Thursday, April 16, 2009

Federal Overstep or Hint of More to Come?

By now, I'm sure most people have heard about the Department of Homeland Security report on "right-wing extremists" that it defines as
those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

That broad, sweeping generalization - particularly taking aim at opposition to abortion or immigration, implies that religious beliefs or political opinions could make a person a target for investigation (or worse) by the federal government.

The report is also famous for saying that returning military veterans could become recruits for homegrown terror movements. The American Legion slammed DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano for that anti-military bias.

The best take-down of the report can be found here, at Powerline. Additionally, even the #1 liberal Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee found himself dumbfounded that DHS would issue a report, noting:
"This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans -- including war veterans," Mr. Thompson said in the letter sent Tuesday.

"As I am certain you agree, freedom of association and freedom of speech are guaranteed to all Americans -- whether a person's beliefs, whatever their political orientation, are 'extremist' or not," Mr. Thompson said.

The report "blurred the line," and Mr. Thompson said he is "disappointed and surprised that the department would allow this report to be disseminated" to law enforcement officials nationwide.

"I am particularly struck by the report's conclusion which states that I&A 'will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization,'" Mr. Thompson said, demanding to know what types of activities DHS had planned for "the next several months."

Now Napolitano is doing the rounds trying to apologize for the blow up. I think she should be fired anyway. Here she is on Fox News trying to spin the report. When called on the broad definition of rightwing extremist included in the report, however, all she can do is stumble. I like it how the Fox News guy asks if all Catholics, because of their opposition to abortion, are now considered extremists by the federal government:

Even if this report is just an incredibly stupid, poorly worded, bureacratic SNAFU - I wonder if it is an indication of things to come. The Washington Post did a recent article (safe link to avoid drive-by-media) noting that religious people are increasingly losing in court as conflicts arise between the homosexual activists and their allies in government, and religious groups. Religious freedom, protected by the First Amendment, loses out to homosexual activism. The article notes these examples:

Faith organizations and individuals who view homosexuality as sinful and refuse to provide services to gay people are losing a growing number of legal battles that they say are costing them their religious freedom.

The lawsuits have resulted from states and communities that have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those laws have created a clash between the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of religion, religious groups said, with faith losing. They point to what they say are ominous recent examples:

-- A Christian photographer was forced by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission to pay $6,637 in attorney's costs after she refused to photograph a gay couple's commitment ceremony.

-- A psychologist in Georgia was fired after she declined for religious reasons to counsel a lesbian about her relationship.

-- Christian fertility doctors in California who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian patient were barred by the state Supreme Court from invoking their religious beliefs in refusing treatment.

-- A Christian student group was not recognized at a University of California law school because it denies membership to anyone practicing sex outside of traditional

"It really is all about religious liberty for us," said Scott Hoffman, chief administrative officer of a New Jersey Methodist group, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which lost a property tax exemption after it declined to allow its beachside pavilion to be used for a same-sex union ceremony. "The protection to not be forced to do something that is against deeply held religious principles."

The article includes this chilling summary:
Some legal analysts suggest that religious groups that do not support gay rights might lose their tax exemptions because of their politically unpopular views.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who supports same-sex marriage, said the Bob Jones ruling "puts us on a slippery slope that inevitably takes us to the point where we punish religious groups because of their religious views."

Right now, it seems that the Courts are willing to take up the effort of punishing religious groups because of their religious views. But DHS might not be far behind. Hopefully if I have time, I'll post more on what I think are various clues that America is slowly becoming a new unfree police-state like Roman Empire, content to throw Christians once again to the lions, along with other indications showing a general decline. New tag to go with that type of post: the Long Defeat of America.

An ok summary of the term Long Defeat can be found at Wikipedia.

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