If not now . . . (Jewish Caucus Election Message)

November 6, 2006 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Church and State, Civil Rights, Events, Israel, political parties | Leave a comment

Hey everybody,

It’s that time of year again. Tomorrow, we get another chance to shape the future of our great nation. In the past 6 years, we have experienced some of the worst times in our nation’s history. Not only have we seen record deficits and been exposed to a culture of fear, but we have watched the erosion of our most fundamental rights. As Jews, we know first hand the importance of respecting the legal and political safeguards on executive power and we understand why the separation of church and state is at the core of what it means to be American. It is our responsibility to exercise another of our critical rights, in order to protect the rest of them.

By voting tomorrow, you have a chance to stand up and say that civil liberties are important, that America is not a fundamentally “Christian Nation,” but a pluralistic one, and that our country needs a new direction. Though the last six years have been ample evidence for why we need a change, Republican’s continue to pile on the reasons. For the latest winner, I would like to refer you to Republican Representative and US Senate Candidate Katherine Harris who prayed to “bring the hearts and minds of our Jewish brothers and sisters into alignment.”

Listen to the full prayer at http://www.stanford.edu/~jpasek/HarrisPrayer.mp3, and if anyone asks you why Jews vote Democratic, just point them this way.

But whatever you do, don’t forget that everything comes down to turnout. Even if 90% of Americans know in their hearts and in their heads that we are staying the wrong course in Iraq and at home, we can only change things if we get people to the polls. Elections are sometimes decided by 1 vote, and making sure that you vote and that all of your friends vote is the most important thing you can do.

Here’s to real change in 2006,

Josh Pasek
Chair, YDAJC

Harris’ Prayer Call Stirs Concerns

November 5, 2006 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Church and State, political parties | Leave a comment

(Tampa Tribune) U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, who has made past comments that raised questions about her religious sensitivity, prayed in a telephone prayer service recently that God would “bring the hearts and minds of our Jewish brothers and sisters into alignment.”

A Harris spokeswoman said Friday that the Longboat Key Republican, who has advocated electing Christian officeholders, was talking about converting Jews to vote Republican, not to Christianity.

Read more at http://www.tbo.com/news/politics/MGBNSMYJ3UE.html

Listen to the Prayer at http://www.stanford.edu/~jpasek/HarrisPrayer.mp3

Gay wed foe: Church-state wall is fiction

October 20, 2006 at 6:42 pm | Posted in Church and State | Leave a comment

(Madison Capital Times) The main spokeswoman for a group supporting Wisconsin’s proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions has little regard for the separation of church and state, which she calls a “fictitious wall.”

Read more at http://www.madison.com/tct/news/index.php?

Rep. Harris Condemns Separation of Church, State

August 27, 2006 at 4:10 pm | Posted in Church and State, political parties | Leave a comment

(Washington Post) Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not intend for the United States to be a “nation of secular laws” and that the separation of church and state is a “lie we have been told” to keep religious people out of politics.

“If you’re not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin,” Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She cited abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of that sin.

Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/25/

Bush Appoints Conservative to Head Faith-Based Office while Jewish Community Isn’t Looking

August 17, 2006 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Church and State | Leave a comment

Join NJDC in telling Jay Hein, the Bush Administration’s new Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, that federal funds should not be used to subsidize religious discrimination!

While the American Jewish community has been closely watching events unfold in the Middle East and Connecticut this month, President Bush and his Administration have been busy furthering their conservative agenda.

On August 3, Bush appointed a new director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (FBCI). Bush called the new director, Jay Hein, a “leading voice for compassionate conservatism” and advocate for faith-based organizations. American Jews should beware this new appointment.

In the mid-90s, Hein served as Welfare Reform Policy Assistant to former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson. Hein helped Thompson develop, pass, and implement changes to the state’s welfare system.

In 2001, The Nation reported that welfare reform in Wisconsin allowed for-profit institutions in Milwaukee alone to pocket $27 million intended for those in need, reduced the average income of low-income families by $2,000, and led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare that Wisconsin welfare agencies “put illegal obstacles in the way of people trying to obtain food stamp benefits.”

It is both troubling and ironic that the man who President Bush appointed to lead an office supposedly aimed at helping organizations who have “a long tradition of helping Americans in need” was responsible for designing and implementing a program penalizing low-income families for taking themselves off of welfare in Wisconsin.

As if that wasn’t enough, this past June, the General Accountability Office (GAO) – Congress’ independent investigative arm and, frankly, the only part of Congress doing any type of oversight on the Executive Branch – released an alarming study stating that faith-based organizations receiving federal funds through FBCI are not adequately separating the funds used for social services from those used for religious purposes. The GAO writes:
“While officials in all 26 FBOs [faith-based organizations receiving federal grants] that [GAO] visited said that they understood that federal funds cannot be used for inherently religious activities, a few FBOs described activities that appeared to violate this safeguard.”
The GAO study points out that approximately one-third of the faith-based organizations which receive federal funds and also offer voluntary religious activities “did not separate in time or location some religious activities from federally funded program services.”

Finally, the report questions the effectiveness of Bush’s FBCI and raises concerns about oversight, noting that “little information is available to assess progress toward another long-term goal of improving participant outcomes because outcome-based evaluations for many pilot programs have not begun.”

Perhaps the scariest part of the GAO findings is that Jewish organizations have been issuing similar warnings about these violations since the program began. Two examples:
Religious Action Center (RAC): The RAC noted in 2001 that faith-based federal funding proposals are “dangerous, divisive, and uncharitable.”
Anti-Defamation League (ADL): The ADL states on its website that “allowing pervasively sectarian institutions to take the place of the government as the provider of essential services in a community will likely result in the kind of coercion that the Establishment Clause was designed to prevent.”
President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative has not been without controversy. The Administration has pushed through legislative language permitting religious organizations receiving funding to discriminate in their hiring practices based on the religion of applicants. Even more, Republicans have used faith-based funding to achieve political advantages.

The Bush Administration clearly holds the interests of the far right in higher regard than those of other religious backgrounds. This is completely unacceptable.

Join NJDC in telling Jay Hein, the Bush Administration’s new Director of FBCI, that federal funds should not be used to subsidize religious discrimination!

You can call Director Hein at (202) 456-6708 or fax him a letter at (202) 456-7019. You can also e-mail President Bush at comments@whitehouse.gov.

‘Mean-Spirited’ Measure Seeks To Discourage Americans From Asserting Their Fundamental Religious Liberty Rights In Court, Says AU’s Lynn

July 25, 2006 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Church and State | Leave a comment

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today urged the House Judiciary Committee to reject a bill that would make it more difficult for Americans to bring church-state violations into court.

The so-called “Public Expression of Religion Act” targets those who challenge church-state infringements by government officials. The measure, H.R. 2679, denies legal fees and out-of-pocket expenses to plaintiffs who win lawsuits under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. It is scheduled for a vote in committee on Wednesday.

Read more at http://www.au.org/site/News2?

Report Faults Safeguards in Religion Program

July 25, 2006 at 5:31 pm | Posted in Church and State | Leave a comment

(NY Times) The Bush administration’s program of financing social service initiatives run by religiously affiliated groups lacks adequate safeguards against religious discrimination and has yet to measure the performance of the groups, a new Congressional report says.

Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/19/washington/19faith.html?

Texas GOP: No church-state split

July 9, 2006 at 1:29 pm | Posted in Church and State, political parties | Leave a comment

(Chicago Tribune) When the Texas Republican Party adopted its platform recently, party leaders left no question as to the importance it placed on religion.

The platform calls America a “Christian nation, founded on Judeo-Christian principles,” and that has drawn a frustrated reaction from Jewish groups that consider the language exclusionary.

Read more at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0607080178

Jewish family flees Delaware school district’s aggressive Christianity

July 9, 2006 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Church and State | Leave a comment

(Jews on First) A large Delaware school district promoted Christianity so aggressively that a Jewish family felt it necessary to move to Wilmington, two hours away, because they feared retaliation for filing a lawsuit. The religion (if any) of a second family in the lawsuit is not known, because they’re suing as Jane and John Doe; they also fear retaliation. Both families are asking relief from “state-sponsored religion.”

Read more at http://www.jewsonfirst.org/06b/indianriver.html

State should stay out of religion, says Dover judge

May 22, 2006 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Church and State | Leave a comment

(Centre Daily Times, PA) A federal judge who outlawed the teaching of “intelligent design” in science class told graduates at Dickinson College that the nation’s founders saw religion as the result of personal inquiry, not church doctrine.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones gave the commencement address Sunday to 500 graduates at Dickinson College, his alma mater.

Read more at http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/14637120.htm

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