Does Wall of Separation extend overseas?

By David Waters Should the federal government pay for a Bible-based sex education program? What if the program instructed youth … Continued

By David Waters

Should the federal government pay for a Bible-based sex education program? What if the program instructed youth that “God has a plan for sex and this plan will help you and protect you from harm”? What if it urged them to memorize and recite Psalm 119:9 (“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word”)? What if it was funded by the State Department to help villages in AIDS-ravaged Africa?

What seems like a clear violation of church and state separation here in America gets murky overseas. Does church-state separation apply to U.S. government’s policies and programs in other countries? Is our foreign policy bound by the First Amendment?

Those questions were raised this week in a major report issued by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Uncertainty surrounding the limits of (church-state separation) appears to be impeding foreign policy in some significant ways,” stated the report, which is urging the Obama administration to make religion ‘integral’ to American foreign policy.

That uncertainty was reflected in the report itself, which concluded that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause “does impose constraints” on what the U.S. can do overseas. But five task force members dissented, saying “no administration should impose constraints on American foreign policy that are imagined to derive” from the clause. Five others disagreed with that: “A conclusion that clause never applies is not supportable.”

The American Civil Liberties Union supports that last statement. This week, the ACLU sued the U.S. Agency for International Development for its “religiously infused” abstinence programs funded by the agency, such as the Bible-based program in Africa. “The United States government cannot be in the business of exporting religiously infused abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that we know fail to give young people the information they need to stay healthy,” ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri told Religion News Service.

Concerns about USAID faith-based programs were raised last year by the agency’s inspector general, which audited USAIDS’s 2006-2007 contracts totaling $1.4 million with 136 faith-based organizations. The audit found that some funds were used to rebuild Iraqi mosques and promote Bible-based sexual abstinence programs in Africa, despite a prohibition on the use of taxpayer funds to support “inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction or proselytization.”

USAID officials offered two interesting defenses. First, they argued that the main goals of the programs in Africa and Iraq were secular in nature. For example, USAID argued that the mosque repairs were aimed at gaining political support and providing jobs for unemployed Iraqi youths.

Give me 10 minutes and I could find 10 inner-city pastors who could make the same case for their American churches.

As for the Bible-based abstinence lessons, USAID officials said that “such religious references can improve the effectiveness of an activity’s non-religious purpose, such as preventing the spread of HIV.”

Give me 10 minutes and I could find 10 evangelical pastors who could make the same case about sexual abstinence programs in public schools.

The second defense was even more interesting. According to the auditors, USAID officials “were unsure whether such uses of Agency funding violated Agency regulations or the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

And we’re back to murky.

The auditors recommended that USAID ask the Obama administration to clarify “what religious activities USAID may or may not fund overseas without violating the Establishment Clause.”

That won’t be easy. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on the matter, and a rare and related appellate court ruling was, well, murky. As Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State noted, in 1991 the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a USAID plan to spend millions to build religious schools in Israel and other nations. But the ruling left open the possibility that in some rare cases, the government might be able to justify tax aid to religious institutions overseas, if it can prove a “compelling” need to do so.

Preventing the spread of HIV and gaining political support in Iraq sound pretty compelling.

Obama’s faith advisory council, which has spent the past year going over all of the government’s faith-based operations, has taken a creative approach to bringing clarity to the murkiness: Replace the phrase “inherently religious” — which is so misunderstood — with the phrase “explicitly religious.”

“The Administration, therefore, should amend regulations and the relevant executive order to prohibit the use of direct aid to subsidize ‘explicitly religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, and proselytization.’”

Clear as mud.


Note: Rob Boston works Americans United for Separation of Church and State, not for the ACLU. Thanks for pointing that out, Ex-Virginian4.


  • bpai_99

    Of course federal dollars should not be used to fund Christian-based initiatives. That this question is even being debated is a sad commentary on how much the Christian Right in America has subverted the Constitution and is undermining the very foundations of the Republic.Forget overseas – imagine what will happen when intelligent life is discovered elsewhere in the universe. Christians fanatics will insist that those other beings acknowledge that the One True God created humanity only in His image, and so the other beings are therefore lesser in His eyes. If those others do not agree that they are 2nd-class citizens of the universe, the Christians will advocate for a Crusade to be launched to either convert or wipe them out.

  • ex-Virginian4

    Small correction, Rob Boston is with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, not the ACLU.

  • dwooddell1

    I’m all for freedom of religion, if someone chooses to be religious, though I’m equally for people who don’t chose religion as part of their lives. I’m as supportive of pagans, wiccans, animists, and native faiths everywhere as I am of the more popular religions or faiths such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or that religion that isn’t a religion, but a way of life and a faith in being, Buddhism. (I myself identify as an Estuarian with a Buddhist twist.) But I Very Strongly feel it is a private matter between an individual and his religion — and that Does Not include the US government paying for religious stuff or religious-based programs. Anywhere. No matter whose religion is involved.

  • solsticebelle

    Of course not. This is outrageous.No tax money should ever pay for religion in any way. Period.

  • coloradodog

    More creeping (and creepy) Huckabee Christian sect theocracy.

  • rwfegley

    The US Supreme Court ruled in Everson vs. Board of Education (1946) that the government should not promote religion. This precedent is still cited in such cases.

  • icurhuman2

    Applying religious convictions to health issues is dangerous in every way imaginable – religion is faith-based conviction and medicine is peer-reviewed science. And, never the twain shall meet. Inflicting American-sponsored, religiously-motivated, dangerous health measures in foreign countries will ultimately just add another black mark against the American world hegemony – in more countries than the countries so afflicted. The decline of all empires begins with systemic imbalances that lead to externalisation, which is blaming those nations not inside the empire for it’s woes. War and further attempts at empire expansion, to ameliorate domestic economic turmoil, lead to overextension and quicker economic decline. The next stage of contraction is a drawing in of external resources to bolster the economy, again, with the sole aim of placating social unrest and internal revolution. The final stages are a complete breakdown of the economy, and, the abandonment of any pretense of “a shared empire” as the elite try to protect their wealth and position. At this juncture, the American empire is walking a knife-edge economically and is being forced to contract it’s global footprint quicker than it wants. America’s systemic faults, accumulated over a half a century of profligate waste, are so set in stone that only revolution will shake them loose. Government-sponsored religiously motivated health initiatives would be better aimed at the religiously motivated constituents of the government’s nation. Supplying food, shelter and clothing are all that is needed to gain the support of the impoverished. Leave the medical intervention to Cuba – they do a marvelous job by the way.

  • coloradodog

    Why do all American taxpayers have to pay for Christian evangelizing and shoving their narrow beliefs down the throats of not only Americans but the rest of the world as well?What ever happened to the Establishment Clause? Did it disappear the same time Lord Cheney trampled on the Fourth Amendment?Why and when did Americans complacently give away their Constitutional rights to these radical extremist right-wing evangelical bullies?Was this what I volunteered to fight and die for when I raised my right hand to defend the Constitution? If so, I sorely regret it.

  • twm1

    The First Amendment makes no distinction between domestic and foreign policy. The same is true of Jefferson’s famous Bill for Religious Freedom of 1779. In 1787 Jefferson wrote (Notes on the State of Virginia): “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth.”

  • SayWhat4

    “The US Supreme Court ruled in Everson vs. Board of Education (1946) that the government should not promote religion. This precedent is still cited in such cases.”The court in this case redefined the clause, igoring original intent, the words and deeds of the founders, and supreme court precedent. This is know as activism from the bench. Jefferson, who was quite up to speed on the subject, used taxpayer dollars to have christianity preached to the natives, and attended church in the capitol building on Sundays. The situation he and the founders feared was favoritism to one particular denomination. See the history of England, and early US colonial history for the abuses they were guarding against.They were very much in favor of the government endorsing religion in general. Those who claim otherwise just have not done their homework, or have an agenda that ignores the facts (kind of like the IPCC and their now-famous sloppy work and thinking).It is true that millions have suffered under the corrupt government/christian alliances, but let us not forget the 10′s of millions who have perished under corrupt secularists regimes. Government support and encouragment of religion is key to maintaining a healthy balance of liberty. George Washington, who also understood the subject quite well, does a good job of encapsulating a lifetime of lessons learned in his farewell address. This speech is a roadmap for how to maintain this form or government and the key role of religion in maintaining liberty and morality. Unfortunatley, secularist have worked to deny our kids the chance to be educated on this key document within our school systems.

  • lufrank1

    Wonder how many fundamentalist believe that Ben Franklin accepted Jesus as God?

  • Nymous

    Sorry, no funding of religion. If our armed forces blow up a church or mosque & it needs to be rebuilt that’s an entirely different thing than funding bible lessons.I really am beginning to loath the people who want to undo the establishment clause as being seditious, and traitorous to the primary values that the country is built on.I get sick of hearing what Jesus said with a big dollop of hate to go with it. If Jesus has something to say, then He can say it Himself, until then the rest of these fools should put a sock in it while they’re interacting with our civil society domestically.

  • douglaslbarber

    As soon as I’m done figuring out whether or not the hypothesis “For every metal, there is a temperature at which it will melt” can be either proven or disproven by evidence, I’ll get back to you.

  • spidermean2

    The U.S was targeted by bin Ladin primarily because of his extreme religious belief. The government is just wasting money if it only spends on weapons and not invest on countermeasures that will enlighten his blind followers.Giving away Bibles to the ignorant is the best way to fight terrorism because ignorance and stupidity is the mother of all destruction. In other words, STUPIDITY IS DESTRUCTIVE.

  • spidermean2

    Stupidity is self-destructive and indefensible. All these wars to defend America is useless if stupidity like gay marriages, godless Darwinian evolution, atheism, liberalism is unchecked in our own shores.Expect that many soldiers will die and the nukes coming to our coasts in the near future. While soldiers are dying in these wars, the stupidity continues like the recent approval of gay marriages in Maryland.Soldiers are becoming like pawns paying for the stupidity of others. America must reform first or all these wars will be deemed useless.After sacrificing thousands of lives and money, the Iraqi parliament is beginning to be filled with anti-American Sadir supporters. Everything was a futile exercise. It could have been different if the military established toughly the freedom to read the Bible coz in every area where there is ignorance of the Bible, terrorism and dictatorship rules.WRONG STRATEGY.

  • qqbDEyZW

    US Republican Christian Family/Moral Values as taught by Senators Ensign, Vitter and Craig. Yes Gov. Sanford is one to follow. Then we have Georgia House Rep. Daniel Stout who shows us all what Family Values mean as he had an affair with his Mother-in-Law while his wife was having his child. Now our Religious Leaders to follow are just as bad. As the church had an office in the Bush Administration to get tax dollars to teach Christanity to Afganistan and Iraq children to reduce those learning the Muslim Religion. More cases of rape were not reported.Few bother to remember Jesus said give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s give to God what is God’s. Religion has no place in Government.

  • blasmaic

    Prohibiting tax dollars from going to faith based programs might interfere with diplomacy. For example, the King of Thailand, who is greatly revered by custom and law in Thailand, is a great ally of America in the war on drugs and against terrorism. If he wants funds for a Buddist hospital in a rural area of Thailand, we would naturally want to help in any way we could. But if the Supreme Court prohibits taxpayer funds from going to faith-based programs abroad, then the rural Buddist hospital will need to get its funding from the drug cartels instead.Exporting the Bill of Rights might not make sense in many instances. Imagine the day arriving when we cannot give anti-terrorism assistance to a country that fails to read terror suspects their Miranda rights.

  • alaskansheilah

    NO. It taxpayers money isn’t used for religious purposes at home, our foreign aid should not be used for religious purposes abroad. But on the same token, on the other side, did we damage or blow up the Mosque (or church) or do damage to goods there in? Was it in pursuit of terrorists? Our Mosques, Churches, and Temples here at home would be demanding repair of damages if some governmental force came in and tore up the place, regardless of circumstances, as such places are supposed to be sanctuary and refuge, wouldn’t they? (Are they even sanctuaries and refuge any more? If not we’ve really become barbaric.)No again, we should not pay for religious entities to instruct abstenance. But many religions also give free clinics that also dispensed medicine and medical along with psychiatric services, some do traveling medical services in remote areas. I think we should help with that, providing we have the funds.

  • alaskansheilah

    YES, ONLY IF SAID MOSQUE OR CHURCH is also dispensing MEDICAL SERVICES…AS DO MANY RELIGIONS!!!! All you AntiChrists need to check out what religion has been around doing for over 2000 years. Medicine might still not be here at all if the CHURCH, YES, HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH as well as OTHER GOD LOVING RELIGIONS hadn’t developed it, by MINISTERING (hence the word administered as used in many medical proceedures) to the sick and needy because they were in love with CHRIST who HEALED THE SICK AND RAISED THE DEAD AND CHARGED HIS FOLLOWERS TO DO THE SAME!!! (nimrod azzez!)

  • alaskansheilah

    And yes, as a matter of record and fact ALL CHINESE MEDICINES were developed by BUDDIST AND TIBETAN MONKS! More religious fanatics who love GOD. Amazing! Religion IS good for something huh? Keep running.

  • bflorhodes

    If you want to see a soup kitchen without “Jesus Saves” on the wall, head over to Martha’s Table or the DC Central Kitchen. It’s amazing what people can do to help other people if they’re not busy pretending to be Christian. Obviously any monies given to churches will allow the transfer of their real money to their incessant preaching. It’s a clear violation of the Constitution and common sense. Anyone who thinks religion is a positive force in this world is an idiot.Faith-based programs have resulted in pure evil in Uganda – faith is for bigotry (that is, of course, the derivation of the word bigotry – By God).

  • MisterGuerilla

    The US favors Christianity no matter what their documents say to the contrary. The US is actually a Christian Theocracy in practice with roots in the Judeo-Christian faith. We have to look how it acts IN PRACTICE. The idea that Church and state are separate is just on paper. The US favors Christianity and that is obvious. The US is going to do what it does, which is to say one thing and do another.

  • postsituationist

    Using American taxpayers’ money to build mosques, churches or any other place of worship is clearly unconsitutional. There is–or should be–no ambiguity on that count. However, the Bush administration had gone much further than building mosques and churches or using the Bible for other programs: American money and human resources were instrumental in drafting and promulgating Sharia-based constitution in Iraq and Afghanistan. American money was and is being used for policy development in many Muslim countries where the aim is to establish the Islamic religion. It is a huge ethical, constitutional and political problem and the best solution is for the Obama administration to clearly state that no religious causes will be supported. Period. America, by its constitution, is a secular state and it must promote secularism everywhere.

  • wildfyre99

    Good point BFlorRhodes? I should have said “Try going into a soup kitchen run by a church and see if you can avoid seeing a “Jesus Saves” poster or being told that “God Loves You!”" Martha’s Kitchen and DC Central are run by secular organizations aren’t they? Or at the very least by religious organizations that understand that they can help the needy without preaching at them…

  • twm1

    . Medicine might still not be here at all if the CHURCH, YES, HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH as well as OTHER GOD LOVING RELIGIONS… Posted by: alaskansheilah ==Yes, the Holy Roman Catholic Church has done a great deal to advance science which has led to the development of scientific medicine. A primary example is when the Holy Roman Catholic Church convicted, imprisoned and banned writings of Galileo.

  • RaoTayi

    To All the pious people. If your deity is all you claim to be let her/him strike us with the lightening, without your help. You just shut up and go on about your lives without injecting your godly help into everything. Or just admit that your deity isn’t that omnipotent. In latter case, what is the point in your obsequiousness for this deity.

  • wildfyre99

    None of my tax dollars, nor even a single one of my tax pennies, should be used to fund bible lessons, koran lessons or building churches or mosques or for ANY other religious purpose either here in the U.S. or overseas… PERIOD! Let Saudi Arabia rebuild mosques. Most of them are probably government owned/funded anyway… As for christian churches and bible lessons… If Americans want to help with these let them do it through their churches.Our government has NO business going anywhere near assisting any religion with diseminating it’s message or dogma. Naturally, we should not impede them either, but NOT assisting is not the same thing as impeding.

  • Aquarius1

    I do not want my tax money used to support any religious activities or programs in the US or elsewhere. Democratic governments have a responsibility to ensure religious freedom for all believers, or non-believers, but this does not mean the governments have to give financial support. Christians are very good at building their own churches and Muslims can do the same for their mosques.

  • pmaguire1

    Attention Foreign Policy Wonks: We are NOT your serfs. We are not here for you to steal the fruits of our labor for your international social engineering experiments. Faith-based or otherwise. American foreign aid, like all other countries’ foreign aid, comes with conditions favorable to the donor. That’s why it doesn’t work, long term. You can help friends, but you can’t buy friends.So stop all “foreign aid” (i.e. cash-for-kowtow) now. The very idea that some would suggest we tax ourselves to build mosques (or churches) for others shows how hopelessly irrational our foreign policy has become.

  • FarnazMansouri

    Frankly, we are witnessing a veritable infestation of Religionists.A. Get them out of the CongressB. Dissolve the Faithy Council of the presidentC. End nonprofit status for religious institutions.D. Prohibit lobbying by said institutionsE. Bar religionism from the foreign serviceF. End religionism in the militaryIn short, separate state and church, or, to put it differently, end the infestation.

  • oypay

    By NOT supporting religion in other countries, we are showing respect for their cultures. Personally, nothing would make me happier than to see other countries ban the Crazy-Christians from “missionary” work.

  • ZZim

    I don’t have any problem with it. If the Obama Administration decides that giving money to some overseas religious group furthers the foreign policy goals of the US, then I think that’s fine.As long as the goal is furtherance of US policy goals, I say we use the tools at hand. If those tools are religious in nature, then we shouldn’t flinch away and cry out “Unclean! Unclean!”So the anti HIV program that teaches abstinence and sexual purity, I’m all for it. Funding someone’s mosque project to build good will amongst the locals, I’m all for it.

  • burtonpaul

    As intellectually archaic and absurdly ridiculous as religion is … it is still a major part of people’s lives everywhere. We should be in the business of respecting a part of another person’s or culture’s life that we do not understand.Exporting Christianity is wrong. It’s arrogant and, frankly, if we consider the loopy knuckleheads who are typically doing “god’s work” on behalf of an American public who never asked them to represent our interests overseas … We look like utter fools. Missionaries are terrorists by another name. Christian missionaries have destroyed more beautiful cultures than any other force on the planet.Our government has ZERO business exporting Christian dogma. period.

  • csintala79

    We should only fund repairs on a religious building if we are responsible for damage to the structure, e.g., collateral damage from a strike against enemy fighters in an adjacent building. However, the funds should be only dispersed after a claim is properly adjudicated through official channels, as should be the case for reimbursement for any damage we cause. Besides, in the case of Iraq, weren’t they going to fund their reconstruction from profits gained from selling their oil? I hear the Chinese are paying top dollar. Does the Iraqi government financially support the maintenance and repair of mosques?

  • YEAL9

    Maybe someone should sue the “non-profit” ACLU for using their organization as a way to cheat the taxpayers and hide their wealth from donation requests?The ACLU has approximately $230 million in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. As with all non-profits, the ACLU does not pay any federal taxes on the dividends, interest and capital gains on these investments.

  • arcoveus


  • rossacpa

    I understood Mr. Water’s question to be the following: Does disbursing funds to religious organizations as part of the our foreign policy violate the Establishment clause?As the Establishment Clause refers to the US government favoring a specific faith or denomination in this country, it is not obvious to me why giving funds to a religious organization or for a religious purpose in another autonomous state for foreign policy reasons subverts the Establishment clause in anyway. That the usual suspects feel deeply that it does is not a cogent legal argument.I do think that the money should dispersed directly to the foreign institution, and not given through religious organization in the US.

  • ZZim

    We should only fund repairs on a religious building if we are responsible for damage to the structure, e.g., collateral damage from a strike against enemy fighters in an adjacent building. Posted by: csintala79 | February 26, 2010 8:38 AM We need to let the commander on the ground make that decision in conjunction with the local authorities. We shouldn’t let our personal prejudices or philosophical nuances 10,000 miles away interfere with the decision-makers actually on the spot.Let them decide. I don’t see any harm in it.

  • chatard

    Waters, would you cite specifically the US Code or the Article and Section where it says “wall of separation”? It doesn’t exist. Every time you and your secular, atheist, anti-American friends say somebody is violating something that doesn’t exist, YOU ARE LYING. fOR THE EDIFICATION OF YOUR READERS, THE fIRST aMENDMENT SAYS “cONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW respecting the establishment of religion.” Period. That’s all it says. Period. It says Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. Period. That’s all it says. It does not say that Congress shall build a wall of separation between church and state. When you try to convince people it says that you are lying. You are a liar. You are a lying liar. Now, if you want to argue about whether it’s a good thing for Christians to go to Africa and proselytyze, or whether there is a statute forbidding them from doing so, or a court decision saying they can’t, fine. But don’t lie about the Constitution of the United States. It proves you to be nothing more than a lying liar.

  • YEAL9

    From the Department of Commerce:”Is there money set aside for Faith-Based Organizations?Answer:No. The Federal government does not set aside a separate funding stream specifically for faith-based groups. Rather, they are eligible to apply for government grants on an equal basis with other similar non-governmental organizations.”"What are the rules for the use of Federal funding by faith-based organizations?Answer:Grant funds may not be used for inherently religious activities such as worship, prayer, proselytizing, or devotional Bible study. The funds are to be used to further the objectives established by Congress such as creating the conditions for economic growth and prosperity.A faith-based organization should take steps to ensure that its inherently religious activities, such as religious worship or instruction are separate–in time or location–from the government-funded services that it offers.However, you may use space in your church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship to provide Federally-funded services. In addition, there is no need to remove religious symbols from these rooms.

  • rwfegley

    US Supreme Court,Everson vs. Bd. of Education(1947)”The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertain- [330 U.S. 1, 16] ing or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever from they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between Church and State.’ Reynolds v. United States, supra, 98 U.S. at page 164. “

  • persiflage

    ‘……imagine what will happen when intelligent life is discovered elsewhere in the universe. Christians fanatics will insist that those other beings acknowledge that the One True God created humanity….’I'm almost certain this is why extra-terrestrials have been so scarce in recent years. They’ve no doubt evolved beyond the insanity/absurdity of religious literalism and fear for their very lives – with good reason. If these highly evolved creatures are willing to be patient, they may try contacting us again in another 5-10 thousand years…..if religion hasn’t been the end of us by then, of course ;^)

  • wildfyre99

    Giving a religious organization federal funds to perform a putatively non-religious service such as running a soup kitchen (for instance) actually enriches that organization. Why, because it relieves them of the financial burden of offering the service themselves and frees their own funds to be used in religious capacities. Thus any funds the federal government gives to these organizations actually furthers their religious goals. This violates the establishment clause whether it occurs here or overseas (since every federal dollar spent originates in Washington, DC) because this helps them “establish” themselves. Frankly, if our government wants to feed the poor or rescue the orphans or whatever, I’m fine with that and I don’t even mind them using my money in these efforts as long as no religious message is attached to the help. However relying upon religious organizations to distribute that help supported by government monies is wrong since those organizations cannot help injecting their message into the help. Try going into a soup kitchen and see if you can avoid seeing a “Jesus Saves” poster or being told that “God Loves You!” So if churches or mosques or synagogues (or whatever) want to feed the poor or rescue the orphans, let them do it with their own money, not mine. Then they will be free to minister and proselytize to their heart’s content.

  • wildfyre99

    Since Yeal9 keeps posting that religious groups can legally get government funding for their supposedly non-religious aid efforts I will repeat as well…—————————–

  • coloradodog

    The pictures above your column are just plain creepy.

  • twm1

    It was Jefferson that used to phrase “wall of separation” to describe his understanding of the First Amendment.”As this appears in no court decision, legal memorandum, presidential brief, or even in notes for drafting public documents, it is meaningless to anyone attempting to determine what the drafters meant in drafting the Posted by: rossacpa–Your certainty is only exceeded by your ignorance. Read Reynolds v. U.S. (1879), for example, where the court examined Jefferson’s involvement with the First amendment and concluded that his interpretation was “almost an authoritative declaration” of its meaning. Jefferson made many statements equivalent to the “wall of separation” comment throughout his life which you apparently know nothing about.

  • twm1

    Every time you and your secular, atheist, anti-American friends say somebody is violating something that doesn’t exist, YOU ARE LYING It does not say that Congress shall build a wall of separation between church and state. But don’t lie about the Constitution of the United States. It proves you to be nothing more than a lying liar.Posted by: chatard — What you mean is that Thomas Jefferson was a secular, atheist, anti-American lying liar. It was Jefferson that used to phrase “wall of separation” to describe his understanding of the First Amendment.

  • andrew23boyle

    I am not superstitious and I do not want ANY of my tax-dollars going to support superstition ANYWHERE on Earth.These superstitious groups are ALL inherently dangerous because they ALL believe things in absence of evidence and/or in spite of it and in spite of reason. Once someone starts to believe in something without having evidence or reason, it becomes possible for that person to believe in ANYTHING without reason or evidence.When combined with the almost universal tendency of these superstitious groups to claim an absolute monopoly on the ‘truth’, it is a VERY small step between believing in the big ogre in the sky and believing that if one murders for that big ogre, then the ogre will reward them with eternal bliss.People have the right to believe what they want and I would never try to force them to give up their beliefs no matter how stupid I might think they are. I expect, however, the same consideration: I do not expect to be forced to act counter to my OWN beliefs (or lack thereof) and support the superstitions of others with my tax-dollars.The government exists to defend our liberties. ALL of our liberties. It does NOT exist as an instrament for forcing one’s will and beliefs on one’s fellow citizens. If BOTH the left and the right in the country would remember that and at least TRY to defend our freedoms instead of trampling on them, we’ll ALL be far better off.

  • usapdx


  • PSolus

    No government should be promoting more ignorance and superstition in this world; there is much too much of it already.

  • rossacpa

    TMW1 wrote: “What you mean is that Thomas Jefferson was a secular, atheist, anti-American lying liar. It was Jefferson that used to phrase “wall of separation” to describe his understanding of the First Amendment.”Ok, this canard is cited way too often considering it lacks any substantive value in constitutional analysis. You are quoting something from TJ’s personal papers written after his public life. We cannot even determine at what point in his life he arrived at this opinion, or whether it changed later in his life.As this appears in no court decision, legal memorandum, presidential brief, or even in notes for drafting public documents, it is meaningless to anyone attempting to determine what the drafters meant in drafting the First Amend.Hence, this is a very loose argument from authority, which in itself is the weakest for of argument, so give it up!

  • hartman_john

    Take religion out of foreign policy and take the profit out of healthcare.

  • Utahreb

    If you, as an individual, want to support your church and its programs in other countries with your own money, fine – but you do NOT have the right to say that my tax dollars should support your religion!!!You want to proselytize, fine – do it with your own money and on your own time. You want to hand out Bibles instead of information on AIDS and birth control and vaccinations? Fine – buy your own Bibles with your own money and leave my tax dollars alone.That is your freedom and your right. My right is to have my tax dollars spent on things other than religion and Bibles and abstinence-only programs (worked out well for Bristol Palin, didn’t it?).Pay your own way – don’t expect us to pay for programs that are based on religious beliefs. Dig into your own pockets for money to fund your beliefs – don’t pick my pocket!!!

  • EnemyOfTheState

    I would rather we fund condom distribution sex education programs, both here and abroad. Abstinence can certainly be included as part of a comprehensive education outreach effort, if one really feels the need to preach about it, but promoting that to the exclusion of other measures is dangerous and irresponsible.

  • oldsong1


  • YEAL9

    From the Commerce Department:”What are the rules for the use of Federal funding by faith-based organizations?Answer:Grant funds may not be used for inherently religious activities such as worship, prayer, proselytizing, or devotional Bible study. A faith-based organization should take steps to ensure that its inherently religious activities, such as religious worship or instruction are separate–in time or location–from the government-funded services that it offers.However, you may use space in your church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship to provide Federally-funded services.In addition, there is no need to remove religious symbols from these rooms. If you have any questions or doubts, you should check with the official who administers your Federal funds.”How many On Faith bloggers have contacted the official who administers their federal funds?

  • oldsong1

    Mr. Waters: I mistakenly posted on MS. Jacoby’s blog. There are 2-holes in your, “… What if that’s good for National Security?#1: When it comes to some-one-else’s religion(god-made or man-made, imported here or rehashed then exported) that People have a superstitious streak, if that’s the right word, in their own belief System, such that, if they see or feel, personally or as a group, that a foreign nation is advocating or promoting or encroaching or infringing via, say under a pretext such as “Abstinence”, then it could cause Adults, not so much kids, to raise questions or rise-up against such an attempt to influence “My Religion” through their religion in cunning ways. People are not stupid. They have Choices; i.e. To wear Condoms or not to wear, to refrain from promiscuous Sex or not etc..#2: Even though there’s nothing like a “Good Philosophy” on a Local or International awareness bases Human-experience, via time, is the torch that all Human’s carry; weather they are Planned or unplanned into this world. And god, if any, cannot help everybody at the same time while fanatics or rather “Fundamentalism” (as Mr. Marty Martin explains) from religion, is itself the evil or the double-standard of man kinds sufferings/misery trouble/poverty etc.. Humanity can’t eat, even though its possible in the literal sense, their so-called “Holy-Books” via someone else holy story’s? and the words therefrom (a Plurality of such competition of beliefs, not a singularity yet) in order to keep from disappearing while those promoting such “knowledge” or song New or old are not starving and do-not know what its like to be hungry or poor (on or off intermittently) because of His or Her “Environment” or misfortune. see part 2:

  • linguine33

    It’s interesting that funding for abortion counseling (which is legal here) can be prohibited abroad, while religion-infused programs can be funded (which is illegal here) abroad.

  • rossacpa

    Wildfyre: Martha’s Kitchen and DC Central are run by secular organizations aren’t they? Or at the very least by religious organizations that understand that they can help the needy without preaching at them…Since you asked, no Martha’s Table is not a secular organization. It is managed and staffed by an interdenominational board, and individual parishes, churches (and I would guess local communities of other faiths rotate the meal preparation and deliver for MT. (Martha is a reference to Martha who by tradition prepared meals when the Lord visited her family home.) The only feeding program in the metro area that is not a faith-based organization is Food & Friends, which was originally started by members of the GLBT community to serve AIDS patients. I believe that their client criteria has been diversified.

  • twm1

    To RossacpaYour claim was the “wall of separation” phrase never appears in any court decision, etc. The Reynolds case was only one example. It also appears in Hugo Black’s majority opinion in Engel v Vitale (1962) which rejected a state-written school prayer in New York. The “wall of separation” statement was written in 1802 when Jefferson was President, contrary to your statement. But the specific phrase itself is not the point. The phrase simply summarizes more extended reasoning that appears repeatedly from Jefferson’s celebrated Bill for Religious Freedom (1779) to his opposition to creating a position of Professor of Divinity at the University of Virginia toward the end of his life. Everything you stated in your original post was wrong.

  • rossacpa

    TWM1:So you are conceding that “wall of separation” is not, nor has it ever been, a constitutional principle enunciated by the SCt, but is a legal theory emanating from 18th century private correspondence, which is held in high regard by some American jurists including some SCt justices, but is certainly not stare decisis given the long line of decisions following Engle v. Vitale, including a case in the 2009-2010 term of the USSCt, which still attempt to define what the Establishment clause means and what its ramifications are.Do I understand you correctly?

  • twm1

    RossacapaYou’ve shifted your position since your original post. I don’t know if “wall of separation” is stare decisis or not. But that’s because “wall of separation” is just a phrase and phrases are always ambiguous. What I do maintain is Jefferson’s proposed Bill for Religious Freedom is the best statement of the “original intent” of the First Amendment. “Wall of separation” is a summary phrase for that statement. Jefferson repeated these basic ideas throughout his life. Madison repeatedly endorsed these same ideas, and he was most directly involved in the adoption of the First Amendment. I fear that the current court dominated by Roman Catholic right-wingers has been whittling away at the First Amendment and may continue to do so. But I think that most everyone agrees that what the Court has said at any particular moment is not necessarily faithful to the Constitution.

  • rossacpa

    TWM1 After finding a short quote that seemed to support your argument, did you bother to read the opinion, of even just Section 5? The CJ is writing about the limits of Jefferson’s separation of church and state, not enshrining the phrase as a constitution standard. The CJ also, after recognizing that phrasing occurs in private correspondence, rhetorically posits full authority to Jefferson’s statement, not citing it as appearing within the four corners of the Bill of Rights.

  • cassie123

    I think that the governement shouldn’t be funding proselytizing. However, that being said, our government would be wise to take religion and its importance seriously. Also, in some cases, the governments goals and the religious organization’s goals align. The example above is perfect: HIV deterrence via a Christian abstinance program. If this program really does help stop the spread of aids in Africa, then I can understand assisting that program to an extent. I also understand re-building mosques/churches in certain cases to advance diplomacy. But, assisting a program that is only there to proselytize shouldn’t be allowed. Any religious person who does want to fund the proselytizing of a particular religion can find a church or an organization and donate. I do this through my church tithe. Unfortunately, not enough people, who claim to be Christian and care about the spread of the Gospel, tithe or donate money. Religious organizations often do a lot of great work abroad — orphanages, hospitals, etc but they need funding — which should come from people directly. People who are on this post who say that all missionary work should be stopped are letting their own bias get in the way — if their work stopped completely, then a lot of people in this world would be left with no one to help them and love them. Let’s face it, religious organizations do a lot of good and religion is an important component of human life — it is dangerous to just ignore it because your point of view doesn’t agree or your religion is different (yes — I am refering to atheism as a religious here because it kind of is).

  • usapdx


  • spidermean2

    “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to PREACH unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, FEAR God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his JUDGMENT is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. “This prophecy has not happened yet but is about to occur a few years from now. Stupidity is self-destructive and it will only hasten the destruction of the idiots if they continue in their stupidity.As Doomsday nears, the preaching will become louder

  • bob2davis

    If I were to claim that I could heal the sick and raise the dead, I would quickly be sent to a mental health facility. Yet so many people have no problem believing that some ancient Jew could heal and raise the dead even though there is no evidence that said person even existed. The absurdity of god, faith and religion must no longer be tolerated. Religious belief is not an inherent human characteristic like race, color or sexual orientation but rather a chosen dogma that is both irrational and often harmful to non-believers. Not only must religion be eliminated from government but also from education and community life. Religion is just an adult version of a child’s invisible playmate and must be given no more credence. Religion impedes intellectual, scientific and social progress. Freedom of religion has nothing to do with freedom of thought; it only serves to constrain free thinking. It is time to institionalize all those who believe in faith healers and dead-raisers. Lunacy must be deterred, not encouraged. The US exports enought harm – guns, bombs, missiles – we need not add dangerous mythologies.

  • spidermean2

    AIDS cannot spread if people have sex with their wives or husbands only. This is common sense. In other words, it is scientific.AIDS only spread in places where fornication is rampant. If they don’t die of AIDS, God has another way as stated in the prophecy.

  • spidermean2

    bob2davis wrote “If I were to claim that I could heal the sick and raise the dead, I would quickly be sent to a mental health facility.”That’s true coz you can’t. It’s different when somebody is rotting dead and yet became alive (Lazarus). Stupidity is self-destructive. Get a brain.

  • cllrdr

    It’s not a church it’s a frat house. Over and above all religion should be taxed to the max.

  • spidermean2

    “Tax to the max” and the libs should not beg money from the government thru entitlements.

  • curtb

    We made an agreement with religion long ago. Stay out of politics and government or pay taxes. Simple. But then when you have people involved, nothing is simple. People invented both religion and politics after all. So now the religious right would insist that not only were the Founding Fathers friendly toward Christianity and government commingling but their entire intention was that Christianity should be the sole guiding light for America.Why would anyone want to mix their religion with politics? Politics is humanity at its most deceitful and dishonest. There is nothing godlike about it. That the Christian right insists on defending their political views with the Bible explains my distaste for their movement. That Liberty College and Regent University, both Christian-oriented schools, should have become the training ground of choice for political appointees of the Bush Administration is proof positive to me that the Republican Party is the most un-American political organization in America. At least the Bush version, with that family’s colorful history and suspicious business dealings, which brings the party closer to crime syndicate territory. They’ll do anything, say anything, lie about anything. Trying to franchise Christianity is just another old but useful tool of the GOP. Just like patriotism, it belongs to the Republicans. And they are equally cynical concerning both.

  • YEAL9

    “11:43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 11:44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” …Did this really happen? There is only one account in the NT making it historically unreliable and as per most contemporary NT experts, simply another miracle story concocted by the almost anonymous John to make Jesus C into a deity. Made for good story telling and a few more coins in the first century wave of evangelism.”Of the four canonical gospels, John presents the highest Christology. It describes Jesus as the incarnation of the divine Logos, through which all things were made, and declares him to be God.[5] Only in the Gospel of John does Jesus talk at length about himself and his divine role, including a substantial amount of material Jesus shared with the disciples only. Here Jesus’ public ministry consists largely of miracles not found in the Synoptics, including raising Lazarus from the dead. Contrary to the Synoptics, Jesus’ miracles in John are signs meant to engender faith. In John, Jesus is the object of veneration.[6] Certain elements of the synoptics such as parables and exorcisms are not found in John. In terminology close to that found in later Gnostic works [7] , John teaches that salvation can only be achieved through revealed wisdom, specifically belief in (literally belief into) Jesus. [8]“ref: Wikipedia

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