Thursday, May 12, 2005

George F. Will Puts on the Brakes

It's not just me and my fellow secularists... Conservative commentator George F. Will is concerned about the pendulum swinging towards theocracy, too.

I do not believe in God, and not for a lack of exposure to faith. My mother was raised as a nominal Catholic and my father is a lapsed Congregationalist. I went to Sunday School and to church on Easter and at Thanksgiving and at Christmas. My grandmother, my love for whom was immeasurable, was first and foremost a Christian and will forever be fondly remembered as such.

My wife is a woman of faith, albeit a different faith. She is from a Buddhist country and spent time as a Buddhist "nun" in a temple in the mountains after she finished college. Her uncle is monk who holds a high position in the monk hierarchy - I think of his position as being like that of a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. My wife's grandmother is a nun and my mother-in-law wakes up every morning at around 4:00AM to cook for the monks in the monastery nearby and walks a mile in the dark with her wicker basket full of food to bring to them. My brother-in-law escaped a dangerous drug habit by entering the priesthood and we were so proud of him. He just left the monastery to return to secular life after 9 years. Someday I'll show you a photo of the cute little house for visiting monks that I paid to have built in a mango grove at the monastery my mother-in-law brings food to. My teen-aged daughter, having spent much of her life in the old country with her mother, has been raised Buddhist by her mother and considers herself to be a Buddhist.

While choosing not to participate in acts or beliefs of faith, I have a profound sense of its importance to those who do choose to participate - and I respect that. I find faith and many of its physical accoutrements to be quite beautiful at times. Like most people who have traveled a great deal my memories of places are filled with visits to churches, cathedrals, mosques, temples, monasteries and ashrams.

Where tax money, public service and government here at home are involved, however, faith makes me very uncomfortable. Why is that?

Perhaps it stems from the fact that when one faith is asserted, there is an implicit message that it is the one true faith. Christians AND Muslims AND Jews AND Hindus AND Buddhists can't all have the monopoly on the one true faith.

I live in a blue town in a blue county in very blue Massachusetts. A few months ago we were at a performance at my daughter's public school. My daughter was singing in the school chorus. My wife and I sat in the audience as the kids filed onto stage. My daughter is small so she was in the front row.

The principal of the school started the performance by leading everyone in a prayer - a Christian prayer. The theme of the prayer wasn't a problem for me - it was actually a prayer that our fighting men and women overseas would return home safely. It was the prayer itself - a Christian prayer at a public school lead by a civil servant for a mixed faith audience.

Serious question: If you were in the audience watching your child and the principal came out and opened the concert with a Hindu prayer for Ganesh the elephant god, what would you think?

Next question: As Americans we are free to worship as we please in our homes and our churches/temples/mosques/synagogues. Nobody is challenging this. Again I live in the bluest of towns in the bluest of states and there are a dozen different flavors of Christian churches up the street for me to choose from, as well as a synagogue, mosque and Buddhist temple close by. If the basic rights to worship freely in home and at church are not in jeopardy, what more is it that conservative Christians are looking for from the state?

Final question: What is your reaction to the George F. Will article?

[Note from LiberalAvenger... I lost part of my original question in a mishap here. It has been my intent to try to rewrite it, but this hasn't happened yet. Since Dadmanly has already graciously responded, I am posting this with my question as is and Dadmanly's full response. Thanks.]

Dadmanly Responds:

I read and was somewhat troubled by George Will's piece. I believe he himself exaggerates the import of some of the events he uses to support his assertions. I do think there is some element of truth, in noting a fair amount of exaggeration and posturing on the part of "aggrieved believers." But I think that is true for both sides of these debates of religion and public expression; both sides are using the "outliers," the extremes to paint a picture of the whole that I think distorts for effect.

There is almost no real argument here, unless we argue the exceptions to the rule. Most Christians in most settings are not remotely persecuted -- for true persection, try being a Christian in a Muslim country or a dissident in Cuba or China -- and likewise, most people of other faiths or atheists are not remotely persecuted or suffer any of the "oppression" of the majority. If given a majority Christian population in any particular setting, that public expressions might more often include those particular to the majority should be of no surprise and little consequence.

I have no inherant right to never or seldom be exposed to public utterances of religious expression that is contrary to my own. I have no inalienable right to never suffer offense, or never hear or see things I disagree with, no matter how strongly I disagree or am discomfitted. Believe me, Believers are living this every day in the continual degradation and lowering common denominators for public expression in conversation, media, television and other popular entertainments. To say we can "turn it off," "walk away," "ignore it," is to underestimate the prevasiveness and intensity of the onslaught.

I have been asked several times some version of, "imagine you are in the audience, and a public official (of X faith) makes a public expression of (X religious practice). My answer is of course, I would be somewhat uncomfortable, depending on the context. And that's a pretty big dependence.

Do public officials work for the people they represent 24 by 7? Only 9-5? Weekends too? If their official duties bring them to public events, but without official sanction (think sporting events or public celebrations), are they then freed from the constraint against public expression?

I do not disagree at all with the idea that public officials ought not to use their positions to at all promote a particular faith. I do however think it facile to suggest they somehowhave to "turn off" their spiritual or religious sensibilities as they might inform moral or ethical decision-making. (And no, I don't think I hjave anything to fear by the Jewish believer who allows his or her faith to inform his moral judgement in public decision-making, likewise the Muslim, or Buddhist, etc. Most faiths do not significantly impact or stress political activism, so I think it's mostly a non-issue.

Frankly, I think the lack of a moral or ethical framework, and moral relativity in both unfaithful believers, misguided adherants, or non-believers is potentially more dangerous to our society, and why I think a lot of this discusssion is a distraction. Money has way too much influence in politics, the employees and managers of some businesses behave unethically and irresponsibly, some industries take too little responsibility for their products and their after-effects, and in many walks of life individuals are way to self-oriented and self-absorbed and refuse to be accountable for their behavior and the condition of the thought, image, and behavior world they help create.

I would object to Will's passing shot at the buzzer of his article:
But Republicans should not seem to require, de facto, what the Constitution forbids, de jure: "No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust."

I think the notion that Republicans are using a Religious litmus test on appointees is stretching the point in two ways.

I do think Republicans are actively seeking judges who square up with the notion of articulated and enumerated rights, constitutional constructivists who want to drag the courts back away from judicial activism. I would not all that a religious litmus test. I would call it a test for a form of jurisprudence, and in that it emphasizes the rule of law as balanced by the constitution, and not some new construct of implied or derived rights, seems to be a legitimate grounding for judicial appointments.

In contrast, I believe Democrats are quite openly blocking or rejecting appointments specifically on the basis of a religious test. Jurists who are devout in their faith can't be trusted to perform their public trust impartially nor base their decisions in law versus their "beliefs." And yet it would be hard not to notice that ever since the Warren Court, many Supreme Court decisions have been decided in just such a way.

21 Comments:

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Huntress said...

First of, in reading his article I do not see any instance of him expressing concern about the pendulum swinging towards theocracy. All George is very clearly stating is that while some Christians may "feel" persecuted, and feel that secularism is encroaching on their "religiousity" it is simply not true. "But their persecution complex is unbecoming because it is unrealistic"

Crying victim, be you Christian or Secularist is unnecessary. I find that secularists such as yourself LA cry victim often as much as evangelicals do.

It is indeed shameful that schools cannot display naitivity scenes.
What irks me is that secularists deny that the HISTORY of Jesus, is the History of Jews and the Bible is the narrative of the Jews..its doesn't belong soley to Christians!

Should we not allow great works of religious art to be displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago because "they offend" your secular sensibilities?

Extremism is ugly...and breeds tyranny, the same tyranny we have tried to eradicate the world over.

A prayer for the protection of our troups is by no means an inditement of any other religion.

I grew up in Boston too LA, and I was the ONLY jew in my hood. My mom is jewish, my dad is christian. I was baptized, my sister was not.She is married to a jew, and they maintain a traditional reformed jewish home. I have travelled around the world on my own since I was 16, speak 5 languages, and have a degree in comparative religion.And most people I have spoken to walk with God in some way or another.

I am neither a jew or christian, but I do have a strong, loving, faithful relationship with God. I walk with God daily.

You feel that in America each religion claims to be the only true path to God, which is why you have a problem with religion in America unless confined to your home or church, yet that you can enjoy the places of religion in other countries.

But Christians are Christians, no matter the country, and ALL believe they walk the true path to God.

However you clearly do NOT understand the Jewish narrative or what jews believe.

Jews do not believe that any one path is the truth path to God, but that each path is created by God to lead us all back to Him in the way we choose. Extremely Hasidic jews might believe that they are closer to God because of esthetic considerations, but the jewish faith in general has never claimed to be the "sole and true "path to God.
Jews simply to not believe Jesus was the Messiah, that he did not fulfill the requirements as prophesized in the OT.

I think your secularism is misguided if you view all religion in a way that simply speaks to your fears.

After Vatican 2, even the Catholic stance on who is saved, was changed, from being only those Christians that came to Christ through the Catholic church, to "salvation can be given to anyone through the Grace of God". Evangelicals have long held that NO ONE comes to God through the Catholic church, but ONLY through Christ himself.

Each claims the Bible proves their belief.

Vatican 2 angered alot of Catholics and Evangelicals for similar reasons. Because each believed in the exclusivity of their path,or the Gospels( in the case of Evangelicals) and each believes their understanding of Jesus teachings to be "right".

I think they are both(Catholics and Evangelicals) off the mark..but thats for another conversation.

And so what if each path claims to be the only true path? Why does that piss you off? It sounds to me like you have an inferiority complex. Its as if hearing a religion make that kind of claim in some way diminishes you or makes those who hold to that truth "Superior or better" than you, in your mind.

So you rage out in anger convinced you're being persecuted and that the US is moving towards a theocracy, out of feelings of inferiority that appear to be more self inflicted than anything else.

What difference does it make that the prayer is a christian prayer? It's intention was NOT to convert you. Its intention was to offer protection and love to our deployed troups. DId the teacher say ONLY those that are Christians will be saved? Did he start prostlyizing?
No, he simply offered a prayer to our troups!

Does listening to choirs sing some of the most beautiful hymms ever written upset you? Make you feel like someone is shoving their beliefs in your face? Trying to convert you?

It doesn't to me..and I m not a Christian!

They move me, they are powerful and evocative, and they are of God, not a Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Budhhist view of god, but of GOD!

I see God in the Sunrise, and the Sunset, the eyes of a child, or a cat, in the beauty of a rose, in the stars of night sky.

Are you offended by those images?

Some of the most wonderful art, literature, poetry, song, music, was been created as expression of someone's experience with God!

Does this offend you? Should Christian rock music, and Christian radio shows, and Christian themed tv shows, like Touched By An Angel or Highway to Heaven or Joan of Arcadia be removed from the airwaves because they are about God, and our relationship to God, and yet are not confined to a church?

I think you have deeper issues, LA, that need to be examined, not the least of which is being over sensitive and fearful for no understandable reason.

In the 80's these same "the sky is falling" remarks were heard from Democrats about Ronald Reagon.

"The country is moving towards a Christian theocracy" was echoed by Dems and Liberals for 8 yrs.

And yet that did not happen!

What I find even more intriguing is that both Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton are born again Christians, and yet for some reason, that fact didnt create panic and fear in the hearts of secularists. liberals, and non Christians during their administrations!
Kennedy was a Catholic and never hid that fact in office.

America was founded on JUDEO CHRISTIAN principals.Our constitution was based on the Ten Commandments. The founding fathers took those moral and spiritual guidelines and turned them into laws that could be lived by daily.

Our founding fathers were diests, they believed in God, and created the caveat of Separation of church and state only to prevent the country from creating an american version of the "Church of England".

It was never meant to exclude ones relationship with God from the lives of those in public office. We swear allegiance to God and Country, the Oath of Presidency is taken on the Bible, the Ten Commandments should be present in public offices.

Those Commandments are NOT the sole property of Christians, or Catholics, or Jews, but a set of God given laws written on the hearts of men; laws that we live by, in order to prevent anarchy, laws that in general are understood and recognized by people all over the world no matter what "faith" or lack thereof that they subscribe too.

Even primates are known to have an intrinsic understanding of morality as outlined in the Ten Commandments.

These are NOT religious laws, LA, they are MORAL laws that govern us all.

Why should they be removed from any gov't building. They in no way violate Separation of Church and State...only in the fearful minds of those who are liberals, secularists, or aethists.


The Code of Hammurabi in Ancient Babylon was similar if not identical to the Commandments and precedes them by almost 1000 yrs!

I think you really need to examine your inferiority/victim complex. Simply because a Christian tells me I won't be saved doesn't AFFECT who I am, I don't buy into it...so I can be happy about my life...and yet allow him to believe as he wants.

A Christmas naitivity scene in a school, a Christian prayer meant for our troups, doesn't cause me to feel scared, or victimized, or leave me feeling inferior, or less holier, or less spiritual or less closer to God or less of a human being or less valuable or portends to be a sign that we are moving towards a theocracy!

Just because an evangelical believes I won't be saved...doesnt make it true and sure as hell doesnt taint my love for Christian hymms, art, prayers, song, or history.

Why does it bother you so much?

Just from your coloured take on George Will's article, I can tell you harbour deep resentment to those of faith..and towards Christians.

Its funny to me how Jews do not seem to feel the LEAST bit insulted or threatened by displays of Naitivities during the Holiday, or prayers for our troups during a school play or Christian songs, hymms, art, music, and at the Ten Commandments being displayed in a public gov't building.

I didn't hear an outcry from Muslims either.

Insteand, What I have heard is the outcry from those who are secularists and/or for the most part, like yourself, do not believe in God.

 
At 7:00 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

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At 7:02 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

I am an atheist, as well. I do not believe that we are heading toward a theocracy of any kind. I firmly believe that the traditions of America, particularly the expansion of personal freedom, would find such a thing repulsive.

The latest wave of evangelical rabble rousing is likely due to the political climate mixed with tired debates of specificity, e.g. the Ten Commandments displays, prayer in school. I do find the following statement from Dadmanly to be telling, though:

Frankly, I think the lack of a moral or ethical framework, and moral relativity in both unfaithful believers, misguided adherants, or non-believers is potentially more dangerous to our society, and why I think a lot of this discusssion is a distraction.

I don't want to put words into your mouth here, so I'll just ask for clarification: Are you saying that all nonbelievers lack a "moral or ethical framework" and espouse "moral relativity"?

The following quote attributed to then Presidential candidate George H. W. Bush has always bothered me:

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."

I'm under no illusion that even in my lifetime will we have a secular humanist as President, unless s/he is well versed in the religions of the day. This person would definitely have to convince a nervous religious public that worship will be protected. This is something that would not be required of a Christian or a Jew.

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger Terry said...

"Frankly, I think the lack of a moral or ethical framework, and moral relativity in both unfaithful believers, misguided adherants, or non-believers is potentially more dangerous to our society, and why I think a lot of this discusssion is a distraction."

Dadmanly, this statement is insulting. It bothers me that you believe that people who don't subscribe to an established religion 'lack a moral or ethical framework'. I am an atheist, and I would argue that I have just as strong a moral and ethical framework as you do. The major difference is that I didn't have to get it from a book. Does that make my morals and ethics less valid than yours?

Spirituality is not something that is imposed from outside of us.

 
At 11:28 PM, Blogger wanda said...

As I stated earlier this week in a post on my own blog, I do believe there is something akin to a holy war lurking on the horizon.
I don't believe the average man/woman is invested in the need for religion(or should I say Christianity, since that is the only religious group fighting for control) to be a mandatory part of government. We have no desire to force our religious beliefs on anyone and are content to worship in our own churches and in our own way in our personal lives. Most of us really don't want religion taught in school. We realize that we can provide our childrens religious foundation by taking them to church and living our lives as an example. We are comfortable with people of other faiths. We do not want our judges basing their legal decisions on anything other than the law.
However, the republican party has embraced the religious fundamentalists in order to shore up their voter base. They've declared themselves the party of/for Christian belief's. In doing so they have unleashed a powerful lobby that will not be denied. I suspect there are republican politicians who are shaking their heads in disbelief at how far this has spun out of control. You know you have a problem when the President himself feels the need to take a stand (weak as it was) that nonbelievers can be equally patriotic Americans ("If you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship.").
The problem lies in that now we have a small tightly formed group of religious fundamentalist (zealots) who are determined to further their agenda by any means necessary. And you have politicians like Bill Frist, and Tom DeLay who are willing to use this group of people to further their own political careers.
Secularist, atheist, agnostics ect. are equally determined that this is their country and they will not be shuttled to the back of the bus or designated as second class citizens because they choose not to buy into what they see as pie-in-the-sky religion.
There is a battle brewing for the heart and soul of our government. Sooner or later we each will have to decide where we will stand. The zealots tell us if we do not allign our lot with their's we will be left behind . The other side says if you buy into that rhetoric you are buying into the the ultimate theocracy.
As for me, I think I'll....

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

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At 9:46 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Huntress: "I think you have deeper issues, LA, that need to be examined, not the least of which is being over sensitive and fearful for no understandable reason."

Condemn, Convert and Control.

No understanble reason... hmmm... The Crusades were driven by religion... so was the Inquisition... hmm the KKK... women's forced subservience... the Salem witch trials... there's so many reasons to dislike and yes, fear religion, it's laughable that you would claim that doing so was not understandable. Because there are so many who would USE religion as a TOOL to perpetuate their own EVIL agendas and it's so EASY to whip a bunch of pseudo-believers into a foaming frenzy of "mob mentality". History itself says there are plenty of reasons to either admire and/or fear religion. It has done good in the hands of good men, yes. But it has also done terrible evil in the hands of villians.

"America was founded on JUDEO CHRISTIAN principals.Our constitution was based on the Ten Commandments. The founding fathers took those moral and spiritual guidelines and turned them into laws that could be lived by daily."

*rotflh* It always surprises me how many people ACTUALLY BELIEVE that to be TRUE. And you pointed to one of the many reasons why it isn't yourself.

"The Code of Hammurabi in Ancient Babylon was similar if not identical to the Commandments and precedes them by almost 1000 yrs!"

Religious people do not upset me, I do not feel threatened by a nativity scene.. I even put up a small one every christmas for pure decoration, like a Santa Claus on a pine tree. Even though I do not believe in either. It's the fanatical, "holier than thou" condemn, convert, control... mentality that "seems" to be prevalent these days that bothers me. Even the tone of your's and dadmanly's writings suggest that you think Secularist/Atheists, etc are less human and less worthy of respect and should be condemned.

And if I have a persecution complexe, which is entirely possible, it is solely because I HAVE been FORCED to participate in religions that I had absolutely had NO WISH to particpate in because I was TOO YOUNG to have a say. As soon as I got up the courage (2nd grade) to refuse to say the pledge or sing the National Anthem or God Bless America, I stopped and I have not said/sang them since.


oops... *lol* That last line in the post I deleted was a bit too morbid for print.

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger RepubAnon said...

As Dadmanly observes - if you want to be persecuted for your Christian beliefs, move somewhere like China.

Huntress, the reason people didn't feel threatened by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton's religion is that they didn't try using the Government to force-feed their beliefs to others. I recall significant concern over John Kennedy's religion due to claims the Pope could order the president around.

I personally remember mandatory Protestant prayer in public schools - which was different than the prayers taught in my Catholic home. I found this very confusing at the time, and felt excluded from everyone else.

I also had the highly educational experience of being beaten with a belt for being a "dirty Catholic." The beater was caught and punished, but this did give me insight into how people use religion to pervert Christs teachings.

Schools can still teach the history of Jesus and the Jews - they just have to give equal time to other religions. Christians don't have a problem with this - but the Kristians using Christ's teachings to promote intolerance and hate block exposing children to any other viewpoint but their own. As schools can't teach only evangelical Christianity, and the Kristians won't let them teach anything EXCEPT Christianity, the result is no teaching at all.

That is the test for judicial nominees. The Bible says "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and the Catholic Church specifically opposes the death penalty. If a Catholic (like me) cannot impose the death penalty, that Catholic ethically cannot become a judge due to the conflict of interest.

Compare and contrast with these very few judicial activist conservative judges that Mr. Bush wants the Senate to rubber-stamp. Those with a track record have tried to "legislate from the bench" via extreme interpretations of the law. They are being nominated because they do this in a manner agreeable to the extreme right.

The Federal Appeals Courts are the final stop in the Federal Court system. If we allow these courts to fall under the sway of fanatics of either side, we risk breakdown of the glue holding our society together.

There are only three ways to resolve a dispute: (1) Those in power can crush those out of power by force (dictatorship, etc.); (2) Those in the minority can use terrorism against the majority; (3) A dispute resolution system can be set up which follows widely agreed-upon rules of basic fairness and consistency.

Mr. Bush's previously-rejected nominees are undermining our dispute resolution system.

I know the conservatives feel this is "payback" for the Warren Court - but they risk our country's stability for the sake of revenge. The next step would be for the Democrats, upon regaining power, to place all the Bush appointees in a special Federal Circuit with no duties and replace them with, say, Earth First! members.

We need to keep the courts run by judges deciding cases on the Constitution and the law - and not by folks claiming that their personal philosophy trumps either. Whether environmentalism or the Bible, judicial activists must be kept off the court.

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger Synova said...

Carter was strongly criticized for being too forward with his faith while in office.

No one was intimidated by Clinton's faith, but oh do I recall the reaction when he was elected. It was the END TIMES! I believe that Clinton's election was the largest cause of the evangelical political activism we see today. Prior to his election a great many people were comfortable in the belief that their interests were being protected... and while I don't doubt that Reagan and others went out of their way to give that impression, it doesn't take that much attention to events to realize that it wasn't so. With the election of Clinton they lost that delusion.

On a different note... perhaps the reason why Christians find it so hard to believe that other people are going to be devistated or insulted by the suggestion that there is One Right Way is because we're so used to it. It's awful hard to be a Christian without realizing that most everyone else thinks you're going to hell because you aren't the right *kind* of Christian. An excessively generous attitude might be expressed as "Well, I suppose that Catholics can be saved, but it's pretty much by accident." Or "No doubt it's difficult considering their errors in doctrine, but I won't say that Baptists aren't going to heaven." I had a co-worker, a teen-aged boy, tell me, "Oh, you're Lutheran? I'm Catholic. We hate each other, you know." Nor does a Christian, even for a moment, assume that someone is saved just because they attend the right church and say the right things and make the right motions. Salvation is something only God knows.

In any case, it hardly seems important if someone tells me I don't believe correctly. What is that to me?

 
At 11:35 PM, Blogger Huntress said...

Rhianon...who is condeming? Converting? Controling? A man reads a christian prayer in school as a prayer for deployed troups and THATS YOUR IDEA of condeming controling converting?

The fear you express is based on events that happened LONG ago in the past and were not relevant to what LA said.

So if someone uses a hammer to murder a neighbor..do you assume that ANYONE using a hammer is to be feared? That ALL hammers are instruments of death?

LA spoke of not having an issue in other countries were religion is very much in your face and part of life, but in America he views small acts of religious expression in Public Places as a form of theocracy in the making...a small act in a public school is when a man offers a prayer to our troups,that is deemed a Christian prayer, he feels offended. Would he have felt as offended if the prayer had been in Hebrew...a jewish prayer of protection?

Again show me where reading a prayer of to offer protection to our deployed troups is in any way an attempt to convert, condemn, or control. I find your viewpoint steeped in fear and hyperbole.


"Even the tone of your's and dadmanly's writings suggest that you think Secularist/Atheists, etc are less human and less worthy of respect and should be condemned."

Rhianon that comment alone speaks to your personal distain about anyone that has a relationship with God, and your fear of religion. But you confuse the two. I have a relationship with God that has NOTHING to do with any religion. I was born of a jewish mother and christian father but I subscribe to neither religion. My relationship with God is personal and has NOTHING to do with nativity scenes, or prayers, or church, synogues, or "religion". It is a spiritual relationship.


Since I am neither a Christian nor a a jew..but do respect both religions and do in fact celebrate high jewish holidays and attend Midnight Christmas Mass...once again your comment about ME feeling superior to secularists is both based on fear and ignorance and completely untrue..you project your attitudes on others...and its your tone that you should be concerned about, not mine.

I may have a relationship with God...but I have close friends that are aethiests and agnostics and frankly I find that they are closer to God than some Christians or Jews or Muslims I know.

Your fears about religion are so evident in the comments youve made..you convenienttly bring up examples of religious persecution that Christians inflicted at various points throught a LONNNNG history.. but fail to mention the MILLIONS of Christians who have NEVER politicized religion and have never condemned, or persecuted any non christians.

Even my jewish and aethist friends found your remarks annoying and steeped with anti religious rhetoric attempting to be hidden with absurd platitudes like " I don't mind nativity scenes..I put one up".
and this comment " it is solely because I HAVE been FORCED to participate in religions that I had absolutely had NO WISH to particpate in because I was TOO YOUNG to have a say"

You know I was to young to have a say about NOT EATING MEAT..but I don't have a persecution complex. I don't look at meat eaters with distain inspite of being a vegetarian for well over 15 yrs .I know LOTS of kids who also HAD to participate in those same religions whp didnt want to go to church or say prayers or study the Torah or New Testament..but they haven't developed persecution complexes or had the audacity to use that as an excuse for hatred, or condemnation, or disdain towards religion, and those that walk with God in their own way.

And if you actually took time to read the New Testament you'd find that Jesus did in fact treat women with esteem and as an equal, and that women were NOT subservient in the NT. While history does show that during the time of Christ women played a subservient role to men that had everything to do with jewish and roman cultural beliefs and NOTHING TO DO WITH Christianity since it was non existant at that time..nor had anything to do with Jewish religious thinking..but more with Jewish societal concepts at that time...in fact Jesus did not treat women that way, but rather as equals and in fact there are countless examples in the NT of women being treated as equals and respected greatly and not just by Jesus, likewise in the OT where even Sarah, Abrahams wife was held in high esteem by both Abraham and God! Read about Rebecca and various other women of the Bible that were highly regarded.

For the most part...Christianity has NOTHING to do with the way men treat women.. I know plenty of AETHIESTS and SECULARISTS that still believe women should be barefoot and pregnant! They don't subscribe that belief to any religion.


Lastly....your lack of knowledge about the Founding Fathers is sad.
I suggest you spend the next few weeks reading about them...and about how our Constitution was INDEED inspired by the Ten Commandments.If you actually understood the ten commandments as the moral laws that they are and stop insisting on viewing them as religious commandments or as belonging only to Christianity, you might come to understand the obvious connection.

You certainly did NOT understand my point about The Babylonian Codes and The Commandments...I brought that up to demonstrate what many people including yourself fail to understand. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS WERE GIVEN TO JEWS BY GOD. ... they are NOT CHRISTIAN COMMANDMENTS. That Christians have embraced them doesnt make them Christian per se, or the exclusive property of Christianity.So the Commandments did inspire our Founding Fathers...but these not because they are'christian' commandments.. in reality they are JEWISH MORAL LAWS... but because they understood them to be UNIVERSAL MORAL CODES.

You condemn that which you know little about while accusing those of us who walk with God of condeming and trying to convert.

I walk with God and have a strong relationship with God but I have NOTHING to CONVERT you TO...I do not subscribe to religion but I am spiritual. And I will always share my experiences with God even to Aethists, but that does not imply condemnation, or an attempt to convert.

You also do not understand the jewish religious narrative..which is what the Old Testament is about..nor do you understand the relationship between the New Testatment, which serves as the foundational teachings of Christianity and the Old Testament, from which the Ten Commandments come from. The OT has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with JUDAISM. Its the religious history of the Jews.

The Ten Commandments are NOT Christian Commandments..they are moral codes that were given to Jews..one more time.... they are Moral Laws that existed LONG before Christ. In truth they existed LONG before the Israelites..long before Moses brought them down Mt Sinai..but if we are to attach to them a "religious" moniker..then they are JEWISH MORAL LAWS.

In truth however THEY ARE THE MORAL LAWS WRITTEN ON ALL MENS HEARTS, that belong to no religion exclusively and yet belong to all religions and to all of humanity... and they are INDEED the inspiration for the Constitution.

THe Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of NATURE'S GOD entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

THE PROTECTION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE as mentioned by our FOUNDING FATHERS IN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDANCE.. is exactly what was being offered up in the school that LA is SOOO upset about and insulted by.

If you equate what happened in that school with being an example of the US becoming a theocracy then I guess its in keeping exactly with the Declaration of Independence.

One finds an abundance of quotes from those involved in the creation of the Constitution in Independence Hall and those throughout the Ratification process which are quite explicit about the Constitution. The Constitution would only be viable in a society rooted in what our FF believed was a Judeo Christian morality.

The Constitution does not give us our rights and liberties, it merely Guarantees them...those rights and liberities existed already...they were INALIENABLE rights given to us BY THE CREATOR...in others words these were God Given Rights meaning. God Given MORAL LAWS as in The Ten Commandments!

The Constitution was created to insurse, safeguard, protect, and guarantee those rights!

So YES Rhianon...the US CONSTITUTION WAS INSPIRED BY THE TEN COMMANDMENTS WHICH BECAME AND STILL REMAIN THE BASIS OF JUDEO CHRISTIAN PRINCIPALS.

 
At 12:50 AM, Blogger Huntress said...

Dadmanly writes: Frankly, I think the lack of a moral or ethical framework, and moral relativity in both unfaithful believers, misguided adherants, or non-believers is potentially more dangerous to our society, and why I think a lot of this discusssion is a distraction.

Truth be told, its not the first time Ive heard similar thoughts expressed from evangelical (born again) Christians, so I have to pose the same question as Ryan does to Dadmanly

"Does this mean that all non believers lack a moral and ethical framework?"

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger dadmanly said...

Ryan, Terry, Huntress, et al,

I could have made my point plainer. I said:

"Frankly, I think the lack of a moral or ethical framework, and moral relativity in both unfaithful believers, misguided adherants, or non-believers is potentially more dangerous to our society, and why I think a lot of this discusssion is a distraction."

Ryan replied:

"I don't want to put words into your mouth here, so I'll just ask for clarification: Are you saying that all nonbelievers lack a "moral or ethical framework" and espouse "moral relativity"?"

What I meant and intended to convey was, "the lack of a moral or ethical framework, and moral relativity" in anyone, whether they are "unfaithful believers, misguided adherants, or non-believers," is of greater danger and concern.

I did not mean to imply the obverse: that these people lack a framework, but I think people who do lack one are a greater danger. I include in that category those who can't discern morality or lack thereof, or who view all moral positions as relatively equivalent or equal. (I use the term "moral relativity" to loosely suggest this concept.)

 
At 8:42 AM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

"The problem lies in that now we have a small tightly formed group of religious fundamentalist (zealots) who are determined to further their agenda by any means necessary. And you have politicians like Bill Frist, and Tom DeLay who are willing to use this group of people to further their own political careers."

Now we seem to making some progress in that the fringe or most extreme of religious is to be feared. On that point we both agree. Is it not also true that the extreme or opposition of the religious fanatic should also be feared? Both parties have issues that deal with the fringe and both parties have been played like a violin by the fringes to maintain the quality of music they want to hear. That being the ding or click or whatever tone the election machine makes when a vote is caste. The vote however does not imply compliance or absolute buy in by the elected nor does it imply a forceful molding of the elected to do that which the fringe may suggest.

"History itself says there are plenty of reasons to either admire and/or fear religion. It has done good in the hands of good men, yes. But it has also done terrible evil in the hands of villians."

Have those tyrannies of non-religious beliefs faired any better? I think not, to place blame on the religious alone for this state of affairs is nonsense. The tool of religious / non-religious beliefs will be used by villains in any manner that suits their needs. We as the public must understand the tune the pied piper is playing and march differently if required. I don't believe the people of this great nation form the elected the officials we want. We look to the beliefs and potential of those before us prior to election.

"If a Catholic (like me) cannot impose the death penalty, that Catholic ethically cannot become a judge due to the conflict of interest."

Not so if the judge simply rules the case. It is not the judge that imposes the sentence it is the law and trial by jury that imposes the sentence. The judge is but a conduit concerning the law and will of the people he is not the enforcer or apparatus that will deliver the punishment.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

To Huntress, First off, and perhaps this is where we got off on the wrong foot. I was not speaking about the article in question at any point in my *rant* (as I probably should have considering this was a discussion of such). I was remarking on your attempts to "label" aka "condemn" someone who disagreed with you. As you have attempted to "label/condemn" me in your last post. Fine, you would like to label me as being a'feared of religion. You are mistaken. It is not religion that frightens me at all; it is the ease of which religion is used to manipulate the masses into frenzied mobs.

I never said that either THE BIBLE or JESUS CHRIST condoned the act of subjugating women or any of the other horrible things done in the names of them. My whole point was that they have been used as TOOLS to these ends. I would’ve sited examples of other religions and cultures doing such but I am most familiar with the Christian transgressions.

This brings me to why I mentioned them in the first place. You claimed there was no "understandable" reason to fear religion...[I would like to make it clear that I am not saying that anyone here IS afraid of religion, just that there would be understandable reasons to be afraid] well again you're wrong. There is as much reason to fear religion as there is to fear a gun, because in the wrong hands it does great evil. History shows us that. [You cannot say that history, even far distant history (which not all of my examples were… the subjugation of women is not FAR PAST, in fact it is current in some places), doesn't matter in one instance (when I mention it) and then claim it all important in another (when you mention it), that is clearly manipulative/control]

As to your accusation that I did not mention the Christians who had done good... while I did not mention specifics I did note this "History itself says there are plenty of reasons to either admire and/or fear religion. It has done well in the hands of good men, yes. But it has also done terrible evil in the hands of villains."

I have a personal aversion to religion, yes, I won't pretend otherwise. It seems to me to be based on delusion and delusion is not comforting to me, but I do not fear it. I fear those who would wield it for evil, but I do not believe that everyone who wields it intends evil, that is your attempt at condemning me, by saddling me with a negative label.

As for someone saying a prayer for the soldiers... the prayer would have served better in private, rather than cause conflict in public. What purpose does it serve to pray in public if the prayer is heard by “GOD” either way? It would serve only to cause conflict, either the person knew this and wished to cause conflict or they were merely being thoughtless of others.

"…but fail to mention the MILLIONS of Christians who have NEVER politicized religion and have never condemned, or persecuted any non Christians."

You can't prove a negative. I can't prove what I don't know and since I don't know any christians who don't condemn non-christians or use it for their own agendas, I cannot site any examples for you. I was about to site Ghandi, but he was not christian... I thought of Mother Teresa, but again, not christian.. judeo christian perhaps, but not christian. I wouldn't want to confuse things by mentioning people outside the specified parameter.

"I have NOTHING to CONVERT you TO..." Except your own beliefs but that’s beside the point. Conversion does not regard only religion. It is convincing others that what you believe is true. This can be done in many ways, manipulation, indoctrination, brainwashing, or with sound reasoning and logic. Conversion in and of itself is not something evil or to be taken negatively, but again it is a tool that people oft uses to get what they want.

Condemn, convert and control is the mantra of those who would wield a tool like religion/guns/politics/et cetera for their own agendas. And it's true that I have not witnessed such from you, nor was I trying to imply that you were. Merely that the three often go together. When one tries to condemn and control... they are often trying to convert.

When you say "you are this" in a way that is negative, then you are condemning. Flip side is praising. You were saying that something was mentally wrong with someone who disagreed with you, therefore you were condemning. It's not a hard concept to grasp.

Control is manipulation. When you take things out of context and twist them to mean what you want them to mean, that is an attempt at control.

Conversion is when one attempts to CONVINCE others that they're beliefs are the RIGHT beliefs

Alone these tools (with exception to conversion) are considered bad or evil things, when used together and successfully they become truly dangerous.

My only beef with you is that you came into this discussion condemning others who do not see things "your" way on this topic.

And when I say that I was FORCED to attend religious services, I mean I was FORCED… as in by force, kicking and screaming and crying, because I was a child and therefore "I was TOO YOUNG to have a say". I hardly think that is comparable to your little non-meat-eating story in which you probably didn’t even care about what you weren't eating until you were old enough to understand what it was you weren't eating. I have never found food and religion to be compatable comparatives.

To dadmanley, I misinterpted that very same comment that Ryan questioned you about, and that lead me to include you in my comment. I apologize as I now understand that it was not saying what it appeared to be say.

Dos_Centavos: Have those tyrannies of non-religious beliefs faired any better?

Ummm. until talking with a friend of mine today, I had no idea there was such a thing. But apparently they exist in China, Africa and Stalin in Russia... Certainly they are tyrannies but I fail to see how they are using secularism as a tool to be tyrants. Would you be kind enough to inform me?

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Hida Reju said...

Hey Huntress a few questions for you.

How many people have to die in the name of GOD for you religious nuts to get it though your head that politics and religion do not mix?

How many people have to tell you that we do not want to have religion observations out in public because it is not what we believe?

Have you even read history? Do you not see the connection between Religious and racial hatred in almost every war in the last two centuries. Religion may not have been the cause of all of them but in many cases was a weapon used to motivate the people in favor of it.

Religion is a form of mind control and always will be. The beliefs behind it may be valid but at its core all religions want to you to believe they are right above all others. They take kids at a young age and indoctrinate them to a set of beliefs so that they will be loyal to that set of beliefs above all else.

You want some good info to think about, take a look at the difference in the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament is full of violence and death while the New Testament is all about love. Why is that, oh that’s right because that’s about the time Paul of Tarsus came along and rewrote your religion to appeal to something other than pure fanatics.

Remember every time someone says "Thy will be done" someone somewhere is kicking someone in the head for beliving something different.

 
At 6:26 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

rhiannon: "Ummm. until talking with a friend of mine today, I had no idea there was such a thing. But apparently they exist in China, Africa and Stalin in Russia... Certainly they are tyrannies but I fail to see how they are using secularism as a tool to be tyrants. Would you be kind enough to inform me?"

The point is they aren't using religion. The thought processes of fanaticism of either group of religious or non-religious are to be feared equally. The vicious circle of religious fearing non-religious and vice versa. When taken in context of what I wrote I thought I was very clear about that.

 
At 7:05 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

rhiannon: Perhaps this link will help Religion vs. America

 
At 7:45 PM, Blogger Synova said...

Gosh, hida reju, that was amazingly open minded of you.

"They take kids at a young age and indoctrinate them to a set of beliefs so that they will be loyal to that set of beliefs above all else."

It works that way with vegetarians, too.

I think that all parents should refrain from indoctrinating their children into eating habits before they are able to make those choices themselves after rational consideration.

And little kids should have every right to be free of pacifist indoctrination. Left on their own they may well decide to be militant little critters and shouldn't they have that right?

Okay, okay, maybe this reply isn't in the name of peacemaking, but why is it, really, that someone can post trashing religion in absolute terms and that's okay, and someone else can seem to imply something not so positive about athiests and be taken to task and have to apologize?

 
At 7:42 AM, Blogger Hida Reju said...

Synova said...
Gosh, hida reju, that was amazingly open minded of you.


Whoever claimed I was open minded?

No really the whole point I am trying to make is that you can not just say religion is free of things like the concept of controlling others.

Without a doubt the number one killer in history has been religious differences followed closely by the black plague.

Also it can not be denied that almost every religion will use the beliefs of its followers to advance the spread of their faith regardless of anyone’s desires.

Religion by its very nature can not tolerate any other point of view that counters its own. People that believe something different are automatically labeled as being either just wrong, uninformed, criminal, or crazy depending on the religion and country you are talking about.

Be glad we live in a mostly tolerant country where it does not get you killed or imprisoned to have different beliefs.

I got no real problem with religion as it stands right now in our country unless someone tries to force me to change my own beliefs to fit theirs. Then I have a big problem.

So yes the concept that one of the leaders of my country is trying to push us more towards a Theocracy is a big deal to me.

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Very nice article Dos, it was extremely informative and I do appreciate it. I also agree that Those states that "...do reject God, but they replace him with a secular stand-in, Society or the State, which they treat not as an aggregate of individuals, but as an unperceivable, omnipotent, supernatural organism, a "higher unseen power" are to be equally feared as a theocracy.

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Because my friend asked me to: the explanation of | Condemn, Convert, Control | The mantra of those who would seek power over all.

CONDEMN:

To condemn is apply a negative label to someone. The opposite is praise. These are things that all of us do at some point or another. No one is blameless of this action. The difference, as always, is intention.

In the efforts of someone who seeks power over all, this tactic is used one of two ways. By convincing the person/s that the negative label is true or by convincing others whom have influence over the person/s that the negative label is true. This is one of the ways that those who seek power over all use conversion.

CONVERT:

To convert is not neccessarily evil or wrong because it is merely to convince someone that what you believe is true. In the hands of a good person this is done with logic and sound reasoning. In the hands of someone who seeks power over all is it done by manipulation, conniving, pressure(political/peer/threat) and even force. Experts at conversion can easily twist anything that goes against their beliefs as something to their advantage or to be dismissed. No matter how logically sound something is, they can change the meaning to suit their desires and needs.

CONTROL:

To control, of course, is the ultimate goal of those who seek power over all. They use the tools of condemnation and conversion, along with many others to ultimatly make others, willingly or not, bow to their will.

These are the tactics of those who seek to control the world around them, they use these tools to attempt to CRUSH those who would oppose them or even speak ill of them.

The reason why this usually, ultimately, fails is one simple thing. WILL POWER. The WILL to be an individual, the WILL to resist, the WILL to die for what one believes even when there's no hope left, et cetera. As long as the WILL exists, then those who seek power over all will seek it in vain. They know this and they seek always to find ways to crush it.

 

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