Refugees and Justice: Without God Justice is a Myth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Cities of RefugeAAA

By Rev. R.J. Rushdoony

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(Deut. 19:1-10)

  1. When the LORD thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;
  2. Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.
  3. Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.
  4. And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;
  5. As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:
  6. Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.
  7. Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.
  8. And if the LORD thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;
  9. If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:
  10. That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee. (Deuteronomy 19:1–10)

10 commandments...We have, in other contexts, dealt with the cities of refuge. Now we can apply their meaning to our world today. In vv. 9–10, we are told the meaning of this law. First, they are to love God by keeping His commandments, “to walk ever in his ways” (v. 9). The stress here again on the love of God and obedience to Him tells us that this is an important law. We cannot set it aside as inappropriate to our time. It is true that blood feuds no longer exist, except in rare areas, in the Christian world, but this does not exhaust the meaning of this law. The law remains, but its application may vary from age to age.

Second, God’s purpose in this law is justice, “that innocent blood be not shed in thy land” (v. 10). Justice is a perpetual concern, and we cannot treat a law pertaining to justice as obsolete. This law has a clear purpose, the protection of the innocent. Under normal circumstances, the function of the courts of law might take care of most cases, but, in every society, there are instances where the legal system fails: then some recourse is necessary to avoid injustice. Where injustice prevails in and through the justice system, the results are deadly. The instruments of justice are compromised; they become agencies of evil. This poisons the social order. We see it in our time in such statements as, “You can’t fight city hall.” The justice system is assumed to be corrupt and beyond redemption. If there is no appeal except within the system, cynicism and injustice prevail. We see today a very prevalent distrust and even contempt for our justice system. The courts on all levels are radically politicized and distrusted. They move in terms of technicalities, not in terms of justice, all too often. Even lawyers are commonly cynical about the system.

Third, God requires this law “that innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee” (v. 10). He reminds us that our land is an inheritance from Him, because all peoples and nations have their places and the bounds of their habitation as a gift from God; they exist by His grace (Acts 17:26–27). God can at any time dispossess any nation, people, or race. Because of His overlordship, God does not tolerate the shedding of innocent blood: sooner or later, His judgment follows. Men and nations may believe that some people’s blood can be shed without consequences because they see them as insignificant and trifling, but not so the Lord. He is mindful of all injustices, great and small.

Failure to protect innocent blood means guilt: if innocent blood is shed, there will be blood-guiltiness upon a people. God requires that justice prevail, and, where it does not, in God’s time that people is judged and set aside. Obviously, this means that this law is as relevant as ever, and God requires us to obey it and to put it into practice.

Failure to keep this law is arrogance, in that it is an assertion that our legal system provides the full measure of justice. This law militates against a self-contained legal system that assumes that it dispenses full and complete justice. This is a prevalent sin of state.

From the standpoint of humanism, dissatisfaction with the existing system has led to such agencies as the ombudsman (public advocate appointed by the government). These have had minor benefits but a major defect: they do not have a definition of justice apart from a humanistic code. What good they accomplish is a relic of a Christian morality. The Marquis de Sade was right: without God, justice is a myth. For Karl Marx, the law and its justice merely represented a class interest. Marx was right in seeing that, if God be denied, law and its justice will inevitably reflect nothing more than some special interest. There will then be a struggle for power, with the victor imposing his will on the losers.

Because of the survival of Biblical law in Western nations, there are remnants of belief in an absolute justice, in God’s law. This makes the problem of establishing a naked power state more difficult than in Cambodia, China, or Vietnam. At the same time, the Western world is marked by a vehement hostility to God’s law. It is rightly recognized that it is irreconcilable with humanism and its legal systems.

The cities of refuge were religious centers in that they were to be governed by God’s law in dealing with refugees. We are told that the congregation was to decide in each case. The cities of refuge were all Levitical cities (Num. 35; Josh. 20–21). This meant that God’s clerisy, in assembly, determined in each instance whether or not the refugee deserved the protection of the city.

In the context of our time, we have a growing tyranny because of our growing power states. These states have no regard for God’s law. They are increasingly evil.

In a Christian state, there should be regional assemblies of appeal to which men may go, or to which they can appeal for a restraining order against the state. At present, we see many, many illegal seizures of money and property. We have seen innocent people murdered by agents of the state. The fact that some of these people have been heretical or unbelieving makes no difference: under God, they are to be given justice.

This is the meaning of this law concerning the cities of refuge. A Christian society must not only govern by God’s law, but it must also provide sanctuary and refuge from its own human limitations.

The cities of refuge mean that justice has priority over the affairs of state. The justice system needs an escape valve, a check on its failings. God is not content with pastoral justice. He demands that men and nations work for full justice, “that innocent blood be not shed.”

The implications of this law are routinely bypassed because they challenge the humanistic premises of our fallen world. Human justice is fallible, but, even more, the justice system can be evil. If a society has only man’s justice system to rely on, it sooner or later deteriorates into tyranny and evil.

Man needs a city of refuge as against man and his systems. For centuries, all churches were cities of refuge; the refugee was tried in terms of God’s law, and agents of state could present their case before the court, as could the refugee and his witnesses. The court’s decision was binding upon the crown and the state. There is now no escape from the state’s legal system, the cost of which is prohibitive. Those who refuse to accept God’s law in time shut the doors on justice. The anti-theonomists pay a heavy price for rejecting the law of God.

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(Reprinted from Rushdoony’s commentary Deuteronomy)

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) was the founder of Chalcedon and a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical Law to society.

 

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100,000 Christians Take to the Streets in Santiago, Chile

100,000 Christians Take to the Streets to Fight against the Murder of Babies

chile-anti-abortion-rallyTim Brown

September 9, 2016

In a tremendous display of solidarity against the evil that is known as abortion, aka the murder of the unborn, 100,000 Chileans took to the streets of Santiago to “Celebrate Life” and protest the murder of babies.

SANTIAGO, Chile September 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)

 In a massive rejection of the government’s insistence on pushing through legislation to open the country to “legal abortion,” Chileans from all walks of life, social status and religions amassed this past Saturday in downtown Santiago for a “Celebrate Life” rally.

Evangelical Christians along with Catholics and others denounced the legislative push by President Michele Bachelet and other elected officials which calls for legalizing abortion of unborn children conceived in rape, or who are determined to have a medical condition incompatible with life, or where there is danger to the mother’s life.

Many of those present at the rally are particularly concerned with members of the Christian Democratic Party who are supporting the pro-abortion legislation. “It is a mockery that members of a party that calls itself ‘Christian’ dare to legalize the killing of the innocent,” lamented Carmen Croxatto of Chile’s Pro-Life Pro-Family Network.

Senator Carolina Goic, the president of the Christian Democratic Party and chair of the Senate Heath Committee, is reportedly ready to push the legislation to the next step. “She needs to work to defeat this legislation now, and not approve it moving forward to the full Senate,” said Croxatto.

Pro-life leaders promise to make this the key determinant in the upcoming elections, declaring that any candidate or party who supports this legislation will not get their vote. “We do not want to follow the other countries of the world which have abandoned the protection of the weakest members of the human family, starting first with so-called “only limited abortion” and ending up with even more horrific consequences and all the damage that comes in the wake of abortion to society in general,” according to Elizabeth Bunster of Chile es Vida.”

These people are not your typical establishment, propaganda fed “pro-lifers” either. No, no. These are people that oppose the murder of the most innocent among us on the grounds of rape, incest, medical problems and yes, even the mother’s life! Good for them!

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Tim Brown is an author and Editor at FreedomOutpost.com, SonsOfLibertyMedia.com, GunsInTheNews.com and TheWashingtonStandard.com. He is husband to his “more precious than rubies” wife, father of 10 “mighty arrows”, jack of all trades, Christian and lover of liberty. He resides in the U.S. occupied Great State of South Carolina. Tim is also an affiliate for the Joshua Mark 5 AR/AK hybrid semi-automatic rifle. Follow Tim on Twitter.

 

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Obama Employing Secret Nazi-Like Techniques on American Citizens?

Obama’s “Executive Order” of Psychological Fascism

Records Show Obama Hired Behavioral Experts to Expand Use of Govt. Programs

border patrol 2SEPTEMBER 2016constitution-burning-150x150

The Obama administration quietly hired 20 social and behavioral research experts to help expand the use of government programs at dozens of agencies by, among other things, simplifying federal forms, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch. The controversial group of experts is collectively known as the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) and it functions under the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

washington dcIn 2015 Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to use behavioral science to sell their programs to the public, the records obtained by Judicial Watch reveal. By then the government had contracted “20 leading social and behavioral research experts” that at that point had already been involved in “more than 75 agency collaborations,” the records state. A memo sent from SBST chair Maya Shankar, a neuroscientist, to OSTP Director John Holdren offers agencies guidance and information about available government support for using behavioral insights to improve federal forms. Sent electronically, the memo is titled “Behavioral Science Insights and Federal Forms.”

The records, obtained from the OSTP under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), also include a delivery by Holdren in which he insists that the social and behavioral sciences “are real science, with immensely valuable practical applications—the views of a few members of Congress to the contrary notwithstanding—and that these sciencesObamacareQuoteDoctorPIX abundantly warrant continuing support in the Federal science and technology budget.” Holdren, a Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate is a peculiar character who worked as an environmental professor at Harvard and the University of California Berkeley before becoming Obama’s science advisor. In the late 70s Holdren co-authored a book with doomsayer Paul Ehrlich advocating for mandatory sterilization of the American people and forced abortions in order to depopulate the country. A head of the OSTP Holdren technically oversees the SBST.

Information about this absurd behavioral team remains sketchy because the administration, which claims to be the most transparent in history, withheld nearly 100 pages of records that could have shed light on the taxpayer-funded group’s secret operations. The Obama administration cited an exemption—officially known as B5—that applies to deliberative process, which allows government officials to discuss policy without the discussions being made public, or attorney client privilege. In this case it appears that the administration used the deliberative process exemption to withhold the records since it’s unlikely that attorney client privilege applies. B5 is the most abused of the FOIA exemptions and is regularly used to hide material that may embarrass the government.

That appears to be the case in this instance, though we’ll never know for certain because it’s unlikely the SBST records will ever be released since it’s very difficult to challenge B5 exemptions. Americans should be concerned that the government is employing behavioral experts to use psychological techniques in order to manipulate the behavior of its citizens [Psychological Fascism]. This makes it all the more imperative that the discussions between these government officials be exposed to the public and not shielded through a specious claim of “deliberative process.”

In its first annual report to the president last year, the SBST writes that it works to identify how behavioral insights can be integrated into federal agency programs in order to help agencies achieve their missions and objectives. This, it claims, will better serve the nation. The new group’s projects “are designed to address only the behavioral barriers that affect how people engage with programs,” the report says. It includes a list of federal agencies that have worked with SBST to coordinate the application of social and behavioral research to “advance policy and program goals.” They include the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Education, Treasury, Justice and Labor as well as the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “When behavioral insights—research findings from behavioral economics and psychology about how people make decisions and act on them—are brought into [government] policy, the returns are significant,” according to the SBST report.

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This brief report from JudicialWatch.org; http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2016/09/records-show-obama-hired-behavioral-experts-expand-use-govt-programs/

The headings, “Obama Employs Secret Nazi-Like Techniques on American Citizens” and “Obama’s Executive Order of Psychological Fascism” are from gospelbbq.

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The Freedom of Expression vs. Separation of Church and State

As America Grows Less Religious, Can the Tocqueville Model Still Work?

washington dcThat is: can the separation of church and state function for an increasingly unchurched people whose secular passions rely on the exercise of state power?

By Richard Samuelsonoccupy and the elite

I want to thank David E. Bernstein, Wilfred McClay, and Peter Berkowitz for their kind words and thoughtful responses to my essay. In effect, all three suggest that, for American liberals and progressives, anti-discrimination is becoming nothing short of a religion, albeit one that denies it. More: it is becoming an established religion—a “secular theocracy,” in McClay’s words—and an official doctrine enforced by government.

David Bernstein poses three highly pertinent questions: how did we get to where we are today? Are things really so bad, or are there rays of hope? And what does today’s situation mean for America’s Jewish community? My comments will follow his order while drawing freely on the ideas and formulations of all three respondents.

U.N. BuildingHow did we get here? Wilfred McClay reminds us that, of late, large-scale religious fights seem to be breaking out all around the world. So the question really is whether America will remain an exception—the place where, as he writes with a nod to Tocqueville, “religious belief and practice have generally flourished . . . because they are voluntary and have not had to rely on a religious establishment to protect them.”

Can that model still work as America grows less religious in the traditional sense? To put it slightly differently, can the separation of church and state, which historically worked wonders both for American democracy and for the flourishing of religion, function for an increasingly unchurched people whose secular (though religiously-held) passions are reliant on the active exercise of state power? How will those passions be checked and balanced? For, under one name or another, there will be religion; the question is what sort of religion, and how and by whom American law will be shaped to suit the adherents’ way of life.

Peter Berkowitz’s comments shed light on this issue. The rise of a newly activist understanding of government’s role in shaping society did not begin with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which is where I focused attention in my essay). It actually began in the late-19th and early-20th century with the rise of the Progressive movement. Progressives, Berkowitz writes, “sought to overcome constitutional limits on government by redefining the Constitution as a living organism embodying progressive morals and authorizing activist government by elite-educated, impartial technocrats.”

This description perfectly fits Woodrow Wilson, our first, and so far, our only president with a PhD, and also the first to advocate either replacing the Constitution or transforming it fundamentally through creative interpretation. In the 1920s there would be significant pushback against Wilson’s efforts. But ever since the 1930s Depression, when the next generation of progressives took over, there has been little successful containment, let alone rollback, of what the New Deal’s trust-busting lawyer Thurmond Arnold called the “religion of government.”

Still, New Dealers for the most part did try to contain their intrusions into civil society to the economic sphere. Over time, however, the itch to regulate expanded apace until, by the 1960s, decades after Progressives and their heirs launched their initial project to remake American government, turning to the blunt instrument of anti-discrimination law would seem the natural way to meet the challenge of Jim Crow. The result has been the anti-discrimination regime we live with today: the means by which to impugn and censure those who “understand ultimate things differently and . . . order their lives differently” (McClay), especially if that difference is mandated by their religion.

The legal and cultural rituals of this regime, and the moral ideas that come with it it, are changing how each rising generation understands what it is to be an American, what it means to be free, and what good government does. By and large, the progressive religion does not recognize a free and open civil society that leaves men and women free to follow their consciences in the conduct of their daily affairs. This is how, for instance, the notion that a business should be free to decide whom it serves and how it serves them has become an alien concept—so alien, as I observed in my essay, that even the Libertarian candidate for the presidency now believes that once one sets up shop, it is simply one’s job to do the government-enforced bidding of the anti-discrimination regime.

Of course, the officiants and congregants of this modern, perhaps post-modern church do not recognize their perspective as religious; to them, it appears the quintessence of scientific rationalism, defined as progress against a benighted past. But when people regard as “reason” ideas that are, in fact, a faith, it is very hard to talk them out of it. And when they hold political power, they are likely to act like nothing so much as a religious establishment. You may drive religion out with a pitchfork, but she will keep coming back.

Is the situation so dire? Bernstein points to the “frontal assault” launched by the Obama administration against the ministerial exemption: a longstanding shield of “the right of religious institutions to choose their religious staff free from the interference of secular law.” In a case heard by the Supreme Court in 2011, he writes (in responding to readers’ comments on his essay at the Mosaic website), the administration “stunned the Court by arguing that . . . there should be no ministerial exemption at all.”

That position was congruent with, perhaps even a step beyond, the administration’s effort to redefine the free exercise of religion as merely the freedom of private worship. It was also congruent with the position of such stalwart progressive organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union, which in a dramatic about-face had switched its former support of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act to fervent opposition. In the event, however, the administration seems to have miscalculated: the Court stood firm, unanimously upholding the ministerial exemption and even applying it more rigorously than lower courts had done.

So far, then, the Supreme Court has blocked the most egregious move against religious liberty by a U.S. president. That is certainly a sign of hope, though the victory may yet turn out to be temporary. And it was only one incident in a larger battle against determined disrepecters of religious liberty. Much more remains to be done, on multiple fronts.

Berkowitz, for his part, suggests that the battle must be won in the schools. No doubt, given the values that so many of our schools impart to our children, from kindergarten through university, he is right about that. This alone suggests the extremity of the danger, and the sustained labor required to meet and overcome it.

As for the implications of this story for America’s Jews, Bernstein hints at and McClay more bluntly points to debilitating divisions with the American Jewish community itself. As Bernstein notes, ḥaredi elements of the community are growing at an astonishing annual rate of over 5 percent. Meanwhile, however, the majority of Americans of Jewish ancestry have come to view their Jewish identity as a purely cultural heritage—a heritage, moreover, often associated by them with today’s secular progressive values.

In a similar vein, McClay writes about the extent to which non-Orthodox and non-affiliated Jews tend to identify themselves with the “illiberal liberalism of the ACLU and the golden principle of non-discrimination,” which, some profess to believe, are evidence of a benign evolution from Jewish teachings themselves, with the rabbinic term tikkun olam redefined after the fashion of a “living” reinterpretation of the Constitution. Seeing things rather differently, most Orthodox Jews, by contrast, are much readier “to fight hard to preserve the integrity and autonomy of their institutions and their way of life.” From such deep disagreements come serious divisions: injurious if not fatal to communal solidarity in the face of a common threat. It is not unthinkable, for instance, that progressive Jews would support a state that was making life difficult for their Orthodox cousins.

In sum, the dangers to religious liberty that are facing the Jewish community are inseparable from the dangers facing other believing Americans. For those prepared to resist, or contemplating the benefits of joining forces with others of like disposition, it may help to bear in mind that Progressivism was once a small intellectual movement, and that just as there are no final victories in politics, so there are no final defeats.

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Article from Mosaic Magazine; http://mosaicmagazine.com/response/2016/08/as-america-grows-less-religious-can-the-tocqueville-model-still-work/

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Anti-Semitism and the Progressive Doctrine of Intersectionality

Who’s Afraid of Religious Liberty?

By Richard Samuelson

Seeking to prohibit every kind of “discrimination,” activists in and out of government threaten the free practice of, among other faiths, Judaism.

University5Not so long ago, doubts about the ability of Jews to live and practice Judaism freely in the United States would have been dismissed as positively paranoid: relics of a bygone era when American Jews could be turned away from restaurants and country clubs, when restrictive covenants might prevent their purchase of real estate or prejudicial quotas limit their access to universities and corporate offices.University1

None of that has been the case for a half-century or more. And yet recent developments in American political culture have raised legitimate concerns on a variety of fronts. To put the matter in its starkest form: the return of anti-Semitism, by now a thoroughly documented phenomenon in Europe and elsewhere around the world, is making itself felt, in historically unfamiliar ways, in the land of the free.

Statistics tell part of the tale. In 2014, the latest period for which figures have been released by the FBI, Jews were the objects of fully 57 percent of hate crimes against American religious groups, far outstripping the figure for American Muslims (14 percent) and Catholics (6 percent). True, the total number of such incidents is still blessedly low; but what gives serious pause is the radical disproportion.

University4The rise and spread of anti-Israel agitation, particularly on the nation’s campuses, is the most common case. Such agitation, expressed in the form of defamatory graffiti, “Israel Apartheid” demonstrations, and the verbal or physical abuse of pro-Israel students, feeds into and is increasingly indistinguishable from outright anti-Semitism. Even the most zealously “progressive” young Jews are targeted as accomplices-by-definition with the alleged crimes of Zionism. As one student who has fallen afoul of his campus’s orthodoxies has lamented, “because I am Jewish, I cannot be an activist who supports Black Lives Matter or the LGBTQ community. . . . [A]mong my peers, Jews are oppressors and murderers.” Such is the progressive doctrine of “intersectionality,” according to which all approved causes are interconnected and must be mutually supported, no exceptions and no tradeoffs allowed.

Lately, this brand of wholesale anti-Semitic vilification under the guise of anti-Zionism has leapt beyond the precincts of the academy to infiltrate AmericanUniversity2 political discourse, becoming vocally evident on both the political left and the political right and insidiously infecting this year’s presidential campaign and party maneuverings. For an analysis of the campus assault’s underlying mechanisms and wider effects, Ruth Wisse’s Mosaic essay, “Anti-Semitism Goes to School,” is unsurpassed. So far, the trend shows no sign of abating.

But there is another danger, equally grave though as yet less open and less remarked upon. It is connected with longer-term shifts in Americans’ fundamentalTravel Trend Myanmar Tourism understanding of themselves and of their liberty, and consequently with the laws that embody and reflect that understanding: in particular, the laws enshrining America’s commitment to religious liberty and, relatedly, liberty of association or, as the Constitution has it, assembly. Coming to the fore over issues of personal identity, most saliently in relation to the gay-rights movement, same-sex marriage, and transgender rights, it has resulted in a legal battle in which the radioactive charge of “discrimination,” borrowed from the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, is wielded as a weapon to isolate, impugn, and penalize dissenting views held by Americans of faith and informing the conduct of their religious lives.

Jews are hardly the only group at risk from developments in this area of progressive agitation; up till now, its main targets have been believing Christians. Perhaps for that same reason, Jews have also not been in the front ranks of those raising an alarm. Nevertheless, the threat to them, and to the practice of Judaism, especially by Orthodox Jews, is very real. Unlike in the past, the threat comes not from private initiatives; it comes from government.

Liberal America

How did we get here? Truly to understand today’s trends, and to grasp why they are so serious, it would help to remind ourselves of the larger historical context.

In his famous 1790 letter responding to the “expressions of esteem” addressed to him by the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, President George Washington hailed the presence of Jews in a land where, by contrast to their people’s past experience of intolerance and persecution elsewhere, everything was different. So different, in fact, that tolerance itself—an accommodation that was then selectively being extended to some European Jewish communities—was no longer an issue. In America, for Jews as for any other group, “it is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were by the indulgence of one class of people that another [class] enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights” (emphasis added). Rather, the president stressed, directly borrowing a phrase from the congregation’s address to him, “all possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.”

The United States could practice this unprecedentedly “enlarged and liberal policy,” as Washington rightly called it, because it featured a very limited national government, one that allowed a large sphere of civil society to flourish outside of government regulation. Thus, in reciprocating the admiring wishes of “the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land,” the president voiced his own well-founded wish that they “continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

George Washington’s words left Jews free to be Jews just as Christians were free to be Christians; with a few exceptions in some states, government was indifferent.

In summoning the prophet Micah’s words about sitting in safety under one’s “own vine and fig tree,” Washington was presuming not only the right to private property but a more general liberty to pursue happiness as one understood happiness. The government would do little to regulate the cultivation of fig trees—or work hours, or employer-employee relations. Regulation would be the exception; liberty the rule. This same open space left Jews free to be Jews just as Christians were free to be Christians; as between faiths, with a few lingering exceptions in some states, government was indifferent.

This was indeed a “liberal policy” for a liberal society—a society in which, as the philosopher Leo Strauss, echoing the first president, would put it a century and a half later, “there are no longer any legal disabilities put on Jews as Jews.” But, Strauss went on pointedly, such an arrangement “stands or falls by the distinction between the political (or the state) and society, or by the distinction between the public and the private. In the liberal society there is necessarily a private sphere with which the state’s legislation must not interfere.” Therefore, in that private sphere, such an arrangement would allow for discrimination.

What this meant in practice was that Wasps were free to keep Jews out of their country clubs, and Jews were free to organize their own clubs. Similarly, Americans were generally free to refuse service to whomever they chose, for whatever reason they chose, and to decide with whom to associate in their daily affairs.

The same held for the free exercise of religion: by its very nature, the very thing that allowed Jews to be free and equal members of American society also allowed private discrimination in matters of faith. Indeed, with some notable exceptions—the persecution of Mormons in the 19th century being a conspicuous example—America was able to guarantee a robust area of religious liberty precisely because, just as the federal government generally left Americans free to act or not to act, to speak or not to speak, so it also left them free to worship or not to worship, to conduct or not to conduct their religious lives, as they chose. Is that still the case?

The Collapse of Civil Society

One can occasionally still see, usually in an old diner somewhere, the venerable sign “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” The sign is an anachronism; it does not carry either the force of law or the weight of public opinion. But it once did, and more recently than we might think. For most of American history, for better or worse, the common view was that private institutions, companies, clubs, and so forth had the right to choose with whom to associate and not to associate, whom to accept as customers, whom to decline or refuse to serve. There were, to be sure, exceptions: by law, a small class of businesses, most notably railroads and other conveyances, as well as inns and public amusements, had to take all comers. Somewhat more broadly, the same rule applied to monopolies, like the local grain elevator. The class was narrowly defined precisely because the liberty to associate with whom we choose was recognized as essential in a liberal nation that made a hard distinction between the realm of the state and the realm of civil society.

In the past half-century, America’s robust civil society has become increasingly subject to government regulation. The change was originally impelled by the best of reasons—namely, to end Jim Crow laws and to fight against racial segregation: the signal exceptions to the liberal program in America.

When it came to race, early America did not simply allow individuals to “discriminate” if they chose to do so. On the contrary, the government positively required such discrimination. Both slavery and segregation were creations of law. Throughout the South, government not only segregated public places and activities but also forced private corporations—railroads, restaurants, and other places where Americans gathered—to maintain separate sections for blacks and whites.

Segregation was expensive; the laws were designed to ensure that greedy capitalists did not save money by “forcing” whites and blacks to sit next to each other—precisely the happy outcome that 18th-century political philosophers had predicted would emerge once government left people free to go about their business together. As Voltaire put it in a famous passage about the London stock exchange, “The representatives of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian transact together, as though they all professed the same religion, and give the name of infidel to none but bankrupts.” In the American South and elsewhere, Jim Crow laws subverted the market and the tolerant attitude it fostered.

It was to remedy this situation that Congress would eventually assert the right of the federal government to regulate (or deregulate) not only local and state governments but civil society itself in an unprecedented manner. The instrument was the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Outlawing (forced) discrimination based on race or color—as well as religion, sex, or national origin—the act aimed mainly at undoing racial segregation in schools, workplaces, and “public accommodations”: in essence, what the legal scholar Richard Epstein dubbed “the totalitarian nature of the Old South.”

It is difficult for us at this distance to appreciate the radicalism of the Civil Rights Act. Law can change two things. It can change behavior regarding the particular problem it addresses; it can also change how citizens understand the purpose of law and the liberty that law is supposed to protect. The Civil Rights Act did both. A half-century after its passage, we are a very different country.

In many ways, that is an unalloyed good. Legal segregation is long gone: blacks and whites interact and even marry with increasing frequency; African-Americans can and do vote in large numbers across the country; black politicians are common, even in the heart of the South, and one is the president of the United States; unions no longer discriminate against non-whites; and so forth.

This is not the America of pre-1964. As a rule, and without making light of persisting racial problems in American society, today’s racism is a much-reduced evil. At this year’s Academy Awards, the comedian Chris Rock described the change as a movement from racism characterized by lynchings and burning crosses to “racism” by college sororities or, in his joking words, “‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’” For much of our society, the contrast drawn by Rock holds true. One could even say that the battle against racial discrimination in civil society, insofar as government can effect change without becoming a dictatorship, is mostly over.

But very few are willing to say so—which in itself suggests how thoroughly the new civil-rights mentality has changed the American understanding of the job of government vis-à-vis the liberty of citizens. In principle, the 1964 Civil Rights Act held that people were still generally free to decide with whom to associate, being prohibited from discriminating against only a small list of people in what the Act designated as “protected classes.” As Epstein has observed, the original law exempted some small businesses like the proverbial “Mrs. Murphy’s boarding house.” But it also declared that henceforth almost all businesses, and all charitable institutions, were, in essence, “public accommodations” in the eyes of the law. As such, the federal government had the right to tell every business whom it must serve or, even, hire.

Although the law was justified under the Constitution’s commerce clause, its purpose was not economic. It was social. In the service of that purpose, the government would come to regulate more and more aspects of our lives, creating a federal “police power” of the kind delegated by the Constitution exclusively to states and localities. Over time, and (ironically) as the racial situation improved, the enforcement mechanism applied by bureaucrats and legislators worked to make the law not less restrictive of civil rights but more so.

It is useful to recall that when the law passed, much of the new intrusion into civil society by government was recognized as a temporary measure, to meet a particular exigency. Even a progressive lion like Justice William Brennan recognized the temporary nature of, for example, affirmative-action programs that ran counter to the colorblind ideal. Indeed, Brennan thought such programs could be justified only as a temporary, remedial measure. A half-century later, however, many Americans have assimilated these intrusions into their understanding of the regular job of government.

Thus, a few years ago, when the Supreme Court scaled back the part of the Voting Rights Act that subjected some districts in the South to special scrutiny, on the grounds that it was no longer 1968 in the South and that such extreme interference with the democratic process was no longer justified — liberals and leftists assailed the decision as a sinister move to repudiate the Voting Rights Act as a whole. Since 1964, moreover, the list of officially “protected classes” has grown beyond the list (defined, again, by race, color, sex, national origin, and religion) stipulated by the Civil Rights Act to include such markers as age, pregnancy, citizenship, familial status, disability, veteran status, and genetic information. Nowadays, the Justice Department has been creating new “protected classes” on its own recognizance, without even a pretense of seeking congressional approval for so radical a change from the originating statute.

This captures our situation today. A large body of American opinion holds that it is the government’s job to prevent any and all discrimination. That belief is pushing government more and more deeply into our daily affairs. Along the way, instead of easing social tensions, it has exacerbated them by establishing a permanent legal relationship between growing classes of legally recognized victims and their designated protectors at every level of society. As each generation assimilates the mindset more thoroughly, we begin to see situations like those on today’s campuses, awash in the frantic demand for “safe spaces.” There, Jonathan Haidt has written, “the very presence of administrative bodies” in charge of enforcing non-discrimination “gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim.” In such a culture, students “must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others.” And so the cycle of dependency on one side, suffocating paternalism on the other, perpetuates itself.

Today’s Threats to Religious Liberty

Do any Americans still understand the prohibition of discrimination as an exception, and a carefully hedged one, to the general rule of liberty? There is reason for skepticism—and nowhere more so than in the area of religious liberty. With the progressive left’s success at passing laws or obtaining court rulings establishing gays as a constitutionally protected class and sanctioning same-sex marriage, the legal arena has shifted from race relations to one of the few remaining pockets of the private sphere that have so far remained relatively secure in (to quote Washington) their “liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.”

Strictly speaking, the fight is not entirely new. Recall the 1990 decision in the Smith case, in which members of a Native American church who ingested peyote in a religious ceremony had been fired by their employer under an Oregon law criminalizing possession of drugs and were now carrying their appeal to the Supreme Court. The Court, declining to find a justification for religious exceptions to generally applicable laws—in this case, anti-drug laws—let stand the Oregon court’s judgment.

Within three years, that ruling would lead to a countervailing action by Congress. It took the form of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was designed explicitly to reaffirm and protect the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion. As Bruce Abramson has written in these pages, “The House passed the bill in a unanimous voice vote. The Senate voted 97-3 in favor.” The American Civil Liberties Union supported the act.

The ACLU no longer supports the RFRA. Today, even as it claims to defend religious liberty, it proclaims a new danger: that “religion is being used to discriminate against and harm others.” The better to camouflage this piece of verbal jujitsu, the organization has also adopted a definition of religious liberty as a matter of belief only, separate from the realm of conduct or, as the First Amendment explicitly has it, “free exercise.”

In similar fashion, the Obama White House has taken to quietly replacing the phrase “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship,” a purely private affair with no permissible impact on either speech or conduct.

In promoting the new dispensation, the ACLU and the Obama administration are hardly without accomplices—certainly among liberals and Democrats, but even among some conservatives and within the establishment GOP. In one of the early presidential debates this year, Hugh Hewitt asked Governor John Kasich, then still in the running for his party’s nomination: “You’ve said: a same-sex couple approaches a cupcake maker, [and he should] sell them a cupcake. Can we trust you . . . on religious liberty?” Kasich’s reply suggested that he didn’t recognize a religious-liberty angle at all: “If you’re in the business of selling things, if you’re not going to sell to somebody you don’t agree with, OK, ‘today I’m not going to sell to somebody who’s gay, and tomorrow maybe I won’t sell to somebody who’s divorced.’”

The question at issue, however, as Hewitt made clear, was not whether a baker would sell a cupcake to a gay person. The question was whether a baker must be forced to provide his services for a gay wedding even if he regards such an event as wrong or sinful. Must he be compelled to produce a cake, or cupcakes, inscribed with “Congratulations Bob and Jack”? That would be forced expression, formerly regarded as a gross violation of the liberty of conscience enshrined in the First Amendment.

Until recently, the common American reply to Hewitt’s question would have been: “It’s the baker’s right to decline; the customer should find another baker.” Live and let live. That a Midwestern governor like John Kasich wouldn’t view it that way says much about how things have changed. But then, even Gary Johnson, the Libertarian party’s candidate for the presidency, also embraces the contemporary view. When asked about a similarly hypothetical case of a Jewish baker being asked to bake a Nazi cake, Johnson invoked the supposed “principle that, when a business opens its doors to the public, that business enters into an implied contract to serve all of the public.” Formerly, few Americans would have asserted that any such “implied contract” existed. But the new understanding of businesses as “public accommodations” has transformed our conception of private institutions and enterprises, for-profit and not-for-profit alike.

In his Mosaic essay, Abramson ably summarized the key religious-liberty cases that sprouted in the period immediately after the passage of laws prohibiting discrimination against gays and/or sanctioning gay marriage, as well as the opposing efforts, including through state-level versions of RFRA, to carve out exceptions and otherwise push back against the anti-religious campaign. Since the publication of Abramson’s essay last year, the list of cases has expanded, and it casts a stark light on the issue of whether religious believers are the offending party, using religion (as the ACLU contends) actively to discriminate against and harm others, or are being targeted by a campaign to eliminate their own right of free association and free exercise of religion.

A federal ruling this May states that the failure to address as female a patient who, though biologically male, claims to be a female, can open a doctor to lawsuits, loss of federal funding, and investigation by the federal Office of Civil Rights. The rule is said to derive from various federal acts, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act; it includes no protection for religious persons or providers who on religious grounds believe in the biological reality of maleness and femaleness. Note that the rule is not about requiring doctors to provide service, or at least necessary service, to all comers; it is about what words a doctor is allowed to use to describe male and female.

The governor and human-rights commission of the state of Washington recently acted to force a Seattle pharmacy to cease its practice of declining, on religious grounds, to fill prescriptions for abortifacients, instead referring customers to other nearby pharmacies. The Ninth Circuit sided with the state, and in June of this year the Supreme Court let that ruling stand.

In Iowa, the state civil-rights commission and others acted to prohibit a church from expressing “biblical” views on human sexuality and to compel it to open its separate restrooms and showers to persons of the opposite sex. (Iowa’s version of the Civil Rights Act similarly mandates opening such facilities to persons based on their “gender identity” rather than their biological sex.) The church sued for the right to express its views and to conduct its practices in accordance with its religious beliefs. At last report, the state civil-rights commission had partially backed down.

A bill now before the Californian state senate would curtail the freedom of Christian colleges and universities to operate in accordance with their beliefs. It proposes to limit the current religious exemption from federal regulations to that small handful of institutions that specifically train pastors or theology teachers. If passed, this will effectively open to lawsuit and materially jeopardize the dozens of other schools in California—Christian, Jewish, and Muslim—that on the basis of the religious exemption have been able to follow their faith in hiring and instruction practices as well as in the conduct of student life.

Protesting this move to deprive religious institutions of long-recognized and long-protected rights, the legal scholar Michael Helfand, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has cited an 1872 case in which the Supreme Court held that “people who join together to pursue religious objectives implicitly consent to the institution’s rules, [thereby] granting it some legal autonomy to set its policies.” In Helfand’s view, “the state should recognize that.”

Making a similar point in a more bracingly acerbic tone, the columnist Holly Scheer has written in the Federalist:

It seems sensible that if you don’t want an education imbued with the values of a religion—any religion—attending classes at a religious school would be a poor choice for you. This is not a day or age of limited academic choices. California alone has hundreds of college and university options. Of its 281 accredited four-year options, only 42 are religious.

Let me simplify this. If a Jewish education isn’t your speed, don’t attend American Jewish University. If you aren’t interested in a Muslim university, don’t attend Zaytuna College. And if you don’t want to go to a Christian college, avoid them.

Alas, few these days are as sensible as Holly Scheer, or as closely attuned to the meaning of the American way. And here is where the danger to the freedom of Jews to be Jews becomes painfully manifest. Although the secularizing and leveling fires of today’s activists are aimed mainly at Christians, the precedents that are being set would apply no less to Jewish day schools, colleges, and synagogues as well as to kosher restaurants and community centers. In the name of non-discrimination, zealots could make it increasingly difficult for religious Jews to educate their children as they see fit or possibly even cause them to lose the right to do so.

As the California example suggests, legislation at the state or federal level would affect Jewish educational institutions that uphold traditional teachings about marriage. Like the church in Iowa, Jewish religious institutions could also find it necessary to sue just to protect their right to teach the biblical understanding of sex and sexuality. The same logic would apply elsewhere as well: for example, to a law penalizing the use of the “wrong” sex pronoun about someone claiming to be transgender, or compelling yeshivas or other religious schools, in the name of non-discrimination law, to hire openly gay teachers on pain of losing their tax exemption (a possible precedent being the Court’s 1984 ruling against Bob Jones University, which had banned interracial marriage and dating).

Catholic charities in Boston no longer offer adoption services because the state insists they do so in a manner that violates Catholic doctrine. That would apply to Orthodox agencies, too. Bans on kosher slaughter and circumcision, long on the to-do list of activists, might not be far behind. Nor might basic internal arrangements of traditional Jewish communities and religious institutions necessarily escape scrutiny: one can imagine, for instance, a situation in which a transgender Jewish man might sue for access to a mikveh designated for use by women.

Traditional Judaism, after all, depends entirely on discriminating in the original sense of distinguishing: between holy and profane, Sabbath and weekday, man and woman, Jews and others. Such discriminations cannot be reworked without transforming classical Judaism into something unrecognizable to many Jews. Will Jewish institutions be able to withstand today’s freewheeling assault on religious liberty? Or will the enforcers of state-mandated “non-discrimination” not rest easy until they complete their Orwellian campaign of positive discrimination against every last dissenter from the progressive line?

Anti-Liberal and Anti-Jewish

 America has long been distinguished by a vibrant and independent civil society, one possible only when voluntary associations can meet freely in public spaces and public institutions and when they can limit their membership and leadership to persons who share their beliefs. This means that groups will exist that we like and groups will exist that we do not like.

Thus writes Michael W. McConnell, director of the constitutional law center at Stanford Law School, in connection with a 2011 case in which a small Christian student group at a public-university law school in San Francisco was denied a right to meet on campus because of its belief that, in McConnell’s paraphrase, “sexual relations are immoral outside of traditional marriage.” The case went to the Supreme Court, which upheld the school’s policy.

What does this signify? Evidently, McConnell comments, it signifies that voluntary associations cannot necessarily “meet freely in public spaces and public institutions,” but instead that “governments can effectively pick and choose which groups are permitted to use public property.” And what does that signify? It signifies that the framers of the First Amendment had it wrong. They “thought they had guaranteed all associations the right to meet, with the sole limitation that they behave peaceably. That freedom has slipped away.”

What goes for the freedom of association goes also for the freedom of expression and of religion: thanks to today’s “anti-discrimination” crusade, they, too, are slipping away. Already in his 1962 lecture, “Why We Remain Jews,” from which I have been quoting, Leo Strauss warned against efforts to end “discrimination,” period. This enterprise, he predicted, would kill liberalism. “The prohibition against every ‘discrimination,’” he said, “would mean the abolition of the private sphere, the denial of the difference between the state and society, in a word, the destruction of liberal society.” (Sensitive to the newly invidious sense of the term “discrimination,” Strauss insisted on using it only with quotation marks. “I would not use it of my own free will.”) Absent that private sphere, he concluded, Jews would no longer be free to be Jews in America.

Today’s post-Christian, anti-Christian bigots have set themselves against the “large and liberal policy” that to George Washington also left Jews free to be Jews, to associate with whom they chose, and to live by the teachings and practices of their tradition: liberties that, along with legal equality, became enshrined as of natural right in the American Constitution. One would hope that this same large and liberal policy lies so deep in the American DNA that the national immune system will finally respond in time to repulse the latest attack on it. Doing so, however, will entail recovering both specific laws and an idea of justice based upon treating Americans as individuals who “all possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship”—that is, upon the ideal of live and let live.

In today’s fevered political climate, one cannot help wondering how much of the felt national anger might be traceable to the juridically abetted effort to force all Americans onto a uniform cultural page. If that is the case, restoring a healthier understanding of liberty would be good not only for traditional Jews and Christians but for all Americans. In furthering that restorative effort, American Jews have a collective interest, a historical responsibility, and a role to play.

*****

Article from http://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2016/08/whos-afraid-of-religious-liberty/

Richard Samuelson is associate professor of history at California State University San Bernardino and a fellow of the Claremont Institute.

 

Posted in Church and State, Theology/Philosophy, Worldview/Culture, Z-Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The GOP ‘Con-Job’ on the Tea Party Movement

The GOP Scams the Tea Party Movement out of Millions

space shadowsBy Paul H. Josseycash

As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington, degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.

What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned thefreedom rally movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds.washington dc

I was an employee at one of the firms that ran these operations. But nothing that follows is proprietary or gleaned directly from my employment. The evidence of the scheming is all there in the public record, available for anyone willing to look.

The Tea Party movement began building in the George W. Bush years. Profligate spending and foreign adventurism with no discernible results nurtured disgust with Washington’s habit of spending beyond its means and sending others to die in its wars. When President Obama made reorganizing the nation’s health care system his foremost priority—and repeatedly misrepresented its effects in the process—anger at Washington exploded.

Republicans inside the Beltway reacted to the burgeoning Tea Party with glee but uncertainty about how to channel the grass-roots energy usually reserved for the left. A small group of supposedly conservative lawyers and consultants saw something different: dollar signs. The PACs found anger at the Republican Party sells very well. The campaigns they ran would be headlined “Boot John Boehner,” or “Drop a Truth Bomb on Kevin McCarthy.” And after Boehner was in fact booted and McCarthy bombed in his bid to succeed him, it was naturally time to “Fire Paul Ryan.” The selling is always urgent: “Stop what you’re doing” “This can’t wait.” One active solicitor is the Tea Party Leadership Fund, which received $6.7 million from 2013 to mid-2015, overwhelmingly from small donors. A typical solicitation from the TPLF read: “Your immediate contribution could be the most important financial investment you will make to help return America to greatness.” But, according to an investigation by POLITICO, 87 percent of that “investment” went to overhead; only $910,000 of the $6.7 million raised was used to support political candidates. If the prospect signs a “petition,” typically a solicitation of his or her personal information is recorded and a new screen immediately appears asking for money. Vendors pass the information around in “list swaps” and “revenue shares” ad infinitum.

Starting a new PAC is easy: Fill out some paperwork, throw up a splash-page website, rent an email list, and you’re off. It’s an entrepreneurial endeavor. Through trial-and-error, operatives test messages to see which resonate best and are most likely to get them and their vendors paid. They may pay someone known in the movement to “sign” the pitch, as current Donald Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson has on TPLF emails.

Today, the Tea Party movement is dead, and Trump has co-opted the remnants. What was left of the Tea Party split for a while between Trump and, while he was still in the race, Ted Cruz, who was backed by Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. In 2014, the Tea Party Patriots group spent just 10 percent of the $14.4 million it collected actually supporting candidates, with the rest going to consultants and vendors and Martin’s hefty salary of $15,000 per month; in all, she makes an estimated $450,000 a year from her Tea Party-related ventures. Today, of course, it’s all about Trump, but Trump rallies are only Trump rallies, not Tea Party rallies that he assumed control of. There are no more Tea Party rallies.

A recent poll showed that just 17 percent of Americans support what was once known as the Tea Party—the lowest number ever. The bailout-Obamacare-driven grass-roots revolt has vanished. Various autopsies have offered a number of causes: IRS targeting, bad candidates, hostile media, and even some hazy form of moral and political victory, in that the Tea Party pushed the GOP to take tougher stances on some issues. All have at least some merit.

But any insurgent movement needs oxygen in the form of victories or other measured progress in order to sustain itself and grow. By sapping the Tea Party’s resources and energy, the PACs thwarted any hope of building the movement. Every dollar swallowed up in PAC overhead or vendor fees was a dollar that did not go to federal Tea Party candidates in crucial primaries or general elections. This allowed the GOP to easily defeat or ignore them (with some rare exceptions). Second, the PACs drained money especially from local Tea Party groups, some of which were actively trying to grow the movement electorally from the ground up, at the school board and city council level. Lacking results five years on, interest in the movement waned—all that was left were the PACs and their lists.

Any postmortem should start with the fact that there were always two Tea Parties. First were people who believe in constitutional conservatism. These folks sense the country they will leave their children and grandchildren is a shell of what they inherited. And they have little confidence the Republican Party can muster the courage or will to fix it. Second were lawyers and consultants who read 2009’s political winds and saw a chance to get rich.

For 18 months ending in 2013, I worked for one of these consultants, Dan Backer, who has served as treasurer for dozens of PACs, many now defunct, through his law and consulting firm. I thus benefited from the Tea Party’s fleecing.

The PACs seem to operate through a familiar model. It works something like this: Prospects whose name appear on a vendor’s list get a phone call, email or glossy mailer from a group they’ve likely never heard of asking them for money. Conservative pundit and Redstate.com Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson described one such encounter. A woman called and asked if she could play a taped message touting efforts to help Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz fight for conservative governance. When the recording stopped an older man (the woman was gone) offered Erickson the chance to join “the Tea Party.” He wouldn’t say who paid him, just “the Tea Party.” Membership was even half price. For just $100 he was in! Erickson declined.

Erickson’s call came from InfoCision or a similar vendor hired by PACs to “prospect” for new donors. Often PAC creators have financial interests in the vendors—in fact, sometimes they are the vendors, too—which makes keeping money in house easier, and harder to track. PAC names include “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” “Freedom,” or some other emotive term to assure benevolence. And names and images of political figures the prospects admire (or detest), usually accompany the solicitation, giving the illusion of imprimatur. Those people are almost never actually involved and little money ends up supporting candidates.

According to Federal Election Commission reports between 80 to 90 percent, and sometimes all the money these PACs get is swallowed in fees and poured into more prospecting. For example, conservative activist Larry Ward created Constitutional Rights PAC. He also runs Political Media, a communications firm. The New York Times reviewed Constitutional Rights’ filings and found: “Mr. Ward’s PAC spends every dollar it gets on consultants, mailings and fund-raising—making no donations to candidates.” Ward justified the arrangement by saying Political Media discounts solicitations on behalf of Constitutional Rights.

Let that sink in. Ward takes his PAC’s money and redistributes it to his company and other vendors for more messaging and solicitations, but suggests critics should rest easy since the PAC gets a discount on Political Media’s normal rate. Constitutional Rights PAC may be extreme but it’s hardly an outlier.

POLITICO last year reviewed the activity of 33 conservative PACs for the 2014 cycle. Combined, they raked in $43 million dollars, according to the POLITICO report. Of that, $39.5 million went to overhead including $6 million to entities owned by PAC operators; candidates got $3 million.

Another report analyzed 17 conservative PACs from the 2014 midterm. It came up with different numbers than POLITICO, finding that the bottom 10 PACs in terms of the ratio of spending to actual candidate support received $54,318,498 and spent only $3,621,896 supporting candidates.

And who is Constitutional Rights’ treasurer? My old boss Dan Backer. Backer also serves as treasurer to TPLF, and many others. An analysis found 10 conservative PACs whose treasurer was Scott MacKenzie spent 92 percent of the $17.5 million they raised on operating expenses, and less than 1 percent on candidate support.

PACs are not legally obliged to responsibly spend their loot. As former FEC enforcement officer Kenneth Gross stated, “If I have a PAC and want to spend it on a trip to Atlantic City, that’s fine,” provided it’s accurately reported. Unlike nonprofits they are not governed by a board, have no fiduciary duty to their donors and are not subject to IRS audits.

The PACs keep cash flowing by trolling the news for [some] supposed apostasy. The government botches the rescue of employees in a foreign embassy? “Stand with us for Benghazi!” A bunch of kids are murdered in Connecticut? “Help us defend your Second Amendment rights!” [Or the ever popular] “Sign our petition!”

Another favorite tactic is the “Draft Committee.” Pick a popular figure then start a committee to “draft” him or her to run for office. TPLF “drafted” Sarah Palin for Senate in Alaska and Backer “drafted” Newt Gingrich for Senate in Virginia. After I left his firm, Backer “drafted” new Texas resident Allen West for Senate in Florida. None of these candidates were remotely interested or associated with the effort, and in fact could not be by law. But there were signatures to collect and donations to request. (As a litigator, I rarely participated in the conduct described here. I nonetheless knew these schemes paid most of my salary.)

The “draftees” or their campaigns often send cease-and-desist letters, as Gingrich and Palin did. This cycle, Backer and MacKenzie have kept Trump’s lawyers busy. Despite Trump’s constant protests about “corrupt” super PACs, MacKenzie started “Patriots for Trump” and Backer founded “TrumPAC.” MacKenzie shuttered Patriots when the Trump campaign complained, although the Facebook page remains active. The campaign persuaded Backer to change TrumPAC’s name to “Great America PAC.” But the PAC begged off requests to shutter and “refund any funds raised” based on Trump’s candidacy. Jesse Benton, Great America’s chief strategist and formerly a Ron Paul operative, explained the PAC would remain active because Trump would need “a robust and effective finance organization … after he secured the nomination.” By law, the campaign can have no say in how this “finance organization” spends its money, though its website still prominently features the candidate and his trademark slogan. It pledged to raise $20 million dollars before the Republican convention.

PACs exploited a reservoir of goodwill toward minority candidates in particular to raise money for themselves. After his razor-thin 2012 congressional defeat, Allen West, an African-American former Florida congressman, filed a complaint with the FEC against PACs raising money off his race but doing nothing to help him. The FEC concluded it lacked authority to police such efforts. “Draft Ben Carson” paid off well for the North Carolinian who took a $236,000 salary and sent gobs more to a company comprised only of him. After Carson’s campaign ended “The 2016 committee”—the successor to Draft Ben Carson—sought to keep the money flowing, stating it would now promote the surgeon for vice president. It finally shuttered after a barrage of scam accusations. (In fairness, Carson’s entire campaign could credibly be explained as just a list-building operation.)

Challenged about spending allocations by POLITICO, Backer responded that it’s a misinterpretation of FEC reports to suggest that the PACs he helps oversee have spent more on their own operating expenses than on their stated causes. As for Great America PAC, he said it’s “probably the best most effective steward of donor funds. This PAC does stuff, whereas nobody else does.”

From my vantage point, I would occasionally hear disquieting remarks that gave me pause. Rumors about the legitimacy of our operations would sometimes flare up in our small office. When a campaign manager would lash out about PACs using the candidate’s name to make money, I wondered if he was talking about us. When I eventually opened my own firm I vowed never to have such doubts about what I was doing.

The PACs’ electoral record for the little money that did trickle to candidates is terrible. According to POLITICO, $3 million of $43 million raised from 33 analyzed groups did support candidates in 2014. But finding races they positively affected is difficult. They played absolutely no role in that cycle’s biggest Tea Party victory, the scalping of Eric Cantor. The victor, however, had lots of new friends the next morning fearlessly tweeting support for their new champion, Dave Brat. Spin matters more than tangible success. After the 2014 midterms, Jenny Beth Martin quickly opined the Republican wave was a Tea Party victory — despite lacking Tea Party candidates — because voters rewarded the movement’s “principles.”

A provocative theory holds these groups intentionally back candidates that can’t win to assure fundraising flow. Some may genuinely believe they help (others obviously know they don’t). But it’s no secret that the day after Mitt Romney’s defeat was a huge fundraising day in the conservative world. And electoral success would undoubtedly affect business. Current affinity for Cruz and Trump is conditioned on them losing. Victory attenuates the need for the “action” these groups purport to catalyze. It also blunts the emotional appeals which kick-start contributions. That’s why one conciliatory note in the inauguration speech would start the emails flying about how the grass roots has been sold out and “we need your help to keep President Trump true to his word. Sign our petition!”

The PACs excuse their profligate spending through artful dodges. This or that group doesn’t concentrate on electoral spending, which shows up on FEC reports, but on “organizing,” “rallies,” “training volunteers” or showing people they aren’t alone. At the same time, a Tea Party rally can be a convenient way [for Pac’s] to collect information and raise funds, as is “organizing” the grass roots for issue X by sending more emails and solicitations.

Another excuse the PACs make is that small-dollar fundraising is expensive. That’s true, and donor prospecting is not inherently unethical. It becomes so only when fundraising is the ends not means. Sometimes the PACs promise to do better after cultivating a house file. But they are also quick to put themselves on the cross when confronted, as Pierson did, “The only reason [TPLF] draws attention is that it is anti-establishment.” In other words, lots of groups do it.

She’s not exactly wrong. High political overhead isn’t new, nor is it limited to Republicans. Jon Stewart mocked the Democrats constant barrage of Henny-Penny fundraising emails in 2014. Mr. Campaign Finance himself, Russ Feingold, ran a PAC that essentially existed to keep himself and his staff paid while he awaited another Senate run—it spent 5 percent on electoral activities. Some Democratic operatives drew ire after raising $11 million off the left’s favorite bugaboo Citizens United v. FEC—although there complaints centered on PAC intrusion on nonprofit turf and focusing on swing-races instead of overturning the maligned free-speech case.

Political advocacy law, of the kind I practice, is different from other types of law in which people spending money expect a tangible benefit, like defense of a lawsuit. Political advocacy can be a years-long, even decades-long, process where progress at any point in time can be hard to define. Elections are single points in a political cycle that renews every two years. This ambiguity makes the field easily vulnerable to marketing over results. But when small-dollar donors give to an organization promising political results, a high ethical standard should exist.

No one should take a vow of poverty to go into politics, but it should reflect a higher calling. Mine came after spending six days in a hospital in downtown New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. When I got out I knew a comfortable career in cardiopulmonary science wouldn’t be satisfying. I enrolled in law school the following year determined to fight for the principles of liberty, individualism and self-determination that made America the world’s envy. The people who supported the Tea Party believed in those same principles just as much as the immigrant who risks his life to come here. These people deserve something tangible for parting with their money.

So what can be done, given that Tea Party candidates create a particularly target-rich environment?

Some candidates have found success in the courtroom. In 2013, Scott MacKenzie’s Conservative Strikeforce began soliciting ostensibly to help Ken Cuccinelli win the Virginia gubernatorial race. The campaign received $10,000 of the $2.2 million raised in Cuccinelli’s name. He sued, claiming the PAC violated the Lanham Act through false advertising. The case settled on favorable terms to Cuccinelli. Most important, henceforth, Conservative Strikeforce must stop using the name and/or image of any candidate who requests it. As Cuccinelli recently reflected: “Their defense was ‘free speech’… But you don’t have the freedom to go tell little old ladies that if they give you $50, you are going to do ‘X’ with it and then not do it. You don’t have a First Amendment right of free speech to bilk them out of money.”

On the federal side, FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel has pushed to expand the commission’s authority into this realm to protect candidates like Allen West. Ravel is sincere, but conservative and libertarians are skeptical of government intruding into speech-related activities. It’s also possible that voluntary standards or a privately run grading system may provoke better practices.

Importantly, the conservative media must police this. Most reporting on these PACs comes from outlets the right generally distrusts, like the New York Times and POLITICO. It’s shameful that MSNBC’s Chris Hayes has discussed these schemes more than most right-leaning outlets. Excepting Erick Erickson, Jonah Goldberg and the Daily Caller, conservative reporting is rare. One commentator speculates professional relationships with PAC operators eschews hard journalism. If true, this taints much lofty talk about conservative values.

But most important, the responsibility is on you—the Tea Party activist, the older conservative—to know where your money goes. You can view a group’s track record on OpenSecrets.org in minutes. How much goes toward candidate contributions or so-called independent expenditures, which are supposed to be spent on the candidate (though even those can be thinly veiled solicitations if the “ask” or landing page directs to the PAC and not the candidate). And do PAC operators donate their money?

If you give, give directly to the candidate. The money may still be wasted, but at least it goes to someone incentivized to spend wisely. Or if you care about a certain issue, give to an organization that specializes in that issue; it will at least employ true believers. If you give to the Tea Party, give local. They need money more than groups hiring telemarketers or sending glossy mailers. Be wary of solicitations that promise to “Help Candidate X.” Odds are Candidate X has nothing to do with it.

But the best news is you can make a difference without spending a dime. Campaigns and political parties are always searching for volunteers. Look for organizations that don’t just ask for money. A couple years ago I attended an Americans for Prosperity gathering in Fairfax, Virginia, on a client’s behalf. Two young staffers spoke to about 15 activists. They asked how AFP could help them. Did they want to become better writers, to write op-eds or letters to the editor? AFP could arrange writing seminars. Did they want to become better organizers? They would bring someone from the home office. Not once did they ask for money (perhaps they did at some other time). Instead of asking the crowd to invest in AFP, these staffers asked how AFP could invest in them. I was floored. Charles and David Koch are true believers and they don’t need your money. And there are others: Erickson points to Senate Conservatives Fund — Madison Project and Club for Growth as groups he personally supports. And you can always start your own Facebook or Twitter group around the issues and candidates you care about. That will have more impact than lining the pockets of some consultant you’ve never met.

The excesses of George W. Bush and Barack Obama created the “second” Tea Party—named after the 1773 anti-tax revolt incited by Boston colonials—in 2009, when CNBC’s Rick Santelli extolled the virtues of reining in runaway government and touched a raw nerve. The Tea Party critique of government—the way it has grown, concerned with itself and its vested interests, and benefits the governed as only an afterthought—has never been more cogent. At its best, the Tea Party sought a return to the nation’s philosophical roots of government of the people, by the people and for the people. In sad irony, the Tea Party was hijacked by those who mirrored its critique of government: bloated, inefficient and looking out only for themselves.

If there is a Tea Party 3.0 it must unshackle itself and rise again as a grass-roots movement.

*****

Paul H. Jossey is a campaign finance lawyer in Alexandria, Virginia. His Twitter handle is @paulhjossey

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/tea-party-pacs-ideas-death-214164#ixzz4IGtbA4Bp

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International Terrorist Organization Infiltrates ‘World Vision’

Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrates Evangelical Christian Charity

fall fashions 2By Andrew Biezad

World Vision is the world’s largest Evangelical Christian charity, receiving millions of dollars each year and helping some of the world’s neediest people. However, the Muslim Brotherhood operatives have just been busted for infiltrating the charity and stealing tens of millions of dollars- 60% of the charity’s funds– and redirecting them to the Muslim Brotherhood to wage war on Christians and Jews:anti liberty

Mohammed El Halabi, an employee of World Vision, the world’s largest evangelical Christian charity, has been charged in Israel with funneling tens of millions of dollars to the military wing of Hamas, a designated international terrorist organization affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The arrest was made June 16, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, but a gag order on the case files has been lifted and Halabi was subsequently indicted. The indictment reveals details of how Hamas infiltrated Federal Way, Washington-based World Vision, a global Christian outreach active in nearly 100 countries.

Halabi, director of World Vision’s Gaza branch, was detained at the Erez crossing in Israel as he was headed back to Gaza on his way home from “routine meetings,” several Israeli news outlets were reporting. Halabi was being held from June to early August “without access to legal counsel or family visits,” which is normal procedure in Israel for prisoners charged with terrorist-related crimes. But, an investigation discovered Halabi only used his “humanitarian” mask as cover for his Islamist work, according to the prosecution’s presentation Thursday in Beer Sheva District Court.

The prosecutor described him as a Hamas activist who has been using his high position in the charity to systematically divert millions of dollars to the military arm of Hamas, financing, among other things, the digging of terror tunnels, the Jewish Press reported.

The secret terrorist funding, according to Thursday’s indictment, was taken out of donations and resources that had been dedicated to humanitarian assistance for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. The indictment includes 12 counts of security violations of passing information to the enemy, membership in a terror organization, funding terrorism, participation in an unlawful association, and contact with foreign agents.

Hamas is the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization whose goal is to inspire Muslims worldwide to return to the roots of their faith as spelled out in the Quran and create a global caliphate under Shariah law.

So there you have it. People say that it is “conspiracy theory” that Muslims are infiltrating the West, robbing our money, and using positions of power to destroy it from within, the proof has been building for years, and this is looking like it may be one of the biggest scandals yet in this regard, and there is deafening silence in the media. All the screams of “racism” that were leveled against us for reporting on cases such as the Khizr Khan scandal are all being shown to be true — there is a concerted effort being made to destroy the West from within.

We knew for years the Muslims were doing this. Truly, the biggest traitors are those within our own societies who know but refuse to acknowledge this is happening.

*****

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