Tag Archives: Freedom of Religion

100 Days, ESAs and Sectarian Education in Nevada

Sectarianism There was this announcement from the State Treasurer’s Office this past August regarding the eligibility of homeschooled students to qualify for the school voucher (ESA).

“The Treasurer’s Office has been notified by the Nevada Department of Education that pursuant to NRS 388.850, a private school or “home school” student may not participate in a program of distance education (online class) to satisfy the 100 school day requirement. Nevada Revised Statute 388.850 prevents a private school or “home school” student from enrolling in a program of distance education (online class). However, a private school or “home school” student may qualify for an ESA by taking one or more classes in a public or charter school, pursuant to NRS 386.580(5) and 392.070(3).” [NPRI]

Thus, a child can be enrolled in a public or state chartered school for 100 days, then be eligible for a voucher to pay for homeschooling curricula.  And, here we run into some problems – or, perhaps one big problem. Sectarian classroom materials.

Sectarianism is mentioned seven times in the Nevada Constitution. The first reference comes in Article II, and the fundamentals are clear as a bell.   “The legislature shall provide for a uniform system of common schools, by which a school shall be established and maintained in each school district at least six months in every year, and any school district which shall allow instruction of a sectarian character therein may be deprived of its proportion of the interest of the public school fund during such neglect or infraction, and the legislature may pass such laws as will tend to secure a general attendance of the children in each school district upon said public schools.”

[Amended in 1938. Proposed and passed by the 1935 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1937 legislature; and approved and ratified by the people at the 1938 general election. See: Statutes of Nevada 1935, p. 440; Statutes of Nevada 1937, p. 550.]

In  Section 9:  “Sectarian instruction prohibited in common schools and university.  No sectarian instruction shall be imparted or tolerated in any school or University that may be established under this Constitution.”

And Section 10: “No public money to be used for sectarian purposes.  No public funds of any kind or character whatever, State, County or Municipal, shall be used for sectarian purpose.”

Home Sweet Home

In the home-school proponent perspective, a child who enrolls in 100 days of online (homeschool/distance) education should be eligible for ESA grants.  However, what distance learning or home-school curricula matters.  Thus, we’d have to ask if an ESA grant may be used to pay for sectarian home-school curricula and support materials?   If we look to Article II, sections 9 and 10, the answer appears to be a resounding NO.

The parent of a  child who is to be home-schooled must submit an “educational plan” for the child in order to be exempt from state mandatory attendance laws.  And:

“No regulation or policy of the State Board, any school district or any other governmental entity may infringe upon the right of a parent to educate his child based on religious preference unless it is:

  1. Essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and
  2. The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” [NHSN]

Okay, a parent may choose to home-school a child, using a religious curriculum, without discrimination.  The question becomes: Can the state funds be used to pay for it?

So far the parent may choose any curriculum – the district cannot discriminate based on religious affiliation – and who pays for the Stuff?

Stuff from Abeka K-12? Their 8th grade science book explains:

“From earthquakes and volcanoes to clouds and galaxies, show your child the features of God’s Creation here on earth as well as the Great Beyond with Science: Earth and Space! This textbook guides your child through a study of geology, oceanography, meteorology, astronomy, and environmental science. A thorough study of rocks, soil, and fossils will give your child ample proofs that this earth was created by God and not evolutionary processes.”

In brief, the last time I looked such an explanation was described as “creationism,” and “creationism” isn’t science, it’s theology.  Perhaps some materials from Bob Jones University Press?  Right off the bat the website tells us, “We want students to think, so we use inductive teaching, discovery activities, and probing discussion questions to develop thinking skills.”   Let’s step back a moment, there’s inductive and deductive reasoning; and, inductive reasoning makes broad generalizations from specific observations.  By contrast deductive reasoning, the basis for most science, proposes an hypothesis and then tests observations. [LiveSci] Inductive reasoning is used in the crafting of theories and hypotheses, after which deductive reasoning is appropriate for testing those theories.  So, if we’re going to start and stop with inductive instruction we won’t get to the part where the evidence is truly tested?  However, there’s more, as the Bob Jones University curriculum describes its Biblically based instructional mission:

“The Bible teaches that in the Fall, human cognition and affection became broken. Verses like Jeremiah 17:9 and I Corinthians 2:14 teach that the fallen human mind cannot understand the world the way it was meant to be understood. Proverbs 1:7 teaches that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Here we learn that proper affection (“fear”) for God is the key to proper cognition (“knowledge”) regarding His world.”  […]

Good biblical integration has not happened until the student learns how the Bible is relevant to the subject at hand. This involves three levels of effort.

“In Level 1 biblical integration, the Bible is referenced while the subject is being taught, using biblical analogies or examples. In Level 2, the teacher shows the student how the Bible should guide him as he applies the academic discipline to real-life situations. The final level focuses on rebuilding the academics for the glory of God. Remembering the fallenness of the human mind, the teacher should call into question the secular assumptions of each subject and then encourage the student to rebuild the discipline from biblical presuppositions. The work of Christian education is the work of redeeming what has fallen.  We study all aspects of human culture because we see in that study the potential for redemption. As we view the academics through the lens of Scripture, we learn how we may be used to redeem those disciplines back to God.” [BJUpress]

If this isn’t sectarian, then I’m really not sure what would be.  To cut this bit short before it becomes a litany of examples of sectarian based instruction readily available from all manner of sources, and ranging widely in terms of quality, it’s fair to ask if a home-schooling parent should be remunerated for materials and supplies which teach creationism and centralize “redemption” as a focus of instruction?

Of course, there’s the other side of the issue – there are other religions which provide instructional materials – the Islamic Bookstore devotes a page to materials geared for young people, from pre-school to grade six.  One quick Google and you can find support groups for humanist and atheist home-schooling parents.  Seriously pagan or Wiccan? There’s a page for that too.

Meanwhile back at the Establishment Clause

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”

Somewhat lost in all the recent rhetoric about “religious Freedom,” are the two pieces related to “religious liberty” incorporated in the First Amendment. Fundamental to understanding the first part, or the Establishment Clause, is the nature of the word “respecting:”

“The first of the First Amendment’s two religion clauses reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion … .” Note that the clause is absolute. It allows no law. It is also noteworthy that the clause forbids more than the establishment of religion by the government. It forbids even laws respecting an establishment of religion. The establishment clause sets up a line of demarcation between the functions and operations of the institutions of religion and government in our society. It does so because the framers of the First Amendment recognized that when the roles of the government and religion are intertwined, the result too often has been bloodshed or oppression.”  [1st AmdCent]

Witness: the wars associated with the Reformation – the German Peasants’ War (1524-1525); the battle of Kappel (Switzerland 1531); the Schmalkaldic War (Holy Roman Empire 1546-1547); and then we move on to the Eighty Years War in the Low Countries (1568-1648), the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) and the Thirty Years War (Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Bohemia, France, Denmark, Sweden (1618-1648).    Not that the British Isles escaped the religiously based slaughter – there was the Scottish Reformation and attendant civil wars; and, the wars probably best recalled by the founders of this nation – the English Civil War (1642-1651).  The carnage is difficult to assess for the English Civil Wars – historical records count 84,830 dead as a result of the conflicts, other estimates range as high as 190,000 dead out of a total population of about 5 million people.

One doesn’t have to go too far back to be reminded of the effects of sectarianism in Northern Ireland, or do much more than turn on a television news broadcast of the latest atrocities perpetrated by Sunnis on Shias or Shias on Sunnis.

Little wonder the founders inserted the Establishment Clause.  And the State of Nevada acquiesced to this in Article I:

“All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair[,] subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States.” (emphasis added)

Loud rhetoric, and even imprecations, from the radical religious right don’t change the overall framework – we do have an Establishment Clause, it was enacted with a mind to historical precedent and human nature, and the state of Nevada adopted it in its own Constitution.

What Does This Mean At the Bookstore?

According to the provisions of SB 302, money from the ESA may be spent to pay for:

Textbooks required for a child that who enrolls in a school that is a participating entity; … Textbooks required for the child at an eligible institution that is a participating entity or to receive instruction  from any other participating entity; … Purchasing a curriculum or any supplemental materials required to administer the curriculum.

A science text book that teaches “Creationism?” A “Biblically-Centered” curriculum?  Supplemental materials which amplify and explain doctrines such as: “When a child is born it is a cause for much happiness and celebration.  In Islam there is no preference for either a male or female child.  Quran says that both the male and the female were created from a single person (Adam) and that are equal except in terms of piety and righteousness.” [IslRel] And, that the Prophet categorically stated female children are a blessing and that raising them to be righteous believers is a source of great reward.  [IslRel]  Materials for Torah study?  Have we missed the Hindi? The Sikhs? The Jains? The Buddhists? The spirituality of Native Americans? …

If the state allows remuneration for the purchase of some sectarian materials and curricula then it must do it for all?  In light of the Establishment Clause, the question is reversed – Is there any condition in which the state is allowed to subsidize sectarian education? And, the answer is … NO.

To say that the state may not discriminate against those whose educational plans are religiously based is one thing, to say that the state must pay for the materials to implement religiously based education is quite another. It’s certainly going to take more than 100 days to get this mess sorted.

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Filed under education, nevada education, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, religion, schools

Bells, Books, Candles and S.B. 192

Test PencilWhich of the following does not belong with the other three items?

(a)Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” U.S. Constitution, Amendment I

(b)Second. That perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no inhabitant of said state shall ever be molested, in person or property, on account of his or her mode of religious worship.”  Nevada Constitution, Ordinance

(c)Sec:4. Liberty of conscience.  The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall forever be allowed in this State, and no person shall be rendered incompetent to be a witness on account of his opinions on matters of his religious belief, but the liberty of conscience hereby secured, shall not be so construed, as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace, or safety of this State.”  Nevada Constitution, Article I, Section 4

(d)Notwithstanding any provision of NRS 41.0305 to 41.039, 25 inclusive, but subject to the limitation on damages set forth in 26 NRS 41.035 when applicable, a person whose religious exercise has been substantially burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against the governmental entity.  The court shall award costs and attorney’s fees to a person who prevails in an action brought against a governmental entity pursuant to this section.”  S.B. 192  *Defines a political subdivision

(ANS: ) Why doesn’t item D (S.B. 192) fit with the others?  Because it really isn’t about religious liberty.

The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus explains:

“SB192, the  Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act (NPRFA), is currently being considered by the Judiciary committee. NPRFA is a “statified” version of the federal RFRA (Religion Freedom Restoration Act), which was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1997 because it overstepped Congress’ power to enforce the 14th Amendment (City of Boerne v Flores).  If enacted, it would “prohibit governmental entities from substantially burdening the exercise of religion.”

And what might those “burdens be?”  How about the “burden” of having to avoid asking about a person’s sexual orientation in a job interview?  Or, the “burden” of having to dispense a Morning After prescription to prevent an unwanted conception?  Or, the “burden” of having to include contraceptive prescriptions to an employee in a health insurance policy?  Or, the “burden” of having to have any health insurance coverage for any employee should the employer believe in faith healing alone?

Could it be the “burden” of having to interview a prospective employee who would need to have either Friday or Saturday off for religious services?   Could it be the “burden” of not discriminating against members of the LGBT community?  Or, might it be the “burden” of not discriminating against women in the workplace?  Against, unmarried women with children? Or, would the “burden” be that a young woman who had an abortion could not be summarily fired?

Time for Confession

There’s a problem shared by all confessional faiths.  And, in this instance “confessional” doesn’t refer to the Sacrament of Reconciliation — instead it is used more generally, and might be taken as synonymous with “creed.”

It might be the Nicene Creed, or the Apostles’ Creed, or in Protestant denominations the term ‘confession,’ like a creed but generally longer and more specific — The Augsburg Confession, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Savoy Declaration, or the Baptist Confession.  Be it creed or confession, the principles are essentially the same.  The profession constitutes orthodoxy as defined by some Christian religious denomination.

The first problem is the term “orthodoxy.”  The second problem is that the United States isn’t orthodox.

The last time Pew Research looked at religious affiliation in America, the numbers showed 51.3% were Protestants of various confessions; 23.9% were Catholics; 1.7% were members of the LDS Church.   1.7% of our population is Jewish, divided into Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and “other.” 0.7% of our population is Buddhist (also divided).  Another 0.6% is Muslim, divided into Shia, Sunni, and “other.”  Hindus add another 0.4% of the population.  Atheists are about 1.6% of the population, agnostics another 2.4%, and there’s a significant number, 12.1% of Americans, who described themselves as “nothing in particular.”

Here’s where the “orthodoxy problem” kicks in.  While 26.3% of American Protestants described themselves as “evangelical,” another 18.1% declared themselves to be members of “mainline” churches.   And, what to do with the other 4.7% of Americans who aren’t Christian in any form or confession? With the 16.1% of the Unaffiliated?  This is now; so why were the framers of the U.S. Constitution so adamant about preventing the establishment (read: preference) of any single creed or confession of orthodoxy in the newly forming United States of America?

First, there were practical matters — How does a new country reconcile the Congregationalism of John Adams with the Episcopal preferences of George Washington?  How do you keep a nation together with Presbyterians in the western portions, Baptists forming congregations in the midlands, Dutch Reformed Church members holding sway in New York, and Swedish Reformed Church members in Delaware?   Why were the framers so intent upon keeping religion off the table?  Secondly, there were memories of a dismal history in not so Jolly Old England.

Not one, but three civil wars

Most of the original colonists were English. England experienced three periods of civil war beginning in 1642 and not fully over until 1651.  Scholars are still mulling over whether the civil wars were religious or political, or some admixture thereof.   Let’s try “admixture” because some of the confusion between King and Countryside was related to the fact that there was the “High Church” (of England) considered entirely too Popish to be the “real” religion of God’s people; there were the Reformers (We’ll just adjust the Church of England a little bit and that should be enough); there were the Puritans (Get rid of the episcopal nature of the Church of England); there were the Presbyterians  who were at odds with the Independents.  Somewhere between and among the Royalists (usually Church of England) and the Puritans, and the Presbyterians, there was sufficient animosity to keep the fires of war burning and the battles raging.  This history wasn’t lost on the framers of the U.S. Constitution.  Granted, if we take 1646 as the end of the last English Civil War, then there were 143 years between the end of the war and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution — it’s been 148 since the end of our own Civil War, and “Lincoln” is a blockbuster movie… we’ve not forgotten ours either.

The point is that the framers were well aware that religious confessions and creeds were inextricably bound into the fabric of the political factions which caused not one but three civil wars in the Old Home Land.  This would be something to be avoided.

Uncomfortable Pluralism

There’s a trade off to be made between religious freedom and political rights.  Everyone has political rights, and everyone has religious freedom.  However, where does my right to freely practice my religion begin to impede your right to practice yours? Further, when does my right to practice any religion freely become perilously close to Theocracy as I impose my creed or confession on the behavior and beliefs of others?

If we take the dictionary definition of a theocracy (a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the God’s or deity’s laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities,) at what point are those ecclesiastical authorities impinging upon political authority in a democracy?   No one promised pluralism was ever going to be comfortable.

Tyranny of the Majority or the Minority?

Our discomfort with pluralism is, happily, less obvious, and far less bloody, in 21st century American than in 17th century England.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be as obvious as the daily dose of confessional rhetoric emanating from religious leaders in the media.   Yes, about 75% of Americans claim Christianity in some form, but that covers everyone from those who still prefer the Tridentine Mass to the Unitarian-Universalists.  There’s no way to find any “orthodoxy” along that spectrum in terms of creeds, confessions, or the lack thereof.

So, what is S.B. 192 about?  If we were truly talking about religious freedom, then we’d be cognizant of the variations, of the pluralism, in American religious life and NOT trying to impose the confessionally based beliefs of some ecclesiastical authorities on those who don’t share in the creeds.  However, if we are talking about the imposition of confessionally based beliefs on the body politic then aren’t we essentially advocating the “right” of a minority to determine what the majority will or will not be allowed to do?

As uncomfortable as pluralism may be, it’s origins in the American colonies is well documented, and it’s implications for modern notions of the separation of church and state are the foundations of American tolerance and sense of community.   Just as I have no right to demand others who don’t share my basic religious precepts align their lives according to my lights, I would expect the same consideration from others.

I don’t expect others to put the same significance to bells as I might. I don’t expect a person to follow the Nicene Creed, or the Westminster Confession of Faith, or the Quran or Hadith, or the Torah, or Rig-Veda or Avesta, or the Book of Mormon … and I’d be pleased to have others allow me the same consideration.  It’s hard enough in difficult times to keep one’s own candle burning, we don’t need to try to blow each others’ out.

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Filed under Nevada legislature, Politics

Sex and the Single Issue

Maybe we’re missing at least part of the point amidst the current flap over religion, women’s health, and politics.  Thus far the media has been filled to over-flowing with the politics, the religious perspectives, and the relationship of the two in the election cycle.  This may be a mile wide of the core issues.

Time Machine

Lo, the hand-wringing and pontification about the meaning of the 1st Amendment!  The wording of the Amendment protects our own religious practice and also protects us from the establishment of an official government religion.  It isn’t too hard to figure out why the Amendment eschews an official religious establishment.  Drafting the Constitution required getting Church of England and Deist delegates from Virginia to cooperate with the Congregationalists of the New England states, and with the Presbyterians of western Pennsylvania. Now, toss in delegates representing Catholic interests from Maryland, some Huguenot interests from South Carolina, some representing the interests of Lutherans in the Mid-Atlantic regions, and add an assortment of Baptists, Quakers, Methodists.

Little wonder that establishment wasn’t a unifying factor in American colonial life, by the time we became a nation:

“Religious diversity had  become a dominant part of colonial life.  The colonies were a patchwork of religiously diverse communities and, as a result, the population of America increased quickly. […]  Groups such as the Scotch-Irish were among the first to begin that emigration to America.  As a result, religious persecution was beginning to diminish and religious freedom began to replace it.” [UNC-P]

It’s useful to remember at this point that England did have an established religion — and, that was the problem.  They had a civil war over the subject lasting from 1642 to 1649.  We could move the date of the conflict back further if we start on July 23, 1637 when Jenny Geddes threw her copy of the Book of Common Prayer at the dean of the Kirk of St. Giles in Edinburgh.  The Scots were not pleased with the perceived level of ‘romanism’ incorporated in the practices of the Church of England and the uproar in the region led to the Scottish National Covenant.

We can also move the end of the conflicts beyond the 1649 traditional date and reasonably assert that the issues weren’t close to being resolved until the end of the Protectorate/Commonwealth with the Restoration of 1659.  It is highly unlikely the Framers of the U.S. Constitution didn’t notice  the 21 years of religious strife in the mother country. Nor were they untutored in common documents like the Cambridge Platform, the Westminster Confession, the 1649 Act Concerning Religion, and the Adopting Act of 1729.

A reasonable argument can be made that had the Framers of the U.S. Constitution NOT put religious issues off the table, it would have been well nigh impossible to come to any agreement on the form of our governance, and the shape of our political system.

Fast Forward

Nothing so fascinates human beings as our capacity to reproduce ourselves and the process by which we do it.   And, the current range of beliefs on the subject extend from almost Neo-Catharian tolerance of euthanasia, contraception, and suicide, to the categorization of all sexual experience beyond pure procreational purposes  (with a dab of doctrinal “Close Your Eyes and Think of England,”)  as intrinsically evil.   Our system of governance is expected to accommodate this rather extensive spectrum of ideologies.

When the Obama Administration’s  Department of Health and Human Services proposed that basic health care insurance policy coverage would include contraceptive prescriptions the issue was drawn into focus.  The compromise position was adopted saying that no religious institution which did not tolerate views accepting of contraception would be required to offer such coverage — but, health insurance corporations would be required to offer the coverage to those wishing such provisions.

Unfortunately for the improvement of our national political dialogue, the level of mis-information soon out shouted the level of accurate commentary. Opponents of comprehensive health care reform (health insurance corporations) have treated us to a barrage of fact-free statements like, “This is taxpayer funded contraception…,” which, of course, it isn’t.  Twisting the logic to say that a coverage requirement for basic policies is tantamount to a taxpayer subsidization of contraceptives necessitates mental gymnastics comparable to the contortions of  Cirque du Soliel.

A Gordian Knot of similar proportions is also required to frame this issue in terms of religious freedom.   The concept of religious freedom as contemplated in an American context requires the accommodation of varying religious precepts, NOT the acquiescence to the precepts of any single institution.   If the views of the Catholic Bishops had prevailed, then what we would have experienced was the antithesis of religious freedom, i.e. one group imposing its views on all the rest.  The American public seems to sense this.

A rational discussion of women’s health issues requires moving beyond the religious rhetoric while still being cognizant of the implications of public policy on religious tenets.  Federal funds may not be used, for example, to pay for abortions.  Those who would outlaw abortion under any circumstances may not be pleased that the medical procedure is still legal, but they may be mollified by the fact that they aren’t paying for it.   Those who don’t believe in the use of oral contraceptives may take some comfort in the fact that the health insurance corporations are the ones who will be required to offer coverage, and not the federal government. Those who are not comforted by these compromises are, in essence, seeking to impose their narrowly drawn religious proscriptions on those who don’t share them. Again, this is not religious toleration and freedom, but its polar opposite.

There was a reason back in the 17th century religious reformers were called Puritans.  Their emphasis was on the purification of the established Church of England, but as with most reformational activities their voices were not necessarily in unison.  There were those who believed the Church of England beyond redemption, awash in ‘romanism,” and incapable of restoration — they were the Separatists or Brownists — we call them “Pilgrim Fathers.”

At the other end of the spectrum were those who believed that the accommodations of Archbishop Laud were all that was required,  and still others who thought that neither Laud nor the Separatists had gotten it right — we call them “Puritans.”

It took 21 years of Parliamentary struggles, outright bloody war, the dissolution of the British government, and its eventual restoration in a different form of monarchy, to settle the three major factions into a reasonable state of cooperation.  The Framers of the Constitution learned from this experience. We should as well.

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Filed under 2012 election, Politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Fragments and Segments

** Some of those adjustable rate mortgages sold to homeowners in what are now Foreclosure Frontrunners (like Las Vegas, NV) were based on the nefarious mix of indexes and margins.  Bankrate.com explains: “When you get an ARM, two main factors determine the rate you pay: the index and the margin. The index is a rate set by market forces and published by a neutral third party. The margin is an agreed-upon number of percentage points that is added to the index to determine your rate.”  One of the most popular spot rate indexes? LIBOR.  (London Interbank Offered Rate)  Just when we might have thought we’d plumbed the depths of the mortgage meltdown muck… Behold! The Department of Justice began investigating LIBOR  as part of  a “criminal probe into whether the world’s biggest banks manipulated a global benchmark rate that is at the heart of a wide range of loans and derivatives, from trillions of dollars of mortgages and bonds to interest rate swaps …” [HuffPo] But wait! There’s more.

There were flaws in banks’ internal controls that allowed traders to manipulate interest rates around the world [Bloomberg] and now after 26 years of association with LIBOR the British Bankers Assn. is trying to put some distance between itself and its creation:

“The British Bankers’ Association, the century-old lobby group that oversees the rate, last week deleted references from its website referring to its role in setting Libor. This week, it met regulators and bank executives to review the future of the benchmark. Under one option, the Bank of England’s proposed Prudential Regulation Authority would take responsibility for policing the rate, said a person with knowledge of the talks who asked to remain anonymous because discussions are private. The BBA says it isn’t seeking to cede oversight to the regulator.” [BusinessWeek]

What’s all the fuss about?  It’s a minor little technical flap? No, because the LIBOR rate underpins about $360 TRILLION — yes, that’s Trillion with a T — in securities globally.  If you want to see what $1 trillion looks like click here, now imagine $360 Trillion.   Continuing the day’s rant — could someone please stop the Financialists from decimating Capitalism, pretty please?

** Must read for the morning: J.P. Coolican’s article in the Las Vegas Sun about the inadequacies of Nevada’s mental health care services. “In Clark County, we have 733 beds, but 127 are set aside for the elderly and 58 for children. We have 298 beds at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, but the Legislature only budgeted staff to support 190.”  Any questions?

** The Miami Herald reports that there are brochures being distributed in the Florida Senate demanding that the state legislature ban Sharia law.  Just asking, but didn’t we just get a barrage of poutrage about a requirement that health insurance corporations provide coverage for contraceptive prescriptions which was characterized as “an assault on religious freedom?”  If the assault on Islamic religious law is not an assault on religious freedom, it’s hard to calculate what it would be.  Has anyone amongst the fundie crowd not yet picked up on the fact that if Sharia is vulnerable, then so is the Jewish Halachah? [JTA]  The freedom of religion is not a license to force everyone else to follow one religion’s precepts.

** Speaking of the Catholic vote, it’s not going to über-Catholic Rick Santorum. ” Santorum’s voting base is white evangelical Protestants, a category that happens to overlap significantly with three other demographics where he does well: “very conservative” voters, Tea Party supporters, and voters from rural and exurban areas.” [WashMonthly]

** Those vote suppression identification laws like the ones passed by Tennessee and Ohio appear to be working, if by “working” it means they are preventing people from voting — like the former Tennessee Congressman who was mysteriously removed from voting rolls and was not offered a provisional ballot, and an 86 year old Ohio World War II veteran who couldn’t cast his ballot because a poll worker rejected his VA identification card. [TP]

** Good headline from The Grio, “Limbaugh’s Downfall is no Fluke.”  Another headline looming as Limbaugh continues to bash the Chevy Volt, America’s answer to the Prius?  Really, Mr. Limbaugh, do you WANT American manufacturers to fail?  [TPM] Best Presidential smack down of a ridiculous question from a Faux news flack, click here.  (Video, but with partial transcript thoughtfully provided for those whose hearing isn’t so hot.)

** “Too small to be a republic and too large to be an insane asylum” (James L. Petigru): South Carolina’s Laurens County Republican Party has a pledge for office seekers to sign — “Your spouse cannot be a person of the same gender, and you are not allowed to favor any government action that would allow for civil unions of people of the same sex.” [HRC] There’s more: “You must favor, and live up to, abstinence before marriage.  You must be faithful to your spouse. Your spouse cannot be a person of the same gender, and you are not allowed to favor any government action that would allow for civil unions of people of the same sex. You cannot now, from the moment you sign this pledge, look at pornography.” [CChron]

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Mental Health, Vote Suppression, Voting