Is This What Separates Church and State?

The blogosphere has been been active the past couple days over the TSA’s hiring of a former Catholic priest, Thomas Harkins, who was removed from ministry due to sex abuse allegations.  Harkins now holds a sensitive security post at Philadelphia International Airport, according to a recent report from CBS Philly.

Harkins was a Catholic priest until 2002 in the Diocese of Camden, where he was eventually defrocked due to two findings of child molestation.  A third woman has since begun another lawsuit.  One has to wonder if this would have received more media coverage nationally if it had been boys Harkins had molested.  The media narrative a decade ago made it seem like a Roman collar was the equivalent of a NAMBLA membership card.

While it should be noted Harkins’ title is “Transportation Security Manager – Baggage,” meaning he deals mainly with luggage instead of passengers, having someone with his baggage in a position of authority should be one of concern.  As Karen Polesir of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) pointed out, “Sure, that’s his title.  That doesn’t mean that’s where he stays, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t fill other roles when necessary.”

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Bipartisan Change You Can Bet On

A recent AP article featured in the Las Vegas Review Journal has said Governor Chris Christie plans to defy the federal government regarding sports betting.  According to the article, Christie said his administration will make no attempts to overturn a 1992 law that limits sports betting to four states.  But he doesn’t sound like he intends to follow it either.

“We intend to go forward,” the Republican governor said. “If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us. We want to work with the casinos and horse racing industry to get it implemented.  Am I expecting there may be legal action taken against us to try to prevent it? Yes,” the governor said. “But I have every confidence we’re going to be successful.”

Way to go, Governor Christie!  I’m going to start calling you “Tenth Amendment Guy” if you keep it up.

Unlike his recent veto of the Legislature’s bill that would have implemented the health care exchanges under ObamaCare in New Jersey, the governor appears to have support from some big names across the aisle.  Senator Raymond Lesniak, who attempted a lawsuit to overturn the federal ban, had this to say, “To those with a vested interest in the status quo – the professional sports organizations who take a hypocritical stance that wagering will ‘ruin the purity of the game,’ and the Nevada-based gaming conglomerates that have enjoyed that state’s stranglehold on sports wagering for the last 20 years – I respectfully say, ‘Bring it on.’  The sooner you make an issue of New Jersey’s noncompliance with an unconstitutional federal ban, the sooner we can defeat that ban in the courts, and put New Jersey on the same competitive footing as the rest of the nation when it comes to sports wagering.”

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DC Dependency – The Real Danger

Congressman Rush Holt earlier this month proposed an amendment that would prevent federal dollars from funding police departments that resort to profiling Muslim citizens without probable cause as a tool in combating terrorism. The amendment was defeated largely along party lines.

Once again, the federal government has managed to force us to fight the wrong battle on yet another issue, terrorism. The NYPD’s methods of investigation, whether wrong or right, have been subject not to the will of the people of New York City, but conflicting forms of statism in DC.  The recent appearance on Fox News by NY Post columnist Michael Goodwin and subsequent article by Noah Rothman on Mediaite give evidence of this.

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Governor Christie Vetoes Health Care Exchange…for Now

On Thursday, May 12, Governor Christie vetoed A2171/S1393, the New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act. The governor waited until the last day to exercise his veto power, and up until that time, individuals and organizations in support and opposition to the bill were unsure what his decision would be.

There has been a great deal of commentary on Governor Christie’s veto of A2171, but the Governor provided an explanation of his actions on his page. I give credit to the governor for his diplomacy when he refers to the “significant public debate and discourse” that occurred during the federal government’s passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Congress went out of their way to suppress debate on the bill and rush it through, complete with hastily scribbled hand corrections. As Nancy Pelosi put it, we had to pass it before we found out what was in it…but I digress.

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A Little PRIVACY!

The world we live in is changed since the War on Terror began.  That is a fact that cannot be denied.  The truth is, anyone attempting to board an airplane is a potential terrorist.  It is possible some of us could be without even knowing it.

To save us from ourselves, we have the Department of Homeland Security bravely labeling Christians, returning war veterans, pro-lifers, and many other groups unrelated to 9/11 as terror threats, just to be safe.  And at our airports, we have the Transportation Security Administration engaging in enhanced patdowns and revealing scans of children, grandmothers and nuns.  These are the people most effective at preventing shoe bombers and underwear bombers and assorted other wardrobe bombers from getting on the planes.

I for one feel safe knowing we have these aggressive measures in place to prevent another terror attack.  But what happens if the wrong people get hired for the job?  What happens if the terrorists infiltrate the TSA?

Enter brave citizen Carol Jean Price.  A woman of 59 years, she was boarding a flight to Ohio when she was chosen for a patdown.  After the procedure was completed, she asked to speak with a supervisor.  According to other TSA Agents, she reached down and grabbed the leg and crotch of the TSA Agent to demonstrate what happened to her.  A police report, according to the story on Wink News, was filed, along with charges of assault and resisting an officer.  Similar incidents have occurred elsewhere, one in Miami, another in Phoenix.

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Religious Nullification – Part I – HHS Mandate

For the better part of a year, I have personally wanted to start a series on the religious history of Nullification, both in America and worldwide, even before the beginning of America and in some cases before the existence of Christianity. The recent showdown over the US Bishops and the Obama administration over the HHS mandate regarding abortion and contraceptive funding in health insurance plans has opened up that door with a modern day example.

While the Catholic Church has been the most visible player on this issue, Orthodox Christian, Protestant and Jewish leaders have voiced their solidarity with the Catholic Bishops in their opposition to the HHS mandate.  There were also examples in my research of Muslim leaders joining in interfaith protests against the mandate, and brief mentions in the media of Muslim organizations joining in, but I personally found little on Muslims generally supporting or opposing the mandate.

While perhaps not every Tenther is opposed to abortion and contraception, to force religious employers, or even non-religious employers whose personal convictions forbid one from paying for things that conflict with their conscience, is a clear violation of the First Amendment, and unjust in general.

One’s religion is much more than what one does for an hour or two on Sunday, Saturday or any other day of the week. Most religions have rules governing not just how their adherents worship, but also how they carry themselves in day to day life. And in some cases, the violation of some of those rules results in de facto and/or public excommunication from that religion.

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Talking the Tenth with Governor Christie

April 12, I had the opportunity to meet New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at a town hall meeting right in my hometown of South Plainfield. I also got to confront my dread fear of public speaking for the first time since Nullify Now Philly, when I got to ask NJ Assemblywoman McHose a question, and join members of the NJ and PA TAC chapters for some Q&A. My wife Judy, being off this week, was able to watch the little ones while I went. It was a great opportunity, not only to discuss nullification with the Governor, but to share the idea with a capacity crowd at the South Plainfield PAL, the majority of whom had probably never heard nullification discussed.

Based on 5-10 second news station clips of altercations at other town halls, I expected a Governor who would be belligerent in his response, and was prepared to respond, “Save some of that for DC!” if it came to that. It turned out I didn’t have to. He was very considerate about listening to questions and tried to be as thorough in his responses as time allowed. To paraphrase the Governor, he definitely let the people know where he stood, and they could decide from there if they agreed or disagreed with him. I humbly admit, I prejudged based on a few incidents the media emphasized, where interestingly enough, the comments made to Governor Christie never seemed to make it on television. Only the responses were televised.

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The First State Needs to Act Like a State

Amid the chatter among fellow Tenth Amendment Center contributors, it came up in conversation that Delaware currently lacks a Tenth Amendment Center state chapter.  This was while discussing an article in the Examiner about a bill in the Delaware House that would essentially do the opposite of the Sheriffs First model legislation advocated on the Tenth Amendment Center website.

Delaware, as far as the Tenth Amendment Center’s legislative tracking goes, shows only two pieces of legislation on record, with very different results for the two bills.  HB353, the Health Care Freedom Act, was introduced March 30, 2010, and didn’t get any further than that.  The bill has not been reintroduced in any subsequent legislative session.  The other, SB17, legalized marijuana for medicinal use; it passed both the House and Senate by considerable majorities and was signed into law May 13, 2011.  Delaware, like New Jersey, apparently can pass Tenth Amendment related legislation when their officials feel the situation calls for it.  Unfortunately, that situation doesn’t seem to come along very often.

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Agenda 21 – Another Enemy of the Constitution

Most of the Tenth Amendment Center‘s efforts since its founding have been focused on opposing the federal government’s usurpation of state, local and individual powers. There are certainly plenty of actions on the part of the federal government in the past century that could fall under that category, with both major parties sharing culpability. Unconstitutional wars, the war on drugs, massive government expansion into health care, education, agriculture…the list could go on and on. However, another threat to local, state and even national sovereignty comes from the international community, specifically the United Nations.

Coming out of the 1992 Rio Summit, Agenda 21 seeks to increase the UN’s power over areas of life ranging from farming practices to housing, all under the guise of environmentally sustainable development. What Agenda 21 really amounts to is a threat to private property rights, free markets and local self-government. Ironically, many towns have been gradually implementing Agenda 21 at the local level through ICLEI, which is an organization of local governments for sustainability. Like many power grabs, it is presented as being for the good of the people, but if one looks at the results of centralization of power at the national level, much less the international level, it is difficult to believe their rhetoric about saving the earth will yield any environmental benefit.

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