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home : opinion : opinion June 29, 2015


3/24/2013 6:00:00 AM
Column: A higher level of religious freedom

Alan Choate
News Editor


Folks, if you're not already a churchgoer, now would be a good time to start, because there's a bill moving forward in the Arizona Legislature that would turn religious freedom into the freedom to do just about anything.

Plus, you'd be able to sue if you're called to account for your actions.

The faces of this legislation are Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, and the Center for Arizona Policy, which supports conservative religious causes. Yarbrough pulled a stealth maneuver to get it introduced late in the session, and a House committee advanced it last week.

If made law, the proposal would make it impossible to block someone's religious observance unless it is "essential" to a compelling government interest, a much higher standard than exists now. And the definition of "burdening" someone's religious expression is expanded to include "withholding benefits, assessing criminal, civil or administrative penalties or exclusion from governmental programs or access to governmental facilities."

"It's not a blanket position that says, 'You raise this as a defense and you get to do whatever you want,'" Yarbrough said of his bill.

Maybe he didn't intend it that way, but it's exactly what will happen if this legislation becomes law.

Arrested for marijuana use? With a little legal help, you could get that tossed out on the grounds that smoking ganja is an essential part of your religious life.

Some stuffy bureaucrat have a problem with you sacrificing live chickens in your backyard? Tough luck, bureau-boy - it's religion.

Ticketed for walking naked around downtown? Challenge that law! After all, you were nude for Jesus!

The backers said there's no specific situation that the bill is aimed at. The reason it's needed, they said, is to keep Arizona from getting sued by groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which recently went to court after Gov. Jan Brewer proclaimed a state day of prayer.

The broad language and the ninja legislative tactics should set off alarms. There's also the fact that it's completely unnecessary.

Religious organizations, and religious activity, are not under threat. Churches don't even pay taxes. You can go to church, talk to other people about your faith, evangelize, sing, dance, whatever, and nothing will come down on you. And if it does, guess what? You'll get tons of support against whatever is trying to shut down your constitutionally protected religious expression.

And if you're worried about lawsuits over something the government does regarding religion, here's a tip: If you don't want to get sued for mixing religion and government, Don't. Mix. Religion. And Government.

Here's where the invective usually comes out, but it really is as simple as that. The government has no business promoting, encouraging or supporting any religion. A government's duties include building roads, providing police and fire protection, building correctional facilities, defending borders, health and safety regulations, and administering a legal system.

Then there's education. Yarbrough, interestingly, has a separate bill concerning science education and the teaching of evolution that says, in part, that teaching "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning can cause controversy." He seems to be going for the old "teach the controversy" approach to evolution and other issues, even though there really isn't a controversy to teach, scientifically speaking.

I wonder if there's a prayer in public schools aspect to his bill. That one never seems to die, even though prayer in school is not banned. If someone wants to say grace over lunch or ask the Lord for some help on a math test, they can do that. The problem comes when there's school-led, school-endorsed prayer, and rightfully so - do you want a school determining what religious expression your child has to participate in?

So we'll see where this goes. If it passes, it'll become really easy to get out jury duty. Judge not, that ye be not judged - right?

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Ms Athens

“Dr. Carson spoke on Fox News last night concerning marriage -…”

And so much for your falsehood – repeated time and time again - that you NEVER watch FAUX News!

Oh and BTW – Carson is a just another hack pandering to the sad Teabaggers. He will be gone and forgotten LONG before the 2016 election cycle begins. And you will be back supporting some other right wing.

“MM twisted his words of course…”

Who is MM?

“Unfortunately for MM, they posted the actual video..”

So MM (whomever that might be) posted the actual video? Confused much?


Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle

@Linda

"Dr. Carson spoke on Fox News last night concerning marriage - one man, one woman as we have had it forever and he further went on that no group, whether gay, believe in bestiality, no matter who or what they are, they simply cannot come along and change it. "

Well, first, according to you, you NEVER watch Fox News, remember?

Second, I saw a clip on that show, where your beloved Dr Carson compared homosexuals to members of NAMBLA...a group of pedophiles which is disgusting anyway you look at it.


Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Same Old Thing

@ Linda Athens

You wrote:

"Can you give me an example of a Mother being murdered concerning abortion?"


12/1994 Massachusetts Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols were shot and killed by John Salvi at two clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts. Five others were injured in the attacks. Salvi was sentenced to two life terms but committed suicide in prison in November 1996

Next ...


Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Media Matters (mediamatters.org) is getting hysterical about Dr. Benjamin Carson.

He is, of course, a terrible threat to them. He's black, a devout Christian, Conservative, against obamacare, against wasteful spending, speaks in soft, quiet tones about his beliefs, came up from poverty to become head of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and has so many awards, they could fill a museum, not that he ever wanted awards.

And he may run for POTUS in 2016. That is TERRIFYING to the left. My God, a brilliant black conservative who tells it like it is, not the screaming lies of the left. What could be more dangerous.

Dr. Carson spoke on Fox News last night concerning marriage - one man, one woman as we have had it forever and he further went on that no group, whether gay, believe in bestiality, no matter who or what they are, they simply cannot come along and change it.

MM twisted his words of course and now the gays at Johns Hopkins are all atwitter, calling Dr. Carson names. But screaming lies is what the left does best isn't it? Dr. Carson shines the light of truth on their lies and that is indeed terror time for them.

Unfortunately for MM, they posted the actual video so go there and see Dr. Carson for yourself. They aren't too bright at MM.


Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: nnp .....

@Linda Athens - so Jews (Goldman and Rudnick are Jewish names) can profane Biblical beliefs held by Christians - on Easter weekend - but if anyone were to begin discussing the Talmud's horridly perverted and blasphemous teachings, what do you think would happen? (And to AN - I agree that you have thrown a sop to Christian - and other - beliefs privately practised within the home, but this much even oppressive governments in other parts of the world allow).

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Starbucks: Actual words spoken at meeting in question.

Schultz reinforced Starbucks' stance on marriage equality today when one of its shareholders, Tom Strobhar noted the dip in stock:

>>>>STROBHAR: In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing.<<<

Schultz wasted no time in replying to Strobhar:

>>>>SCHULTZ:If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.<<<<

Pesky thing facts is right. And I don't do e-mails. I have 6000, 2000 over my limit and not interested in wasting time deleting them.


Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Ms Athens

“This area is happily nicknamed ‘Lesbianville, USA” due to the large number of lesbians living there including MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.”

Actually only hate-filled homophobes have used the pejorative you so gladly posted. Shame on you! And although Dr. Maddow does live in Western Massachusetts she does not live in South Hadley.

”The taxpayer funded Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter school decided to put on ‘The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told’ in the middle ofo the Easter season.”

Hmm, a “CHARTER” school. I thought righties LOVED charter schools? And remember, charter schools – although taxpayer funded – are not required to report their expenditures or curriculum decisions beyond meeting minimum educational standards.

As to the play it was written in 1998 and has been performed thousands of times and
pokes fun at anything and everything involved with religion. Covering everything from Buddhism to Judiasm to Catholicism to Mormonism to Atheism, Rudnick leaves no stone unturned and spares no expense with his humor.
Complaints – mostly from out of state - about the play in South Hadley were answered by a spokesman who stated the play is consistent with the school's philosophy and appropriate for a high school audience.

So more hyperbole from Ms Athens over something that does not – in any way – affect her.


Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“…. but come off, along with Bob Moore, as hostile to everything with a Christian moniker.”

Nope, not true. I have pointed out the many non-Christian comments and bearing of false witness as done here by christians (small “C” deliberate) on a regular basis.

I have no “hostility” towards Christians – small or capital “C” – my hostility lies with those who profess (incorrectly) to be followers of Jesus Christ and yet refuse to follow the most basic of his teachings.


Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle

@Linda

"At the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, CEO Howard Schultz sent a clear message to anyone who supports traditional marriage over gay marriage: we don’t want your business. After saying Starbucks wants to “embrace diversity of all kinds,” he told a shareholder who supports traditional marriage that he should sell his shares and invest in some other company"

There you go again with the chain emails. This claim has already been debunked. Yes, he did say they want to embrace diversity, but other than that ,the rest is complete fabrication. Darn those pesky facts.


Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

CNSnews

Church-state separation believers would probably scream at a school play of the creation story but in So Hadley, MA, a public school play mocking God and the Old Testament is just fine. A festival of free speech, right?

This area is happily nicknamed "Lesbianville, USA" due to the large number of lesbians living there including MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

The taxpayer funded Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter school decided to put on "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" in the middle ofo the Easter season.

This deconstruction of the Bible was written by gay screenwriter Paul Rudnick, starts with God creating Adam and Steve and Mabel and Jane, two gay couples.

Expelled from Eden, ending up on Noah's Ark, Steve has an affair w/a rhinoceros while the women pair with a rabbit and a pig. The ark land where the foursome discover strange people who describe the horror of procreation. "We don't have children, we have taste" Adam declares.

Act I ends w/Adam and Steve being wise men, Jesus birth is in a NY apartment where Steve is now HIV positive and Jane is playing Mary, declaring bulldykes shouldn't be pregnant and arranges a gay marriage w/a handicapped lesbian rabbi (??). Without further detail, you get the picture.

This play is acted out by school teenagers to which Principal Tom Goldman says "...the role of public school is to facilitate an exchange of ideas..." With all due respect Principal, I doubt rhino sex will catch on.

And this "exchange of ideas" apparently includes slandering Christianity and Judaism in a very holy season for us. As liberals and atheists as Rudnick is scream tolerance, they are the most intolerant of all. This taxpayer funded school play is a middle finger in our faces.


Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: nnp .....

And now we hear once again from the venerable Dr. Hurd (I had to revise this opening statement - otherwise, the Miner wouldn't have printed it. It contained a perjorative term for you, Dr.). You have identified yourself here in the past as a Quaker Christian, but come off, along with Bob Moore, as hostile to everything with a Christian moniker. With friends like you, God needs no enemies. I know you're helped along by the quacks and cultists passing themselves off as Christians, too....But in the end, I would be in favour of this new law, if it would grant religious exemption to going after those in Government (including their psychopath assets) with the same crimes they have used against others. Otherwise, we just have to resort to law-breaking - like they do. Now let the bedwetters invoke the Secret Service, Rule Of Law, or whatever. Anybody got a barf bag?

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Ms Athens

“Last Monday, teachers at Heritage Elementary School were informed plans for their ‘academic egg hunt’ with K and 2nd graders would be scrapped. Principal Lydia Davenport informed staff the event is centered around a religious holiday and could not be allowed in the interest of religious diversity among students.”

And now the facts – Principal Davenport indicated Madison City Schools have no policy in place regarding observance of religious holidays. Elementary school teachers in Madison are allowed to choose the two parties they wish their respective classes to participate in each year. The egg hunt and quiz bowl will go on, just without any mention of the word “Easter.”

Time to find the truth about cut and past nonsense – 6 minutes.


Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

MS Athens

Dr. Deandre Poole, black liberal Democrat operative and teacher at FAU told his class to write Jesus in big letters on paper, put it on the floor and stomp on it. This is more of the insanity since much of academia has been taken over by liberal socialists.”

And now the facts - Deandre Poole teaches courses in intercultural communication, ethnicity and communication, leadership and communication, and organizational communication. His research focuses on the role mediated messages play in shaping individual attitudes and beliefs concerning issues of justice and inequality, and examines how leaders, organizations, and other influential authorities dominate and oppress marginalized groups of people.”

This is what should happen at University. Students need to be challenged to explain their positions in opposition to what a professor says. The idea of running and whining to the administration rather than explaining why you would not want to stomp on a piece of paper with the word Jesus on it is indicative of mind that cannot defend its position.

“Since Poole is writing a book about obama, indicating he feels obama is a godlike figure, may have been his reason to stomp on Jesus. More reason to fire him.”

And now the facts - Poole is authoring the book, “Obamamania: The Rise of a Mythical Hero,” to be published by the Edwin Mellen Press. In addition to his academic pursuits, Dr. Poole is actively engaged in various community service projects throughout Palm Beach County.”

It would appear that Poole’s book will be anything but a volume on a “godlike figure.”

This is what happens when nonsense is cut and pasted without doing any investigation into the facts.


Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Ms Athens

“Looks like our votes mean little now as evidenced by the election obama managed to fraudulently win.”

Although challenged more times than any of us can count you have still been unable to offer any proof of that ridiculous assertion. Obama won, by a large margin, deal with it.

“… isn't only Fox reporting on the Prop 9 Supreme Court Case.”

What Prop 9 Supreme Court Case?

“Duh! I have listened to at least 10 hours of talk radio on it. I'll listen to Mark Levin on talk radio on it in a few hours.”

Duh! Well that explains your obvious confusion.

“The First Amendment was to keep the government out of our religious business,…”

I suppose you can offer us empirical proof of that statement like the one you made about the Second Amendment saying it was designed to stop a tyrannical government? Oh, wait, you never proved that one either.

“Go to wallbuilders.com on here and you can endlessly read the actual words of the Founders themselves who were all devout Christians,…”

Wrong

“And it isn't only Wallbuilders and David Barton who has hundreds of original documents backing up his words, …”

You are referring to the words that Barton retracted and admitted were lies on his own website? Do we really need to see the list of Barton lies again?


Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Madison, Ala -

Last Monday, teachers at Heritage Elementary School were informed plans for their "academic egg hunt" with K and 2nd graders would be scrapped.

Principal Lydia Davenport informed staff the event is centered around a religious holiday and could not be allowed in the interest of religious diversity among students.

ONE person had complained against it. I know noone that worships the Easter bunny frankly. Christianity took paganism and turned it into something fun for the kids. There is nothing Biblical at all about Easter egg hunts but it is a lot of fun from kids dying the eggs to hiding them.

Even Christian parents are upset it is so ridiculous and think kids should have the freedom to be kids. Seems to me an egg hunt would bring believers and non believers together.

And of course the word Easter has already been disallowed.

These eggs would have had "quiz questions" in them so more fun.

The inmates are running the assylum. But I know those muslim special prayer rooms in schools are still there and several places made special foot bathing rooms for muslim students.


Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle

@Linda

"You are wrong on every point. We have NO separation of church and state, we were founded on Judeo-Christianity. "

Yes, there is separation, and no we were not founded that way. No matter how many times you copy and paste from the liar David Barton, it will still be lies. Even Barton was forced to admit he lied. Keep the hits coming though.


Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle

@Linda

"Not meaty enough for me but since you apparently don't understand, let me surprise you and tell you it isn't only Fox reporting on the Prop 9 Supreme Court Case. Duh! I have listened to at least 10 hours of talk radio on it. I'll listen to Mark Levin on talk radio on it in a few hours.

You probably have missed Roberts, whose homosexual cousin was in attendance state it appears to him they are just trying to give another meaning to the word marriage which has always been one man and one woman. "

So, in addition to your heroes at Fox, you can deny that all you want, I know a copy and paste when I see one, other right wing jobs are telling you what to parrot as well? You might try to broaden your horizons a little.


Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

As MSNBC desperately tries slandering Dr. Ben Carson, softspoken Christian Conservative who had the audacity to speak of conservatism in front of obama, Fl Atlantic U is doing their own form of slander, this time on Jesus.

Dr. Deandre Poole, black liberal Democrat operative and teacher at FAU told his class to write Jesus in big letters on paper, put it on the floor and stomp on it. This is more of the insanity since much of academia has been taken over by liberal socialists.

Mormon student Ryan Rotela, horrified, explained in very respectful terms he did not feel that was appropriate, would mean the word had no value and he did not want to participate.

Poole went to his supervisor who backed him up and Rotela was suspended.

Who is Poole to use a public school classroom and taxpayer money to force students to attack Christianity? Yes, Mr. Choate, we Christians have been under attack here for a very long time.

The school, using hot air, blabbed on about academic freedom, etc. Apparently, the only ones whose freedoms are being trampled are Christians.

There would be hell to pay had the teacher told them to write Mohammed on the paper and stomp it.

Since Poole is writing a book about obama, indicating he feels obama is a godlike figure, may have been his reason to stomp on Jesus. More reason to fire him.

Governor Rick Scott has weighed in and Rotela will be back in a class, not Pooles. I have read of no apologies yet.

Meanwhile, I will be calling 561-297-3450 and demand Poole have his class stomp on Mohammed too or else be fired. Having read some of Poole's words, parents w/college aged students should fear mightily if this is the calibre we are now getting.


Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Another thought:

You are wrong on every point. We have NO separation of church and state, we were founded on Judeo-Christianity.

The First Amendment was to keep the government out of our religious business, not the other way around and it was also to keep any one state religion being the law of the land, leaving us free to be whatever denomination we wanted to be in or none at all for that matter.

It isn't even a matter of he said- she said. It is all FACT, FACT, FACT.

Go to wallbuilders.com on here and you can endlessly read the actual words of the Founders themselves who were all devout Christians, the first to go against slavery which was everywhere in the world.

And it isn't only Wallbuilders and David Barton who has hundreds of original documents backing up his words, there are dozens of books showing the truth the liberals have tried endlessly to rid our history about.

Try Truth In Action Ministries which used to be Coral Ridge before it's founder Dr. Kennedy passed away.

You will have to ignore Bob Moore who endlessly excoriates David Barton wrongfully. Go to the website and decide for yourself. I have rarely seen him right on anything factually including David Barton.


Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

GS Hurd:

Murder a Mother? What means that? Can you give me an example of a Mother being murdered concerning abortion?

Of course you can. It's by the abortionist and has happened a number of times, one recently where the Dr was arrested.


Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Chuckles:

Wrong as usual. I have watched DWTS/The Following/The Voice all at once only last night.

It is hilarious how obsessed you are over Fox News which incidentally Roger Ailes originally started to be a conservative channel only. Not surprising most who watch it are undoubtedly conservatives.

Not meaty enough for me but since you apparently don't understand, let me surprise you and tell you it isn't only Fox reporting on the Prop 9 Supreme Court Case. Duh! I have listened to at least 10 hours of talk radio on it. I'll listen to Mark Levin on talk radio on it in a few hours.

You probably have missed Roberts, whose homosexual cousin was in attendance state it appears to him they are just trying to give another meaning to the word marriage which has always been one man and one woman.

As an example, two kids playing and one is told to refer to the other one as a friend. Homosexuals want the word marriage to include them in spite of 31 states voting gay marriage down including Prop 9 in CA where obama even won by 63%.

And still no to gay marriage won by a big margin. So in steps another court to overthrow it. Looks like our votes mean little now as evidenced by the election obama managed to fraudulently win.


Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Virtually every issue you have raised has to do with other people’s sexual orientation ..”

Why don’t we just get down to the nitty-gritty here and be honest? What is actually taking place is a very disturbing concern and obsession with what other people do with their genitalia. Now that is really messed up!


Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle

@Linda

I can see people are now figuring your motives out. Nice to see the time spent here has been worth it.

Kind of strange though, how these posts start coming a matter of days before the day that Fox told you to parrot about the SCOTUS hearing arguments about gay marriage rights.

Coincidence? I think not.


Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: Woe Is Us

Administrator, enough with your heavy-handed editing of my comments. I will call the newspaper's office to schedule a time for you, the editor, and myself to discuss this issue. I have read many comments by other which include characterizing terminology, (e.g., ignorant, stupid, racist, etc.) and such terminology is given a pass. If Anson's Nephew wants to attack others repeatedly (e.g., Linda Athens), so be it. But, he doesn't need your protection from my comments.

Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: pl .....

I haven't taken the time to look into Linda Athens' statements which are challenged by Bob Moore here, but can say that religious conservatives in America can be legitimately concerned with trends in some European countries and Canada. It is not only the subject of homosexuality which suppresses principled debate in some cases there now. When it comes to challenging certain understandings about the Holocaust, people have been imprisoned. I agree with Bob Moore that debate should be kept factual, and I agree with Linda Athens that - in view of the direction in which Western culture is drifting (or to be more precise in some cases, being hijacked), there is room for genuine concern and activism. Of course, that assertion itself is subject to challenge, if you are trusting of human nature, do not believe in divine absolutes of any kind, and see no lessons in the historical record.


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