Tag: religion

On the docket: Reed v. Town of Gilbert

By Cara L. Gallagher, weekend contributor

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Gilbert, Arizona’s sign regulations.

 

 

 

A preview of a case that will be heard tomorrow in the SCOTUS: Reed v. Town of Gilbert.

Question: Can a town impose more regulations on religious signs posted on public streets than political, ideological, or property signs?

10-cent explanation: The town of Gilbert, Arizona has municipal codes about when, where, and for how long signs can be displayed in town. If you’re a candidate running for elected office, your campaign sign can remain in public for an unlimited amount of time. If the town posts signs reminding citizens what day to vote, they can be posted four and a half months prior to the date and up to 15 days after. Got a sign advertising an HOA meeting? Those can stay out 30 days before the meeting and must be taken down 48 hours after. But if the pastor of a local church in Gilbert, adorably called the Good News Community Church, wants to put signs out to remind people of upcoming services, he has only 12 hours before the event to display it and must take it down within an hour after the event or risk penalties. There are also regulations on the sizes of the signs. Good News signs can’t be more than six square feet whereas HOA signs can be 80 square feet, political signs 32 square feet, and ideological signs 20 square feet. These regulations also apply to signs for nonprofit, charitable, and educational organizations. Continue reading “On the docket: Reed v. Town of Gilbert”

Religion, Justice and The Just World Hypothesis

By Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger

Can religious beliefs actually retard our intuitions for justice and fairness? Research seems to suggest it might well. The Christian religion has imbued Western thought with the fundamental belief that God presides over a just world – one where sin is punished and rightly-held beliefs and actions are rewarded. We see this attitude in every aspect of human interaction. Today, in some sparkling sports stadium an earnest athlete is bound to thank his deity of choice for the good fortunes that befell his team or his game changing performance. By extension, the loser ( a value loaded word if ever there was one) will decry his lack of luck. From the Book of Job to Pinocchio and Cinderella, this belief in what some psychologists call “immanent justice” or “The Just Word Hypothesis” seeks to explain our plight and our success. It also hardens our attitudes about the poor, victims of crimes and those folks either buoyed or sunk by pure chance.

The Book of Job gets us into the mindset. A saintly man if ever there was one as the Bible itself acknowledges, God allows Satan to test Job with all manner of suffering to determine his worthiness. Stripped of his wealth, prestige and power, Job then loses his children and ultimately his health and vigor. Still, Job endures and never ever curses his fate – or his God. He does consult his friends for some inkling as to the cause of his travails. Their answer, which comes like a thunderclap is: “Behold,” one of them declares, “God will not cast away an innocent man, neither will he uphold evildoers” (Job 8:20). Classic “Blame the Victim” mentality from this coterie of advisers.

Puzzled but resolute, Job however concludes that despite his worldly righteousness, he can never know divine justice and according to the story prostrates himself silent before his Master’s “Just World.’ For that, he is rewarded with the resumption of his wealth and status. He even replaces his children with seven new ones. The clear message to the world however is the same: God handles the world’s justice and we are powerless to exact our own except on only the most superficial level.

Jesus himself gets in on the act in the New Testament. Addressing the multitude in the Sermon on the Mount, he has two distinct things to say about justice and our expectations of it: Blessed are…..those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (Matt. 5:6) and Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:10). In modern speak, “Don’t worry God will handle it in his own way and, if you let him do so, you’ll get the whole enchilada. The pearly gates, the mansions, those singing and harp-playing cherubim … you, my faithful believer, get it all.”

Continue reading “Religion, Justice and The Just World Hypothesis”

Burger Joint: Seattle Restaurant Advertises Easter Promotion Showing Jesus Smoking Marijuana

Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

LunchBox Laboratory AdRestaurant chain Lunchbox Laboratory caused a bit of a stir when it presented its annual 4/20 sale offering a thirteen dollar Burger of the Gods in a “Buy one get one free” special. 4/20 is celebrated in the cannabis subculture as a national holiday of sorts and the numbers refer to California Senate Bill 420 which authorized medical marijuana in that state. Events during this day are celebrated in many areas of the United States.

For the year 2014, April 20th coincides with Easter. In a melding of the two holidays Lunchbox Laboratory sought a new way to generate business.

The restaurant e-Mailed the advertisement to 13,000 subscribers with the add featuring a burger toting, joint toking Jesus who laments: “When I Get Back, All I Want is the Burger of the Gods.”
Continue reading “Burger Joint: Seattle Restaurant Advertises Easter Promotion Showing Jesus Smoking Marijuana”

Regarding the Separation of Church and the State’s Money: Charter Schools with Religious Affiliations Being Publicly Funded

SchoolClassroomSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

As a former public school educator, I have been following what has been going on with school reform in this country. I have written posts about some of the groups and individuals involved in the current reform movement (here), the push to privatize public schools (here), school vouchers (here and here), and charter schools (here and here). Despite all the research that I’ve done on the subject, I hadn’t been aware until recently that there are many publicly funded charter schools across this country that have religious affiliations.

In December 2011, Tiffany Gee Lewis (Deseret News) wrote that there had been a “veritable explosion of charter schools over the past two decades.” She noted that a number of the schools that were riding this charter trend were “founded or authorized” by religious and cultural organizations. As she said, the subject of religion in public schools “has always been a hot-button topic.” She added that “the rise of charter schools that tie themselves to a certain ethnic or religious group introduces a new shade of complication to public schooling.”

According to Jessica Meyers of The Dallas Morning News, “Church-charter partnerships are springing up across the country as private institutions lose funding and nontraditional education models grow in popularity. Their emergence prompts questions about the role religious groups should play in the development of publicly funded schools.” She added, “Critics fear the fuzzy division means taxpayers are footing the bill for religious instruction.”

Continue reading “Regarding the Separation of Church and the State’s Money: Charter Schools with Religious Affiliations Being Publicly Funded”

The Specious Roots of the Anti-Abortion Controversy

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

ImageI originally had a guest blog planned for today on a completely different topic, but I ran across an article in Friday’s Huffington Post, that changed my direction. Since I was a youth I have been aghast at the fact that I grew up in a country where such things as homosexuality and abortion were prohibited by law.  It seemed like this was too personal an interference by the State into the personal affairs of people and that this interference often ruined people’s lives. Then too, I grew up in New York State, where for so many years divorce was unobtainable leading to such ridiculousness as Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s wife having to establish Nevada residence in order to obtain a divorce from him. It seemed to me then, as it seems to me now, that religious dogma had no business invading our legal system.

Although there were many prior years of a movement building up in support of abolishing Abortion Laws, the decision of Roe vs. Wade in 1973 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade  was a breathtaking and welcome surprise. Immediately after, however, there started the blow-back against that decision that almost forty years later continues with fervor and intensity. The opposition cites “The Bible” as the source of their angry opposition and claims that their religion, as encoded in “The Bible” describes abortion as murder, with the life of the child beginning at fertilization. When they quote “The Bible” of course they mean the “New Testament” and what they call “The Old Testament”.  Jews actually don’t recognize the term “Old Testament”, to us it is called the “Torah”, since Jews believe that their “Torah” was never replaced by a “New Testament”. The anti-Abortionists need to cite the “Torah” for their beliefs, since the Gospels don’t discuss the abortion issue. Like much that exists in Christian Dogma today, there is a need to cite the “Torah” for their beliefs since there is no evidence in the Gospels that Jesus ever spoke on some matters. Christian “Torah” citation though is haphazard in that they choose what portions to recognize and what portions to ignore. The sentiments of those Christians against abortion are based in the “Torah”. What if their citation of this venerable book stemmed from an incorrect translation of it many, many centuries ago? If they cited it incorrectly in the first instance, doesn’t that destroy their whole argument that abortion is murder in God’s eyes, especially if the writers of the “Torah” never understood abortion to be murder? This is what I’d like to discuss. Continue reading “The Specious Roots of the Anti-Abortion Controversy”

American Nuns Reprimanded For “Radical Feminism” By Vatican

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Well, Sally Field must be aghast. How could even her bird’s-eye view have predicted the over the top report from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? Once the province of current Pope Benedict, the watchdog of orthodoxy that took such a hands-off approach to the child sexual molestation within the priesthood, has issued a stinging reprimand to all American nuns for “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

Headed by American Cardinal William Levada, the crowd that  gave us the Inquisition and who tried Galileo,  has ordered a crackdown on all U.S. nuns.  Overseen by three middle-aged white men American bishops, the Vatican wants the good sisters to toe the Vatican’s increasingly fundamentalist line. And what was the doctrinal crime that got the nuns in trouble? Why, their apparent heretical support for such outlandish positions  as supporting universal health care under Obama’s plan, sensitivity to marriage rights for gays, and –God forbid it — advocating females for admission to the priesthood. They are even under scrutiny for praying for Girl Scouts.

Continue reading “American Nuns Reprimanded For “Radical Feminism” By Vatican”

America’s Transcendent Issue

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

ImageWhen you contemplate all of the problems that beset us in this election year it is hard not to feel daunted by the task of finding solutions. Many millions of American’s are without jobs, with the prospect of future employment seeming illusory. The top 1% of the American population controls vast amounts of the country’s wealth.  http://www.businessinsider.com/15-charts-about-wealth-and-inequality-in-america-2010-4?op=1  Wages of average Americans have stagnated for the past 40 years to such an extent that our middle class is shrinking rapidly. The housing boom of years past has become a bust of monumental proportions and foreclosures are destroying formerly viable neighborhoods. Our once barely adequate “safety net” has been shredded and there are attempts to destroy both Social Security and Medicare as we know it. Despite a weak attempt at Medical reform millions of Americans find health care unaffordable, with many dying and others forced into bankruptcy to stay alive. Due to lack of money America’s once magnificent infrastructure is rotting and solutions are not on the horizon.

The collapse and bailout of our banking industry has cost us trillions and appears to have been brought about by fraudulent practices on the part of the industry, yet no one has been indicted. In fact the remuneration of top executives in this duplicitous industry has actually increased. Efforts to impose stiff controls ensuring that these artificial crises don’t happen again and that these huge financial entities do business ethically, have failed to pass the Congress. We see that the fallout from the American banking crisis has undercut the world’s economy and that economic crises in other industrialized nations appear regularly. Please notice I’m only referring to the economic problems we face and only producing a partial list of those economic problems.

We have seemingly come to the conclusion of an unnecessary war in Iraq, where trillions were spent and perhaps a million were killed, yet the withdrawal of troops is to bases that surround Iraq. We are leaving about 40,000 Americans in country, many as mercenaries (contractors is a euphemism) as we support the largest diplomatic infrastructure in any foreign nation. The war in Afghanistan still rages in a land that has never been significantly shaped by any outside empire, this despite the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the virtual destruction of Al Qaeda.  Hundreds of billions are being spent and the lives of our troops are put in danger, in an exercise with little hope of success. Billions are going towards building Afghanistan’s infrastructure as ours is falling apart. Yet these instances fail to raise the broad spectrum of the military/foreign policy problems continuing to plague us. These issues include a military budget that far greater than that of all other nations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures 

However, these three paragraphs still do not encompass the broad range of problems we Americans face. There is more to be touched on before we come to the conclusion that I’ve reached, that there is one problem that not only transcends all of these, but its need for immediate solution supersedes any of the others in importance. Continue reading “America’s Transcendent Issue”