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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For July 13, 2016

July 7

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on what the Iowa Civil Rights Commission expects from churches. This appeared in the Heidelblog.

If you read the Iowa Civil Rights Act, the most probable reason for the approach that the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is taking to churches and religious institutions is that the Commission is applying the same criteria to the term 'public accommodation'  for churches and other religious institutions as it applies for private clubs. So that a private club is considered to be Public Accommodations if it  'caters or offers services, facilities, or goods to the nonmembers for fee or charge or gratuitously, it shall be deemed a public accommodation during such period' for an event.  (see the definition of Public Accommodation in https://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?category=billinfo&service=IowaCode&ga=83&input=216. ). Thus, there is no targeting of religious institution in the law and thus, IMO, the title of this blogpost is a bit of an overstatement.

The problem though is the question of whether the Iowa Civil Rights Act should use the same criteria for public accommodations for church services and other religious institution events as is applied to private club events. After all, how is that we can equate sermons and other parts of a religious service to the catering, kinds of services, facilities, or goods that a private club might offer to the public? In addition, the Iowa Civil Rights Act does not provide a precise definition for the term 'religious purpose.'


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July 9

To Russell Kirk and his article that was posted on a review of Edmund Burke’s view of what makes  a good constitution. This was posted in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

In essence, Burke's principles on constitutions, as reported by Russell Kirk, was built from an exalted view of both one's own upbringing as well as The Constitution of the United States. And nothing indicates this more than principles #2 & #3.  With principle #2, his emphasis that man is a religious animal and that there is a need to be accountable to a divine authority for people to be principled kind of forgets all of the abuses people have practiced in the name of their religion. The Church's support for wealth and power prior to the French Revolution should have taught Burke something different about the need for religion. Also, in terms of how his emphasis on a national religion for America, there is no national church here is that the Revolution required a certain level of manpower and that manpower could only be drawn from a religiously diverse group.

But another point must be made about religion. That all too often the Church, that is the branch of the Church that is dominant in a given nation, has supported wealth and power at the expense of justice for many of the people. Yes, the Church can contribute to a stable society by doing so. At the same time, when that stable society can no longer be tolerated, the Church suffers persecution while it causes the Gospel to be dishonored. Though I am not a fan of Vladimir Lenin, we should note his criticism/observation about Christianity in Russia prior to the Revolution (see https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/dec/03.htm ):

Religion is one of the forms of spiritual oppression which everywhere weighs down heavily upon the masses of the people, over burdened by their perpetual work for others, by want and isolation. Impotence of the exploited classes in their struggle against the exploiters just as inevitably gives rise to the belief in a better life after death as impotence of the savage in his battle with nature gives rise to belief in gods, devils, miracles, and the like. Those who toil and live in want all their lives are taught by religion to be submissive and patient while here on earth, and to take comfort in the hope of a heavenly reward. But those who live by the labour of others are taught by religion to practise charity while on earth, thus offering them a very cheap way of justifying their entire existence as exploiters and selling them at a moderate price tickets to well-being in heaven. Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze,   in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.

Of course what Burke, according to Kirk, is praising, Lenin is protesting and it has strong connections with his next point. In point #3, Burke praises a 'natural aristocracy' which he equates with men who have made it in the business world and that any democracy that he envisions is heavily reliant on this aristocracy. Burke must have had his wish with The Constitution because it was for the most part written by America's own natural aristocracy  and it was written to maintain the status quo for their benefit against the interests of others.

Something could also be said about Burke's point #4 as interpreted by Kirk, he calls for a balance between the claims of freedom and the claims for order. But order for whom or for whose benefit? Is this order so that Burke's natural aristocracy can fulfill its role in society? The trouble here is that the elevation of any group in society goes against the grain of democracy for democracy is about sharing power rather than seeking control. For control corrupts and destroys democracy. In addition, regarding Burke's notion of natural law, we should note that natural law does not carry a universal definition.

What appeals to Burke about constitutions should not surprise anyone. His notion of an acceptable constitution, despite its use of democracy, is one that is based on a certain degree of authoritarianism. In comparison to a dictatorship, we could refer to this as authoritarianism-lite. The reliance on authoritarianism is part in parcel with Conservatism's emphasis on maintaining traditional values. And here there exists an inverse relationship between how comprehensive the traditional set of values emphasized by a given set of conservatives is to governing life and both democracy and freedom.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost defending churches’ current tax exempt status. This appeared in the Acton blog.

I have to disagree with both the blogpost above and the article it cites. One of the reasons cited from the article is that making churches tax-exempt cuts them loose from the 'burdens of tax laws.' But any church that pays employees must meed the burdens of following some of our tax laws already. And my feeling is that churches don't want to be taxed because of the tax laws themselves, it is due to the result of following those tax laws. That is paying tax bills. And if a church cannot pay its tax bills, then it is not paying its fair share for the government services it consumes. Thus, others are left with the bill for those services.

Much of the argument here is a survival one. Making churches tax exempt allows them to operate. We should note that businesses that shirk at least some of their tax responsibilities are operating under the same idea.

In addition, there is a small government argument embedded in apologetic for keeping the tax exemption status for churches. Since making churches tax exempt gives them a better chance of surviving economically, and since religious institutions provides avenues by which voluntary associations of people can be used to provide services for people which reduces the number of services government has to provide, religious institutions should remain tax exempt. Such employs a reasoning that, in the end, makes businesses a main beneficiary of keeping churches tax exempt. Why? Because the more responsibilities that the gov't doles out to religious institutions to provide safety nets for the people, the less gov't has to spend on those safety nets and thus the less in taxes businesses must pay. But such forgets a key point when gov't attempts to help individuals or groups that are in need. That key point is that when gov't helps those in need, it demonstrating that the gov't is representing the people it is helping. On the other hand, the fewer government safety nets there are, the less the gov't is representing those in need.

Finally, there is the argument that says that keeping churches tax exempt lessens government's regulatory power.  Here we should note that the 2008 economic collapse was due in large part to the lessening of the regulatory power of the gov't. And here, we should note that the gov't already regulates religious institutions by the necessity of definition.  Regulations are needed to determine if an institution is a religious one or not.

There is no good argument for defending tax exemptions for churches. But that conservatives defend that tax exempt status shows how the Church here in America is imitating the Church during the pre-revolutionary times in France, Russia, and Spain. The Church supported those with wealth and power and the favor was returned. We should note how many religiously conservative Christians favor reducing the number of regulations and the taxes paid by businesses. And the less that businesses, especially the wealthy ones, avoid paying their fare share in taxes, the more the tax burden is shifted over to working people. Such was one of the situations that existed just before the French Revolution.

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July 10

To Annie Holmquist and her blogpost that recommended the reading of the Anti-Federalist Papers. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative Website.

At some point, we have to move off the Federalist/Anti-Federalist continuum to include with, rather than just replacing, it with a concern for and proposals for Constitutional amendments that would protect individuals from being oppressed by other individuals. We should note that the there were both Federalists and And-Federals who oppressed Blacks through the institution of slavery. And fans of both groups supported Jim Crow and support Jim Crow II. And currently there are those who still try to deny equality and civil rights for those in the LGBT community.

The government is not our only potential enemy and our Founding Fathers knew this because many of them exploited Blacks through slavery. Thus, what The Constitution with the Bill of Rights allowed for was the continuation of  individuals infringing on the rights of other individuals and thus both supported the status quo of their time.

BTW, did anyone notice what the anti-Federalists said about prosperity:

A republican, or free government, can only exist where the body of the people are virtuous, and where property is pretty equally divided


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July 12

To Denny Burk and his blogpost quoting the Dallas Police Chief as saying that too much is being asked of police officers today. This appeared in Denny Burk’s blog.

I agree with the police chief. We should also note how difficult a police officer's job can be without asking them to do too much.

The solution to the problem recognized by the police chief has multiple parts. Yes, we need children to be born in families and for families to remain intact. However, we also need revitalize economic opportunities for men of all ages living in densely populated urban areas for families to stay together. We also need to renew gov't provision of some of the services mentioned by the police chief. And for all of that to happen, we need to switch from an economic system built on the Ayn Rand's self-centered philosophy to one that is based on participation to the point of contributing, sharing, and cooperation.

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To Alexander Salter and his blogpost stating that the Brexit vote shows that it is necessary, for our own good, that democracy should be limited as recommended by the founding fathers. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.


We should note why the Federalists despised a more direct democracy, it was a threat to the status quo from which the Federalists so easily benefited from at the expense of others. After all, The Constitution was written in response to widespread dissent and Shays Rebellion. And what some of the people who opposed the new American elite proposed was politically called innovation by the Federalists. Federalists, like James Madison, believed in elite-centered rule couched in a republic where Senators were protected from the wrath of American voters which made up of around 5% of the people when The Constitution became law.
As for Jefferson's quote, there are two problems. First, logically speaking, the decisions in a Republic are made in a similar way as the decisions in a democracy only fewer people, more likely the elites, are the ones voting. So if we could call democracy, where 51% of the people rule, 'mob rule,' we could call our republic, where either 51% or 60% of the elected elites rule 'the mob rules.' Unless you have a dictatorship, the majority will have their way.

However, there is another problem with the Thomas Jefferson quote shown above is that the The Jefferson Monticello Website has no evidence that Thomas Jefferson ever said anything related to that quote (see https://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/democracy-nothing-more-mob-rule ).

In the end, those who are most opposed to Democracy are following in line with the Federalists of old. And it should surprise no one that a religiously conservative website like this one should want limits on democracy because those who are religiously conservative tend to be authoritarians. And that is where the issue lies. Will we be self-governing for which only Democracy provides the necessary political structures or should we leave the important decisions up to our elites in hopes that, in the face of any conflict of interest, they will rule with our best interests at heart? 




 

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