Superstorm Sandy

New York Times Correctly Denounces Post-Sandy Fed Bailout of Churches, Synagogues, and Mosques


Praying didn't help - Congress will.

Back in February, Reason Magazine editor Matt Welch decried passage of legislation in the House of Representatives allocating federal funds to fix up houses of worship damaged by superstorm Sandy. Today, a terrific New York Times editorial, "A First Amendment Storm," chimes in:

In the bipartisan lunge to give in to political pressure from some religious groups after Hurricane Sandy, the House dispensed with holding even a single hearing before passing the bill, which abandons decades of Supreme Court precedent and longstanding administrative rules barring direct taxpayer financing of religious activities.

Complaints that current rules unfairly discriminate against houses of worship are simply wrong. Churches, like most nonprofit organizations and businesses, are eligible for government loans to make storm-related repairs. They are also eligible for disaster assistance grants, just as secular nonprofit organizations are, if they dedicate at least 50 percent of their facilities to providing "essential services of a governmental nature" — like a community homeless shelter or soup kitchen open to the general public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, one of only six Republicans to vote against the bill, rightly argued that it unfairly exempts churches from the neutral requirement that beneficiaries of federal aid have to provide key secular services….

The First Amendment does not allow a Hurricane Sandy exception to pay for the rebuilding of damaged houses of worship. The Senate should let the bill die.

Absolutely correct. By the way, were the damaged houses of worship relying on prayer for protection instead of subsidized flood insurance?

For background, see my column, "Separating Church and State Money."

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  1. But getting everyone on the federal teat is the objective, Ron. They won’t let something trivial like the First Amendment stand in the way of welfare.

  2. Praying didn’t help – Congress will.

    So, seems like praying did help.

      1. Don’t encourage her, Ron.

        1. No offense, but I find Nikki more interesting than Ron Bailey.

      2. The Baby Jesus works in mysterious ways.

        1. Dear Baby Jesus in your little golden crib we just thank you so much for sending us money from the FedGov.

        2. but adult Jesus is way too predictable?

  3. Hey, NY Times, there are 10 amendment, not just 1. You might want to take a look at #10 sometime.

    1. 10 amendment in the bill of rights, that is.

    2. They’re pretty good on Amendment 3, too. Give them credit. They’ve never argued that troops should be quartered in civilians’ homes during peacetime.

      1. quartered in civilians’ homes during peacetime

        Aren’t we in a Global War on Terror?

        1. Yep. And the current caselaw indicates that whatever the Executive Branch decides is law, so whatever the President orders w/r/t troop quartering in civilian residences is Constitutional, per the amendment:

          No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

          1. Is the Homeland Security SWAT trooper going to get the couch or me?

            1. Just be glad he’s only raping your daughters and not your sons, too.

      2. I think that we had a brief period of peacetime in the late 1790s.

    3. I think you guys are ignoring the part of the 1st Amendment you don’t like. If the feds don’t pay to rebuild the hurricane-damaged houses of religion, wouldn’t they be “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”?

  4. Blind Pig Finds Acorn.

  5. It was God’s will.

  6. “Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, one of only six Republicans to vote against the bill, rightly argued”

    Give the NYT a few days, and they will be back to denouncing Amash as a fanatic whose extremist vision of the Constitution will cut essential services to the bone.

    1. For instance, Amash appears in this 2010 article about how the Tea Party “has reached back to dusty bookshelves for long-dormant ideas.”

      Hayek and Bastiat’s ideas, in Amash’s case.

      1. Only idiots (and journalists*) think the novelty of an idea is a measure of its worth.

        *I repeat myself.

        1. And progressives.

        2. “Some of our ideas haven’t been discredited yet!”

  7. By the way, were the damaged houses of worship relying on prayer for protection instead of subsidized flood insurance?

    “But, God, why didn’t you help me, after all that prayer?”
    “What are you talking about? I sent you people with ropes, then a boat and last a helicopter! You moron!”

  8. Who answers the shouts into nothingness?
    Your gods are now here
    Your gods are nowhere

  9. “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

    ? James Madison

    1. Oh yeah? And just what does he know? He only wrote the damn thing!

    2. Read it again! I’m sure it has something to do with the Commerce Clause.

      1. No you fool, it’s the General Welfare Clause!

    3. As the devil can cite scripture for his purpose, so can a tyrant cite the US Constitution for the tyrant’s purpose.

      1. Augustus was all about “restoring the constitution” while he was consolidating absolute power in Rome. Superficially, that was even true.

        1. Eliminating Marcus Antonius as a competitor was restoring the constitution, in its way.

          1. He definitely offered the Roman world order, after decades of chaos. And he claimed no extraconstitutional office, at least in theory. All while establishing a monarchy, which he fully intended to be a hereditary one.

            1. Actually, dumbass, he attempted to designate a non-nepotistic successor multiple times but they all died mysteriously (and that has been pinned fully on Livia by both Suetonius and Claudius). So no, he was actually going for a slightly responsible handing over of the reins but it didn’t work out that way.

              1. Your sources are pathetic and wrong.

                1. You’re just a pathetic Tiberius lover.

                  1. No, I wanted to restore the Republic, you imperialist.

                  2. The other candidates for the succession were also relatives.

                    So it was nepotism for lunch and nepotism for dinner either way.

                    1. Marcellus, Gaius and Lucius, and, of course, Tiberius. All family.

  10. While we’re near the topic, I must say that that History Channel Bible miniseries is terrible. As a Christian I was hoping they would depict the Bible stories they show in their entirety, warts and all.

    For example, don’t just show Lot taking in the angels, show him offering his daughters in order to placate the mob outside. Don’t just show Moses getting the Ten Commandments, show the part where he and the Leviites slay all the people who were committing idolatry by worshiping the Golden Calf. I dislike these user-friendly, sanitized versions of the Bible.

    1. Did anyone see the Viking thing? I meant to watch it, but we had a family thing Sunday night.

      1. It’s on my DVR.

        It’s definitely an interesting subject. I hear Mel Gibson’s next movie project will be about Vikings and will be like Apocalypto: awash in violence and completely in the Old Norse language.

        1. There had better be blood eagles.

        2. I thought he was doing the Judas Maccabee thing that was going to be completely awash in violence and completely in the Old Hebrew?

          1. He’s apparently working on both. Say what you will about him, he’s a great director.

            1. “Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch knows story structure!”

              1. “Those are not story lines they are special effects”.

                “I don’t know the difference”

                “We know that you don’t”.

                1. In just one minute they slag Michael Bay and M. Night, and praise Mel Gibson. That’s why that show is fucking great.

          2. Years ago, I ran a video store, and my assistant manager (with a film studies degree) and I discussed a Roman-period film in Latin, with English subtitles. Fucking Gibson.

      2. I thought your family were Vikings? Wasn’t how your line became that of the Rightful King of both England and France?

        1. I’ve got a lot of Scottish blood, and one of the lines supposedly stems from Kenneth Alpin, but that could be complete hooey, too. So maybe the Scottish throne, assuming the several million other people with the same claim all bow out.

        2. Oh, and the Viking is likely, given where my Scottish family lines were located, but I don’t know for sure.

          1. I am descended from a long line of Swedish blacksmiths. I dare you to get more Viking than that.

            1. Norwegian fishermen AND Minnesotans.

      3. It would have been better on Starz.

    2. Owen Wister’s The Virginian is not great literature, but the chapter in which the title character routs the preacher is hilarious.

      1. A lot of The Virginian is hilarious. Much better overall than I thought it would have been.

    3. I imagine the people I know that won’t stop talking about it would not be as thrilled.

    4. They would have had to face the howls of protest from all the Christians who know almost nothing about the Bible outside of Sunday School platitudes.

      Tell one of them the story of 2 Kings 2:23?24 and ask if it’s in the Bible or not.

      1. I bet you talk about that one at cocktail parties, don’t you?

        1. I grew out of it years ago.

          1. Switch to Judges 11:31 et seq.

            It’s lots of laughs.

            1. Yes, that’s a better example really.

            2. And the bitter irony is that God likely did not accept the sacrifice since Leviticus explicitly banned human sacrifice.

              1. Not to go hyperlegalistic on you, but I think the issue being illustrated in the passage is not whether it’s the right kind of sacrifice – but whether you can back out of an oath after you make it.

                IOW, the point is not that Yahweh wants human sacrifices (he didn’t – not by the time this story was being written down, anyway) but that if you promise Yahweh something, fuck you, you have to deliver it, no matter what it is. Had Jeptha failed to sacrifice his daughter, he would have lost Yahweh’s favor, his military assistance, etc. And even she knows this, which is why she goes along with it with only a little negotiation.

                It’s funny, but in a sense even Yahweh was bound by an oath made to himself. You can picture him shaking his head, muttering, “Damn, dude, that was a stupid thing to say. I don’t like that kind of sacrifice. But fuck it, you said it, that means you have to do it, or I have to smite your ass.”

                The “rash oath that must be fulfilled even though it makes no sense” was not an unusual concept in the religious traditions of the Med at that time.

      2. Hmm, you beat me to that one. Also, uncanny that we pulled the same scripture as an example.

        1. As I grow balder, it arises unbidden in my mind more often.

          1. Calling down she-bears on your enemies would be a worthy trade for baldness.

          2. 42 bears, you say? Odd coincidence, that. Wonder if they maybe left a message of some kind with the blood.

            1. 2 she bears, 42 youths.

              42 Youths Dead In Freak Bear Attack, Bald Prophet Seen Fleeing The Scene In A Fruity Robe

              1. Crashblossom version: Bald Prophet Bullying Bear Attack Curse Kills 42

                1. Oh great. Now there’s gonna be a push to ban curses.

            2. Hey Boo-Boo, come have some of this matzo I found in the pick-a-nick basket.

            3. 42 bears sounds like a house party in Silverlake.

              1. 42 bears sounds like a house party in Silverlake.

                Or a super-rare cassette-only Owl City EP.

    5. I’m always surprised when people are only famliar with the Sunday school version of the Bible. My very Christian coworkers were not amused when I said I’d call down she-bears to maul their children just like Elisha did. Apparently none of them were aware of story, and once they were aware of the story they said I was “decontextualizing it from the source” (I wasn’t it’s a standalone event) and then went exegetical on me (apparently baldness was considered a sign of effeminacy in ancient Jewish culture).

      For those of you not learned in the scriptures:
      2 Kings 2:23-24
      King James Version (KJV)
      23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
      24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

      1. What the fuck are you people talking about? Does this shit have anything to do with Perseus?

        1. The old gods taught men to fear
          The new gods teach men to care
          Lions driven out by lambs

        2. Go suck on Vulcan’s burning cock.

          1. You’re so hostile, NutraSweet. And it’s Hephaestus, moron.

            1. Enough with your Greek poppycock!


      2. I get more of a kick out of pointing out that Joseph basically sold the Hebrews into slavery.

        Then there is this little bit.

        Genesis 37
        5. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

        6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

        7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

        8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

        9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

        Somehow, this megalomaniac snot is God’s preferred.

        His brothers, who sold him to the slave caravan (after casting him in the well), were far more restrained than I would have been.

        1. “My sheaf arose”.

          The imagery of that seems a lot more gay reading it now than it did when I was a kid.

          “Look at my sheaf, all upright! And your sad little sheafs just hanging down like sad pandas! Yeah, bitchez!”

          1. Not to mention “obeisance to my sheaf.” OMG SO HAWT.

            1. 50 Scythings of Gray

            2. Great, now I’m not going to be able to read that passage without visualizing Joseph being serviced sexually by his brothers.


              1. They couldn’t resist the technicolor dreamcoat.

                That’s why they had to tear it off him and leave him for dead, after all. Though I assume any sexual servicing would probably have gone in the other direction considering the overall family dynamic.

  11. New York Times Correctly…

    Stop right there.

  12. I think what is happening now is that the sheer scale of the robbery makes extreme fastidiousness about divvying up the loot seem a bit ridiculous, even to the thieves themselves.

    The feds are borrowing, what, $60 billion to throw at NY and NJ to rebuild stuff that was destroyed by a Category 1 storm that happened to hit at astronomical high tide. Once you’re bound and determined to waste that kind of money, who wants to haggle about whether the churches can take some, too?

  13. The whole thing is a fucking giant Moral Hazard boondoggle. I just can’t get worked up about a trivial portion of this immense pork sandwich being fed to a bunch of Jesus lovers.

  14. I find myself on the wrong end of this conversation I guess. I am appalled, in general, that the government takes my hard-earned money and gives it to people so stupid as to build in a flood plain and additionally too stupid to buy insurance.

    But once the government decides to bailout stupid people, I don’t see why the government should discriminate between stupid secular people and stupid religious people. I don’t see how rebuilding everything in community, including all religious institutions, constitutes establishment of a state religion. And rebuilding everything except the religious institutions would be discriminating against religious people.

    1. That’s the whole thing. They already weren’t discriminating. This is extra special goodies for religious institutions.

      1. Extra special goodies would be a violation of the establishment clause then.

    2. Religious people are intolerant.
      Tolerant people do not tolerate intolerance.
      Thus discriminating against religious people is the tolerant thing to do.

    3. I was on the Board of our church – we pay for a comprehensive insurance policy every year.

      I don’t understand why the government bails out anyone individual or organization too stupid to buy insurance.

      1. Women’s Sufferage.

        It’s said when bad things happen to people, so we should all just chip in and help out.

      2. D: Good on you and your church, but you really should check to be sure that y’all have a separate flood insurance policy. Just saying.

      3. I don’t understand why the government bails out anyone individual or organization too stupid to buy insurance.

        Bailing out the stupid is what modern government is all about.

  15. How about that 10th amendment storm? Remember the 10th amendment?

    NYT – add paper to your printer; your copy of the Bill of Rights didn’t print all the way.

  16. Not that I want religious institutions to get Federal money.

    But how are they no more undeserving than people who build beach houses and don’t have fat bank accounts waiting for inevitable cyclical events to occur? (Which is to say, wholly undeserving, of course.)

    A hurricane on the US East Coast is not a “natural disaster” like, say, Mount St. Helens exploding. It’s an annual weather event with known consequences.

  17. superstorm Sandy

    A category 4 hurricane is a storm.

    Why do you call Sandy, which wasn’t even a category 1 hurricane when it hit shore, a “superstorm”?

    1. Because it hit New York City.

      A five-alarm fire in NYC is a national crisis.

      A meteor leveling Dallas isn’t.

      1. We need NYC’s “financial innovation”.

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