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by Peterr

A Few Religious Objections to Hobby Lobby, et al.

6:45 am in climate change, Economy, Education, Energy, Environment, Health Care, Judiciary, LGBT, Military, Religion by Peterr

After reading through some of the recaps of the oral arguments at SCOTUS yesterday in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, it appears that some of the justices, and perhaps a majority, are willing to allow private religious objections to trump the laws, regulations, and ordinances enacted by local, state, and federal governments. Just so that no one is surprised later, I thought I’d lay out some of my strongly held religious beliefs now.

I have a strong religious objection to the death penalty, yet for the fifth time in five months, my state of Missouri has spent my tax dollars to carry it out. At the foundation of the Christian church — the Lutheran branch of which I am pleased to serve as a pastor — is the story of the execution of Jesus at the hands of the state and his resurrection three days later, through which God says “No” to the death-dealing forces of the world. My tax dollars are spent at the state and federal level to support exactly this system of vengeance, not justice, which all too often is administered in a way that is irregular at best and occasionally flat out wrong at worst.

I also have a strong religious objection to torture, yet my state and federal government continue to spend millions of tax dollars on that form of torture known as “solitary confinement,” and tens or hundreds or thousands of millions on “enhanced interrogations” and the hiding thereof from the oversight of the courts. Indeed, I have strong religious objections to NOT spending my tax dollars to bring the perpetrators and enablers of torture to justice.

I have strong — very strong — religious objections to the unequal treatment of people before the law, yet the Department of Justice seems bent on spending my tax dollars and the tax dollars of similarly-minded folks by the millions to chase the poor and powerless into prison while giving the wealthy and powerful sternly worded letters and a good talking-to. In the financial fraud around the housing market, homeowners are hounded and unscrupulous mortgage dealers are allowed to roam free. During the recent Lesser Depression, homeowners pushed underwater by the practices of their banks have suffered greatly (“We’re sorry, but your equity has disappeared because the property values have fallen so much because we crashed the economy”), yet the SEC and DOJ use my tax dollars to go to great extremes to settle civil litigation with the the banks in such a toothless fashion that the board of JPMorgan Chase gave Jamie Dimon a 74% raise after guiding them through with only a slap on the corporate wrist. And you don’t want to know how strongly I object on religious grounds to the failure of the DOJ to pursue criminal rather than civil penalties . . .

I have viscerally strong religious objections to sexual abuse, yet the military paid for with my tax dollars continues to turn a blind eye to the climate in the military that leads thousands of those in the ranks to not report the harassment, abuse, and rapes they have suffered at the hands of their colleagues and commanders, and that allows far too many of those against whom reports of abuse were filed to avoid accountability. Similarly, I have strong religious objections to NOT spending my tax dollars to do this on every US military base and port and outpost.

I have extremely strong religious objections using my tax dollars to administer the public law in secret, with secret judicial proceedings, secret decisions, and secret sentences.

I have powerfully strong religious objections to using my tax dollars to carry out executive decisions made on the basis of secret evidence to violate the sovereign territory of other nations in order to remotely execute those with whom they disagree, without allowing the accused an opportunity to know the accusations against them, to state their case, to respond to the allegations, or even to publicly confront their accuser. I especially object when such executions are carried out against an anonymous targets based on undefined notions of “suspicion” and “association.”

I have seriously strong religious objections to using my local, state, and federal taxes to provide a public education to my child and the children of my neighbors that is incomplete (such as abstinence-only sex education), or based on disproven science, pseudo-conflicts, and unproven beliefs. The earth is round, old, and getting warmer by the day because of human activity. There is no serious scientific objection to these concepts, and I strongly object on religious grounds to using my tax dollars to teach otherwise.

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by Peterr

Todd Akin, Rush Limbaugh, John Ashcroft, and Mark Twain

5:55 am in Conservatism, Elections by Peterr

Attaturk, that Iowan to the north, had much fun mocking Missouri’s GOP senate nominee, Representative Todd Akin for his comments on “legitimate rape.” And those comments were truly worthy of mockery.

To people here in Missouri, Akin’s comments were not terribly surprising. Akin is a known commodity — known to be highly conservative and well in keeping with a non-trivial slice of the Missouri electorate.

Like Br’er Rabbit telling Br’er Fox not to throw him in the briar patch, Claire McCaskill ran ads on Fox News during the GOP primary fight, calling Akin “too conservative for Missouri”. With an endorsement like that, conservatives in the GOP primary race were happy to hand Akin a victory with 36% of the vote. His two challengers were John Brunner (a conservative businessman trying to run a Romney-style “I know how to run things” campaign) who got 30%, and Sarah “I Want to be a Palin” Steelman who got 29%. The GOP primary was always going to go to the candidate who could best appeal to the most conservative elements of the Missouri GOP, and that was Akin.

And it wasn’t even close.

News flash to the rest of the nation: the 36% who supported Akin are neither surprised nor bothered by Akin’s comments. He may have said publicly what perhaps (for political reasons) ought to have been kept private, but make no mistake. The far right wing of Missouri’s republican party likes this guy and likes what he said. Period. If Akin were to quit the race because of pressure from Romney or Mitch McConnell, they’d be beyond angry. Akin is their guy, and they would not take kindly to outside agitators forcing him to quit.

Akin is not an aberration in the Missouri GOP. This is the state that gave the nation Rush “She’s a slut” Limbaugh, after all, as well as John “cover up the lady parts on that statue in the lobby” Ashcroft.

But this is also the state whose internal political debates over slavery — conducted with the same sense of nuance and humility as Limbaugh, Ashcroft, and Akin discuss sex — shaped the pen and wit of young Samuel Clemens. If Missouri’s politicians were reasonable folks, Clemens might never have taken up political commentary and satire as Mark Twain.

I look at my kid and his classmates and wonder which of them will grow up to be the next great political satirist. God knows that with folks like Akin around, there’s plenty for them to work with as they learn the fine art of political snark.

UPDATE: County by county primary results are here. Looking at the map, you can see a couple of things. (1) The big dark blue patch just west and north of St. Louis is Akin’s conservative home district. (2) The blue patch in the southwestern corner of the state is John Ashcroft country. (3) The blue patch in the southeastern corner of the state is where Rush has his roots.