Dobbs: Keep religion out of politics

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. Dobbs: Keep religion out of politics

    By Lou Dobbs

    Editor's note: Lou Dobbs' commentary appears every Wednesday on

    NEW YORK (CNN) -- We're about 40 days away from November's critically important midterm elections, and the campaign volume is rising.

    The political strategists, campaign managers, and the partisan savants will be working overtime to excite their conservative, liberal, Republican and Democratic bases, trying to get at least 50 percent of us who've registered to vote to actually go to the polls.

    As in election years past, they're going to have a lot of help, and not just from PACs, labor unions and 527 groups like MoveOn and Progress for America. Oh no, we're going to be treated to something akin to, and as close as we should expect to get to, divine intervention. Evangelical Christians, Jews, Catholics, Muslims and Mormons are already getting rowdy, not only on their respective pulpits, but in the mail, on the air and certainly on the campaign trails.

    Now I know you're thinking that this is America, what is religion doing in politics and what is politics doing in religion. As it turns out, just about everything. And the politically correct orthodoxy would prefer you and I not take notice.

    The First Amendment of our Constitution declares that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." But the devil's in the details, if you will, and the often demonized Internal Revenue Service has taken up the issue where other federal agencies and branches of government have feared to tread: This summer the IRS sent out a letter warning letter to more than 15,000 churches and tax-exempt nonprofit organizations throughout the nation. The warning letter is meant to serve notice that any sort of politicking could endanger their tax-exempt status.

    The IRS discovered a disturbing amount of intervention by religious groups in national politics in 2004. It determined nearly five dozen churches and charities violated laws against political activities, and there are now 40 active investigations into the politicking of various churches.

    The mixture of religion and politics is on public display throughout the country. The Mormon Church rolled out the red carpet for Mexican President Vicente Fox, embraces illegal immigrants in the state of Utah and helped pro-amnesty incumbent Congressman Chris Cannon with a get out the vote campaign.

    Apparently nobody in the federal government is too concerned that the Catholic Church has repeatedly lobbied on behalf of millions of illegal aliens and their supporters for wholesale amnesty and open borders. Until the Supreme Court ordered him to, the head of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Cardinal Roger Mahoney, didn't think he should cooperate with the law when it came to divulging information on priests accused of pedophilia, and he believes it is entirely correct to encourage his parishioners to civil disobedience in the case of legislation that secures our borders and punishes those who cross them illegally. The Cardinal disavows the will of the people in opposition to current law. Ironically he's now spearheading a drive to register a million new voters by 2008. Where he'll find them, only heaven knows.

    The role of religion in politics and the role of politics in religion in this country has never deserved more attention and merited more intense examination than now. Religion is dominant in the lives of most Americans: The latest Gallup Poll reveals that nearly two-thirds of us are members of a church or synagogue and about one-third of us attend church or synagogue at least once a week.

    Surveys show as many as 250 million Americans are Christian and 70 million of us describe ourselves as evangelicals. Clearly, Christian Americans could dominate our political system, and many argue that the outcome of the 2004 presidential election was determined by Catholic voters who shunned Catholic candidate Sen. John Kerry and bolstered born-again President George W. Bush, by a margin of 52 to 47.

    What is the Constitutional and appropriate role of religion in our political lives. Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says there are definite limits. "What houses of worship cannot do, under federal law, is to endorse or oppose candidates for public office. They may not use their resources to intervene in a partisan race. Houses of worship cannot become cogs in anyone's political machine."

    But isn't that exactly what is happening today? Some churches and nonprofits have become extensions of both Democratic and Republican political message machines at the local and national level. The intrusion of religion into our political lives, in my opinion, should be rejected in the same fashion that we constitutionally guarantee government will not interfere with religion.

    This issue is far too important to be left to the sole judgment of the Internal Revenue Service. And it is time for all of us to examine closely, both in our communities and in our Congress, just what separation of church and state really means to us and to the nation.
  2. Lou Dobbs is pretty damn admirable, imo. He's the only commentator on the major cable networks that holds both sides of the isle to the fire.

    He's the only one that consistantly stands up for the people.

    Neither side of the political spectrum can say that Dobbs is bias one way or the other... except for the peoples rights over the broken (bipartisan) status quo in Washington!
  3. I saw the sanctimonious wind bag, former Sen. John Danforth of Mo., on Russert making roughly the same point, namely that people of faith who disagree with him should shut up. It's interesting that all this concern for religion tainting politics seemed to arise after Evangelicals became a force. No one objected to every Democrat from FDR on campaigning from black churches. Clinton, Al Gore, even Kerry, made use of such venues. One Dem. candidate, former thug Al Sharpton, is a minister. Apparently none of that threatens our Republic though. Only the conservative Religious Right is a problem.

    One could argue that few things are more important to the "free exercise" of religion than who governs us. The Old Testament is replete with accounts of immoral or unfaithful leaders who brought ruin on their peoples. Personally, I see nothing wrong with a preacher giving his congregation the benefit of his wisdom as to which candidate best advances their concerns.

    But for once, I have to admit that Barry Lynn has correctly summarized the law. A church cannot endorse a candidate and comply with IRS rules. Is it too much to ask however that these rules be applied evenly? That means no more Democrats campaigning from black churches.
  4. I certainly give him tons of credit for standing tall on the immigration issue. No doubt he's gotten a lot of pressure to tone it down, but he won't let go of it.
  5. I don't think you can tax a church because some preacher says he likes a certain candidate or favors an issue. Clearly you wouldn't want to keep a preacher from speaking out against abortion to his flock, for fear of taxing the donations money, would you?

    It is when they use donations from parishioners for PAC money that is at issue, or advertise, etc.

    I doubt the poor black churches actually raise that much money for white republiklans to worry about...

  6. And the free markets debate, as to whether it's actually benefitting americans or just a corporations bottom line.

    Personally, I realize that the world getting "smaller" is inevitable.. but I think that the powers that be are acting less than cautiously.
  7. fhl


    If the gov't is allowed to send out 15,000 letters to churches warning them that they may be headed in the wrong direction, then why, pray tell, are churches not allowed to do the same when they feel the gov't is headed in the wrong direction?

    I guess I will now recieve instruction on why the "separation of church and state" only binds one of the parties to be separate.
  8. Pabst


    I find Dobb's take idiotic and self-serving. He's a vehement foe of immigration and clearly has an axe to grind with Christians who are concerned about the moral implications of closed borders and closed societies. The debate over immigration SHOULD BE all encompassing. It's a mix of economics, national security and yes, morality.

    People have reasons for supporting one candidate over another. Is it more kosher for a candidate to tell a union audience that he'll "fight to keep jobs in America" than for a candidate to tell religious voters that he'll "support family legislation."? Is it ok for a candidate to employ class warfare or to preach tax cuts but not ok to support the rights of the not yet born or to oppose homosexual marriage based on religious reasons?

    Like most anti-intellectuals Dobb's fails to mention the role of black churches in pumping out the vote for Black Democrat's. The Democrat's have guys named REVEREND Jesse Jackson and REVEREND Al Sharpton running in Presidential primaries. The media would be aghast if REVEREND Bob James or Pat Robertson were actual politicians. The appearance at Chicago and Philadelphia Black Baptist Churches is a de rigeur invitation for Democrat's. When I ran for Congress the only two candidate forums in houses of worship that I was invited to speak were at a black baptist church and a synagogue. The members of each institution were overwhelmingly Democrats.
    Even though I was grilled harshly and walked away with few votes from each forum I was heartened that a few hundred people would come to their church or temple to help make a personal decision. To me interaction of faith and community epitomizes American democracy.

    I find it remarkable that some folks, usually liberals, have no problem with the IRS denying churches the right to politic and with the anti-voice of McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform. Talk about the Federal Government clamping down on freedom!!
    The purpose of the First Amendment was not to censure religious expression but to enhance it. The government once again runs amuck with the blessing of dolts like Dobbs.
  9. Reverend Robertson did run... didn't he?

    The constitution says something like: "freedom of religion" not: "freedom from religion"... and I agree with that.

    The fore-fathers had reason to include in the scope "separation of church and state", so that once again, a (religious) minority's opinions, beliefs, and rights can be preserved/protected.
  10. seperation of church and state only refers to the 1st amendment which says, "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise there of."

    the IRS was not created as a watchdog of the 1st amendment, that is laughable to an extreme. the 1st amendment actually should protect the church's right to have an opinion about certain matters and to express it freely. to actually live in a time where people question these freedoms is baffling.

    edit: pabst and i agree again.. ok.. i am going to be sick.
    #10     Sep 27, 2006