Rep. John Lewis and Religious Freedom

Yesterday and today, the late Representative John Lewis is lying in state at the Capitol. Thousands of people lined up to pay respects to the Congressman yesterday and I’d be surprised if thousands more don’t today.

They may know Rep. Lewis from his days as a Freedom Rider, fighting for racial justice. They may know him from the graphic novels about his civil rights career. They may know him from his 40-ish years representing constituents as an elected official.

I was reminded that Rep. Lewis was a deeply religious man and advocate of religious freedom last week when I got a call from Amy Lee Rosen, a reporter for Law360. She was doing a story about tax bills sponsored by Rep. Lewis.

One of the bills Rep. Lewis sponsored? H.R. 4169: the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act.

I was familiar with the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act; I wrote about it in chapter 4 of my book.

What is the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act? Some context first: Quakers (and some others, including some Mennonites, but I know the Quaker story best) have religious objections to violence. Their Peace Testimony means, among other things, that they are conscientious objectors to war. They have a long history of not participating in war.

For many, however, it isn’t enough for them to avoid fighting; they don’t want to support war in any way. That includes funding the military through their taxes.

Quaker tax resistance has taken a number of forms. Most Quaker tax resistors figure out what portion of the federal budget funds the military and other war-related expenditures and they reduce their tax payments by that amount. Some have claimed what they call a “conscience deduction,” reducing their tax liability by 56%, the proportion of the federal budget that went to the military. Others take the portion of their taxes that would fund the military and escrow those funds, writing on their tax returns that they would turn the escrowed amount over to the government as soon as the government guaranteed that it wouldn’t use the money to fund the military.

Both strategies were spectacular failures. While courts recognize the importance of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, they have consistently held that the federal income tax does not violate taxpayers’ free exercise rights, even where taxpayers have a religiously-based objection to government spending.

While there’s no judicial remedy for the Quakers’ plight, there is a potential legislative remedy. In 1972, the Religious Liberty Trust Fund Act was introduced for the first time, and it has been introduced (with some minor variations) in virtually every Congress since. The current Act essentially requires the Treasury Department to develop an account into which the taxes of designated conscientious objectors would be deposited. Funds in this account could not be used for military purposes but could be allocated to any nonmilitary purpose.

Rep. Lewis has sponsored this bill during the last four Congresses (that is, since 2013). The current iteration of the bill has a single cosponsor in addition to Rep. Lewis.

A couple of thoughts about the bill: first, it would remedy a true infringement on religious liberty. It’s not an area that impinges on our religious liberty as Mormons (our religious objection to war is at very best tenuous[fn1]). And it’s not one that affects a significant portion of the population—as best I can tell, Quakers make up about 0.02% of the U.S. population.[fn2] That means that they almost certainly lack the voting power, on their own, to make legislative change. Since the courts are closed to their arguments, they need allies interested in their religious liberty.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that this bill would be virtually costless for the U.S. There’s some administrative cost in setting up a separate fund, but the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund wouldn’t take a single dollar away from the military.

Why is that? Well, in 2019, the federal government brought in $3.5 trillion in revenue. The Pentagon requested an allocation of $686 billion. Let’s imagine Rep. Lewis’s bill passed and 80,000 Quakers became designated conscientious objectors. Imagine that each paid $11,000 in federal income taxes.[fn3]

That means $880 million in tax revenue can’t be used to fund the military.

0.1% of the military’s requested budget.

But remember, the military’s budget is only about 20% of federal revenue. So somewhere around 80% of that amount wouldn’t have gone to the military anyway.

But wait, there’s more: money is fungible. So we have a fund of $880 million that can’t be used for the military. So the government takes $880 million of taxes that would have gone to fund, say, food and agriculture (total budget in 2015: around $13 billion) and gives it to the Pentagon. Meanwhile, it allocates the $880 million in the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund to food and agriculture. Both are fully funded.

But the religious conscientious objectors haven’t been forced to violate their religious consciences.

This bill has failed to pass for the last 48 years, including 7 years that it has been sponsored by the late Rep. Lewis. And yet it is one of the easiest, least expensive ways to defend a group of believers’ free exercise. A bill that Congressman John Lewis, a fierce advocate for equal rights, championed. And, while perhaps it’s not the most pressing testament to his memory that Congress could pass (that would probably be the Voting Rights Act), it would be at least a footnote in his long and distinguished life of service.

[fn1] My freshman year at BYU, I found basically a self-published book from the Vietnam era by somebody arguing that Mormons did (or, at least, could) be conscientious objectors. That was definitely a minority opinion in the church, though.

[fn2] That is, this census puts the number of Quakers in the U.S. at just over 80,000. Meanwhile, the U.S. has a population of about 328 million. If Google did the division right, that’s a miniscule portion of the population.

[fn3] In 2017, 143 million taxpayers paid about $1.6 trillion in income taxes. If you divide that, the average taxpayer paid just over $11,000. Of course, that average is basically a meaningless number, but it works for illustrative purposes and it’s a lot easier to find online than the median tax payment.

Comments

  1. nobody, really says:

    Right after this passes, I’d love to see a tithing designation so none of my money funds BYU.

    I think this bill shows a hard-core conservative like me that even the liberals occasionally come up with a really good idea.

  2. This reminds me of another tax idea floating around out there in which taxpayers could designate a federal department or program to sponsor with their taxes. It’s estimated that enough people wouldn’t check the box that there would be practically no effect on the federal budget (fungibility of money), but people would feel better about paying their taxes and Congress would get a clear message about priorities. I think something like that could address even more concerns from objectors to other uses of federal funds.

    At any rate, the fact that Representative Lewis’s bill has no cost seems to make it a no-brainer.

  3. In August 1963, Lewis participated in the “March of Washington.” He orated along with MLK. At the same time, I had just started my mission and was working in Seraing, Belgium. While I was spinning my wheels on a questionable endeavor (which included trying to justify the Church’s Black ban), Lewis was already a major player in the Civil Rights movement, at the age of 23. I wonder sometimes if my mission time would have been better spent working for civil rights, or some other social or humanitarian cause? There is much to admire when examining the life John R. Lewis. Not so much about examining the Church’s civil right record. It took 15 yrs after 1963 for the Church to remove its Black priesthood/temple ban.

    For me personally, the lesson to be learned here is that the Church should serious reexamine how it uses the time of its young missionaries. Maybe there should be a greater emphasis placed on humanitarian work, on volunteerism. And not just in the USA, but globally. It would do much to improve the image of the Church. Let’s all honor the memory of John Lewis.

    Sorry for veering off the subject of the OP.

  4. steffel says:

    Maybe nearly nobody else wants to sponsor this bill, because they have the mindset that Spencer Kimball addressed in 1976 (full text here: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1976/06/the-false-gods-we-worship?lang=eng):

    ‘We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

    “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44–45.)’

  5. Hortence says:

    Thanks, Sam. Always informative. (Also, it’s minuscule.)

  6. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Thanks for this, Sam. The fact that the money is fungible is always something I find annoying, but in this case it actually helps to make the proposed bill a no-brainer. There really are no losers here (unless you’re simply intent on making others bend to your will).

    Relating to nobody’s comment, above, I would love to designate that none of my tithing dollars go toward BYU but, again, that pesky fungible money problem. It wouldn’t make a difference. The only way my tithing wouldn’t support BYU is if there was no longer a BYU, or if the Church stopped offering any support and made the school figure out how to survive on its own. For the record, I would take either of those options.

    But back to the OP – let’s hope the Voting Rights Act finds renewed support. Sorry, Quakers.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Do we know whether most Quakers and others affected would be ok with this direct tracing approach? Does the same fungibility of money principle that makes it possible also make it less than ideal (IE the military budget will in no way actually be affected)? I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter, because this approach is the most they could hope for.

  8. Deborah Christensen says:

    Who would determine a persons “designated conscientious objectors” status? Who’s the gatekeeper?

  9. Deborah, I wanted to stay simple, but the law defines who qualifies as a designated conscientious objector, as well as the certification process:

    “(a) Designated Conscientious Objector.—For purposes of this Act, the term “designated conscientious objector” means a taxpayer who is opposed to participation in war in any form based upon the taxpayer’s sincerely held moral, ethical, or religious beliefs or training (within the meaning of section 6 of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. 3806(j))), and who has certified these beliefs in writing to the Secretary of the Treasury in such form and manner as the Secretary provides.”

    My specialty isn’t the Military Selective Service Act, but I assume that who qualifies is fairly well-developed. It isn’t creating a new category from whole cloth, though.

  10. lastlemming says:

    The fungibility thing is a fatal flaw in my mind. But there might be an alternative (I haven’t thought this all the way through)–allow anybody to redirect their income tax liability to the Medicare Trust Fund. The HI Trust Fund is projected to run a $9 billion cash-flow deficit this year (increasing after that). Any diversion to the General Fund would have to be borrowed, not simply decreed. And once the Trust Fund becomes insolvent (later rather than sooner if this became popular), even that wouldn’t be an option. Because this approach would put pressure on the General Fund, it might actually reduce military spending. But it could just as easily reduce spending on Food Stamps, so there a definite risk involved.

  11. While we’re at it, let’s add a “Non-Abortion tax trust fund”.

  12. iyam, while it’s off topic, I will note that there have been Catholic (and likely other, but I’ve just seen the cases with Catholics) taxpayers who have refused to pay their taxes because they oppose funding abortion.

    They met with precisely the same level of success in the courts as the Quakers. And in theory they could probably push for the same type of legislation. The Non-Abortion Tax Trust Fund strikes me as significantly less sympathetic though, for at least two reasons. First, because of 1976’s Hyde Amendment, the federal government is largely prohibited from funding abortion. (There are a handful of exemptions, including life of the mother, rape, and incest, exemptions which track Mormon rules on abortion pretty closely.)

    Consonant with that, very few federal dollars presumably go to pay for abortion. While money is fungible, it’s a whole lot harder to trace your dollars to an expenditure of a fraction of a percent of federal expenditures as opposed to 20+%.

    All that said, though, there’s no reason you couldn’t try to get a similar bill passed.

  13. lastlemming says:

    On the one hand, nontaxable employer-paid health insurance premiums for policies that cover abortion are a form of federal subsidies for abortion. On the other hand, it is arguably cheaper for an insurer to pay for an abortion than to cover the costs of an unwanted pregnancy and the resulting child’s illnesses. So even if plans had to exclude abortion for their premiums to remain nontaxable, the level of the premiums, and thus federal revenues, might not change much. Meaning the indirect subsidy may or may not exist.

  14. For these purposes I’m ignoring the tax expenditure budget. The good-faith argument here is that Religious Individual doesn’t want their tax dollars to support X Thing Against Their Religion because that’s the only way their free exercise rights could possibly be infringed.

    And while we know that tax expenditures are identical economically to actual expenditures, it’s a lot harder to draw a straight line from my tax dollars to any given tax expenditure in a way that implicates me in the funding.

    And again, I agree that tax expenditures are the same as direct expenditures economically.

  15. Geoff-Aus says:

    I understand in Germany the government specifies what % of taxation is spent on various areas. Say 40% military, 10% on health, 10% on education. Politicians can then go to elections saying they will reduce military to 38%, and increase health and education by 1% each.
    If % are specified it might be easier to specify where your taxation is spent for conscientious objectors. This way too you can have more say in what you do want to fund.
    Iyam, That would be counterproductive, because defunding abortion does not reduce the number of abortions. Reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies reduces the number of abortions. Unwanted pregnancies are caused by not having sex education, not having affordable birth control, and poverty. 78% of abortions in the US are for women living below the poverty line. Abortions are always lower under democrat presidents, because they fund womens services. When you get universal healthcare that will reduce the number of abortions, because birth control will be affordable to the poor. If there were no poor that would help too.
    Sorry could not let lyam continue in ignorance.

  16. Atlanta Citizen says:

    I live in the congressional district that John Lewis represented. He is very popular. But also extremely polarizing and i have never voted for him.I think it s important to have a balanced view and since all the comments are on one side so far, I wish to mention a few things on the other side.

    Lewis was a very hard-core liberal with not the slightest hint of moderation. It was all-or-nothing thinking from him. In these days when the country is being torn apart by divisiveness on both sides, he was an early, consistent and extreme example of it.He often accused anyone with whom he did not agree as “sowing seeds of hatred and division,” even though that exactly describes much of his rhetoric.

    He gained popularity by being beaten up, not for anything he did. He did become one of the gang of 6 iconic civil rights activists as a teenager who happened to be in the right (wrong) place at the right time. He was not bright, poorly educated as a Baptist minister, although the recipient of about 35 honorary degrees. He couldn’t pass a drivers license test until he was in his 40’s…

    He compared moderate Jon McCain to George Wallace and brought a response from Obama himself that McCain was not comparable to Wallace. This is ironic that Obama now takes his eulogy as an opportunity to compare Trump to Wallace. Lewis criticized Bernie Sanders as unsuitable for not being liberal enough and for being absent during the civil rights movement, when Sanders was a mayor of a small town in Vermont. He and his ink are responsible for the lack of almost any support for Sanders by black voters, even though Sanders is far closer to Lewis in political agenda than Biden, whom Lewis supported heartily.

    Lewis boycotted George Bush’s inauguration and he would never accept the many recounts that showed Bush did win by a few hundred votes. He did not accept Trumps election even though Trump clearly won the electoral college and Clinton conceded. Lewis compared Trump to Wallace and boycotted Trump’s inauguration, saying it was the first one he missed in 40 years. (Bush?) He is an example to others such as Stacey Abrams who, to this day, does not recognize the results of the close election she lost to Brian Kemp. Big surprise that Kemp is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms for not cooperating with his decrees. Both women are on Biden’s short list ffor VP.

    The reason we are losing the battle against the covid pandemic is because our government is ineffective at multiple levels. Examples multiply from both sides at every level not cooperating with the other and trying to make political hay. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying because of it and we continue to destroy our economy.

    Realize that when people in powerful positions repeatedly reject election results, they give cover for the other side to do the same thing. Already Trump has floated the idea of delaying the election. If lawless looters tear down Confederate statues, don’t be surprised when others desecrate monuments to MLK, Lewis and others. You cannot act like a child and always expect the other side to act like an adult.

    We are going to see a terrible, violent backlash the day after the US presidential election, regardless of who wins and doubly so if it is close. We can thank many of our elected leaders like Lewis for it, not just the clown in chief. My hope and prayer is that the American republic can somehow survive this next election. If it does not, and that is not impossible, we can thank many people for it- including John Lewis. The remarks at his funeral are going to have a different flavor.

  17. Atlanta Citizen, when you say “all the comments are on one side so far,” it’s reads almost like you neither read the post, nor the comments, but instead have come here to soap box on someone else’s thread. We get that you have strong political opinions. But really, your comments have almost nothing to do with what is going on here. There are plenty of other, much more appropriate forums for that.

  18. Atlanta Citizen, I’ve taken down your comment. It wasn’t related to the post in the least and was largely inaccurate. That you don’t like Rep. Lewis is your business, but the post is about his sponsoring the Religious Liberty Trust Fund Act, and more generally about his support for religious liberty. If you want to comment in that direction, you’re welcome to do it. But to the extent you want to insult and devalue the late Representative, please find somewhere else.,

  19. Atlanta citizen says:

    This rejection of my comments is plain censorship and reflects the echo chamberization of the digital media .I agree my comments seem to have nothing to do with what is going on here and that is exactly why I responded. It is beyond me how one can discuss John Lewis and religious freedom in a vacuum of his long history of his divisive political positions that endanger freedom in the name of it. He is a radical threat to more than our religious freedom. I neither insult nor devalue John Lewis, but his own words speak for himself. You insult him by calling his words I cite as insulting.

    The title of the article is John Lewis and Religious Freedom. John Lewis was a minister who attended a Christian seminary but had no congregation. All of his life, he preached a watered-down and thinly veiled version of black liberation theology which is a twisted caricature of Christianity. Perhaps this source would be acceptable to this crowd. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_theology.

    I have seen the emissaries of this movement passing out pamphlets on government funded public transportation where soliciting is forbidden. I have asked for a copy of the pamphlets and been called vulgar racists labels and threatened with violence if I did not get off at the next stop. This only heightens my curiosity and I dig them out of the garbage can.

    This ideology blames the white race for all evil on the earth. The black race is a millions years old but the white race is a more recent mutation spawned by the devil. Before the white race there was no war or slavery. There was no disease, poverty or famine. The white Greeks stole all of the advanced ideas from black Egyptians. The only Jesus in this scheme is the black Jesus. The ideology ultimately demands the annihilation of the white race from the face of the earth. The excuses are not as elaborate as Nazi anti-antisemitism but no less vitriolic.

    As an example of the double speak characteristic off this movement, consider ‘we shall overcome.. ” This refers to more than overcome injustice and discrimination. It ultimately advocates enslavement or worse of the white race.

    Since you accuse me of my own inaccurate opinions, I give you a flavor of what is not well-known and not easily cited above. I realize it is like trusting our missionaries to accurately reflect the teachings of our leaders, but in both cases I think they get it mostly right.

    My “largely inaccurate” comments in the previous post are moderate and easily verified, all were on the wiki article on John Lewis unless that has been “fixed.” We can play the citation game and ignore reality. It seems characteristic of the national dialogue at this time.

    The Religious Liberty Trust Fund Act appears to me to be an elaboration on basic First Amendment rights, but the devil is in the details of which ideological groups pays (FUND ACT) and which are paid. Black liberationists expect rich white people to pay for their own destruction by believing twisted rhetoric and guilt.

    Carry on.. At my age and social situation, I will probably not survive the pandemic. My life, let alone my opinion, doesn’t matter. Yours may not in the end either. Too bad.

  20. Atlanta Citizen, there are valid complaints about censorship that ought to be made and addressed at times. Having your soap box, digressive comments deleted from a thread is not one of those times. Also, we get that you’ve have life experiences and believe things about political figures and movements. Dumping them all here and spewing a bunch of hateful, fringe, mumbo-jumbo, however, isn’t really helpful to your cause and instead makes you look very much the alarmist, manipulative whiner that you complain about.

  21. MDearest says:

    The previous commenter from Atlanta claims nefarious goals by Black liberation theology for the destruction of [white] civilization, intended to be funded by wealthy [white] taxpayers As if that’s not exactly what has been done over the centuries to Black and other people with brown skin by people with less melanin. And if we could learn our history without shrinking in shame, this oppression is ongoing and ever evolving.

    I spent my morning listening to a podcast discussing what the research shows about white Christian protestant church attitudes toward racism in the past 100 or so years and learned new things about foot-dragging lip-service and burying of important information where it can be ignored; ways to subvert and stonewall legitimate pressure to correct injustice. The petulance of gathering one’s marbles and going home to eat worms is just more of the same avoidance.

    Evolution is hard. Some of us are too old to keep up with the learning curve, I understand that. But it appears to me that we have an imperative to evolve or die. Yep, Black supremacists could be a real threat, and wouldn’t that be a terror. It would take a lot of skills and sheer vigilant participation to have the conversations and build the scaffolding for the construction of true egalitarian society for all of our descendants to live in, and also maintain. it’s exhausting even to think about, mich less research, so I understand when people choose the latter when faced with that imperative. But, I figure I’m gonna die anyway, so why not die trying?

  22. MDearest says:

    (Edit)
    And I might add I have not yet been able to discern which is worse: being subject to such racial supremacist terrorism, or being a party to the perpetration of it.

  23. Atlanta citizen says:

    I agree with most if not all of what MDearest wrote.

    Does this not make my point?

    Folks is folks, black and white. Most want to get along. But some on both sides are anything but nice. Why would the worst of the oppressed not retaliate if given the chance? This is a fact that the current narrative does not accept. Some people of every race are going to oppress and exploit others, including horse swagglin’ the voter. Trump is doing it now. Lewis has made a political career of it.

    As for your last little edit, I think it is worse being a victim in this life and probably worse in the next life for the perpetrators. Some are both.

    Consider our descendants. Assume 2 groups of people in a population, A and B. A is 90% and B is 10%. Assume only 5% mating across group lines. Assume no migration in or out and similar fertility rates and average age of mothers birthing children. What does the population look like in 250 years or 10 generations? Longer? Hint- Look up Hardy Weinberg. Adjust the variables a bit in the direction you guess is closer to reality. The point is that we are all going to have descendants who are from both races and it happens a lot faster than I thought. Unless we have near 0% interracial mating or near 100% extinction of one group or the other. It appears both of those mules ran out of the corral a long time ago.

  24. MDearest says:

    Your point is clear, but the only inspiration I find in it is to gather my own marbles and go home and bake a worm casserole, and mark time while the world burns.

    By contrast, in Representative Lewis’s words I find much inspiration, and I believe he could be very productive in government. I admire his career and his origins, and especially the wisdom I see in the later years of his public service.

    The most inspiring words I read this week were the remarkable essay he wrote for publication on the day of his funeral, which is like a light in the fog, not a map forward, but guiding principles that are a great help to people who feel the collective impulse to change what we allow, and make justice available to all people, for real. Principles that improve success for people who want to address the systemic terrorism in our country instead of continuing to ignore it. It’s very short, and should have an honored spot with the best of our political addresses. Find it and read it.

    So no, I don’t look upon John Lewis as someone to fear among the leadership of the left but someone who could be trusted to represent his views with honor, at the government table where all of us deserve representation.

    I’m not clear about the last part of your comment, or even what your point is. I think I am probably not even at all interested in your theories of racial genetic mixing. To the degree that I cannot form a question about it. Please don’t bring that up to me anymore.

  25. Atlanta citizen says:

    Fair enough.

    Marbles, and worm casserole. That’s your response to Trump?

    I have much to fear. Have you considered what is going to happen in 92 days- after the Nov POTUS election?

    Regardless of who wins, the extremists who lose are likely going to burn this city. This is far bigger than Rodney King.* Today 1000 National Guard troops are preventing the capital building from being burned by BLM extremists. If Trump loses, he is predictably going to misbehave and throw some kind of tantrum the likes of which we haven’t seen yet. He will inflame both sides. His radicals are already preparing to destroy the monuments to MLK and civil rights symbols in retaliation for the lawless destruction of Confederate symbols. If BLM sprayed the CNN building with graffiti, what will the other side do to it?

    In contrast to BLM extremists, the right wingers are better armed (rifles not just hand guns), hunt and practice shooting more and have far more military training and experience. The National Guard defending the capital building is mixed race but majority white. Atlanta police who are white are taking sick days off in a strike (‘blue flu.’) The city police are 40/60% (w/b) but the state police is closer to 70/30% (w/b). National police unions have endorsed Trump. Who can we rely upon to protect us? Ask the Koreans, in LA during 1992. The USMC/USAF/USA with, who is their commander in chief? How long will it take to impeach him the second time?

    I don’t think clinging to copies of “inspirational” Lewis essays close to my heart is going to stop the bullets or the flames fired by either side. We need to find middle ground. Lewis was not. People who were inspired by him should honor him at his death. But lines were crossed when pot-shots were taken by those in the very most influential positions in a current political climate that is past the point of becoming violent and is not far from an armed revolution.

    To clarify my last point. I won’t bring it up, but I will put it down. Not my theory. I say nothing about my racial genetic mixing theory because I have none. Hardy Weinberg is not a crank theory, it is the name of a simple mathematical formula taught in Genetics classes at every university and applied to the population of any species that reproduces sexually. Our descendants (our= American LDS reading this blog) will eventually include people who are categorized as both black and white today. Given a few hundred years, the mathematical probability goes over 99% for each and every one of us. Brazil is a place where the principles are the same and the numbers were different (more Africans and more intermarriage) so the result is happening much more quickly.

    *LA riots in 1992: 63 known deaths over 6 days, many more not reported. At least 2000 injured, 7000 fires. 3000 businesses closed, over 10,000 arrests. At least a billion dollars property destroyed. Federal military forces required to quell it. Ignited by a binary decision, guilty or not guilty. Just like win or lose an election.

  26. Sorry Steve, et al. This is my last reply.

    Because I’ve said what I found positive in Rep. Lewis’s message, which gives me hope.

    And because the gentle person from Atlanta has reading comprehension issues. My reference to marbles and casserole was clearly stated as a potential response to their negative comments, which response is rejected, for the record.

    I didn’t really engage anymore with the rest of their last (I hope?) comment. My response to that, and to Trump’s garbage fire, is to seek my inspiration elsewhere. If anyone else is tempted to wallow in fear and despair, I recommend holding a vision of our great-grandchildren working on maintaining a fair and just society, that we contributed to building, and reading John Lewis’s funeral essay as an inspirational antidote. It deserves a blog post all on it’s own.

    I’ll get back to work now.

  27. Atlanta citizen says:

    Thank you for allowing me to make the remarks that I did, at least some of them. And to illustrate how far apart we have gotten and how difficult it is to understand each other, even when we seem to partially agree (see great grandchildren remarks above). I share this vision but I think Lewis was a hypocrite and divisive over the majority of is lifetime.

    And for the record (What record? This is not a congressional hearing) I think MDearest knows I understand, but does not accept that I disagree. And maybe some of the rest of you. Usually people with actual disabilities (like reading comprehension issues) invoke compassion or pity, not anger or personal insults. Comprehension is different than agreement.

    I hope Trump loses because for me, (one of many reasons) his radicals might be less likely to kill me than the others. But I really don’t want to see more, lots more, blood shed. I likely will not be able to avoid that by seeking inspiration elsewhere.

    Perhaps the roller coaster is already moving too fast down the hill… It is ultimately a mistake to think our lives are even partially our own. They are in God’s hands.

    I hope God protects all the participants in this blog, to make it through the election alive and through the pandemic and the substantial economic hardships ahead and hopefully no shooting war with China.

  28. Geoff - Aus says:

    Atlanta, You seem to be concerned with the races mixing, why? Would that not solve the racial problem?

  29. Atlanta citizen says:

    I don’t worry about feelings as much as facts and principles.So whether you or I like it or not, the reality is that some of our descendants will be mixed race.

    I almost married an Asian girl. My Depression/WWll era parents were not amused. An older cousin married a guy from Persia, not cool. But my adopted daughter married a Mexican guy and we consider her children like our grand children. One of my son’s best friends recently married an Asian girl. One of my kids had a really nice second generation Mexican “friend” and I wish they had gotten married. My daughter married a good ol’ boy from rural Georgia who treats her like a princess and he climbs tall pine trees with a chain saw and wrassles 6 ft alligators and poaches deer with a crossbow. He is the best thing to happen to her in spite of his quirks. We have all sat around the dinner table and it is not an issue. So the logical part of me accepts it and the dark voices from the past amuses me the same way trump getting kicked off social media amuses me, the stupid arse.

    I think racial intermarriages will eventually go a long way to solving the racial problems but not as easily and directly as one might wish. We will move from us versus them to where are you on the continuum. For example is it a coincidence, that the position in which the know-nothing media ranks the black women being considered for VP candidate as near the front versus near the back, is reversely correlated with the darkness of their skin?