Do Corporations Speak In Tongues?

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

—The Book of Acts, 2:4

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”                                                

—Paul the Apostle

I used to attend, quite faithfully, a Pentecostal-Charismatic church in which folks there spoke in tongues. Yes, they did. They stood up, usually during prayer time, and spoke in what sounded like a foreign language, a language many of them considered a heavenly language, such as an angel might speak, if there were angels. Many times after someone would speak to the congregation in tongues, someone else with an “interpretation” of the tongues would share it with the folks, this time in English. It was quite a phenomenon.

Now, I say all that in the context of what two corporations are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to do in terms of an alleged constitutional controversy involving the Affordable Care Act and religious freedom. Here is how the great SCOTUSblog reported it yesterday:

The Court granted review of a government case (Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores) and a private business case (Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius).  Taking the Conestoga plea brought before the Court the claim that both religious owners of a business and the business itself have religious freedom rights, based on both the First Amendment and RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act].   The Hobby Lobby case was keyed to rights under RFRA.

Noting that these particular cases don’t involve asking the court to “strike down the requirement that employers provide a full range of pregnancy-related health care under their employees’ health insurance plans,” SCOTUSblog says,

This time, the Court will be focusing only on whether the pregnancy-related care coverage can be enforced against profit-making companies — or their individual owners, when that is a very small group — when the coverage contradicts privately held religious beliefs.

It is already clear, of course, that individuals — whether they own businesses or not — do have religious beliefs that the government may not try to regulate.  But it is not yet clear, and these cases will test the issue, whether they have a right — constitutional or based on a 1993 federal law — to rely upon those beliefs in refusing to provide a kind of health care coverage that they say violates the tenets of their faith.

On the other hand, it is not clear that a business that is formed as a corporation, and engages in a strictly commercial kind of activity, can have religious beliefs and can actually base its commercial actions upon such faith principles (separate from the religious beliefs of its owners).  The Court has never ruled on that issue, but that is one of the core issues it has now agreed to consider.

Okay. So, it pretty much boils down to this: Do corporations speak in tongues? Do corporations do the kinds of things that I saw done at my old church? Can corporations stand in the midst of the congregation and speak in the tongues of angels? Or even the tongues of men?

The answer, obviously, is no they can’t. You know why they can’t? Because corporations don’t have real tongues with which they can speak in ethereal tongues. Because corporations, despite what the Supreme Court has previously said, aren’t people. They don’t have tongues to confess or brains to embrace religious beliefs, even if they happen to have human spokesmen who insist the law bend to the corporate owners’ theological dogmatism. And I believe a majority of the Court will see that corporations do not speak in tongues and are not people in that important, if possibly misguided, sense.

But it occurred to me that if the Supreme Court does decide that corporations have religious rights under the Constitution or under the law, then corporations will have truly become full persons entitled to all the benefits people have under our Constitution. Thus, if they are full, constitutionally-protected persons, they cannot therefore be “owned” by any other person, since the Thirteenth Amendment outlaws slavery. Here is what the text of that amendment says:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

So, the owners of Hobby Lobby Stores and of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation and all the other owners of corporations suing the government over the Affordable Care Act’s pregnancy-related health care mandates, should, upon winning their religious freedom case, set their corporations free.

Then all the corporations in America can say together in the tongues of men or angels: “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we’re free at last!”

“A Species Of Madness”

I don’t do this often, but I must share with you a comment I received on Monday from a frequent and insightful contributor to the ongoing discussions on this blog. I know a lot of you folks don’t dive into the comment section, but you really should. You will learn a lot of stuff or be directed to places where you can learn a lot of stuff, or you can be one of those who teach the rest of us a lot of stuff.

In case you missed this one, here it is:

thegeneralist commentThe book, The Fall of the House of Dixie, can be purchased here, and here is a link to a review from NPR Books, which includes this:

As its ranks dwindled and in a last gasp, the Confederacy, too, had a plan to recruit black soldiers. In 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis approved a plan to recruit free blacks and slaves into the Confederate army. Quoting Frederick Douglass, Levine calls the logic behind the idea “a species of madness.”

One factor that contributed to this madness, he says, “is the drumbeat of self-hypnosis” that told Confederates that “the slaves are loyal, the slaves embrace slavery, the slaves are contented in slavery, the slaves know that black people are inferior and need white people to … oversee their lives. … Black people will defend the South that has been good to them. There are, of course, by [then] very many white Southerners who know this is by no means true, but enough of them do believe it so that they’re willing to give this a chance.”

Considering what might have happened had there been no war at all, Levine thinks slavery could well have lasted into the 20th century, and that it was, in fact, the Confederacy that hastened slavery’s end. “In taking what they assumed to be a defensive position in support of slavery,” he says, “the leaders of the Confederacy … radically hastened its eradication.”

Our Naked History

A great nation cannot forget its history, good or ill.

Just over three years ago, Barack Hussein Obama, whose African father was born on the shores of Lake Victoria in the British-controlled Colony and Protectorate of Kenya, was sworn in at the U.S. Capitol’s West Front, his hand atop the 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible.

Yesterday, this blurb appeared in the U.S. Senate’s Daily Digest:

The concurrent resolution included this language:

…enslaved African-Americans performed the backbreaking work of quarrying the stone which comprised many of the floors, walls, and columns of the Capitol;

…enslaved African-Americans also participated in other facets of construction of the Capitol, including carpentry, masonry, carting, rafting, roofing, plastering, glazing, painting, and sawing;

…slave-quarried stones from the remnants of the original Capitol walls can be found in Rock Creek Park in the District of Columbia;

… the Statue of Freedom now atop the Capitol dome could not have been cast without the pivotal intervention of Philip Reid, an enslaved African-American foundry worker who deciphered the puzzle of how to separate the 5-piece plaster model for casting when all others failed;

…no narrative on the construction of the Capitol that does not include the contribution of enslaved African-Americans can fully and accurately reflect its history;

Yes, it is good from time to time to officially remember how we began and how far we have come, if only to remember there is still work to do.

Senator Ayn Rand

I found the following clip via Jonathan Chait at The New Republic.  It demonstrates, as Chait points out, just how philosophically deranged devotees of Ayn Rand are:

Get it?  If you believe people have a right to health care, then you believe in slavery.  It’s just that simple in a Randian mind.  And that is the dominant mind of the Republican Party these days.

Democrats need to make the 2012 election a referendum on this Randian philosophy.  They need to make it clear that a vote for a Republican is a vote for a party that has unmistakably embraced a dark and disturbing selfishness, which in the world of Ayn Rand and her followers, is a virtue.

Robert E. Lee And The Romance Of Rebellion

Like a lot of newspapers I suppose, the Joplin Globe has been running a series of articles on the Civil War, in this the 150th anniversary year of the war to end slavery and secure the notion of an indissoluble United States.

Perhaps before too long, a story will appear that tells the truth about Robert E. Lee. 

Not being a Civil War romantic, I don’t share the fascination some people have with the war’s obscure battle sites or memorabilia, or with the vast body of literature out there about that tragic and nation-defining event.

But I have always wondered why it is that so many people considered Robert E. Lee a hero, this disloyal Union officer who betrayed his country, who owned slaves and led men into battle to preserve the right of white men to buy and sell black families like cattle. 

Suppose for a moment that Lee fought for the right to molest and maim children, out of some misplaced principle of “states’ rights.”  Would there be statues of him in state parks anywhere in America?

I suppose not being from the South, I don’t understand why it is okay to nearly worship such a man, around whom many myths have been constructed to hide the truth.  Thanks, though, to writers like Elizabeth Brown Pryor, who recently authored a piece about Lee for The New York Times, a clearer picture is emerging. 

One example:

…on April 18, presidential adviser Francis P. Blair unofficially offered Lee the command of the thousands of soldiers being called up to protect Washington. Fearing that such a post might require him to invade the South, Lee immediately turned down the job. Agitated, he went to tell his mentor, Gen. Winfield Scott, the Army’s commander in chief. Another dramatic scene followed. Scott, though a proud Virginian, had dismissed as an insult any hint that he himself would turn from the United States. When Lee offered to sit out the troubles at his home, Arlington, the general told him bluntly: “I have no place in my army for equivocal men.” Greatly distressed, Lee returned to Arlington to contemplate his options.

Now, why is it a “proud Virginian” like Winfield Scott, who “dismissed as an insult any hint” that he would betray his country, could see the moral landscape very clearly, and Lee, “greatly distressed,” could not?  More important, why is a man with such poor moral vision a hero in the South?

The truth is that, in the words of Pryor and against the Lee-as-reluctant-secessionist myth, “Lee made his decision” to betray the United States “despite the feelings of his own wife and children,” not to mention others in his extended family. She wrote:

If even his wife, and most of his children, did not support his stand, Robert E. Lee must personally have wanted very much to take this path. This was not an answer he was compelled by home and heritage to make. It was a choice — and it was his alone.

Pryor also debunks the idea that Lee was some kind of abolitionist:

He complained to a son in December 1860 about new territories being closed to slaveholders, and supported the Crittenden Compromise, which would have forbidden the abolition of slavery. “That deserves the support of every patriot,” he noted in a Jan. 29, 1861 letter to his daughter Agnes. Even at the moment he reportedly told Francis Blair that if “he owned all the negroes in the South, he would be willing to give them up…to save the Union,” he was actually fighting a court case to keep the slaves under his control in bondage “indefinitely,” though they had been promised freedom in his father-in-law’s will.

That’s not the stuff heroes should be made of, especially one that, because of his military prowess, may have extended the war and increased the carnage. Richard Cohen summed up that aspect of Lee’s treason:

Lee was a brilliant field marshal whose genius was widely acknowledged — Lincoln wanted him to command the Union forces. In a way, that’s a pity. A commander of more modest talents might have been beaten sooner, might not have taken the war to the North (Gettysburg) and expended so many lives. Lee, in this regard, is an American Rommel, the German general who fought brilliantly, but for Hitler. Almost until Hitler compelled his suicide, Rommel, too, did his duty.

I don’t think you will find many statues of Erwin Rommel in Germany, or visit any Erwin Rommel High Schools, but in the American South, there are plenty of monuments to Robert E. Lee.

One has to wonder why that is.

Be Proud You’re A Rebel, The South’s Gonna Do It Again

There’s still time to get your $100 tickets to the upcoming “secession ball” to be held—where else—in Charleston, South Carolina.  The official name of the ball is The South Carolina Secession Gala, billed as an “EVENT OF A LIFETIME!!!”  

It is partially sponsored by The Confederate Heritage Trust, which claims to exist to “present the true history of the South.”  If you believe that then you probably believe that the Ku Klux Klan exists to “present the true history of Christian charity.”

South Carolina was the first state to secede from the United States on December 20, 1860, and contemporary Southerners will gather on that date this year  to “celebrate the courage and the integrity of 170 men who signed their signatures to the Article of Secession,” apparently still a proud moment in the history of the South.

According to The State website,

…ball attendees, who will pay $100 a ticket, will don formal, period dress, eat and dance the Virginia Reel as a band plays “Dixie.” The evening’s highlight will be a play reenacting the signing of South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession 150 years ago, which severed the state’s ties with the Union and paved the way for the Civil War.

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit! It’s a party!  Saddle my horse, Kunta Kinte, I’m goin’ to town!

The State reports that another sponsor of the event, the S.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans, pooh poohs the charge by the NAACP that the ball “is nothing more than a celebration of slavery,” by erroneously claiming that slavery was not the cause of the civil war:

The ball is a way to honor the brave S.C. men who stood up to an over-domineering federal government, high tariffs and Northern states that wanted to take the country in an economic direction that was not best for the South, said Mark Simpson, the S.C. division commander for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Will this stuff ever end?

The S.C. division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has a statement on its website that includes the following:

The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the Second American Revolution.

The “motivating factor” was “liberty and freedom”?  Whose liberty and freedom?  What those Confederate soldiers were fighting for—even if some of them didn’t know it—was freedom for rich white folks to own black slaves, no matter how hard contemporary conservative revisionists  try to convince us otherwise.

The soon-to-be-celebrated official secession document is windily titled the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union. In that document you will find 18 references to slavery, including the following:

…an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution.

You might wonder just what those “obligations” were of the “non-slaveholding States”:

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: “No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.” […] The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition [sic!] by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

In other words, some of those Northern non-slaveholding states were not returning freedom-seeking Negroes—private property as the South saw it—back to the South for more Southern hospitality. 

The secession document put it this way:

Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

And if any more evidence was needed to prove that the secessionist movement was always about the issue of slavery, here’s more from the document:

Those [non-slaveholding] States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection…

The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

There is no doubt that the Southern rebellion was designed and executed by people who thought they not only had the right to enslave others, but insisted the rest of America aid and abet them in their crimes against humanity.

And it doesn’t matter how many revisionist balls or galas or celebrations the descendants of the rebels hold, nothing will change that fact.

 

Remarks and Asides

Yet another federal judge rejected arguments that our new health care law’s insurance mandate is unconstitutional.  This time it was in Virginia, via a lawsuit brought by Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, which is where Baptist brains go to die.

The “university” sued claiming not only that the Commerce Clause cannot be used to justify the mandate, but that the law violates the university’s religious rights (universities have religious rights?) because it forces the anti-choice zealots to subsidize abortion in some strange way that nobody can understand, including those who actually wrote the law. 

Oh, well.  It’s on to the Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court, where the zealots believe they have a fighting chance with their fellow zealots who happen to control the court.  God is good, you know.

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Republican presidential hopefuls are demonstrating orgasmic enthusiasm for doing something about the WikiLeaks fiasco.  Something violent.

Mike Huckabee, whom God made governor of Arkansas as part of his Plan to make the Huckster president (it worked once before), not only wants to execute the source of the leaks, he also wants to execute the New York Times for publishing some of the leaks.  How do you electrocute a newspaper?  

Sarah Palin wants the President to hunt down WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is from the Land Down Under, like a terrorist marsupial:

Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?

Oh my God!  First Afghanistan, then Iraq, now Australia! 

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Speaking of Sarah Palin, Joe Scarborough, a conservative with his own show on “liberal” MSNBC, has officially taken her on.  Well, actually he has taken on the Republican establishment for not taking her on:

If Republicans want to embrace Palin as a cultural icon whose anti-intellectualism fulfills a base political need, then have at it. I suppose it’s cheaper than therapy.

But if the party of Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio wants to return to the White House anytime soon, it’s time that Republican leaders started standing up and speaking the truth to Palin.

Why speak the truth to her?  Why piss her off?  She’s not going to run for president, and anyone who wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party will need her loyal legions, whom she commands through Facebook and Twitter.  And it would be dumb, and unpresidential, to attack her for her anti-intellectualism, since that is what makes her so attractive to her anti-intellectual followers.

What was Scarborough thinking?

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Speaking of anti-intellectuals, in case you missed it, Steve King, Republican congressman from Iowa, has his hood and robe all in a tangle over the fact that black farmers might get their due, after the USDA admitted it had discriminated against them between 1983 and 1997 by not loaning them money to purchase farms or to save the farms they had. 

King, a follower of Jesus Christ, said,

We’ve got to stand up at some point and say, ‘We are not gonna pay slavery reparations in the United States Congress.’ That war’s been fought. That was over a century ago. That debt was paid for in blood and it was paid for in the blood of a lot of Yankees, especially. And there’s no reparations for the blood that paid for the sin of slavery. No one’s filing that claim.

But besides all that, did you know Obama supported the black farmers?  And did you know Obama was (whisper) b-l-a-c-k?  Well, actually King said Barack Obama was “very, very urban.” Apparently, that’s how folks in Sioux City and Council Bluffs refer to “negroes.”

Another fun fact about Steve King: Last year, the House voted to place a plaque in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center that would acknowledge the role of slavery in the construction of the Capitol.  The measure passed 399 to 1.  Yep. You guessed it. Here was part of King’s explanation:

This is just the latest example of a several year effort by liberals in Congress to scrub references to America’s Christian heritage from our nation’s Capitol. Liberals want to amend our country’s history to eradicate the role of Christianity in America and chisel references to God or faith from our historical buildings.

Our Judeo-Christian heritage is an essential foundation stone of our great nation and should not be held hostage to yet another effort to place guilt on future Americans for the sins of some of their ancestors.

This man sits on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil LibertiesWho knows, next January he may be the chairman. God willing.

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