Monthly Archives: July 2009

A couple of problems I have with the Texas Constitution

The Preamble to the Texas Constitution gets right to it:

Humbly invoking the blessings of Almighty God, the people of the State of Texas, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

“Almighty God” seems to imply a Judeo-Christian (and as Allah, Muslim) exclusive intent.

Immediately following, the Bill of Rights are in Article 1, and they have some exclusive requirements:

Sec. 4.  RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being. {emphasis added}

Wow.  That excludes atheists, agnostics, Buddhists,Shinto practitioners, and I’m sure a host of other less well known religions that don’t subscribe to a Supreme Being.  I won’t address the gender of the office holder.

Sec. 6.  FREEDOM OF WORSHIP. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No man shall be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent.

There are other religions that have a Supreme Being that is not referred to “Almighty God”.  I read the key phrase in there to be “maintain any ministry against his consent”.  What about the tax-free status of churches (includes temples, synagogues, etc.)? Following that thread, one might presume that without the contribution supporting the services that said churches enjoy (i.e., police and fire protections), the costs of those services are borne by the communities through higher taxes.  And with those higher taxes, it follows that I am maintaining a ministry against my will.  And any tax deduction given by the government for contributions to churches is in effect a subsidy, (say you give $1000 and are in the 25% tax bracket – you give $750 and the government “gives” $250 – in my book that’s a subsidy) and the separation issue is ignored.

I will admit the one good thing about the religious content of the Texas Constitution is the definite prohibition of state funds and property from being used for religious purposes:

Sec. 7.  APPROPRIATIONS FOR SECTARIAN PURPOSES. No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the State be appropriated for any such purposes.

Thoughts, anyone?

Review: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Cradle_to_Cradleby William McDonough and Michael Braungart

Scary.  And educational – I was shocked to learn that chromium is used in leather tanning.  Bottom line – doing less bad is still no good.  “Bottomer” line – we have to change just about everything that we do.  Cradle to grave is fallacious.  As for throwing away – there is no more “away”.

While the book is really aimed at industry, there’s a message for everyday humans.  This book is idealistic and unrealistic, but that bottom line above still stares us in the face and in the end something must be done, or it will be the end.

One really cool thing is that it is printed on a recycled/recyclable plastic “paper” with a reusable, non-toxic ink.  It’s heavier than a normal book of its size, but it still feels like paper.