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What is Mike Huckabee Talking About?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

By Amy Sullivan
Swampland & Time.com


Mike Huckabee says the stimulus bill is "anti-religion." The Christian Coalition calls it "an attack on people of faith." The Traditional Values declares that the economic package "stimulates anti-Christian bigotry." My goodness. Maybe the devil really is in the details.

Or...maybe this is a classic case of social conservatives ginning up yet another false charge of anti-Christian bigotry in order to avoid coming up with a legitimate reason to oppose the stimulus bill. Let's look at what we're really talking about here.

The provision that has the Huckabee gang all atwitter would prevent the use of federal construction funds for college facilities used primarily for religious purposes. In other words, you can't take federal money and use it to build a chapel on your campus. It does not do...well, pretty much everything Senator Jim DeMint claimed it would:
[It] would make sure students could never talk openly and honestly about their faith ... what this means is that students can't meet together in their dorms if that dorm has been repaired with federal money and have a prayer group or a Bible study. They can't get together in their student centers. They can't have a commencement service where a speaker talks about their personal faith... Classes on world religions and religious history, academic studies of religious texts could be banned
Now, that's just ridiculous--and unabashedly disingenuous, to boot. Again, the provision would prevent the use of federal funds for the construction of religious facilities. That's been federal law for decades and has to be reiterated every time monies for school construction are approved....(Click for remainder).

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Why should I respect these oppressive religions?

By Johann Hari
The Independent UK


The right to criticise religion is being slowly doused in acid. Across the world, the small, incremental gains made by secularism – giving us the space to doubt and question and make up our own minds – are being beaten back by belligerent demands that we "respect" religion. A historic marker has just been passed, showing how far we have been shoved. The UN rapporteur who is supposed to be the global guardian of free speech has had his job rewritten – to put him on the side of the religious censors.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated 60 years ago that "a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief is the highest aspiration of the common people". It was a Magna Carta for mankind – and loathed by every human rights abuser on earth. Today, the Chinese dictatorship calls it "Western", Robert Mugabe calls it "colonialist", and Dick Cheney calls it "outdated". The countries of the world have chronically failed to meet it – but the document has been held up by the United Nations as the ultimate standard against which to check ourselves. Until now.

Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to "respect" the "unique sensitivities" of the religious, they decided – so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within "the limits set by the shariah [law]. It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community".

In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as it precisely what the reactionary mullahs tell you to say. The declaration makes it clear there is no equality for women, gays, non-Muslims, or apostates. It has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists.

Incredibly, they are succeeding. The UN's Rapporteur on Human Rights has always been tasked with exposing and shaming those who prevent free speech – including the religious. But the Pakistani delegate recently demanded that his job description be changed so he can seek out and condemn "abuses of free expression" including "defamation of religions and prophets". The council agreed – so the job has been turned on its head. Instead of condemning the people who wanted to murder Salman Rushdie, they will be condemning Salman Rushdie himself....(Click for remainder).

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