J Walking

J Walking


Faith-based stupor(pidity)

posted by David Kuo

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that a lawsuit aimed at the president’s faith-based effort couldn’t go forward because, well, taxpayers can’t sure over specific executive branch expenditures. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito argued the federal budget is so big,

“…it is a complete fiction to argue that an unconstitutional federal expenditure causes an individual federal taxpayer any measurable economic harm. And if every federal taxpayer could sue to challenge any government expenditure, the federal courts would cease to function as courts of law and would be cast in the role of general complaint bureaus.”

He is right. Imagine a world in which every citizen could sue the government over ever single dime spent on every single program. Between the two Ralph Nader and Rush Limbaugh would bring down American democracy.
Now for the faith-based significance.
The suit attacked the regional faith-based conferences the White House has been holding since 2002. Those conferences, which I explored heavily in my book, were both good and bad. The good is that they truly educated faith-based and secular groups (small ones) on how to work with the federal government to avoid violating church-state law. They represented one of the first times the government ever reached out to these small groups that are so vital to social service in America, giving them the tools to consider applying for federal grants.
The bad was that their primary motivation was political. It was about recruiting “non-traditional” Republicans for the 2002, 2004, and 2006 elections. Thousands of people attended these workshops. They were, by and large, minorities who probably hadn’t ever supported President Bush. But these workshops impressed them. They saw an administration that was willing to meet them on their own turf. That is something that no other Republican or Democratic administration had done.
Now that the case has been decided there have been the predictable reactions from both conservatives and liberals. Conservatives are hailing it a great victory and validation of the president’s initiative. Liberals are saying it is a blow to church-state relations.
That is what each side has always done on matters faith-based.
How refreshing it would be for liberals and conservatives both to confront this president about the pathetic failure to live up to the grand promises made to the poor.



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Eric

posted June 26, 2007 at 2:58 pm


It would also be impressive if people commenting on this case stuck to the actual court case instead of hailing it or trashing it depending on their view of the faith based initiative. The court’s decision didn’t say anything about the constitutionality of the faith based initiative, just the ability of individual taxpayers to sue the government. Am I not correct?
The court case wasn’t a win or loss for faith based policies, it was a win for common sense.



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Jason

posted June 26, 2007 at 5:45 pm


What grand promises were made to the poor?



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Lonnie

posted June 26, 2007 at 5:54 pm


I hope this suit will make politicians accountable to their word. It seem that truth has escape the polilitical arena. I put my trust in God.



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Donny

posted June 26, 2007 at 9:55 pm


The poor in America are anything but noble. And yet, still, Christians have many, many, many programs pointed at the poor.
David, I wish you would move on to the issues of importance that are really harming people. No American is hardly starving unless they want to. But in the meantime, we have Liberals promoting and implementing laws and issues that are really harming people. Start with their overpowering thirsat for taxation. That makes everyone suffer.
This whole Church-State issue is nothing more than intolerant anti-Christians doing whatever they can to hurt Christians. Notice these same sit silent when other religions get vocal or involved in political world with never a word from the Left. Or, they (the Left), help promote them.
Realize David, that it is not a myth this anti-Christian hysteria “on the Left.” Look into what Massachusetts is doing in public schools . . .. It’s not about gay marriage, it is about crushing Christians. Just like the evolution issue. It’s wrong to talk abour morality and decency, but it is encouraged towards elementary school children to embrace chaos, and promiscuity. All harm children of the rich and the poor. Notice also, how easily that the Left is selling out honest people and pushing for citizenship of illegal aliens. They realize how many people we be added to Democrat roles as so many of the illegal aliens want social programs to support they and their families. And once again, the Left sees honesty and decency as hate crimes and bigotry. While honest hard-working families are targeted for their money through the taxation process.
The poor are being helped. Mainly by Christians. So it is not about them. It is about changing America into a Marxist socialistic and godless nation. Sound familiar?
Start focusing on the things that really harm people. Like abortion for convenience, euthanasia, and promiscuity. Start looking at the Democrats for a change. Last time I really looked at President Bush, he saved the lives of millions of Kurds. At least.
You have a voice that could be used for reason and goodness, if you start listening and hearing the truth first.



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Zero-Equals-Infinity

posted June 27, 2007 at 6:04 am


Donny said:
“The poor in America are anything but noble. And yet, still, Christians have many, many, many programs pointed at the poor.”
All people have an inherent nobility Donny. The gospels show a Jesus that has a special love for the poor who wishes people to set aside the idols of money and power to follow him. Are you that kind of Christian Donny?
It never fails to surprise me that so many Christians have grafted a love of Mammon and Jesus into an amalgam. I wonder which one is their true master, don’t you?



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Jillian

posted June 27, 2007 at 7:25 am


Donny, I’d love to hear how much of yourself you are giving to the poor and the interests of the poor, and undoing the oppression of the poor. Maybe you’re an active fighter for, say, the restoration of the right to vote to people who have been through jail and get disenfranchised beyond their prison sentence, say for life. Or you give of your time, if not your money, at a surplus food distribution place. Or you fix up houses. Perhaps you simply help some drunks at a homeless shelter.
When Robert Hughes wrote poet-priest Gerard Manley Hopkins for advice on how he might learn to believe, Hopkins responded simply: “Give alms.” I love telling that one to my fire-and-brimstone proselytizing relatives, neighbors, and colleagues! :-)
I’m happy to say I went through Massachusetts public schooling myself. In fact mostly in Lexington, Massachusetts, where about 15-20 married same sex couples presently send their children to the Lexington Public Schools and where the David Parker lawsuit is that you seem to allude to, Donny. That’s where I got my start in volunteer work and found the first people who awed me with their moral commitment, doing as they said and saying what they believed. These were Irish Catholic women, liberal Jews, and Quakers. I’ve added American Indians I’ve known to that list since. I can’t say that the Protestant denomination I grew up in impressed me in that fashion, let alone the spectrum of dismal reactionary (“conservative”) religious groups I was part of or dealt with for a lot of years after that. (Individuals stood out, of course, but could not elevate their groups.)
What I can say is that I inadvertently lived out the residual Puritan-nonPuritan conflict to its fullest while young, and the Puritanist side has morally not measured up to its challengers in my eyes yet. In history it didn’t either, and I don’t see a comeback in the making. Oh, and yes, I guess I have been an activist for the legalization of gay marriage, come to think of it. (Yes, there are quite a few straight people, such as myself, in the mix.) My slowly growing congregation celebrated its third such marriage this spring.
Contrast that with the chauvinist-filled megachurch my parents belong to, which can’t bring itself to let women onto its council of Elders, let alone pastoral staff, or allow other churches’ baptisms to count. And they just can’t figure out why in the past couple of years most young families leave them after a few months. This despite building them a gymnasium megaplex and hiring a slew of Midwestern seminary grads for “outreach”, gaudy new multimedia toys worthy of a movie cinema, loads of ‘Christian music’, ever more trance-inducing techniques during ‘services’, and such.
I have sympathy that you find adjustment to a changing world difficult, Donny. Yet, “Justice, justice shalt thou seek” is the charge given. Everywhere the Bible is concerned with the misery and injustice inflicted on the widows, the orphans, the lepers, the dispossessed- it is not the rich and established and majorities who need justice in Scripture. “What you do unto the least of them, you do unto Me”, after all. I can’t square that demand with the Republican Party’s dogma of predicate violation and abrogation of 14th Amendment rights of due process and equal protection of the laws.



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Doug

posted June 27, 2007 at 12:28 pm


This is no big deal, I think. Donny, how much do you predict the democratic congress is going to raise taxes over two years?



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Donny

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:02 am


Jillian,
Adjustment to a changing world?
You have not only embraced the great apostasy, you celebrate and encourage others to grasp what the Apostles taught us to avoid.
There is nothing new under the sun. Your falling in line with sodomites and they celebrate is nothing new.
What do you think happened while Moses was up on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments?
I live my faith. And I have for almost twent years. That is all the back patting I’m willing to do.
This LGBT will run its course as it has throughout time. And that Mega-Church that will probably have been sued closed by your “tolerant and diversity loving” gay friends, will open again with the sounds of sinners NOT “proud” to be sinners.
Being a Christian is far more than being able to just pronounce the word “love” correctly.
Not one Apostle agrees with your persepective. Read their works on the issues and see. You’ll find them in the New Testament.



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Jillian

posted June 28, 2007 at 8:10 am


Yes, some things rarely change. These projections and fantasies with all the oh-so-righteous in depth indulgence in the lurid but irrelevant are quite familiar. So is the passive-aggressive victimized majority persecution complex.
I see we identify the nature of the crime perpetrated at Sodom differently, and you seem unfamiliar with the archaeological evidence that says the Book of Exodus did not happen in a literal sense (I believe it is truthful events written together to form largely an allegory of great value). To read the letters of Paul properly, he barely agrees with letting men and women marry and procreate- he’d prefer if they didn’t do it at all, really. He’s greatly concerned with spiritual aspect of marriage, but its aspect of social form is deficient- or, likely, secondary to him. He’s not one for permitting divorce (nor is Jesus), yet Christians generally respect but nonetheless reject that policy these days.
Despite that problem, you propose that Pauline and other apostolic authority in social matters is in some fashion, well, authoritative regarding homosexuality. Sorry, the inconsistency of authority about divorce and homosexuality you want is too large to accept as is. I do like Paul and sympathize with his fundamental view- there is a linkage between celibacy, simplicity, and spiritual growth he is very protective and an advocate of. But Paul’s rules simply don’t accommodate the very immature, the very troubled, or socially truly marginalized people well. That was not a great problem in his time, but in our time and society that amounts to several million people who find themselves mismatched with his rules, mismatched in ways in which no effort of will or patience or prayer helps them for long.
As for the various Biblical passages about objectionable sexual practices and abuses, just about all of that refers to practices and social arrangements that, to the fairminded, just aren’t pertinent. They’re about as relevant to the merits of same sex marriage as the existence of heterosexual prostitution, oral sex, sexual slavery, and polygamy are to the merits of heterosexual marriage. The rest amounts to a minor Biblical version of the ‘natural’ versus ‘unnatural’ (e.g. “abomination”) dispute, which to my reading is not dwelt on by either the Old or New Testament writers. (You need at least two competing deities to create and justify the distinction theologically. Judaism rejects the premise of more than one deity.)
As concerns love and Divine Love, or the Law of Love, I can’t say that I feel you have demonstrated enough understanding of them or life guided by them to be able to critique much of anyone here. Some can speak of them all from experience, often daily experience. It is somehow telling- and highly insulting- that you imagine we have no standards here, that we have not tested our beliefs in service and in prayer, in joy and in tears, for many years until all demands of integrity and clarity and conscience were met. Until marks of authenticity became evident and inmistakeable. As if that had not been our first and foremost concern with the matter throughout.
Why don’t you come visit us sometime? Come visit some of the hundreds of girls and boys with two mommies, and see for yourself how boringly normal their upbringings and lives are.
You could also come see the statue of Mary Dyer at our State House, the heroic missionary woman who the Puritans had to hang in 1660 and whose treatment and fate in substantial part resulted in the end of their reign and the language of the First Amendment. She set the example that, to me, explains Massachusetts’s unique role and singular toughness in the social evolution of the country.
Donny, let me invite you to live your faith more fully. Let the Lord take care of the Divine Order of the World. He needs and desires far more of your help in the tasks His Son laid out in the Sermon On The Mount.



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Thomas

posted June 29, 2007 at 2:42 am


I wonder…
Who does have the right to bring an unconstitutional federal expenditure before the court?
Are not expenses for any charities unconstitutional federal expenditures, faith-based or not?
Why are government charity funds dumped on the market of giving? Is this an attempt to take away “it is more blessed to give than to receive”? Is this to make givers feel puny?
Why are Christian charities rushing out to take the adictive drug that leads to government control?
Which is worse, Bush’s pathetic failure or the grand promises?
How did Bush get this discretion?
Don’t charities already have too much government control? And does the govenment have too much influence on the giving of individuals?
Is govenment charatible funding a kind of forced giving, a sort of oxymoron?



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