Friday, July 29, 2011








Are They Really So Happy With The Constitution?


"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," reads the First Amendment of the United States Constitution the right pretends to revere.

Just an annoying clause, according to director Joshua DuBois of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The Denver Post reports

The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships said working with religious leaders in their hometowns enables the administration to better support the critical work of feeding and housing people, ensuring health care, creating economic opportunities, promoting education and strengthening families.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said in the keynote address that people questioned Denver's recruitment of congregations to help the city end homelessness — an initiative he undertook as mayor.

The law says government can't favor one religion over another, Hickenlooper said — it doesn't say you cannot get involved with religious communities.

"Communities of faith have been a big part of our search for social justice from the beginning," Hickenlooper said.

In continuing a faith-based initiative of President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama said faith-based groups are not a substitute for secular nonprofits and government efforts, but America "needs all hands on deck."

"If your focus is first and foremost serving people in need, then there's not a tremendous amount of time left to debate the finer points of the church- state relationship," said program director Joshua Dubois.

Except this is the Constitution we're talking about- its Bill of Rights. And to this fellow Dubois, we can ignore "the finer points of the church-state relationship."

Not, however, if you're a supporter of the U.S. Constitution, which appears to leave a lot of Republicans out. Now that the Boehner far-right House debt proposal has gone down in the House, the Speaker has decided to appease his colleagues elected with tea party support by resurrecting the balanced budget amendment. Among the numerous deficiencies of the latter are, as David Gans, director of human rights, civil rights and citizenship program at the Constitutional Accountability Center, notes

The first powers that Congress gets in the Constitution are lay and collect taxes and pay the debts.... and second is borrow money on the credit of the United States. I think that cuts sharply against the idea that the Balanced Budget Amendment is something that we should sort of write into stone so it's not fixable..... If there's some sort of emergency we're sort of hamstrung.

It's easy to embrace the Constitution rhetorically, as Tea Party members have been fond of doing, when you love it as you wish it were. But to cherish the document suggests that you might actually like it largely as it is, not wish it were dramatically transformed, as it would be by addition of this one proposed amendment.

The GOP and the President (with congressional Democrats dragged along), daring a sharp downturn in the economy, eventually will resolve the debt ceiling conflict with a disastrous cut in spending, presumably in the $1 trillion-$3 trillion range. If those obsessed with wrapping themselves in the Constitution were sincere, that Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, chiseling away at the Establishment clause of the First Amendment, would be a good place to start.



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