Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Anointed Ones

There is great anxiety among my secular candidates concerning Bush’s apparent belief that this is an administration ordained by God. Such a prospect brings up the specter which has haunted America from it’s founding, since the days of England dumping its religious dissidents on our shores and the religious hysteria of the Salem Witch-Hunts: Theocracy. The question, though, is whether a government has to be a theocracy or a monarchy to be ordained by God. The answer should surprise you.

In Paul's letter to the Romans, he tells his readers that in fact all government is of God. I don't think he said that with the notion that all government is godly or good, but rather to say that the law and order that government affords society deserves the respect of Christ's followers, even as they follow God's higher laws.

He tells us that such law and order is only a frightening thing to those who are wicked, not to those who are righteous. Respect government, he said, it's part of how God keeps you upright. Now, let's put this in context: this is Paul saying this about 50 AD, near the beginnings of one of the most ruthless empires in the Ancient world, admidst all the decadence and intrigue of Rome. Though Rome would one day day come under Christian control, the relationship between the two would range from bare tolerance to outright persecution. The resentment of all this would leave its mark: Revelations contains many codewords and phrases referring to a certain individual who sits on Seven Hills (Rome sits on such a number). Still, here at the beginning, Paul's telling us to respect government. Why?

Because in the end, no government, not even a tyranny, works without the cooperation and aid of its citizens. Government allows the citizens the power, however indirect, to preserve and maintain civilization. In short, one message of Romans might very well be this: be civilized and respect your relationships with your neighbors. One expects to have some trouble with them on account of your religion, but that's no reason to show disrespect to the dictates of civilization on other matters.

The thinking within monarchies was often the divine right of rule, in part based on the passage in Romans. It has been long tempting to invest a singular person with the might or favor of God (or a god). In Early Christian times, Emperors were proclaimed divinities. Christians and Jews got into a great deal of trouble for not joining in this cult of worship, for reasons that are obvious with a good reading of the Ten Commandments. The Jews of Ancient Israel had their problems, to be sure, with Kings.

Those who know their bible remember that Israel was mostly a loosely confederated set of tribes, with tribal judges serving the part of the leadership in wars and other situations. At some point, though, the tribes asked the current prophet, Samuel, for a King. Saul, the first one, didn't do to well. David did much better. His son Solomon was well regarded for his wisdom and his works. Yet the whole anointed King thing didn't quire work out. Samuel warned them from the get-go that appointing and anointing a King would be a bad idea, and that it reflected a deficit of faith in God. I mean, who needed a big powerful king with God in charge? Samuel also warned that a king would heap all kinds of excesses and atrocities on them as he abused his power.

Reading about the Kings of Israel, and later Israel and Judah, we see his prophecy, if you will, coming true almost to the letter. Even David, the best of the lot, conspires to have Uriah killed so he could claim Bathsheba, who he'd been sleeping with, as a wife. Solomon gets worse, and after Solomon, the Kingdom (later Kingdoms) of Israel really don't get much of any break from incompetent, wicked rulers who fail to honor the God of Abraham (in these Kingdoms founded on the religion) with alarming frequency. Eventually, Israel ceases to function as an independent nation, absorbed into one empire after another. The luck folks had with Kings was not much better as things moved along.

With such leadership, you were always rolling the dice on the quality of the leader you would get. What's more, as society got more sophisticated, and the Kings lived greater and greater distance from the people in both spatial and standard of living terms, the needs of the people were served less well. Even if you got a good king, his excesses could really screw up your life anyways, if you had no rights he had to pay heed to.

Theocracy, really, is not that distinct of a concept until our times, because the ancient world often didn't distinguish between divine authority and political authority. We can beat the Muslims about the head and shoulders on their attitudes, but we must remember that until our revolution we paid homage to the leader of a church: The King of England. Even now, the Queen is the head of the Anglican church, and so will Prince Charles be, if and when he becomes King. That, in fact, was the big complication in his divorce from Diana. Many think that Prince Charles would yield his claim to his son William. If so, this idol of so many teen girls there and abroad could one day be the leader of his own church merely by virtue of his birth.

There are those now who would try to turn America into a theocracy of its own, people known as the Reconstructionists. They're vision would be for a society run according to God's laws. Taking a read of their ideas, many of them are alien to our concept of a free society. As well they should be. This is a deliberately secular society. Paradoxically, that deliberate secularism, that giving up by the government of power over the religious and the divine in people's lives, has allowed America to become uncommonly religious.

Being the trashcan for unwanted spiritual inclinations from England, the colonies were a hodgepodge of different religious groups, and that variety only increased as religion evolved on its own in the relative freedom of the colonies. When we finally got a constitution together, one of the striking passages was that no religious test could be required of those seeking official positions in the government. In other words, you couldn't say to applicants "Sign a copy of the Nicean Creed, or a statement identifying yourself as a member of the Church of England or don't bother applying. " A person's religion could not keep them out of the government. With the addition of the First Amendment provisions on religion, we get something more.

Was it entirely altruistic? Partly, I think. But also, partly, it was a way to keep the peace, to prevent sectarian trouble from tearing the diverse country apart. No one would be at an official advantage, no one at such a disadvantage. Social pressures and prejudices aside, this would be a nation founded on peace between different religions. There's also another element, though, to this. Who is ordained by God to be our leaders? A person casually thinking about the question might assume our elected officials were the anointed ones here. To make that assumption, though, is to forget that we live in a Democracy. It is not God who chooses them to rule. We do. Because this is a Republic, that means something else. We the people of the United States of America are the folks ordained by God to lead this country.

We are the ones who were handed control at this nation's founding. Our nation is based on that. The authority for the people to rule is given to us by God. One can argue about how much we've earned God's pleasure or displeasure, but we are the ones who run this country, even if we don't always realize it.

The people we elect can believe themselves put there by God, but only at a remove. They would not have that power unless we gave it to them first. More to the point, we gave them that power under certain conditions which many of them swore to with the words "So help me God." This is not a theocracy. God did not give control of this country to a council of religious elders or a religious supreme leader. In fact, here, through the founding fathers, he removed the reins of religion from their hands.

I believe that those of us who are Christian, and those of us who worship in other fashion can agree that the principles we bring to our votes and our decisions should shine through into the policy we choose, that we should carry out the politics of this land with such virtue. Let's think for a moment about that, because some take that as a license to impose their religion, or at least a license to try. The government was explicitly forbidden from governing religion. You can't ban or establish Christian Fundamentalism, Buddhism, or Islam in this country. Your obligation is to a vast mix of these people, and nowhere does it give you the power to decide for them their religious course. Moreover, their opinion of what this country was founded on matter more than them. Argue with them about that long enough, and you might find yourself out of a job.

In some places, arguing on a platform of faith can be advantageous. There are many on the right who do so, and who come to Washington with the mindset that their election on that platform gives them the license to proselytize and impose. What that ignores, though, is that their election in their local only gives them the license to represent those beliefs in that place. They must still honor what diversity exists in their district, and what's more important, the constitutuents of that district must deal with the representatives of constituents from other districts where the candidate's success wasn't so faith-based. As much as they wish it was otherwise, this country must satisfy the interests of more than just those of their own religion.

If we can see the government in America as God's will, and we the American people as the anointed leaders of this country, then it would be well for those people to recognize that it is God's will that they don't dominate over everybody else in their views and their faith, that they are forced to work with those whose principles are not their own, and sometimes not to their liking at all.

We Christians should also take note that we are told to love our neighbors like we love ourselves, and love our enemies as well. Ours is not supposed to be a religion of condemnation, moral arrogance, and hypocrisy. Critical central tenets of Christianity revolve around fighting off these temptations. The effects of the world and its corrupting ways, though, have their effect, and though many Christians in politics don't realize it yet, the tenets of their party have taken over as the guiding influence. I don't remember Christ in the Gospels speaking of free markets or flat taxes. The one time he addresses taxes is to tell people to pay them anyways, since the coins belong to Caesar. Much of his Gospel to help the poor, to extend forgiveness and mercy, and to live in peace with one's neighbors gets drowned out by the partisan rancor and the tough talk of Politicians trying to puff themselves up. The competitive drives of politics is pushing out the cooperative and conciliatory drives that are at the center of true Christian religion.

In the end, the real power of a religion, especially now in America, is in the positive or negative influence it can bring on members. If religion becomes about controlling and overpowering others, or stubbornly following one's personal agenda , even while you make one mistake after another, then it will be a negative influence, and others will curse religion for its involvement. If it is about countering the weakness we human beings have, following wisdom and turning away from the wrongful temptations that the world offers, especially in the political realm, then it will be positive. Ultimately, the best thing that our leaders in Washington and elsewhere can do in bringing their religion into politics will be to recognize that the term public servant means something. If the Lord himself can empty himself, take the form of a servant, and regard equality with God as something not to be grasped, then our Senators, Presidents, and Representatives can do the same, and take their dose of humility from their religions.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 28, 2006 1:51 PM
Comments
Comment #152219

Amen,brother

Posted by: tlg at May 28, 2006 5:10 PM
Comment #152237

I couldn’t agree more. One of the reasons I agree is that I, too, am familiar with history. Without lessons from history, we have little context for the difficulties of modern life. I just hope our next leader has an understanding of history, reads occasionally, listens to the opinions of others who may reasonably and intelligently promote another answer or way to solve a problem.

But then, we would need an educated, intelligent, thoughtful person capable of acknowledging his/her own limitations and the possibility of occasional wrong judgment.

Uneducated masses will go along with anything they hear often enough. If there is a dearth of history taught and comprehended in schools, and the culture hears other messages over and over again, it is easy to accept. Lack of critical thinking, such as you offer in your piece, is rampant in our education system and culture — and has made its way into the presidency and upper eschelons of government.

Thanks for the brief historical context for all this religious right hysteria.

Posted by: MaggieRose at May 28, 2006 6:09 PM
Comment #152241

Maggie Rose-
I prefer to believe that the seeds of better thinking and greater knowledge already exist. I don’t like to think of uneducated masses. I think people can be fairly smart, given the right encouragment and opportunities.

I also know to some extent the reasons why these people want more religion in government. They are convinced we are drifting away from crucial values, and that folks will suffer for that.

I think in many ways we are, but that the way we’re doing so is much more subtler than we think, and redemption much closer to being realized.

The key element here is control, or the illusion of it. It’s fairly seductive, and we are as guilty of dallying with it as they are. I think as one side backlashes against the other, we become blind to the fact that we’re actually doing things against our own principles to offend the other side.

This is why I emphasized notion of forgiveness and civilized discourse, because without honest respect, you can’t really get too far without becoming the monster you hate and fear.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 28, 2006 6:50 PM
Comment #152242

Two major groups are usually omitted from discussions of early American history.
1. Criminals
2. Slaves

From Wikipedia:
“The British used North America as a Penal Colony through the system of indentured servants. Most notably, the Province of Georgia was originally designed as a penal colony. Convicts would be transported by private sector merchants and auctioned off to plantation owners upon arrival in the colonies. It is estimated that some 50,000 British convicts were banished to colonial America, representing perhaps one-quarter of all British emigrants during the eighteenth century.”

The Revolutionary War forced Britain to use Australia as a penal colony. The major difference between early American & early Australian settlers is that the Australians never imported African slaves.

“During the 17th and 18th centuries, African American slaves lived in all of England’s North American colonies. Before Great Britain prohibited its subjects from participating in the slave trade, between 600,000 and 650,000 Africans had been forcibly transported to North America.”
http://www.innercity.org/holt/slavechron.html

“In the American colonies in 1730, nearly 25 percent of the slaves in the Carolinas were Cherokee, Creek, or other Native Americans.”

Even the most casual perusal of American history dispels ideas of divine guidance… unless, of course, God is a white, Christian male.

Posted by: phx8 at May 28, 2006 7:00 PM
Comment #152267

One must really look for hairs to split to find much difference between the Christian right and the clerics of Iran.
I find it interesting that many on the left desire to see Tibet return to a theocracy.

Posted by: BillS at May 28, 2006 9:19 PM
Comment #152279

A Presidential Fundamentalist’s Prayer
Thank You Jesus,our heavenly father,for giving me the strength to bash,the gays,hate the jews,and terrorize the catholics.
I ask not for myself,but for all of us annointed leaders,who you have placed in power.The wisdom to know which are the worst ethnic groups,and divine presence to get them the hell out of my United States.
And Lord,if it pleases you allow me rid us of all damned uppity women,same sex marriages and the bring back the draft. And if its all the same to you, could you please do something about these pesky term limits?

Posted by: jblym at May 28, 2006 10:07 PM
Comment #152280

It is my belief that God once held the world between his hands, guiding and teaching us. We have built our tower(s) of Babel, proclaimed ourselves self sufficient ( not needing his guidance ) and so he has drawn away to let man run things his way. Guess what…? We suck without his guiding hands. We have left God’s wisdom in the dust of our selfish wants. The love of money is the lord of our world ( country ) now, and we will pay the price with many lost souls, especially those of our leaders. A country without God to guide them is indeed in peril.

Posted by: Scott Burgoyne at May 28, 2006 10:14 PM
Comment #152283

He’s got the whole world in his hands,He’s got the whole world in his hand…
Don’t speak for all of us,maybe only you suck without his guiding hands.
Public shows of make believe adoration are among the most distasteful of politicians p.r chores.
This country was FOUNDED ON PERSONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM! I don’t give a damn what anyone else believes and I don’t have to tell or show anyone my personal or lack thereof religious dogmas.
I do make the following public prayer though, God help me if the only thing I used to justify my belief in a candidates abilities is his F***KING RELIGION !!!

Posted by: jblym at May 28, 2006 10:25 PM
Comment #152297

Scot,

“Guess what…? We suck without his guiding hands. We have left God’s wisdom in the dust of our selfish wants.”

I hate to bring this up, but those that are supposed to be leading America think they ARE men of God.
By your thinking I would hate to see the mess if they weren’t.

Posted by: Rocky at May 28, 2006 11:16 PM
Comment #152304

Stephen,

I agree with about half of your concepts here, but when you stretched your analogies beyond any spiritual limits, I had to get of the heavenly train.

Main Question:
Where does the sovereignty of God fit into your political theology?

Posted by: Cliff at May 28, 2006 11:35 PM
Comment #152308

I don’t remember George Bush EVER saying that everyone had to follow his religious beliefs. You have not listened to much of what he has to say (such as the speech at the mosque right after 9/11 to tell Americans NOT to blame Muslims for what happened, or the efforts of the military under his guidance to NOT go after mosques and other holy sites in Iraq and Afghanistan).

People also tend to confuse what he and his administration believe with what can be found in the House of Representatives, a body directly elected by diverse communities across this nation. It is easy to pick through the political rhetoric of a few religious fundamentalists and focus on a few gems that can be turned into rallying cries for the left, or soundbites for the pitiful few left-wing radio programs that feed the virulent anti-Bush cocktail-party-liberal crowd in the Northeast. But guess what… those representatives are doing their job. (GASP!) They are representing the views of their constituency, and engaging in public debate of the direction they think America should be headed. Maybe if the reactionary left would take some Ritalin and try to gather its thoughts for the next set of elections, develop a few ideas of its own and stop looking for the ayatollahs of the right who are allegedly trying to destroy all other religions not practiced at the Almighty Baptist Rejuvenation Church of the Right Wing, then maybe we could have some political dialogue instead of flinging of pooh.

Jesus turned water into wine, but I doubt he could make anything with the sour grapes of the political left and their unnatural hatred for anyone from a “red state.” As a Texan, a conservative, a public school teacher, and a Christian, I’m not telling you how to live your life, and I have not seen a government conspiracy to dumb us down and make us all cookie cutter Christians.

Posted by: Matt Lyons at May 28, 2006 11:50 PM
Comment #152310

BillS & jblym

Sounds like you’re both storing up a lot of hate there.

If you both ran into some extreme religious people, I truly am sorry. Please do not mistake their actions as representative of all religiously conservative people.

Posted by: Discerner at May 28, 2006 11:55 PM
Comment #152311


Stephen: Excelent post. One can tell, you put a lot of thought into this topic.

Posted by: jlw at May 28, 2006 11:58 PM
Comment #152325

Funny, I was just in an previously ongoing thread writing about this very thing before moving on to look at new articles/threads.
As I said in that thread, I think it’s really very simple: “ALL men are created equal”, and all deserve “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The religious of all faiths, and the non-religious are supposed to be EQUAL in the eyes of our government.
That spelled out the clear separation of church and state from the very beginning, well BEFORE the first amendment was even written.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 29, 2006 12:39 AM
Comment #152351

Previous posts wrote: One must really look for hairs to split to find much difference between the Christian right and the clerics of Iran.

A Presidential Fundamentalist’s Prayer
Thank You Jesus,our heavenly father,for giving me the strength to bash,the gays,hate the jews,and terrorize the catholics.

quote text

C’mon.

Can people please really do their best to be intellectually honest here, and everywhere (to others and to oneself)? I would say the Left is more guilty of this today, but regardless it is wrong every time, no matter who does it.

Let’s hold ourselves and our words to very high standards. This is a key mark of intelligence, civility, and being truly social.

…and I doubt much can be resolved here or anywhere when people are not honest.

BTW, overall v. good initial post. But I think a not fair / honest (“spin”) to say “…Bush’s apparent belief that this is an administration ordained by God.” C’mon…

Posted by: Brian at May 29, 2006 6:46 AM
Comment #152353

PS Sorry for the horrible formatting. Looked fine in the preview, but seems this blog HATES single and double quotes…

PPS It’s Memorial Day. Let’s honor & appreciate the sacrifice of all the poor soldiers who lost life and limbs for us / our country — regardless which war, and regardless whether they were drafted or volunteered.

Posted by: Brian at May 29, 2006 6:55 AM
Comment #152358

Cliff- no man can be sovereign over another man the way God can be, and no man should be. God alone knows the full contents of our minds and hearts. The rest of us mortals here have to guess at what everybody else is thinking and feeling, and we often do a bad job of it.

That’s why I feel trying to express God’s sovereignty through man’s is such a bad idea. We can say the founding fathers had religious ideals in mind when they wrote the constitution and everything, but the fact remains that they made the American people sovereign over themselves, and like God, made them sovereign over the choice of what religion they chose.

I believe God embedded free will in the very fabric of the universe. We can’t, in any real, literal sense force our beliefs on others. We can force behaviors and observances on them, surpress their expressions of doubt and disbelief, but we can’t change what’s in their hearts. Only they and God can do that.

Matt Lyons-
I don’t remember him saying anything like that, but he does show a great deal of favoritism to Christian religion and points of view. Why is it so important to single out faith-based organizations for support. Why are they superior to other organizations, and what is this government doing making distinctions based on what can only be a faith-based point of view. Why is a president telling the world that freedom is God’s gift to it, when that puts his war fighting in the light of religious warfare?

Why do the Republicans support people who make it their business to give religions official support? And Why do they feel it so necessary to fight to keep God in the pledge of allegiance, which was originally written without it?

The Conservative Christian Agenda and that of the GOP saturate each other. The hot button issues of abortion and gay rights would hardly be all that important if there wasn’t that big Conservative Christian majority on tap. Bush 41’s failure to court them is part of what made him a one term president. Additionally, the whole Whitewater investigation would have been pretty short if Conservative Christian political forces were not hard at work trying to deal with the consequences of who did win the 1992 election.

Last but not least, who was it that Bush selectively engaged as part of his campaign to win the presidency?

The trouble has been that the mutual influence has paralyzed both the Conservative Christian and political movements in terms of being able to look to their interests. Bush, though one of the most ostentatiously religious presidents of modern times, is also one of the most stunningly incompetent and flawed ones, and that reflects poorly on both sides of the political equation. The Republicans are also finding themselves unable to engage a majority of Americans who are not right wing, Christian value voters. They may find themselves once more a neglected constituency, all because they reach for too much power, too quickly, and failed to register that the system was put together to suit the needs of more than one group.

It’s as the bible says: the first shall be made last. The tragedy of Christian politics in today’s America is that they were too concerned about winning the culture war by means of political power to sense how they were losing the fight in terms of persuasion and cooperation, and the integrity of those who represented them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 29, 2006 8:15 AM
Comment #152362

Stephen, Excellent post.

I don’t agree that we’re headed for a theocracy, but it is a good cautionary tale, well thought out.

Posted by: gergle at May 29, 2006 8:40 AM
Comment #152368

Stephen,King Saul did not do well because he did not follow what GOD said,but,instead did what King Saul wanted.Our leaders in our government should learn from that mistake and lead America based on the moral principles established in the Holy Bible.Anything less could result in America being “taken into slavery”.

Posted by: rdavidc at May 29, 2006 9:16 AM
Comment #152371

Matt Lyons-It’s not what George Bush says that’s important, it’s what he does. I take what he says with a grain of salt. He may not say we have to follow his religious beliefs but when he takes steps to make gay marriage illegal or put an end to freedom of choice,just to name two examples,he is making us follow his relgious beliefs. A true conservative would not do this.

Posted by: mark at May 29, 2006 9:27 AM
Comment #152372

It all depends on the definition of ordained. There are some Christian destiny doctrines that say you are meant to be someone or something and success depends on making it there. Is he commenting on his arrival there? Maybe he is just secure in his beliefs and is thankful for God’s guidance. Motives are impossible to judge. Speculation is easy.
It is impossible to have adgenda without some sort of beliefs. We place value on something and this gives us drive. Christian adgenda should therefore be respected and tolerated also. I think giving demon status to the classes instead of free discourse is at an extreem going both ways, left and right. My high school in the seventies and the colleges even today are intolerant of what christians consider valuable even when they have merit.

Posted by: Kruser at May 29, 2006 9:40 AM
Comment #152394

Brian, a word of advice:

PS Sorry for the horrible formatting. Looked fine in the preview, but seems this blog HATES single and double quotes…

Merely erase the quote marks in anything you paste to the blog and then replace them with quote marks that you yourself insert using the keyboard…all shall be well!!

Posted by: Lynne at May 29, 2006 10:59 AM
Comment #152396

Discerner; No hate,just no more patience with so called educated people who try to sneak past scientific methodology,and push a unsane religious agenda.
Brian: On the contrary,satire has been an is a recognized form of political expression. Do I think Bush really says this prayer? NO, I think his is a lot worse.

Posted by: jblym at May 29, 2006 11:00 AM
Comment #152401
we will pay the price with many lost souls, especially those of our leaders.

Amen. Does anyone doubt that leaders who screw the poor to further enrich the already wealthy are going straight to Hell? How about those who refuse to provide children with decent healthcare? Yep. Goin’ to Hell. Or leaders who want to sweep abortion under the rug rather than make it unnecessary and rare? Hell awaits. Would Jesus persecute the elderly and sick for buying affordable medicine from Canada? Our Republican leaders do. Off to Hell with ‘em.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 29, 2006 11:20 AM
Comment #152409

Discerner
You are right. I do hate religous conservatives as I dislike all hypocracy in general especially when the hypocrits try to run my country. As I see it the very phrase”Christian conservative’ is a contradiction in terms. Cristianity is a radical concept. The fundemental precepts are ignored by so called Christian right. They rationalize support for the death penality,war , intolerence of homosexuals and sometimes even racisism based on selective interpetations of the Bible,an already heavily edited tome. How many white phospherous rounds would Jesus have fired on Faluhja?
The Bible along with its wisdom contains enough passages to justify just about anything. To run a country according to its precepts? Pleaseeee. Alas,my wife was not a virgin when we married. So she should be stoned? I was not either but that is ok. A beautiful piece of creation fokelore should be taught as fact? Just stupid. Agressive ignorence.
There are some real Christians out there. I have met a few,very few. They are worthy of great respect. None of them are preachers. Preachers,ministers,reverands,priest ad nausium are parasites. Their main goal seems to be to get in the way of any true religious experience and make a good living without having to work.I like the Quakers,myself. They do not have preachers but believe we all have devine direction within. They also oppose war and the death penality and accept homosexuality as human. Not a coincidence.
One drawback we have is that the predominate religions in the country are all those damned dessert religions,stern.patriarchal and ill suited to a temperate clime. Buddaism. Hinduism,Paganism etc.look to be much more fun.

Posted by: BillS at May 29, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #152413

rdavidc-
So, Saul was a bad start. Look at David, though: the best of all the kings of Israel, and he had a man killed so he could marry his wife. After David, things don’t get much better.

That was a closer basis of govenrment than anything we could ever attempt. Still they failed. Why? Because regardless of how you shape the laws of men, the false idol of power will beckon to the powerful, and those who admire the powerful will be drawn in to defending and rationalizing the things the powerful do in the service of their “god”

Additionally, the absolute authority of religion affords the ability to apply their power with equal arbitrariness. Being human beings, of course, they do this with imperfect knowledge and wisdom, and as such they will screw things up really bad. By those means, they will become a stumbling block to the truly faithful, and an bad example of hypocrisy to their admirers.

The best thing we can do is to seek after the good and the right as individuals. If elected to office, we should proceed with caution, not rushing in where angels fear to tread in our zeal. We must be prepared to justify our principles on more than just our faith. We must understand the principles and wisdom we live by on more than just a surface level. Most importantly, our religion should not be a means of self-promotion. Christ clearly warned against that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 29, 2006 12:02 PM
Comment #152420

BillS-
A Christian, if they truly hold to Christ’s teachings, should not be out there with a God hates Gays sign. They should not be preaching prejudice when the scriptures say all men and women, races and nations are equal in him.

As for the White Phosphorus Round question, the answer should be blatantly obvious: none. Not the guy who told people “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God”.

You should consider that Jesus himself stepped in to protect a prostitute who was on the verge of being stoned. The worst he did to her was tell her to go forth and sin no more. Your wife, if she encountered true followers of Christ, would be safe.

You could probably count the passages dealing with homosexuality on one, maybe two hands. It’s not the theme of the bible, as it might appear from the actions of those who have elevated it to an apocalyptic issue. Even if it were the major issue they treat it as, Christ and Paul would tell those people that they have no business judging and condemning others, since they were no better when they came to him.

To claim that ministers and other clergy are parasites is to make a snap judgment on many whose wisdom people rely. It’s not for nothing that civilizations have had these folks around forever. The relationship can become parasitic, but mostly it’s symbiotic.

Your assumptions about people’s character pose some credibility problems for your other points. Why should you accept criticism about being judgmental and strident with ones beliefs from a person who’s just rained the most strident criticism on yours?

There are good points to the Eastern Religions, but also to the Near Eastern. If interpreted in the spirit of moderation, both viewpoints can exist in harmony.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 29, 2006 12:26 PM
Comment #152436

I wonder how many Isrealites opposed having a king?
Their system of government was the Levite tribe being the federal and the rest of the tribes being their own states. The tithe payed for education, religious instruction and their judges. All appointed from amoung the levites. Could we get by with ten per cent?
I call confiscation of wages for another person’s definition of need, stealing.
Individual responsibility for charity is a good thing that I choose to participate in therefore I am a true liberal. It should always be a choice or the mob becomes oppressive.
I have a few young people working for me that won’t pay seventy a month for HSA health care. This is a good Bush plan. They would rather spend their money on xbox games and full cable.
A company plan costs at least five times as much.
Should this be confiscated from me? I live simple and reinvest profits into the company so more men can come on board.

Posted by: Kruser at May 29, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #152444

Stephen
Isn’t it Judaism that has spirtual teachers,Rabbis, that are also expected to make a living honestly? A priesthood has been around forever? So has VD. That does not make it a good thing.Sorry ,I guess I am mad that a “spiritual leader could call for the murder of forign leaders,etc. and not be disgraced. And then there are hypocrits like Bush. Just maybe,maybe torture might be one of those things one could go to hell for.And the bastards are doing it in my name.
On balance religions may have done slightly more good than damage but the jury is still out.I am not talking about faith or spirtuality but religions. Mine is right and yours is wrong denying the omnipotence of God,has brought pain and destruction through the ages. The blame for massive migration from Mexico and the poverty of the Phillpines can be layed directly at the feet of the Vatican. The indictments against religions could go on and on. The Crusades, the Mid-east conflict,the recent Balkan conflict,the “war on terror”……………..
There are spirtual leaders to be admired of course.MLK for example. I am fond of Gandi,a Hindu leader. When asked once what he thought of Western civilization he replied he thought it would be a very good idea.

Posted by: BillS at May 29, 2006 2:03 PM
Comment #152466

I was raised in a devout Catholic home.I went to Catholic school and still attend mass several times a week even though I now live on my own.My church is very tolerant and zealots are frowned upon.I know that the political beliefs of the congregants are not spoken of much.When they are,it is only in passing and there are no heated debates.There are good lessons to be taken from almost every religion.Folks go wrong when they decide to take the Bible too literally.Times change and so must interpretation.Letting yourself get caught up in details to the exclusion of all else is going to drive you insane.That’s how fellas like this Phelps are created.

Posted by: Theresa at May 29, 2006 4:27 PM
Comment #152472

BillS-
Those who have tried to remove religion have encountered two different issues: no sooner is it remove than it springs back. Religion is a natural inclination. They’ve also found that other natural inclinations exist that push people out of moderation when taken to excess. The Red Chinese, totally atheist, are no model of morality.

You don’t realize that Pat Robertson truly has been disgraced, that the dim view of his call for Hugo Chavez’s assassination was pretty much a consensus throughout the country. There are plenty of people, including religious conservatives, who have looked at the antics of those televangelists and shaken their head at the stupidity of it. The fact that they aren’t tarred and feathered only indicates what a nice society we are. People have the freedom to be stupid.

It’s easy to single out western religion to take the blame for all these things, but you neglect one thing: there’s a label on it that says: use as directed. We’re not dealing with religious automatons, we’re dealing with people with free will, to both make mistakes and do good things. Also, the ways of the world have a way of getting into things. To say that religions is the total cause of all those wars is to neglect the other forces, economic, cultural, and intellectual, which can lead people to do horrible things

As for the Hindus, the Buddhists and other Eastern Religions, let’s recall who we were fighting in World War II, and who’s now in an arms race with Pakistan. You start looking for perfect people to populate your world, and you’ll come up short. We’re all just human.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 29, 2006 4:54 PM
Comment #152481

“You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”

Bertrand Russell, Why I am Not a Christian, 1927

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 29, 2006 5:48 PM
Comment #152483


Study the stories of Genesis. Study the Greek and the Nordic Gods. You will see that they lead us back to ancient Sumer and India. But our most ancient writings have been labeled ancient science fiction because they don’t fit the western historical and religious models.

I am not a Christian but, I try to follow the ethos and the ethics of Jesus. I am not always successful but, I keep trying.

Posted by: jlw at May 29, 2006 6:05 PM
Comment #152491

Tim Crow
Thanks for the quote.
Stephen
Point taken.Wars are economic but the tool used to sign up the cannon fodder is usually religion. The current war is no exception on either side.
Interesting that the current prime minister of India is a Muslum. Says a great deal for the secular democracy of India.
Robertson lost some points but he is still on the air. By disgraced I mean he should be booted. Forced to work at Walmart to make ends meet. Even his dog should stop listening to him.
I caught an infuriating review of Al Gores movie on CBN. Instead of being anything like an objective critique they accused Gore of lying to further himself politically. The main theme was that global warming was a hoax and regard for the enviorment was somehow evil. Does it say in the Bible that dependance on fossil fuels is Godly? To hear them one would think so. They and their ilk should have their tax exemption removed and be forced to disclose their funding.Their appeal seems to be greatest for those easily fooled by magic tricks.

Posted by: BillS at May 29, 2006 6:56 PM
Comment #152496


Giving man stewardship of the Earth was a big mistake. I guess even God can make a mistake.

Posted by: jlw at May 29, 2006 7:14 PM
Comment #152516

Stephen: “religion is a natural inclination”? No, Overeating is a natural inclination,Speeding in a car is a natural inclination,but religion?
I respect you ,but that is a pompous overstatement. While religion may well be the opiate of the masses,I feel no inclination towards imbibing in any particular mass version. If your saying that spirituality is a human inclination,why I would agree in a flick of an angels wings.

Posted by: jblym at May 29, 2006 9:33 PM
Comment #152521

“Does anyone doubt that leaders who screw the poor to further enrich the already wealthy are going straight to Hell?”

AP,

I do. Now, thanks for the opportunity to jump in. I’ve tried twice previously to reply to Stephen’s well written and obviously heart felt and well researched article, but darn it, it’s hard for an agnostic to get a word into such a conversation that doesn’t sound like a criticism of the message.

My short answer to your question is, “no, because I beieve there is no god, nor is there a heaven or a hell”. I’m not an atheist but rather agnostic. I have no desire to argue religion. I simply believe there is no god. I have no proof of that. Perhaps I’m wrong but I’d really appreciate being allowed to believe just as I do while still sharing in both the responsibilities and benefits of community.

Ah, such a silly idea! Once taxes are dispersed to “faith based” organizations there can truly no longer be a division. I just love listening to the neo-cons whining when they complain about having to contribute to any form of social welfare because they should have a choice where their money goes.

These same neo-cons say that “charitable contributions” will care for the poor, the disabled, the elderly. Uh, duh, were there no charitable institutions prior to the New Deal? Of course then they’ll say church and family should pick up the slack. Well, if part of your taxes are going to “faith based” organizations you have your wish, eh?

I’ve personally never had a problem with prayer in school or the display of Christmas ornaments at a government building. I certainly believe that everyone has every right to their own belief.

I’ve always had a strong enough bond with my children to allow them to follow their mother’s religions without interference until they’ve been old enough to understand my explanation of my own beliefs. After all, if I’m right there will be no harm in them believing otherwise.

One more thing I must add is the amazement I’m met with by members of the local ministerial association when they learn I’m agnostic. I never offer that information, but nearly every month I donate some money to them because they do provide immediate assistance on request. Generally when asked to pray I simply say I prefer that someone else do so and then I bow my head in respect.

Occasionally however I’m pressed to the point I must say I’m agnostic and it’s almost always met with a gasp and an uncomfortable silence. I’ve been asked many times how I can possibly care as much as I do about others if I don’t believe in god. My answer is, “how can I not”?

Too personal? Maybe, but impossible to avoid.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at May 29, 2006 9:46 PM
Comment #152530

Kd glad to hear ya,my question in the seven stages of death who do you bargain with?

Posted by: jblym at May 29, 2006 10:04 PM
Comment #152531

Stephen:

Wow what a great post. I agree with you so much. As a personal example in a tiny little level, in my corner of the universe, when I ran for elected office, as a christian of course I prayed about it and read a verse from daniel that made be believe that God was with me, and I was doing what I was suppose to be doing. If someone were to ask me directly (no one ever did), do you believe God placed you on the school board, I would have answered “yes!!.”

Yes there is prayer in public education. I prayed constantly for wisdom. I prayed for divine guidance.

At the same time, lets say God did put me on the school board. Who did He put me there to serve? Well the voters of course. And who are the voters? The whole spectrum of society.

Philisophically it doesn’t much matter in terms of elected office whether you are agnostic, aethist, Catholic, muslim etc. It’s not about you. It’s about the community and the kids. None of us has it all. My own interpretation was that God did put me there to be on the board, but it was to serve others.

I do remember when I first was elected, thre were several questions because I am a former Baptist minister. My first rumor was that I carried my bible with me when I toured a school. (they were partially right, it was my daytimer, which was sort of a bible to me at the time).

My point in saying this in response to your excellent post is that it isn’t a faith that disqualifies someone from office, or should alarm someone about a candidates faith. It is arrogance that the candidate believes they have all of the answers. This arrogance comes in every strip, liberal to conservative, muslim to christian. It’s a personal trait of arrogance where a candidate believes they are there to “rule over” people rather than to serve them. They think they know “best” instead of going into office to listen, learn and represent.

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 29, 2006 10:05 PM
Comment #152539

“Kd glad to hear ya,my question in the seven stages of death who do you bargain with?”

jblym,

Seven stages of death? You lost me. I know of seven stages of grief and also seven stages of Alzheimers, but I’m ignorant of the seven stages of death.

I’ve seen death happen very quickly and very slowly. In my experience most of the dieing speak to either their God, or Mom, or Dad.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at May 29, 2006 10:28 PM
Comment #152545

I clearly refered to individual choice. This is not a faith-based thing. When my father came on hard times, most of those around me advised against helping him. He has since died of cancer and I am now very glad we helped. We did this at risk of our own financial security. This is an example of being a true liberal.
A collectivist calls confiscation “contributions”
and only their definition of need is valid. Form a dependant class and you have them under your thumb.
This is a sad Unchristian thing to do..
I don’t think switching the control of dependants to the church helps either, but I can see it endangers a voting block.

Posted by: Kruser at May 29, 2006 11:07 PM
Comment #152547

A dependant class? Oh,you mean rich kids like Bush.

Posted by: BillS at May 29, 2006 11:30 PM
Comment #152559

Another idea….Happy Memorial Day!

“California Thought Release”
————————————-
[Anti-war parody of Red Hot Chili Peppers “Dani California”]

Gettin’ bored eatin chocolate and skippy
Lookin for another peace lovin’ hippie
In my pajama avoiding beta gama
Price you gotta pay, nuke, coal and oil-o-rama
They never knew that there was anything more than war
What in the world? What does our president take me for?

Black hole spending, wounds aren’t mending
Rules keep bending, disaster is pending
War is a bummer, need another plummer
Get in your hummer, our leaders are much dummer
Lookin’ at a future that is full of duck and jive
That ain’t know way to survive

[Chorus:]
California thought release
Simultaneous world peace
California’s techno geeks
They can end it, they can cease, yeah, yeah

Non-leathal weapons and a good fighter
Night vision goggles just a little brighter
War is over in California
Spreading to the world, I know they gonna love ya
A little thinking and there is no need for death
Its time to catch our breath

[Chorus]
California thought release
Simultaneous world peace
California’s techno geeks
They can end it, they can cease, yeah, yeah

Who knew the other side was you?
Who knew what others died to prove?
Too soon to say good bye to you
Be true to life life life…

Push behavior, loving alpha savior
Better do it now and just a little later
While the rich are busy billing
who is up for stopping all the killing?

California she is definitely best in class
Energy from a simple gas
Hydrogen…Hydrogen!

Posted by: morpher at May 30, 2006 1:58 AM
Comment #152562

I like the civil discussion this nite on what everyone should think or say or did not do. I personally love my country a great deal an have made a commitment too take two or more people to VOTE this November making sure I have a country in the future. I am also going to Boycott Exxon-Mobile. What are the rest of you going to do?

Posted by: David at May 30, 2006 2:22 AM
Comment #152567

I’m so glad we humans have come to a point in our history where we finally have everything figured out and can get rid of that pesky God guy once and for all! I know we used to think the earth was flat, bloodletting was the miracle cure, and carbs should be devoured on a regular basis to ensure good nutrition, but now we’ve got it all worked out with our infinite knowledge. Hooray for mankind! Wait, is that an alien spacecra………..

Posted by: Yeshua is Yahweh at May 30, 2006 4:20 AM
Comment #152605

france any one

Posted by: jojo at May 30, 2006 10:58 AM
Comment #152624

Broke back politic’s is the goal of the Liberal democrats.They beleive in no moral standards,No laws would be their choice.No age limit for sexual conduct,No prayer in public what so ever.In short they hate the idea of moral standards.To these people GOD is the enemy.They veiw George Bush as a spokesman of God and it scares them to death because if george bush is right and there is a god these folks will pay big time.Its called left behind.By the same token these people will fight for the rights for criminals,child molesters and all other non-cristian groups.THEY have no beleif in the good of common man.These folks are beside theirselves.Do you want these people running our country?

Posted by: Lookingout at May 30, 2006 12:22 PM
Comment #152635

I have been struggling with religion and God a lot lately. I’m not so concerned about the religious right hijacking my government (that will all balance out eventually, as the pendulum swings), but I am concerned about neo-cons and the actions they take in the name of God.

Tell me how the current conservative agenda fits in with the Lord’s teachings? The bible does provide a very cut and dry view of how God would feel about gay marriage and abortion, the two hot-button neo-con issues. But it is even more clear on war and treatment of the poor. Further, the bible is an instruction to the reader on how to live their life, not on how to make sure others live theirs.

“Judge not lest ye be judged” “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord” “Turn the other cheek” “That which you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”

The Christian right has chosen to ignore these teachings in an effort to force others to hear their interpretation of the word of God. There is a movement, and it is building, within Christian groups that see how their beliefs are being compromised by those who supposedly represent them, be it from the podium or from the pulpit. It won’t be long before intelligent Christians everywhere realize that the liberal movement in this country is more in line with Christ’s teachings than the conservative.

Posted by: David S at May 30, 2006 12:46 PM
Comment #152640

David s at may please explain to me exactly what the liberal movement stands for on the religious issue?Do you agree that as the most powerfull country in the world we should help those who are not free become free?Do you think we should protect our children from rapest and murderer’s?How about abortion how many babies are you willing to let die every day?Let us not forget gay marriage.Do you wish for the big broke back mountain in the sky?I’m just trying to understand what the liberal movement that you speak of stands for please enlighten me for i don’t have a clue.

Posted by: lookingout at May 30, 2006 1:13 PM
Comment #152650

Kansas- its been a while since I read it,and frankly,I was reminded of it by the movie all that jazz with roy schneider.(its a subplot in the story). A doctor wrote that there are seven stages of death,among which are anger,denial,bargaining acceptance. As an agnostic,who would you bargain with?

Feel free to laugh now..

Posted by: jblym at May 30, 2006 1:46 PM
Comment #152668

“David s at may please explain to me exactly what the liberal movement stands for on the religious issue?”

Lookingout - what was it that Jesus said, “Love others as I have loved you”. I don’t presume to know what is in God’s infinite wisdom, but what I do know is that when those of us choose to pick what we think he/she wants - we always come up short. I am personally liberal and I feel that the liberal movement takes into consideration everyone’s view, not only one view.

Personally, I choose not to worry about what others do or broadcast (your example of Brokeback Mountain). We are not in the position to judge anothers actions, only our own. I find it narrow-minded, judgemental and arrogant to judge others on the basis of our own preconceived notions. We have one view of the world, there are 6 billion other views that are also taken into consideration “May those without sin cast the first stone”.

Yes, I believe my views are right, but I don’t push my views on others. If people would learn to take responsibility for themselves and stop expecting the government to become the moral majority for everyone, we would be much better off.

What ever happened to compassion and empathy? Walk a step in anothers shoes? If we as individuals would choose to live our lives to the best ability we could and to just help one another without expecting compensation for everything - government could focus on what it needs to: taxes, the economy and foreign affairs, etc. and not get bogged down in the quagmire of personal issues (gay marriage, abortion, etc.). When we elect our political representatives, please let us remember what they’re there for - to run our government, not our church.

Posted by: Lisa C. at May 30, 2006 2:41 PM
Comment #152675

jblym

You’re talking about Dr. Kubler-Roth. But, I think anyone who doesn’t believe in god has their own imaginary being to talk to.

Posted by: Dave at May 30, 2006 2:58 PM
Comment #152684

Lisa c Are you saying let child molesters be child molesters?Are you saying only the free deserve freedom?What seperates the human from the animal?Are you saying no one has the right to fight for less fortunate people?If not americans who will fight against the osama bin-ladens of the world?One thing for sure it will and never has been a liberal democrat.

Posted by: lookingout at May 30, 2006 3:10 PM
Comment #152713

Hi lookingout.I didn’t know that we were fighting against Osama.The minute we are,I’ll be with it.We happen to be fighting Sunnis and Shiites,insurgents from Iraq that have been riled up by U.S. occupancy in their country.What are we doing there anyway,what is the moral purpose?Promotion of democracy where it isn’t really wanted?And the only “liberals” I know of that want no age limitations on sex are a group of Dutch trying to run for office in the Netherlands.Do a few wackos speak for all liberals?I don’t think so.

Posted by: Theresa at May 30, 2006 4:36 PM
Comment #152761

Broke back politic’s is the goal of the Liberal democrats. Lookingout, as my dad used to say to me everytime I made an asinine statement, you talk like a man with a paper asshole. No moral standards. I suppose a Conservative republicans’ moral standard of sending a technologically advanced army to totally trash a third world country and murder tens of thousands of inocent people is a good moral standard. As is ignoring an entire city and it’s people after being demolished by a natural disaster. No laws whatsoever. Laws are absolutely essential! GOOD LAWS!!! REASONABLE LAWS! Laws against murder, rape, incest, theft, battery, stopping for stop lights and using your turn signals are all good laws. Putting a guy in jail for 20 to life for smoking a joint is a stupid ass law regardless of your political party. Putting a cap on a settlement when you sue a butcher doctor for “accidentally” killing your wife, mother or father is another example. No age limit for sexual conduct. The laws concerning this are pretty adequate. If only your “law and order” republicans would enforce them. No prayer in public whatsoever. This is the most idiotic one yet. I see people pray in public all the time. Bless their hearts!! I personally don’t give a rat’s ass if they pray or not. Praying is part of ones personal belief. Just don’t shove it down my throat. No belief in the good of common man. I suppose the Conservative republicans’ belief in the good of common man is monetarily rewarding the top one tenth of one percent while pissing on the ”’joe-six-pack” common man. Do I want these people running my country? Damn right I do! Your people have f**ked up this country ecologically, screwed the common man with their corporitist bottom line mentality and basically started a social culture war. Moron George and his pack of thieving liars are the absolute WORST administration this country has EVER had. When you talk about moral values and who has them, take a look at yourself and who your’e associated with. Oh Dear God, Save Me From Your Followers!

Posted by: sk at May 30, 2006 6:12 PM
Comment #152767

lookingout,

Where do you come up with this garbage:

“Are you saying let child molesters be child molesters?”

Can you site one instance of any Democrat legislating to legalize child molesting?

“Are you saying no one has the right to fight for less fortunate people?If not americans who will fight against the osama bin-ladens of the world?One thing for sure it will and never has been a liberal democrat.”

Well, check out what one former Republican did:
“Reagan’s Navy secretary to take on GOP senator”
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13018893/from/RSS/

How about these Democrats:
http://www.bandofbrothers2006.org/info/about/

Gee, I guess the facts disprove your vitriol and hatred towards Democrats.

Oh, and what reason did Bush state for going to war with Iraq? Uh, to free the Iraqi people? Duh, no! Saddam had WMD’s and he was an “imminent threat”. Oh yeah, that was it.

Rather than further the cause for world peace and freedom, Bush and company have gone out of their way to destroy the American freedoms our fathers and grandfathers have fought and died for.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at May 30, 2006 6:34 PM
Comment #152771

“As an agnostic,who would you bargain with?”

Uh, no one? I was very near death once but I wasn’t lucid enough to remember anything.

Is it possible that I’ll have a sudden change of heart, or mind, at the last crucial moment? I have no idea.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at May 30, 2006 6:46 PM
Comment #152804

“Lisa c Are you saying let child molesters be child molesters?Are you saying only the free deserve freedom?What seperates the human from the animal?Are you saying no one has the right to fight for less fortunate people?If not americans who will fight against the osama bin-ladens of the world?One thing for sure it will and never has been a liberal democrat.”

lookingout - If you’re going to throw out examples, please use some in the same context. There’s a HUGE difference between someone criticizing a movie because of personal preferences and someone allowing a child molester to roam free. I didn’t mention things like child molestation because there is no debate about them -IT’S A CRIME MORAL OR OTHERWISE, PERIOD!!!

You seem to have a very hard time with non-criminal issues that do not meet your moral standards. You ask what separates us from the animals? That would be our brain. That thing between our ears which was God given - we were given the ability to reason, think and question, not walk blindly through life like sheep. Again as I have stated before, to walk in anothers shoes. Everyone should have the right to be free, but again, what you deem as less fortunate is maybe not what someone else deems as less fortunate. You need to look at it from a different perspective.

For example, one of the big reasons that there is such a problem in Iraq is because their law is BASED ON RELIGION. Their interpretation of the Koran tells them that it’s okay to treat women like second class citizens and to kill anyone that criticizes their holy book (Salmon Rushdie anyone?). Does that mean that it’s right? It’s what they believe and what their interpretation of the Koran tells them to do - and a capitalist Christian democracy telling them what to do at is not going to change that. What do you think is going to happen as soon as we leave? They’re going to go right back to where they were, only we’ll have another schmuck to deal with instead of Saddam Hussein.

From your posts, I get the impression from you that you tend to look at issues as either black or white, no shades of grey in-between (if this is not true, I sincerely apologize). I do have a thought for you, though and anyone else who would like to chime in. I’m a registered nurse. In my past, I have worked in a pediatric hospital. I had an instance where two parents allowed their child to die when she could’ve been saved very easily. They weren’t reported to the police and did not get prosecuted for their responsibility in her death. They went home and buried their child. How did they get away with this you ask? Their religion did not allow blood transfusions and they would rather see their child die than be contaminated with someone else’s blood. So you see, moral law tells us that the parents should be punished, but my question is who’s morality is it? Is yours better than mine? Is George Bush’s morality more prevalent than mine? That’s the problem with the current Republican Party. They talk about morality, but only their own kind of Republican morality, not what works best for the rest of the country and the world for that matter. That’s why so many other countries have a problem with him. You know what kind of leaders make decisions based on what is best for the political party instead of what is best for the country? Dictators.

Oh, and for your last comment, I seem to remember a bigger tyrant that the world had to deal with. His name was Adolf Hitler and if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Franklin Delano Roosevelt a liberal democrat?

BTW - KansasDem, great posts!

Posted by: Lisa C. at May 30, 2006 8:48 PM
Comment #152817

Stephen,
Good post and God Bless.

lookingout,
I will pray for you, in the mean time try
Eph 4:29

Posted by: Ted at May 30, 2006 9:19 PM
Comment #152824

lookingout
You might want to look into history furthur back than the last Fox news broadcast before you start making such foolish statements. FDR is a great example of a liberal Democrat fighting evil. How about JFK? How about the hundreds of thousands of liberal Democrat veterans out there,some of whom contribute to this blog.Al Gore served in Vietnam. GWB went AWOL. My favorite campaign button shows a big yellow elephant wetting himself. You seem to have your parties mixed up. Republicans just talk wars and send other peoples sons and daughters to fight them. Why won’t the Bush twins enlist? Because they might be killed? Seems that can happen to any soldier in that stupid war. Not much of an excuse. I bet their platoon would get all the armor it needed.

Posted by: BillS at May 30, 2006 9:39 PM
Comment #152827

Tim Crow-
Bertrand Russell is an interesting character, but his opinion is his opinion.

On a side note, he tried to create a system that would allow symbolic logic to completely describe the real world, only to see Kurt Godel completely smash all hopes of that. The failure of logic to completely describe reality is one reason why I do not blame people for not being utterly rational.

And people aren’t. That irrationality exists side by side with the rational parts, often intermixing seamlessly. People often devote themselves to certain ideas and sensibilities without comprehensively thinking things out.

Religion can be that, or it can be the remedy for that, people’s thought turned to others and joined with others in religious communion and recognition of greater things outside themselves. We live lifes fraught with conflict and non-ideal choices. Good religious influences help people to navigate the difficult choices of life.

Bill S.
It can be a tool used by the unscrupulous, or it can be a tool used against them. After all, the Catholic Church labelled the War in Iraq unjustified under Just War theory.

I pointed out the examples I did to make you aware of the complexity of all religions, and the reality of human fallibility. Robertson is both the beneficiary and the victim of that fallibility.

Robertson is an old man, who like Fallwell is spending what credibility he has by making headline gathering statements that make people doubt their wisdom and spirituality. These fellows will meet God, and I bet they will be surprised at the response they get from them. If you read the gospels, Jesus says that the people who worship so others may approve of them have received their reward already. He says that those who put themselves first, shall be made last.

CBN’s news and reviews are a result, I feel, of the mix of conservative politics and religious piety, where the first has overwhelmed much of the second. If you trust their version of things as indicative of Christianity, then I would direct you to the parables of Christ, which make a big deal out of stewardship, of taking care of things while the master is away. I’m sure Christ approves of those who consume in moderation, who act for the welfare of others, and who care what state the world is in when he next comes to visit.

jblym-
I believe it is, or at least its a product of a pattern of inclinations we have. I think the proof of it is in the rise of Wiccan and New Age faiths where Judeo-Christian faiths have been set aside. Part of us wants all things to be one. Part of us wants to share something with the rest of the universe. Part of us wants to live forever and become something greater than we are now. And part of us wants to share that feeling, that experience with other people.

As for religion being the opiate of the masses, let us remind ourselves that the brain produces its own natural opiates, to ease pain and suffering after injuries and exercise. I think without religions or some kind of release valve, we are apt to accept too much pain and guilt into our lives.

Lookingout-
You must honestly not know us, if that’s the angle you take. I think many of these people feel in their hearts that the hatred and condemnation that many people who call themselves Christians show is not itself representative of wise or moral stance in life.

And they’re right. None of us has standing to judge others as heading to hell. None of us are wise enough to chose for anybody else the path that best leads to the grace of God. In no small part because God chooses to grant us that grace. Not us to take it.

There are limits to good moral behavior, but that includes how you deal with people who do not belive as you do. How is your post consistent with Christ’s commandments to love your enemies, much less that to love your neighbor? He wasn’t being naive.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 30, 2006 9:46 PM
Comment #152835

After posting above and addressing lookingout’s questions, I went onto the Pennsylvania (where I live) web site for child molesters. You go on, type in a Zip Code and it tells you if any child molesters live in your area. As I was going over this website, I admit, I know at least 5 of them. I currently work as a psychiatric nurse and the ones that I recognize were patients of mine. As I looked at the pictures, one individual’s story struck me as kind of ironic and Stephen D., it deals with the first sentence of your post.

After being arrested by police, the individual on this website was given a psychiatric evaluation in prison and upon his release, at our agency. To this day, this guy believes he did God’s work by ridding these girls of demons by having sex with them. Obviously, he’s delusional.

What’s ironic is that we have a delusional guy who believes he did God’s work and he goes to jail and is treated for the rest of his life by court-ordered anti-psychotics. Yet, we have a President who believes his administration was ordained by God, lies about WMD, sends thousands of soldiers off to be maimed or killed, raises our taxes, raises our debt and nothing is done to him. Kind of coincidentally, also one of the biggest precursors to mental illness is substance abuse (alcohol and cocaine anyone?). I know a few good anti-psychotics we can treat GWB with, but unfortunately, there not on his Medicare Part D approved drug list.

Posted by: Lisa C. at May 30, 2006 10:22 PM
Comment #152878

Stephen:

“That irrationality exists side by side with the rational parts, often intermixing seamlessly….
Religion can be that, or it can be the remedy for that, people’s thought turned to others and joined with others in religious communion and recognition of greater things outside themselves. We live lives fraught with conflict and non-ideal choices. Good religious influences help people to navigate the difficult choices of life.”

I agree. The Bertrand Russell quote is a comment on organized religion, not just Christianity. It wasn’t meant to be inflamatory, really, just an alternative viewpoint. Obviously, as you say, it was his opinion.

But, I believe there comes a time when an individual’s religious search, of necessity, becomes a private, spiritual quest, one to which organized religion and it’s group think is antithetical. We are not only on different paths, but we as individuals are at different places on those paths.

Good religious influences indeed help people to navigate the difficult choices in life. Good influences, whether religious or not, help people. But, I believe as one continues a spiritual path, those religious dependencies drop away.

Perhaps it is incumbent on us as thinking, feeling human beings to rise above such dichotomies as irrationality and rationality, good and evil, love and hate. When the thinking and rationalism fail us, It is quietly and secretly showing us a higher way.

Fundamentalism’s fear of the unknown and the question without an answer, its inability to recognize that what we know is infinitesimally small in relation to the Universe, strangles the Mystery— and the still, small voice within.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 31, 2006 2:21 AM
Comment #152894

Going back to the original post, I believe the reverse is true. Christainity doesn’t always corrupt politics. It has been my experience that when you take on responsibilities as a christian that your pure heart is tested. There are bullies out there and people filled with hatred that could care less about principles of love your neighbor. After a while you say, whats the use? They stab me in the back whenever I cooperate. I will do the same. This is how good men are corrupted. That is why I support and pray for them.
To dispose a mass murdering leader on the insistance of seventy percent of our population including the previous administration and then listen to how people now talk must be tough. Obviously most people wimp out when the going gets hard and you have to make a stand. Good character gets tested. Hopefully bitterness and futility doesn’t take over.
It is easy to criticize and speculate when you aren’t responsiblle for the safety of a nation. That is why people change once they are in office.

Posted by: Kruser at May 31, 2006 6:05 AM
Comment #152901

Kruser,

The simple truth is that all religion corrupts politics; likewise, politics will always corrupt religion. This is the basis for the two clauses in the first amendment, to prevent the two from becoming enmeshed and indiscernible. Any person who loves either should strive to keep them seperate, lest risk losing both.

Government is designed to control men’s bodies (actions), religion the mind; one entity, when given the power to control both, corrupts itself inexorably.

Posted by: Liberal Demon at May 31, 2006 7:20 AM
Comment #152908

Tim Crow-
The answer to your question is 150.
That’s about the number of people who can work together as an organization without hierarchies and administration to help. I’ll get back later to why this is important.

Bertrand Russell may have been speaking about organized religion, but I think he was dim on religion in general.

We can talk about individual religious revelation, but the truth is, there’s a great deal of overlap between what people believe, sort of strange attractors, islands of selectivity, which mean what people believe about things aren’t random.

The deal with Fundamentalism is confronting a world where science and technology have taken a stronger hold over people’s lives. The literal interpretation of the bible is their answer to science’s ability to construct theories from basic principles and facts. Their aim is to prove Christianity right by a process of elimination.

The mirror error to that is the attempt to disprove religion and spirituality form the other end. I’ve been there. I found it not only impossible, but undesirable.

The reason I brought up the number back there, is that I feel organized religion, for all its evils, is something that the nature of the world encourages. It’s evidence, you could say of the way religions evolve in a world where people mass together with similar beliefs.

Of course that means that the organizations become stodgy and loose their spiritual agility, but on the flip side, I think those are things that members of these churches, if they so desire, can recover for themselves. You can be part of an organized religion, yet interact with the divine one on one.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 31, 2006 8:27 AM
Comment #153017

Stephen daugherty you are right no one can choose another mans path any where.So stop trying to turn this country into some thing that it is not.There is nothing wrong with being a coward as long as you dont expect the rest of the country to cower with you.Every time you open your mouth without the full facts you do a disservice to your country and our military.This loud talk you spout every day is harmfull not only to you but to me and my family.You cant see the forest for the tree’s.some people regaurdless of their reason just can not understand the danger that awaits this country.With all due respect you need to let the big boys fight this war.Dont be ashamed valor is not for all.Just do what you do best sell tupperware.

Posted by: lookingout at May 31, 2006 2:16 PM
Comment #153120

lookingout-
I want this country to remain what it is when its at its best. I want it to be a productive, healthy, spiritually diverse and rich society where the wisdom of our founding fathers is heeded appropriately to the challenge of our times.

If you think I’m a coward, then ask yourself why I post under my real name, when such points of view could be traced back to me by a simple google search.

I am what you might call a Reagan Democrat, only I’ve come back to the party earlier than most did. I am an unashamed Catholic who is against abortion, holds moderate views on gay marriage and gun control, has no problem with the use of military force, no issues with Capitalism (though I’d prefer better morals in the leadership) a moderate view on regulation, etc, etc. I am no stereotype for you to fear. I am the person that Republicans with some sense could negotiate with, if they wanted to find common ground.

Unfortunately, folks like you have been taught to fear those you should respect instead.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 31, 2006 6:12 PM
Comment #153357

Stephen, Nice post. Your next to the last sentence is most lucid to me. Republicans do not like negotiation. Negotiation requires compromise in some degree at least. With them, it’s their way or the highway. sk

Posted by: sk at June 1, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #153600

Stephen,

Excellent article. It is the best job that I have seen of confronting theocracy while respecting faith. The only thing that I would add is that political leaders have claimed divine right to rule long before Christianity. Medicine men and shamans were the first to be able to martial the labor to build monolithic architecture.

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 1, 2006 11:43 PM
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