Indiana’s embarrassing tribalism

Like everything Democrat v Republican, the Orwellian-styled legalistic effluvium known as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (Indiana’s recent edition of this, anyway) has become its own religion, with priests and heretics, idolaters and zealous enemies pro and con.  So, once again, the self-appointed Two Party System has you arbitrarily separated into two opposing partisan tribes, feuding against each other needlessly, in our apparently endless game of Enemy Du Jour Whack-A-Mole.

This is stupid, destructive, and, of course, unconstitutional.

Unless you actually read the text of the law, you are deceived by the profusion of political rhetoric.  If you do read the law and still think it’s what the combatants, pro and con, say it is, you are self-deceived.

Let’s take this step by step, shall we?

First, did anybody amend the Indiana Constitution’s Article I Sections 1-5, where people are acknowledged to have religious rights surpassing any government power?

No.

So why do these enumerated rights need restoration?  Who took away these rights?  From whom do they need to be restored if politicians were to keep their mitts off these freedoms?

Why do we think this law is necessary?

Because no politician in Indiana is keeping her/his oath of office, that’s why.

Nobody is affirming constitutional rights over the plethora of contradictory, divisive, cliquish and corrupt laws that, according to the Indiana Constitution’s Article I Section 25, (and as clarified by the federal constitution’s 9th and 10th amendments) are null and void anyway.

Nobody is doing the constitutions.  Not politicians, and certainly not voters who can’ be bothered with such things when there’s always something more entertaining going on.

I shouldn’t have to go any further than that.

But let’s look at the law itself now:

Sec. 6. As used in this chapter, “governmental entity” includes the whole or any part of a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, official, or other individual or entity acting under color of law of any of the following: (1) State government. (2) A political subdivision (as defined in IC 36-1-2-13). (3) An instrumentality of a governmental entity described in subdivision(1) or (2), including a state educational institution, a body politic, a body corporate and politic, or any other similar entity established by law.”

Pay attention to the preceding definition of applicable governmental entity.  It basically grants that all agents of our current government, including bureaucrats, teachers, or anybody under political whim, has authority under this law.  For the purposes of this law (you’ve got to read it), that is unconstitutionally granting that non-executives have executive power, and non-judicial folk have judicial powers, since this law grants (as you will see) broad powers of judgment and action to governmental entities to “burden” your rights.

Before pondering the obviously vague term, “burden,” let’s get more into the more clearly understandable “language” (Newspeak for “words”).

Sec. 7. As used in this chapter, “person” includes the following: (1) An individual. (2) An organization, a religious society, a church, a body of communicants, or a group organized and operated primarily for religious purposes. (3) A partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, or another entity that: (A) may sue and be sued; and (B) exercises practices that are compelled or limited by a system of religious belief held by: (i) an individual; or (ii) the individuals; who have control and substantial ownership of the entity, regardless of whether the entity is organized and operated for profit or nonprofit purposes.”

Note the corporate person fiction.  Corporations, including churches under 501c3, are already under political authority as they, unlike actual living people, are government-created abstractions.  Grouping actual humans into this should warn you that this law evokes all the usual corruption.  But most people don’t get this, and that is another topic for another day, so I’ll move on to the more actionable words:

Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. (b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Sec. 9. A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding. If the relevant governmental entity is not a party to the proceeding, the governmental entity has an unconditional right to intervene in order to respond to the person’s invocation of this chapter.

Sec. 10. (a) If a court or other tribunal in which a violation of this chapter is asserted in conformity with section 9 of this chapter determines that: (1) the person’s exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened; and (2) the governmental entity imposing the burden has not demonstrated that application of the burden to the person: (A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest; the court or other tribunal shall allow a defense against any party and shall grant appropriate relief against the governmental entity. (b) Relief against the governmental entity may include any of the following: (1) Declaratory relief or an injunction or mandate that prevents, restrains, corrects, or abates the violation of this chapter. (2) Compensatory damages. (c) In the appropriate case, the court or other tribunal also may award all or part of the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney’s fees, to a person that prevails against the governmental entity under this chapter.”

Here’s where the rubber meets the road.  Read the whole section above and see how, “A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if…” …it wants to.

Do you not see what happens here?  Read the Indiana Constitution’s Article I Section 25.  Try to find anywhere in that constitution where politicians should have any authority to write a law that in any way “burden a person’s” rights, either enumerated or not.  That’s not how the constitutions, state and federal, are supposed to work…at all!

We The People are supposed to be the boss of government, not the other way around!

Boiling down what the law actually says:

The state itself can’t oppose your rights…unless it wants to.  The state may back you up in court…or not.  The state is who the state says it is, and it decides whether its motives and actions are right, or not.

Does this comfort you?

It never affirms anybody’s rights in any way at all.  It never grants that you can do business as you see fit.  It never says that nobody will make you sell when you don’t want to sell.  It never says the state can’t force you to compromise your religious beliefs in action. 

To the contrary…it says very clearly that the state may well oppose you in all the above.

Now, back to that “burden” thing…

The Indiana Constitution’s Article 4, Section 20 says, “Every act and joint resolution shall be plainly worded…”

What’s plain about “burden?”  What are the limits of that law-defining-word?

Yeah, that’s what I think, too.

So, my dear fellow mortal human sinners…we’ve screwed up yet again.  We’ve again given everything unto Caesar.

Where are Samaritans when you need them?

I’ve had it with “religious leaders” spewing socialism.

If Satan has a Bible, I’m sure this is in it: that people should, with all the best intentions, delegate their own, personal role on earth, to politicians.

Where in the Bhagavad-Gita, Torah, Tipitaka, Bible or Koran could you find such evil sophistry?

Universal Healthcare isn’t charity – it is putting a gun to your neighbor to make him do what you won’t do yourself. Social Security isn’t caring for your mother – it’s the hole you personally push her, and your children, into to assuage guilt and allay fears. And you already know that “Homeland Security” has nothing to do with peace and liberty, right?

Our nation’s founders intended that citizens should defend themselves; not just against petty criminals, but against all enemies, foreign…and domestic, as citizen militias. They intended that our churches and voluntary associations, working without the armed aggression of politics, would comprise the departments of Health, Education and Welfare, so that the abstract and erratic junkyard dog we call “politics” would stay in the junkyard, restrained by the tall fence we call Rule of Law.

All of this required that individual citizens, personally, serve the needs of their neighbors; and that we remember, with cold chills, the true history and nature of politics, and people.

Imagine a man was just starting his Corvette after a sales call in northwest Houston, when he was beaten, stripped and left for dead where his car used to be. A TV preacher saw the man, and noted that he really should call 911, but this gave him a sermon idea, so he hurried on. A well-regarded politician saw the man, and said, “dang, I sure don’t want to be seen with a naked man!” And so he also scurried on. But a Mexican, fresh over the fence and scared, hauled the man into his rusty Corolla, took him to the hospital, and even gave his contact information to the ER admitting staff, just if he could be of any help at all, or could pay in any way, for the man’s care.

Who should we emulate? Are there any lessons, in any religion, that tell you otherwise?

In Politicians We Do NOT Trust

If you’re not a Christian, turn back now.  This blog isn’t for you.  The following is for my brothers and sisters in Christ:

 

I do not pretend to be a good Christian.  I try, and I fail badly, frequently.  If you expect a Christian to be free of doubts or missteps, then I don’t qualify.

Even so, I’d love to speak to church groups all over the state because I’ve got more than just a nit to pick with my Christian family. 

I believe that my “govern government” message is, essentially, to give back to God what is God’s.  American churches have given waaaay too much to Caesar.

There was a time in this state and nation when moral instruction, health, education and welfare were the domain of the church and/or other local voluntary associations.  Politicians had nothing to do with these critical social functions, and Americans were the better for it.

If your barn burnt down, the congregation would build it back up.  If you needed healthcare, chances are you’d get it in a church-run hospital.  Churches founded colleges, ran local schools, built parks, doled out charity (to those that actually needed it!), and cared for the elderly and alone. 

And, critically, the church was a powerful social regulator in that their physical, social relevance also meant that excommunication was a big deal; not just a meaningless dismissal.

Well, we’ve delegated all this to Caesar, his bread and circuses, and his corruptions.  See the results around you?  Not so pretty.

I’m just about done with many Christians’ politician-friendly “interpretation” of the tribute penny story found in three books of the New Testament: “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” (Luke 20: 26)

Some Christians think this means that the money isn’t all that important, or that, as in Luke 18:25, you’re much better off without it anyway.  It’s true that you can’t serve two masters.

But Christ himself pointed us in an entirely different direction through Matthew 17:24-27.  The key phrases are, ““Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him,” and “…so that we may not offend them…give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Why do I think that’s the key?

Because, first of all, Christ Himself says that the children of God are exempt from Caesar’s tax.  Second, because they’re paying taxes in this case just for appearances sake.
And,
according to just about everywhere in the Bible, human Kings represent our turn from god and toward human idols (see I Samuel: 8, Acts 12: 21-23), and everything and everyone, belongs to God!

Including Caesar.

So what belongs to Caesar if EVERYTHING belongs to God?
I’ll not write up a long description of proof texts, but if you get curious, consider Deut. 8:17-18, Deuteronomy 10:14, 1 Chronicles 29:11, 1 Chronicles 29: 14,  Psalm 24:1, Job 41:11,  Haggai 2:8, Psalm 50:10-12 and Psalm 100:3.

And with all the talk of money, we mustn’t forget what’s more important:

“You are not your own. You were bought at a price” – 1 Cor. 6:19-20 NIV.

And did we Christians somehow miss that the early Christians were killed in droves and in horrible ways for defying Caesar and spreading the Word of God? 

I don’t believe Christians are called to be garnishes on Caesar’s dinner plate.  We are to be beacons to God’s Covenant and Kingdom.  We’re supposed to exemplify and point to the truth, not act like doormats.
Yes, some might say, but what about Romans 13?
Yes; about that.
I think we’ve been badly misinterpreting that one too.
The rest of Romans is obviously written to Jews living in Rome who (apparently) needed reminders about Temple discipline (remember, not only was the Word sharper than a two-edged sword, but there was also Temple Tax and punishment like lashings, stonings and such).  Jews had a theocratic government, and Paul was exhorting them to remember that.
I understand people think that  Paul suddenly interrupts the chapter to discuss civil government when the rest was about church/Temple/faith.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers… ”
Is that just Nero, really?  

The Roman ruler who burned Christians in his garden like tiki torches and killed all but one of the Apostles (who died opposing Caesar, remember) was not who who Paul referred to as “…the minister of God to thee for good!”
To read that any other way seems like a really odd interruption and jarring sidebar to what is otherwise a very cohesive argument.
And what about I Samuel 8:6-20?
Did God really intend for us to bow to human kings?  Where in the Bible are the examples of Good Kings?

Anyway, today, this is the sovereign state of Indiana (Article 4, Section 16 of the Indiana Constitution), a member state of the United States of America, where we have the authority to choose our leaders, and by extension, our way of life.  Christians have, like the ever-stiff-necked ancient Israelites, rejected God’s Word, His laws, His example and His Blessings.  Do I need to remind you how nations are judged for such things?

There is a corollary to “In God We Trust.”  It’s “In Politicians We Do NOT Trust.” 

If I get my way, churches will stop fussing over their precious tax status, and start doing here in the USA what they know they must do in missions abroad: Spread the Good News, while rolling up shirt sleeves and serving their fellow sinners in ways that matter in every day life.

One way or another, by wise pre-planning, or by grim necessity with our economy collapsing around us, you’d better get ready…

Just Who Are Americans these days?

Perhaps there should be a rule against quickly dashing off and posting a blog when you’re rushed, and in a foul mood.  But I just saw an advertisement for Identigene’s DNA Paternity Test.  In morbid curiosity (no personal need, I assure you!) I quickly Googled a bunch of other products and services that cheerfully ask, in essence, “find out who knocked you up!

I hope you’ll pardon me the crude talk.  But what’s beneath all this is even cruder, when it comes to politics.

Because politicians never actually lead; they only reflect.  It’s not just that “all government is by consent of the governed.”  It’s more that all governments are the governed.

When Spartans stopped being Spartan, Sparta was no more.  When the America of our founders ceased to be American as defined by the founders, that America was no more.  That happened about a hundred years ago.

I’ll not bore you with the details (unless you ask, or even look as though you might be about to ask).  And I’ll not now start quoting the founders on morality, Christian society, and so on.

But it is critical to mention the Rule of Law as opposed to the Rule of Tyrants. 

We have become so degenerate – we have devolved so far back to our primordial default, that even the idea that politicians must obey constitutional limits as written seems foreign to us.

Sad, but not historically unusual or surprising.  The power-mad do not want limits on their power, do they?  So authoritarianism and societal collapse is in fact what always happens sooner or later.  I’d hoped for later.

I’m not fooling myself about my personal odds in the upcoming election.  We are a nation, after all, that cries for change and votes for incumbents essentially every time (over 98%).  We fall ever-more in debt yet clamor for more and more cheap stuff into which we pour more money, more time, more work, more debt.  We know everything about sports and celebrities, but nothing about those who take our money, print up more, make up the rules of our lives, and, more and more often these days, kill us for their own purposes and power.  We put our hand on our hearts and reverentially promise to obey a flag, but we’ve never even read the constitutions that once defined our social and legal fabric.

Oh, and apparently, we don’t know who knocked us up.

No, I’m not fooling myself.  The incumbent will win by a comfortable margin, as always, and we’ll tumble into failure, just as all such foolish and corrupt people do.

And yet I do hope.  I pray.  I pray a lot that we’ll stop at this brink and turn around.  And so I’m running for the constitutional office of “cop of the Indiana Constitution,” Indiana Governor.  I’m offering to be the first one of those in a hundred years.  All I can do is present the offer; voters (and non-voters) will choose.

Because elections aren’t about candidates at all.  They’re about those who’re choosing.  And our choices have been pretty awful lately.