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Religion, Facebook and Employment

by: DocJess

Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:44:32 AM EDT

You might think it would be difficult to merge the three topics in the title but really, not so hard. This is a religious weekend for many people (Happy Passover! Happy Easter!) and like many people, I have seen both friends and family. One of the topics that came up was Facebook. I  have friends and family who are not on Facebook, and it turns out one of the reasons that some people either avoid Facebook, or use a fake name, is because employers might ask to see their feed. That issue of turning over one's Facebook ID and password to potential employers made it to the House last week, and all the Republicans voted against banning the practice. Really.

Facebook is supposed to be a place where you can chat amoungst your friends and family, share pieces of your life, and promote your beliefs. I have some Facebook friends who are incredibly religious and post all sorts of things with which I personally don't agree, but I know these folks, and know that their beliefs do not in any way preclude them from being able to work, and work hard, in their chosen professions. While there are all sorts of protests about the amount of personal information Facebook shares with advertisers, even Facebook is opposed to sharing your information with your employer, or potential employer. I look at my own page: any employer would note that I'm crazy for my puppy, I play Words with Friends (not during working hours), and oh yeah, I have some political beliefs. Silly me, I thought that was protected by that freedom of speech thing. On my personal feed, there are no naked pictures, no porn, nothing involving drinking or drugs, no gang activity. Nothing, absolutely NOTHING untoward. 

However, I have young cousins, g-children and children of friends who cannot say the same. In college and at a party and OMG! holding a drink, even though said "kids" are 21 and are allowed to hoist a beer on a Saturday night. I actually do not know anyone who has never had an alcoholic beverage. If I were an employer (and I have, at times in my life been one) I wonder what I would think of what some people post on their feeds....and then I stop that thought, because I know it's not my business as a potential employer to care what any potential employee of mine does in his off-hours. The issue should be how well he would do the job. But I'm not everyone.

I'm worried about young people and their employment: they're the future, and they are getting truly slammed in this economy, you know, the one without an industrial policy. I posted a few months back:

From 1960 to 2009, the number of working-age men with full-time jobs fell from 83 percent to 66 percent. In Philadelphia, half of all young adults are unemployed, but three in 10 young men ages 25 to 34 had stopped looking for work before the recession hit.  

And now we honestly know why: something called mal-employment, when an entry level job goes to someone with far too much education and experience for that position, freezing out people who honestly are entry level. There is a fascinating article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer on the topic, replete with anecdotes and lots of statistics. Turns out that people really DO want to work, it's not that they're lazy, or not looking. 

"When a job is repetitious or rule-based, some smart engineer can devise some kind of algorithm to handle the work, sharply reducing the need for people with high school diplomas or less," said Drexel's Harrington. [...]

Why should Ken Dubin, owner of the Dubin Group, a Bala Cynwyd recruiting company, hire a high school grad to be a receptionist when he is able to employ a young woman with a master's degree in organizational development who is educated, articulate, intelligent, personable?

When someone with a master's degree works in admin, where does that leave the articulate, intelligent, personable high school graduate, who might also be capable of handling the job?

A Rutgers survey of college graduates from 2006 to 2010 found that just over half of recent college graduates were working full time, and half of them work in jobs that don't require a college degree.

And so there you have it. 

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

The Ash Wednesday Debate

by: DocJess

Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 05:59:35 AM EST

I've lost count, but the umpteenth debate is tonight. It's Ash Wednesday, and I'm wondering if Spawn of Satan will have ashes on his forehead. Rick's made a big deal out of religion, and has been a driving force in the fake "religious wars" - so I'm wondering HOW Catholic he'll be tonight.

I'm not saying this to be snarky. (Yeah, maybe a little, but it's really not the point.) Religion is a big deal to Rick Santorum. It wasn't always, but it is now. He actually used to be pro-choice, which is a rational position, but not a Catholic-Catholic position. I'm looking forward to watching him tonight: if he can maintain some semblance of apparent sanity, it will bolster his position in both Arizona and Michigan. He kinda sorta has to go after Mittens because doing so might throw Mitt off what's left of his game, and that would be bad for Mitt and good for everyone else, and religion and taking money from the Federal government BECAUSE of religion might be a place he can jab.

Here's the thing. I agree with Michael Moore, who spoke at length on Rachel's show the other night of how much he, and many other Michiganders, had liked George and Lenore Romney for their work, their contributions, and their decency. (He left unsaid how they're probably turning in their graves over how Mitt turned out.) But there's no doubt that the reason George was born in Mexico was because his father Gaskell and his mother, and Gaskell's two other plural wives, had fled across the border when polygamy was outlawed with a bunch of other Mormons. Gaskell took the equivalent of several million dollars in aid from both the American and Mexican governments to fund the family's lifestyle. So it's a stretch, but if Rick can find a way to bring up that sort of information it would go a long way to driving home the narrative to the far right that Mormons are "not like them". Not that all the Mormons are completely thrilled with Mittens. A number of Hispanic Mormons are actively working against him because of his current stance on immigration. 

It's doubtful that Newt will wear ashes tonight. He's a Catholic, but in the same way that he's had three wives, he's also had three religions, Catholicism coming after being a Lutheran and prior to that a Southern Baptist. Likely, he doesn't want to talk religion. 

In case anyone asks, Ron Paul is either a Lutheran, Episcopalian or Baptist. Sorta. Ron's actual religion is "libertarianism" - and he's all over the place on organized religion, although he considers himself a man of faith.

Call me crazy, but I believe religion has no place in politics. It's a distraction, and often those who are "severely religious" end up being pedophile priests, evangelicals caught with hookers (male or female) or embroiled in affairs. The Republicans should be talking about their actual proposals for things like jobs, employment, climate change, taxes, etc., etc., etc., but instead they make war on women, the elderly, the poor and minorities. 

And yes, it's fun for us liberals to watch. 

I've been saying all along that Spawn can't get the nomination, and I still stand by that. If he really racks up delegates, I wouldn't put it past Karl Rove to get Dick Cheney to take Rick duck hunting. They're that opposed to him getting the nomination. Difference between Karl and me is that I would love for Rick to get the nomination: running against someone who wants to outlaw public education funds and contraception and aid programs AND used to sit on the board of UHC....a DREAM candidate from a Democratic perspective. Plus, the longer he stays in, the more damaged Mittens becomes. 

Sadly, if they all flame out, we're looking at Jeb Bush. He keeps saying no, no, hell no, but I could see him making a speech which includes "...for my country, I respectfully accede to the will of the people...." Four more years of a bush???? My skin crawls. We're also going to hear the names Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels and John Thune. I'm pretty sure that Chris Christie really would say no: he's mean and he's ugly to the core, but he's smart and 2016 is a better year for him.

Still, the process rolls on. And I'm personally not taking the delegate numbers seriously. There are still county conventions and state conventions, and I think everyone is underestimating the placement of Paul people at those gatherings. I don't believe he'll be the nominee, but he'll come to Tampa with a lot of influence on the eventual nominee. Remember that the GOP can't just pick a name out of a hat, they've got to have human bodies to stand on the floor and vote support. 

For now, it's just the Ash Wednesday debate. Kettle corn at my house....

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Free Speech in America, Christmas 2011

by: DocJess

Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 05:49:50 AM EST

Start with this quote:

"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies."

We'll come back to the man who penned those sentences. Be sure, though, that the author was a huge fan not just of religious freedom, but of the right of Americans to disavow religion. He was also dedicated to the separation of church and state in all regards. Here's another quote from him:

Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.

Travel with me now to Santa Monica, California. For something like 60 years, there have been 21 display spots around the city, in city-owned parks, which housed creches and other Christmas-themed displays. Not this year. In general, people would apply for a slot and get one. This year, there were so many requests that Santa Monica held a lottery. 18 of 21 spots were won by atheists. 

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said the Santa Monica situation was “one of the cutest success stories of the season.” This year, the Wisconsin-based group has put up its own version of a manger in the Wisconsin State Capitol, with Einstein, Darwin and Emma Goldman standing as the wise men and a black female doll as the featured infant. Source.

There you have freedom of speech in Santa Monica and Madison (which of course you knew was the capital of Wisconsin). Also, freedom of religion, as the right to NOT believe in any specific religion is as critical as being allowed to believe in the religion of one's choice.

Not everyone in California is on board with the whole freedom of speech thing. In Los Angeles, Chief Deputy City Atty. William Carter has decreed that any arrested Occupy protester with no criminal record will have the misdemeanor charges dropped if they pay money to a private company and take a course from that company in, wait for it, FREE SPEECH. I'm not joking.

So as we go through the silly discussion of whether to say "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Chrismakwansaka" or even, my favourite from a pair of salt and pepper shakers, Seasonings Greetings, remember how important freedom of speech is. For the season, for the Occupy Movement, for ALL of us. Freedom has been, throughout history, a cause worth dying for. 

Let's go back to those first two quotes and the man who wrote them. The first is from a letter, the second is from a state statute he wrote.....he requested, prior to his death, that the following appear on his tombstone:

Here was buried Thomas Jefferson,
author of the Declaration of American Independence,
of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom,
and father of the University of Virginia.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Just Good Fun?

by: SarahLawrence Scott

Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 07:00:00 AM EDT

Imagine this: a politician bursts on to the national scene. When in school, this politician had contact with a faith that it is unusual for Americans--less than 2% of Americans subscribe to it (less than 1% by many estimates). The religion, however, is growing rapidly--it has been cited as the most rapidly growing faith in the United States. Most Americans have little accurate knowledge of the faith, but the adherents are widely stereotyped. Books presenting the religion in a favorable light are banned or burned.

The politician is the person who initially brings up the association, mentioning it publicly. When asked about it, the politician shrugs off the association, asserting that they are Christian but not considering the earlier contact to be dastardly or disqualifying.

The label, however, sticks, particularly among those opposed politically. Usually, the label is applied to the politician in a humorous fashion--silly images of the person in stereotyped costumes (which are often quite inaccurate), or as ironic titles or nicknames.

Is this OK? Do we have a responsibility, regardless of our political views, to speak out? 

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 92 words in story)

Love and Hate

by: DocJess

Tue Aug 24, 2010 at 06:16:18 AM EDT

I've been thinking a lot about hatred and bigotry, in light of the comments on this post. It seems that we all have some latent, if not blatant, inherent bigotry. Last night, Scott posted a link to Ron Paul's comments about why Park51 should be allowed near Ground Zero. Scott picked one quote, I pick this one:

Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam--the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. 

I have been thinking about my lifelong, absolute, defense of First Amendment rights. In case you have forgotten, there are five: 

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.

And yet, I am somehow disquieted.  It's because of the Preamble to the Constitution, which says:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (emphasis mine)

What do we say about religions, and religious "idealism" that deny liberty to those amoungst us? How do we balance the right to practice one's religion when members try to force some parts of that religion down other people's throats? 

Much more after the jump. 

There's More... :: (9 Comments, 635 words in story)

Americans Prove Themselves Stupid, Again

by: DocJess

Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 07:35:31 AM EDT

Yesterday, Scott posted:

Yet another poll has demonstrated the religious tolerance of most Americans, and I guarantee that yet again almost no one will report it that way.

He cited the Time poll in which 47% of Americans believe Obama to be a Christian, and 24% believe him to be a Muslim. I had seen a different poll, and here is what Pew found: 





















There are several differences between the polls: first, Abt SRBI (for Time) phoned 1,002 adults after the mosque comments. Pew interviewed 3.0003 adults prior to the mosque comments. In addition, Pew has been doing this poll on a semi-regular basis, so they have in-house historical data. And it's astounding: the percentage of Americans who believe Obama is a Christian (WHICH HE IS!!!) has dropped over the past two years from about half to about a third, while the number of morons who believe him to be a Muslim has risen by 50% from 12% to 18%. Almost half of all Americans chose "don't know". Religious tolerance? Given a score card, these folks STILL can't tell the players. 

After the Jeremiah Wright imbroglio, after the photos of Obama and family attending church, after everything he's said, and people still "don't know". And what could be included in "don't know"? Do they think he's Jewish? An atheist? Is it possible they actually believe he's a Muslim but don't want to admit it? To the right is a slightly out-of-date Gallup poll on how people view religions. 

From that list, Methodists, Catholics, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and Mormons all fall under "Christian". PLEASE don't tell me people think Obama is a Scientologist. It would seemingly drop his approval rating more than anything else. As an aside, the Gallup result seems to indicate Mittens might have a problem.

And honestly, I don't understand it. Personally, I believe that the less religion is tied to government, the better. Go for a seriously religious government, and you've got Saudi Arabia. Or Afghanistan. Or a host of others. 




There is only one way I can think of to settle this "Is President Obama a Muslim" question, and it will never happen. Also, it depends on a big "if". It's even ridiculous on its face. Muslims require ritual circumcision. If Obama isn't....I'll leave it at that. 

Discuss :: (16 Comments)

(Most) Americans are Religiously Tolerant

by: SarahLawrence Scott

Thu Aug 19, 2010 at 18:00:00 PM EDT

Yet another poll has demonstrated the religious tolerance of most Americans, and I guarantee that yet again almost no one will report it that way.

In a recent survey by Time/CNN, only 47% believe Obama is a Christian...and he has a 46% approval rate! Since it is certainly the case that there are some who know Obama is Christian but don't approve of him anyway, that means he is getting significant approval from people who don't know he's Christian.

Think about that for a moment. 

Another result from the same survey: 55% of those surveyed would favor a Muslim community center and place of worship two blocks from their home--that's only 18% lower than the support a similar Jewish institution would get.

The result that 61% oppose "the building of the Muslim community center and mosque near where the World Trade Center stood" is, therefore, a complicated number to evaluate. Some of the opposition is from people who hold prejudices against Muslims. Some is from people who, in that region, want to defer to the sensitivities of people who lost loved ones on September 11. Some is probably from people who don't think centers connected to any religion should be built in the area (those people presumably don't understand how many churches, temples, and mosques are already there). And there may be other reasons as well--perhaps some people afraid of continued political backlash, for instance.

"Bias" and "tolerance" are sometimes tricky concepts to get at--46% of those surveyed did say that "the Islamic religion is more likely than other religions to encourage violence against nonbelievers" (reflecting confusion between the religion itself and current geopolitics) and there may be some people who answer differently to a pollster than they would at their kitchen table. Nevertheless, as in other surveys, it appears that most Americans understand and believe in our principles of religious tolerance. 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Church v State: Hastings and the Christians

by: DocJess

Wed Apr 21, 2010 at 06:41:45 AM EDT

The Supremes argued the Hastings College case on Monday. In the end, it's all going to come down to Anthony Kennedy. (Again, a reason to make sure that Obama nominates a liberal, but I digress.)

Here's the background: the Hastings College of Law is part of the University of California system, thus a public institution. The California schools have had a policy going back many years called "all comers" - that is, if you want to have a club on campus, and receive school funding, and meet on school property, you cannot discriminate against people who want to join your club.

In this case, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) wanted a club that excluded people. It didn't start out that way, but in 2004, CLS changed its charter to exclude gays and lesbians. The school cut off its funding, and CLS sued under the First Amendment rights of freedom of association and speech. 

It's wound its way through the courts, and is now in front of SCOTUS. As you can imagine, Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas are all in favour of discrimination; Stevens, Ginsberg, Breyer and Sotomayor viscerally opposed.

Some of the conversation:

CLS lawyer Michael McConnell opened by telling the court that Hastings' all-comers policy is a "frontal assault on freedom of association" and "the right to form around shared beliefs."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked: So what if a group "wanted to exclude all black people, all women, all handicapped persons?" Are you saying the school would have to "give it funds and otherwise lend it space?"

"Not at all," McConnell responded. There is a difference between discrimination based on belief and discrimination based on status, he said. "We have only challenged the beliefs, not status."

Justice John Paul Stevens followed up: "What if the belief is that African-Americans are inferior?"

If belief is the basis for exclusion, then that is permissible, said McConnell. But exclusion based on status is not.

Justice Stephen Breyer suggested that figuring out the difference can be very difficult, so, he asked, what's wrong with the school just requiring any subsidized group to admit all comers, as Hastings has done?

That would mean, replied McConnell, "that if, for example, there is an NAACP chapter, it would have to allow a racist skinhead in."

It looks like Kennedy might vote the right way: 

"Your argument, at its most fundamental level, is that religious organizations are different because religion is all about belief." But, he continued, "don't we also have a tradition of separation? That's the whole reason why church and state, for many purposes, are kept separate, so that states are not implicated with religious beliefs."

McConnell replied that separation does not apply to private parties, even when they are operating on government property.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pushed the point. So, she asked, if this group believed that "only white men can lead the Bible studies, on your view, the school would have to give them a subsidy."

McConnell's response: "The freedom to believe is absolute."

This really is the crux of church v state: does "belief" which is a thought, not an action, take precedence over the rule of law, which says that government, and its monies, facilities, and associated institutions, may not discriminate?

To those of us on the side of truth and light, there is no question. We'll see when the judgment is announced whether SCOTUS agrees. 

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Christmas, Required?

by: DocJess

Fri Dec 11, 2009 at 05:31:18 AM EST

Do you believe in Santa Claus? Believe that Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ? 

Whether or not you answer "yes" to either of those questions, how do you feel about being legally required to celebrate Christmas under fear of litigation? Suddenly, so VERY MANY THINGS to go to jail over.

First, let's visit California

Merry Hyatt has found allies in her quest to put an initiative on the ballot next year requiring public schools to play Christmas carols. [...]

The initiative would require schools to provide children the opportunity to listen to or perform Christmas carols, and would subject the schools to litigation if the rule isn't followed. [...]

"Bottom line is Christmas is about Christmas," said Erin Ryan, president of the Redding Tea Party Patriots. "That's why we have it. It's not about winter solstice or Kwanzaa. It's like, 'wow you guys, it's called Christmas for a reason.' "

Now, let's travel cross country to Washington, DC, our nation's capitol. Meet House Resolution 951, with 44 co-sponsors

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and

Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;

(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and

(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.

I know there will be some of you who will find this innocuous. "What does it matter," you'll ask, "If kids sing Christmas carols and everyone has to recognize Christmas?" Call me crazy, but isn't Christmas already the only religious holiday that is a national holiday? Don't we all, Christians and non-Christians alike, know when it is? 

I'm going back to the First Amendment, which states:

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.

I'm thinking that the free exercise of religion part means if an American's religion is NOT Christian, or is NOT a religion (e.g. agnostics and atheists) he/she cannot be forced to accept another religion. It is appalling to me that a child could be forced to sing Christmas Carols. Talk about inculcation at an early age.

That House resolution, by the way, is the response to people CHOOSING to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Some stores, for example, have their employees say "Happy Holidays" to customers. It's more inclusive. It shows that Americans can celebrate the season in any way that suits them.

I don't know why people have a problem with that. Wait, I do....there are people who believe that their religion is the only acceptable one. You know them, they're the folks who brought you (not an inclusive list) the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Shiite-Sunni wars, the Nazi concentration camps, every genocide and ethnic cleansing, the Chinese crackdown on Tibet, etc., etc., etc.

The mark of a religiously FREE country is the right of its citizens to celebrate THEIR beliefs, or non-beliefs.  I hope we still are one.

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Glenn Beck and Yom Kippur

by: DocJess

Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 15:14:04 PM EDT

Today at sundown Yom Kippur begins. It is the holiest day of the Jewish year. Some religions have "holidays", the Jewish faith has "festivals" and "holy days" with Yom Kippur being the holiest: the day of atonement. Yom Kippur is held 10 days after the first day of Rosh Hashona, which marks the New Year.

Last week, Glenn Beck sent the following tweet:

Sept 28. Lets make it a day of Fast and Prayer for the Republic. Spread the word. Let us walk in the founders steps.

Keith Olbermann had a few choice words (about 2:10 in), and sort of understood, and meant well, but didn't quite hit the nail on the head.

It's much worse than that. From Media Matters:

"Yom Kippur is a day of atonement, prayer and fasting," Ari Rabin-Havt of Media Matters said."Glenn Beck's attempt to politicize this holiest of days with his far right agenda is not only disgusting, but shows a profound disrespect for the Jewish people."

But I believe it's even worse than THAT. It's not just the politicization of a religious holiday, it's the arrogance that the evangelical far right wing nuts feel towards all non-Christian religions. The contempt they feel for any human being, be they Jew, Hindu, Muslim, agnostic, atheist: ANYONE who does not believe as they do. 

This is the United States: founded on religious freedom.

The evangelical right, and their spokespeople, talk about putting "religion" back in the classrooms, on the buildings, in every facet of life, but it's all code. They are never interested in "religion" only fundamentalist Christianity.  

There is a reason church and state should remain separate: so that people can partake in their individual religions (or lack thereof) while government can work from a position of law. Shame on you, Glenn, you denigrated religion under the guise of "friendship" and "understanding."

And with that, I will see you all on Tuesday morning. 

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Scalia Believes Religion Should be Part of Government

by: DocJess

Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 11:00:00 AM EDT

Antonin Scalia gave an interview to a right wing religious newspaper. You can read it here. The major part of the interview is Scalia's view on how it is WRONG for the American government to remain neutral in issues involving religion. He believes that religion should be PREFERRED.

A few of the gems:

  • I have been here for a long time now - 23 years. In that time, I think the Court has become more receptive to the needs of religious practice.
  • [T]he court [...] adopted the so-called principle of neutrality - which states that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion. This is not an accurate representation of what Americans believe. 
  • It has not been our American constitutional tradition, nor our social or legal tradition, to exclude religion from the public sphere. Whatever the Establishment Clause means, it certainly does not mean that government cannot accommodate religion, and indeed favor religion.

Scary stuff.

People say that Scalia is a bright guy, but I'm thinking that he hasn't realized that when there is true religious "preference" on the part of government, you end up with places like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc., where people are stoned to death for breaking religious laws. Admittedly, that's the Koran not the Bible, but in case you've forgotten the West Wing episode where President Bartlett quotes the internet letter to the Laura Schlessinger stand-in, I've put that whole letter after the jump. I wonder how Scalia's religious views jibe with the smiting, killing and selling into slavery parts...

He did say one thing of interest:

If and when I am placed in the position of having to render a judgment that makes me an instrument of evil, my recourse is not to lie regarding the meaning of law and come out the other way but to step down from the bench and perhaps join a revolution. 

HHMMNN. If Scalia actually is a man of conscience and honour, he should step down NOW. Unlike Spunky Palin, I CAN name a litany of Supreme Court decisions. But in the same vein that I don't list out the state capitals just because, I'll spare you and just pick one: Boumediene, et. al. v. Bush wherein the Court ruled that habeas corpus applied to Gitmo detainees. Scalia disagreed. It is pure evil to deny human rights to human beings.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 608 words in story)

Is Rape Okay? Ever?

by: DocJess

Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:15:00 AM EDT

Last week, on Olbermann, I heard Keith remark that Afghanistan had passed a law legalizing the rape of a woman by her husband. It was one of those "this just cannot be happening moments". But yeah, it's true. While the law affects Shia and not Sunnis, it's pretty clear on where women stand:

"As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night," Article 132 of the law says. "Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband."

President Obama was very clear in his comments about his feeling about this law: "I think this law is abhorrent." 

Personally, I agree with the President, although I'm not convinced "abhorrent" is a strong enough term. There is not a term strong enough, in my mind, to codify the violation of a human being.

Still, this whole situation raises a number of very interesting points. "Conventional wisdom" holds that people are religious because it gives them a moral compass and non-believers are "heathens" and "devoid of morals". As we all know, "conventional wisdom" is often wrong. 

In yesterday's USA Today, there was an op-ed (6 April, page 15A) called No religion? No problem. It discusses the fact that recent surveys indicate that the fastest growing "religious" group is "no religion at all", currently comprising about 20% of the population. Newsweek has an article this week called The End of Christian America, which details the decreasing percentage of Christians in America. Is it possible that all of us non-practicing types will rise up against religion on moral grounds? How is it that a religion codifies rape (along with preventing women from leaving their houses for any reason without permission from their husbands or fathers) while those of us who have either given up religion all together or only show up for a few things a year out of respect for elderly parents find this sort of "religion" intolerant and intolerable? Why is it that the most extreme sects of religions are the ones that are so restrictive on their members, especially their women? (It's not just the Muslims...this sort of denigration is found in many religions.)

And then there are the political ramifications. The United States, along with other NATO allies, is engaged in Afghanistan, and the clarion call is out for more troops, and more money.  None of the NATO countries condone rape; in fact, we all have laws against it. We prosecute, we jail. Should we be fighting for a country that legislates what we find abhorrent?

Yesterday, news broke that Karzai had agreed to have the law reviewed. This in the face of huge international outcry. However, the review is by the Afghan Justice Department, and could take many months, potentially taking until after the scheduled August elections.  

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Religion and Politics

by: DocJess

Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 11:42:09 AM EDT

The American Religious Identification Survey came out yesterday for 2008, and it turns out that, as a country, the United States is less religious than we used to be.

I haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure that somewhere, someone is taking this data and plotting it on a map and coming up with the conclusions that the more blue states tend to be even less religious than the red states. I'm waiting for the CD and county breakdowns.

So here's my thought: what if even the red states become less religious? What does that do to the IIE's ability to organize through churches? My guess is that the more right wing someone is, the more likely that they are religious: that is, the evangelical base of the Republican party isn't wavering. Not now. Not ever.  Therefore, it may be that by being able to organize in churches, it could conceivably increase their wing of the party. This may become important as the IIE feels out which branch will become their most dominant.

A side point is that as people become less religious, they become more moderate in their views of "social issues", thus leading to the possibility of compromise. Things like "abortion should be legal and rare" rather than outlawed. My hope for this moderation comes from Republican Nancy Reagan, who yesterday praised President Obama's lifting of the stem cell ban. 

It's hard to quanitfy, but there is no discounting the affect of the religious right on the Republican party over the past 30+ years. It's  hard to imagine that if more and more people give up religion that this won't also have a profound affect on that party. 

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