America has gone insane: Church Ordered to Stop Giving Away Free Water.
The land of the free has become the land of the Fascists. I don't think even Hitler and Mussolini were this keen on regulation
A Louisiana church was ordered to stop giving away free water along Mardi Gras parade routes because they did not have the proper permits. “We were given a cease and desist order,” said Matt Tipton, pastor of Hope Church in Metairie, LA. “We had no idea we were breaking the law.”
Tipton said volunteers from his church were handing out free coffee and free bottles of water at two locations along a Mardi Gras parade route when they were stopped by Jefferson Parish officials. The church volunteers were cited for failing to secure an occupational license and for failure to register for a sales tax.
“It kind of threw me for a loop because they weren’t in uniform,” he said. “But once they pulled the ticket out, I was conviniced.” “We apologized,” Tipton said. “We didn’t know the rules.”
The church had purchased about five thousand bottles of water labeled with the church’s name and website address. They gave the remaining bottles to a local drug rehab center.
A spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Fox News that the church had violated the law. The spokesman said the church was initially given a verbal warning – and then a written warning. He said it was not a citation – even though the warning clearly stated it was a “vendor warning citation.”
The sheriff’s department said there was “no validity to their complaint whatever their complaint may be.”
Ken Klukowski, a senior legal fellow at the Family Research Council, said the citation was absurd. “This is a perfect example of why so many people have a problem with big government,” Klukowski said. “The idea that a church needs a permit to hand out water to thirsty people is unfortunate.”
He said it’s hard to believe that the government would get in the way of citizens helping each other out – “especially a church which was just doing its duty to be good Samaritans and help those in need.”
Pastor Tipton said he sent an email to city leaders explaining that they were just trying to show their love to the city “and to serve the city.”
He offered to provide volunteers to clean up trash or even clean portable toilets. However, city leaders did not initially respond and Tipton said he was given the runaround – told to go through three different department heads.
Klukowski said the incident is outrageous. “The idea that you need an additional level of bureaucracy stopping a church from showing kindness to members of the community is a perfect example of a waste of taxpayer money and resources,” he said.
Pettiness and Mud
The only good news for the Republicans coming out of the seemingly endless presidential candidate "debates" is that some Republican leaders are now belatedly thinking about how they can avoid a repetition of this debacle in future elections.
What could they possibly have been thinking about, in the first place, when they agreed to a format based on short sound bites for dealing with major complex issues, and with media journalists -- 90 percent of them Democrats -- picking the topics?
The conduct of the candidates made things worse. In a world with a record-breaking national debt and Iran moving toward creating nuclear weapons, they bickered over earmarks and condoms. I am against earmarks, but earmarks don't rank among the first hundred most serious problems facing this country.
Mud-slinging has replaced rational discussions of differences on serious issues -- not only during the debates themselves, where the moderators sic the candidates on each other, but even more so in the massive television character assassination ads in which Romney supporters seem to specialize.
Groups supporting Mitt Romney have turned character assassination almost into a science. You take something that most people, outside of politics, do not understand and twist it to sound terrible to those who are unaware of the facts.
Blanketing Florida with misleading ads attacking Newt Gingrich won that state for Romney, after Gingrich scored an upset victory in South Carolina. The ads made a big deal out of charges that the former Speaker broke tax laws -- charges that the Internal Revenue Service exonerated him of, after a long investigation.
When Rick Santorum suddenly surged after his upset victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, the Romney character assassination machine attacked him for having voted in the Senate for various things that conservatives don't like.
But, when it comes to voting in Congress, seldom do you get a pure bill that you can agree with in all its parts. If you never voted for bills containing anything you didn't like, you might get very little voting done.
But, if it is a bill to provide American soldiers with the equipment they need to fight a war, and somebody has put into it an earmark for a federal boondoggle in his district, are you going to vote against that bill and let American soldiers go into battle without all the equipment and supplies they need?
Taking advantage of the public's lack of knowledge is something that Barack Obama already does very effectively in his political propaganda. But is that something the Republicans want to imitate?
It has worked during the primary season, when the media are perfectly happy to see Republicans destroying each other. But it will not work in the general election campaign, when even truthful criticisms of the president will have a hard time getting out through the media, which hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil when it comes to Obama.
The pettiness and mud-slinging during the Republican primary campaigns is especially irresponsible during a time when there are very serious problems, at home and abroad, that need to be addressed in a serious way.
Discussions of particular issues, one by one, often miss the larger point that goes beyond the issue at hand -- namely, this administration's steady movement toward arbitrary government that circumvents the restrictions of the Constitution.
Nothing demonstrates this more starkly than the president's arbitrary power to waive the requirement that employers have to provide ObamaCare coverage for their workers. That can be the difference between paying, or not paying, millions of dollars. What does that mean for anybody's other rights?
What does freedom of speech mean if criticizing the administration can mean you get no exemption, while your competitor who keeps quiet, or who praises the administration, gets a waiver? The Constitution requires "equal protection of the laws" for a reason.
And what about nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism? Is that not worth discussing in something other than sound bites?
Christian Conservatives Guard Religious Liberty
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution contains two clauses addressing religious liberty: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
It's a shame that in their modern misguided zeal to read the first clause as mandating a complete separation of church and state, liberals do great damage to the second clause and defeat the overarching purpose of both: ensuring religious liberty.
Ever since the so-called Christian right began its organized activism during the 1980s, liberals (and some others) have become increasingly nervous about (and critical of) Christian influence in politics, let alone the public square.
This issue has reared its controversial head during the Republican presidential primary because of candidate Rick Santorum's unashamed and outspoken commitment to his Catholic faith and Christian values. It's not just leftists who are complaining; many on the right are, as well.
For years, there has been an uneasy alliance inside the Republican "big tent," between those who embrace social conservatism and those who would just as soon see it deleted from the party platform. With our anxiety about the national debt, economic issues are naturally at the forefront of people's concerns. Some believe that those who are still articulating social issues in this period of crisis are at least annoying and possibly detrimental to the cause of electing a Republican who can build a wide enough coalition to defeat the primary culprit in America's race to bankruptcy: President Barack Obama.
I think it's a false choice to say that we conservatives must pick between economic issues and social ones. It's also a mistake to believe there is a clear dichotomy between economic conservatives and social conservatives. As I've written before, Reagan conservatism is a three-legged stool -- economic, social and national defense issues -- and the three are compatible and probably embraced by most Republicans.
Our center-right tent is big enough to include libertarians, economic conservatives who either are indifferent to social issues or consider themselves socially liberal, and so-called neoconservatives, who tend to emphasize national defense issues over the other two -- although they might reject that characterization. We all must unite to defeat President Obama.
But with Santorum's rise in the polls, many are expressing their anxiety about his perceived religiosity and are depicting him as a threat to religious liberty.
Some are abuzz about his interview this past weekend with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week," in which Santorum stated that he does not believe separation of church and state is absolute. He stated that the First Amendment's free exercise clause guarantees that the church and its members have as much right to try to influence policy as anyone else. And he's absolutely correct.
Not only are the words "separation of church and state" not contained in the Constitution but this phrase from Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists does not mean what many people say it does.
The First Amendment's establishment clause says that Congress shall not establish a national church, because the Framers didn't want the government telling us whom or how to worship. Their overarching concern, then, was protecting religious liberty. The free exercise clause also strengthens the religious freedom guarantee.
The point is that both clauses are dedicated to religious liberty, and neither purports to ban religious expression from the public square or from the mouths of public officials.
No matter how expansively one reads the First Amendment's establishment clause, no one, including Jefferson, would have made the ludicrous argument that presidents (or other public officials) must leave their worldview at the door of the White House and govern apart from it, as if that would be possible. Advocating policy positions based on one's worldview is light-years away from establishing -- or even supporting -- a national religion.
Christian conservatives are not the ones demonstrating intolerance and threatening the freedoms of religion and religious expression. They would never consider being so presumptuous and tyrannical as to try to silence those who disagree with them, ban them from the public square, or advance the spurious argument that they are not entitled to advocate policies based on their worldview.
Ironically, it is probably the secular left that is most responsible for the dramatic rise and persistent influence of the Christian political right in politics, with their gross judicial activism in abortion jurisprudence and their judicial tyranny coercing states to accept same-sex marriage against the will of the people. They are the ones who demonize as "homophobes" and "bigots" those seeking to preserve traditional marriage. Christian conservatives don't try to shut them up, but many are now trying to shut us up -- through the specious application of the First Amendment, no less.
The last people anyone needs to fear on religious liberty are Christian conservatives, who are its strongest guardians. Above all others, they will fight to preserve everyone's right to express and practice his religion or non-religion as he pleases.
The God Gap
There have been many "gaps" in modern politics. There is the gender gap, the generation gap and now the God gap, which is the gulf between people who take God's instructions seriously and those who don't. Which side of the gap you're on could influence your vote. The God gap is growing wider.
I asked Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum about this. In a telephone interview with me, Santorum, whose rhetoric is loaded with religious and cultural language, said, "While (such language) may be upsetting to some, there's a hunger out there for talking about what's true."
How, then, would he explain a recent New York Times story that reported for the first time in our history, that "more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage." Santorum acknowledged, "I'm probably talking to Republican audiences, so it's a little different. I'm not talking to the general audience at this point. Marriage is on the decline. The culture is changing."
The problem for presidential candidates -- and for President Obama, who occasionally appeals to Scripture to justify his policies -- is that fewer people are listening to the voice of God, or to voices claiming to speak for Him.
Not too long ago, a report about growing numbers of out-of-wedlock births would have produced sermons calling for repentance and set revival fires burning in churches across the land. Today, there's only the sound of silence.
The Times story, citing government data compiled by Child Trends, a Washington research group, noted that the shift in the makeup of American families was likely to produce children who face "...elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems." Yawn.
How is this social virus to be cured when older religious people speak a language and advocate a belief system that either many younger people don't understand, or do not wish to hear?
The failure to communicate across the God gap brings to mind something former president George H.W. Bush said about broccoli. Bush said his mother made him eat broccoli, but he never liked it. When he became president, he said it meant he no longer had to eat it.
So people who might have been taken to religious services as children are now grown up and many feel they no longer have to "stomach" faith, or conform to a standard outside themselves. Some who grew up in a secular household are spiritually deaf, if not biblically illiterate. A general cultural morality is fast disappearing.
The God gap will not be shrunk by politicians, though to rally "the base" they often talk as if it can. The goal of cultural transformation has historically been the work of clergy, whose "hellfire" messages scared people awake from their comfortable and what used to be called "sinful" lives. But this was before having a baby without a husband became an acceptable thing to do.
Too many of today's clergy seem preoccupied with building personal empires and monstrous buildings. They go on costly TV instead of investing in the less visible "work of the church," which is people, not brick and mortar. The first Christians met in homes, not megachurches. They took care of each other and did not rely on government to sustain them. Many pastors today dislike sermons about sin and repentance because it makes people uncomfortable. And so we get instead the discomfort of social decay and an ever-widening God gap.
Materialism and pleasure contribute to social rot. Social rot precedes national decline. These have become our twin false gods; contemporary "golden calves," as unable to produce satisfaction as the idols of biblical times. Most politicians won't urge restraint or personal sacrifice and too many ministers allow the secular world to set their agenda.
And so the God gap widens and the wisdom and understanding of the older generation goes unheard and unheeded.
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