Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Render Unto Caesar

Fletcher Administration Has Its Priorities Set - For An Election Campaign, But Not For The People of Kentucky

by Rich Miles
April 26, 2006

OK, Let me see if I’ve got this right:

The reasons to deny University of the Cumberlands an $11 million state funding package for a new pharmacists’ school are basically these:

1) The giving of state funds (OUR money) to private, faith-based organizations of any kind is expressly forbidden in Section 189 of the Constitution of the State of Kentucky, and in various specific laws as well.

2) If it were a federal matter, it would be against specific federal anti-discrimination law, and in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution of the United States as well. ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.")

3) 80% of people who contacted the Governor’s office with an opinion on this matter (a self-selected sample, it’s true, but it’s self-selected in both directions) opposed the funding

4) University of the Cumberlands cannot get any new pharmacy school they may build accredited nationally because of the very discrimination they practice that brought them to statewide notice in this matter.

5) While Gov. Fletcher refused to line-item veto this $11 million, he DID veto as much as $370 million in other budget appropriations, much of it taken away from our established, open-to-all-KY-residents state universities, as well as social programs for the poor, the elderly, youth programs, and environmental improvements..

The reasons to go ahead with the funding, and not exercise the line-item veto are these:

1) The governor is courting the radical fundamentalist religious right, in the mistaken belief that they will carry him to re-election next year.

2) Senate President David Williams says, in essence, that the will of the people doesn’t make a bit of difference in this matter - that it is not a “pick-a-star” contest. Also see #1 in reference to Williams as well.

3) The governor has decided that the courts must waste an immense amount of time and money answering a question that, in this separation-of-church-and-state republic, should never have been asked, and indeed that no one but him and Sen. Williams have asked now: we must know, once and for all, if it’s unconstitutional for Kentucky to fund faith-based institutions, and the money isn’t going to be released for use till that question is answered.

So is this a real dogfight, or are we, the people of the state of Kentucky, being taken for a ride again, with elected representatives alleging to represent the will of the people, while doing nothing of the sort, and pandering to a small slice of the electorate for what they perceive to be their political gain?

Before I proceed, let me clarify a couple of points here: First, I don’t deny the right of the University of the Cumberlands to refuse access to their educational gifts to anyone they want to - as long as they’re self-supporting through tuition and private, non-governmental donations. I think it’s particularly nasty and un-Christian of them to do so, but they have the right, as long as I and other state residents don’t have to pay for it. But when they take MY money, and yours, then WE get to say how it’s used, and WE get to object if it’s used to promote bigotry and intolerance.

Secondly, the young man, Jason Johnson, who was expelled from U Cumberlands because he’s gay should have known better - if he wasn’t willing to abide by the rules at UC, he should have gone elsewhere to school. He can be gay if he wants, but why deliberately start this kind of fight?

But having said that, I have to ask: how much longer do we have to put up with this?

How much longer will our government, our elected representatives, subvert the expressed - EXPRESSED - wishes of the majority of the people of our state, in order to kowtow to a small but highly vocal minority of radical religious nutjobs, which by the most optimistic estimates represent at most 20% of the electorate, of whom not all even agree with the governor and senator on this issue?

Dump the appropriation for University of Cumberlands, Gov. Fletcher - or I promise you, that 80% who oppose this nonsense are going to remember this ignoring of the will of the people, this perfidy and political posturing in November of ‘07. I for one will do my best to make certain they do.

Render unto Caesar, and all that. And yes, that's from the Bible.

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