Thursday, 11 October 2012

CA Prop 36: A Change is Long Overdue

Californians will get the chance to revise the well-publicized 'Three Strikes Law' that was passed by their legislature 18 years ago. This video accurately sets out the issues (sorry about the 15 second ad that precedes it). Depending on your browser the play button may not work - just click on the pic:

Surely this change is for the better. Mike Reynolds's story is a tragic one but his reasoning that we as a society should lock people up almost indefinitely 'just in case' they commit offences is obviousy flawed.

Surely the whole tenet of the original legislation was to keep repeat violent / sexual offenders away from the public and Prop 36 won't change that. By depriving someone of their liberty for virtually the rest of their natural lives for minor offences is almost a 'two-and-a- bit-strikes' law and cannot be what legislators or the public intended.

Let's hope that justice is done.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Why Religious Leaders Must Understand The Constitution

The Constitution of The United States was drafted by men of Enlightenment, many of whom were non-believers or paid lip-service to religion. As a result, the document itself is secular in its nature. This is an indisputable fact. When Benjamin Franklin suggested during the Constitutional Convention that the founders begin each day of their labors with a prayer to God for guidance, his suggestion was defeated.

The Founding Fathers wisely declared that Church and State should be completely separate (implied from the First Amendment) and even that the office of President need not be held by any person of any particular faith. This is hard to believe these days, where we see the huge political power of the religious right in the U.S. and a statement by any political condicate for any office that he or she is an atheist condemns them to abject failure. Almost all 535 members of Congress declare themselves Christians. This is a statistical impossibility.

The Christian right have hijacked the United States by stealth. Sections of the Tea Party even want schoolchildren to be taught that the Constitution was created by the hand of God. I kid you not. The phrase "One Nation Under God" wasn't adopted by Congress until 1942 in the Pledge of Allegiance and wasn't included on currency until the 1950's. It was never used in the Constitution.

So was it any surprise that a group of Churchmen of the right-leaning persuasion recently publicly admitted crossing the line and brazenly included politics in their sermons? Of course not.  These people think it's really OK to do this. Have they ever read the Constitution or understood its origins? These are people who benefit from tax-exempt status purely because they keep their meddling hands off politics and do good deeds in the community. Their sermons must sound like a rallying cry for the Republican Party (I'm tempted to add "for God's sake"), and in my opinion they should be prosecuted by the IRS or at least have their status reviewed.

Of course, people of faith have an interest in politics. Why shouldn't they? But it's a sad day when they go to Church on Sunday and hear a sermon that has all the hallmarks of a political rally. However, it's encouraging to hear that voters are getting wise tothis nonsense and almost 50% believe their leaders talk too much about religion and their personal beliefs, with a huge 66% saying that a church should never endorse a political candidate.

We can only hope this trend will continue and the Church keeps its hands off politics in future.

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