Religion

What a way to celebrate freedom…

…burn the Holy Book of a group of our citizens. Yessiree, that’s how we let those huddled masses ‘breathe free’ – lets hope they don’t get too bad a case of smoke inhalation.

The Dove World Outtreach Center is a classic anti-gay, fundamentalist church devoted to turning back civil rights a hundred years.

From the outstanding Religion Clause blog of Howard M. Friedman, Professor of Law Emeritus University of Toledo:

Florida Church Will Mark 9/11 With Burning of Qurans

Religion News Service reported yesterday that the Dove World Outreach Center, a non-denominational church in Gainesville, Florida, plans to host an “International Burn A Quran Day” on this year’s anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In response to a Facebook posting, people have been mailing Qurans to the church for it to burn. The church’s pastor, Terry Jones, author of a book titled “Islam is the Devil,” said that protests are a central purpose of his church. He said the goal is to give Muslims an opportunity to convert. This year, Sept. 11 coincides with the Muslim feast of Eid-al-Fitr.

Posted by Howard Friedman

The thing that’s most disturbing is that this church is using the exact tactics of the Taliban.

Be afraid America. Be very afraid – and get involved!

Science, not faith, determines how the real world operates

Composite by Doug WrayRecently, Leif Bilen wrote about a purported anti-Christian bias in the media. I’ll respond as a scientist and technologist.

Briefly: I am a realist in the sense that I am more likely to believe what’s observable and non-miraculous than the contrary. I have problems with some of Christianity’s influence on our society, and I think it healthy for the media to examine its role. We should found our society on what works within our psychology, our economy on what is useful and sells and our science on what is demonstrably true.

I’ll focus on tax exemption, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), evolution, intolerance, freedom of religion – well, OK, that’s not very focused. But I’ll try to make this locally significant and practical.

I don’t mind anyone’s religious view differing from mine so long as it remains private, I don’t have to support it and it does not work against social benefit. But I do object to being required to support others’ religious beliefs – especially those professing demonstrably false “facts” and influencing our kids.

Abuses of religious tolerance abound in our society. To gain tax-exempt status, an organization need only claim to be a religion, and then the resources of the community are marshaled to its support (think fire, police, streets, utilities, etc.).

The Religious Land Use and institutionalized Persons Act says that a civil authority may not challenge the organization’s self-determination as to what portions of its holdings are put to exempted use. We have seen this recently in Longmont, when LifeBridge said it would pay all required taxes (itself a pretty useless statement) but would not negotiate with the city to nail down exactly what that meant. Indeed, even before the annexation recall petition, we heard mention of the “sports ministry” that seemed to be leading the way to avoid taxes on a really valuable venue. I hope Firestone has been paying attention.

I know Christians who would like to see the Ten Commandments become law. But the first four are about religion’s sustaining itself. Only six codify behavior. We evolved as a family (tribal/ communal social animal, and it is as effective to follow Rodney King: Act so that we can all get along together. We don’t require divine inspiration to know how to behave.

It’s almost too easy a target. Christianity is associated now, and in the past, with serious fallacies, abuses of power and social misbehavior (crusades, inquisition, Copernican theory, Galileo, child abuse and cover up … ). A problem is that religion fosters closed social groups with god-given higher status, the right to look down on others as less worthy and exploitable. Even today, there are U.S. communities where one can’t be elected if non-Christian.

But a real problem of personal significance to me is an anti-science attitude. It seems narrowed to evolution, but an attack on evolution is an attack on all science, since the very method is called into question: observe, hypothesize, experiment. Rinse and repeat. Build a theory. Use it. It’s truly said that nothing in biology makes sense except in view of evolution.

Yet a loud (and well-funded) subset of Christians attacks evolution because it conflicts with their scientifically unsupportable – and actually demonstrably false – beliefs. I’ll put my faith in what’s read in the rocks, stellar spectra and genomes where it conflicts with what an agrarian society wrote a few thousand years ago.

Science determines how the world works. (If you must, science determines the rules God set up.) Then technology puts those laws to our use. However fervently the Brits might have prayed, building the Spitfire did more to win the Battle of Britain than all the praying did – I sure know which of them I would put my faith in.

Similarly, it is not seminarians, philosophers and English majors whose work underpins medicine at Longmont United Hospital and AMGEN, storage at Seagate, zymurgy at Left Hand Brewing. It’s the scientists and technologists.

If we’re to cease borrowing our way into temporary semblance of wealth, and if we are to make stuff to sell abroad to do that, then let’s not hamstring our youths’ education by filling their heads with mythology to the exclusion of facts. Even as the largest selling book, the Bible is not really an economic engine.

Richard Juday has resided in Longmont for nine years.

Springs mayor has change of faith

From the The Gazette in Colorado Springs

Mayor wants vote on a TABOR timeout

June 30, 2010 5:16 PM
Daniel Chacón
The Gazette

Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera called Wednesday for a three-year timeout from the part of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights that limits how much tax money the city of Colorado Springs can spend as the economy recovers.

Rivera wants a measure on the November ballot that would allow the city to retain what TABOR calls surplus revenue for the city’s 2010-2012 budgets, if there’s a surplus in 2010.

Rivera wants the change because the city’s budget has been shrinking dramatically during the nation’s economic plunge. TABOR sets a revenue cap for the city government that’s based on what have been declining collections of sales and use taxes, meaning it could be years before the city could spend at pre-recession levels. Rivera said such a TABOR timeout would be the only way city government can recover from the economic recession.

Read more


What? One of the faithful turning his back on the tax-cutting god? WHAT? Say it ain’t so.

This quote pretty much says it all:

“I’m a strong supporter of TABOR, but I’m also on record as saying that I don’t think it was handed down on tablets from a burning bush,”

So…

  • You voted it for it but you hedged your bets – ie you knew damn well it didn’t work but that you’d better vote the party line or else and hope that you wouldn’t lose too much support before you could repeal it. Wow. The lack of integrity is obvious. A better campaign slogan might have been: “Vote for me, I’ll only screw you a little”
  • You don’t really belive in the whole tax-cutting mantra, ie you just told teabaggers to kiss off. Bet they love that.
  • It pretty much sucks to have your political philosophy come up your tailpipe like a failed missle and blast your public image so bad you have to apologize publicly. owwwiee
  • TABOR DOESN’T WORK, time for the grownups to drive again.

County says 10th Circuit made incorrect ruling

As reported in the Longmont Ledger, June 20, 2010:

Boulder County’s long-running battle with a Niwot church over its desired expansion plans entered a new phase with the county asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to uphold a jury’s determination that the county had violated federal law in its despute with the church.

On Monday, June 14th, the county filed a petition for a limited panel rehearing by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rocky Mountain Christian Church was ordered by the court on Wednesday, June 16th, to respond to the county’s latest filing.

Read the complete article here

Boulder County’s dispute with church has national implications.

Supreme Court nixes religious display in courthouse

From Religion Clause:

While in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a preliminary injunction barring the a display of the Ten Commandments along with other historical documents that refer to God in two Kentucky county courthouses, it turns out that decision hardly ended the litigation. A majority of the Supreme Court concluded that the “Foundations of American Law and Government” displays violated the Establishment Clause because their predominant purpose was the advancement of religion. (See prior posting.) However Justice Souter added: “we do not decide that the Counties’ past actions forever taint any effort on their part to deal with the subject matter.” That led the counties to continue to pass new resolutions setting forth secular purposes for the displays. Yesterday in American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky v. McCreary County, Kentucky, (6th Cir., June 9, 2010), a majority of a 6th Circuit panel agreed with the district court that resolutions adopted in 2005 were adopted only as a litigating position, and affirmed the district court’s grant of a permanent injunction. (See prior posting.) Judge Clay’s opinion for the court said that while a later 2007 resolution was technically not before the court, it too was inadequate to change the counties’ original purpose.

Judge Gibbons issued a concurring opinion concluding that new resolutions passed by the counties in 2005 did not eliminate their religious purposes. However she said she would not reach the question of whether the 2007 resolution eliminated the religious purpose because procedurally the defendants never appealed the trial court’s ruling on a motion in which that resolution was first brought to the attention of the district court.

Judge Ryan issued a strong dissent, saying: “I humbly associate myself with Justice Scalia’s powerful and logically compelling explanation in McCreary IV that the displays in question do not violate the First Amendment and never did.” He urged fellow judges to grant en banc review in the case. In a press release, Liberty Counsel which represents defendants indicated it would file a motion for review.

Posted by Howard Friedman