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Supreme Court considers faith-based initiatives

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Supreme Court considers faith-based initiatives

Postby Marcus Rush » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:03 pm

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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17383014

Supreme Court considers faith-based initiatives
Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics challenges Bush program

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court wrestled Wednesday with the question of whether taxpayers have the right to challenge the White House's aggressive promotion of federal financial aid for religious charities.

At issue is whether a Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics have legal standing, by virtue of being taxpayers, to bring their complaint in the federal court system.

Taking one extreme, Justice Stephen Breyer asked a lawyer for the White House whether a taxpayer would be able to challenge a law in which Congress sets up a church at Plymouth Rock.

"I would say no," responded Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, but he added that such a church could be challenged in other ways - just not on the basis that a taxpayer has been injured. Clement is representing the Bush administration, which is trying to prevent the taxpayer suit over its aggressive promotion, through the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, of federal financial aid for religious charities.

Taking the opposite extreme, Justice Antonin Scalia asked a lawyer for the Wisconsin group, Andrew Pincus, whether taxpayers would be able to sue over the use of security money for a presidential trip where religion is discussed.

Pincus said that taxpayers would not have standing to do so, arguing that in such a case the money spent would be "incidental," and not central to the issue.

The case may turn on a 1968 Supreme Court decision that created an exception to the general prohibition on taxpayer challenges to the government spending of tax revenue. In an 8-1 decision by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the court allowed taxpayers to challenge congressional spending for private religious schools.

But the Bush administration says spending for speeches and meetings of executive branch officials does not involve spending federal money outside the government and therefore taxpayers are not entitled to challenge it.

At issue
In the current case, the Bush administration organizes conferences where faith-based organizations are allegedly singled out as being particularly worthy of receiving federal money.

The group challenging the Bush administration, called the Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc., characterizes the White House's initiative as a singling out of faith-based organizations to the exclusion of other organizations.

Last year, a federal appeals court allowed the group to pursue its lawsuit. Instead of going through Congress, President Bush issued executive orders to create the White House office and similar centers in 10 federal agencies during his first term.

One of the goals Bush set for these offices was to help religious and community groups compete for federal funding to fight poverty, substance abuse and other social problems.

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago sided with the anti-religion group, and the Justice Department wants the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court.

The case is Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc., 06-157.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Alright this is going to start here so lets keep this discussion civilized and on topic.
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Postby Caelus » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:18 pm

I feel really stupid for saying this but I don't actually understand what most of that said.

Maybe my wife can explain it to me...
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Postby ShockwaveUK » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:29 pm

Caelus wrote:I feel really stupid for saying this but I don't actually understand what most of that said.

Maybe my wife can explain it to me...


If I'm understanding it correctly, the government wants to use taxpayer money to build a church, non-christian groups are challenging it on the basis they don't want their taxes contributing to building christian places of worship. That the gist of it?
ShockwaveUK

Postby Caelus » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:34 pm

shockwaveuk wrote:
Caelus wrote:I feel really stupid for saying this but I don't actually understand what most of that said.

Maybe my wife can explain it to me...


If I'm understanding it correctly, the government wants to use taxpayer money to build a church, non-christian groups are challenging it on the basis they don't want their taxes contributing to building christian places of worship. That the gist of it?


I think that was a hypothetical situation one of the justices was using to make his point. But it's really hard to tell by the way it's worded.

Taking one extreme, Justice Stephen Breyer asked a lawyer for the White House whether a taxpayer would be able to challenge a law in which Congress sets up a church at Plymouth Rock.


:???:


-------------------------------------------------------------

Here's what the Mrs. had to say about it, and I rate her ability to understand this sort of thing pretty highly:

Caelus says:
Do you understand this: http://seibertron.com/forums/viewtopic. ... sid=#38537
Caelus says:
?
Krsi says:
looking
Krsi says:
okay, it seems that the all knowing & powerful Pres Shrub has spent federal (tax) money on conferences praising Faith-based (religious) organizations and giving them federal (tax) monies
Krsi says:
A group of athests & agnostics are challenging the use of federal money, probably using Amend 1
Krsi says:
stating that either the gov't shouldn't be giving these groups money, or they should also give to non-faith based organizations
Krsi says:
Does that help?
Caelus says:
So has the govt given them money, or just spent money on conferences talking about giving them money?
Krsi says:
that is what I'm not sure about
Krsi says:
I'm reading a court transcript of the day it was argued
Krsi says:
I'm not sure they know either
Krsi says:
The problem is the courts are very selective in what establisment clause cases are brought to them, and the SC I don't think really cares for this one. It seems that they are having problems trying to figure out what the people are objecting to: if the gov't did this, would it be okay, what about this situation, that sort of thing
Caelus says:
Also, is this part: Taking one extreme, Justice Stephen Breyer asked a lawyer for the White House whether a taxpayer would be able to challenge a law in which Congress sets up a church at Plymouth Rock.
Krsi says:
yeah, I read that in the procedings, they keep not leting the lawyer answer
Caelus says:
Was that serious or hypothetical?
Krsi says:
hypothetical
Krsi says:
The WH lawyer, I think is saying that the gov't giving a rel org. money to build a church is okay, but the gov't building a church is not; in responce to the question. (okay, w/r to the est. clause)
Caelus says:
I think it's a poorly written article.
Krsi says:
yeah
Krsi says:
but it is getting its material from a court transcript that is kind of hard to read
Krsi says:
I would have been laughing my ass of if I was present
Krsi says:
the transcript reads like a school boy trying to tell a panel of teachers why he broke a rule, and that they are misintrupruting the rule in the first place
Last edited by Caelus on Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ShockwaveUK » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:42 pm

Caelus wrote:
shockwaveuk wrote:
Caelus wrote:I feel really stupid for saying this but I don't actually understand what most of that said.

Maybe my wife can explain it to me...


If I'm understanding it correctly, the government wants to use taxpayer money to build a church, non-christian groups are challenging it on the basis they don't want their taxes contributing to building christian places of worship. That the gist of it?


I think that was a hypothetical situation one of the justices was using to make his point. But it's really hard to tell by the way it's worded.

Taking one extreme, Justice Stephen Breyer asked a lawyer for the White House whether a taxpayer would be able to challenge a law in which Congress sets up a church at Plymouth Rock.


:???:


If that spending is oposed so could the spending on the war in the gulf by anti-war groups couldn't it?
ShockwaveUK

Postby Head Shot » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:44 pm

shockwaveuk wrote:
Caelus wrote:
shockwaveuk wrote:
Caelus wrote:I feel really stupid for saying this but I don't actually understand what most of that said.

Maybe my wife can explain it to me...


If I'm understanding it correctly, the government wants to use taxpayer money to build a church, non-christian groups are challenging it on the basis they don't want their taxes contributing to building christian places of worship. That the gist of it?


I think that was a hypothetical situation one of the justices was using to make his point. But it's really hard to tell by the way it's worded.

Taking one extreme, Justice Stephen Breyer asked a lawyer for the White House whether a taxpayer would be able to challenge a law in which Congress sets up a church at Plymouth Rock.


:???:


If that spending is oposed so could the spending on the war in the gulf by anti-war groups couldn't it?
Heres the thing though, you don't NEED more churches to be built, however, if you cut spending on the war it'll be harder to win.
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Postby Caelus » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:53 pm

Head Shot wrote:
shockwaveuk wrote:
Caelus wrote:
shockwaveuk wrote:
Caelus wrote:I feel really stupid for saying this but I don't actually understand what most of that said.

Maybe my wife can explain it to me...


If I'm understanding it correctly, the government wants to use taxpayer money to build a church, non-christian groups are challenging it on the basis they don't want their taxes contributing to building christian places of worship. That the gist of it?


I think that was a hypothetical situation one of the justices was using to make his point. But it's really hard to tell by the way it's worded.

Taking one extreme, Justice Stephen Breyer asked a lawyer for the White House whether a taxpayer would be able to challenge a law in which Congress sets up a church at Plymouth Rock.


:???:


If that spending is oposed so could the spending on the war in the gulf by anti-war groups couldn't it?
Heres the thing though, you don't NEED more churches to be built, however, if you cut spending on the war it'll be harder to win.


And spending money on the war doesn't come uncomfortably close to violating the legal seperation of Church and State.

This isn't about tax-payers having the right to decide what their money is spent on, this is about tax-payers having the right to protest the federal government spending their money in a manner that violates a major cornerstone of the U.S. constitution.

I think that's what it is about anyway.
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Postby Head Shot » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:54 pm

Caelus wrote:
Head Shot wrote:
shockwaveuk wrote:
Caelus wrote:
shockwaveuk wrote:
Caelus wrote:I feel really stupid for saying this but I don't actually understand what most of that said.

Maybe my wife can explain it to me...


If I'm understanding it correctly, the government wants to use taxpayer money to build a church, non-christian groups are challenging it on the basis they don't want their taxes contributing to building christian places of worship. That the gist of it?


I think that was a hypothetical situation one of the justices was using to make his point. But it's really hard to tell by the way it's worded.

Taking one extreme, Justice Stephen Breyer asked a lawyer for the White House whether a taxpayer would be able to challenge a law in which Congress sets up a church at Plymouth Rock.


:???:


If that spending is oposed so could the spending on the war in the gulf by anti-war groups couldn't it?
Heres the thing though, you don't NEED more churches to be built, however, if you cut spending on the war it'll be harder to win.


And spending money on the war doesn't come uncomfortably close to violating the legal seperation of Church and State.

This isn't about tax-payers having the right to decide what their money is spent on, this is about tax-payers having the right to protest the federal government spending their money in a manner that violates a major cornerstone of the U.S. constitution.

I think that's what it is about anyway.
nicely put! :D
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Postby AxiomScion » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:56 pm

i'll jumble some of the lines to see if it clears things up a bit.
Instead of going through Congress, President Bush issued executive orders to create the White House office and similar centers in 10 federal agencies during his first term. One of the goals Bush set for these offices was to help religious and community groups compete for federal funding to fight poverty, substance abuse and other social problems.
and then there's
At issue
In the current case, the Bush administration organizes conferences where faith-based organizations are allegedly singled out as being particularly worthy of receiving federal money.
and just for kicks
The group challenging the Bush administration, called the Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc., characterizes the White House's initiative as a singling out of faith-based organizations to the exclusion of other organizations.

Last year, a federal appeals court allowed the group to pursue its lawsuit.
so now you know...

*looks at Caelus' Mrs thoughts*
She's right it was poorly written...
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Postby Shadowman » Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:00 pm

Motto: "May God have mercy on my enemies, because I sure as hell won't."
When I start paying taxes, I don't want them to use it on groups that burn children's fantasy books, and tell me that either I follow their rules, or go to hell.

I'm not saying all Christian groups do that, I just don't want to fund the ones that do.
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Postby Head Shot » Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:15 pm

Shadowman wrote:When I start paying taxes, I don't want them to use it on groups that burn children's fantasy books, and tell me that either I follow their rules, or go to hell.

I'm not saying all Christian groups do that, I just don't want to fund the ones that do.
exactly why I stopped going to church around age 7 (not that my church did it, but hearing about stuff like that made me care less and less about religion as a whole.)
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Postby Krsi » Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:29 pm

Hi! It's "Mrs. Caelus" :: raise eyebrow::

Anyways, to all you non-U.S. Government-freaks:
The article was a bit confusing. The Plymouth Rock was a great big hypothetical that the Justices keep pounding Clement with and he keeps having more and more problems arguing his case. (Which is Let Pres. Bush put money where he wants, it only violates the establishment clause if Congress does it. This is because of court precedents that are confusing even the Justices and Lawyers in question. It says that as a taxpayer, you cannot question the Executive branches spending on the establishment clause issue. But there are different interpretations of the precedents, hence the issue. The issue is not truly the establishment clause but if the taxpayers can question an executive action.)(I think)

I suggest skimming the court transcript if you are interested. It is rather funny. There's not a lot of "legal-esse" and the transcriptionist even put in "(Laughter)".

I'm currently on page 25 out of 73. And that is where I have gotten the info in this post. I could be rather wrong about some of this, I am just a student of government, not a practitioner or a teacher.

Also, it does not seem that the money is actually going to a church, but to good-works organizations that are based in relgion. Like a organization of Baptist women who get together on Wednesdays and feed the homeless. Even AA, it could be argued, is a relgious organization. I don't have a problem with the program, except for the fact that Pres. Bush seems to be targeting specificly good-works organizations that are religious in nature. There would be nothing wrong, in my eyes, with giving those Baptist women govenrment money, if they also considered giving money to the good city of Whatever, USA organizations that have no particular religious affilation.

Hope this helps. As I said, I could be wrong.
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Postby Darth Screamer » Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:07 pm

Exactly why would an "atheist" care to begin with?

Fine their tax payers, but why should they get money like a church group. They have no religion, so it really doesn't consist of the same thing imho. Or are they just looking for something to whine about, since it's not Christmas time.

But hey our money goes to pay senators, presidents, governors, mayors and all their entourages.

But no one complains about that, even though they all DO SQUAT, 9 times out of 10 to help our country. Example...Ted Kennedy, George W Bush, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, John Mckane(sp)....should I go on.

Instead of trying to fix, our inward problems, they focus on, lets fix the middle east, lets help Africa, but our homeless and sick die in the streets. Cause we're so uppity on the lets fix the world, just not ourselves bs.
Or the constant bs from every side, more money for schools.

Yet kids still don't receive an education equaling the amount of our tax dollars going to these schools.

I'm saying this about both sides of the fence.

But here we are worried about some poor atheist who's got his panties in a bunch.

And because it's Bush, it's automatically wrong. But it was ok for the Clinton's to screw with religion and mix it with government.
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Postby Tweezy » Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:33 pm

Motto: "There can only be one, like in that foreign movie where there could only be one, and in the end there was only one dude left, because that was the point"
Think about it though. Wasn't this country founded on freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press? Wasn't that the very reason why the pilgrims broke away from the motherland? Granted things are very different now. but the principle exists still today in our society. Nowadays You see religious groups competing left and right for the hearts of the people. at one moment you've got two well dressed men standing at your door asking you if you're prepared for Jehovah's return. and the next you see an ad from the Christian Children's Fund. It's essentially a big race to get the most followers before the big day comes! and with quite a few, the policy is either you're with them or against them. If one thinks about it, the sad truth is a lot of people in this world just can not, and will not accept another's faith. we all have that mindset, what we were raised on is an ineffable truth that cannot be changed. Why does bush want to favor towards the Christian side of things? Why does he want us to pay our hard earned tax money to those Christian groups? Because he's a bloody Christian that's why. People tend to be in favor of what they like. It's human nature, and it's also human nature to want others to believe in our faith too. Me myself, I don't think that bush should be paying the American Taxpayers' money to something that HE believes in. Before he builds another church of Jesus, he should consider those who could have had a temple of Bhudda, or another place where someone other than a Christian is welcome to worship.
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Postby Rodimus_Lantern » Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:08 pm

I am an Ordained minister and I honestly working on forming my own religion because the hypocrisy of it all makes me laugh.

America was founded as a Christian nation this is true. However due to the constitution a separation of Church and State was imposed. This separation has nothing to do with the line "One Nation under God" People who say that the separation of church and states forbids that line are clearly idiots. The separation of Church and State was instituted to guarantee that the central government never had a single secular religion associated like much of Europe.

Our Tax money should not be used to build a christian church. However if proper documents can be provided of a previous church that was located in Plymouth Rock then it would fall in as a replica of American History.

Just my $0.02
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Postby Caelus » Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:36 pm

GUYS!

They aren't using tax payer money to build a church at Plymouth Rock. That was hyperbole, metaphor.

The issue is Bush is spending money to promote religiously based charities at the exclusion of nonreligiously based charities.

The US Government isn't building any churches!!!
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Postby Tweezy » Mon Mar 05, 2007 5:37 am

Motto: "There can only be one, like in that foreign movie where there could only be one, and in the end there was only one dude left, because that was the point"
Rodimus Lantern wrote:I am an Ordained minister and I honestly working on forming my own religion because the hypocrisy of it all makes me laugh.

America was founded as a Christian nation this is true. However due to the constitution a separation of Church and State was imposed. This separation has nothing to do with the line "One Nation under God" People who say that the separation of church and states forbids that line are clearly idiots. The separation of Church and State was instituted to guarantee that the central government never had a single secular religion associated like much of Europe.

Our Tax money should not be used to build a christian church. However if proper documents can be provided of a previous church that was located in Plymouth Rock then it would fall in as a replica of American History.

Just my $0.02

And what a $0.02 it was! :APPLAUSE:
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Postby Rodimus_Lantern » Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:25 am

Caelus wrote:GUYS!

They aren't using tax payer money to build a church at Plymouth Rock. That was hyperbole, metaphor.

The issue is Bush is spending money to promote religiously based charities at the exclusion of nonreligiously based charities.

The US Government isn't building any churches!!!


Ah I see.... Now only if I wouldn't post while I am doped up on Nyquil. lol

Well in this case I still feel that the money should not be spend solely on religiously based charities unless they have a cure for aides or cancer they are willing to trade. lol
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