Beyond the Cusp

September 11, 2017

Nobody Expects the Iconoclast Inquisition

 

The final showdown is coming and it has been a long time building. The United States citizenry can be divided along any number of lines, men and women, children and adults, wealthy and economically challenged, dog owners and cat owners, Democrats and Republicans and almost countless other means. None of the divisions is more marked than religious and irreligious. There are a large number of Americans who are somewhat religious with some more so than others. But we are speaking about the extremes. Those who love their religion, attend their house of worship, have strong feelings, live by their religious dictates and believe in a higher influence be it a deity or simply a place or destinations for the truly enlightened as in some Eastern religions. The United States believes in the need and acceptance of religion so strongly that the First Amendment provides for freedom of religion with no interference from government. Here is the First Amendment in its entirety.

Amendment I

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 text we are concerned with particularly is, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This short phrase has been misinterpreted into the concept of building a wall between Church and State. We have discussed these phrases and ideas in detail in previous articles. We covered the structure of the First Amendment and that these concepts are divided into two components, the first being the “Establishment Clause” and the other being the “Exercise Clause” in Absolute Truth on the Wall Separating Church and State. We addressed the letter from which the phrase, “Separation of Church and State,” from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in “Separation of Church and State and the Jefferson Letter”. We will attempt to avoid rehashing these more than necessary. The main thing is that the First Amendment places a semipermeable membrane between government and religion. This membrane does not permit the government from influencing, restricting, requiring or otherwise attempting to influence or use religious tests in any manner as religion is to be free from any and all government meddling or influences. This membrane, on the other hand, permits religion to influence government and the enacting of laws and any or all other influences only restricted by the limitations placed on government. A religion cannot have the government give them any preference over other religions but can attempt to legislate moralities which agree with their concepts of morality. As an example, people of the Islamic faith may attempt to have laws enacted preventing alcohol consumption or to close the movie theaters. These same followers of Islam cannot have Sharia made the law of the land as it restricts the actions of other religions and the people who believe in them. Christians can attempt to pass laws restricting or forbidding abortions but they cannot pass a law requiring people attend services on Sunday, as not all faiths require service attendance on Sunday and there are those who do not even believe in any religion whatsoever.

 

First Amendment

First Amendment

 

The one thing that is stated in the First Amendment is that the government may not require that a person follow any particular religion to be appointed to a position nor can they deny a position because somebody may follow any religion. When it comes to religious belief or the lack thereof, the government must remain blind. That is for all positions within the government. That means that should there be a Quaker who is on the list to be eligible to be promoted to General, his religion and its aversion to war cannot be considered a disqualifying criteria for his promotion. Granted that is a condition which would be unlikely, but it makes the point. But we can present a recent case where the point is easily observed.

 

Notre Dame Law School Professor Amy Coney Barrett was recently nominated for a federal appeals court position. During her consideration and questioning, Senator Dick Durbin inquired of her, “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? That was cleared up by Senator Dianne Feinstein who added to the conversation this gem, “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” Ah, so one who is dogmatically Catholic is incapable of judging cases according to the law as the law is interpreted to be applied by the Congress and Supreme Court, is that the idea? I did not realize that Catholic doctrines forbade free thought. But wait, even if you are an ardent supporter of a woman’s right to control over her own body, a euphemism for pro-abortion, and believe that Catholics are your most vicious enemies and must be withheld from position in the judiciary unless the world will fall into a chasm of darkness, we have another example from a while back.

 

Russell Vought was once merely a nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Now, allow us to be informative about the position. This is a division of the government, which has to do with accounting, adding, subtracting and on occasion multiplying, dividing, percentages but at no point advanced calculus or rocket science. There may be estimates within budgetary and economic formulations, which are well established. So, during the hearings for Russell Vought, Senator Bernie Sanders pressed on an article written by Russell Vought decrying the supposition that everyone worships the same God. He claimed that this all too often used criteria was incorrect as the only means for salvations and having one’s soul be allowed to ascend to heaven was through the savior, Jesus Christ. This, according to Senator Sanders, was indicative of Islamophobia, an obvious thought crime. This led Senator Bernie Sanders, this irreligious Jew who has no great love of Israel, to the next obvious question, “What about Jews? Do they stand condemned, too?” So this man for his religious beliefs is now an Islamophobe and an anti-Semite according to our most irreverent Senator Sanders and thus he must be incapable of doing math and using the tools of economics and accounting.

 

So, now we all must realize that Catholics cannot interpret laws fairly and they are incapable of the simple mathematics used in accounting and are incapable of applying economic theories. One can only wonder what are some of the other religious limitations of the numerous religions. Wait; perhaps the problem is following any religion, that must be the problem. We need remember Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was queried by Senator Patrick Leahy, “Would the president have the authority to ban all Jews from America? Or all people that come from Israel? Would that be an easy question?” Senator Orin Hatch asked Neil Gorsuch, “Is it fair to say that the court’s decision in Hobby Lobby and your concurring opinion upheld this purpose and, in doing so, actually defended the unpopular and promoted religious tolerance?” Gorsuch was eventually confirmed so he must have handled the questions well enough, as they were not as far astray as the initial examples, especially for appointment to the OMB.

 

The law written as the First Amendment was questioned during ratification hearings in a number of states where their immediate problem with the law was it gave equal religious rights to such as Jews, Muslims and even heathens or barbarians who had stranger religions even than do the Jews and Muslims. These concerns were eventually quelled with the explanation that all religions had to qualify if the law was to hold any true meaning, even those that some may not particularly find as acceptable as they view their own as there probably are those who would question their religious rights believing their religion to be heretic. The absoluteness of the first Amendment is for the removal of government from having any restrictions on religion of any sort. On the other hand, it does restrict any religion from using the power of the government to gain position or advantage over any other religion or to degrade the universal rights of all religions to be practiced to the point that they would impinge on other religions. These are the absolutes of the First Amendment. The more or less defined and fuzzy areas are how far any religion can go in regard to influence on the government. As far as any position, religion cannot be used to prevent a person from serving as long as they do not misuse their power. If, let us say a person from some little known religion, we will call it Ipsolen, were appointed to a Federal Court. Their religious beliefs from their Ipsolen faith could not be used to keep them from serving. But let us sat that under the beliefs of Ipsolen other faiths were forbidden from permitting a member of the Ipsolen faith from taking things they needed without asking. Should this person as a judge apply this concept and thus find a fellow Ipsolen follower not guilty of theft on grounds that to do so would be to deny them their right to follow their religion, he could likely be brought up on charges for impeachment, though that would be a bit harsh. The use of his religious belief to supercede the law would be an impeachable offense and might get him disbarred. Fortunately, such problems will more often be revealed long before somebody is nominated to any of our higher courts and if a rare case comes up, there is always impeachment.

 

On impeachment, one item we need to understand, anyone can be impeached for any reason because the reason does not actually matter. In the case of President Trump, let us argue he was brought up for impeachment before the House of Representatives with the charge being incompetent and mental health issues. The House of Representatives voted with a simple majority to impeach President Trump on exactly those charges of being incompetent and mental health issues. That is sufficient to send it over to the Senate where appointed members from the House of Representatives present the case. After all has been said and done, the Senate votes and if a two-thirds majority votes to convict, that is it, the President is impeached. The charges are irrelevant as what it actually takes is a majority in the House of Representatives and a two-thirds vote of the Senate and that would impeach the President or anyone on any position brought up on charges and put through the system. If one side can get a majority of the Representatives and two-thirds of the Senate behind an impeachment, then nothing could prevent that exact result and they could claim he was chewing gum during some presumed important event and still impeach. This is the one thing that is not understood by many arguing whether this or that or the other is a justifiable case for impeachment, anything can be the justifiable case for impeachment. That is the reality, so anti-Trumpers, your work is cut out for you.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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