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Separation of Church and State (Merged)
Posted: 04 December 2007 03:36 PM   [ Ignore ]
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December 4, 2007

Americans United Asks IRS To Investigate Falwell’s Liberty University For Endorsement Of Mike Huckabee

Liberty Chancellor Used School Resources To Promote Presidential Candidate, Church-State Watchdog Group Says

Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. violated federal tax law by using school resources to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the Internal Revenue Service today.

In a complaint filed with the federal tax agency, Americans United noted that Falwell hosted the candidate at Liberty University and then sent an email message on Liberty University letterhead endorsing Huckabee.

In a “Liberty News Alert” dated Dec. 1, 2007, Falwell wrote, “Recently, Governor Mike Huckabee called to brief me on the progress of his campaign for the presidency. I invited the Governor to speak to the Liberty University students in Convocation on November 28. He graciously accepted. I was so impressed with the Governor’s sincerity and his positions on the issues that are important to conservative Christians that I personally endorsed Governor Huckabee before he left Lynchburg.”

Falwell goes on to say, “My father strongly supported Governor Huckabee when no one thought that he had any chance to succeed in the presidential race. I believe with all my heart that, if my father had witnessed Governor Huckabee’s surge in the polls and his ascension to first place in the Iowa polls, he would have endorsed Governor Huckabee without hesitation.”

The alert was accompanied by an article from a university-run online publication implying that Huckabee is God’s candidate.

Americans United sent a letter to IRS officials today, asking them to investigate the matter. The letter notes that on Nov. 19, the IRS issued a press statement reminding charities and churches about the ban on politicking and asks the tax agency to back that up with enforcement in this case.

“Falwell surely knows that these types of political endorsements are illegal,” remarked the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Tax-exempt religious institutions may not be used to support or oppose candidates for public office.”

Falwell seems to be following in the footsteps of his late father Jerry Falwell Sr. In 1993, Falwell Sr.‘s Old Time Gospel Hour had its tax exemption retroactively revoked for the years 1986 and 1987 and the ministry was required to pay $50,000 because of involvement in partisan politics.

Pastors and heads of 501(c)(3) non-profit groups are free to endorse candidates as private individuals, but the Internal Revenue Code does not allow them to use institutional resources, such as official publications, Web sites and other forms of communication, to back or oppose candidates.

“Falwell seems determined to misuse tax-exempt resources, just like his father did,” said Lynn. “The IRS needs to step in and break this chain of flagrant disregard for the law.”

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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Posted: 07 December 2007 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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  “I was disappointed in Romney’s statement,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “The founders of our Constitution meant for religion and government to be completely separate. 

I’m not so sure about that.  However, they certainly didn’t grant the U. S. Government any authority or jurisdiction over our opinions regarding the duties we owe to God.

Romney is wrong when he says we are in danger of taking separation too far or at risk of establishing a religion of secularism.

“Secularism” is ” indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.”  How are we in danger of establishing by law the principle that we should exclude religion from our lives?  I thought religion was excluded from civil authority.

[ Edited: 14 December 2007 12:11 PM by FredFlash ]
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Posted: 07 December 2007 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks for the info, Fred. Good for Barry Lynn.

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Posted: 21 December 2007 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Separation of church and state is not found in the Constitution. It was found in a letter from Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists.

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Note that Jefferson is writing about the government not establishing one religion because it is essentially a matter of personal opinion. It’s also interesting that the constitution protects our right to exercise our faith but proponents of this separation believe that it cannot enter public schools, government buildings or even elections.

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Posted: 24 December 2007 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Personally, I think the IRS needs to step in with many of these tax-exempt theocrats and alike.  They have twisted the privilage so much that they’ve corrupted it- with greed.  Isn’t greed a sin- esp in Falwell’s ideology?  Anyway, I’ve been questioning whether or not such tax-exemptions should continue.  I have also thought some might be using it appropriately (Barry Lynn might be), so it makes no sense to penalize them too, but what else can be done?  So often there are people who spoil it for those who aren’t misusing it.

However, that won’t stop illegal endorsements though.  Not sure what will stop that.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 25 December 2007 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Chris: The Reformed Dog - 21 December 2007 10:01 PM

Separation of church and state is not found in the Constitution. 

The Constitution separates religion from the authority of the U. S. Government.  That’s what separation of church and state is all about, dude.

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Posted: 25 December 2007 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Chris: The Reformed Dog - 21 December 2007 10:01 PM

It’s also interesting that the constitution protects our right to exercise our faith but proponents of this separation believe that it cannot enter public schools, government buildings or even elections.

You’re probably confusing the free exercise of religion with civil authority over religion.  I’m sensing that you’re a fervent advocate of government established religion.

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Posted: 25 December 2007 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Mriana - 24 December 2007 10:38 AM

Personally, I think the IRS needs to step in with many of these tax-exempt theocrats and alike.  They have twisted the privilage so much that they’ve corrupted it- with greed.  Isn’t greed a sin- esp in Falwell’s ideology?  Anyway, I’ve been questioning whether or not such tax-exemptions should continue.  I have also thought some might be using it appropriately (Barry Lynn might be), so it makes no sense to penalize them too, but what else can be done?  So often there are people who spoil it for those who aren’t misusing it.

However, that won’t stop illegal endorsements though.  Not sure what will stop that.

We need a law like the one they had in colonial Rhode Island which forbid anyone who opposed separation of church and state from voting.

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Posted: 25 December 2007 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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You know, that could work, Fred.  LOL

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 25 December 2007 05:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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You’re probably confusing the free exercise of religion with civil authority over religion.  I’m sensing that you’re a fervent advocate of government established religion.

Actually, no, but I believe that I made my point very clear that religion is an issue and should not be excluded from the table when considering who to vote for.

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Posted: 25 December 2007 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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FredFlash - 25 December 2007 12:51 PM

The Constitution separates religion from the authority of the U. S. Government. 

I know that.  But most proponents of separation of church and state claim that religion should stay out of government.  That was not the intended meaning behind Jefferson’s words.

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Posted: 25 December 2007 07:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Sorry, Chris, but walls are just that.  They aren’t designed to be porous in one direction.  Your implication is that religion can get involved in government, but not the reverse.  The moment religion starts dictating to government, by any means - lobbying, voting as a block, etc. - if government responds in any way, it has breached that wall.  So, the separation must be complete and in both directions.  I voted for Kennedy because I believed he could maintain that separation.  I did not vote for Carter because I believed he might not.  Similarly, neither Huckabee or Romney appear to be capable of maitaining that. 

I believe religion must not be an issue of who to vote for unless it’s likely that they will use their religious beliefs to guide some of their actions as president.  I want a president who follows the Constitution and the laws, not one who follows the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, or any other religious document.

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Posted: 25 December 2007 08:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Occam - 25 December 2007 07:34 PM

I believe religion must not be an issue of who to vote for unless it’s likely that they will use their religious beliefs to guide some of their actions as president.  I want a president who follows the Constitution and the laws, not one who follows the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, or any other religious document.

Aren’t a persons beliefs, or lack thereof, still going to influence their actions/decisions?  So someone’s ability to vote for a candidate based on their lack of religious conviction is the same as someone voting for a candidate with religious convictions.  It goes back to the information-beliefs-decisions-outcomes model.  A candidate’s stance on any issue is based, at least in part, on their beliefs.  Religion is often the foundational aspect of those beliefs (i.e., the information).  So, I can vote based on what a candidate thinks about immigration, but not the Bible?  Or does this just go back to the fear of a government endorsed religion?

In addition, isn’t it hard to find a candidate who doesn’t “follow” a “religious document”?  Even an individual that does not ascribe to any specific religion still has philosophical and metaphysical beliefs that guide them.  We are human and our beliefs are like breathing.  We cannot do without them.  We cannot promise to keep religion, or even secular humanism, out of the government.  I’ve stated elsewhere that I would support someone who said, “I’m an atheist,” more than someone who says, “I’m a Christian, but it won’t effect how I run the nation.”  I can at least respect the atheist for being honest.  However, their belief system will affect the way they run the nation, so I must look at how that will be reflected in their policies.

What if a candidate did not value life based on a religious or non-religious aspect of their beliefs?  (I’m going out on a limb here.)  I believe that America should intervene more in what is going on in Darfur, Sudan to save thousands of lives.  You’re telling me I should not consider their foundational belief before voting?

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Posted: 26 December 2007 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Chris: The Reformed Dog - 25 December 2007 08:49 PM
A candidate’s stance on any issue is based, at least in part, on their beliefs.  Religion is often the foundational aspect of those beliefs (i.e., the information)....We cannot promise to keep religion, or even secular humanism, out of the government.

Obviously, a person’s religion, or religious upbringing influences him/her.  What’s at issue is “in what way”?

Our current chief executive is no fan of small “d” democracy.  He believes the Constitution allows him to be a Unitary Executive, despite the fact that several courts have told him no such right exists.  This mindset comes, I believe, from his interpretation of his faith.  That God is at the head, in control, and we all obey.  So, GWB is the head of the country, and we all must follow.  The Constitution, as the apocryphal quote goes, is “just a lousy piece of paper.”  Written by people.  So, it is not the prime document for him.

I want someone who, in times of national concern, reads the Constitution first.  Does what it says.  And consults his/her version of the Flying Spaghetti Monster second.

That’s the test.  When a candidate is asked about torture, or starting a war with Iran, or signing statements, or the Patriot Act, or FISA, or wiretapping, the right answer is: I will follow the Constitution.  I know that there is no such thing as the Unitary Executive.  There are three equal branches of government, and I will restore that equality.  The rule of law and the Constitution come first.

So, a person’s faith can lead them to that answer.  Or it can lead them to the GWB version.  I don’t care what their faith is.  I care about how it is expressed.

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Posted: 30 December 2007 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Chris: The Reformed Dog - 25 December 2007 05:25 PM

religion is an issue and should not be excluded from the table when considering who to vote for.

Why?  Politicians should have no power over religion.  A lawmaker’s religious views are as irrelevant as his view of geometry.

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Posted: 30 December 2007 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Chris: The Reformed Dog - 25 December 2007 05:29 PM
FredFlash - 25 December 2007 12:51 PM

The Constitution separates religion from the authority of the U. S. Government. 

I know that.  But most proponents of separation of church and state claim that religion should stay out of government.  That was not the intended meaning behind Jefferson’s words.

Explain to me exactly how religion should be in government.

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