Faith-Based Politics Is a Losing Strategy

Sedalia, Colorado / August 27, 2008

Contact: Diana Hsieh, founder of the Coalition for Secular Government and co-author of “Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life,” [email protected]

The wholehearted embrace of faith-based politics by Democrats is the big news of the Democratic National Convention. “It’s a losing strategy, particularly in more freedom-minded states like Colorado,” said Diana Hsieh, founder of the Coalition for Secular Government.

A recent Pew survey showed that Americans are growing more wary of the persistent attempts of politicians to inject their private faith into public policy. A majority of Americans of all political stripes oppose the mixing of politics and religion.

In Colorado, the Republican Party’s determination to enact laws and policies based on sectarian Christian values has resulted in stunning defeats in recent elections. Colorado was once a solidly red state, but now it’s purple, and turning blue.

“Despite these losses, the religious right is still on the warpath in Colorado,” Hsieh said. “This election, they’re attempting to force God’s law on the state via Amendment 48, the ballot measure which would grant fertilized eggs all the legal rights of persons in the Colorado constitution. If passed and implemented, the amendment would criminalize abortion as murder and ban the birth control pill. It would be a disaster for the men and women of Colorado.” See “Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life,” a Coalition issue paper by Ari Armstrong and Diana Hsieh, available at

Now the Democrats are imitating this losing strategy by infusing liberal politics with religious fervor. They’re holding interfaith prayers, opening their platform to religious opponents of abortion, and supporting faith-based initiatives. Ironically, they’re doing so in Colorado, the very state that was handed to them as a result of voter disgust with the religious right.

“It’s political suicide. The Democrats will only alienate the majority of Americans committed to the principle of secular government,” Hsieh said. “Who can those voters support, when both Republicans and Democrats seek to govern by their personal faith rather than rational principles?”

“To protect freedom of religion and conscience, Republican and Democratic leaders must embrace the separation of church and state on principle. Politicians should govern according to the secular principles of individual rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, not religious scripture,” Hsieh said.

The Coalition for Secular Government ( advocates government solely based on secular principles of individual rights. The protection of a person’s basic rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness — including freedom of religion and conscience — requires a strict separation of church and state.

You Say That as If It’s a Bad Thing . . .

 Posted by on 23 June 2008 at 12:20 am  Election, Politics
Jun 232008
Senator Obama decided to opt-out of public financing of his presidential campaign. Not because he is taking a principled stand in favor of property rights and freedom of speech. It’s pretty much about expediency; Obama’s purported rationale is that politically active groups called “527s” are not subject to the same campaign spending laws and so are free to solicit large contributions that allow them to run around “Swiftboating” candidates. The real reason he’s rejecting the money is that he can privately raise from small individual donors four or five times as much as the government could give him, giving him a huge money advantage in the election. (Frankly, this reason is nothing to be ashamed of.) If Obama’s were a principled move, I’d say it was a hopeful step in the right direction. As it is, it’s just a fortuitous happenstance for us freedom-loving folk.

Dr. Yaron Brook has penned a wonderfully principled commentary on the evils of campaign finance legislation. He has a concise reply to people who favor campaign finance reform as the only way to curb the power of special interests:

. . . [Y]ou might still be wondering: Can’t large contributions buy political favors? They can–when politicians have power to grant special favors to special interests in the first place. In today’s Washington, it’s not just money that purchases favors. Politicians dispense favors for the sake of prestige (say, their name on a bridge), for the purpose of appeasing vocal critics lobbying against them, for the attempt to win your vote (say, a pet project in your district that will create jobs), etc.

It’s not money that corrupts–it’s the lure of arbitrary political power. A true crusader against political corruption would not strip American citizens of their right to free speech; he would seek to put an end to the government’s power to grant special favors to any group.

The title of Dr. Brook’s article is “War on Free Political Speech,” and the article ends with a clarion call to “restore the First Amendment” and “abolish campaign finance laws.”

Now, consider The New York Times article about Senator Obama’s rejection of public campaign funding. I counted 868 words in it, and there’s not a single word, clause, sentence or paragraph that even remotely hints at the essence of the issue, which is the right of everyone to spend his or her money promoting (only) those ideas he or she agrees with. The word “speech” doesn’t appear in the article. The word “free” appears once:

[Obama] has been freed from the necessity of spending countless hours fund-raising.

The article concludes with the observation that Obama has achieved this desirable result by “snubbing the campaign finance system,” which neatly encapsulates the issue the author wishes to focus on: that Obama’s move could represent “the death knell of public financing.”

If, like Dr. Brook, you see public financing as a government war on free speech, then the possibility that these laws are in their death throes is a welcome prospect. But the author of the Times appears rather to want to warn readers of an ominous development: the title of the Times article is “Obama’s Decision Threatens Public Financing System.”

The only sensible reaction to hearing about a threat to public campaign finance is: hooray! But The New York Times reports it as if it were a bad thing.

The Glamorous Obama

 Posted by on 11 June 2008 at 11:04 pm  Culture, Election
Jun 112008

(Note: While I wrote the following before Greg’s amazing post on What’s So Special About Obama, it does offer a serious answer to the questions, “What’s the big deal about Obama? Why does he have such an effect on so many people?”)

In a recent blog entry, Virginia Postrel plausibly argues that Obama’s supporters — including pundits who ought to know better — often claim that he must not really believe his own stated policies because of his glamor, not charisma. She draws the distinction as follows:

Charisma is a personal quality that inspires followers to embrace the charismatic leader’s agenda (an agenda that, in the original sense of the word charisma, is seen as divinely inspired.) Glamour, by contrast, encourages the audience to project its own yearnings onto the glamorous figure. …

When voters motivated by charisma disagree with the leader they’ve backed, they support him anyway and possibly even change their minds about the right policy course. When voters motivated by glamour disagree, they become disillusioned and angry.

That explains much of Obama’s current appeal, despite his lack of any substantial record in politics, I think. People are projecting their wishes and hopes on him, rather than endorsing any concrete policies or clear vision. If that sounds interesting to you, you might want to read Postrel’s a slightly longer article on the topic for The Atlantic.

What’s So Special About Obama

 Posted by on 11 June 2008 at 7:41 am  Culture, Election, WTF
Jun 112008

What’s the big deal about Obama? Why does he have such an effect on so many people?

Finally, someone has shown the courage to lay it all out for us! Writing in his column for the San Fransisco Chronicle, Mark Morfurd reveals that “Barack Obama isn’t really one of us. Not in the normal way, anyway.”

Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.

The unusual thing is, true Lightworkers almost never appear on such a brutal, spiritually demeaning stage as national politics. This is why Obama is so rare. And this why he is so often compared to Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., to those leaders in our culture whose stirring vibrations still resonate throughout our short history. …

Those attuned to energies beyond the literal meanings of things, these people say JFK wasn’t assassinated for any typical reason you can name. It’s because he was just this kind of high-vibration being, a peacemaker, at odds with the war machine, the CIA, the dark side. And it killed him.

Now, Obama. The next step. Another try.

Good grief.

Anyone Got an Aspirin?

 Posted by on 9 June 2008 at 11:53 pm  Election, Politics
Jun 092008

We now have our two major-party presidential candidates. I think I’m going to be sick.

I’ve been reading about John McCain’s philosophy: “To sacrifice for a cause greater than yourself, and to sacrifice your life to the eminence of that cause, is the noblest activity of all.” Here’s Barack Obama’s ethic: “…we have an individual responsibility to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. Each of us will have to accept responsibility…(for) sharing some measure of sacrifice.”

Excuse me while I get an antacid.

Obama plans a “new course for America,” where “fiscal responsibility and shared prosperity go hand in hand;” and the “chance to get a college education should… be the birthright of every American.” McCain wants to “help Americans hurting from high gasoline and food costs” and “provide help to those hurt by the housing crisis.” And they both want to set limits on so-called greenhouse gas emissions.

Oh, my pounding headache!

There are more–many more–platitudes on each candidate’s list for saving America from itself. How is it that we have two opposing presidential candidates who are fundamentally indistinguishable?

Both McCain and Obama came of political age in a legislature where
business-as-usual is exemplified by the porkfat feeding frenzy upon American wealth and individual rights.

These politicians arrogantly believe that good government has the compassion and wisdom of a good parent. Both believe good citizens faithfully accept whatever sacrifices are extorted from them. Both believe that government has the right to meddle in every conceivable aspect of our lives.

McCain and Obama believe in the process they practice.

Neither candidate advocates anything close to the principle Ayn Rand identified as the correct role of government in a free society:

“The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence..The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.”

As America moves closer to more statism, at least we can get some symptom relief by promoting rational ideas…. and by taking a whole lot of antacid.

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