And freedom? And why is education power and freedom?
The whole point of the enlightenment is that knowledge sets us free. “Wherever the people are well informed,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “they can be trusted with their own government.” That we are less free than we can, and should, be is the point of Shawn Otto’s book The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It. If you’ve not read it, please do so.
It is also the point of, let’s see … the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Under Trump, these freedoms are threatened daily. We are at a tipping point. A Trump is possible when the politicians and elected officials of this country have taken enough power from the voters that they can make voting itself a non-democratic act. A Trump is possible when ignorance becomes the willed objective of a large portion of the thought leaders of our society. Once a certain point of institutionalized repression of democracy, and a certain point of culturally determined ignorance, are reached, someone like Trump can become president and then, imperialized by whichever powers control him, push us the rest of the way.
That is the point of the best of this year’s Super Bowl commercials. The only one worth watching. In fact, better than the game turned out to be. This is it, from the Washington Post:
The press has had enough of being called liars by the liars. I’m not a big fan of MJ, but the very fact that MJ has quotable conversation about this is a change in how the world works.
Here’s another thing dictators do: Make up accolades. Trump created a fake TIME magazine cover and hung it in several of his golf clubs. It has him on the cover. That issue of TIME never happened. It is not just fake news, it is an entire fake news magazine. Details here.
I have no idea if the Coon Rapids Baptist Church, is a real church with tax exempt status, but let’s assume for the moment that they are. The question then would be, is this church jeopradizing their tax exempt status by taking and explicit stand on a certain issue and telling people how they should vote on it? Here are two photographs I snapped this morning:
Clearly the church is saying that people should vote a certain way and clearly this is being done at a time rather close to the election. But, is this a violation of church-state separation?
Here is a document from the IRS (PDF file) that lays out the rules. Most of this is about candidates, not issues. Churches can take a stand on issues, but not if that stand links to candidates. So, for instance, a church taking an explicit anti-Obamacare position in the present election is probably violating IRS regulations. In Minnesota, the “Yes/No” vote being referred to here is an amendment to limit marriage to opposite sex couples, to be added the constitution. Almost every candidate has taken a stand on the issue, and DFLers (those are Minnesota Democrats) say “vote No” and Republicans say “vote Yes” pretty much down the line.
Personally, I think they are probably not violating IRS rules, but I also think the IRS rules could be revised. I think churches should not take positions that tell people how to vote at all, on candidates, and on issues. What do you think?