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.
What does that mean to you? Does it suggest a Christian government? This whole election cycle is coming very close to making me go nuts. The things the right says make it so hard to not write conversation ending things, belittling those who seem oblivious to what the founders of this country intended.
The latest, of this sort of thing, involves two that kind of go together. One is about freedom to not send children to public schools. The right acts as though they need some new laws to make this possible. Do these people pay ANY attention at all to facts. Anybody can home school their children. Anybody can send them to the private school of their choice. Nobody has to send their children to any public school at all.
Yes, there is a requirement children under a certain age receive an education but it's up to the parents to decide where that will be. This requirement of education is for the benefit of the community, of the democracy, of a government based on citizens voting depending on a... somewhat... educated populace. How do people vote wisely if they have no education?
So the argument is actually that these parents and righties do not then want to pay taxes to support public schools.
What they want is for me to pay for children (collectively or individually) to go to their choice of any private school-- and it would be my dollar as some of them might not even be paying taxes. Parents who have enough children and earn a low salary pay no or very little income taxes and if they don't own a home, they might not be paying property taxes either. Which means my tax dollars (and I do pay taxes) will be paying for that education which might encompass teaching creationism, talking against intellectualism, ridiculing science, and promoting fear of a god-- all of which I find an abomination. They should consider how much they'd like being forced to pay for a cult type school that taught Satanism.
There is today freedom of education so long as that education covers the agreed upon basics. You can as an individual not give a damn about the culture as a whole but you cannot refuse to pay for your share of costs that have been agreed upon to keep the culture healthy. We pay taxes for this nation (you know the thing these people talk so much about loving but then turn around and ignore that means the people in it).
Following along with that, there is the freedom of religion crowd (which are basically the same group) which is being ignited again by Tea Party candidates who claim they want less government but actually want more government invasion into our personal business in the name of 'their' religion.
The issue here, from people like Michelle Bachmann, relates to churches. They want those churches free to be as political as they want AND still keep their tax free status. Keep in mind any church can become political but they are at risk of losing that status. The agreement (not that these people care about such) was that in exchange for tax free status, churches would stay out of politics (see above).
Is it to the benefit of the churches who want to be political that their donations and buildings are tax free? It was originally done because they were supposedly caring for the poor-- so they were proving a service to society as a whole. Today, the average church is doing well if they donate 3% of their funds to charitable work outside their doors. Those tax free donations go to the church's own needs which might be a gymnasium for its members.
A case can be made, even from the churches themselves, that the tax benefit isn't worth it:
Repeating-- the logic of ending the current taxing situation, besides the fact that churches give very little of their revenue to anybody but themselves, is that they are limited in campaigning for their pet causes-- which stopping their tax free status would end.
If we keep the tax laws as they are, with these tax advantages, while we let churches have the right to campaign openly and even order their members to vote certain ways according to god, then my tax money is going to help them do this by the fact that I pay the share they would be paying if they were paying income tax on their full income or paying property taxes.
Churches right now have the right to campaign openly, demand their members vote according to god's will. Losing their tax free status is too high a price to pay to do god's will? So it would seem. So what they want, with the help of the tea partiers and politicians like Bachmann, is to have their cake and eat it too.
I am reading American Taliban (not Muslims) by Markos Moulitsas about the Christian religion in this country (which I prefer to label christianist because they have little resemblance to what Christ taught), what its goals have been and what we might face with more religious power in the political arena.
For those tea partiers, who believe their movement is all about less government, they might want to read that book and another called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of America's Power by Jeff Sharlet regarding the power a certain religious group has been amassing both in our government and the military.
If you are a religious right winger, that's good news; but if not, give some thought as to where this is heading and whether it's really what you had in mind.