Category Archives: religious news

Protecting all civil liberties

“Well, the radical left believes that the freedom of religion is the freedom from religion. But it’s nothing the American founders ever thought of or generations of Americans fought to defend.”

The comment here is attributed to former Vice President Mike Pence, as if that’s any surprise.

I want to take a brief moment to challenge the ex-VPOTUS’s assertion.

When I took my oath upon being inducted into the U.S. Army in 1968, I presumed in the moment that I was going to protect the U.S. Constitution. That means all of the civil liberties enshrined in the document. One of those liberties includes the First Amendment’s protection against the government imposing a state religion.

Pence to revisit religious freedom act – High Plains Blogger (wordpress.com)

The amendment does in fact guarantee citizens the right to avoid religion if that is their choice. It isn’t mine, but I have no right to presume that every American should follow my lead. They are free to worship whatever or not worship any religious deity.

Are we clear? Good!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We are free from religion!

I want to express my outrage at politicians who continue to insist that the United States is a Christian nation and that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee that we are guaranteed to free ourselves from religion of any stripe.

There. I just did express my intense anger.

Too many pols keep insisting that their Christian devotion is good enough for everyone. Therefore, they advocate foisting Christian beliefs on students in public schools.

There can be no greater perversion of what the Constitution lays out there than the idiocy being pitched by the likes of, oh, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

She recently declared that this country is a Christian nation. It is nothing of the sort. The First Amendment to the Constitution spells out in clear, concise language that “Congress shall make no law” that establishes a state religion. As I have noted already on this blog, I cannot find a single mention of the words “Christian,” “Christianity” or “Jesus Christ.”

Boebert’s congressional wing woman, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, called herself a “Christian nationalist.” Thus, she is proud to foist her religious beliefs on every other American simply because she was elected to Congress.

The Constitution makes it abundantly clear — and the courts have affirmed it — that Americans are free to rely on the faith of their choice and that they also are free to be religion free.

It is not illegal in this country to be an atheist, or an agnostic.

Politicians who imply that it is illegal are as un-American as anyone in public life … and they should be tossed out of office.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Infidelity can scar for life

You see this circumstance crop up far more often than politicians care to admit. A pol declares himself or herself to be a “devout Christian” who wears his or her faith on both sleeves and plastered on the forehead.

Then their personal life becomes the subject of tittering and gossip.

That’s you, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor “What’s Her Name” Greene, the lunatic Republican from Georgia. She only recently declared herself to be a Christian nationalist. By golly, she’s devoted to the Bible, its teachings.

But … oops! Now comes word that her husband of 28 years is divorcing her. Their marriage is “irretrievably broken,” he said in papers filed in divorce court.

Oh, but there’s more. Reports are flying all over the place that Rep. What’s Her Name had a fling or two with men who aren’t her husband. I haven’t heard any categorical denial coming from the Georgia flamethrower. What am I — and others — to surmise? One notion might be that the reports of her extramarital tumbles are true.

So, here you go. Politicians who make these proclamations about their faith and, presumably, the sacred vows they take to their spouse open themselves up to even greater scrutiny when their lives take these sudden turns.

Ya gotta walk the walk, Rep. What’s Her Name … not just talk about it.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Prayer in school? Save it for church

You hear the refrain all the time, that society went to hell when the U.S. Supreme Court took prayer away from teachers and students in our public schools.

To which I say: nonsense!

For starters, I do not believe society has gone to hell. For critics of modern life, though, to assign blame for such an idiotic notion to a single court decision simply fails to look through a wide enough lens.

The SCOTUS ruled in the early 1960s that reciting prayers in public schools violated the First Amendment clause that prohibits the establishment of a “state religion.” Let’s be candid and clear about something: The prayers we all talk about are Christian prayers, which always end with a phrase that references “Jesus’s name.”

As I’ve tried to note, the Constitution doesn’t allow for Christian prayers, or Jewish prayers, or Muslim prayers in public schools. If we accept that public schools are products of local government — and I most certainly do — then public school systems are not exempt from the constitutional prohibitions laid out.

I also understand the “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” arguments that come from those who want to restore prayer in public schools. I happen to view those terms in broad terms. “Religious freedom and liberty” can be interpreted to mean that one is “free from religion” and is “liberated” from it, too.

Invariably I fall back on the notion to which I have subscribed my entire adult life. I am all for religion. I am a practicing Christian. I just want to save my prayer time for my own private moments … and for Sunday, when I’m sitting in church.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Carter walks the walk … of faith

This social media meme showed up today and it serves as a reminder of how great men and women can — and do — become models for others to emulate.

President Jimmy Carter, as near as I can recall, never has felt the need to bellow or bluster about his Christian faith. He merely practices it every waking minute of every day.

If only others in public life could or would follow the standard that Jimmy Carter has set. He has built houses for poor people; he has taught Sunday school classes at his hometown church in Plains, Ga. He lives a quiet life with his wife of 75-plus years, Rosalynn.

I just saw this today and want to offer a salute and tribute to the 39th president of the United States. President Carter’s quiet example of living a life of faith in God should inspire all of us.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your service to the country and for your service to all of humankind.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Christian nationalism? Ugh!

Christian nationalism is clawing its way back onto the political stage. If you’ll pardon my seeming hysteria, but … this notion frightens me.

Why? Well, the United States of America — despite the lies put forward by Christian nationalists — is not a Christian nation.

I have looked everywhere throughout the U.S. Constitution for the words “Jesus Christ,” or “Christian,” or “Chistianity.” I’ll be deep-friend and slathered in butter, but I cannot find any of those terms. Nowhere. The Constitution does not mention any of them. Not one time!

Why do you suppose that’s the case? It is because the nation’s founders were descended directly from those in Europe who fled religious persecution. They also fled governments that demanded that they worship a certain way.

Let’s also stipulate for the umpteenth time that the First Amendment to the Constitution declares that “Congress shall make no law” that establishes a state religion. Got it? Good!

Not everyone gets it, though. Take the recent blathering of the QAnon queen herself, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who said that she is a “nationalist” and also a “Christian.” Therefore, she said, “I am a Christian nationalist.”

She’s also stupidly misrepresenting the oath she took when she entered Congress in January 2021. The oath does not specify allegiance to a deity, let alone a Christian deity.

We must keep a watchful eye on Christian nationalists. They are a frightening bunch.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Church and state are separate … period!

Lauren Boebert must believe she knows something that’s lost on practically every American alive today, given that the nation’s founders created a government more than two centuries ago, long before any of us were around.

The Colorado Republican congresswoman made a patently preposterous assertion recently. She said: “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. That is not how our Founding Fathers intended it. I am tired of this separation-of-church-and-state junk.”

Well …

She made the comment at a church service. Imagine that, eh?

Let me spell out what I believe the founders intended. They intended to create a secular governing document, one that does not answer to the dictates of spiritual teaching. The First Amendment, for example, contains several civil liberties the government protects. The first one mentioned — and this is important — deals with religion.

The amendment declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ” I want to call attention to the fact that the founders thought enough of that clause to make it the first one mentioned in the First Amendment to the nation’s government document.

Boebert’s ignorant statement about “separation-of-church-and-state junk” reminds me of a mantra a former Amarillo Globe-News colleague of mine used to recite. He kept insisting that since the Constitution doesn’t mention church-state separation specifically that it doesn’t really exist. I had to remind him that the courts have held over the course of two centuries that the First Amendment’s meaning intends to keep the church out of government’s business. Just because the Constitution doesn’t declare in so many words that the church cannot mingle in state business doesn’t make it less true.

So it is with nimrods such as Lauren Boebert, who in her brief time in Congress has managed to stand out as a spokeswoman for some truly wacky notions.

I tend to interpret the Constitution the same way I interpret my Bible, in that I am inclined to take a broad, expansive view of what both documents mean.

It’s my right to do so. The Constitution speaks clearly to it in that First Amendment.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Public policy = taxation

Here’s a thought I want to share: If religious organizations are going to bully public officials into following certain policy positions, then they need to be taxed liked any other business.

The San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese has declared its intention to deny House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — a devout Catholic — communion because of her pro-choice stance on abortion.

Hold on!

Pelosi’s position on abortion is well-known and has been reported on since before she became a member of Congress. The SF archdiocese, though, has sniffed out an opportunity to make some extra hay over the issue because of that draft Supreme Court opinion that suggests the court is set to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

Speaker Pelosi shouldn’t be denied a sacred religious sacrament because of a public policy dispute she might have with the leaders of the church of which she has been a lifelong member.

I should point out, too, that members of Congress, as do virtually members of the federal government, take oaths of loyalty to the Constitution, not to the Bible or any other holy book. The last time I checked, which wasn’t long ago, I determined for the umpteenth time that the Constitution is a secular document.

The Church is treading on a slippery and dangerous slope by denying the speaker the opportunity to partake in holy communion.

But if the Church is allowed to get away with this kind of bullying, then there needs to be a serious debate and a decision on requiring religious organizations to share in the tax burden that falls on the rest of us.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

First Amendment revisited

Let’s take a quick second look at the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in light of a decision the Supreme Court is likely to deliver about a former high school football coach who lost his job because he wanted to pray on the field after games.

Joe Kennedy, a former coach at Bremerton (Wash.) High School, has seen this case make all the way to the top of the judicial food chain.  His prayers drew criticism from those who said it violated the Constitution’s ban on state-sanctioned religion.

OK, back to the amendment. It sets four liberties for protection; it calls for a free press, freedom to assemble peaceably, to petition the government for gripes … and it has a religion clause.

It says, specifically, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ”

The framers set the religion matter first among those liberties. Why? Because their direct forebears had fled Europe’s religious mandate. They created a secular state in the New World. The other provisions came secondary to the religious one.

It does trouble me, therefore, that someone would complain about a coach praying on the field, which is his right as a U.S. citizen. The athletes who joined him in prayer? They weren’t forced to do it. The coach didn’t threaten them with losing their playing time if they decided against praying.

Common sense would seem to dictate that the young athletes were free to do what they felt like doing. Common sense also tells me the framers had it right when they lined out the prohibition against establishing a state religion as the first civil liberty to be protected.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let the coach pray

This is one of those issues that makes my public-policy heartburn flare up, so here goes a shot at trying to make sense of something.

Joseph Kennedy was a football coach at Bremerton (Wash.) High School. He once knelt in prayer at the 50-yard line, thanking the Almighty for keeping the players safe. A few players then joined him, voluntarily. The players and the coach would pray after games.

Then word got out that he was doing it. News spread around the school district. I guess someone took issue with it, contending it violated the First Amendment prohibition against Congress establishing a state religion.

Now the case is going to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What a crock!

I do not understand why this case even is being discussed. The coach lost his job over his praying on the field. He moved to Florida.

“It seems so simple to me: It’s a guy taking a knee by himself on the 50-yard-line, which to me doesn’t seem like it needs a rocket scientist or a Supreme Court justice to figure out,” he told CBS News. “I didn’t want to cause any waves, and the thing I wanted to do was coach football and thank God after the game.”

Then we have this response: “When a coach uses the power of his job to be in a place and have access to students at a time when they’re expected to encircle him and come to him, that’s an abuse of that power and a violation of the Constitution,” Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told CBS News’ Jan Crawford. “Religious freedom is not the right to impose your religion on others. We all need to have it, so that’s why the free exercise and establishment clause work together to protect religious freedom for all of us.”

Imposing religion? Wow!

After losing his job for praying on the field, ex-high school football coach Joe Kennedy brings case to Supreme Court – CBS News

As I understand it, the coach didn’t demand players pray with him; it was strictly voluntary. Nor do I believe he preached New Testament Gospel lessons. Which makes me wonder if Jewish, Buddhist or Muslim students could pray to “God” in the same fashion as their Christian teammates.

There is no “sanctioning” of a religion occurring in these prayers. Is there?

Well, the SCOTUS is going to hear the case. My hunch is that the court’s 6-3 super-conservative-majority is going to find that Coach Kennedy violated no constitutional prohibition.

I am OK with that. Let the coach pray.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com