November 2, 2004.Clearly, November 2, 2004, will be the most pivotal day in many Americans lifetimes and perhaps even in the history of the United States “American history” redirects here. For the history of the continents, see History of the Americas.
The United States of America is located in the middle of the North American continent, with Canada to the north and the United Mexican States to the south. . On that day voters will go to the polls and decide (hoping that the Supreme Court doesn't mess things up as it did in 2000) whether the most powerful position in the country, indeed the world, will be held by a mediocrity who has shown little but contempt for our priceless heritage of religious freedom and church-state separation or a challenger who has demonstrated far more respect for that heritage.
Whoever is elected--George W. Bush or John F. Kerry--will be in a position to shape the future of this country and perhaps even the world for generations to come. It would be inappropriate for me to tell anyone how to vote but I can certainly discuss how the two major presidential aspirants stand on church-state and related concerns, as well as economic and geopolitical ge·o·pol·i·tics
n. (used with a sing. verb)
1. The study of the relationship among politics and geography, demography, and economics, especially with respect to the foreign policy of a nation.
Bush has made clear that his two favorite Supreme Court justices are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the latter having been appointed to the Court by his father. Since both Scalia and Thomas have frequently attacked the First Amendment church-state separation principle as the Court has long interpreted it, expected vacancies on the Court during the next four years would be filled by Bush-nominated clones of Scalia and Thomas and church-state separation would most likely become a dead letter. Kerry would appoint justices far more in tune with constitutional crafters Thomas Jefferson and lames Madison, certainly not justices and judges hostile to separation and reproductive rights.
Furthermore, whichever candidate wins will undoubtedly have coattails coat·tail
1. The loose back part of a coat that hangs below the waist.
2. coattails The skirts of a formal or dress coat.
on the coattails of
1. that will have a strong bearing on the kind of Congress that results: a national legislature that is either more friendly or more hostile toward church-state separation. In general the two parties have largely polarized A one-way direction of a signal or the molecules within a material pointing in one direction. : Republicans now favoring tax support for faith-based schools and charities and opposing reproductive rights, with Democrats leaning strongly the other way.
Readers of this column for the last thirty-plus years know where I, the vast majority of Humanists, and most Americans generally stand on these issues but it is useful to reiterate and recap.
Tax aid for faith-based schools, through vouchers or tuition tax credits (tax-code vouchers) or some other mechanism, would wreck democratic public education; increasingly replace education with sectarian and ideological indoctrination in·doc·tri·nate
tr.v. in·doc·tri·nat·ed, in·doc·tri·nat·ing, in·doc·tri·nates
1. To instruct in a body of doctrine or principles.
2. ; drive educational costs up and overall quality down; favor larger religious groups over all others; fragment our school population along creedal cree·dal also cre·dal
Of or relating to a creed.
Adj. 1. creedal - of or relating to a creed
credal , class, ethnic, ideological, and other lines; and show contempt for the voters who in twenty-five separate referenda from coast to coast since 1967 rejected vouchers or their analogues by two to one.
Although some tax aid for faith-based charities has been provided for well over a century and will never entirely disappear, it was not until then-Senator John Ashcroft (defeated for reelection re·e·lect also re-e·lect
tr.v. re·e·lect·ed, re·e·lect·ing, re·e·lects
To elect again.
re in 2000 by a dead man) in the late 1990s and President George W. Bush began trying to loosen the rules so that tax aided faith-based charities could discriminate in hiring along religious and gender orientation lines and promote sectarian views. Unless brought to a halt, Bush's faith-based initiatives, absurdly described as "compassionate conservatism," will create, as I have pointed out in the New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times, a "growing proliferation of unregulated, unaccountable charities of uncertain efficacy competing for scraps of a shrinking public pie" and also violate Madison's timeless 1785 warning against using "religion as an engine of civil policy" The Texas Freedom Network (www.tfn.org) produced in late 2002 a study of how tax aid for faith-based charities worked in that state under Governor Bush.
Although Kerry goes too far for me in his support for tax aid to religious-run charities, at least he opposes discrimination in hiring and gross violations of church-state separation. That is probably the best we can hope for in the near term, given the Supreme Court's recent wavering on the establishment clause.
(Let me note, in passing, two important recent court rulings that received scant media attention. On June 28 the Colorado Supreme Court The Colorado Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Colorado. It consists of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices. Powers and duties
Appellate jurisdiction ruled unconstitutional the state's new school voucher law in Owens v. Colorado PTA PTA or parent-teacher association: see parent education. , which the Republican-controlled legislature passed in defiance of the voters' strong rejection of vouchers in Colorado referenda in 1992 and 1998. Then, on July 2, in American Jewish Congress
The American Jewish Congress describes itself as an association of Jewish Americans organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad through public policy advocacy, using diplomacy, v. Corporation for National and Community Service The Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS, was created as an independent agency of the United States Government by The National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. , the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia District of Columbia, federal district (2000 pop. 572,059, a 5.7% decrease in population since the 1990 census), 69 sq mi (179 sq km), on the east bank of the Potomac River, coextensive with the city of Washington, D.C. (the capital of the United States). ruled that the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps may not constitutionally finance volunteers who teach religion in Catholic schools. The ruling was fairly narrow and will surely be appealed but is nonetheless a commendable victory for church-state separation.)
Reproductive rights have been eroding slowly since the ink dried on Roe v. Wade Roe v. Wade, case decided in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Along with Doe v. Bolton, this decision legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. in 1973. That erosion will continue if Bush is reelected. Reproductive rights would surely suffer a severe if not fatal blow if Bush has a chance to name one or two justices to the Supreme Court. But that isn't all. Bush and his allies in Congress have been promoting largely ineffective abstinence education programs and trying to outlaw certain abortion procedures. On the international scene Bush since 2002 has blocked congressionally approved funding for the UN Population Fund. That piece of nastiness is increasing maternal mortality and poor health in the underdeveloped world, exacerbating the population/resource problem, and condemning countless children to misery and early death.
All the while Bush is seeking political backing from the Vatican, to which only a minority of Catholics pay attention, and the Protestant fundamentalist right with its legions of televangelists and media outlets. The Bush team is even trying to turn evangelical and Catholic churches into political arms.
November 2, it cannot be stated too often, will mean the life or death of religious freedom and church-state separation in the United States of America UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The name of this country. The United States, now thirty-one in number, are Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, .
Edd Doerr is president of Americans for Religious Liberty and immediate past president of the American Humanist Association The American Humanist Association (AHA) is an educational organization in the United States that advances Humanism. It is the original Humanist organization, and embraces secular, religious, and other manifestations of Humanist philosophy. .