Faith in Statism

church and state

Faith in Statism
The Left has turned against religious liberty
By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Organization Trends, August 2015, (PDF here)

On June 26, the Supreme Court by 5 to 4 struck down all state-level bans on same-sex marriage. Since then, a poll found that 19 percent of Americans believe “religious institutions or clergy should be required to perform same-sex marriages.” The survey was conducted by the Barna Group, which studies attitudes toward religion in America. That percentage may seem small, but it means one in five Americans have no problem with the government violating the first freedom of the First Amendment. That number increases to more than a quarter—26 percent—among Americans under the age of 40, who believe churches and pastors should be forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies. (TheBlaze, July 1, 2015)

Reasonable people can disagree on the issue of gay marriage as a public policy, but what should not be questioned are the basic First Amendment principles of the country, rights that were reinforced by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993 by a Democratic administration and Congress.

The majority and dissenting opinions in the same-sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, addressed the matter of religious freedom. Even President Barack Obama made passing reference to this fundamental liberty when he praised the ruling in the Rose Garden: “All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact; recognize different viewpoints; revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.”

For the court’s majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.

It’s good to know Kennedy still thinks Americans have the right to hold private religious views. Yet Chief Justice John Roberts responded that many difficult issues remain:

“Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every state that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for religious practice. The majority’s decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. … Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples.”

Now congressional Republicans are considering taking action to protect the First Amendment right to practice religion, not only for clergy and their congregations, but for private businesses as well.   Continue reading →

Briefly Noted: August 2015

bf august 2015

Abortion provider Planned Parenthood was forced to apologize after a video surfaced showing a top official, Deborah Nucatola, callously discussing how to abort a fetus properly in order to preserve marketable organs. “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact,” she said in a video secretly recorded last year by the pro-life group, Center for Medical Progress. Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards responded: “Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide. In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion. This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements.” Richards claimed her group does not profit from sales of fetal tissues and organs. “Our donation programs—like any other high-quality health care providers—follow all laws and ethical guidelines.”

The murder of young Kate Steinle by an illegal Mexican alien in San Francisco on July 1 has put the ACLU-led “sanctuary city” movement in the national spotlight. The local sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi, a Democrat and convicted wife beater, had previously refused a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold the foreigner for the feds to arrest, because San Francisco refuses to cooperate in the enforcement of federal immigration law. Soon after being liberated, the man shot Steinle in the back at a popular tourist destination in front of her father. Mirkarimi was unmoved, proudly standing by San Francisco’s sanctuary-city status. “I firmly believe it makes us safer. We’re a world-renowned city with a large immigrant population…. From a law enforcement perspective, we want to build trust with that population.” The Obama administration supports this lawless movement. At a congressional hearing two weeks after the shooting, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused to condemn sanctuary cities and said a crackdown on them could be unconstitutional.

Continue reading →

Introducing Love Gov

LoveGovGrab

Scott “Gov” Govinsky is on the job doing his best to save Americans from themselves.

He’s the central character in Love Gov, a series of brief BuzzFeed-style vignettes produced by the Independent Institute.  Gov, an annoying but super-friendly do-gooding embodiment of the Leviathan, sums himself up in one sentence: “This is a big part of what I do, is to protect the people from choices.”

The Independent Institute describes the series this way:

Love Gov portrays the federal government as an overbearing boyfriend — Scott “Gov” Govinsky — who foists his good intentions on a hapless, idealistic college student, Alexis. Each episode follows Alexis’s relationship with Gov as his intrusions wreak (comic) havoc on her life, professionally, financially, and socially. Alexis’s loyal friend Libby tries to help her see Gov for what he really is — a menace. But will Alexis come to her senses in time? Tune in to find out!

Through comedic skits the big-spending Gov unwittingly demonstrates that government can’t get much of anything right.  The series skewers the sacred policy cows of the pro-big government left.  It explains and elucidates things such as the housing bubble, student loans, healthcare insurance, environmental regulations, and so on.

You just can’t help wanting Gov to fail.

Philanthropy Notes: July 2015

phil notes july 2015

While presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was America’s top diplomat the Department of State she oversaw the approval of $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments had forked over millions of dollars to the now-embattled Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. According to the International Business Times, “at least seven foreign governments that received State Department clearance for American arms did donate to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary.” The article identified the seven nations as Algeria, Australia, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, and Thailand. The mainstream media’s surprisingly probing coverage of the unfolding Clinton Foundation donations-for-favors scandal suggests that reporters have turned on the Clintons in the age of Obama.

Some Irishmen are accusing the U.S.-based same-sex marriage movement of “cultural imperialism” after foreign funding helped a same-sex marriage referendum pass by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent in the socially conservative country. According to NewsBusters, a petition has been launched calling the push “a carefully-orchestrated and massively well-funded assault on the natural family, coming from private American funding,” specifically $28 million in left-wing funding over the past 13 years from the Atlantic Philanthropies, a charity founded by Irish-American entrepreneur Chuck Feeney. As Irish Times columnist Breda O’Brien complained before the balloting, “this is foreign money being systematically invested to change public opinion, to deliver seamlessly a Yes in a referendum that has enormous consequences for family law for generations.” (Feeney and Atlantic were profiled in Foundation Watch, April 2015.)

Continue reading →

Briefly Noted: July 2015

bf july 2015

ACORN’s successor group in Missouri has been paying protesters $5,000 a month to generate civil unrest in Ferguson, the troubled St. Louis suburb where black youth Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer last August. We know this because some of the protesters haven’t been paid, and now they are demanding their promised reward. They held a sit-in at the offices of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) and posted a demand letter online. MORE and other groups supporting the Black Lives Matter movement have received at least $33 million from radical America-hating financier George Soros, the Washington Times calculates. MORE is the rebranded Missouri branch of the former ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which filed for bankruptcy in late 2010.

Former President Bill Clinton, who is known for his slippery use of language, says he will no longer give paid speeches if his wife is elected U.S. president. But he vowed to “continue to give speeches without compensation if Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, enters the White House.” Commentator Daniel Greenfield notes that “Bill Clinton hasn’t firmly stated that he would stop. His definition of ‘compensation’ might still include money donated” to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. “So like everything he says, this is meaningless,” Greenfield adds. “Furthermore paid speeches are a means of providing huge sums of money to the people whom they expect will be shortly running the country. Once they are running the country, then the donors cash in.”

Continue reading →

Janet Yellen speaks at Soros Fest

George Soros, International Man of Mayhem

 

There’s an article in today’s Los Angeles Times about Fed head Janet Yellen speaking about interest rates and the dismal economic outlook America has thanks to her policies and those of President Obama.

That’s all old news.

What is interesting is that Yellen delivered her remarks at the truly awful Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).  Nazi collaborator George Soros provided $50 million in seed money to create this far-left think tank that wages war on free markets every day.  Attacking civil society and augmenting government power is always the solution to every problem.

That Yellen takes INET seriously enough to grace it with her presence is scary in itself.

Right now the INET website features items representative of Soros’s schizophrenic worldview.

One is a video called “How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom, and Security.”  Funny.  That title describes Soros.  He is, after all, an elite power broker who corrupts everything he touches.

Soros founded INET not long after making some characteristically disturbing remarks.

“The system we have now has actually broken down, only we haven’t quite recognized it and so you need to create a new one and this is the time to do it,” he said.  In a separate interview he said European-style socialism “is exactly what we need now. I am against market fundamentalism. I think this propaganda that government involvement is always bad has been very successful — but also very harmful to our society.”

Soros, like so many other radicals, adores setting up straw men.  Nobody, except for a few anarchists and libertarians, argues that government involvement is “always” bad.  But that’s what Soros and his ilk do in an effort to de-legitimize their adversaries.

INET’s “about us” page lists a whole bunch of radicals and leftists associated with the organization.

Among them are socialist economist Joseph Stiglitz, Earth Institute director Jeffrey D. Sachs, Harvard professor Amartya Sen, developer and Democracy Alliance member Albert J. Dwoskin.

Philanthropy Notes: June 2015

John M. Templeton Jr., RIP: As we go to press, the sad news has arrived of the death at age 75 of John M. Templeton Jr., a former pediatric surgeon who was president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation of Pennsylvania. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family. Dr. Templeton not only presided over the giving done by his father’s foundation but was also a very generous donor personally. Foundation Watch will feature a fuller tribute to his philanthropy in our next issue.

ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos was forced to admit that he failed to disclose a major conflict of interest—$75,000 in donations to the embattled Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation—to viewers while covering Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Just two weeks before on the “Daily Show,” he said, “Everybody knows that when donors give that money, what you get is access and the influence that comes with that access.” The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove mocked the former Clinton White House aide’s mea culpa as “a passive-aggressive non-apology.” Stephanopoulos said the gifts “were a matter of public record … [but] in hindsight, “I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the Foundation.  I apologize.”

Continue reading →

Briefly Noted: June 2015

At least four board members of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, a public charity, have either been charged with or convicted of serious crimes, including bribery and fraud, according to Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer. They are tech magnate Vinod Gupta, hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, billionaire Victor Dahdaleh, and energy tycoon Rolando Gonzalez Bunster, Breitbart News reported. Gupta paid out millions of dollars after he settled civil charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which had accused him of vigorously padding his expense account. Chatwal was convicted last year of illegal campaign financing and fined $1 million. The British government failed to win a bribery conviction against Dahdaleh when “a key witness … pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt but refused to testify.” The Dominican Republic accuses Bunster of charging it “ballooned” fees.

Meanwhile, Internet and Nexis searches suggest that two of Gupta’s projects in India that were to be named after Hillary Clinton failed to materialize. Registered as a charity in 1997 in India, the Vinod Gupta Charitable Foundation pledged $6 million in 2007 to create the “Hillary Clinton School of Journalism,” according to the Clinton Foundation’s website. The school does not appear to have been built. Gupta’s foundation’s website boasts of a “Hillary Rodham Clinton Nursing School,” to be established in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The link on the website to the school’s website leads to a placeholder page of an Internet domain name broker.

Continue reading →

Foreign policy super genius Sidney Blumenthal

Longtime Clinton crony Sidney Blumenthal earned around $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation “while he was providing unsolicited intelligence on Libya to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement,” Ken Vogel of Politico reports.

“Blumenthal was added to the payroll of the Clintons’ global philanthropy in 2009 — not long after advising Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — at the behest of former president Bill Clinton, for whom he had worked in the White House, say the sources.”

The Benghazi Select Committee is investigating Blumenthal.

As I wrote at FrontPageMag, Blumenthal is under fire over allegations that he used his connection to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to promote an unusual business scheme involving Libya and possibly the embattled Clinton Foundation.

Blumenthal, Bill Clinton’s legendary hatchet man who earned the richly deserved sobriquet “Sid Vicious” for his scorched-earth assaults on Clinton’s enemies, is now at the center of yet another percolating Clinton scandal that promises to be, like all Clinton scandals, extraordinarily messy and drawn out.

All the details of Blumenthal’s would-be transactions aren’t yet known, but at first glance his scheming bears more than a passing resemblance to the cockamamie business deal that the late Billy Carter, President Jimmy Carter’s always embarrassing brother, tried to broker in Libya decades ago.

George Stephanopoulos and the Clinton Foundation

deepwater

ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos was forced to admit that he failed to disclose a major conflict of interest –$75,000 in donations to the embattled Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation– to viewers while covering Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Bear in mind that just two weeks before on the “Daily Show,” he said, “Everybody knows that when donors give that money, what you get is access and the influence that comes with that access.”

Stephanopoulos said the gifts “were a matter of public record … [but] in hindsight, “I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the Foundation.  I apologize.”  The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove mocked the former Clinton White House aide’s mea culpa as “a passive-aggressive non-apology.”  Stephanopoulos has since recused himself as moderator of ABC’s February GOP debate in New Hampshire but stubbornly refuses to refrain from covering the 2016 presidential election, a fact that has some Republican lawmakers urging their colleagues to refuse to give interviews to the news network.

The anchor’s bias was obvious in an April 26 interview with Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer.  When the author said there was a “troubling pattern” between donations to the foundation and Mrs. Clinton’s actions as secretary of state, the hyper-partisan Stephanopoulos slapped him down hard.  “We’ve done investigative work here at ABC News, found no proof of any kind of direct action,” the disingenuous anchor said.  Of course a book by an investigative reporter isn’t a formal indictment.  It’s not like Schweizer has subpoena-issuing powers.

Remember that Stephanopoulos is the guy who threw a life line to Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential debate on April 16, 2008.  He asked then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.):

I want to give Senator [Hillary] Clinton a chance to respond, but first a follow-up on this issue, the general theme of patriotism in your relationships. A gentleman named William Ayers — he was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that, and, in fact, on 9-11, he was quoted in The New York Times saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”  An early organizing meeting for your state Senate campaign was held at his house, and your campaign has said you are friendly. Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won’t be a problem?

It was quite a loaded question and I doubt that Stephanopoulos’s motivation in asking it was journalistic curiosity.

Recent Capital Research Center publications about the Clinton Foundation:

The Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation:  Pay no attention to the First Family behind the curtain, by Jonathan M. Hanen, Foundation Watch, September 2014

The Clinton Foundation:  A cauldron of conflicts and cronyism, by Barbara Joanna Lucas, Foundation Watch, May 2015