Sunday, August 22, 2010

“Separation of Church and State” Not What Founders Intended; Chilling Effect on Religious Liberty

This Sunday, August 22, Coral Ridge Hour television broadcast looks at the push to purge God from public life — a campaign inaugurated by the U.S. Supreme Court when it announced in 1947 that the “wall between church and state…. must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”

But, according to experts on the program, that view was not what America’s Founders intended and it has had a chilling effect on religious liberty.

What the Constitution actually says is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”

Constitutional attorney Ken Klukowski of the American Civil Rights Union explains: “The purpose of the establishment clause in the First Amendment was to prevent the national government from taking one specific Christian denomination and making it the official religion,” said Klukowski.

The “separation of church and state” is a phrase derived from an 1802 letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Danbury Baptists. In the letter, Jefferson assured the group that the federal government would not interfere with its religious activities.

The so-called “separation of church and state” as the term is used today often translates into separating God and state — a far cry from what the Founders originally intended.

“I am concerned that as America begins to separate everything that’s spiritual from our government, that what we’re doing is not separating church and state, we’re separating God from government,” said Dr. Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary. When the government shoves God out of its affairs, “we lose God’s wisdom, we lose God’s blessing.”

The results can also be dangerous in other ways. “If anyone wants a religion-free government, he should think about what’s happened in all the countries in the world that have tried it,” said theologian Dr. Cal Beisner. “Every country that has embraced intentionally atheistic government has become a butcherous tyranny.”

The program reviews one recent U.S. Supreme Court decision of many that have greatly restricted religious freedom, especially for Christians, under the mantle of the “separation of church and state.” The Supreme Court ruled in June, for example, that the University of California Law School at Hastings could deny official recognition to a Christian Legal Society student group because it reserves its leadership to those who affirm the authority of the Bible as God’s Word.

“The university was able to, in essence, kick off a Christian group, CLS, to refuse them all the access that other student groups had, because of the group’s statement regarding biblical standards of morality and sexuality,” Klukowski said.

“Our Founders never intended the kind of strict separation of church and state we have today. That effectively has given us state-sanctioned atheism by way of activist judges who’ve ruled with their own agendas in mind,” said Dr. Jerry Newcombe, host of The Coral Ridge Hour television program

The above is a press release from Coral Ridge Ministries dated August 19. CONTACT: Andrew Scott, (954) 334-5332, Video here

Black Leftist finally opens his eyes to vast black dysfunction

And it's no good blaming "whitey". Systematic privileging of blacks has long been entrenched in America. The following story by NYT writer Bob Herbert was headed "Too Long Ignored", an apt heading and a good message to Leftists, with their constant pretense that blacks are just like whites, only browner

Parental neglect, racial discrimination and an orgy of self-destructive behavior have left an extraordinary portion of the black male population in an ever-deepening pit of social and economic degradation.

The Schott Foundation for Public Education tells us in a new report that the on-time high school graduation rate for black males in 2008 was an abysmal 47 percent, and even worse in several major urban areas — for example, 28 percent in New York City.

The astronomical jobless rates for black men in inner-city neighborhoods are both mind-boggling and heartbreaking. There are many areas where virtually no one has a legitimate job.

More than 70 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers. And I’ve been hearing more and more lately from community leaders in poor areas that moms are absent for one reason or another and the children are being raised by a grandparent or some other relative — or they end up in foster care.

That the black community has not been mobilized en masse to turn this crisis around is a screaming shame. Black men, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, have nearly a one-third chance of being incarcerated at some point in their lives. By the time they hit their mid-30s, a solid majority of black men without a high school diploma have spent time in prison.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for young black men, with the murderous wounds in most cases inflicted by other young black men.

This is a cancer that has been allowed to metastasize for decades. Not only is it not being treated, most people don’t even want to talk about it. In virtually every facet of life in the United States, black people — and especially black boys and men — are coming up short. White families are typically five times as wealthy as black families. More than a third of all black children are growing up in poverty. In Ohio, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, the percentage is more than half.

There are myriad reasons for this awful state of affairs. As with so many other problems in American society, a lack of gainful employment has been a huge contributor to the problems faced by blacks. Chronic unemployment is hardly a plus-factor for marriage and family stability. And the absence of strong family units with mature parental guidance is at the very root of the chaotic environment that so many black youngsters grow up in.

The abominable incarceration rates among blacks are the result of two overwhelming factors: the persistence of criminal behavior by a significant percentage of the black population, and a criminal justice system that in many respects is racially discriminatory and out of control. Both of these factors need to be engaged head-on, and both will require a staggeringly heavy lift.

Education in the broadest sense is the key to stopping this socioeconomic slide that is taking such a horrific toll in the black community. People have to understand what is happening to them before they can really do much about it. Young blacks who have taken a wrong road, or are at risk of taking a wrong road, have to be shown a feasible legitimate alternative.

The aspect of this crisis that is probably the most important and simultaneously the most difficult to recognize is that the heroic efforts needed to alleviate it will not come from the government or the wider American society. This is a job that will require a campaign on the scale of the civil rights movement, and it will have to be initiated by the black community.

Whether this is fair or not is irrelevant. There is very little sentiment in the wider population for tackling the extensive problems faced by poor and poorly educated black Americans. What is needed is a dramatic mobilization of the black community to demand justice on a wide front — think employment, education and the criminal justice system — while establishing a new set of norms, higher standards, for struggling blacks to live by.

For many, this is a fight for survival. And it is an awesomely difficult fight. But the alternative is to continue the terrible devastation that has befallen so many families and communities: the premature and often violent deaths, the inadequate preparation for an increasingly competitive workplace, the widespread failure to exercise one’s intellectual capacity, the insecurity that becomes ingrained from being so long at the bottom of the heap.

Terrible injustices have been visited on black people in the United States, but there is never a good reason to collaborate in one’s own destruction. Blacks in America have a long and proud history of overcoming hardship and injustice. It’s time to do it again.


The tragic genetic consequences of Muslim cousin marriage

A huge health problem but nobody campaigns against it. They campaign against "junk food" instead -- which is NOT a demonstrated health problem

Sitting in the family living room, I watched tensely as my mother and her older brother signed furiously at each other. Although almost completely without sound, their row was high-octane, even vicious.

Three of my uncles were born deaf but they knew how to make themselves heard. Eventually, my uncle caved in and fondly put his arm around his sister.

My mum has always had a special place in her family because she was the first girl to live beyond childhood. Five of her sisters died as babies or toddlers. It was not until many years later that anyone worked out why so many children died and three boys were born deaf. Today there is no doubt among us that this tragedy occurred because my grandparents were first cousins.

My grandmother’s heart was broken from losing so many daughters at such a young age. As a parent, I can’t imagine what she went through.

My family is not unique. In the UK more than 50 per cent of British Pakistanis marry their cousins – in Bradford that figure is 75 per cent – and across the country the practice is on the rise and also common among East African, Middle-Eastern and Bangladeshi communities.

Back when my grandparents were having children, the med­ical facts were not established. But today in Britain alone there are more than 70 scientific studies on the subject. We know the children of first cousins are ten times more likely to be born with recessive genetic disorders which can include infant mortality, deafness and blindness.

We know British Pakistanis constitute 1.5 per cent of the population, yet a third of all children born in this country with rare recessive genetic diseases come from this community.

Despite overwhelming evidence, in the time I spent filming Dispatches: When Cousins Marry, I felt as if I was breaking a taboo rather than addressing a reality. Pakistanis have been marrying cousins for generations.

In South Asia the custom keeps family networks close and ensures assets remain in the family. In Britain, the aim can be to strengthen bonds with the subcontinent as cousins from abroad marry British partners.

Some told us they face extreme pressure to marry in this way. One young woman, ‘Zara’, said when she was 16 she was emotionally blackmailed by her husband’s family in Pakistan who threatened suicide over loss of honour should she refuse to marry her cousin.

She relented and lives in a deeply unhappy marriage. But others told me of the great benefits of first cousin marriage – love, support and understanding. To them, questioning it is an attack on the community or, worse, Islam.

At a Pakistani centre in Sheffield, one man said: ‘The community feels targeted, whether that be forced marriages or first-cousin marriages. The community is battening down its hatches, not wanting to engage.’

As a British Pakistani, I am aware of the religious, cultural and racial sensitivities around this issue and understand why people would be on the defensive when questioned about it. At times I was torn between explaining the health risks while privately understanding the community’s sense of being demonised.

But I have also grown up in a family that has suffered the medical implications and strongly believe that people should have the choice to make an informed decision.

Throughout I had to remind myself that this is a health story – nothing more. It is not about religion or cultural identity. It is about avoidable suffering such at that experienced by Saeeda and Jalil Akhtar, whom I met in Bradford.

They are first cousins and have six children, three with the genetic disease mucolipidosis type IV. This stops the body getting rid of waste properly and affects brain functions controlling vision and movement.

Mohsin, their second eldest, is 17 and blind. He wanders aimless and helpless, often crying in frustration. His sisters Hina, 13, and Zainab, 11, have the same condition. They live in almost complete darkness.

Saeeda is worn down from years of round-the-clock care. She spoon-feeds them, dresses them and fears for them. Neither she nor her husband can quite accept that their familial link is the cause of this pain.

This is a major public health issue that has huge implications for other services. The cost to the NHS is many millions of pounds. On average, a children’s hospital will see 20 to 30 recessive gene disorders a decade, but one hospital in Bradford has seen 165, while British Pakistani children are three times more likely to have learning difficulties, with care costing about £75,000 a year per child.

However during this investigation we found no efforts to introduce any national awareness-raising campaign. Why? We approached 16 MPs with a significant number of British Pakistani constituents for interview – every one declined. We asked 30 MPs with a high population of British Pakistanis in their seats to give their views in a short survey. Only one, who wanted to remain anonymous, responded, saying anyone who tried to talk about it risked being attacked politically.

A lone voice was Ann Cryer, former Labour MP for Keighley, near Bradford, who said ‘fear of being accused of racism or demonisation’ prevented politicians speaking up.

It is not just British Pakistani families who suffer. Wayne and Sonia Gibbs are white and first cousins once removed. They had no idea this could lead to problems. Their daughter Nicole had juvenile osteopetrosis, a genetic disease that causes the bones to thicken and crush the body’s organs. Nicole died aged two. The couple now know both carry the recessive genes that caused Nicole’s illness. They wanted more children – but had genetic counselling first. They have two healthy boys today.

I have travelled nationwide, meeting doctors and families whose lives are full of pain. To me the solution is simple: Ring the alarm bells loud and clear.

In Birmingham, one GP practice has taken radical action. The doctors have campaigned heavily to stop cousin marriages. They have introduced genetic screening and testing for patients, starting at 16, and now claim that very few cousin marriages take place there.

My mother tells me that, long before I was born, her siblings and their cousins decided their tragedy would never recur.

The conclusion some will draw is that cousin marriages should be banned. I disagree. But people must be able to make informed choices about the risks involved and options available, be they genetic screening, counselling or carrier-testing. At least there should be leaflets in doctors’ sur­geries and school campaigns.

Meeting the families in the programme upset me greatly. Every day for them was an uphill struggle, mostly because their children needed so much help and this put enormous stress on their family lives.

Yet this was avoidable. If this were any other health issue, politicians would have been out in force. But they are silent and as a result children continue to be born with terrible, prevent­able disabilities that are devastating their lives and those of their loved ones.


Beware of the cobbles: British parishoners told path at 1,300 year-old medieval abbey is too dangerous to walk on

For 1,300 years worshippers and visitors have trodden the cobbled path to the medieval abbey. Few, it appears will now be following them after the route fell foul of the modern obsession with health and safety.

Councillors fear that someone could trip on the uneven surface at Sherborne Abbey, Dorset, and sue them for compensation. So they are applying for permission to spend £30,000 building a modern path on grass alongside it.

But their plans for the abbey dating back to 705AD have provoked anger and warnings that the character of the building will be damaged. Town councillor Katherine Pike said: 'If we go on being so risk-averse, we will not have a cobble, hill or step left. 'Those are the kinds of things people come to places like Sherborne to see.'

The cobbled path leads from the Sherborne Museum past the entrance of the abbey. But Mike Keatinge, head of the abbey's fabric committee, insisted that a new smooth path was needed to prevent trips and falls. 'We have had a steady trickle of accidents, people tripping on the cobbles,' he said. 'We know of one lady who had a particularly bad fall.'

He admitted there could be objections on historical grounds but claimed that the pathway was not as old as many believed. 'We conducted archaeological surveys and I'm convinced it is not medieval,' Mr Keatinge told councillors at a meeting last week.
A modern path, costing £30,000 is proposed to run alongside the cobbles to reduce the chance of anyone falling and injuring themselves

A modern path, costing £30,000 is proposed to run alongside the cobbles to reduce the chance of anyone falling and injuring themselves

Sherborne Mayor Jane Smith added: 'It is uncomfortable to use even if you're an able-bodied person. These things don't get better - only worse. 'There is a public liability factor to take into account if someone has an accident.' Councillors voted six to four to press on with the measure.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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