Monday, October 25, 2010

the complaints of the tea partiers

*taking deep breaths and throwing in a few ohhhmmmmms*

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.


Kay Dennison said...

This is definitely not what I had in mind as you well know. I am utterly amazed that this is happening and that deafening, gurgling sound you hear? It's the sound of our ancestors rolling in their graves and sobbing at what has happened to the country they fought for so valiantly. The flushing sound is the Constitution going down the porcelain receptacle. Sadly you have it right on, my friend.

Anonymous said...

JULIE said ...

Thanks for these links. May I share related information. Huffington Post has published an article by Rachel Zoll titled Catholic Blogs Aim To Purge Dissenters. The article is about right-leaning Catholic bloggers. They are outing other Catholics who aren't right-leaning for not being "Catholic enough". (These blogs are more political than theological). Catholic Reporter Vatican analyst, John Allen, calls them the Catholic Taliban. Hope this is informative to you along with the book you are reading about religion and American politics.

Anonymous said...

JULIE said ...

Thanks for these links. May I share related information. Huffington Post has published an article by Rachel Zoll titled Catholic Blogs Aim To Purge Dissenters. The article is about right-leaning Catholic bloggers. They are outing other Catholics who aren't right-leaning for not being "Catholic enough". (These blogs are more political than theological). Catholic Reporter Vatican analyst, John Allen, calls them the Catholic Taliban. Hope this is informative to you along with the book you are reading about religion and American politics.

Anonymous said...

JULIE said...

For an interesting balance about religion and politics, may I suggest the Huffington Post article about the Second Vatican Council's social teachings. The article title is Catholic Social Thought & 2010 Elections by Donald P. Kommers.

Rain, thanks for giving us the heads-up about voting issues. The links and blog posts will be helpful in making an informed vote.

Rain said...

Thanks, Julie. That's an interesting bit of information and shows what people in churches will also run into as they are not religiously correct enough for where this is heading.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Regarding the Tea Party morons - I like a line from "Dr. Strangelove" where general Ripper explains to Mandrake (Peter Sellers) that "... they have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought". He was talking about politicians but he might as well be addressing the morons who put them in office.

The Tea Baggers do not have the capacity to think beyond the most rudimentary and simple logic, no matter how flawed. They are boors who are highly susceptible to being "easily dazzled by brightly colored objects" dangled in front of them by those who are all to willing to manipulate them.

Intelligence requires the application of nuance, multi-levels of perspective drawn from experience and the ability to think strategically many steps deeper than simple cause-and-effect.

When you suggest people "read" this book or that book... These people don't read! They turn off their brains and let Hannity, Beck, Lumbaugh and others do their thinking for them.

Rain said...

I am aiming at here the right wing who are not full-blown tea partiers as I agree with you about their close-mindedness to thinking where anything goes. But there are those who are voting Republican who are not thinking of the end goals and it's them I hope will do some reading and thinking. This is not all about lowering taxes (which Obama did) but about what we pay for and what we believe this country stands for... or not.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as if you folks agree with Karl Marx.

Rain said...

That is funny, anonymous, as such type comments usually are if they aren't irritating. So you think to want public schools and to see religions stick to religious values is communist? Do you remember what Christ said about that-- render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

The problem with people like you is you cannot deal with the issues and it always has to be calling someone a Maoist or a Marxist or a Hitler. Stick to the issues here which means public schools or not.. and religions with tax deductions who want to get political. Not to mention a certain segment of this country who like to stomp people into the ground why they say don't tread on me. It kind of looks like you will get your way with this in November and we'll see if what you get is what you wanted.

Rain said...

Incidentally, just for the record, I do not believe in communism as a viable social program. I also know that we don't have true capitalism in our country.

HMBabb said...

A trifling point, Rain, while I otherwise totally endorse your post: I'm 99% sure that my rent includes a share of the owners' property tax (and they get the deduction).

Rain said...

True on the rent, although there are those who get subsidized rent for economic reasons (something I as a leftie think is a fair thing to offer) or live in government owned housing for the same reason, and therefore don't pay property tax. As a leftie, I approve of such programs, which have been there since I was old enough to know about them, but righties think the government should do none of that while some of them benefit from the fact it does.

The real debate I have here though is that if they send their children to a private school, they want to not pay taxes to support the public schools for other children; so even if they pay taxes, I think they are wrong to expect to drop their responsibility to the rest of the nation, they used to claim to love so much. Even with 'vouchers', many families could not afford private school tuition. None of this is about charter schools which anybody, who can get into them, can choose now instead of public schools.

And it's about religions who want the tax write-offs while they pummel one party or the other (and sometimes they are hitting on the right over environment, war, or social issues). Churches got a deal for that write-off and should stuck to their charter or pay taxes as any other business does and when someone donates to them, it should be considered like any other political contribution (which is not federally tax deductible)

Rain said...

If we did that, took of an automatic deduction for churches as such, we could then let those who do offer genuine charitable services, qualify for it as any other charity should. You do good works for those who need the help and you are recognized accordingly. You only serve yourself and you get nothing in terms of tax deductions.

Some would end the tax deductions for churches period, but not only won't that happen, but I don't have a problem with it as it is-- unless they want to use their forum for political purposes and try to turn this country into a supposed theocracy as in run by a god and you can take the word of those who say they are run by a god for whether that's true.

Paul said...

Rain, I can't speak for Anonymous but as I recall the "Render unto Caesar" verse cuts both ways. There are those among us who would remove any reference to God, or the Creator, period and are as fundamentalist in their attitudes as the very religious fundamentalists whom they denigrate and excoriate !

Rain said...

Basically, Paul, you could take, from that whole quote and its context, that Jesus was saying dollars are not the business of god. There are things that are and they are what you should offer to god-- things he had taught about like charity, love, loyalty, pride, etc.

We have such a different world from that where churches, which Jesus never said he would begin (he said humans were his church) require big expenditures to keep going. The early Christians immediately started churches taking his saying Peter was the rock as meaning he'd be the first leader instead of what it seems to me Christ was saying. The whole concept that Christ tried to teach was lost and today is barely recognizable in what the christianists teach with their prosperity doctrine.

If you know your Bible, you will recall when Jesus said in the end times there will be those who say they did this or that in his name and he'd say be gone. I know you not. He wouldn't recognize what they are teaching as the gospel today. It's been lost to political goals.

As for there being fundamentalists in many ways of thinking. I agree. Radicals don't have just one religion or belief system. They know all they need to know and they assume their way is right and will force it onto everybody else if they get the chance. I have no use at all for fundamentalists of whatever stripe. If we know anything at all about the world, we should know that learning is ongoing and what we believe today, which we must operate upon, that can be changed by some new information coming along tomorrow. If we are a fundamentalist, it cannot and we fear that new information and won't look at it.

mandt said...

Except for explicit charitable projects Churches should be taxed as persons, since most are incorporated, are now therefore persons. All none specific worship property should be taxed at local and state levels----particularly multi million dollar estates. Churches are now big business and should be taxed.

Darlene said...

I have a comment about "taking a reference to God or the Creator out of everything". That's a misrepresentation of the insistence on following the 'separation of Church and State' clause.

The people who object to inserting prayer and God into a public school or a government building are simply following the Constitution. Anyone is free to talk about God or pray anyplace they want; it just can't be a sponsored event in a place paid for and supported by tax payer money.

If it were true that people wanted to take God out of everything they would be going after Churches. Some of the people who are opposed to group prayer before a football game at a public school, for example, are faithful Church goers.

Remember that the United States includes many religions; not just Christianity. That's one reason to follow the Constitution and keep religion out of government. One religion cannot be promoted over another.