Tag Archives: religion

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!


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.


Yep, he said it!

Yikes! Aack! What the … ?

I don’t know quite what to say other than to post a quote attributed to the 45th president of the U.S. of A.

He said the following: “Nobody has done more for Christianity or for evangelicals or for religion itself than I have.”

I guess I could add a “wow!”

Donald J. Trump’s hold on the evangelical Christian movement continues to baffle me. It also enrages me. He is the least moral man ever occupy the office of POTUS.

He is a liar, an admitted philanderer, an admitted sexual assailant. He has done “more for Christianity” than any other human being? Did he say that to a religious broadcaster? I presume so.

Well, there is this notion, that he would order businesses to wish their customers “Merry Christmas.” Do you remember that?

Sickening in the extreme.


It’s the clumsiness of it

I believe I have discerned why Donald Trump’s hideous photo-op at the Episcopal church near the White House has played so badly in the public’s mind.

This individual is so transparently phony!

It’s the clumsiness of that appearance and the obvious intent of his seeking to be photographed brandishing a Bible that has roiled the public mind.

He went to the church after delivering a stunningly grim national message, vowing to call up the military to put down demonstrations against the death of George Floyd, the man who died in Minneapolis after being asphyxiated by the cops.

He said he had “thousands and thousands of heavily armed troops” at his disposal to follow his orders to put down the demonstrators.

Then he traipsed off to the church. He held the Bible in front of the sign. He let photographers take pictures of him. Then he went away.

It was such an obviously blatant and empty gesture that offended many Christians and people of other faiths that he would use a church in such a hideous manner. There was not a single subtlety that could be interpreted.

And yet … there remain those who think he just is the leader we need in this time of dire peril.

Simply astonishing.

Disgraceful example of pandering

Words damn near fail me as I seek some understanding of what I witnessed Monday from the president of the United States of America.

Donald Trump delivered some chilling remarks about how he intends to deal with those who protest violently in response to the death of George Floyd, the man who died when Minneapolis police officers choked the life out of him. Trump vowed to bring the force of the U.S. military to bear on those who vandalize private property.

Then, trailing the advance guard of police officers in Washington, D.C., who cleared out some peaceful protesters near the White House, Trump traipsed over to John’s Episcopal Parish House that had been damaged in a riot the previous day. He was carrying a Bible, a book I am certain he hasn’t read.

He stood before the church — with its boarded-up windows and doors — and posed for pictures. He stood there for about 90 seconds brandishing the Holy Book, holding up over his head, staring down at it, looking oh, so solemn and somber.

The rector of the church, the Bishop Mariann Budde, called it a disgraceful display of political posturing. She said she is horrified that Donald Trump would use the church where she preaches as a political prop in that fashion.

Given the juxtaposition of Donald Trump’s message and his appearance at the historic church, I have to endorse Bishop Budde’s view that we all witnessed one of the most callous, callow and shallow displays of political pandering many of us have ever seen.

It was made even worse by the belief among  millions of us that Donald Trump — unquestionably the most amoral man ever to hold the office of president — has not a scintilla of understanding of just how Jesus Christ himself would view what the rest of us saw.

It was disgusting in the extreme.

Listen up! No politics in church!

I have sought to follow a time-honored credo, which is that I don’t discuss politics or my work while I am in church.

My response usually goes like this when someone would challenge something I wrote in the newspaper where I worked at the time: I came here to talk to God, not to you … about my work; call me in the morning, then we’ll chat.

We have relocated in the past year to a lovely community in Collin County, Texas. We have found a new church where we like to worship each Sunday. It’s a small congregation, but it fulfills our need. Everyone is welcoming, warm, hospitable and the place is full of love.

However … we have run into individuals who like to talk politics with us, or I presume just about anyone who’ll listen. It wouldn’t surprise you to learn that the congregation is a pretty conservative bunch, which is all right with me. That’s their call. I adhere to, um, a different point of view.

Thus, when one of our new friends decides to engage us in a political discussion, I am inclined to nudge them away. I change the subject. I haven’t yet offered up my longstanding retort. Hey, I don’t know them well enough yet. Perhaps over time, they’ll get the hint and I won’t need to drop the verbal hammer on ’em.

If not, I am ready to put them into what I perceive to be their place.

Founders got this one precisely correct

I posted an item on High Plains Blogger that sought to explain that the U.S. Constitution need not state matters in black and white for issues to remain relevant.

My particular target dealt with a statement in a column published in the Amarillo Globe-News that the words “separation of church and state” are not in the Constitution, as if to suggest that there really is no “separation.” Well, there is.

Here is what I wrote:


I want to reiterate a point I’ve made a time or three already.

It is that the founding fathers did not create a perfect governing document, but on the issue of church/state separation, they got that part perfectly.

They didn’t liberate the slaves when they drafted the Constitution. They didn’t give women the right to vote.

However, on the issue of whether to establish a secular state, they hit it out of the park. They sought to form a government that did not dictate how people should worship. They gave us the right to worship as we please, or not worship at all.

The First Amendment contains four elements: a free press, the freedom of speech, the ability to seek redress of grievances against the government and of religion.

Of those four elements, the founders listed the religion part first.

Does that suggest to you that the founders’ stipulation in the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ” was the most important civil liberty they wanted to protect?

That’s how I interpret it.

The founders’ direct ancestors fled religious persecution in Europe and they damn sure insisted that it must not happen in the United States of America.

Earth to Judge Moore: Read the Constitution

Roy Moore went to law school, has served on the Alabama Supreme Court and I must presume has actually read the U.S. Constitution.

The Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, though, has blathered ridiculously about whether Muslims should be able to serve in the U.S. Congress.

I am left to utter a simple “ugh.”

Moore says, for instance, that U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., should be barred from serving simply because he is Muslim. The candidate’s idiocy has been challenged by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who earlier had announced his backing of Moore to join him in the Senate.

Moore is demonstrating a breathtaking ignorance about the Constitution, which states quite clearly that there shall be “no religious test” for anyone seeking or holding public office. It means that no one’s faith should become a litmus test for their qualifications to serve in public life.

There once was a time when Catholics were scorned because of their faith. Mormons continue to battle that stigma. As for Muslims, they are considered the dreaded “enemy” of Americans. Yep even those who also happen to be Americans.

Cornyn disagrees with Moore

Roy Moore is furthering the cause of bigotry with his belief Ellison’s faith should bar him from serving the country.

Sen. Cornyn said he disagrees with Moore’s statement about Ellison and whether Muslims should serve. But his statement does sound rather tepid, in that he doesn’t say what I believe he should say — which is that Roy Moore’s ignorance of our nation’s governing framework makes him unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Trump crosses yet another line


I cannot let this one go with just a single post on this blog.

Here I go again. Donald J. Trump has crossed yet another in an endless array of lines one mustn’t cross as he campaigns for president of the United States.

The presumed Republican presidential nominee questioned the faith of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

How in the name of all that is holy does this man have the gall/stones/hubris/guts to question anyone’s religious faith?

This is beyond every possible example of good taste imaginable. Then again, it’s Donald Trump saying it, which makes it OK to those who have glommed on to his candidacy. They, too, question whether Hillary Clinton is an actual Methodist, which she’s been saying for years — decades, actually — was how she was raised.


How does this clown profess to know what’s in another person’s heart? How does he get away with this kind of out-and-out pandering?

He spoke today to a gathering of religious conservatives, evangelical Christians who are trying to size this guy up.

Trump took advantage of the forum to question whether Clinton’s faith is authentic.


I won’t predict this will be the latest “fatal mistake” of this man’s presidential campaign. He’s made countless other such errors already, only to emerge stronger than before he committed them.

However, so help me, this guy just keeps demonstrating how unfit he is to become president of the United States of America.

'Originalist' view is mistaken

Count me as among those who acknowledge that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is brilliant.

The man knows the law. Does he know the U.S. Constitution? Well, sure he does. He was selected by President Reagan in 1986 to interpret the nation’s founding document and he’s still on the job.

OK, I’ve acknowledged the obvious.

Now I wish to take issue with his view that the document isn’t a living one that should adapt to change in society.


Scalia said recently that it’s OK for the courts to favor religion over non-religion. He said the founders were religious men who meant for God to play a role in government. He said the Constitution guarantees “freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

We’re fine, so far.

Then he said he prefers to look at the Constitution in its original form, as the drafters of it intended — in the 18th century.

He doesn’t like the “living Constitution” view, saying that only “idiots” believe such a thing.


Can’t the Constitution be adapted to the present day while preserving the principles laid out by the nation’s founders? Sure it can. The Second Amendment, the awkwardly written passage that guarantees the right to “keep and bear arms,” is an example.

Could the framers have envisioned the type of weaponry that has been developed since the Second Amendment was drafted and ratified? Could they have foreseen assault weapons that can kill, oh, 10 or so individuals in a matter of a few seconds? I’m betting they didn’t sit around and wonder: “All right, gentlemen, before we finalize this amendment, should we set aside a provision for the time when gang members will outgun the police on city streets teeming with drugs?” No, they couldn’t predict the future.

But the future has arrived and the “next future” is right around the corner. It’s left, then, for those who live in the here and now to wonder if the Constitution — as written — still is relevant to today’s circumstance.

It isn’t in some instances.

I still honor and respect Justice Scalia’s intellect and knowledge. I just dispute his interpretation of what he knows so well.