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Sep 21 2013

Obama Sides With Church, Against State

Obama, the atheist Muslim-in-chief
Is engaged in a stealth operation
By submitting a letter that aims to cause grief
To church and state separation

It baldly attacks the establishment clause
(Which you’ll easily find, if you search)
A town prayer is clearly at odds with our laws,
But the president sides with the church!

The religious don’t like him, but nevertheless
Obama’s the church’s best friend
What he’s doing is wrong, and it’s frankly a mess
And it’s time for the habit to end

It is so nice to run into superb writing on the internets, when so much is so terrible. A must-read piece on the Obama administration’s intervention in an establishment clause case in Greece NY finds this yet another instance in a clear and disturbing pattern:

The intervention by the White House in support of official sanction for religion represents one of the most direct and open federal attacks on the separation of church and state—a core democratic principal of the US republic enshrined in the first sentence of the Bill of Rights—in American history. That the revolutionary founders who drafted the Bill of Rights, inspired by the Enlightenment, considered the ban on any official state sanction of religion fundamental to all other democratic rights is indicated by the fact that it precedes the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech, press and assembly.

The Obama administration’s decision to intervene in opposition to the separation of church and state is entirely in line with its general assault on democratic rights and its ceaseless efforts to placate and encourage the most right-wing political forces in the country. It follows Obama’s capitulation last year to the Catholic Church and other anti-abortion forces that oppose a provision of his health care overhaul requiring employers to provide contraceptives to their employees free of charge.

It also conforms to the administration’s support for indefinite detention without judicial process for alleged terrorists, its practice of extra-judicial assassinations, including of US citizens, and its defense of state surveillance of the telephone calls, emails, text messages and Internet searches of all Americans and countless millions of people around the world.

The authors (Ed Hightower and Barry Grey) summarize the facts of the case (I won’t cut and paste here; rather, I’ll strongly recommend reading the entire piece, if only to contrast it with the presentation at other sites), then succinctly put it into constitutional context:

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution 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.”

The Fourteenth Amendment extends this ban (“Congress shall make no law, etc.”) to state governments. Municipal governments, such as the town of Greece, derive their authority from state law.

The American revolutionaries understood that there was an inextricable connection between the union of clerical and state power and the suppression of individual liberty. Their view was that separation of church and state was a precondition for democracy.

To cite Thomas Jefferson’s famous quotation: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and 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 and State.”

Hightower and Grey summarize the Obama administration’s arguments, and rather damningly contrast the current stance to Kennedy’s (1960) deliberate and proper position of independence of government from any religious source.

It’s an excellent read.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Randomfactor

    Well, now that Obama’s for it, the Republicans will at least be duty-bound to denounce official prayer.

    Right?

  2. 2
    Psychopomp Gecko

    Darn, thought this may have been related to the White House’s response to the Spiritual Test petition.

    For a secret Muslim Atheist, he sure does side with Christianity a lot.

  3. 3
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Well, now that Obama’s for it, the Republicans will at least be duty-bound to denounce official prayer.

    Right?

    Randomfactor, your comment made me briefly think “Yeah! That’s possible isn’t it?” but then no, it doesn’t quite work like that, does it. Damn,

  4. 4
    Randomfactor

    Of course not. They’ll attack him instead for not being supportive ENOUGH.

  5. 5
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    The only way Republicans would suddenly start supporting the secularization of the US is if Obama openly declared himself to be a Dominionist.

    If that ever happened, I’ll bet money that Fox News would become the most vocal supporter of the separation between church and state.

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