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June 25, 2007

Supreme Court Rules on Faith-Based Initiatives

The Supreme Court today ruled in the case of Hein vs. Freedom From Religion Foundation which challenged the constitutionality of President Bush's Office of Faith Based Initiatives. The Court dismissed the suit stating that the plantiffs in the case, Freedom From Religion Foundation, didn't have the proper standing to bring the suit.

The ruling is interesting because it doesn't necessarily address whether the President's faith-based initiatives are constitutional. Rather, the argument focused on a narrow issue in Establishment Clause litigation: under what circumstances can an individual or group bring suit against the federal government to halt funding of government program that seems to run afoul of the First Amendment.

Generally speaking, an individual taxpayer cannot bring suit against the government for any reason. However, there is a specific exception that was created by the Supreme Court in its 1968 ruling Flast vs. Cohen. That case requires that the program in question is the direct result of congressional funding.

The Court, in deciding the case, determined that because the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives is funded by the Executive Branch than directly by Congress there was no cause of action under Faust.

While the result will be applauded by conservatives, the Court has again opted to punt on dealing with the more serious issue of whether the Faust exception is constitutional at all. In the end, while the Court may have settled this case they have left the door open for more of this type of litigation to come from separatist groups. One can only hope that the Court can find the way to provide clearer guidance on these and other difficult constitutional questions.

Posted by Tom at June 25, 2007 10:12 PM

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Faith based initiatives? No wonder secular countries are scoring better in IQ tests than the United States. Maybe reason based initiatives would work better.

Posted by: Cineaste at June 26, 2007 12:59 PM

Again it rears it's ugly head. The opposite of reason is not faith. Faith and reason are not incompatible at all. Quite the opposite, actually. The little IQ thing implying that things faith-related must be dumb and therefore a society that would use anything faith-based must be dumb "(Or did I misinterpret the gist of that?) is a bit revealing of an underlying contempt of "religion". Ironically, when talking about faith "vs." reason, some get blinded by thier basic hatred of anything to do with faith and thier reason goes right out the window. Happens a lot, and is really ironic, I think.

I take "reason", when used as if it were the opposite of faith, to mean humanism - making the human the center of everything. Taking God out of society and trying to replace Him with the human causes some real problems. Just a recent example of such "thinking" kinda shows the folly of that approach.

"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
- Karl Marx

You may know that the sort of captivating humanist philosophies represented by stuff like this hasn't worked out so well in recent history. However, Marx and his philosophical offspring are far from the first to go the anti-God route, nor will they be the last.

Going to God is the wise thing to do.

You can be smart but not wise, and wise but not necessarily smart.

Guess the ball's in our court individually, no matter what any sort of inititiatives might be based on.

Posted by: plodon at June 28, 2007 10:28 PM