The Importance of Separation of Church and State

I am going to do a few pieces on libertarian versus conservative thought. This is not a bonafide series, but I do want to cover some of the key issues that separate conservatives and libertarians philosophically, and explain why I embrace the libertarian viewpoint over the conservative one. One of these issues I run into the most is the idea of separation of church and state.

Most conservative thinkers agree that government should stay out of religion, but are often less concerned about the other way around. You Constitutionalists out there will likely point out that the term “separation of church and state” is not in the constitution, but in a letter between Jefferson and the Danbury Baptist Association. Indeed, a true separation is not possible, not if you include all belief systems in the umbrella of “church”, which I think was the intent. It is impossible because being without religion is, in effect, its own belief system with its own standards of conduct. All people on earth operate with some sort of belief/thought/moral system, so it cannot be removed. Furthermore, removal of the right to have certain beliefs or practice certain beliefs simply because one is an elected official is a violation of the First Amendment, and more importantly, the individual rights of persons in government.

That said, I maintain that it is important to keep religion out of actual laws and governing. The central reasoning for this? Separation of Powers. There are 4 kinds of power in the world: Physical, Wealth, Influence, and Authority. These types of power on their own can be misused, power in general implies control, especially control of others. On their own they can be bad news in the wrong hands, combined, they can be devastating. If you subscribe, as I do, to the adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, then you understand the need for keeping these kinds of power separate from each other.

Physical power can be used to manipulate through intimidation, but there is always a bigger club, and modern society does not bow to direct physical threats the same way. We may be a fearful society, hence the effectiveness of terrorism, but we do not choose our leaders based on who is the best warrior like we did in primitive times.

Wealth has great power, and when combined with authority you get the sort of corporatist system we currently have, hence part of my reasoning that will be covered in another post on separation of business and state. The extreme result of such a combination is essentially Fascism, and that is not a place we want to go.

Influence is the one that falls on the shoulders of the Church and other religions. People follow their religious leaders in many things, as long as something can be sufficiently portrayed as “right” according to one’s beliefs, then people can be convinced to do it. The things people have done in the name of their god are everything from great to evil, but they were all motivated by their beliefs, and in many cases influeced by the religious leaders they followed.

Authority is the power type that the government has. Basically, this authority ends up getting used to stockpile wealth and physical power in the hands of the government through taxation and the military. If business is separate, then they do not have all of the wealth, but they still have a lot to work with. If they combine with religion in a theocracy, then you have total power.

Theocracy has always lead to atrocities in history. The people who are corrupted by power realize the combined power of influence and authority allows them to get people to do anything. The Crusades, the Inquisition, Manifest Destiny, modern Islamic terrorism, and a host of other horrible things in history are all examples of what happens when Church and State combine. If you notice, not only did the state use the church to increase its power, but the church itself in all of those cases was also corrupted. Terrorism is not in line with Islamic beliefs. The Crusades and the Inquisition are not in line with Christian philosophy. Yet these things happened in the name of their respective religions.

It is essential to both the concepts of freedom/a government that is under control AND to the purity of faith that the separation of power be maintained. I ask that people keep their religion out of the law to protect their faith itself from the corruption that will certainly follow. I also point out that, even within most faiths all do not agree on every standard. Should we have laws that require a dress code for every person? Even a strictly christian moral person should be able to recognize that such a thing is largely personal choice. What would the standards be? No tight clothing? What about scuba divers? No shorts or short skirts? Who defines shorts? What about hair length? Makeup? Jewelry? You see, even with something so minor there are as many opinions as there are people. Such a thing cannot be made law.

Concepts of private property and individual freedom may be supported in many religions. Most conservatives point out that Judeo-Christian values support those things. I agree, but that does not mean that all Judeo-Christian values support freedom. Some things are matters of the heart and of faith. They are matters of influence. We can influence those around us without using authority to force people to abide by our standards. Laws that support freedom will include making theft and murder illegal, but they may not include keeping the Sabbath day holy. God’s laws are not man’s laws, nor should they be. One can be a conservative without having to force others to live as a conservative through force of law. And that is the difference, and why I choose the libertarian stance on church and state rather than the conservative or strictly constitutional one.

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Comments

  1. There were some good responses on this piece over at my blog, I will post some of them here, that way V. H. doesnt have to write them again. 🙂

    From V.H.
    Only one problem -Without any religious law or in my opinion more aptly called decency laws-which many people of religion and without agree on. Such as public nudity, public sexual acts, etc-the people who are not lead by much of any moral code will get out of hand and limit our ability to enjoy our freedoms. And as long as we have any type of majority vote-we will have religious beliefs and non religious moral codes affecting our legal system. I know that you have come up with many viable plans to help in overcoming these problems but human nature is very hard to change.

    • My Reponse:
      I was waiting for that response, and it is a good one. Basically, decency laws are one of the few things that make separation of church and state not so much of a no-brainer. I think one of my other commenters here, Blacksand (whom I have not heard from in a while because I think he is in Mexico on a missions trip), pretty much had me convinced that local decency laws were ok. I think that a compromise could be found with decency laws that barred federal and state governments from having them, and only allowed them at county and smaller levels. Furthermore, decency laws could not cross certain lines of freedom, as in, no decency law can be put in place that affects consenting adults in private. In other words, laws like we have here in Virginia that say that it is illegal to have sex outside of marriage, with the lights on, or in any position other than missionary, would be in violation of privacy statutes.

      I personally would prefer to have decency set by the society, not the government of that society, but i can see how a sudden shift would leave a vacuum because social mores are not respected in our time. As such, I could see local decency laws being allowed, at least as a transitional step towards removing them and having the society manage things like nudity and acceptable bathing suits.

      How is that? 🙂

      • V. H. response:
        Sounds okay to me-if my area becomes a cesspool-I can move. Can’t have the lights on-what’s that supposed to accomplish-seeing no evil. 🙂

        • My response:
          I suppose, tho that means that sex itself is evil, even after marriage. It’s a pretty good example in real life of decency laws gone nuts. Religion mixed with government doing something that is not even agreed upon in the standard theologies of that religion. Its just one group that happened to have the influence at a given time passing law covering an entire state. The fact that it is not enforced is irrelevant. In fact, it is an even worse solution because it makes law irrelevant sometimes and not others.

          • V. H. response
            I have taken note that they seldom actually get rid of a law once it’s written. A dangerous practice. But why go to the trouble of actually taking a law off the books if you can just choose not to enforce it. Besides some of them might become useful at some future date. It shows pretty clearly that power concedes nothing if it isn’t forced to. And You are right, it also seeds disrespect for law in general. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a law on the book somewhere that makes it illegal to breathe.

            Just as a side note-you do realize that the see no evil line was a sarcastic joke 🙂 Trying to figure out the mind set for writing such a ridiculous law is almost impossible.

          • V.H.
            Actually, maybe the mind set isn’t that hard to figure out. Maybe they wanted to make sex outside of marriage illegal but society and the Constitution wouldn’t let them. So they threw in a couple stupid rules so they could arrest and harrass anyone they caught doing so. That’s a pretty standard way that they steal our freedoms. They don’t take away the freedom they just tweak it or regulate it.

          • V.H.
            One other question Jon, are you by this article stating that the conservative doesn’t believe in the principal behind the separation of church and state. I agree that the Bible is used to support or not support many laws. But in most cases there are arguments that are separate from the Bible that support their stand based on nature or tradition, etc. Whether the argument is right or wrong is a matter of opinion but I think you get my point. Even gay marriage has arguments against it that do not rely on the Bible.

          • V. H.
            One other thing-I realize that the religious right(hate the phrase by the way) does effect our laws. But if you think about it-is this discussion about decency laws really about the separation of church and state. I seriously doubt that your reasoning that we may need them for awhile anyway, is based on your religious beliefs. Is Christianity really the culprit in the loss of our freedoms or are we just a convenient scape goat. A convenient tool that is used to ridicule anyone on the right who disagrees with them on an issue.

  2. My Reponse to V. H.
    Lol, yes, I realize you were joking with the see no evil comment, it just got me thinking about the rationale as well. I think it really was for that purpose, because that applies to married couples as well. Although your idea that it was to add extra abilities to harass is maybe more likely, they have likely never intended to enforce it on married persons, but wanted more ways to enforce it elsewhere. Tweaking freedom indeed, always entering through the backdoor.

    I am not stating that all conservatives do not support separation of church and state, but most that I speak to tend to support using the legal system to enforce “morality”. The stereotypical conservative position is to minimize government costs and financial infringement, with the exception of the military, but to continue government restriction on individual actions like marriage laws, drug laws, decency laws, sexual laws, language and speech laws, and other areas of infringement on the individual. Much of this is supported for religious reasons, but not all of it.

    Essentially, I want to caution conservatives against supporting legal infringement on individual freedom, especially if it is motivated by their faith. I recognize that Christianity is not a “culprit”. In fact, most of Christian theology does not support the use of a legal system to enforce morality. Jesus himself hinted a great deal at keeping church and state separate. He said his kingdom is not of this world, so he was not intending to overthrow the government. He said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and what is God, give to God. He spent his life here on earth talking to people about their soul, their heart, not about the outside of people. He pointed out many times that the religious leaders who were so moral on the outside were like rotten graves on the inside. He also pointed out that them fussing over the law, like working on the Sabbath, was a violation of the intent of the law, and was generally out of line, since the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

    So essentially, I do not blame Christianity, I blame people who, in their frustration with the world around them, turn to the government to make everyone “be good”, so that they do not have to deal with it. People do not want to do what Jesus did, which was to forgive and to love people regardless of their actions. He looked at the souls of people, not the outside. He hung out with corrupt tax collectors and thieves and sinners and prostitutes and reached out to them. He did not join in their actions. He, as Ghandi would say, “was the change he wanted to see in the world”. He railed against hypocrisy, and preached purity and lack of sin, but he showed that these were matters of the heart, and that to change another person from the outside was useless, and not even real change. It is laziness, judgementalism, and pride that is motivating people of faith to seek government help in their quest for a moral society. These are not Christlike characteristics, they are in fact those which he said were the most dangerous, because people would deceive themselves that they were good Christians.

    Jesus said the world would know we were Christians by our love. Is that something that can be said for the crowd that seeks decency laws? I grew up Christian, and then I made some mistakes that were pretty severe. It was my non-christian friends that forgave me and welcomed me with open arms, not my Christian ones. There were a few exceptions. My family and a select few friends stuck by me, but that percentage is tiny against the number of friends that I had, or thought I had.

    So no, it is not a scapegoat, it is a criticism of those who claim to be Christian, because they are not acting like it. And it is not just Christians, there are a lot of conservatives who are motivated in their attitudes for other reasons, fear being the biggest one. People support drug laws out of fear. They support a wall on the border out of fear. They support some of the stuff in the Patriot Act out of fear. Fear is the mind-killer, and it is a freedom killer. Basically, a conservative that criticizes the left for supporting the Health Care Bill because of fear, is being a hypocrite if they support a border fence out of fear. Fear is fear, and if it is your reason for giving up freedom, it does not really matter which one you are willing to give up. Those who put security above liberty deserve neither, nor will they have either.

    As far as other reasons, I do not find tradition to be a very good reason for giving up freedom either. I know there are other lines of reasoning, my dad has always been good at pointing those out, but there are very few arguments that trump freedom for me.

    For instance, I would love to hear the non-moral reasoning for restricting gay marriage. That is a debate I am well versed on, and I would like to see if they are arguments I have not heard before. 🙂

    • Mathius says:

      Jon,

      I duked it out with my coworker yesterday on the issue of gay marriage. Very interesting, yet absurdly frustrating.

      His initial stance was that the bible defines marriage, and that that is the definition, period. But that’s easy enough to blow a hole in. If the bible is not open to interpretation and is whole and complete and must be accepted on all grounds, how does he feel about instituting the death penalty for violating the Sabbath? Oops.

      So the next step was that it’s unnatural. I hate the world “natural” – it’s such a weasel word. There’s no good definition and that allows people to use it flexibly. I took his definition to mean that it doesn’t happen in the animal kingdom outside of humans. So I sent him a dozen links for youtube videos showing gay monkeys. Oops.

      Next up, he argued that the purpose of marriage is to produce offspring and that a gay couples cannot do that. He discounted my arguments about modern medical science (transgender pregnancy), adoption, sperm/egg donors, etc. So then I asked him how he feels about infertile couples getting married. He said “there’s still a slight change, but with gays there’s no chance.” So I posited a couple in their 90’s. “There’s still a very slight chance.” So I posited that the male completely lost his genitalia in a freak accident. And here’s where my brain began to leak out of my ears: “they could have an immaculate conception.” I argued that a gay couple is equally likely to have an immaculate conception. ::sigh::

      So he took the next line of reasoning: civil unions are equal to marriage, so why should gays* get to redefine marriage for the rest of us. I asked why the rest of us should get to unilaterally define marriage for them. He didn’t have a good answer for that.

      This went on at work for a good two hours. At the end, neither of us had convinced the other of anything.

      Some day, perhaps 50 years from now, people will look back at DOMA and DADT and the rest of those types of laws and equate them with Jim Crow. I guarantee it.

      I don’t think the government should be in the business of defining marriage in the first place, but if they’re going to be, then I think they should be obligated to do it on some stronger footing that gays* are different, and gay sex is icky.

      *my coworker insists on using the term “gays” as a pejorative, as do several members of congress I could name.

      I just want to add one thing that my cousin posted on FB the other day:

      So let me get this straight…………Kelsey Grammer can end a 15 yr marriage by phone, Larry King can be on divorce #9, Britney Spears had a 55 hour marriage, Jesse James and Tiger Woods, while married, were having sex with EVERYONE, 53% of Americans get divorced and 30-60% cheat on their spouses. Yet, same-sex marriage is going to destroy the institution of marriage? Really?

      I’ll make time to argue this today if anyone wants to have at it.

      • I would argue it with you Matt, but we are on the same side. The state has NO business defininf marriage. This means that the state should not be involved in ANY marriage.

        The government’s involvement stops at the civil union or similar contractual arrangement. Having legal recognition of guardianship and ownership of property is important. tax breaks for married people are another issue, and is essentially irrelevant. If you are going to have a tax break for having children at all, then it should include any arrangement of custody of a child that involves an active and physically costly role in the care and raising of the child.

        Child costody and joint ownership of property and the ability to make medical decisions should be able to be made between any adult parties, regardless of number, gender, or relationship. If I want to give medical decision power to my best friend instead of my romantic interest, that should be acceptable. If I have a child and have chosen godparents, we should be able to enter into a custody arrangement in the case of death or some other dispute. If I want joint property ownership with my children or with a friend or with my local mooselodge membership roster, that should be my right, and that is the extent of government involvement, so that they can help handle/arbitrate disputes if they arise as a result of a breach of such a lifelong contract or a result of death, etc. Also, such contracts should be able to be for a certain period of time, it should not have to be lifelong.

        Marriage itself is defined by the people engaging in it. If you are of a religion that does not recognize gay marriage, you should be able to be married by a priest of religious leader that believes as you do. If you think of marriage as an idea of expression of lifelong love, you should be able to get married as well. What you call marriage will not be the same as the religious person, but that is irrelevant. To you, it is marriage.

        Now, if you want to marry your goat or a child, you can think what you want, but sexual activity will still be illegal, and a civil union in such a case will not be possible.

        • Also, such contracts should be able to be for a certain period of time, it should not have to be lifelong. Interestingly, Islam provides for this. A marriage contract is set not for eternity, but for a term. To make it a life-long commitment, Muslim couples set the term to 1,000 years, but they are (religiously, if not legally) free to set any term they wish.

          Saudi Arabia, has the death penalty for prostitution (Saudi Arabia has the death penalty for pretty much everything). Ironically, however, prostitutes operate in Saudi Arabia by entering into marriage contracts with a term of an hour. The prostitutes marry their clients, the contract expires, and the divorce settlement provides the payment. All perfectly legal.

          Now, if you want to marry your goat or a child, you can think what you want, but sexual activity will still be illegal, and a civil union in such a case will not be possible. I’m in full agreement. Where do you stand on polygamy/polyandry? I think it’s a terrible idea (one wife is more than enough for me, thank you), but that people should be free to engage in it. Where I see a problem is in the taxation/legal structure involved. I don’t have a specific question here, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.

          And now, just for kicks: LINK.

          • I ahve no problem with polygamy/polyandry. Like you, I think it is retarded, but it should not be illegal. If your idea of marriage is “it takes a village”, then rock on. I personally think a real relationship like is possible between two people is impossible with more than two.

            As for ownership and custody issues, the contract would be more complex, but not a real problem. Taxation is another matter. I do not like taxes being used to change behavior, tho I understand granting tax breaks to families with children because they have a higher cost pressed on them caring for a child or other dependent (disabled or terminally infirm persons for instance). However, I think such breaks should be granted to a household, meaning it would distributed among the persons, thus a “marriage group” of 5, where there were 5 adults and 1 child and a tax break of, say, $1500 per year, would equate to $300 per person, unless you file as a household with combined income, which would need to be adjusted as far as tax rate in our current progressive system. It would be too easy for a “household income” to be $250k or more if the “household” was 10 adults. So, would there be complexities? Sure. Major problems from a legal or taxation standpoint? Not really.

    • Jon,
      You and VH are having a discussion which includes sexual/moral practices and you slip this sentence in?

      “Tweaking freedom indeed, always entering through the backdoor.”

      Caught! But if the lights weren’t on, is it then OK? I’m confused!

    • Thank you Jon Smith for putting into words what I have thought for a long time. You have said it much more concisely than I ever could. Keep up the good work.

  3. From Mark, one of my regulars:
    To set the stage – I am a Christian, but will not take the space to define such at this time.

    As for laws: I firmly believe most, if not all, laws should be of a moral nature. We would have a freer and less regulatory society if this were the case. Limiting our laws to issues of morality would make our society freer and the laws less burdensome. Laws not of a moral nature are inherently biased and unneeded. Why have a law against something that is not wrong?

    To make laws against stealing, murder, adultery, etc, are of a moral nature and necessary for society. Making a law on how to grow cabbage is arbitrary and unnecessary (and the law is wrong). The same (arbitrary) laws can be expanded to, oh say, how far apart the studs need to be in your house, or how much interest can be charged on a loan, or how much a company can charge for a gallon of gasoline, etc. Levying punitive tax burdens on society and then giving selective tax credits for certain expenditures is wrong and arbitrary (for example: school vouchers). If you think there should be no laws regarding sex outside of marriage, then should there at least be an age limit (again, that would have to do with morals)? How about sodomy among males (let them pay for their own “health” care, then OK?) – again should it be OK as long as they are adults – morals?
    What about forcing a person to do something they do not want to do – morals? If T thinks something is good, but H does not, is T allowed to force H to do it… or is H allowed to force T to NOT do it. No, unless the deed is of a moral nature. (not limiting this to sex – ie: it is OK for me, by force, to stop T from killing someone, or stealing, etc – morals!)

    If I speak to someone regarding the salvation provided through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – I have done them no harm – they may freely accept or reject. If government says, “I MUST” speak of this salvation or if they say “I must not” speak of it – both are of force and are wrong. But given the free option of telling (or not) anyone about the salvation of Jesus – or any other religion, should not be a law. Even elected government representatives should be free to speak as they desire about such (and frankly, I wish they would lay it on the line, instead of hiding their true beliefs/agenda).
    We have enough knowledge of history to know that pretty much every, once great, society tends to go downhill and self-destruct when it becomes, by pretty much any honest acknowledgment of normalcy, corrupt and “immoral.”

    Expanding laws to non-moral regulations lessens the freedom of a society.

    It could be argued that privacy laws trump all others – but what of a person who drinks (or smokes, etc) in the privacy of their home (with lights out of course), then leaves their estate and drives a car. Should there be a law?
    What if a couple guys perform sodomy in the privacy of their home (again, no lights). Then contract diseases – and spread it to others. Should there be a law? Or should those of us not doing such be forced to pay the medical bills for their “private’ behavior? How about heroin, or crack, etc – is it OK to partake of such things in private, yet the aftereffects have an influence on the rest of society – even after the immediate “high” [sic] wears off.

    Some discussions, for lack of time and space and finger power, must of necessity be simplistic in there details. So I restate my premise: I firmly believe most, if not all, laws should be of a moral nature. We would have a freer and less regulatory society if this were the case.

    • My Response:
      Mark,
      Great to have you, I appreciate your comments. I largely agree with your sentiments that laws should not be made for things like how you can grow your cabbage. I understand certain reasoning for things like building codes, like how far apart studs should be in a house, but to have those laws affect what one can do on private property is indeed a violation of freedom. I think that the free market can handle things like building quality.

      I agree also that most things that protect the rights of individuals align with a large percentage of what most people consider moral. Theft, murder, rape, and a host of other things are certainly considered immoral. Where we part ways is when something one person considers “moral” is put into law, when, in fact, it is not something that is “wrong” according to another. I am not talking about something extreme like one person not thinking theft is immoral. I am talking about things like my example of some of Virginia’s laws. Is it wrong for a married couple to engage in intercourse with the lights on? What about in the daytime? That is something that is not wrong, but there is a “decency law” against it.

      Laws intended to prevent something bad limit freedom, and they presume guilt. A person who drinks or does drugs in the privacy of their home have not done anything to violate the rights of another. In Christian theology, it may be immoral (and thus “wrong”), since the body is to be treated as a holy temple, but it is not harming another person, or making them do anything wrong. If that person then goes and drives, they violate the terms laid out by those who own the roads, and risk a lost of license. If they harm another, then they have caused actual harm, as such, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I would even argue that they should be treated as if it was done intentionally, not treated as an accident as it would be if a person was not intentionally impaired. But to assume that a person who does something in their own home is necessarily going to make a further choice and harm another is an assumption of guilt, and violates the premise of innocence until guilt is proven. It also would justify other preventative and pre-emptive laws. Gun control is justified in this way, but we see the failed logic in that. Only the law abiding are affected, their freedoms are taken as they are treated as criminals and restricted from owning certain types of property. Those who would commit a vile act with a gun simply defy the gun laws as well. Making drugs or certain types of sex illegal follows the same premise.

      Now, you asked a question concerning age limit. I absolutely agree that minors and children are protected under a different standard. When I talk about victimless crime, and allowing things, in a legal sense, between consenting adults, that does not apply with non-adults or even animals.

      I know that immoral acts will affect others in an indirect fashion. In fact, everything we do will affect others. Some of the negative effects you mention can happen even in the absence of immoral acts. Contagious diseases, car wrecks, bad judgment, etc. You cannot prevent bad things from happening.

      Now, I totally agree with historical premise. We have seen great societies rise and fall. We see their demise coincide with the failure of the morals of that society. When I say that I do not think there should be morality laws, that is NOT me saying that there should not be morality in society. I am saying that it is not the role of government to maintain the morality of society. In fact, I would submit that the morality of those societies as they grew to greatness was not generated by, nor protected by, nor maintained in any way by the government. I further submit that a society’s loss of morality often coincides with its dependence on government to take care of things that people don’t want to do for themselves.

      Laws based in morality are subjective. Laws based on individual rights can have a consistent standard. That consistency is what is needed in law, otherwise we just have laws that are variable, and that violate freedom. Freedom needs law to protect it. Morality needs people to protect it.

      • Mark’s Reponse:
        Actually, we agree on just about everything.

        I brought up the example of imbibing at home, then going out into public and causing menace (note: no menace, no punishment) to show that some sexual behavior in privacy can have effects on otherwise innocent parties – and should be punished – not for the immoral act, per se, but for the ensuing menace to society. As you said, be treated as having done so intentionally.

        We do not deviate at all re: lights/daytime – as long as private. The gray area is where is to draw the line of decency in public.

        As for drinking/smoking/etc – I’ll go one further and say it is OK to drink/smoke while driving – AS LONG AS all other rules of the road are being adhered. Again, no menace no punishment. However, if accident occurs and perp is found to be under the influence – slam them, hard.

        The original premise of not having moral laws is still in err. Pretty much all the examples you give of acceptable/necessary laws are moral in nature. As it should be. Again, the gray area is how much morality to legislate or how many moral laws there should be. Preferably, a minimum – only those to protect infringement on harming fellow citizens.

        • My reponse:
          Mark, the reason I am being so specific about the definition of law, and about stating that it is not based on morality, is not because I do not agree that all of the laws I support are matters of what I consider to be morality. My point is that morality alone cannot be the basis. The reason for this is not only that some people will not be as moral or will have a different concept of morality, although that is a significant part of my reasoning. The main reason is that we both agree that there are certain things that we do or ask others to do based on our morals, that should NOT be passed into law. There are also examples of things that some consider a matter of morality that you and I do not. So morality, because it is not consistent for all people, is not a good basis for law. That does not mean that every single law will not be moral in nature, it simply means that morality is not the litmus test that justified something being made law.

          Individual rights, on the other hand, are more easily defined. If you define rights as something that one is free to do so long as it does not impact anyone else’s rights, then you can come to a consistent point without contradiction. That is a good basis for law.

  4. Ray Hawkins says:

    I always thought the historical reference to religion and/or Church was intended to be “formal” or “organized” religion/Church versus something more slippery like a general “belief system”?

    • Perhaps, though my point is that legal codes should be in place for the sake of protecting rights and freedom, not based on any specific “moral code”. Granted, there is still the belief system factor, i.e. what if you you don’t believe in rights or freedom or in certain ones, but at least there can be an objective definition.

      The problem with only separating formal religion is that a “general” belief or religion can still be a problem in some situations. Remember Prohibition? That was put in because of moral outcry by a variety of denominations, mostly Protestant, but not any particular organized religion, church, or group, so I think it has to refer to more than just officially organized churches.

  5. Ray Hawkins says:

    @USW – (and others) – If a State has proclaimed an official “State Religion” then dare we say they are at least partially theocratic?

    I think so.

    States such as Iceland, Finland, England, Costa Rica, Norway, Greece, Cyprus, and many others all have a formally designated / official State religion.

    To add to this, States such as Portugal, Spain, Poland and many others are said to specifically mention/reference Catholicism in their Constitutions.

    Makes the statement: “Theocracy has always lead to atrocities in history” perhaps in need of clarification.

    • Perhaps “often” instead of “always” would be more specifically accurate. The point remains, however, when church leaders let the power go to their heads, or when power hungry people infiltrated the church, major evil ensues. I am not sure how theocratic a government is just by recognizing a state religion, unless they are demanding that all people practice said religion, persecute those who do not, and base their laws on that state religion. Perhaps there is some measure of theocratic leaning, but it is not a theocracy. We have a measure of theocratic leaning here, as evidenced by a lot of our laws, but I would hardly call us an actual theocracy. We are simply a state that should more clearly define its separation from religion.

    • Ray

      The existence of a “State Religion” as defined in modern times does not constitute a theocracy. Not in and of itself.

      Theocracy occurs when A religion holds the reigns of Govt power.

      It does however create a sense of preferential treatment of the citizenry, which is contrary to traditional American principles.

  6. Ray Hawkins says:

    Well, for S&G’s – so where is that bridge where insisting upon separation becomes the SUFA-dreaded “politically correct”? And sure – use Christmas Trees or Santa Claus on the County Courthouse lawn as the example.

    Thanks!

    • Ray

      What is S&G’s?

      The bridge you seek is to NOT ban such displays but make sure that all displays are allowed in public places. It is called TOLERANCE

      • That is another solution, and it might do the majority some good to realize that a display of a Muslim holiday symbol is not an affront to them.

        Still, there has to be limitations in commons areas. I do not want to say that “all is welcome” and then have The Holy Church of the Heavenly Breast put a topless Mrs. Claus as their holiday display. And, of course, if you restrict it to only “officially recognized” religions, then you have the State deciding what a “real religion” is or is not. Not a place you want to go. Commons areas should be managed by vote, perhaps with minority decisions being considered if there are enough of them. We are talking about displays and symbols, so there is not a real “tyranny of the majority” in this case, no real rights are being violated, just decisions being made on the use of common areas and publicly owned property.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          Well put Jon – and I got to laugh and think at the same time

          “The Holy Church of the Heavenly Breast”

          Are you demonizing breasts my good man?

          😉

          To use a Mathius word – are they too “icky”?

          • LOL, no, not “icky”. Just don’t want parents to have to explain it to their kids or have a constant group of 12-15 year-olds loitering around the place…

        • Here in WI, home of the “Freedom From Religion” group, they also have a display during the holiday season. Unfortunately, they don’t choose a simple “Religion isn’t the Answer” type thing but choose a vulgar display against baby Jesus.

          • Well that’s distasteful. But I’m sure they’re not fans of the billboards that tell them they’re doomed to hell for not believing the right way.

            I think both sides should calm down and stop being so obnoxious, but let’s not imagine that the only guilty ones here are the “Freedom From Religion” groups.

          • As long as it is on private property, it is just vulgar and distasteful, nothing more. If it is on a commons area, then you should be able to appeal to the owners of said commons area.

            It is the price of freedom, and it is a small one, compared to the cost of losing that freedom.

            • I think if there were more offensive things around then we would quickly become inured to them and they would cease to be offensive.

              Also, I’m all in favor of more displays by the church of Heavenly Breasts.. although I would probably join the rival faction the “Holy Church of the Heavenly Hiney.”

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Shits and giggles = S&G’s

    • Ahhh! This is where things have gotten mired. Does separation of church and state mean that all things government must be devoid of any religion? Is that not secularism or atheism and thus a belief system as well? There are a few solutions to this problem.

      1) Cut down on what the State owns and does, turn more and more of it over to private hands. If half the county is state run, then there is a lot more chance of such conflicts.

      2) Even more importantly, we have to get rid of the idea that, simply by having a symbol of some religion a person, group, or government is forcing their religion on you. Government workers and civil/public servants have the right to freedom of religion too.

      3) Commons areas can still be an issue, but I think a simple petition driven or vote driven decision process on public displays and uses would be sufficient. Return the power to the people and you can no longer hold the state liable, thus the display of a nativity on state property is no longer a separation of church and state issue.

      • Michelle says:

        Another view to take is that certain things can be banned by local governments but not federal or state (particularly federal). It’s not too tough to move to an area more friendly to your views if you really need to. People already do that all the time.

  7. Jon,

    Well done! My head is only throbbing at level five. A problem, isn’t separation of religion and government contrary to Islamic beliefs?

    • Why is that a problem? They will simply have to adjust if that is indeed the case. Separation of church and state violates the old Jewish law too, but I do not see many practicing Jews in the US who have a big problem with this or feel like they are failing to live up to the statutes of their beliefs. I am not versed enough in Islam to know if such a thing is really a major hindrance to the practice of theri religion, I would bet that it is not.

      • It is absolutely a requirement of Islam that the state be Muslim. I say this having read the Quran cover to cover.

        That said, while they do mandate that the state be fundamentally Muslim (note: fundamentally, not fundamentalist), it does not require or even suggest that the Muslim laws be applied to non-Muslims.

        Rather, it specifically clarifies that through taxation, non-Muslims must fund the state (whereas Muslims must do so through religiously mandated donations), and are thus entitled to full rights and protections and justice under a secular court system.

        In fact, as I follow it (and, though I am well versed, I can hardly be said to be a Islamic scholar), a Muslim state adhering to the Quran would have to set up a duel legal system (one religious, one secular) and individuals would be free to choose which system to subject themselves to.

        If you look at it as written, the whole setup really does come off as an attempt, not to push Islam on non-Muslims, but rather as a mandate to control the state so that non-Muslims cannot push their religion on Muslims. It goes to great lengths to clarify that the non-believer is free to believe as he wishes and that Sharia law applies only to those who wish to subject themselves to it (submission to sharia is religiously mandated in order to get into heaven, but it must be a free choice).

        • Interesting.
          Still, I would rather see a voluntarily abided by sub-government, rather than a split government. Even the death penalty would have to be accepted voluntarily by the accused for it to work…

          • Correct. The Koran recognizes old testament laws, so there are a lot of crimes punishable by death. However, you should be able to opt out of the sharia system and into the secular system. If you do so, however, the Koran dooms you to hell.

            I don’t really get what you mean about “voluntarily abided by sub-government”..?

            • In other words, I do not think I would accept a Muslim government with a secular arm or version. I would, however, accept the forming of a voluntary-only muslim state within our government. Any and all adherence tot hat government, however, would be strictly voluntary.

              • See, therein lies some conflict. They would argue that the supremacy of Islam is required in order to protect Islam. You would argue that the supremacy of the secular is required to protect you from Islam.

                I addressed this in my post below to JAC.

        • Mathius

          So does that mean that our Constitution and our form of Govt is preventing the Muslim from practicing their religion?

          Does this mean that by allowing Muslims to live in our country we are setting ourselves up for a Fatwa due to our imposition upon Islam?

          • Yes. More or less. Islam mandates control of the government. So, to a Muslim, the US would be fine, as is, if there was a duel system in place for Sharia law that would apply only to those who subject themselves to it, and which is supreme to the secular US. The supremacy comes in that the secular system would have no authority over Muslims who have chosen to follow Sharia. How all this would work in reality is beyond me since I can’t imagine it functioning.

            Re Fatwa: I think you misuse or misunderstand what a fatwa is. A fatwa is simply a religious scholar’s declared opinion on an issue. There have been numerous such fatwas and they carry no special weight or course of action. Typically a fatwa will declare that something is incompatible with Islam and Muslims are advised to avoid it. Also, importantly, they do not bind non-Muslims, and should never be political in nature. So, to ask if we are setting ourselves up for a fatwa due to our imposition is nonsensical.

            That said, your real question is: Are we setting ourselves up for conflict by our insistence in a Judeo-Christian theocracy which we pretend is secular rather than instituting the duel system advocated by the Quran? And that, I can’t really answer. I would suggest that if we, as human beings, can dial down the Islamophobia and hate-mongering and paranoia and just start treating Muslims like everyone else, then they’ll never build up a critical mass for serious conflict on religious grounds. The conflicts we’ve had so far (ie, 9/11, etc) are all really political.

            There’s a lot of stuff in the old and new testament and the Koran that 99.999% of practitioners ignore as irrelevant and I would hazard a guess that this facet of their religion is mostly ignored by Muslims who are well treated. Muslims who are oppressed are probably more likely to see it as necessary for their own protection.

            That said, it has been my experience that Christians are overwhelmingly misinformed about their own religion and holy books. Jews are as well. I suspect the same can be said of Muslims. I would bet that most Muslims you talk in America are pretty ignorant about what the Quran actually requires. So who can say what they would think or do?

            • Matt, I agree that the government level would be a potential conflict. From a logic standpoint, the government that has no restriction by mandate should be higher up than the one that does. In other words, my ideal government would only stop people from forcing compliance to a religion, whereas the Muslim government would be having to make an exception, its default is to have a compliance level.

              Does that make sense, I think I said it too vaguely…

            • Mathius

              I know what a Fatwa is and you know they are not all benign.

              And I asked the question I intended to ask. Based on your response it appears the answer is YES.

              • I would say no. If pressed to guess, I would say that it is unlikely that a viable religious movement by Muslims to institute sharia law in the US will ever emerge.

                But that’s opinion, nothing else.

              • Mathius

                Man oh man. You sure missed the point.

                Please go back to my original question. It has nothing to do with some attempt to establish Sharia in the US.

                Although I am not as skeptical as you that some success in this endeavor would be possible.

                In fact I would bet your socialist friend Charlie would love to institute a law prohibiting the charging of interest on loans. At least if the lender exceeded some specified level of wealth.

      • Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, led the protesters in calling for Obama to issue a formal statement decrying Sharia law.

        “There might have been people here who wanted to explicitly impose Sharia on this country,” Gaffney said, referring to Choudary’s canceled rally. “We were prepared to debate that proposition with them, but we also want to call out those who are seeking to implement Sharia, but are doing it by stealth.”

        Gaffney contends Muslims like Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who was previously behind the Ground Zero Mosque, aim for full Sharia law implementation in the U.S., just like Choudary, but do so in a more behind-the-scenes or “stealthy” way.

        “Sharia is the theopolitical, military, legal program that those that adhere to it seek to impose it on all of us,” Gaffney said. “As they say: ‘by stealth, where necessary, by violence, when practical.’ We believe that this is a moment where it is imperative that the American people understand what a peril this represents.”

        Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/03/anti-sharia-law-advocates-rally-outside-white-house-despite-radical-muslim-cleric-anjem-choudary%e2%80%99s-absence/#ixzz1G7PtlUoe

        • Yea..

          There are three possibilities:

          A) Gaffney is misinformed or lying about Islam and it’s goals.
          B) Rauf is wrong or lying about Islam and it’s goals.
          C) A and B

  8. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    I seem to do this a lot, for which I apologize, but this is clearly off-topic for today. Unfortunately it is also vitally important, so perhaps if USW does not have anything slated for tonight/tomorrow, we could discuss this?

    http://www.kitco.com/ind/Long/mar082011.html

    And now back to Mr. Smith’s topic at hand 🙂

    • Peter

      Nice to see you old friend. Yes, I think we should take this up tomorrow. I am not sure the theory is totally sound but the results may be the same regardless.

  9. Ray Hawkins says:

    Sorry for hijack – but what the hell is up with NPR? CEO just resigned?

    • Video caught them telling the truth about their feelings in several areas and it wasn’t pretty. Daily Caller has full version along with shorter version. I also posted a link yesterday when it was all coming down.

  10. The next step:
    Separation of Government from itself.

  11. The next step:
    Separation of Government from itself.

    8)

  12. Timely article Jon and well done. I’m going to tie it into the happenings here in WI and some of the things I have learned.

    As a point of reference, I am a Christian and attend a Luthern Church in the ELCA synod. I grew up in a United Church of Christ. While I believe, I don’t consider myself overly religious. There have been times in my life where I’ve felt more connected and other times, not so much.

    I am not blind to the fact that churches are part of the political structure as well. A few years back we had quite an activist minister who felt it was her role to espouse politics from the pulpit. Church membership disagreed and she left. She’s now probably a member of Code Pink or Cindy Sheehan’s assistant – she was that radical!

    We now have two female ministers and while it was apparent they were sympathetic to left causes, they weren’t overtly political from the front of the church. Until the Sunday following the first protests in Madison. OMG! We decided to do more research in our synods beliefs (NOTE TO SELF: good idea to do this before you join a church in the first place!!!!) I had no idea church’s are political hotbeds……to the left! Wherever did the term “religious right” come along???? Here’s the thing, I don’t want any politics from my church – not liberal, not conservative.

    Well here’s a link to an article on a web of groups:

    http://www.jsonline.com/features/religion/117033323.html

    and then the statement of support from WISDOM, mentioned in the article:

    Attached please find WISDOM’s statement of support on behalf of state employees.

    WISCONSIN DOES NOT NEED TO STRIP WORKERS OF THEIR RIGHTS
    TO SOLVE ITS BUDGET PROBLEMS

    WISDOM, the interfaith network of congregation-based justice organizations, calls on Governor Walker and the Wisconsin legislature to abandon any plans to undermine or remove the collective bargaining rights of workers.

    Our religious traditions speak clearly about the fundamental right of workers in the public and private sectors to be organized into unions which can defend their interests. We are pleased to see that Methodist Bishop Lee, Catholic Archbishop Listecki, Rabbi Biatch and ELCA Bishop Burnside are among those who have spoken out against the radical policy changes being proposed in the “budget repair” process, which would take away long-established rights from many Wisconsin workers.

    WISDOM believes that the current attempt to weaken or destroy unions is immoral. The measure is out of proportion to the problem it purports to solve.

    We find it ironic that, at a time when people of other nations are winning greater rights vis-á -vis their governments, some in Wisconsin wish to move our state in the opposite direction.

    We call on Governor Walker and the legislature to re-consider the “budget repair” bill that has been proposed and to have an open, good-faith process that involves all in a search for the common good.

    WISDOM is a grassroots organization which includes 140 congregations, of 17 religious denominations, from 10 regions in the state of Wisconsin.

    • Kathy,
      There is definitly a religious right wing. However, many churches have been infiltrated by left wing radicals as well. In other cases, it is not especially right or left wing, but it all illustrates my point:

      Churches and religions are places of power and influence. As such, they will attract people to their seats of power that wish to wield power. It is the same as the primary negative characteristic of government. Government will always attract those who seek power. Those who seek power are always corrupted by it. Those who do not seek power, do not wish to have the responsibility of it, so they do not get into government, despite being the most qualified people to be there.

  13. JAC

    Zionism – Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland.

    It is a tool of religion – would you equally suggest that the “Christian Right” political movement has nothing to do with religion??

    • Nope. Nothing in common. The Jews are guilty of it. The Muslims are guilty of it. But Christians? No. Christians are the victims of the secularists.

      Christians would never, for example, make a national holiday to celebrate the birth of the a religious figure despite the fact that not everyone agrees that he’s the savior.

      Nor would they ever force a Presidential hopeful to justify his Christian sect, in order to prove that he’s “Christian enough.”

      Oh, and Terry Shivo.

      And gay marriage (or lack thereof).

      And puritanical public decency laws.

      And blue laws.

      And noise exemptions for church bells, but not for mosques.

      And anti-prostitution laws.

    • BF

      JEWISH = Race of people

      • JAC

        You are incomplete.

        Caucasians is a race of people.
        Negroid is a race of people.

        Jews are ethnoreligious group of people

        • Mathius says:

          Yes.

          Ashkenazi is a race.
          Samaritan is a race.
          Sephardi is a race.

          Jewish race.. well that’s like saying “the Christian race.”

        • BF

          OK, not a race

          But an ethnic group.

          Excuse me but I have been hearing all my life that Jews are an ethnic group NOT a religion.

          So which is it?

          You seem to be stretching here to make Israel a theocracy.

          I have never heard of any such thing as an ethnoreligous group. Ethnicity is supposed to be unrelated to simple religion is it not?

          • Mathius says:

            “Jewish” is a religious designation.

            However, Jews, due to their clan-mentality, tend to be isolated to certain closed groups.

            As such, these groups, which are ethnicities (ie Ashkenazi) can be thought of as both religious AND ethnic designations.

            So, to say “ethnoreligous,” though I’ve never heard the term before either, seem fair to me.

            • Mathius

              If it is only a religious designation then why are Jews identified as Jews who are atheist or secular?

              Why are Jews identified as an ethnic grouping in various texts and literature?

              Was this just the result of Jewish conspiracy?

              But I thought such grand conspiracies that control cultural values and understanding were ridiculous?

  14. JAC

    Does the institutions of the Jewish religion also have control over the Govt?

    Yes, a violent sect of the Jewish religion has control over the government.

    Does the Govt turn to the religious leaders to get their blessing before taking any action?

    Yes. They operate within a specific and organized set of conditions laid out by this sect.

    Can the religious leaders get the Govt to act when they desire?

    As they are intertwined, yes.

    • Does the institutions of the Jewish religion also have control over the Govt?

      Yes, a violent sect of the Jewish religion has control over the government.

      No. It has undue influence over the government. Not “control” per say.

      Does the Govt turn to the religious leaders to get their blessing before taking any action?

      Yes. They operate within a specific and organized set of conditions laid out by this sect.

      No. But they know what the religious base will think about any course of action and they take it into consideration.

      So they may not ask permission before doing X, but if they know the Joooooooos won’t want them to do X, they probably won’t.

      Can the religious leaders get the Govt to act when they desire?

      As they are intertwined, yes.

      Yes and no. It depends on the action they desire. The religious powers do not operate in a vacuum, so they cannot always demand unilateral action. Further, the political powers have to appear to remain secular, so they cannot just blindly follow.

    • Theocracy is a form of government in which a state is understood as governed by immediate divine guidance especially a state ruled by clergy, or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided.[1]

      From the perspective of the theocratic government, “God himself is recognized as the head” of the state, [2] hence the term theocracy, from the Greek θεοκρατια “rule of God”, a term used by Josephus of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.[3] Theocratic governments enact theonomic laws (rules).

      A theocracy may be monist in form, where the administrative hierarchy of the government is identical with the administrative hierarchy of the religion, or it may have two ‘arms,’ but with the state administrative hierarchy subordinate to the religious hierarchy.

      Theocracy should be distinguished from other secular forms of government that have a state religion, or are merely influenced by theological or moral concepts, and monarchies held “By the Grace of God”.

      • Mathius says:

        Fair enough. Would you be content to say that the US and Israel are Theocratic-ish form of government?

        To say that a country which is extremely influenced by a single religion but which has a veneer of secularism isn’t theocratic is like saying that the US isn’t socialistic because we still have some capitalism.

        • Mathius

          No, I wouldn’t.

          And the US does not have any capitalism that I know of, except perhaps the underground economy.

          Each term has, or usually has, distinct meaning. BF has been pointing out the evil nature of “democracy” for example. I stand by his argument because the term has a specific meaning. Most people today do not understand what it was and fall into the trap of asking for something they do not understand.

          But then we come to Theocracy and we want to make the definition fuzzy enough to include any country where a single religion might dominate the values of the citizens who make up the govt, whether the govt rules in a secular manner or not.

          So, NO. I won’t go there.

          I am not even sure you can say the USA is influenced by a single religion when you look at the variation between the Catholic, Jewish and numerous Protestant churches. It seems to me we have as much diversity in our religion as we do in our population.

          And it has been pointed out on numerous occasions, when taking on Tex Chem for example, that many of our supposedly “moral” laws are based on universal human principles that can be found in many religions. Such as murder and theft. So how can you claim these are “Christian” in their origin or influence now?

          Now, if you two have some evidence that Israel is truly a theocracy, at least on the level of Iran then I have no problem changing my opinion.

  15. Meant to pull this out earlier:

    Mathius Says:
    March 9, 2011 at 10:56 am
    “I think if there were more offensive things around then we would quickly become inured to them and they would cease to be offensive.”

    Isn’t this exactly what we were discussing the other day re the progressive agenda? I believe it was JAC that had some historical explanation to the madness to their methods?

    • Mathius says:

      Maybe I wasn’t here for that? Got a link?

    • Mathius says:

      PS: I am always confused when people throw out terms like “the progressive agenda.” Is there an official agenda drawn up somewhere? Did George Soros round up a group of liberals and draft the agenda complete with diagrams and time tables? Is there a news letter to which I should subscribe, which tells us what we should be saying and doing on a daily basis in furtherance of this agenda? Are there twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one?

    • Yes maam, I most certainly did.

      And it most certainly is.

  16. *sigh*

    Okay . . . lets have more philosophical discussions as our once great country disintegrates around us. Yessirbuddy . . . that is exactly what we need to do?!?

    By the time you young people wake up to what is really going on in this country, it won’t be our country anymore.

    And you haven’t a single clue as to what I am talking about.

    Here is a hint for you; Ya gotta get a grip on our politicians in DC and bring them under control BEFORE you can discuss all this philosophical BS! Until you do that, you are just fiddling while Rome burns . . .

    • Mathius says:

      We don’t know exactly when the fiddle was invented but it almost certainly wasn’t until the 16th century. As such, it would have been impossible for Nero to play the fiddle while Rome burned in the fire of 64 AD.

      Just a though.

      And now a question: how would you suggest we get a hold on them? And, once we have a grip, what would you suggest we make them do?

    • I get your frustration PD, but there is a reason for this stuff. Look at the US Revolutionary War. Granted, we fought the revolution BEFORE we developed the constitution. I get that. However, if you look at the volume of writing and discussion beforehand, it was enormous. And it was not just pointing at bad stuff and getting people hyped up, it was serious philosophical discussion about WHY things were wrong, not just WHAT was wrong.

      If people aren’t on the same page, or at least at a point where they can unite against a common enemy, then there will never be enough numbers to get control of the dirty rats in Washington. You cannot get anyone under control if you don’t know what you are doing, and you won’t have the perserverence to complete your task unless you know why you are doing it and what the next steps are, or at least should be. Wars are not won by fighting one battle at a time, they are won by laying out a real strategy.

      Now, granted, wars are also not won with strategy if there is no battle, but reactionism and hype is useless unless you need cannon fodder.

    • Until you have a firm grasp on the principles you are fighting for, and until you can get others to understand and believe in them you are just:

      Pissing in the wind.

  17. 😉 for comments

  18. JAC

    But an ethnic group.

    Excuse me but I have been hearing all my life that Jews are an ethnic group NOT a religion.

    Whoever said that is probably wrong or misunderstood.

    It is no different than a Catholic men’s club.

    You gain entry by claiming you are a Jew.

    Mathius has different skin color, language, education, and nationality – but claims he is a Jew

    It is no different than an Iranian, born in Iran, taught in Iran, raised in Iran, speaks Iranian and says he is a Christian

    You seem to be stretching here to make Israel a theocracy.

    Not even a little bit.

    Zionism is the equivalent of the Christian Militants “Army of God” except wishes to establish for the exclusivity of the Jews a territory in the Middle East “Ersatz Israel”

    I have never heard of any such thing as an ethnoreligous group. Ethnicity is supposed to be unrelated to simple religion is it not?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnoreligious_group

    But yes, Israel is a theocracy.

    In your response to Mathius, you have it in black and white.

    “rule of God”, a term used by Josephus of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

    From the mouth itself – Judaic history – defines theocracy.

    Zionism wishes to establish based on biblical text and thus, given by God himself a territory that represents the majority of Lebanon, Syria, Jordon and all of Palestine.

    • BF

      But the Govt of Israel is not controlled by the clergy are they?

      A nation dominated by Christians and run by Christians does not automatically make it a Theocracy.

      The term Theocracy was first applied to the Jews but that was long before they were exorcised from the holy land and long before they returned under the UN charter for the state of Israel.

      So I am talking about Israel and the strict meaning of theocracy.

      I simply do not see it fitting that definition and I have yet to see a solid argument other than it is a “Jewish State” and Jews are a “religious group”.

      Are the civil laws of Israel based on God’s law per se’? Or are civil laws separated from religious laws.

      Does the civil authority rule or does the religious authority rule?

      • JAC,

        It appears you are desperate in trying to distance Israel from a theocracy-based political system.

        The fact, sir: it was formed under Zionism – a Jewish political sect.
        It was not formed to “free men”.
        It was not formed to “establish justice”
        It was formed to create a Jewish homeland – a religious homeland.

        The splitting of hairs you are attempting is irrelevant.

        But the Govt of Israel is not controlled by the clergy are they?

        “Clergy” is a Christian concept and not a directly appropriate analogy.

        Jewish culture is complex is its structure and power base –but it is a religious based hierarchy

        If this is what you mean by “clergy”, then yes, it is.

        A nation dominated by Christians and run by Christians does not automatically make it a Theocracy.

        If the nation was formed for Christians, based on a religious theory in Christianity, and operated and executed to accomplish that theory, then yes it would be.

        Does the civil authority rule or does the religious authority rule?

        Civil authority derives such authority from the religion.

        • JAC,

          In other words here, JAC, if there were no Jews in Israel, Israel would not exist.

          • BF

            Yes it would, because the UN says so.

            • JAC,

              No, it wouldn’t because there would be nothing for it to exist for.

              • And you don’t think that the fact that the Jewish people were attacked, killed, and run out of other countries simply because they were identified as Jewish, has anything to do with there being a Jewish state. I will give you that religion and history was the reason for choosing the location but religion isn’t the only reason for their wanting a Jewish state. The fact that some Jews are Zionist does not mean the state is theocratic in structure.

  19. JAC,

    Now, if you two have some evidence that Israel is truly a theocracy, at least on the level of Iran then I have no problem changing my opinion.

    By such a equivalence, I hereby declare that if you can prove Iran has a theocracy on the level of the Vatican, then only -and only then- will I agree Iran is a theocracy.

    In other words, because the Vatican is now my definition of a theocracy, Iran is not.

    • BF

      You miss once again.

      The standard is the definition. Iran fits the definition but I would say not the same as the Vatican. If you google Theocracy you will even find references to Iran as a modern example. Just as ancient Israel was an example in the days before the Persian, Turk and then Arab take over.

      The question is whether modern Israel fits the definition. You have still not provided me with an explanation that fits the definition except that they are Jews and thus the must be a theocracy because they are Jews.

  20. Anita and Kathy and V.H.

    Re: The Oregon State retaliation story.

    Got this today regarding the accusations that OSU proffs are trying to remove his kids from the phd program. Thought you would like some follow up.

    Word I got is that this has been under the radar locally until now. So we will see if the stories begin to change.

    http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/25980624-41/robinson-osu-statement-university-allegations.html.csp

  21. An Israeli army officer who fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was acquitted on all charges by a military court yesterday.

    The soldier, who has only been identified as “Captain R”, was charged with relatively minor offences for the killing of Iman al-Hams who was shot 17 times as she ventured near an Israeli army post near Rafah refugee camp in Gaza a year ago.

    The manner of Iman’s killing, and the revelation of a tape recording in which the captain is warned that she was just a child who was “scared to death”, made the shooting one of the most controversial since the Palestinian intifada erupted five years ago even though hundreds of other children have also died.

    After the verdict, Iman’s father, Samir al-Hams, said the army never intended to hold the soldier accountable.

    “They did not charge him with Iman’s murder, only with small offences, and now they say he is innocent of those even though he shot my daughter so many times,” he said. “This was the cold-blooded murder of a girl. The soldier murdered her once and the court has murdered her again. What is the message? They are telling their soldiers to kill Palestinian children.”

    The military court cleared the soldier of illegal use of his weapon, conduct unbecoming an officer and perverting the course of justice by asking soldiers under his command to alter their accounts of the incident.

    Capt R’s lawyers argued that the “confirmation of the kill” after a suspect is shot was a standard Israeli military practice to eliminate terrorist threats.

    Following the verdict, Capt R burst into tears, turned to the public benches and said: “I told you I was innocent.”

    The army’s official account said that Iman was shot for crossing into a security zone carrying her schoolbag which soldiers feared might contain a bomb. It is still not known why the girl ventured into the area but witnesses described her as at least 100 yards from the military post which was in any case well protected.

    A recording of radio exchanges between Capt R and his troops obtained by Israeli television revealed that from the beginning soldiers identified Iman as a child.

    In the recording, a soldier in a watchtower radioed a colleague in the army post’s operations room and describes Iman as “a little girl” who was “scared to death”. After soldiers first opened fire, she dropped her schoolbag which was then hit by several bullets establishing that it did not contain explosive. At that point she was no longer carrying the bag and, the tape revealed, was heading away from the army post when she was shot.

    Although the military speculated that Iman might have been trying to “lure” the soldiers out of their base so they could be attacked by accomplices, Capt R made the decision to lead some of his troops into the open. Shortly afterwards he can be heard on the recording saying that he has shot the girl and, believing her dead, then “confirmed the kill”.

    “I and another soldier … are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill … Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her … I also confirmed the kill. Over,” he said.

    Palestinian witnesses said they saw the captain shoot Iman twice in the head, walk away, turn back and fire a stream of bullets into her body.

    On the tape, Capt R then “clarifies” to the soldiers under his command why he killed Iman: “This is commander. Anything that’s mobile, that moves in the [security] zone, even if it’s a three-year-old, needs to be killed.”

    At no point did the Israeli troops come under attack.

    The prosecution case was damaged when a soldier who initially said he had seen Capt R point his weapon at the girl’s body and open fire later told the court he had fabricated the story.

    Capt R claimed that he had not fired the shots at the girl but near her. However, Dr Mohammed al-Hams, who inspected the child’s body at Rafah hospital, counted numerous wounds. “She has at least 17 bullets in several parts of the body, all along the chest, hands, arms, legs,” he told the Guardian shortly afterwards. “The bullets were large and shot from a close distance. The most serious injuries were to her head. She had three bullets in the head. One bullet was shot from the right side of the face beside the ear. It had a big impact on the whole face.”

    The army’s initial investigation concluded that the captain had “not acted unethically”. But after some of the soldiers under his command went to the Israeli press to give a different version, the military police launched a separate investigation after which he was charged.

    Capt R claimed that the soldiers under his command were out to get him because they are Jewish and he is Druze.

    The transcript

    The following is a recording of a three-way conversation that took place between a soldier in a watchtower, an army operations room and Capt R, who shot the girl

    From the watchtower “It’s a little girl. She’s running defensively eastward.” “Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?” “A girl about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death.” “I think that one of the positions took her out.” “I and another soldier … are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill … Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her … I also confirmed the kill. Over.”

    From the operations room “Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?”

    Watchtower “A girl about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death.”

    A few minutes later, Iman is shot from one of the army posts

    Watchtower “I think that one of the positions took her out.”

    Captain R “I and another soldier … are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill … Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her … I also confirmed the kill. Over.”

    Capt R then “clarifies” why he killed Iman

    “This is commander. Anything that’s mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it’s a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over

    Israel will not exist in 50 years. It is immoral and evil and either by neglect of itself or by vengeance by others, it will evaporate

    • NAZARETH // Benjamin Netanyahu’s advisers have conceded that the Israeli prime minister is more downcast than they have ever seen him. The reason, they say, is Israel’s faltering diplomatic and strategic standing.

      Mr Netanyahu’s concern was evident at a recent cabinet meeting, when he was reported to have angrily pounded the table.

      “We are in a very difficult international arena,” he was quoted by the Haaretz newspaper as telling ministers who wanted to step up settlement building. “I suggest we all be cautious.”

      A global survey for the BBC published on Monday will have only reinforced that assessment: Israel has one of the worst public images of any country, with just 21 per cent seeing it in a positive light.

      Mr Netanyahu may believe he has exhausted international goodwill, which could explain his change of tack on the peace process.

    • Truthseeker says:

      I find the age of the person or the sex Irrelavant. If the girl passed obvious warnings that she was entering a restricted location and had something that COULD be a bomb, I have no issue to how the soldiers reacted. Since you want to use a innocent little girl as an emotional appeal, I will remind you of 2 mentally retarded women that were used to kill 60+ innocent people in a baghdad market:

      “BAGHDAD (AP) – Two mentally retarded women strapped with remote-control explosives— and possibly used as unwitting suicide bombers—brought carnage Friday to two pet bazaars, killing at 73 people in the deadliest day since Washington flooded the capital with extra troops last spring.
      The coordinated blasts—coming 20 minutes apart in different parts of the city—appeared to reinforce U.S. claims al-Qaida in Iraq may be increasingly desperate and running short of able-bodied men willing or available for such missions.

      But they also served as a reminder that Iraqi insurgents are constantly shifting their strategies in attempts to unravel recent security gains around the country. Women have been used in ever greater frequency in suicide attacks.

      The twin attacks at the pet markets, however, could mark a disturbing use of unknowing agents of death. ”
      http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8UHNN081

      That last sentance is very important. Hindsight is 20/20. I would rather kill then be killed.

      • Bottom Line says:

        Truthseeker – “I find the age of the person or the sex Irrelavant. If the girl passed obvious warnings that she was entering a restricted location and had something that COULD be a bomb, I have no issue to how the soldiers reacted. Since you want to use a innocent little girl as an emotional appeal, I will remind you of 2 mentally retarded women that were used to kill 60+ innocent people in a baghdad market:”

        BL – I disagree. It was unnecessary force, murder of an innocent child.

        I’ve heard similar stories of people being used as unwitting suicide bombers, but this wasn’t “slow” people with remotely detonated C4 backpacks or a 4 yr. old in Vietnam running up to soldiers carrying a grenade…It was obviously an innocent wondering child from a fortified position 100 yards away in a controlled setting.

        ~ ” The army’s official account said that Iman was shot for crossing into a security zone carrying her schoolbag which soldiers feared might contain a bomb. It is still not known why the girl ventured into the area but witnesses described her as at least 100 yards from the military post which was in any case well protected.”

        ~ ” From the watchtower “It’s a little girl. She’s running defensively eastward.” “Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?” “A girl about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death.” “I think that one of the positions took her out.” “I and another soldier … are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill … Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her … I also confirmed the kill. Over.” ”

        They saw an innocent child wondering around in the security zone and fired shots at her. (It’s not like she was walking/jogging toward the checkpoint in some threatening manner or sneaking up on them, It was probably just a kid explorin’ or sidetracked on her way home from school.) When bullets started zipping around and into her, she ran like hell and went to hide behind an embankment, probably mortally wounded. Then, when they went to inspect her body, they made sure she was dead by pumping several rounds into her.

        ~ ” Capt R claimed that he had not fired the shots at the girl but near her. However, Dr Mohammed al-Hams, who inspected the child’s body at Rafah hospital, counted numerous wounds. “She has at least 17 bullets in several parts of the body, all along the chest, hands, arms, legs,” he told the Guardian shortly afterwards. “The bullets were large and shot from a close distance. The most serious injuries were to her head. She had three bullets in the head. One bullet was shot from the right side of the face beside the ear. It had a big impact on the whole face.” ”

        What they did is abhorrent and despicable. They knowingly, willingly murdered an innocent child using the “security zone” as an excuse.

        I seriously question those that murdered her, as well as their whole chain of command for not providing better practices with regard to rules of engagement.

        The proper response to a wondering child with a backpack would have been to alert and warn her through audio and/or visual means first, to turn on all the bells and whistles and/or tell her to get out of the security zone through a loudspeaker or something. If she responded in a way that presented the question of her being a possible threat, (like..let’s say…if she started running toward them with her backpack on), fire a warning shot, If she responds in an unquestionably threatening manner, (like… pulls out a hand-held detonator tethered to her backpack by wires), …point, aim center mass, fire…threat neutralized.

        If they would have just told her to get out, or at least fired a warning shot, she would have undoubtedly scurried off from wherever she came.

        • Bottom Line says:

          Ugghhh… I think you understand what I meant, but I’m not quite satisfied with my grammatical errors/poor articulation of a couple of things.

          “It was obviously an innocent wondering child from a fortified position 100 yards away in a controlled setting.”

          Correction:

          It was watching from a fortified position 100 yards away in a controlled setting, what was obviously an innocent wondering child.

          ” If they would have just told her to get out, or at least fired a warning shot, she would have undoubtedly scurried off from wherever she came. ”

          Correction:

          If they would have just told her to get out, or at least fired a warning shot, she would have undoubtedly scurried off BACK TO from wherever she came.

      • TS,

        Perhaps your attitude would be arguable, if you were protecting your own house.

        It is an obscene argument if you are an invader in my house.

        • Truthseeker says:

          I rescind my comparison. After rereading everything, I agree that the murder was unjustified and was done out of spite.

  22. JAC,

    The standard is the definition. Iran fits the definition but I would say not the same as the Vatican.

    And, because the nature of Israel is to mask its theocracy under a thin veil, it fools you?

    There is no doubt or dispute regarding the reason and continuation of Israel as a Jewish Zionist nation.

    If you google Theocracy you will even find references to Iran as a modern example.

    I do not think it is a good example, though I would agree it is an example.

    Vatican is much better an example.

    Just as ancient Israel was an example in the days before the Persian, Turk and then Arab take over.

    And today.

    Because it is not organized by a king does not make it not a theocracy

    that they are Jews and thus the must be a theocracy because they are Jews.

    No, sir, that is not true.

    I have demonstrated that it was born for the Zionist Jews

    I have demonstrated that it acts in direct alignment with its religious doctrine of Ersatz Israel and, in fact, has not wavered from this goal since before its birth and up to today

    It is beyond dispute that in words and in actionIsrael works to extend and promote Zionism.

  23. JAC,

    So you’ve got me wondering, what do you call Israel then?

    A secular state organized by a religious doctrine??

    • BF

      I don’t know enough about their structure to call it anything.

      But for example, the USA is a “constitutional republic”.

      Saudi Arabia is a “monarchy”.

      Both have cultures dominated by a generally singular religion. Obviously different but neither are Theocracies according to the definition.

      This is why I asked the questions about how the govt of Israel operates. It seems to me, without detailed study, to operate independently of any “religious laws” or “gods laws” as it were.

      If not then just show me how it does.

      I will grant you this. It seems awfully close but I just don’t think it clearly meets that definition TODAY. It certainly did at one time but not because of a King. But because the laws were given to the KING by God. At least that was their story.

  24. V.H.

    And you don’t think that the fact that the Jewish people were attacked, killed, and run out of other countries simply because they were identified as Jewish, has anything to do with there being a Jewish state.

    So, let me get this straight.

    If a people are brutalized, they have a right to steal land and brutalize other innocent people.

    Please remember that the Zionist movement began before WW1

    The political movement was formally established by the Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl in 1897 following the publication of his book Der Judenstaat.

    At that time, the movement sought to encourage Jewish migration to the Ottoman Palestine.

    I will give you that religion and history was the reason for choosing the location but religion isn’t the only reason for their wanting a Jewish state. The fact that some Jews are Zionist does not mean the state is theocratic in structure

    You have it backwards.

    Zionism created the Jewish state – though there maybe Jews living in Israel who are not Zionists.

    • V.H.

      Until 1917, the World Zionist Organization pursued a strategy of building a Jewish National Home through persistent small-scale immigration and the founding of such bodies as the Jewish National Fund (1901—a charity that bought land for Jewish settlement) and the Anglo-Palestine Bank (1903 – provided loans for Jewish businesses and farmers). In 1942, at the Biltmore Conference, the movement included for the first time an express objective of the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel.

    • The 28th Zionist Congress, meeting in Jerusalem in 1968, adopted the five points of the “Jerusalem Program” as the aims of Zionism today. They are:[13]

      * Unity of the Jewish People and the centrality of Israel in Jewish life
      * Ingathering of the Jewish People in its historic homeland, Eretz Israel, through Aliyah from all countries
      * Strengthening of the State of Israel, based on the prophetic vision of justice and peace
      * Preservation of the identity of the Jewish People through fostering of Jewish and Hebrew education, and of Jewish spiritual and cultural values
      * Protection of Jewish rights everywhere

    • Truthseeker says:

      Wasn’t the land that Israel is using ordained in the bible? So does that mean that the land originally belongs to the Israelites before Arabs took it over and then the Jews returned and took it back?

      WHOS ON FIRST?

      • TS,

        So you believe that fairy tales provide enough evidence and justification to seize homes, land, property and kill innocent people?

        If so, I have one …right… here… that says a Fairy Godmother just said I can have your house, car, pension plan, and your assets upon demand….

        (PS: The area was first all Egyptian, so I’d also be careful about pulling up “historical” references determining land “rights”)

  25. JAC,

    So, let’s not blur our vision. Lift the veil and look at its foundations.

    Unicameral parliamentary system, called the Knesset

    Lift the veil: here is its coat of arms

    Wow! The Jewish Menorah (Temple) – a seven-branched candelabrum used in the ancient Tabernacle in the desert and Temple in Jerusalem, a symbol of Judaism since ancient times and the emblem of the modern state of Israel!

    • Israel has no constitution – though it was fundamentally required by the UN Resolution.

      It has what is called the “Basic Laws” – however, the Knesset itself can pass any law it wishes, even if it contradicts these “Basic Laws” by a simple majority.

      The term “Knesset” is derived from the ancient Great Assembly or Great Synagogue which according to Jewish tradition was an assembly of 120 scribes, sages, and prophets, in the period from the end of the Biblical prophets to the time of the development of Rabbinic Judaism – about two centuries ending c. 70 CE.

      True, today the 120 sages and prophets are elected – but we are discovering the roots of Israel as a theocracy.

    • “The average life span of an Israeli government is 22 months. The peace process, the role of religion in the state, and political scandals have caused coalitions to break apart or produced early elections.”

    • Israel’s legal system combines three legal traditions: English common law, civil law, and Jewish law.

        • Politics of Israel takes place in a framework of a parliamentary democracy[1], whereby the Prime Minister of Israel is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the Knesset. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The political system of the State of Israel and its main principles are set out in 11 Basic Laws. Israel does not have a written constitution.[2]
          Contents
          [hide]

          * 1 Executive branch
          o 1.1 Cabinet of Israel
          + 1.1.1 Interim Government
          * 2 Legislative branch
          o 2.1 Knesset
          o 2.2 Electoral system
          * 3 Judicial system
          o 3.1 Judicial courts
          o 3.2 Religious courts
          * 4 Political conditions
          * 5 Prime Ministers and governments in the last ten years
          o 5.1 Netanyahu (1996–1999)
          o 5.2 Barak (1999–2001)
          o 5.3 Sharon (2001–2006)
          o 5.4 Olmert (2006–2009)
          o 5.5 Netanyahu (2009–present)
          * 6 Political parties and elections
          * 7 Other political groups
          o 7.1 Political right
          o 7.2 Political left
          o 7.3 Political centre
          o 7.4 Interest groups
          o 7.5 Others
          * 8 Political issues
          * 9 International organization participation
          * 10 Districts
          * 11 Arab countries with Israel diplomatically
          * 12 Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties
          * 13 See also
          * 14 References
          * 15 External links

          [edit] Executive branch
          [edit] Cabinet of Israel
          Main article: Cabinet of Israel
          [edit] Interim Government
          Main article: Deputy leaders of Israel#Interim Government
          [edit] Legislative branch
          [edit] Knesset
          Main article: Knesset

          The Knesset (Hebrew: כנסת‎, lit. Assembly) is Israel’s unicameral parliament and is seated in Jerusalem. Its 120 members are elected to 4-year terms through party-list proportional representation (see electoral system, below), as mandated by the 1958 Basic Law: The Knesset. As the legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset enacts laws, supervises government activities, and is empowered to elect or remove the President of the State or State Comptroller from office.

          The February 2009 elections produced five prominent political parties; Kadima, Likud, Israel Beytenu, Labor and Shas, each with more than ten seats in the Knesset. Three of these parties were ruling parties in the past. However, only once has a single party held the 61 seats needed for a majority government (the Alignment from 1968 until the 1969 elections). Therefore, aside from that one exception, since 1948 Israeli governments have always comprised coalitions. As of 2009, there are 12 political parties represented in the Knesset, spanning both the political and religious spectra.
          [edit] Electoral system

          Israel’s electoral system operates within the parameters of a Basic Law (The Knesset) and of the 1969 Knesset Elections Law.

          The Knesset’s 120 members are elected by secret ballot to 4-year terms, although the Knesset may decide to call for new elections before the end of the 4-year term, and a government can change without a general election; since the 1988 election, no Knesset has finished its 4-year term. In addition a motion of confidence may be called[by whom?]. Voting in general elections takes place using the highest averages method of party-list proportional representation, using the d’Hondt formula.

          General elections use closed lists: voters vote only for party lists and cannot affect the order of candidates within the lists. Since the 1992 Parties Law, only registered parties may stand. There are no separate electoral districts; all voters vote on the same party lists. Suffrage is universal among Israeli citizens aged 18 years or older, but voting is optional. Polling locations are open throughout Israel; absentee ballots are limited to diplomatic staff and the merchant marine. While each party attains one seat for 1 in 120 votes, there is a minimum threshold (recently increased to 2%[3]) for parties to attain their first seat in an election. This requirement aimed to bar smaller parties from parliament but spurred some parties to join together simply to overcome the threshold. The low vote-threshold for entry into parliament, as well as the need for parties with small numbers of seats to form coalition governments, results in a highly fragmented political spectrum, with small parties exercising extensive power (relative to their electoral support) within coalitions.[4]

          The president selects the prime minister as the party leader most able to form a government, based on the number of parliament seats his or her coalition has won. After the president’s selection, the prime minister has forty-five days to form a government. The Knesset collectively must approve the members of the cabinet. This electoral system, inherited from the Yishuv (Jewish settlement organization during the British Mandate), makes it very difficult for any party to gain a working majority in the Knesset and thus governments generally form on the basis of coalitions. Due to the difficulties in holding coalitions together, elections often occur earlier than scheduled. The average life-span of an Israeli government is 25 months. Over the years, the peace process, the role of religion in the state, and political scandals have caused coalitions to break apart or have produced early elections.[4]
          [edit] Judicial system

          The Judicial branch is an independent branch of the government, including secular and religious courts for the various religions present in Israel. The court system involves three stages of justice.
          [edit] Judicial courts

          Israeli judicial courts consist of a three-tier system:

          * Magistrate Courts serves as the court of first instance
          * District Courts serves as the appellate courts and also serve as the court of first instance for some cases;
          * Supreme Court is located in Jerusalem and acts as an appellate court, and as the High Court of Justice as a court of first instance often in matters concerning the legality of decisions of state authorities.

          In December 1985, Israel informed the UN Secretariat that it would no longer accept compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction.
          [edit] Religious courts
          See also: Religion in Israel

          Some issues of family law (marriage and divorce in particular) fall either under the jurisdiction of religious courts or under parallel jurisdiction of those and the state’s family courts. The state maintains and finances Rabbinical, Sharia and various Canonical courts for the needs of the various religious communities. All judges are civil servants, and required to uphold general law in their tribunals as well. The High court of Justice serves as final appellate instance for all religious courts. The Jewish religious authorities are under control of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. These courts have jurisdiction in only five areas: Kashrut, Sabbath, Jewish burial, marital issues (especially divorce), and Jewish status of immigrants. However, except for determining a person’s marital status, all other marital issues may also be taken to secular Family Courts.

          The other major religions in Israel, such as Islam and Christianity, are supervised by their own establishments of religious law. These courts have similar jurisdiction over their followers, although Muslim religious courts have more control over family affairs.
          [edit] Political conditions

          Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974, joked that “in Israel, there are 3 million prime ministers”.[citation needed] The proportional representation system encourages the formation of a large number of political parties, many with very specialized platforms, and often advocating the tenets of particular interest-groups.[citation needed] The prevalent balance[citation needed] between the largest parties means that the smaller parties can have strong influence disproportionate to their size. Due to their ability to act as tie breakers, they often use this status to block legislation or promote their own agenda, even contrary to the manifesto of the larger party in office.

          Zionist parties dominate Israeli politics. They traditionally fall into three camps, the first two being the largest: Labor Zionism (social democrat), Revisionist Zionism (conservative) and Religious Zionism. There are also several non-Zionist Orthodox religious parties, as well as anti-Zionist Israeli Arab parties.[citation needed] In 2009 the Central Election Committee initially banned the two main Arab political parties (the National Democratic Assembly (also known as Balad) and Ra’am-Ta’al) from contesting the next election,[5][6] but the Supreme Court of Israel overturned this decision.[7].

          From the founding of Israel in 1948 until the election of May 1977, Israel was ruled by successive coalition governments led by the Labor Alignment (or Mapai prior to 1967). From 1967 to 1970, a national unity government included all of Israel’s parties except for the two factions of the Communist Party of Israel. After the 1977 election, the Revisionist Zionist Likud bloc (then composed of Herut, the Liberals, and the smaller La’am Party) came to power, forming a coalition with the National Religious Party, Agudat Israel, and with others.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Israel

  26. Some entertainment from The Doc for yous masters of rational assumptions …

    http://temporaryknucksline.blogspot.com/2011/03/doc-says-foreign-movie-review.html

  27. This is just unbelievable-listen to the audio of the phone calls.

    This is What it Sounds Like When an Intruder and Homeowner Call 911 on Each Other

    * Posted on March 9, 2011 at 5:27pm by Jonathon M. Seidl Jonathon M. Seidl

    Be prepared to chuckle.

    A homeowner in Portland, OR called police recently after she came home and found an intruder had broken in and was taking a shower in her bathroom. The irony, the crook called police too, afraid that the homeowner might have a gun.

    The hilarious 911 calls are below:

    Lt. Kelli Sheffer says the intruder told police he had just broken into a home Monday evening when the owner arrived – and the caller was worried the homeowner might have a gun.

    Accompanied by his two German Shepherds, the homeowner found the intruder and asked what he was doing in the house. That’s when the stranger locked himself in a bathroom and phoned police.

    The homeowner called police with his account.

    Sheffer says 24-year-old Timothy James Chapek, of Portland, was booked into jail for investigation of first-degree criminal trespass.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/this-is-what-it-sounds-like-when-an-intruder-and-homeowner-call-911-on-each-other/

  28. *Black Flag warning* based on post from “Zero Hedge”

    “…Based on still to be publicly reported data by Pimco’s flagship Total Return Fund, the world’s largest bond fund, in the month of January, has taken its bond holdings to zero ….
    …. The offset, not surprisingly, is cash. After sporting $28.6 billion in “government related” securities, TRF dropped to $0.0, while its cash holdings surged from $11.9 billion to a whopping $54.5 billion (based on total TRF holdings of $236.9 billion as of February 28). ……This is the most cash the flagship fund has ever held, and the lowest amount in Treasury holdings since January 2009

    Now the rest of the Zero Hedge post says this (in brief)

    (1) Gross has more insiders in the FED than anyone on Earth, therefore, “he knows what the FED will do”
    (2) Zero Hedge believes if Gross stops buying T-bill, this means the FED will stop buying T-Bills
    (3) Zero Hedge therefore says “depression and deflation is coming”, and thus sell your commodities and ..
    (4) “…Time to Panic!..”

    I do not agree with points (2) and (3).

    Bill Gross’s and his staff economists are Keynesian.

    Keynesian are very confused over themselves to what causes inflation. Ask two Keynesian what causes inflation and you will get four, contradictory, answers.

    But Keynesians are quite clear to themselves about what causes deflation.

    A Keynesian thinks that government bonds will do well in a deflationary depression. But, so do all economists, including Austrians.

    So, anyone who thinks that recession or depression is ahead would buy T-bonds. Lock in a high yield. Yields will fall. Bond prices will rise.

    So when Keynesian Gross is selling T-Bills, he is not thinking depression – he is thinking something else.

    I think he thinks that QE3 is scary.
    I think he thinks the FED will not stop inflating.
    I think he is getting out while the getting now, while bonds have some value, because I think he thinks the rates in T-bonds will go up, and therefore collapse bond prices.

    So do I.

    So I conclude the opposite of Zero Hedge.

    I also know Zero Hedge has always been violently scared of deflation, and sees deflation around every economic corner.

    I think that Gross thinks that more inflation is coming.
    I think he does not know what will survive best in inflation – he is Keynesian and therefore gold is not an option. Not much else out there for him to put $25 billion into other than stocks – and in an unproductive economy, who is he going to bet on?

    So he is on the defensive. I think he is thinking that no profit is better than big losses.

    If Gross is right, so is Zero Hedge on item (4). It’s almost time to panic .

  29. Jon

    Sorry, I meant to respond yesterday but sidetracked over Theocracy or Not Theocracy. Stupid me.

    I thought your article well done by the way.

    I would modify your basic premise slightly however. To differentiate between moral law and Prime Moral principles.

    Laws must be moral in the sense that they comport with the Primary principles or prime moral principles. This is what creates the “public support” needed for laws to be considered just and thus a positive influence on society.

    This differs from “moral laws” which as you could see by some comments means different things to many. Moral laws is to similar to laws about morality. Such as the no drinking and sex only in the dark.

    Individual sovereignty or my old friends “rational egoism” is a “Primary Moral Principle” for example. Any law abiding by this principle would not infringe upon our freedom or liberty. And thus is would be Just and supported with the greatest approbation by a freedom loving people.

    Best wishes.
    JAC

  30. TexasChem says:

    So after finally having time to read this thread am I correct to ask whom you ladies and gentlemen believe actually has the authority to decide the laws of our society? By what standard do you make your case in regards to right/wrong, good/bad? If indeed only beneficial laws AND morals are allowed for in a productive society then I believe some may need to reconsider and re-think their stance upon certain social arguements pertaining to our society.

    • TC

      what standard do you make your case in regards to right/wrong, good/bad

      That’s the rub.

      What objective standard exists to determine right and wrong?

      Often people point to the Bible – but why does that fairy tale have more OBJECTIVE standards than someone else’s fairy tale called the Koran?

      Charlie’s standards of right/wrong are not wrong…for Charlie – but might for someone else.

      Attempting to build laws on SUBJECTIVE values is fraught with danger – it always leads to tyranny by whomever seizes the power to make law.

      Thus, as JAC points out consistently – the foundations of law must be RIGHTFUL.

      Law cannot be concerned with OUTCOMES
      Law must wholly be concerned with the MEANS

      • TexasChem says:

        I whole-heartedly agree with your comments sir!

        Perhaps the question we face is by what means can society be taught these laws, morals and ethics?
        What will be your deciding factors to determine right/wrong?
        Man does not come into this world knowing ANY of these attributes by sheer instinct! All knowledge is learned. You know as well as I that false teachings of many kinds are plentiful to obstruct one from learning correctly. Some men are greedy and manipulate to their own ends. This has been a stigma upon mankind from the very beginning of our time on this rock!
        Me personally? How do I determine right/wrong? I have found that a blend of Thomas Aquinas and Jesus’ teachings fulfill that determination perfectly! *WINK* 🙂 Of course theres a smidgen of teachings from every religion that you can toss into the pot as well but Aquinas and Jesus had those covered also.

        • TC,

          Indeed.

          I did not mean we should toss the Bible as irrelevant – it is more a matter of not taking it by rote, but by understanding.

          I know of no method of determining right/wrong of someone else based on MY perceptions. So I do not try.

          I test SOMEONE else’s determination of right/wrong by THEIR actions.

          If someone claims “this thing is a wrong” but then does such an action, claiming if they do it, it is a right – they are in contradiction with themselves – and by that contradiction, I know something is wrong; either their original claim and/or their action.

          If they act in alignment with their own claim, then I hold them to be in ‘right’.

          • TexasChem says:

            BlackFlag Stated:”I did not mean we should toss the Bible as irrelevant – it is more a matter of not taking it by rote, but by understanding.”

            TC: Exactly. I do believe that is why some on this blog have mistaken me for a bible thumping preacher. I logically deduce whether the teaching is beneficial to the improvement of Man and our society. In order to do this you must be versed in the history and cultures at the time these teachings, or books were written to fully understand their intent. One must first judge whether a teaching is beneficial and not have been altered for another means in some manner to achieve a purpose other than what was intended!

          • TexasChem says:

            BlackFlag stated:”I know of no method of determining right/wrong of someone else based on MY perceptions. So I do not try.”

            TC: And yet we tend to surround ourselves in our community and society with like-minded Men in order to achieve exactly that purpose!
            Birds of a feather flock together if you will!

      • TexasChem says:

        BF Stated:”Often people point to the Bible – but why does that fairy tale have more OBJECTIVE standards than someone else’s fairy tale called the Koran?”

        TC: That is entirely based upon whether or not you are comparing the subjective teachings from the Old Testament.
        The various teachings from the current *bible* can be listed on a timeline to show a progressive growth and evolution into the teachings of the Nazarene from which even you are hard pressed to find any of those teachings to be detrimental to an open society BlackFlag.

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