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GUEST COMMENTARY: Falwell: God Will Preserve a Republican Majority! Did He Ever Hear About the Internal Revenue Service?

Posted by kinchendavid on September 25, 2006

By Joseph J. Honick

Bainbridge Island, WA — The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the last we heard, was running a couple of tax exempt operations including the Moral Majority and a university. And the last time we heard, it remained against the law for such folks to be doing political campaigning at the risk of losing their tax status Certainly those who railed quite appropriately against some of Jesse Jackson’s political efforts said so.

But this time, Falwell declared that God has anointed one political party over another and even indicated that Hillary Clinton is the devil in disguise.

What is fascinating in all of this is not the obvious extremism of what has been called the “religious right” so much as it is cause to revisit the entire study of religion itself in light of the declarations by those who seem to have taken unto themselves virtual status as Jeremiah’s or: (fill in the blanks yourself).

When some liberal church leaders over the years used their pulpits to endorse favored candidates or at least to express themselves on political issues, it was as if someone had thrown gasoline on the streets and struck matches everywhere and anywhere more conservative leadership might hear of these sinful activities. Calls, nay, screams went out to pull the tax-exempt status of any religious institution that violated the longstanding laws against getting into the murky waters of politics.

Aha! But now, Jerry Falwell and others like James Dobson, boss of the outfit known as Focus on the Family, don’t seem to care about such things and just as seemingly feel they are immune by perhaps divine something or other.

What is even worse among these folks is the idea they believe and propagate the idea that only their version of beliefs are truly American and patriotic.

Somewhere in all of this, the First Amendment got muddled by these folks in perhaps the same ways as other amendments guarding privacy and forbidden means of intervention in individual lives without proper legal warrants.

It all runs much more deeper than even any of the above. And the contradictions are huge and obvious. There was a time when conservatives quite rightly demanded the government at any level stay out of our personal lives, our bedrooms and our businesses. Somehow that has all shifted.

According to the most conservative elements today, it is fine for the government to tell people with whom they may or may not cohabitate or marry based on religious grounds. Absent from even any remote consideration is the idea that some religious faith might emerge that says all the stuff the neocons oppose might be just fine, and who is to say the new faith is less acceptable under the law inasmuch as it is illegal to get in the way of religious freedom. Says so right there in the Constitution!

Entangled in all this confusion is something called “traditional values.” We never really learn whose values and who established them as traditional.

Let’s face it: there were times in our amazing history when even those divinely inspired religionists would not permit African Americans to pray side by side with white folks or even choose to marry interracially. In fact, there was a time when conservative inspired laws traditionally allowed for what were called “Restricted” neighborhoods and for real estate advertisements in newspapers to say so. Of course, we all knew what “Restricted” meant, and it was not merely on racial grounds. Jews were also not welcomed in those neighborhoods.

Now none of this critical commentary about the right should offer any comfort to those from more liberal sectors who choose to use their tax exempt platforms for political purposes. Everyone should have to toe the lines defined for us in our Constitution, or will more conservative judges become the “activists” the more liberal jurists are often accused of being? What we have here is a collage of hypocrisy from people some of whom suggest they have even communicated with God. I seem to recall Comedian Lily Tomlin taking note some years ago that, when we talk to God, we call it praying; when God talks to us, we call it schizophrenia. With apologies to the more devout, the real question is why do some arrogate unto themselves, and with great arrogance I might add, the idea that God actually has a political agenda or tendency and speaks only to groups run by Falwell, Dobson et al.

The America I grew up with preached the ideals of individualism, minimal government and that faith was the province of religious institutions but not politics. If it is the aim of some to impose their faiths on others, that is not only illegal but un-American and has to be shut down fast. If they wish to propagate their faith to their faithful and others through legally tax exempt means, God bless them. And that goes for those across the political belief systems because all are guaranteed those rights.

On the other hand, as Tevye finally said in frustration in “Fiddler On The Roof,” “there is no other hand” …..at least when it comes to separation of church and state. How do I know? The Constitution tells me so! There may be a song there as well.

* * * *

Honick is president of GMA International Ltd., the consulting firm he established in 1975. Its principal areas involved working to broaden business opportunities abroad for American companies and assisting them in preparing for such effort. He is also a regular contributor to Huntington News Network.

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