Sundin column: What has happened to the Republican Party?
The direction the Republican Party has taken in the months before the coming election should be a concern to everyone, but especially to true Republicans. The Republican Party has long stood for keeping the government out of our personal lives.
But the platform adopted by the Republican Party at this year’s convention in Cleveland does just the opposite, intruding into our personal lives and undermining the separation of church and state guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof…”
Government should play no role in religion, nor should religion have any place in government. European history and the present holocaust in the Muslim world are glaring examples of what happens when separation of religion and government is absent.
The 2016 Republican platform contains numerous attempts to introduce religious influence into government policies, particularly as it applies to education and the election process. It endorses the public display of the Ten Commandments “as a reflection of our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage” and affirms “the right of religious students to engage in voluntary prayer at school events …”
What about religious students who are Muslims? The platform also states, “A good understanding of the Bible being indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry, we encourage state legislators to offer the Bible in a literature curriculum as an elective in America’s high school districts.“ There is no mention of an elective for Muslim students to study the Quran.
The Republican platform advocates replacing sexual risk avoidance education programs for teens with an abstinence-only standard. It also calls for the repeal of a 1954 law that prohibits tax-exempted houses of worship from endorsing politicians. It claims that the “IRS is constitutionally prohibited from policing or censuring speech based on religious conviction or beliefs.”
The platform also takes positions against the freedom of individuals to make certain important decisions in the conduct of their own lives. It condemns the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. It also steps in where government has no business, opining that “children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier,” do better in school and stay out of trouble, and opposes “laws that create financial incentives for or encourage cohabitation.”
I assume that same-sex couples with adopted children are not counted as two-parent households. The platform takes strong opposition to freedom of choice on abortion, denying women control over their own bodies.
There is also the Republican Party’s candidate for president of the United States, Donald Trump — perhaps the greatest con artist since P.T. Barnum, whose axiom was “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Trump made most of his money by scamming other people, reaping many millions of dollars out of bankruptcies of enterprises that had been sold as promising investments. He also made tens of thousands of dollars each from the many students of Trump University who had been told that they were going to learn the skills for a successful career in real estate investing from the master — and got nothing.
Trump is a master of soliciting large charitable donations. He got the Evans Foundation to donate $150,000 for the Palm Beach Police Foundation to the Donald J. Trump Foundation. He then donated $150,000 to the Palm Beach Police Foundation in the name of the Donald J. Trump Foundation without adding any of his money — giving away someone else’s money and claiming the credit for himself.
This type of shenanigan has been going on for years — the last record of a donation from Trump was in 2008. He has bought himself expensive gifts with foundation money, including a $20,000 portrait of himself. There are five cases of the Trump Foundation telling the Denver Post that it made gifts to charities who say they never received them. He has also used Trump Foundation money to settle personal lawsuits. Then he has the gall to tell the Denver Post “I don’t have to give you records, but I have given millions.”
Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an independent, don’t let this accomplished con artist add you to his long list of conquests by scamming you into voting for him. He’s not for us; he’s only for Donald Trump.
Hal Sundin’s As I See It column appears on the first Thursday of each month. The sources of inspiration and information for this column are The Journal of Americans for Religious Freedom, 2016 No. 3 and The Denver Post, Sept. 11, 2016.
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