Saturday, December 17, 2016

Church vs State

The idea that we have been a Country founded on the idea that Religion is a separate function and Government has no obligation nor duty nor legal foundation in which to defer or consult with a head of a Church is the basis of the First Amendment and what is the Establishment Clause.

To understand it is to know your history and Constitution, two things our presumptive President Il Douchebag, seems to know little to nothing about and the Electoral College has not met yet (I would love to be a fly on that wall when they do).   But the phrase "wall of separation between the church and the state" was originally coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802. His purpose in this letter was to assuage the fears of the Danbury, Connecticut Baptists, and so he told them that this wall had been erected to protect them. The metaphor was used exclusively to keep the state out of the church's business, not to keep the church out of the state's business.

Now America is a country with many faiths and beliefs but the reality is why we place emphasis on this concept of Judeo Christian beliefs we mean Christian.  I recall no Jews on the Mayflower or part of the original crew. That phrase or term came much later to demonstrate a more pluralistic nation that includes all faiths that believe we are created in God's image.  It is in our money, "In God We Trust" so so much for separation of said Church and the Federal Reserve.  Perhaps that is where Il Douchebag elect gets his religion.

And why I think Il Douchebag is perhaps the least Christian, most secular President we have ever elected but it cannot be ignored that his choices from Vice President to his Cabinet and advisors are perhaps the most non secular group in history.

The one that is most fascinating is Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.  Her trail of tears in Detroit is well documented. What I find fascinating is that I doubt she had ever met Il Douchebag, traveled in the same wealthy circles and have anything in common. I doubt Il Douchebag cares or knows anything about Public Education as he has never attended one, his family has not nor have they anyone who has worked or been a part of Education.

No fan of Obama's team of Ed Reformers from Arnie Duncan to John King, I don't think Obama knew or cared about Education in the least.  Neither he nor Michelle, who did attend public education in Chicago,  have any illusions about the current state of public education but they also don't really care or have any vested interest.  I think that is the common state of America.  We know its bad but we don't think we need to worry about unless we have kids in and then we will worry about our school choice and our kids, the rest is the standard American phrase, "fuck 'em."

DeVos is like many on the Trump team, rich, white and sanctimonious.  Religion is not just a faith or belief it is a way of life.   I live in the Bible belt and there are more Churches than schools here and many poor, particularly Black families, are engaged and involved in the same way DeVos is only with less resources than she to put in the offering basket.  And as in State, Church takes note of those who donate the most and in turn influence the most with regards to policy and prayer.

The same people who fear and denounce Sharia Law are the very ones now on the precipice of Government planning to do their version of the same.

Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools

Op-Ed The New York Times
DEC. 13, 2016

BOSTON — At the rightmost edge of the Christian conservative movement, there are those who dream of turning the United States into a Christian republic subject to “biblical laws.” In the unlikely figure of Donald J. Trump, they hope to have found their greatest champion yet. He wasn’t “our preferred candidate,” the Christian nationalist David Barton said in June, but he could be “God’s candidate.”

Consider the president-elect’s first move on public education. Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the nation, says that he was Mr. Trump’s first pick for secretary of education. Liberty University teaches creationism alongside evolution.

When Mr. Falwell declined, President-elect Trump offered the cabinet position to Betsy DeVos. In most news coverage, Ms. DeVos is depicted as a member of the Republican donor class and a leading advocate of school vouchers programs.

That is true enough, but it doesn’t begin to describe the broader conservative agenda she’s been associated with.

Betsy DeVos stands at the intersection of two family fortunes that helped to build the Christian right. In 1983, her father, Edgar Prince, who made his money in the auto parts business, contributed to the creation of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as extremist because of its anti-L.G.B.T. language.

Her father-in-law, Richard DeVos Sr., the co-founder of Amway, a company built on “multilevel marketing” or what critics call pyramid selling, has been funding groups and causes on the economic and religious right since the 1970s.

Ms. DeVos is a chip off the old block. At a 2001 gathering of conservative Christian philanthropists, she singled out education reform as a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” In an interview, she and her husband, Richard DeVos Jr., said that school choice would lead to “greater kingdom gain.”

And so the family tradition continues, funding the religious right through a network of family foundations — among others, the couple’s own, as well as the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, on whose board Ms. DeVos has served along with her brother, Erik Prince, founder of the military contractor Blackwater. According to Conservative Transparency, a liberal watchdog that tracks donor funding through tax filings, these organizations have funded conservative groups including: the Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal juggernaut of the religious right; the Colorado-based Christian ministry Focus on the Family; and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Like other advocates of school voucher programs, Ms. DeVos presents her plans as a way to improve public education and give families more choice. But the family foundations’ money supports a far more expansive effort.

The evangelical pastor and broadcaster D. James Kennedy, whose Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church is a beneficiary of DeVos largess, said in a 1986 sermon that children in public education were being “brainwashed in Godless secularism.” More recently, in 2005, he told followers to “exercise godly dominion” over “every aspect and institution of human society,” including the government.

Jerry Falwell Sr. outlined the goal in his 1979 book “America Can Be Saved!” He said he hoped to see the day when there wouldn’t be “any public schools — the churches will have taken them over and Christians will be running them.”

Vouchers are part of the program. According to an educational scholar, they originally came into fashion among Southern conservatives seeking to support segregation in schools. But activists soon grasped that vouchers could be useful in a general assault on public education. As Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, which receives support from a DeVos-funded donor group, explained: “Complete privatization of schooling might be desirable, but this objective is politically impossible for the time being. Vouchers are a type of reform that is possible now.”

The DeVoses well understand that, stripped of specious language about reform and choice, such a plan for public education would be deeply unpopular. In 2002, Mr. DeVos Jr. advised a Heritage Foundation audience that “we need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities.”

The public school system faces the most immediate threat, but it is not the only institution at risk. The Christian right has already won a number of key roles in the Trump administration.

The head of the presidential transition, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, is an avid voucher proponent. As governor of Indiana, he expanded a voucher program that now funnels $135 million a year to private schools, almost all of them religious. Mr. Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, favors religious tests for new immigrants and objects to chief justices with “secular mind-sets.” The nominee for secretary of health and human services, Tom Price, is a member of a physicians’ organization aligned with conservative Christian positions on abortion and other issues.

Mr. Trump’s senior strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, may not appear to be a religious warrior, but he shares the vision of a threatened Christendom.

“I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian West, is in a crisis,” he said at a conference in 2014. This was “a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.”

What is distinctive about the Christian right’s response to this perceived crisis is its apocalyptic conviction that extreme measures are needed. There is nothing conservative about this agenda; it is radical. Gutting public education will be just the beginning.

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