda in government schools. Had I stumbled across this site myself, I would have thought it to be a spoof to mock creationists because I know that most creationists would never question the idea that the earth revolves around the sun. Most creationists would not take Psalm 93:1 and Job 26:7 literally and would say that the descriptions made in these verses were based on the understanding people had of the universe at that time (which is a lame explanation if you ask me seeing that they were supposedly authored by the creator of the universe). In a previous post, I wrote the following statement:

Since we don’t want to offend the fragile faith of the fundies, why not allow them to substitute their own version of reality in all the other sciences? Clearly the astronomers don’t know what they are talking about either because the Bible clearly stated that the earth was flat and that the sun revolves around the earth. We ought to burn all books written which contradict the Bible. This will be no small task: we pretty much have to rid ourselves of everything we have learned about biology, geology, astronomy, anthropology, psychiatry, history, mathematics, medicine, and more.

Little did I know at the time I wrote that statement that there were fundies with influence setting out to do just that. Could there ever be a better argument for school privatization and school choice than this?

Hat tip: Nealz Nuze

Related Posts:
Sunday School Science Lesson
The End of Faith (Book Review)
Can Mysticism Co-Exist with Reason and Liberty?
The Battle for Young Minds

Thomas Paine: More Harm than Good?

Thomas Paine is one of the least respected figures of the American Revolution and early American history. Many of Paine’s compatriots believed that his anti-religious ideas found in The Age of Reason were so dangerous that they would undermine the moral character of America (Keane 475). Paine further caught the ire of the American public with his open letter to President George Washington in which Paine called Washington “a cold blooded traitor” (Keane 429-33). Upon Paine’s death, The New York Citizen had eulogized: “He had lived long, did some good and much harm.” Criticism for Paine and his works continued long after his death. Theodore Roosevelt once referred to Thomas Paine as a “filthy little atheist” (Stade 382). There has never been a shortage of criticism of Paine or his work whether in his own time or since. Certainly, some of the criticism is warranted, but the notion that Paine “did some good and much harm” is hardly fair for a man who sacrificed his wealth, risked his life, and inspired countless others in the cause of America’s independence from England.

When Thomas Paine arrived for the first time in America on November 30, 1774, no one could have predicted the enormous influence he and his writings would have on citizens of every class. Paine was not well known at this time, but Benjamin Franklin’s letter of introduction to Philadelphia’s movers and shakers would soon change that. As Paine became comfortable with his new surroundings, he spent many hours in book stores and conversing with others about his literary interests. One day, Paine was in one of his favorite stores visiting with the store’s owner, Robert Aitken. Aitken was so impressed with Paine that he offered Paine a job as the editor of the upstart periodical Pennsylvania Magazine (Kaye 49-50).

Rather than writing directly about controversial issues, Paine used allegory and the increasingly popular medium of the fable to express his ideas. The fables opened up the world of politics to the general public; something which was not done in literature prior to Paine’s writing and editorship of Pennsylvania Magazine. Paine’s impact on the magazine was immediate. Circulation of the fledgling magazine more than doubled in the first month of Aitken’s hiring of Paine as contributing editor. The magazine would sell more copies than any other magazine up to that time (Larkin 261).
» Read more

New Blue Law in Georgia

In a surprising turn, new legislation in Georgia has made it illegal to sell meat on Fridays during Lent. While it has been seen as an unchangeable practice for years to ban Sunday sales of alcohol, Georgia has now become the first state to expand the practice to non-alcohol goods.

The move is a surprise to most people, both in Georgia and around the country. No other states have suggested plans to follow suit, but analysts expect a ripple throughout the South as other evangelical-dominated states consider similar legislation.

The justification for the law, by the legislators, seems unclear. Most have taken a silent approach when asked, but it is largely thought that a small minority of Christians convinced Georgia’s legislators that it was their role to enforce dietary rules of religious observance. Pastor Bobby Smith, of the New Life Church of Atlanta, did suggest that the rules were not intended to bind people to religious observance, but purely as a restriction of commerce:

“I’m not saying that people can’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent,” Smith said, “I just think that we as a society should not be encouraging it. If they want to buy their meat on Thursday, and eat it on Friday, that’s just fine. This isn’t an infringement on anyone’s rights. After all, we’re not making it illegal every day during Lent, just on Fridays. But America was founded on Christian ideals, and I think we should respect the Lord’s wishes on our observance of his laws.”

The new law has drawn ire from many sides. The ACLU issued a joint statement with the American Atheists, threatening lawsuits based on the separation of church and state. Most alcohol-related blue laws have survived such challenges based on the 21st Amendment, but it’s unclear whether the measure will have other legal cover. One Georgia legislator, though, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that the court may be the only option to fight this law:

“We’ve learned from the unpopularity of blue laws that very few people are in favor of the law. However, it’s not enough of an imposition that they take the energy to fight the law. The supporters, however, are rabid, and will withhold their vote, as a group, from any politician who endorses the end of blue laws.”

Legal fights are expected to take years. In the meantime, however, Georgia shoppers should hope they remember to buy their meat on Thursday.
» Read more

Virgil Goode Still Doesn’t Get It

Virgil Goode has a piece on the USA Today blog about his statements last month condemning Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison’s plan to use the Koran in his symbolic swearing-in later this week. Once again, Goode proves he really doesn’t get it:

My letter did not call for a religious test for prospective members of Congress, as some have charged. Americans have the right to elect any person of their choosing to represent them. I indicated to my constituents that I did not subscribe to the Quran in any way, and I intended to use the Bible in connection with my swearing-in. I also stated that the Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall of my office, and I have no intention of displaying the Quran in my office. That is my choice, and I stand by my position and do not apologize for it.

And, Congressman, you have every right to make that choice. What about someone who chooses to do something different, though ? Whether it’s using another religious book, or as Teddy Roosevelt did, using no book at all, they have as much right to their choice and acknowledgment of their faith as you do.

But, of course, that’s not enough, because we must bring up the specter of 9/11:

Let us remember that we were not attacked by a nation on 9/11; we were attacked by extremists who acted in the name of the Islamic religion. I believe that if we do not stop illegal immigration totally, reduce legal immigration and end diversity visas, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to infiltration by those who want to mold the United States into the image of their religion, rather than working within the Judeo-Christian principles that have made us a beacon for freedom-loving persons around the world.

The only problem with this is that Representative Ellison is an American citizen, not an immigrant. He converted to Islam and, whether you agree with his politics or not, he has as much right to his religious beliefs as Virgil Goode does. If he chooses to acknowledge that faith when he becomes a Member of Congress, what business does Virgil Goode have saying he can’t do it ?

Related Posts:

Much Ado About Nothing
Republican Religious Bigotry

Crossing The Line

A teacher in New Jersey is in trouble for talking about God in history class:

KEARNY, N.J. — Before David Paszkiewicz got to teach his accelerated 11th-grade history class about the United States Constitution this fall, he was accused of violating it.

Shortly after school began in September, the teacher told his sixth-period students at Kearny High School that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven, according to audio recordings made by a student whose family is now considering a lawsuit claiming Mr. Paszkiewicz broke the church-state boundary.

“If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong,” Mr. Paszkiewicz was recorded saying of Jesus. “He did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sins on his own body, suffered your pains for you, and he’s saying, ‘Please, accept me, believe.’ If you reject that, you belong in hell.”

The first question I’d ask here, is why did this teacher even think it was appropriate to start talking about evolution, the Big Ban, dinosaurs, Noah’s Ark, and who’s going to heaven in a history class to begin with ? At the very least, he was deviating extremely far from the lesson plan he should’ve been following. At worst, he was preaching to these kids in a way, as a teacher in a public school, he really has no business doing.

More interesting to me, though, is the reaction of some of the teacher’s supporters:

Greice Coelho, who took Mr. Paszkiewicz’s class and is a member of his youth group, said in a letter to The Observer, the local weekly newspaper, that Matthew was “ignoring the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives every citizen the freedom of religion.”

Sorry, but Mr. Paskiewicz has the right to believe in whatever religion he chooses. What he doesn’t have the right to do is spout off like a Sunday preacher in the middle of history class.

“We Need” Doesn’t Obligate The Government

Over on my War On Christmas Blog post I wrote at the Unrepentant Individual (where I advocate a satirical War On Christmas Blog), I’ve gotten some interesting comments and trackbacks. One trackback came from a Help Save Christmas, a blog that I’m still unsure whether it’s satirical or not. Another was from a definitely-satirical War On Christmas blog. My suggestion to start one was not entirely original, it seems.

But one comment just arrived that I thought needed a response:

I agree with that – We need a national mid-winter, Non-Secular Holiday.

Below is my annual holiday rant – Happy Holidays

Consider this – After Rome took over Christianity it was natural that one of the most important Roman feast days would evolve into the most important Christian holiday – December 25th.

Just four day before is the Winter Solstice, Dec 21st. In the northern hemisphere the shortest day and longest night of the year. This is an occasion that has been celebrated since prehistoric times. It is a marker on the Celestial Calendar that is shared by all of us on this Earth.

Why not shake out this holiday into two days – Separate the religious from the Secular – The 25th will be the religious day of observance, Christians would celebrate it as they like, free from the diluting influences us infidels – and, of course, it would continue to be called Christmas.

December 21st could be the day of celebration for everyone. This has always been known as Yule or Yuletide – it is an ancient name for the season.

We need is a National Holiday for all of us at this time of the year.

You know what, I’ve got absolutely nothing against celebrating Yuletide. But why do we need a National Holiday? If you’re going to wait around for our Congressmen to do something likely to piss off the 85% Christian population, you’re going to be worm food by the time it happens.

Why not just start celebrating it yourself, with your friends. Maybe start an online movement to celebrate Yuletide. Get this thing off the ground yourself. Don’t wait for the government to “create” a holiday that you say has been celebrated since prehistoric times. Don’t act as if you can’t celebrate Yuletide unless the government makes it a holiday, just start doing it.

Christmas didn’t become a Federal Holiday in America until 1870. You may have an uphill battle to get Yuletide declared a holiday by the government, BUT THAT DOESN’T STOP YOU FROM CELEBRATING IT.

Seattle-Tacoma Airport Removes Christmas Trees

I’m not one to fall into the whole “war on Christmas” meme we see repeated this time each year, but this story just strikes me as ridiculous:

SEATAC, Wash. — All nine Christmas trees have been removed from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport instead of adding a giant Jewish menorah to the holiday display as a rabbi had requested.

Maintenance workers boxed up the trees during the graveyard shift early Saturday, when airport bosses believed few people would notice.

Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, who made his request weeks ago, said he was appalled by the decision. He had hired a lawyer and threatened to sue if the Port of Seattle didn’t add the menorah next to the trees, which had been festooned with red ribbons and bows.

“Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds light to the season,” said Bogomilsky, who works in Seattle at the regional headquarters for Chabad Lubavitch, a Jewish education foundation.

Repeat after me folks. Putting a Christmas tree up is NOT an endorsement of religion.

Update 12/12/06: The Christmas Trees have returned to SeaTac.

Silencing The Church Bells

Fresh off its efforts to efforts to “protect” the homeless, Fairfax County, Virginia is now seeking to silence church bells just in time for Christmas:

Fairfax County officials have issued a ringing non-endorsement of the bells at St. John Neumann’s in Reston, ruling that they must toll within the limits of the county’s noise ordinance or not at all.

The Board of Supervisors asked the zoning staff this year to see whether the law could be amended to accommodate the church, whose bells ring at a volume slightly higher than the 55-decibel maximum permitted in residential areas.

But James P. Zook, director of Fairfax’s Department of Planning and Zoning, recently told the board in a memo that creating an exception for church bells could be constitutionally problematic, leaving the county open to court challenge.

“Localities cannot enact different standards for noise emanating from a place of worship,” Zook said. If Fairfax did that, he said, the new rules would have to apply to “all other types of bells, chimes or carillons.” Zook noted, however, that at least two other cities, Morgantown, W.Va., and Seattle, did make exceptions for church bells.

St. John’s, a Catholic church in south Reston, installed a $50,000 electronic bell system in 2004 as part of a major expansion. When the bells began ringing, in three-minute bursts — three times on weekdays, once on Saturdays and before each of five Sunday Masses, starting at 7:30 a.m. — neighbors complained.

Of course they did.

The GOP Must Move To The Center and Lose Limited Government Voters

In yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, former New Jersey governor and EPA head Christine Todd Witman had an interesting column:

Moderate Republicans paid a heavy price in the GOP’s loss of control of Congress.

After the 2004 election, pundits were predicting the dawn of a generation of Republican dominance. Karl Rove was being hailed as the “architect” of this coming era. His strategy of solidifying the hard-right base of the GOP by feeding them a steady diet of extreme positions on social issues that would, in turn, motivate them to flock to the polls was credited with securing President Bush’s reelection and retaining control of Congress.

This month, the limits of that strategy became clear. In more than a dozen House districts in which moderate Republicans had long succeeded, voters apparently decided they were no longer willing to empower the hard-right of the GOP by electing moderates who would contribute to a Republican majority.

Actually, Rove’s strategy did more than just turn moderates and independents against the GOP, it kept fiscal conservatives and libertarians home on election day. The Religious Right has no interest in shrinking the welfare state, they merely want to make sure the money goes to their churches, abstinance programs, persecuting homosexuals, censoring the media, and teaching religion in government schools. But back to Governor Whitman’s column.

I believe, however, that within the results of this year’s electoral defeats are the seeds of future Republican victories, but only if those seeds are planted in the center of the political landscape.

President Bush has to lead the Republican Party back toward its traditional, philosophical roots of respect for and belief in the individual, fiscal responsibility, pragmatic and realistic foreign policy, and real environmental stewardship.

The million dollar question is what does she mean by “lead the Republican Party back toward its traditional, philosophical roots of respect for and belief in the individual, fiscal responsibility, pragmatic and realistic foreign policy, and real environmental stewardship”? Fortunately, Governor Whitman has both a record and an organizaton she runs to examine.

From the It’s My Party Too website:

IMP-PAC is an umbrella organization that provides a place for moderate Republicans to reach out to one another and support those who believe in basic Republican principles such as:

Recognizing that tax cuts not only leave money in the pockets of those who earned it, but, when combined with restrained spending and balanced budget, help to stimulate the economy;

Supporting an engaged foreign policy and a strong national defense;

Continuing the Party’s recognition that government does have a role to play in protecting our environment; and

Respecting the individual as evidenced by limiting government interference in their lives.

Okay, rhetorically at least, classical liberals and libertarians can do business with the moderates. Now let’s see if the results back up the rhetoric.

Recognizing that tax cuts not only leave money in the pockets of those who earned it, but, when combined with restrained spending and balanced budget, help to stimulate the economy

Governor Whitman’s record in New Jersey is that of a tax cutter, on this point, so far so good. Furthermore, the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership’s page on deficit reduction contains nothing that a libertarian or a classical liberal can object to. However, when you look on their past accomplishments page, you’ll find quite a lot of objectionable proposals such as Federally funded terrorism insurance and support for the Davis-Bacon wage controls and Federal funding of stem cell research.

Supporting an engaged foreign policy and a strong national defense

What do they mean by supporting an engaged foreign policy? I found nothing on foreign policy from Governor Whitman or the Republican Main Street Partnership.

Continuing the Party’s recognition that government does have a role to play in protecting our environment;

Government involvement in the environment usually means less property rights and more regulation with questionable benefits.

Respecting the individual as evidenced by limiting government interference in their lives

By this, they usually mean only in regards to abortion. It was the great moderate Republican, Nelson Rockefeller that gave us the notorious Rockefeller Drug Laws that gave us life sentences for drug possession.

Rhetorically, moderate Republicans talk a good game, when you actually look at them, you’ll find they’re no allies of limited-government supporters and instead are merely another branch of big government conservatism.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Much Ado About Nothing

Stephen Bainbridge and James Joyner both comment on this Dennis Prager column at Human Events. Prager. it seems, is atwitter because Keith Ellison, a Democrat elected in the 2006 elections and the first Muslim elected to Congress, wants to take his oath of office with his hand on the Koran, not the Bible.

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.
He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.
First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

There’s just one problem with Prager’s hypothesis. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about Members of Congress, or Senators, or the President, taking their respective oaths with their hand on a Bible, or any other book. True, its been a long standing practice that dates back to George Washington, but it is not a requirement. If a member of Congress wanted, there is nothing preventing them from taking their oath with their hand on a copy of the Manhattan Yellow Pages.

Moreover, Prager’s insistence that only the Bible can used would be a clear violation of this provision of Article VI of the Constitution:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

No religious test, and no requirement that you place your hand on any book when being sworn into office. Seems pretty simple to me.

Religious Freedom vs. The War On Terror

There are few symbols of Islam that arose more controversy in the West than the burqa, a covering that some Islamic women wear, either by force or by choice, that completely covers their body and hides even their eyes from public view. In what may well be a sign of things to come in Europe, the Netherlands is preparing to completely outlaw the wearing of the burqa:

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Dutch government agreed on Friday a total ban on the wearing of burqas and other Muslim face veils in public, justifying the move on security grounds.

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk will now draw up legislation which will result in the Netherlands, once one of Europe’s most easy-going nations, imposing some of the continent’s toughest laws against concealing the face.

“The cabinet finds it undesirable that garments covering the face — including the burqa — should be worn in public in view of public order, (and) the security and protection of fellow citizens,” the Dutch Justice Ministry said in a statement.

Here’s the question. If a woman truly believes that her religious beliefs require her to wear a burqa, or a headscarf, or whatever garment one might name, does the state have the right to make it a crime for her to do so ?

Clearly, I think the answer is no.

However, this move in the Netherlands is only the latest development in what looks for all the world like a clash between European values and those of its predominantly Muslim immigrants:

Existing legislation [in the Netherlands] already limits the wearing of burqas and other total coverings on public transport or in schools.

France has banned the Muslim headscarf and other religious garb from state schools while discussion in Britain centers on limiting the full facial veil, or niqab.

Italy has a decades-old law against covering the face in public as an anti-terrorism measure. Some politicians have called for this rule to be enforced against veiled Muslim women.

So, one can expect things like this to continue. Whether that makes it right, though, is another question entirely.

1 2 3 4