Temple of Apollo at Delphi
Dating back to 1400 BC, the Oracle of Delphi was the most important shrine in all Greece, and in theory all Greeks respected its independence. Built around a sacred spring, Delphi was considered to be the omphalos – the center (literally navel) of the world.
People came from all over Greece and beyond to have their questions about the future answered by the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo. And her answers, usually cryptic, could determine the course of everything from when a farmer planted his seedlings, to when an empire declared war.
Here are ThinkProgress’s nominations for the most extreme attacks on a woman’s right to choose:
– Redefining Rape: Last May, every House Republican and 16 anti-choice Democrats passed H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. Anti-choice activists Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) tried to narrow the definition of rape to “forcible rape,” which meant that women who say no but do not physically fight off the assault; women who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped; and minors impregnated by adults would not qualify for the rape and incest exception in the Hyde Amendment. Smith promised to remove the language but used “a sly legislative maneuver” that essentially informs the courts that statutory rape cases will not be covered by Medicaid should the law pass and be challenged in court.
– Abortion Audits: The No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act also bans using tax credits or deductions to pay for abortions or insurance. Thus, a woman who used such a benefit would have to prove, if audited, that her abortion “fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.” This requirement turns the Internal Revenue Service into “abortion cops” who, agents noted, would have to force women to give “contemporaneous written documentation” that it was “incest, or rape, or [her] life was in danger” which made an abortion necessary…
Texas, the largest state to defund the organizations, may also shut down the entire Women’s Health Program that served 125,000 Texas women in 2012 because some of the family planning clinics in the program are affiliated with Planned Parenthood. Arizona even passed a law banning charity contributions to any organization that is related to abortions or even donates to an organization that is related to abortions. Indeed, this year’s Republican war on Planned Parenthood left thousands of low-income women and children who benefit from tangential health programs as collateral damage
TP goes on with many more additions to this list of proposed legislation across the nation that infringe upon women’s rights.
The logic used by the repubs with regard to government sponsored abortion reminded me of something. I have seen this logic used in another context.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
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.
What the hell does it mean for a government to establish a religion?
I have related two different experiences in my youth involving the intersection of religion and public education.
At age five or six my class was led to a corner of the classroom and a very sad looking lady would read the Bible and discuss the end of the world for an hour every Friday.
Up until the fifth grade, most of the students in my elementary school would leave the building for about 90 minutes and be transported to some Christian Church. Kind of a Friday Catechism. Catholic children like myself would simply hang around the school.
Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 668 (1970). “Two great drives are constantly in motion to abridge, in the name of education, the complete division of religion and civil authority which our forefathers made. One is to introduce religious education and observances into the public schools. The other, to obtain public funds for the aid and support of various private religious schools …. In my opinion both avenues were closed by the Constitution.” Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 63 (1947) (Justice Rutledge dissenting)
Walz v. Tax Comm:
Appellant property owner unsuccessfully sought an injunction in the New York courts to prevent the New York City Tax Commission from granting property tax exemptions to religious organizations for properties used solely for religious worship, as authorized by the state constitution and the implementing statute providing for tax exemptions for property used exclusively for religious, educational, or charitable purposes. Appellant contended that the exemptions, as applied to religious bodies, violated provisions prohibiting establishment of religion under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
1. The First Amendment tolerates neither governmentally established religion nor governmental interference with religion. Pp. 397 U. S. 667-672.
2. The legislative purpose of tax exemptions is not aimed at establishing, sponsoring, or supporting religion, and New York’s legislation simply spares the exercise of religion from the burden of property taxation levied on private profit institutions. Pp. 397 U. S. 672-674.
3. The tax exemption creates only a minimal and remote involvement between church and state, far less than taxation of churches would entail, and it restricts the fiscal relationship between them, thus tending to complement and reinforce the desired separation insulating each from the other. Pp. 397 U. S. 674-676.
4. Freedom from taxation for two centuries has not led to an established church or religion, and, on the contrary, has helped to guarantee the free exercise of all forms of religious belief. Pp. 397 U. S. 676-680
Notice that the last reason given for upholding tax exemptions for churches is that the tradition that spans all of our states one way or another has not lead to an established church.
I would guess that none of these Justices ever made it to Utah or Idaho! Ha
But you can see that just the issue of taxation—which should have been discussed by our Supremes sooner than 180 years following the establishment of our Constitution. The wheels of justice grind very slowly indeed!
The real tradition of non taxation of churches, in my opinion is at least a thousand years old.
Europeans faced an environment controlled by the church, the lower aristocracy and the King.
Thus there were clerical courts, courts of common law and courts of equity (the King’s court).
And taxation of churches lead to wars and such.
But without getting into the problems facing Henry VIII as well as Cromwell in the century that followed, the relationship between the church(es) and the state is of primary interest to any historian for any time or place on this planet.
So we pretend that somehow a couple of conflicting clauses consisting of a total of sixteen words will give us the answer to any issue relating to the relationship between church and state.
Forgetting the importance of tradition, those sixteen words might as well be sixteen bones thrown upon the ground by some Norse seer who decides some issue facing a community by discerning the meaning of the positioning of the bones after they land upon the ground.
That case dealt with a Catholic Hospital receiving funds from the Federal Government (Incorporation of the Bill of Rights into the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution had not yet taken place). The purpose of the grant of tax payer monies to the hospital was to help finance the construction of a wing to the building.
The Supremes decided that giving Federal money to a religious entity for secular purposes was Kosher.
So now we have gone from the issues surrounding tax exemptions for churches and actually granting the churches real money—tax payer money at that.
In the Everson case, the Majority (per Hugo Black) ended up sanctifying the public busing of students to religious schools since the Government demanded that all children be educated and since transportation involved a non religious purpose.
Well, what about funding religious schools for the purpose of purchasing text books? Well, math texts represent easy examples of following the Everson Majority. But what if the parochial school seeks funding for Creationist bent biology texts?
What pisses me off is that these right wing Constitutional Fundamentalists skip right over this funding issue and just put creationist crap in education texts purchased with tax payer funds directly to our secular public schools! Damn!
I am not writing a legal treatise here. But I would point out the obvious. The resolution of a specific issue is not easily guided by two short clauses contained in a rather short Constitutional provision.
Purity of purpose is one of Humanity’s greatest sins.
Purity of thought leads men and women into battle.
Purity of spirit leads men and women into psychotic outbreaks.
Purity of heart may initiate great episodes of blood letting.
I personally do not care if there are nativity scenes depicted in school plays or if the Ten Commandments appear etched in stone at some courthouse. (Interestingly enough, the Supremes went ahead and okayed these selections from the pagan etchings of Hammurabi to appear on courthouse lawns if the sacred stone had been present upon those properties long enough. Kind of a grandfathering of old relics. I mean if a Goddess representing some pagan ideal of Justice is allowed to be exhibited in our nation’s finest governmental buildings what the hell do I care if a picture of JC or Jehovah is thusly
I think the Left (or segments of the Left) spends too much time chasing after harmless symbols because we know that if you give them an inch they will take a mile.
Well regardless of the Christmas Jesus or Ten Commandments that can be interpreted any way the interpreter wishes, political-religious factions are winning the war I suppose. Texas text book publishers are including Creationist leaning biological texts and other propaganda in our tax supported ‘secular schools’ regardless of previous Supreme Court decisions.
So I guess that if you do give them an inch they will take a mile.
Since that time the Court has gradually adopted a more accommodating approach. It has upheld direct aid programs that have been of only marginal benefit to the religious mission of the recipient elementary and secondary schools, tax benefit and scholarship aid programs where the schools have received the assistance as the result of the independent decisions of the parents or students who initially receive the aid, and in its most recent decisions direct aid programs which substantially benefit the educational function of such schools. Indeed, in its most recent decisions the Court has overturned several of the most restrictive school aid precedents from its earlier jurisprudence. Throughout, the Court has allowed greater discretion with respect to aid programs benefiting religiously affiliated colleges and social services agencies.
First, I would like to point out that there are no individuals or entities that are not affected by governmental actions in a number of ways. I don’t care where on this planet you choose to reside. And thus it has always been.
Laws infringing upon individual rights have been around in this country since the first Pilgrim set foot on Plymouth Rock.
People have been punished for ‘illegal’ speech, before and after the ratification by the states of a Bill of Rights.
Go back in time and you’ll discover how much religious freedom the Mormans had before and after our Civil War.
People have been arrested for lingering with intent to loiter for over three or four hundred years in this country and will continue to be so arrested in the centuries to come.
The governments along with their myriads of their branches break the laws of this land every day.
And it costs a lot of money to call these government officials to task.
Now the repubs have stolen the arguments of the left-wing purists relating to First Amendment rights and taboos and are using them for their own purposes with regard to other Constitutional provisions.
They are taking the position that life begins at conception; that Roe v. Wade has been overruled by the will of the people; that no tax monies (either State or Federal) should ever be used to fund abortion clinics or any single abortion; that the life of the fetus takes precedence over the life of the mother or even the welfare of the other; that anyone participating in any kind of abortion should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law….
Can these proposed bills as well as laws already on the books be recognized as being Constitutionally valid without a Constitutional Amendment?
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution incorporates the Bill of Rights so that a state might not trample upon those rights any more than the Federal Government might not trample upon those rights.
The repubs must admit this proposition as fact since they have been arguing the validity of the Second Amendment as well as its application to state governmental action under this rubric of incorporation.
Neither might they ignore this rubric of incorporation based upon their reading of the First Amendment since they scream up and down about their freedoms to exercise their religious beliefs.
Therefore, the repubs are stuck acknowledging the words, the judicial interpretations associated with those words and the application of those words to real life situations whether or not The Newt chooses to or not!
Santorum would have us all believe that the Judiciary is just a group of ordinary men who have no right to decide anything:
Well, if you lived in the trenches of the social conservative movement you’ve seen this in America. You saw it in the issue of life. When a group of judges decided, ‘Well, we’re just smart enough and we’re going to take that decision away from you. We’re going to take that power away from you to make that decision.
The 14th Amendment rules or the left and the right of this country are both screwed.
The 14th Amendment states:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. …
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Well, the first sentence of Section 1 seems pretty clear to me. You are not a citizen of these United States until and unless you are naturally born or naturalized.
Of course our United States Supreme Court is not really on board so to speak with my interpretation.
But the rest of Section 1 refers to the term ‘person’.
Corporations are now recognized as persons although not citizens. I mean corporations cannot vote, they cannot hold public office, but they cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law and they do not eat or defecate.
A fetus is clearly not a citizen.
A fetus has not been naturally born. Hahahaha
You cannot take this argument too far or those born of Caesarian sections would not be deigned citizens; since they have not been born naturally! Hahaha
Therefore repubs must see the fetus as persons and not citizens without a constitutional amendment stating this fact.
This is interesting because repubs are not so sure that non-documented immigrants are persons.
Repubs do not believe that immigrants should be granted due-process of our laws in any shape, manner or form.
I always wanted to ask Michele Bachmann if she would request an exception to any anti-abortion amendment to our Constitution. Something like:
Nothing in this provision shall apply to anchor-babies!
But logically, all non-documented immigrants are persons.
There is no way out of this conundrum.
But you see that the right has attacked abortion as far as this funding argument, in a similar manner to the funding of religious organizations by the government.
Any possible manner that funds for health insurance is provided to Planned Parenthood somehow funds their providing abortions to its clients; even if abortion represents a small part of its over all activities.
Money is fungible these morons exclaim so that if 1% of PP’s budget involves abortion, educational activities relating to family planning education for the masses should not be funded under any circumstances.
But is not the money that is given religious organizations for ‘secular purposes’ not as fungible?
Do not churches benefit from government funding in these secular areas so that they might pursue religious purposes?
Then they demonstrate their real aim which is to defund any family planning whatsoever. El Papa has been vindicated and now birth control is as bad as abortion.
Repubs have never believed that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!
And the repubs would somehow have all repubs the seers who would throw out scraps of the Constitution upon the ground and interpret how the final positions of those individual pieces of paper should guide our lives.