Thursday, November 10, 2005

Yes, this does please me

Conservatives also irked by IRS Probe of Chruches (LA Times)
Haggard said he personally supports the war in Iraq and probably would not agree with much in the Rev. George Regas' 2004 sermon at All Saints, which was cited by the IRS as the basis for its investigation. But Haggard said he wants to work with the council of churches "in doing whatever it takes to get the IRS to stop" such actions.

"It is a violation of the Constitution for the IRS to threaten that church. It may not be a violation of IRS regulations, but IRS regulations have been wrong," said Haggard, who is pastor of the 12,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
(Via Omis, via Mark)

Haven't had the time to do a good blogosphere search on this, but I'm still wondering if conservative bloggers are as outraged by this as they should be.

As to Ted Haggard, an interview with him on his politics from Christianity Today a few days back. Not sure I agree entirely. Been meaning to blog on it, but you know how that slippery thing, time is. (Especially when one is preoccupied with the health of one of one's closest friends.)


assiniboine said...

One hopes.

It might have seemed a quaint relic of the Nixon era for the IRS for be an instrument of silencing dissent. Messrs Robertson and Falwell, after all, have maintained their tax-exempt status through a couple of Democrat administrations despite their lusty (and to my mind healthily-accommodated) secular-political speaking out.

But really, this church and state thing: it’s all a bit parochial, surely. England continues to have an established church and successive British prime ministers have longed to silence this “troublesome priest” in the person of successors of Thomas à Becket who loudly differ from government policy.

Of course, as you would realise (well, you should — I having harangued you about it at length in the past!) a truly “strict constructionist” would know that the framers of the US Constitution had no such notion as the “separation of church and state” in the sense that two centuries of constitutional jurisprudence have developed the concept. They had no difficulty with the continuance of established churches in various of the thirteen original States – the last of them to be disestablished, the Church of Massachusetts, soldiered on till the 1820s and was only disestablished because its elite had got a mite too “liberal” for the folk in the pews; it was only the concept of an established Church of the United States of America that they took exception to. For the obvious practical reason that it would mean choosing what denomination such a body would be.

Mind you, such a broad view of these things is difficult to find. England itself is considering introducing a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to replace the appellate judicial bench of the House of Lords, mostly because, it seems, Tony Blair finds the traditional arrangements to offend the American conception of Separation of Powers. He should take a look at the agonies of the High Court of Australia in the early days of the Federation when they sought (in vain) to figure out a way of accommodating the doctrine to parliamentary democracy. Doesn’t work, really.

One appreciates that in the USA it is Holy Writ that the Framers of the Constitution came up with all these wonderful doctrines — not that they aren’t wonderful, because of course they are — parthogenetically. Alas, it isn’t quite so. Modern Western thought didn't begin in 1776; the formulation “separation of powers” was Montesquieu’s and he was describing what then existed in England, not prescribing an ideal that others might emulate. Thomas Jefferson et al. of course knew that.

It would surely NEVER have occurred to the saints of the American Constitution that their ministers of religion would be silenced by the proposition that a federally established church wasn’t a great idea. Roll on, commentary from Episcopalian pulpits, but let’s hear more from Catholics (both small and large C) of the right and left) and “Evangelicals” too, please.

Gashwin said...

Oh, I absolutely agree. I've never been one to think that the Establishment Clause means that religion is banished from the public square.

At least in the South, where displays of religiosity do not automatically mark one out as a nut-job, there is some toleration of religiosity at the public University within whose ambit I work. Religion is recognized as a positive force on campus -- chaplains (of any denomination or religious body that cares to apply for it) are given recognition and some privileges by the University, in return for agreeing to follow some basic rules of conduct -- rather anodyne requirements of civility and the like. In fact, Chaplains are on the weekend On-Call roster for University Housing. The state religion (Gamecock Football) is supported by an opening prayer at every game. Of course, religious groups receive no funding from the University, which is just fine. I don't know that the European model of state funding of churches is really good for the church as it is.

I recall an incident from a few years back, when the outgoing University President and First Lady (both active Catholics) were being feted at a farewell barbecue on the University lawns. It was the usual slightly boring affair -- speeches by past student body presidents, and various functionaries. The barbecue was rather delicious (and one realizes that in the South this is a noun, not a verb :)) and worth it. Anway, at one point, the student body chaplain (a student appointed to this role by the student body president) lead a prayer. And these two young ladies behind me took vociferous umbrage "This is a public university!" and stalked off. The people around me were rather amused. Hey, no one was forcing you to pray. You could just be civil and keep quiet and think of, well, whatever. Besdies, this was a voluntary event. Geez Louise!

assiniboine said...


You increasingly tempt me to think that at heart I am a Southerner!

Well, it's hot enough hereabouts.

We have gone from what is laughably called winter straight through to summer. Drought to beat the band: can I in conscience water my garden if I only do my dishes every second day? It's been proposed by Muslim friends that if I were only to convert, I could get by with far less than the four showers a day I find necessary; alas, it's not ritual purity I seek, but only hygienic decency.

I do wish that Jesus would get busy and tell George W. Bush that global warming really does exist. The Great Barrier Reef is cooking and so am I.

But maybe I'm not much of a Southerner after all (notwithstanding my grandparents' acute fondness for their Dixie friends many years ago, and that is a WHOLE 'nother story).

I have difficulty with the concept that the Ancient of Days much cares about the outcome of Varsity games. This could, of course, be connected with my admittedly perverse notion that turning the Altar into a picnic table may not have been entirely wise, but now I sound like my dear Mum, who longs for the eastern ... well, orientation.

And you thought YOU were a "conservative"!