Violating the Constitution is Not a Public Right

    by Walter Brasch   For at least 17 years, the officials of Monroeville, Pa., a 30,000 population Pittsburgh suburb, have recited the Lord’s Prayer before every council meeting. This violates the First Amendment. And it’s not even a gray area. Finally, the ACLU sent the council a letter, threatening to file a lawsuit. The response by Bruce Dice, the city solicitor, was that the council will try its best to abide by the Constitution, and will make changes. Dice, who has been solicitor since 1998, says government “should not be sponsoring prayer or direct residents about religion.” At its Jan. 12 meeting, the Council will consider an ordinance to have different members of the clergy, representing different religions, … Continue reading

Christmas Again Wins the Annual War

    by Walter Brasch   The mythical War on Christmas is over and once again Christmas won. The war was created out of fairy dust, and then neatly wrapped up and delivered to religious right-wing extremists by pretend-generals Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and a cast of dozens who have seized the public airways. One of the battalion commanders is Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado. He introduced a resolution, which 35 other Republicans co-signed, that defends the holiday. That resolution calls for the House of Representatives to recognize “the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas,” to “strongly [disapprove] of attempts to ban references to Christmas; [and] expresses support for the use of … Continue reading

Blustery Donald Trump vs. The Quiet Christian

    by Rosemary and Walter Brasch   Before a cheering and whooping crowd in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Donald Trump, spewing the blustery rhetoric of a demagogue, declared that the United States should ban all Muslims from entering the country. He claimed to have Muslim friends who supported his position. He claimed that Muslims want “to change your religion.” He claimed that a poll, one created by an anti-Muslim extremist, showed that one-fourth of American Muslims believe violence against Americans is justified. With absolutely no proof to support his accusations, and significant evidence to dispute it, for more than six years he and those who follow his hate have claimed President Obama was born in a foreign country and is … Continue reading

The Republicans’ Rhetoric of Hate and Fear

    by Walter Brasch   Fear, laced with paranoia, is driving the American response against allowing Syrian refugees into the United States. President Obama has said he would accept 10,000 refugees, all of them subjected to intense scrutiny before being admitted to the country. France, with a population about one-fifth that of the United States, despite the worst attack on its soil since World War II, will accept 30,000 refugees. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told the Senate, “We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS because some politician doesn’t like their religion.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), a Jew, said the nation should “not allow ourselves to be divided and succumb to Islamophobia,” and … Continue reading

Supreme Court Agrees to Consider Contraceptive Coverage Mandate in Health Care Law

On Tuesday the Supreme Court agree to hear a case based on the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The question at stake is whether employers can refuse to provide their employees with mandated contraceptives if the employers have religious objections to contraceptives. Supreme Court justices have agreed to review two cases that brought forth opposite decisions in the lower courts. The cases pose “complex questions about religious freedom and equality for female workers, along with an issue the court has not yet confronted: whether secular, for-profit corporations are excepted by the Constitution or federal statute from complying with a law because of their owners’ religious beliefs.” The two cases will be combined for oral arguments to the Supreme Court to be heard possibly … Continue reading

Oh, THAT What the Boy Scouts Mean by Being ‘Morally Straight’

  by Walter Brasch  Harry Strausser III owns a successful small business with 25 employees in Bloomsburg, Pa. As an undergraduate, he was a national champion in several forensics categories, and represented the Boy Scouts of America in national competitions sponsored by the Reader’s Digest. As a graduate student, he coached a college forensics team. He has never been arrested or suspected of any crime. Strausser is an Eagle Scout. He is also gay. The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America says he doesn’t have the right “core values” to be a Scout leader. Denny Meyer, who lives in New York City, wasn’t a Scout, but often tagged along with his older brother to Scout meetings. During college, … Continue reading

No Merit Badge for Courage for Boy Scouts

by WALTER BRASCH   Sometime in May, the Boy Scouts of America will decide whether they will allow gays to be members, volunteer leaders, or be employed on the professional staff. The decision may have more to do with funding than with any other policy. Contributions from individuals, major corporations, and at least 50 United Way agencies stopped because of the Scouts’ anti-gay policy. Among corporations that have not made annual six-figure donations are Intel, Merck, CVS, Chase Manhattan Bank, Verizon, Google, UPS, and Levi Straus. Stephen Spielberg, an Eagle Scout, in protest of the policy against gays dropped off the national advisory council. The national council was also losing funds because of a drop of about 22 percent in … Continue reading