Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Obama administration attacks religious freedom and separation of church and state
The Obama administration is attacking religious freedom in court, even as Obama depicts his policies as ordained by God. At a Congressional Black Caucus rally Saturday, he implied that God supported his policies, “likening” the “black voters who ‘keep the faith’ by supporting him and his policies” to “Biblical prophets who had faith in God — and so refused to worship an idol.” “Obama then explained how he had ‘kept the faith’ through various acts as president — by responding to the economic crisis with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations bill, through certain tax credits he had passed and through Obamacare. He finished with a plug for the American Jobs Act.”
Meanwhile, Obama Justice Department appointees took aim at a longstanding protection for religious freedom. The Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution generally forbid government “entanglement” with religion. One such forbidden entanglement is government meddling in who churches, synagogues, and religious organizations hire to act as “voices of the church,” such as ministers, rabbis, theology professors, and instructors of religion.
To prevent such entanglement, every federal appeals court has recognized a “ministerial exception” to federal and state labor and employment laws dictating who employers must hire. A long line of court rulings recognizes this principle, such as EEOC v. Catholic University and Young v. Northern Illinois Conference of United Methodist Church. Thus, the Catholic Church cannot be forced to hire a female priest, and a synagogue cannot be forced to hire a Christian or Muslim as a rabbi.
But Justice Department lawyers recently called for this limit on government interference to be rejected. In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the Justice Department intervened to attack religious freedom, and its “brief disputes the general existence of the ministerial exception.” The Justice Department thus seeks to apply to religious institutions the requirements that historically applied only to secular employers, like the Title VII requirement of not having policies that either intentionally or unintentionally discriminate against any group.
If the Justice Department’s position were adopted, some churches might be pressured to adopt race and gender quotas. If the Justice Department’s position were accepted by the courts, not only would churches have to hire people who are ineligible to serve as clergy under their longstanding theology (like the Catholic Church being forced to hire female priests), but they might also have to get rid of education, training, and theological requirements that unintentionally weed out disproportionate members of particular groups.
For example, if female divinity students are more often pro-choice than male divinity students (and they are indeed more liberal on average than their male peers), a church could arguably violate laws against sex discrimination if its theology frowned on abortion, since requiring adherence to that theology would have a “disparate impact” on female representation in the pulpit.
(Federal and state anti-discrimination laws forbid covered employers from having hiring criteria that result in even unintentional disparities based on race or gender, like a school district requiring would-be teachers to pass a basic competency test that more blacks than whites fail, or a private employer requiring a high school diploma for an unskilled job.
Under federal anti-discrimination statutes, there is a statutory “business necessity” defense to claims of unintentional discrimination that a church might be able to invoke; but under some municipal laws, there is virtually no such defense.
Washington, D.C.’s municipal code defines “business necessity” so narrowly that many sensible practices are banned if they produce any unintentional gender or race disparities, even if banning the practice is very costly to the institution. Currently, Washington, D.C. municipal law contains a limited religious exemption, but the Justice Department’s position suggests there would be no constitutional impediment to completely abolishing that exemption.)
The extreme position taken by the Obama Justice Department in its briefs is a reflection of ideologically-based hiring. Under the Obama Administration, the Justice Department has chosen to hire only liberals, not moderates and conservative, for key Justice Department posts that are supposed to be non-political career appointments. Although many experienced lawyers are out of work in the current economic slump, the Obama Justice Department has hired many liberals who have no real-world legal experience, rather than hiring based on merit.
Britian's General Medical Council becomes a kangaroo court
Determined to suppress Christian expression even if they have to breach natural justice
A Christian doctor is still trying to clear his name after a complaint was made against him for speaking about his faith with a patient. Dr Richard Scott, 51, was in Manchester yesterday for a disciplinary hearing into comments he made to a patient during a one-to-one consultation at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, in August 2010.
The complaint was made by the mother of the 24-year-old patient after he told her that Dr Scott had suggested the Christian faith could help him.
The General Medical Council (GMC) offered to resolve the issue by placing an official warning on Dr Scott’s file. It went to a full hearing after Dr Scott challenged the GMC’s decision on the grounds that an official warning would be unacceptable for his reputation and on his official file.
He continues to defend his conduct, saying that he only discussed faith with the patient after asking their permission and that he had acted professionally and within the guidelines.
Dr Scott had expected to cross-examine the patient at yesterday’s hearing and challenge their claims, but was unable to do so after the patient failed to turn up.
The case has now been temporarily adjourned by the GMC’s Investigatory Committee, which is trying to make the patient attend another hearing.
According to advocacy group Christian Concern, the GMC has decided to pursue the case with or without the witness, prompting concerns for other doctors. It warns that without the possibility of cross-examining a complainant, doctors will be made “extremely vulnerable to allegations” as they typically see patients in private.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern’s partner organisation, the Christian Legal Centre, said the GMC appeared “determined” to punish Dr Scott. She said: “An experienced GP has spent 48 hours in an aborted disciplinary hearing in Manchester when he could and should be helping his patients in Kent.
“The procedures of the GMC in this case are ones which every GP in the land should be concerned about as their future and reputation now seems to be able to be challenged by hearsay allegations with no opportunity to cross examine in order that a panel can make a just decision.”
Dr Scott expressed his shock at the way in which his case had been handled by the GMC. “As a member of the GMC, I look to my professional body to act with the same professional standards that any court in this land would,” he said. “I am astounded that the GMC are continuing to pursue this allegation on the basis of hear-say evidence from a witness that will not turn up. This case should have been struck-out, but the GMC appears to be determined to pursue this.”
“I cannot imagine that any court in the land would act like this, and so, on behalf of every GP I must insist that proper professional standards on cross examination be adopted in all disciplinary hearings. “Without it, a fair ‘trial’ is impossible and every GP is left totally vulnerable to any accusation.”
More Leftist deceit
The child star of the Labour conference and the truth behind his 'life of poverty'
At just 16, Rory Weal was being feted yesterday as the ‘hero’ of the Labour conference for an impassioned speech telling how the welfare state saved his family from ruin.
The schoolboy tugged at delegates’ heartstrings with a tale of his home being repossessed and the family having ‘nothing, no money, no savings’, and only the benefits system to fall back on.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband may be surprised to know he was not so hard-up after all.
For it turns out he is the privileged son of a millionaire property developer who sent Rory to a private school until his business went bust. Even now he goes to a selective grammar school, which Labour policy opposes.
Rory’s father Jonathan Weal, 53, owned homes worth an estimated £2.25million in some of the most sought-after addresses in the land. He had a luxury penthouse apartment in leafy Blackheath, South London, valued at £1.3million, but it was repossessed and sold for £359,000 – which is still more valuable than the average British home. Then the banks sold Mr Weal’s £950,000 Grade II listed lodge house in Chislehurst, Kent, for ‘only’ half a million pounds.
In the good times, Mr Weal gave Rory an advantage over ordinary families by sending him to £13,788-a-year Colfe’s School in Blackheath. But when his business ventures failed, his son was lucky enough to be accepted by Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone, Kent.
On Monday, Rory electrified the conference with his tub-thumping speech, giving Labour a ‘William Hague moment’ – a reference to 1977 when a teenage Hague wowed the Conservative Party conference.
Attacking the ‘vicious and Right-wing’ Government, Rory conjured up an image of his destitute family as he told Labour delegates: ‘Two and a half years ago, the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed. We had nothing, no money, no savings.
‘I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state. That is why I joined the Labour Party, but that very same welfare state is being ruthlessly ripped apart by a vicious and Right-wing Tory-led government.
‘I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that system, that safety net. So I take this opportunity to plead with the Government to reconsider their measures.’
Yesterday Rory’s own grandmother described the budding politician as an accomplished actor.
At her home in Stockbridge, Hampshire, Sandra Weal said: ‘He used to do a lot of acting and I think that’s why he was so confident in front of an audience.
After the banks repossessed the family’s homes in 2008, Rory’s parents split up. In a Sunday Times interview about his financial downfall, published earlier this year, Mr Weal said: ‘For my wife, Elaine, the humiliation was unendurable.’
He went on: ‘My father and sister are both architects. She went to Cambridge. I came last in everything at school and I’ve spent my life making up for that. It was so important to me that Rory had the best education.’ Colfe’s School is steeped in history as one of the oldest schools in London.
Rory’s mother was a director of a number of her husband’s companies before they went bust, and she, Rory and her eight-year-old daughter now live in a four-bedroom £300,000 semi-detached house in Allington, Maidstone.
There are only 164 grammar schools left in the country, 32 of them in Kent, where Rory lives.
The Labour mantra of hate finds a new star in 16-year-old Weal
The papers today are fawning over yesterday’s instant sensation at the Labour party conference -- an articulate 16 year-old schoolboy, Rory Weal, who became the conference darling when he ripped into the ‘vicious, right-wing Tory-led government’.
No surprise that he brought the conference to its feet. Gone were the crestfallen expressions at having been told by Tessa Jowell the unwelcome home truth that the country simply wasn’t listening to anything the Labour party was saying.
Lifted were the eyes that had been fixed to the floor as party big-wigs had mouthed synchronised apologies for mass immigration (but only by Poles – even the apology was politically correct). Banished was their terminal depression at their leader, Ed-trying-to-be-red-and-blue-at-the-same-time Miliband.
No, it was Rory Weal who gave them the rallying call, the three-word code, the mantra of hate that gives the left its entire purpose in life – to demonise ‘vicious right-wing’ Tories, and thus reinforce their own galvanising illusion that it is the Labour party which is the engine of decency and social justice.
In fact, Rory Weal was hailed as a hero for saying something that should have chilled the marrow. For he said: ‘I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state.’
In the real world, what that means (if true) is that his entire life has been spent as a kind of state serf, that he and his family are wholly lacking in independence, that their entire subsistence has been funded by the state. Worse still, it would appear that in the mind of 16 year-old Rory Weal he has never gained any benefit to himself from anything other than the state.
No mention, note, of what he owes to his parents’ own efforts for his well-being. Indeed, to him they appear to have made no such contribution since he told us that he owes his ‘entire well-being’ to the welfare state.
To Rory Weal, all good things appear to come from the state – and so anyone who dares suggest otherwise is vicious and right-wing. Is that not terrifying?
To further illustrate the extent to which this self-designated creation of Britain’s welfare state is apparently incapable of mouthing anything other than crude propaganda on its behalf rather than connecting to viciously right-wing reality, look at what else he said.
Attacking tuition fees and cuts in student grants, he claimed that the government was threatening the British promise: '...where one generation does better than the last.' But it was under the Labour government that social mobility actually went backwards.
And look at where Rory Weal is doing his A-levels in English literature, geography, politics and history -- at Oakwood Park Grammar School.
But of course it is the destruction of the grammar schools which has been the single greatest cause of the betrayal of the promise that one generation does better than the last. It is the Labour party which has waged all-out war upon the grammar schools on the basis that selective education is elitist.
And the reason Rory Weal attends Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone is that it is under the authority of Kent County Council, one of the few local authorities to retain selective education -- and which is run by the vicious right-wing Tories.
He also complained that, after his parents divorced,‘ two and-a-half years ago, the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed’. But two and a half years ago it was of course Labour that was in power.
So Rory Weal was blaming the Tories for a series of actions which were in fact taken by Labour governments! This boy will indeed go far.
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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.