Congress shall make no law

In reading some of the articles from major media sources regarding Obama’s “historic” speech, all I can say is thank God for the First Amendment!  To give you a sample of what I’ve seen online, take a look at this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The article says Obama’s “historic” speech has “elevated the discussion about the issue to the point where it has worked itself into the pews and pulpits of Bay Area churches.”

Now I don’t have a problem with churches espousing a particular political view, and I don’t have a problem with the government staying out of regulating what can be said in churches, but I do have a problem when churches want it both ways.  Churches want to be able to talk politics in church, but they also want to remain tax exempt.  Pick one.

Go ahead and endorse candidates and issues from the pulpit if you want – but you should lose your tax exempt status.  Stick to religion and there’s no problem.

I remember back in 1984 (when I still went to church) the Catholic church I attended issued “voter guides” comparing Reagan and Mondale.  The guide looked at various issues such as where the candidates stood on abortion, the death penalty, welfare, etc.  So far so good….

The problem was that the voter guide made it crystal clear which candidate the Catholic Church wanted to have as president.  From reading the voters guide, it was obvious that the Catholic Church was endorsing Reagan.

They have obviously gotten a bit smarter regarding the political processsince then, as the Catholic Church now has a guide to allowable political activity published on their website.  I would hope that any church (of any religious denomination) would do something similar.  If they cross the line, then they are no longer tax exempt.

You can’t have it both ways – either you stay out of politics (in return for the government staying out of your business) or you go into politics and the government gets to go into your business.

This distinction is not a theoretical argument – it’s what separates this country from all others in the world.  We were the first to GUARANTEE religious freedom to our citizens.  Look at what’s happening today in Tibet, Iraq, even Denmark to see what happens when the government is allowed to interfere with religion.

But you can turn that argument around too – look at what happens when religion gets involved in politics.  Iran, the Balkins, Afghanistan, and most of the Middle East are repressive regimes where you can be legally killed for worshipping – or not worshipping – at the wrong altar.

I posted my views on the Second Amendment a few days ago, and my views on the First Amendment are similar.  The Constitution does not in anyway restrict the rights of the people – it delegates certain rights to the government.  Read the First Amendment:

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.

Seems pretty clear cut to me.  I wonder if the monks in Tibet wish they had something like that as a guarantee….

gk

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