Uncommon Sense

March 5, 2019

SCOTUS … Wandering … Wandering

Filed under: Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 11:32 am
Tags: , , ,

The US Supreme Court decided to stay out of a case from New Jersey about taxpayer funding of the historical preservation of churches. This leaves in place a decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court that held the denial of state funds to religious establishments did not violate the church’s free exercise rights.

Of course, the unwise and unwary justices couldn’t leave well enough alone:

“At some point, this court will need to decide whether governments that distribute historic preservation funds may deny funds to religious organizations simply because the organizations are religious. … [B]arring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion.” Justice Brett Kavanaugh

He says “discrimination” as if it were wrong. In this case discrimination is right. The word “discrimination” has taken on as a primary meaning of discriminating for illegal reasons, such as racial or age discrimination in hiring. But the word just means being able to recognize a distinction; to differentiate. In the justice’s case, he is supposed to discriminate between actions the government is legally allowed to take and actions the government is not. If I may quote from the First Amendment to the Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;. . .”

Since the adoption of that amendment, the courts have ruled over and over that the government cannot use funds in support of any religion and that this rule applies to the states as well as the federal government. So, according to the Constitution, the SCOTUS is supposed to discriminate between funds spent legally and funds spent illegally, in this case “in support of any religion.”

So, in response to Justice Kavanaugh’s “is pure discrimination against religion.” Yes, thank you, for recognizing what the Constitution stipulates we must do. You have finally recognized your duty and my hope is that you continue to discriminate for the Constitution as you have sworn to do.

 

36 Comments »

  1. Just do what they do in Oz: National Trusts provide funds for historic church rennovations.

    As to Kavanaugh, I suspect he’s biting his tongue, just waiting for the first abortion case to come up.

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    Comment by john zande — March 5, 2019 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  2. Yeah, it isn’t as if the churches are being taxed and then not being able to draw on those funds. I’s be willing to allow historical preservation funds as long as they were availble to all religions, in trade for those churches paying normal taxes.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Steve Ruis — March 5, 2019 @ 12:09 pm | Reply

  3. “At some point, this court will need to decide whether governments that distribute historic preservation funds may deny funds to religious organizations simply because the organizations are religious. … [B]arring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion. And I LOVE BEER!!! I drink BEER!!! BEER is great!!! That’s why I drink it! What do you drink?” Justice Brett Kavanaugh Ah, my respect for the SCOTUS has never been higher.

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    Comment by inspiredbythedivine1 — March 5, 2019 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

  4. First off, I’d like to live long enough to see empty churches every time they open for business. I’d allow some of my tax monies go to preserving some of the older, significant churches however. Some of them are quite interesting and worth preserving just based on their architecture.
    Of course my life will not be that long,partly my own fault, no big deal. I do think religion is on the down side though, smaller crowds when they are holding services. The young folks are too into their smart phones, etc.. Maybe churches will have free, secure wi-fi, if they don’t do so now. Would that get them bigger crowds? I hope not, but then I am an old pagan/heathen/atheists.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — March 6, 2019 @ 5:26 am | Reply

  5. Unfortunately, religion is historically relevant. It is ludicrous to think we should let buildings crumble to dust because they had some religious significance in the past. If it makes you feel better, looking at stained glass in an old church building isn’t going to convert anyone to Christianity. People can appreciate the aesthetics of architecture without giving their lives to Jesus.

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    Comment by John Branyan — March 6, 2019 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

    • Religion is historical, true, but this country was created as the first secular republic and to protect ourselves from the internecine struggles of the various religions we adopted a governmental “hands off” position. You can have your religion, you can build your churches and we will not interfere. In fact government has been very kindly to not tax churches anywhere near as much as any other societal enterprise. So I say that churches with crumbling buildings should repair them as they will. Use the money saved by not paying taxes like other endeavors.

      If one starts down that road, of supplying funds to rebuild “historically significant” churches (and I wonder what their significance might be; might it be religious in nature?) how will people feel when Satanists receive funding, or Muslims, or Jews and not just Christians?

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 9, 2019 @ 8:52 am | Reply

      • Good point.
        To protect our secular republic, let’s not use public funds to rebuild, refurbish, or sustain anything with any religious connotations. Any document, painting, sculpture, artifact, building, or monument that references a religious concept should be maintained privately or destroyed. Goodbye, Great Pyramid of Giza! So long Parthenon! Bye-Bye Taj Mahal!
        The public shouldn’t pay to preserve these historic tributes to superstition.

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        Comment by John Branyan — March 9, 2019 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

        • That is them, this is us. Would you have us, like the kings in Egypt past, go around and erase mention of previous kings from public monuments or chisel their faces on to statutes of previous kings (Donald Trump on Mount Rushmore?). We are carving our own path, trying to avoid the mistakes of the past (and, of course, making new mistakes, but that’s progress).

          On Sat, Mar 9, 2019 at 9:35 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Comment by Steve Ruis — March 10, 2019 @ 8:38 am | Reply

          • I thought you were in favor of erasing the past when it has religion attached? … Don’t you consider religion one of the mistakes that we should avoid in the future?

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            Comment by John Branyan — March 10, 2019 @ 9:31 am | Reply

            • Once again, you exaggerate. I did not say I was in favor of erasing the past (Santayana was correct, I believe). I am just suggesting that our Constitution places the burden of up keep and restoration of religious buildings on the religous organizations themselves. If the religious feel their buildings are important, by all means maintain them and restore them, just don’t ask the rest of us to help via taxation. If approached for a donation, I might provide one were a compelling case be made for the historicity of a church building.

              On Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 9:31 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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              Comment by Steve Ruis — March 10, 2019 @ 9:40 am | Reply

              • Fortunately, your tax money can be used to preserve history without your approval. Virtually every bit of history contains some religious aspects. Suggesting that a secular Republic is not responsible for maintaining the history of religious activity within it is absurd.

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                Comment by John Branyan — March 10, 2019 @ 10:50 am | Reply

                • Oh, written histories of religious activities abount. I don’t see what preserving the churches has to do with anything. I could accept that if a church has historical significance, say as part of the Underground Railroad, that if it were to be decommissioned as a church, it might be preserved as a religious artifact.

                  On Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 10:50 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                  Comment by Steve Ruis — March 10, 2019 @ 11:07 am | Reply

                  • Yes. Of course!
                    The building would need to be commissioned to secularism so there would be no favoritism for one philosophy over another.

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                    Comment by John Branyan — March 10, 2019 @ 11:57 am | Reply

                    • No, it would not have to be commissioned to anything, it is an historical monument. If it were to keep its original commission, then government funds would be being expended to further than mission and that is not allowed by the Constitution. Whether you approve or not, the Constitution and established precedents forbid such expenditures of public funds.

                      On Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 11:57 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 10, 2019 @ 12:29 pm

                    • I completely approve of the Constitution.
                      I’m opposed to the establishment of Secularism as the state religion. Under secularism, dissenting opinions can be silenced by merely labeling them “religion”.

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 10, 2019 @ 12:34 pm

                    • Well, if Scientology can be labeled so, the definition is quite broad. And if I am a secularist, how come I have to pay taxes, shouldn’t my religious status qualify for being tax exempt.

                      Hello? Calling secularism a religion is a bit like calling atheism a religion. As such that is a very weak argument. The U.S. was the first secular republic known in history. Can’t you cut secularism a little slack while we conduct this experiment?

                      On Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 12:34 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 10, 2019 @ 9:09 pm

                    • Very good. Your response perfectly demonstrates the point I just made! The reason you pay taxes is because YOU refuse to admit secularism is a religion. YOU are telling the government you don’t qualify for tax exempt status.

                      If you guys weren’t so blinded by pride, you’d officially identify as a religious group and save a few bucks. Think about how helpful all that cash would be in your war against Christians! You could lobby Congress to enact real, progressive change. You could end Christianity in this country!

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 11, 2019 @ 7:52 am

                    • Now you are just being snarky.

                      On Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 7:52 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 11, 2019 @ 8:05 am

                    • Now you are just being dismissive.

                      I’m not “just” being snarky. I’m also correct.

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 11, 2019 @ 8:17 am

                    • Now you are being deluded.

                      On Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 8:17 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 11, 2019 @ 8:18 am

                    • That’s lazy, Steve. You gonna tell me I’m ugly too?

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 11, 2019 @ 8:23 am

                    • I am beginning to think you are a clever algorithm which just says things in response to its inputs. My original point is that the SCOTUS had no choice but to back up the Constitution’s point that our secular government does not support religious institutions.

                      The word “secular” was invented by Catholics to mean “not subject to or bound by religious rule; not belonging to or living in a monastic or other order.” They did this to denote people who worked for the church but were “of the world” and were not people who could perform religious rites, etc.

                      So, in your discussions, you claim that secularism is a religion. Please provide a definition of that word and an argument that makes your point. Just making baldfaced claims doesn’t make you right or wrong, just a maker of claims.

                      On Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 8:24 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 11, 2019 @ 9:20 am

                    • I define religion as a fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a group of people. Thus, Atheism, Humanism and Secularism are religions. The clever algorithm employed by these religions is claiming to be “non-religious” in order to silence contrary religious views in the legislative process.

                      You can deny the existence of God. You cannot coherently deny the existence of your religious convictions.

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 11, 2019 @ 9:46 am

                    • So, baseball players constitute a religion, as do conservative republicans? Certified public accounts have a “fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a group of people” does that make CPAs into priests?

                      I do not think many others share your definition of religion. As we do use the word “religiously” to describe a mode of adherence to those beliefs and practices, that word by its very existence tells us that there are nonreligious “fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a group of people”.

                      On Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 9:46 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 11, 2019 @ 10:16 am

                    • Yes. Any group of people sharing a set of beliefs is adhering to a religion. I know you disagree.
                      So we disagree on the definition of religion. Since this is a secular Republic, I guess your definition should supersede mine. Right?

                      That is the power of Secularism! You deny religious conviction in order to exert control over people like me.

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 11, 2019 @ 11:20 am

                    • How do I deny religious conviction? You are free to claim any religious conviction you choose. The things that qualify as religions is very broad all the way up to the silly (Scientology). You are free, free. But the religious are dead set on denying nonreligious people any status in our culture at all. In my lifetime if a politician were to admit atheism, he/she would never get elected or re-elected. Your kind didn’t want any of our kind in any prominent place. This is a far cry from burning people at the stake for atheism, but … And In stead of denying you your religious conviction, I am encouraging you to exercise yours, by donating funds to support religious monuments, even if on publicly-owned land. Exercise all you want religiously, but do not expect to get tax supported monies in the process. (Actually you already do. Churches do not pay taxes when they should. They should not pay taxes like any other charitable organization, but only to the extent of their charities. Most churches pay only a small portion of their income in charitable endeavors. The rest supports, staff, buildings, etc. Those activities are not charitable and should be taxed like any other endeavor.

                      So, not only does the government no take a neutral stance toward religions as the Constitution requires, but it is underwriting all religions by extending tax-exempt status to them. You already got it goo, but that isn’t good enough according to the supporters of that cross on public land.

                      On Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 11:20 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 11, 2019 @ 1:43 pm

                    • “How do I deny religious conviction?”
                      You deny that YOU hold any religious convictions.

                      I don’t want to argue with you about the definition of religion. Whatever word you want to use to describe Secularism is fine with me (Philosophy, worldview, conviction, ideology, orientation, statement,…etc.) Pick one! I sincerely don’t care what you call it so long as you allow me to describe Christianity with the same word.

                      (And I’m curious about why you wouldn’t want to classify secularism as a religion for the sake of tax exemption…)

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 11, 2019 @ 2:01 pm

                    • I’d be interested to hear your perspective on this: https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/shall-defend-common-history/

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 12, 2019 @ 9:33 am

                    • Ah, the cleansing of our guilt … while avoiding doing anything of substance about it. Symbolism, symbolism, uber alles.

                      In the case of Harvard and CC murals, I would take the path that this was a educational institution, so educate. A series of posters placed in front of the murals to tell the actual story. The same could be said for confederate monuments (that weren’t erected 50 years after the war out of racial pride). To many people are completely ignorant of our history (which is malleable after all) and certainly ignorant of our Constitution and this does not bode well for our collective effort.

                      The founding fathers, to coin a phrase, build their edifice of documents on a foundation of virtue, political virtue, that we all would subsume our individual needs to the needs of the many. Unfortunately, the masters of greed have mounted campaign after campaign to subvert the idea, instead to limit the Constitution to its written words and even then we fail to properly interpret those words.

                      In my ramblings I did come upon an additional point in our discussion of why government and religion should not be mixed and it was that a democratic government is not the place to adjudicate issues of religion as there is no way to solve religious disputes via ballots or legislation. Even is one takes votes or passes laws, minds will not be changed, nor should they be. Your religious beliefs are your business. (I would add, your *private *business.)

                      On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 9:33 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 12, 2019 @ 10:24 am

                    • Did you settle on a word to describe secularism other than “religion”?

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 12, 2019 @ 1:57 pm

                    • secular (adj.)

                      c. 1300, “living in the world, not belonging to a religious order,” also “belonging to the state,” from Old French seculer (Modern French séculier), from Late Latin saecularis “worldly, secular, pertaining to a generation or age,” from Latin saecularis “of an age, occurring once in an age,” from saeculum “age, span of time, lifetime, generation, breed.”

                      This is from Proto-Italic *sai-tlo-, which, according to Watkins, is PIE instrumental element *-tlo- + *sai- “to bind, tie” (see sinew ), extended metaphorically to successive human generations as links in the chain of life. De Vaan lists as a cognate Welsh hoedl “lifespan, age.” An older theory connected it to words for “seed,” from PIE root *se- “to sow” (see sow (v.), and compare Gothic mana-seþs “mankind, world,” literally “seed of men”).

                      Used in ecclesiastical writing like Greek aiōn “of this world” (see cosmos ). It is source of French siècle. Ancient Roman ludi saeculares was a three-day, day-and-night celebration coming once in an “age” (120 years). In English, in reference to humanism and the exclusion of belief in God from matters of ethics and morality, from 1850s.

                      On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 1:57 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 14, 2019 @ 12:06 pm

                    • Right.
                      I’ll take that as a “no”.

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 14, 2019 @ 2:03 pm

                    • Yep. A little slower on the uptake of late John, you distracted? I wish you well, but I gotta say you hang out with some strange folk online (like me).

                      On Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 2:03 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 14, 2019 @ 2:16 pm

                    • I don’t think there’s anything strange about you.

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                      Comment by John Branyan — March 14, 2019 @ 4:04 pm

  6. Religion has outlived it usefulness. I’d be in favor of supporting churches turned museums. Like everything old and extinct, churches could be right along side dinosaurs. I’d pay for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by jim- — March 16, 2019 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

    • Great idea!

      On Sat, Mar 16, 2019 at 10:15 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 17, 2019 @ 10:13 am | Reply


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