Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Perry doesn't know how to shut his big mouth

Less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses.  And Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has chosen to fan the flames.    First, by associating with the most unscrupulous of televangelists (which I wrote about a few months back).   Now he has come out (pardon the expression) against an entirely predictable but still unwisely chosen target.   Courtesy of Ginny Grimsley's News and Experts site comes this short piece from Shay Dawkins (thanks to Ginny for letting me and other bloggers use this column):

Gov. Perry’s Anti- Gay Christianity Is Not My ChristianityBy: Shay Dawkins
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s anti-gay “Strong” TV advertisement has been getting a lot of air time in Iowa in the run up to the Jan. 3 Republican caucus. It’s also getting some surprising reaction among his fellow conservatives.
I, for one, am happy to see that his ad failed to win the endorsements of a couple of key anti-gay groups: the American Family Association and Family Leader. Because Perry’s Christianity is not my Christianity.
I’m a heterosexual raised in the Pentecostal and Baptist faiths deep in the Bible belt state of Alabama. I studied the Bible in search of the Scripture that commands Christians to judge homosexuals and I didn’t find it. Instead, I found just the opposite. For my book, The Good News: How Revealing Delusions in Christianity Will Bring Peace to All, (, I also looked for the biblical basis for other “Christian” beliefs, including opposing abortion. I didn’t find it.
In the “Strong” ad, Perry says, “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian but you don’t need to be in a pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military.”
Why would it matter whether a soldier is homosexual or heterosexual?  If he or she is ready, willing and able to defend us, our country and our freedoms – including Christians’ freedom to be Christian – isn’t that all that matters?  Perry’s Christianity brands gays as evil. It seeks to turn “God-fearing” heterosexuals against their fellow man. That is not my Christianity. The true message of Jesus and the Christian Bible is to bring people comfort, not misery; promote unity, not division; and bring hope, not fear. 
It’s not Jesus or the Bible that teaches Christians to be intolerant – it is other Christians. The Bible says that we should judge/condemn only people who act with the intent to hurt or harm other people (Romans 14: 13). It tells us to love our neighbors, welcome strangers, and even to love our enemies.
Jesus states that “his commandment is to love one another” (John 13: 34).  The Bible goes as far as stating that “all the law of the world is fulfilled in one command: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5: 14) and that “without love a person with everything has nothing” (1 Corinthians 13).
Perry likes to conclude his speaking engagements with “Here is what I want you to leave with: Somebody’s values are going to decide the issues of the day … somebody’s values are going to be installed. The question is going to be whose values? Is it going to be those of us of faith or somebody else’s values?”
He does not understand that his “religious beliefs/values” are based on other men’s beliefs and values; clergy often are taught what to believe in seminary.  Perry’s “faith” is based on man-made, false religious doctrine -- “somebody else’s values,” as he likes to say.  I’ve combed through the Scriptures and rather than finding support for Perry’s stand on homosexuality, I found a half-dozen verses that tell us homosexuality is not “sinful” for everyone.
No one should judge or condemn anyone else for being heterosexual or homosexual, atheist or believer, black or white, fat or skinny, attractive or unattractive.  The Bible instructs us to be slow to judge others as “you will be judged by the same amount that you judge others” (Matthew 7: 2) and “to not make snap judgments of others” (John 7: 24). 
Imagine a world where people judged and condemned only for how people treated others.  I’m not sure if peace on Earth is possible, but I do know the world would be a much happier place if everyone lived by the Golden Rule, “treat others as you would like to be treated” or as Jesus stated, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 39).

About Shay Dawkins: Shay Dawkins is a Tuscaloosa, Ala., businessman who grew up in Baptist and Pentecostal churches. His observances about how Christianity can be divisive despite being based on one book led to his analysis of the Bible. He is the author of “The Good News: How Revealing Delusions in Christianity Will Bring Peace to All” (

My comments:

While I have to say that I am not surprised, it is truly troubling that it has taken this long for the US to acquit itself of the issue of LGBT persons in the military.   Worse, that "Don't Ask Don't Tell" continues to be a talking point, and it still continues to be debated after DADT was repealed -- long after all its allies in NATO, with the exception of Turkey, declared it's not an issue at all nor should it be and that not only are such persons welcome in the military but to discriminate against them will come under the same scrutiny as discrimination on the basis of race, religion or sex.    

Here in Canada, for example, we lifted the ban in 1992, during the Mulroney administration.   That's right, it was Mulroney, not Chrétien or Martin.   And far as I can tell, Harper has no intention of making it an issue again.    Perry is a paleolithic guy on this one:   He'd turn the clock back to before DADT and send the "guilty" to a term in a military brig before being dishonourably discharged.    Now, he also wants to ban abortions even in cases of rape or incest.   And with nothing to offer women as an alternative either.    Perry wants to bitch about unfunded mandates.    Maybe someone should bitch to him about his being a "Christian" who only accepts fellow Christians who fit his definition of one.

What are America's top priorities?   A sane person would say, jobs, strong families, and making America respected.    Rick Perry seems to think America's priorities should be big business, letting televangelists continue to commit financial acts that would be considered tax evasion in the secular world, and making America a laughing stock.    Nice choice Iowa has.   No wonder why a loser like Newt Gingrich looks so much better by comparison.   Yikes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

North Korea: Moving the doomsday clock closer to midnight

It's been a little over thirty six hours since North Korea revealed that Kim Jong Il died from an apparent heart attack on Saturday.    It was well known that Kim was in ill health for years but his passing poses a huge risk for the West.   Having dealt with Libya with mostly flying colours and disposing the world of Osama bin Laden, US President Obama now has to figure out how to deal with the new devil inside, whomever he might be -- and it is definitely a he; I can't imagine the military leadership of the PDRK ever taking orders from a woman.    It is by no means clear Kim's youngest son Kim Yong Un, has taken over notwithstanding the state propaganda.   (The country does have a prime minister but the post is as toothless as it was during the pre-Gorbachev USSR).

There's an old saying that danger presents both a crisis and an opportunity.    This may be one of the very few chances we ever get to disarm the North and to make it a democracy.   I have no doubt that one or more of three things will happen in the present uncertainty.   One, the North will detonate another nuclear missile to prove it's a serious world player.   Two, it will finally succeed in launching an unarmed three-stage rocket -- which means it can launch a payload, nuclear or not, at Alaska or Hawaii, making it not just America's business but all of its allies including Canada.   Three, it will go all out and go for what it has long threatened, a land attack at the South.

There can be no question who will win -- the South -- but it would come at a terrible price.   Easily, a million civilians would be "collateral damage" making Iraq II look like a picnic.   Second, the huge sums of money needed to rebuild the North would cripple the South even with aid from the IMF and the World Bank both of which are just about tapped out with the crises in Europe and saving the rainy day money for the inevitable bailout of the United States.

This isn't like when East Germany was annexed by the West or South Yemen by the North (the former in both cases the communist regime).   In both cases, the formerly socialist regimes had relatively well developed infrastructure and a well educated workforce; and both got a huge consolation prize when their respective capitals were ultimately chosen for the reunited country.    Korea is a different beast -- even Mainland China concedes that reunification will eventually have to happen and it will be a Seoul regime rather than a Pyongyang one (if WikiLeaks is to be believed).   Seems the only thing North and South can agree on is when reunification does happen the anglicized spelling of the country will be with a C instead of K (as in Corea).

The North has been rightly called the "hermit kingdom" because a) the people there have literally been starved to death, perhaps two million or more have died because of Mr Kim's zeal for the bomb; b) the North's people are on average four inches shorter than their much healthier Southern brethren; c) the supreme leadership is very much an elective monarchy.

I think that this could be THE issue that tests Obama's foreign policy credentials.   He may have had major successes this year in foreign  policy, but he also needs to avoid having a huge policy failure.    This is one he can't afford to lose.   Indeed the world can't.    A few years back, the "Doomsday Clock" in Chicago had gone all the way back to seventeen minutes to midnight with all the disarmament agreements that stuck.   Thanks mostly in part to the belligerence of three countries -- the US under Dubya in Iraq, an anti-Semitic maniac in Iran, and North Korea's politburo -- we're now at six minutes to doomsday in a proverbial sense.

I still believe we had a chance if the world had gone after Iran, not Iraq, first.   But now, the first order of business is North Korea.   I'm not exactly sure I like anticipating how the next few weeks are going to roll out especially with primary season in the States now upon us.    Canada's role?   Who knows -- we may be one of the few countries with direct ties with the North but even that's been on ice for quite some time, given the nature of the country.

With power comes responsibility.   Especially when your country can make weapons grade material like we in Canada can.   Not that we would ever make a bomb, but the more the number of rogue states that have it, the more legitimate countries will want one as a deterrent.  If more of our allies want one then there will be pressure for us to have our own rather than "hosting" allies' missiles too.   And that will mean open season for terrorists who will seek to attack any nuclear power plant to get the secret fuel to make a dirty bomb.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What's in YOUR drinking water? In Hamilton it could be Scotchgard ™

Several months ago, back in the spring of this year, Radio Canada ran an investigative report regarding the run-off of chemicals from John Munro International Airport at Mount Hope, the highest point in Hamilton.    This was prompted after a lot of fish and turtles were turning up dead downstream in Chippewa Creek which supplies Lake Niapenco and onward to the Welland River.   This water system is the drinking source of water for residents of the mostly rural Binbrook section of the city who haven't been hooked up to Lake Ontario's supply, but also for many rural residents in the Niagara Region.

What did the reporters find in the water?   Something called Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS.   PFOS was until a couple years ago the active ingredient in Scotchgard ™ and was also used in flame retardant foam.   The kind you'd find in fire trucks.   Radio Canada discovered through lab tests that levels of PFOS were twenty times the legal limit of 10 parts per billion.    And what makes it worse, is that PFOS has a half life of five years.   Meaning it persists for years, and the concentrations add up the more you drink it.

Two years ago, the 3M ™ company, when it recognized the problem, reformulated what comes in the cans and barrels with another chemical that has a half life of only one month -- meaning it breaks down much faster over time.

It's not just the fish that have been affected.    In the States, there are PFOS excess levels in bald eagles, polar bears, minx and two species of the dolphin just to name a few.   And public health officials have found kidney cancer clusters from exposure to excess levels of PFOS; and it affects all age, sex, racial and ethnic groups who are exposed, equally.   Not to mention how it compromises the immune system.

The story was quickly picked up by the alternate media in town (View Magazine for instance) but it wasn't until this fall that mainstream outlets got on the story.   Two days ago, the local city council said it should be the feds who should pay for the cleanup.   This after it was learned that the provincial Environment department might slap the city with a cleanup order.      The argument the city makes is that the airport fire training facility was used not just by Hamilton but by fire departments in other cities -- that Hamilton only makes up for 10% of the total.

Well, shouldn't it be the company that made the stuff -- 3M -- in the first place, that has to pay, at least a large portion of the damages?   Maybe they didn't know what it was, at first.   But if it was causing problems, why wasn't anything done then?   It would not have been hard to recall the product.   And it wasn't like 3M was the only company making flame and fabric retardants in those days -- efficacious substitutes were available.

I lived out in the country for about three years as a kid.   My parents and I moved back to the city largely because of water quality issues -- even though ironically it meant the school I attended, the same school in fact, was actually now further away from me and I had to take a school bus.    That formerly country area has now been cemented over for suburban housing.   But barely 500 metres away, the country begins again (in part due to a hard urban boundary that is enforced).    Rural folk have the same right to clean drinking water as those in the urban landscape.    They shouldn't have to worry about what's in the water -- whether it's sewage run-off from a week ago, or persistent chemicals that stopped being used twenty years ago.   I thought the rule was, the party that caused the problem is the one that should pay to fix it.   That means 3M.

Someone once asked, what price progress?    Indeed.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree (Justin edition)

I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later.   And it did yesterday when Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre, called Environment Minister Peter Kent "you piece of shit."    At least Justin apologized.

Of course there was no excuse for it -- but entirely understandable given that Kent was giving a patronizing answer to an NDP member when he was trying to explain why opposition members weren't invited in on the Canadian delegation for the Durban talks.

Frankly I don't think the elder Trudeau ever apologized for saying -- well, you know, "fuddle duddle," at least until years later when it was much too late to apologize.

I know it's coming close to Christmas when a lot of fuses need to be lit.  But there's a time and place for it.   Question Period isn't one of them -- even if it's the place the Exempt Media focuses on most.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kyoto backlash

It's been over a week since my last post.   Too much has been going on but I did want to talk about Peter Kent announcing Canada is pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, or rather forcing the world to pull out of Canada so we don't get fucked with $14 billion in penalties.    It's not too surprising the Conservatives doing this -- they said all along they would.    And the worldwide reaction is entirely deserved and proves just how out of step the dogmatists on the right are with reality or with public opinion.    But there are two things that are bothersome for me.

First is the messenger, Peter Kent, a former news anchor.    Back in 1978, he had the courage to resign the anchor chair at CBC English when Pierre Trudeau was deliberately interfering in the newsroom by Trudeau ordering the network to cancel the live broadcast of a speech by René Levesque in favour of one from Monsieur Pirouette himself.   The demotion Kent got -- Johannesburg, still reeling from the murder the previous year of Steven Biko and when people on this side of the planet were finally beginning to realize that segregation and state sponsored terrorism was alive and well.    Later, he came back to co-found The Journal with Barbara Frum and Mary Lou Finlay.    He also was distinguished in the media in other respects but he earned those credentials by having his own mind.

But now, Peter Kent is a total lackey for Stephen Harper.   He has even admitted, long before he got the environment portfolio, that he he only uses language pre-approved by the PMO.    My only conclusion from this is that he doesn't even try to convince Harper the times when he is patently wrong, even if it is behind closed doors.   A country where the Cabinet takes its instructions directly from the head of government rather than it being a group of senior advisors that tries to make decisions by consensus, no longer has a Cabinet.    It has instead a variation of a Central Committee.    Communist minded states call theirs a Politburo.   I don't know off hand what the term would be for a right wing government would be but I believe that is what we have here today in Canada.

I suppose the next thing is that the Weather Office, part of the Environment Department, will be ordered to stop issuing tornado or hurricane warnings, so as not to offend the "Christianites" who dominate the ruling party because the fact such storms are becoming more powerful because of global warming doesn't ... well, they just don't like facts, period.   Even if the storm is coming.

But the second thing, and what is more worrying, is how this action has further made the point that Canada can no longer be trusted to be an "honest broker" in world affairs.    That is to say, the sense that no matter where we stood with our allies (the US, the UK, Germany, Japan, etc.) we were also willing to bring often hostile sides together to some form of consensus, and in the process the often red hot tensions that this world often were cooled down before boiling over.    In some capacity we still have this in the fact that we "protect" Israel's interests in Cuba (as the two countries still do not have direct ties).

I'm not saying the Liberals were entirely blameless in this.   Actually, there should have been much more consultation with the provinces since natural resources and electrical production are, under Article 92A of the 1867 Constitution, the provinces' "province."

Nor am I saying the provinces should have had a veto (this is impossible for treaties anyway, and it would make the Balkanization of Canada even worse than it is in Belgium, where Dutch-speaking Flanders, French-speaking Wallonia, the small German-speaking community, and the city council in Brussels each have vetoes on changes to the EU structure.)

But Canada at the federal level, had they listened just a little more, could have set more realistic targets that could have been easily beaten and then exceeded.   In fact we could have quite conceivably achieved the Kyoto goals without having ever committed to doing so.

There was precedent for this happening at around the same time during the nineties -- when we put ourselves in a much stronger financial position by setting worst case scenario targets for fiscal balances; which led to strong surpluses, a big reduction in debt to GDP and an end to income tax bracket creep.   The provinces for the most part also benefited from better fiscal positions even after the shock 1995 poison pill budget that offloaded a lot of the cost for social programs to the provinces.

But Canada has in a fairly short period of time made itself look bad.   We are going to have to be held to account in some way or another for the fallout from the tar sands, clear cutting and strip mining.   Whether this is a penalty that Harper claims no longer has to be paid (I think it does, actually) or poorer relations even with democracies that share our values of basic human rights and free elections, this is unacceptable.    Pollution does make its way around the planet.    Don't forget that the fallout from Chernobyl, Ukraine was so widespread that every part of the permanently inhabitated planet experienced some trace levels of radioactive isotopes.   With only one exception -- the Falkland Islands, according to the CIA.

What a comedown from the 1990s, when we led the world in banning CFCs and leaded gasoline, and pushing a convention to ban all land mines.    When we pushed the US to adopt clean environment policies -- in the 1970s, about the only thing Trudeau was able to convince Nixon on.   And on it goes.

I'm not going to say I'm ashamed to be a Canadian.   Of course I'm proud to be one.   But the definition of what it is to be Canadian has undergone a huge redefinition this week.   And for that, I am embarrassed.

UPDATE (2:50 pm EST, 1950 GMT):   Minor corrections and clarifications.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Channeling the Mad Man of the Airwaves

No sooner did a "third party" manager come to take control of the financial affairs of Attawapiskat than he was told to get the hell out of Dodge.   Chief Theresa Spence must have channeled Howard Beale when she said that her band of 2800 Cree were "not going to taking it no more."   Surprised she didn't add, "We're as mad as hell."   Because the events of the last few days have been as outrageous as what has happened -- or not happened rather -- over the years.

Of course it is perfectly reasonable for us to demand what happened with $80 million over the last few years.    I for one would like to know that.  But sending in a white "manager" in a grey suit is as insulting as when Britain kept sending Governors General to Canada a full 21 years after we became formally independent in 1931.   The band is more than capable of hiring its own auditor and if there is funny business going on the band members can vote out the chief and the council and hire people who will do the job right.

Most places, if a new school is needed, it can go from blueprint to finished product in a year or less.   Attawapiskat has waited eleven years, and counting (so the Liberals have a lot to answer for on this too).   Most places that get flooded out are abandoned as the population is moved to higher ground.   This place and others like it keep getting flooded out, and what happens is squat.

Of course, it also doesn't help that all of James and Hudson Bays are severed from the North American road network.   This can be a problem not just for getting supplies in during an emergency but also people out.

There is a small hospital there but serious medical emergencies require MEDEVAC transport -- flying sometimes several hours to an available bed in a far away city.   $1200 an hour -- to start.   It's supposed to be covered by insurance but there is always that nasty co-payment which is a lot higher than for a land ambulance.  ($125 or more)    And the acute shortage of doctors is especially acute on tribal lands.   The bonuses offered to have doctors work full time and on an extended stay basis just don't seem to be enough incentive -- and while we should be opening up opportunities for more aboriginal doctors many teens commit suicide before finishing high school.

And lastly, there is that piece of legislation called the Far North Act which was written and passed by the provincial legislature with very little consultation with the aboriginal and non-aboriginal people north of Algonquin Park.   Our northern resources need to be better managed to ensure prosperity for people of all races, to make the North less dependent on the South while helping the South with balancing the books.   But not at the expense of exploiting the good nature of miners and forestry workers as well as making a mockery of Treaty 9.   It's interesting that this legislation managed to unite natives and non-natives, business and the labour movement but that didn't seem matter to Pointy Head.   And as far as the feds go, as long as they have the veto power who cares what the little people think?

How much blame can be pinned on poor management of transfers by community leaders?    Hard to say.   But a presumption of guilt, that is a reverse onus, is contrary to our system of laws.   I'd put my foot down too.

For a so called fresh start on the aboriginal file, both Harper and McGuinty have failed Canadians big time.

A pinhole light of hope

Despite the deliberate ballot stuffing and other dirty tricks that Vladimir Putin tried to pull in this week's elections to the Duma, Russia's Parliament, the "United Russia" party fell well way below the two-thirds majority needed to unilaterally change the country's constitution.   In fact it couldn't even muster a simple majority.   Maybe the people of that far-off land woke up and said that they wanted to have no part of Putin getting yet another six or even twelve years in office (the term for President was recently extended from four to six years).

There are protests on the streets of Moscow tonight despite an official ban.   Maybe an ominous sign of things to come, or maybe (one hopes) the next step of the people getting their country back from the apparatchiks and the Mafia.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Cain identity

Yesterday's decision by Herman Cain to drop out of the GOP Presidential stakes (technically, suspending, a legal loophole that allows him to reallocate donations made to him to another candidate or a PAC) really wasn't surprising nor was the timing.    But it was inevitable.    If it was just one woman making sexual harassment complaints it may have raised some eyebrows.   Two, three, four ... there was a problem.   Then a fifth claiming to have had a consentual affair with Cain, game over.    Pretty sad for a man who built an entire pizza chain (Godfather's ™) from the ground up, then was elected by his peers to run the restaurant lobby in DC.

Sexual harassment is, perhaps needless to say, a serious charge.   If made falsely, the women should be charged with perjury.   If true, Cain is lucky just to been able to write a cheque and make it "go away."

The comparisons to Clarence Thomas, however, are perplexing.   That was about a man accused of harassing one woman, Anita Hill, while he was chair of -- of all things -- the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and right at the time when it was arguing in the courts that such harassment amounted to discrimination (which it was eventually successful at so persuading).   Such bad talk at a government agency should have been flagged before Thomas was allowed to sit on any bench, let alone the Supreme Court of the United States.

Of course, judges don't get paid a lot compared to the huge responsibilities they carry, including rendering judgments that could send a person to jail or death row and forcing corporations into bankruptcy.     But a businessman with that kind of influence, who had a great deal of respect from blacks as well as whites, to risk throwing it all away with remarks or conduct that was anything but cute ... would Americans want to trust that kind of man with a button?

It's not his denials, but the way he denied it.   Frankly, paying off someone to drop a lawsuit, even if the payer is innocent, doesn't leave a good impression.   He could have been a serious challenger to President Obama but he let it slip away by not regaining control of the discussion.   With money comes power and, if not exercised properly, arrogance.

His exit probably means that America won't have a discussion about a national sales tax, the only major democracy that doesn't but almost certainly should.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Harper's "Office for Relgious Freedom": Another Newspeak front?

Dubya got into a lot of hot water in many circles with his so-called "faith based initiative" (which President Obama has actually continued and broadened to include people of faith who are LGBT) and now Harper appears to want to go down the same path with something called the "Office for Religious Freedom."    Internal memos obtained by the CBC through a FOIA request indicate that Team Harper wants to sidestep the obvious question, whether "promoting religious freedom around the world" is just a way to masquerade a true intent to let Con-friendly denominations dictate the national agenda.    Just like the Department of War became the Department of Defence and "Welfare" became Human Resources Development, this is potentially a new front in the game of Newspeak.

I absolutely agree that you can't have religious freedom without free speech and vice versa.    But I also happen to believe that when one is elected to government he or she has a duty to the community at large and not just specific interests, to work for the liberty of all and not just for some.    Specifically, to understand that the "Great Commission" does not mean refusing to take no for an answer.

I note that two lines were blacked out in the disclosure, regarding how the government chose who to consult with on how the Office should be set up.    All that was left was a smarmy line about picking people dedicated to freedom of religion.    Naturally, what was censored should leave one asking who they chose -- was it those who favour their own freedom of religion at the expense of others who don't have the same religion?    You can't avoid the televangelists in late night or the weekends.    The way most rail against Muslims is a concern.    Most televangelists shamelessly support the Jewish cause when their own grandparents most likely supported the Holocaust (without explaining the change of heart), but some through weasel words show their contempt for the Chosen People.    And yes, many also rail against Catholicism, in a country where a plurality, 42% or thereabout, are Catholics.

I have said before and I'll say again that while I accept the fact faith based groups are part of the delivery end of social services, that is because I and others who accept that fact do so because such groups make a clear distinction between service and proselytizing.   Blurring that line violates the accepted separation of church and state.    Harper is playing a dangerous game if he thinks he can start a war of words between religious groups based on religion.    Wars have started over such fighting words.   Just look at Yugoslavia.

Besides which, the Office isn't needed.    We already have the "Rights and Democracy" bureau which while somewhat tainted over the years is serving this purpose among many others.    Why waste money with duplication?   I thought Harper was a provincial rights advocate; this seems to go against that kind of thinking.  He was supposed to have been for openness but the censorship even at this level makes me ask what needs to be hid.

The Salvation Army, World Vision, the Kairos partnership -- those are great examples of faith based groups who serve the community at home and around the world, and who promote freedom of religion at the same time without rubbing our faces in it.   The government should certainly promote that freedom as well, but they should follow the lead of the groups who have figured out where the line is drawn.