Democrats & Liberals Archives

Romney, Out-Bushing Bush

Before he was elected, George W. Bush told us his role model is Jesus Christ. Once in office, he set up a faith-based administration and said that only a believer should be president of the U.S. He did, however, admit that non-believers should be tolerated too. Mitt Romney, in his big speech about religion, went one step further: He said we should be tolerant of those professing other religions but not of those professing no religion. Romney is out-Bushing Bush.

Romney was going to explain in his speech why a Mormon could be just as good a president as an Evangelical or other Christian. He made wonderful statements such as this:

If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.... Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.

I was ready to cheer when I heard this. But he also made these statements:

Liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government.

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom....Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people.

Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests.

Romney says he tolerates other religious people but not non-religious people. This attitude is called tolerance? A tolerant person does not pick and choose those he would tolerate. In my lexicon a person like that is a bigot. If you are not a believer like me you don't count for anything - exactly the attitude of a bigot.

Evidently, Romney's focus is on Evangelical Christians. He is saying: Forget about the differences. I am a believer just like you. I deserve to be president because I am a believer.

All Republican candidates are talking about God and religion as though they are candidates for a high religious office. The Republican Party has dragged the U.S. a long distance towards theocracy. If you want America to go back to its founding principles you must vote this time for Democrats.

Posted by Paul Siegel at December 6, 2007 5:26 PM
Comments
Comment #240143

If indeed, Romney said: “He said we should be tolerant of those professing other religions but not of those professing no religion. Romney is out-Bushing Bush.”

Then, Romney is saying we should tolerate Fundamentalist Islamic Jihadists over atheists and agnostics. This man is dangerous!

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 6, 2007 5:58 PM
Comment #240144

Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people.

Like the repeal of the Volsted Act? According to Romney, religious people simply MUST have their alcohol in order to sustain their conscience and convictions. Sounds right? I personally have never met an atheist alcoholic. All the one’s I’ve known have cursed God for their illness or lack of funds to sustain it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 6, 2007 6:02 PM
Comment #240145

Paul, your article is nothing more than partisan hog-wash…

“We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. Where we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity”

—FDR (D)

“The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, from Isaiah and Saint Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!”

—Harry Truman (D)

“We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.”

—Jimmy Carter (D)

“The Bible is the authoritative Word of God and contains all truth”

—Bill Clinton (D)

Newsflash… Romney’s speech today was about religion. Why are the things he said surprising?

“The scriptures say, ‘What does it profit my brethren if some say he has faith but does not have works?’ When we look at what’s happening in America today, where are the works of compassion? Because it’s also written, ‘Be doers of the word and not hearers only.’”

—John Kerry (D)

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at December 6, 2007 6:22 PM
Comment #240150

Doug-
He’s essentially saying that he wants religious toleration for himself, but that government has to operate on religious premise similar to his own.

Harry Truman said what he said at a time where White Male Judeo-Christian culture was pretty much dominant. Neither Carter nor Clinton were making points about government, and Kerry was critiquing the much observed vacuum of Christian charity among the Republican’s supposedly Christian policies.

Religion is part of the culture. Unfortunately, the Republicans want their religions to dominate. Romney’s speech thereby comes across somewhat weaselly, since it tries to dodge the dominating pressures coming from the more hardline evangelicals, while at the same time push soft dominionist sentiments to mollify the reconstructionist crowd.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 6, 2007 7:34 PM
Comment #240151
He did, however, admit that non-believers should be tolerated too.

I would be surprised if he did that, or if he had a different view from his father who said:

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

And people wonder why there is a desire to have the Pledge of Allegiance returned to its original state, without the ‘under god’ phrase added in to combat athiest and communists during McCarthyism?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 6, 2007 7:39 PM
Comment #240154

Watch when the media brings this up, they will be “misquoting” or “taking the comments out of context.”

Guys like Romney and the Westboro Baptist Church should shut up and stop giving real Christians and Mormons a bad name.

Posted by: Silima at December 6, 2007 8:06 PM
Comment #240157

Romney’s speech today, nor his being Mormon concern me in the least.

What does concern me is his 180 degree change of stance regarding abortion, gay rights, gun control, etc.

I can only assume that Romney’s true principle is basically, “I believe in whatever will get me elected”.

Posted by: KansasDem at December 6, 2007 8:35 PM
Comment #240160

To add to KD’s comment: It appears Romney will believe in and say whatever will get him elected. The man has a mission, and it is to serve his own ambitions.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 6, 2007 9:06 PM
Comment #240164

KansasDem… wow… we agree?

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at December 6, 2007 9:19 PM
Comment #240174

I personally don’t trust the man and think he is playing victim to get noticed, however,
the speech was very good. The subject was to defend having personal beliefs and that personal beliefs about God did not disqualify candidates in the past. You shouldn’t have to be a secularist to qualify for public office. The examples and perspective he gave are to prove this point.It is a distortion to say it was to exclude so called “non religious” people. (I have never met a non religious person anyways)

Everyone has a view of their origin, a take on where they go when they die and a purpose for their existence. Everyone is religious.

Corruption and bad behavior are wrong no matter what your persuasion; political, religious or otherwise. This should always be the focus. Religiphobia always distracts from the subject. (his point)

Recently I had a conversation with a person who constantly said the answer to everything was going to the bar. This was his cure for stress and his way to celebrate. He said if the people of all nations just sat down and had a beer the world would be a better place. I jokingly called his religion “Bud”ism.

Posted by: Kruser at December 7, 2007 12:09 AM
Comment #240177

I am not religious in any traditional way, but I have to believe that liberty does come from God. If not, it is the right of the state to give it and take it away, since the state would be the ultimate judge.

As a not particularly devout person, I found nothing to fear in his speech. It was, after all, about religion. He had to make the speech because some people were attacking him on the basis of religion.

What was he supposed to say? His beliefs matter to him and his beliefs color his decisions. That is true of all of us.

I know I will get in trouble for bringing up Clinton, but he is the most recent Dem President, so he provides the best comparison. When he was caught with his pants down, who did he go to for moral support? Carter, the second last Dem president was clearly a fundamentalist. Carter did lots of things wrong, but his religion was probably not the cause.

In the U.S. we have separation of church and state. We do not have a secular state, as Turkey does for example. There is an important distinction.

Posted by: Jack at December 7, 2007 2:38 AM
Comment #240180

Jack spewed this horsehockey: “I am not religious in any traditional way, but I have to believe that liberty does come from God. If not, it is the right of the state to give it and take it away, since the state would be the ultimate judge.”

Every state on the face of the earth has laws which permit the state to incarcerate its citizens, stripping them of virtually every freedom, and in the U.S., even their right to life itself. Liberty and limits upon it, have always been, and will always be, a central function of the state, or to go back to pre-civilization, a central function of the tribe.

If one chooses to believe that God grants liberty and takes liberty from those of ‘His’ own choosing, that’s fine as religion goes. But, it doesn’t negate the naked reality that where people congregate, they will impose limits upon each other’s liberties for the sake of preserving peace and security of the congregation. One is not permitted to yell “fire” in a theater if there isn’t a fire, or the state will take one’s liberty away.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 7, 2007 3:18 AM
Comment #240181

Kruser, you make good comments, but, I couldn’t help notice how both you, and Romney, circumvented the topic of religion imposing its will upon society as a whole through its agents elected to office. That is after all, the central question of his being Mormon and running for the most powerful elected office in the world.

The issue would be far more obvious if a Muslim were running for President. But, the issue is not lost on the Fundamentalist Religious Evangelical Christians, who seek to install their own into that office. Hence, the remarkable rise of Gomer Pyle (Mike Huckabee) in the polls. None too bright (national sales tax) but, he sure is a nice guy who doesn’t swear no matter what happens to him.

I truly believe Huckabee is the ONLY candidate running who will not use God’s name in vain when he loses. Not sure that is qualification for President of the U.S. though, given the language of the likes of Ike, Teddy R., Nixon, and FDR. This country elected the Peter Principle not once, but twice. Let’s not follow that blunder by electing Gomer, OK?

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 7, 2007 3:23 AM
Comment #240183

David

So you believe all your rights come from the state and there is no basis but the state’s desires?

Americans, most Americans, have held that our rights are self evident and that we are endowed with the right of liberty by our creator. You need not define creator any further, but you really cannot step it back either.

In our democracy, the people ultimately make all the laws, but most of us consider that there are some rights that should be beyond the reach of the majority. I know you believe that too, but if you do not hold that there is some truth (not matter how defined) beyond the mere secular, how can you do that?

IF we all decide by democratic means and a legitimate legal structure to murder some innocent people, on what basis can you oppose it?

I really do want some atheistic people to write in. It has always puzzled me how anybody can take a moral stand if they believe that all morality is derived from personal choices.

I used to talk with communists before they went extinct in the wild (as opposed to in western universities where they continue to thrive). For them, there was no truth. Everything was an expedient based on the current needs of the state. I did not agree with them and it would be a terrible thing if our own system of freedom produced that same monsterous result.

Posted by: Jack at December 7, 2007 5:34 AM
Comment #240185
We do not have a secular state

Actually, we do. Secular does not mean ‘anti-god’, but rather an absence of god. Because of the separation of church and state, that makes the government secular.

As for your ridiculous comments about our liberty coming ‘from god’ or the state, both are wrong as I pointed out in my recent post on the subject. We obtain these as the very nature of being sentient beings.

During his talk he moved onto the subject of morality without religion or god. He pointed out that when he was three years old he had no interest in god or religion. He was not the Dali Lama then, he had not been chosen yet. So he says he was not religious at all. But he knew that killing another person was wrong, that stealing from another person was wrong, that harming another person was wrong. But how? Why, he learned these concepts from his mother. Not in a religious context, but in a simple, factual, this is how civilized people act way.

He went on to explain that there is a wrong connotation with the word ‘secular’. It does NOT mean ‘anti-god’, just an absence of god. In other words, there is nothing wrong with admitting a secular morality exists and we all accept and live by it while still believing in god and accepting a religious morality as well. And that is what we need to be making sure exists, a secular ethics.

We don’t need to interject a religious morality into our government to ensure that people don’t break down and kill each other, devolving society in to a hedonistic free-for-all. All we need is to ensure that individual rights are protected and let each individual make up their own mind as to how they choose to believe in an after-life, a supreme being and an additional set of ethos that they choose to live by.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 7, 2007 6:56 AM
Comment #240187

“Mittens” Romney’s speech was mostly pablum chosen to titillate conservative Christians and offend few others. The only interesting thing he said was this, and it’s complete BS:

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

If that were true, Saudi Arabia would be one of the freest countries on Earth. These Europeans who don’t go to church (at least according to Romney) would be in the grip of despotism.

Posted by: Woody Mena at December 7, 2007 7:35 AM
Comment #240188

“I really do want some atheistic people to write in.”

Jack,

I’m not an atheist, but rather an agnostic. I do not personally believe in any god, but I have no problem coexisting with those who do as long as they allow me to NOT believe.

I feel no need whatsoever to explain my lack of belief, nor do I feel any necessity to convince anyone that I’m right and they’re wrong. I’ve been called a coward for not professing my beliefs. I say horse puckey to such nonsense.

I consider myself a moral person. I try to adhere to the golden rule. I believe a good deed done in anonymity is preferable to a good deed done to earn one prestige or praise.

I believe in peaceful coexistence and that force should only be used as a last resort. I thought “shock and awe” was shocking and awful.

I tend to believe that most religions, including staunch atheism, are only an excuse for willful ignorance and intolerance.

Above all else, I believe if I don’t get the dog hair cleaned up around here I’m going to very soon yack up a hair ball.

Posted by: KansasDem at December 7, 2007 8:42 AM
Comment #240192

A “state church” and “religion” are two separate objects.
Everyone has a religion. Churches lean toward the mystical aspects. This makes them more of a dangerous type of faction as compared to a federalist or a “liberal”.
A man’s with good personal religious beliefs is an asset to government. Our founders encouraged them to participate in government. An atheist who believes in destroying weak humans to strengthen our gene pool would be a dangerous person to elect. It gets back to principles rather than religiphobia.
Every elected official will impose his will on the people. Our constitution puts a limit on how far they can impose it in our lives.
Secular means focused on obvious civic duties. An honest Christian or an honest atheist are equal to the task. The diversity of opinions in the arena of ideas is what our country needs.
Churches that combine civic need, such as wages and buildings, with mysticism are in error in my opinion. If people need a building, those who enjoy the benefits should participate in financing it. Giving for those items has nothing to do with a personal relationship with God. Spiritualizing personal responsibility (civic duties) leads to error in every type of management: family, business or government. God forbid we have penalties for violating someone’s mystic beliefs. Good “religious” people have this understanding and have a strong sense of civic duty.

Posted by: Kruser at December 7, 2007 9:27 AM
Comment #240193

My head is going to implode soon with all the absolutes being spouted here. People seem so sure that they know what God is and isn’t, what God gives us and what God takes away. What God expects from us and what God doesn’t expect.

Let’s be frank-is anything about religion, any religion, truly absolute. It is all based on what we were taught as children, what experiences we had as an adult.

That said Romney did not really explain his religion. He gave, in my opinion, a sermon. What amazes me is that he was given time, free time, at that to sermonize. I think every other politician running for president should demand equal time.

All I got from what Romney said was that if you aren’t religious you better watch out cause there is no place for you in this America. When did we get so intolerant, so insistent that being religious was the way to get a vote. Notice I did not say that believing in God was the only way to get a vote. This recent pandering, in my opinion, to the religious right has nothing to do with God, whoever and whatever that is. Might I say, one’s higher power, which would be a more accurate definer. All that happened the other day was that Mitt Romney was given a platform free to spout religious platitudes.

I personally have problems with all this talk about religion and God because throughout the ages religion has only hurt countries trying to do good-in my opinion. That, in my opinion, is not God. The God being currently held up as our supreme being, is not the God of my understanding.

I think that is exactly why our forefathers made such an effort to separate church and state. That is all we have now is politicans and religious groups trying to force a standard view of God on us.

I wanted Romney to explain his religion. I did not want a sermon on faith and religion.

Posted by: Carolina at December 7, 2007 9:29 AM
Comment #240199

Not only that, but George H. W. Bush (41) stated on 27-Aug-1987 in Chicago to a reporter:

  • Robert I. Sherman stated: “Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?”

  • George Bush (41) stated: “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

  • Posted by: d.a.n at December 7, 2007 10:13 AM
    Comment #240200

    Jack asked: “So you believe all your rights come from the state and there is no basis but the state’s desires?”

    My religion teaches that I have the right to become an enlightened sentient being. I define for myself certain other rights which I will defend with all at my disposal, like a family safe from harm, and right to express and convey to others what I have learned, and my right to learn from others as I choose. As an obligation for a plethora of benefits from living within many communities (family, neighborhood, county, state, nation, world, human race, mammal, living entity) I yield many other rights I otherwise would retain were I to live on a deserted island as the only living creature.

    The creator created the universe into which I came to exist. The only right that creator entitled me to, from my point of view, was the right to become and awed and enlightened witness to that creation with the short time I am empowered with senses.

    So, in short, the answer to your question is NO! Some of my rights are certainly granted by the government in which I live (Bill of Rights), and for which, I have an obligation of responsibility toward insuring for all others living within that jurisdiction of government. Other rights I reserve for myself. And only one, I know of, comes from the creator as indicated above.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at December 7, 2007 10:17 AM
    Comment #240202
    Everyone has a religion.
    They do?
    A man’s with good personal religious beliefs is an asset to government.
    Really? And an atheist or agnostic isn’t?
    An atheist who believes in destroying weak humans to strengthen our gene pool would be a dangerous person to elect.
    ? ! ? Atheists believe in destroying humans ?
    Good “religious” people have this understanding and have a strong sense of civic duty.
    And non-religious people don’t, nor can be good or moral people?

    If indeed, Mitt Romney said: “… we should be tolerant of those professing other religions but not of those professing no religion.”, then he is a religious bigot.

    Jack wrote: I really do want some atheistic people to write in. It has always puzzled me how anybody can take a moral stand if they believe that all morality is derived from personal choices.
    ? ! ? So non-believers can’t take a moral stand? Do you think moral behaviour requires religion? Fascinating.

    All of this despicable intolerance of others’ religion (or lack of) is pure bigotry. Scary, in fact. And for good reason.


  • Posted by: d.a.n at December 7, 2007 10:33 AM
    Comment #240210

    According to that “just a God D**n piece of paper” as W would refer to it; “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.” So for some it is God for some it is not, all depends on what you consider your Creator.That is the beauty of the it all, our Country is open to all religions or none. Its for each of us to determine as individuals. Thats probably why the founding fathers decided to seperate church and state.

    Posted by: j2t2 at December 7, 2007 12:03 PM
    Comment #240211

    BTW its Pearl Harbor day today. Can we get a moment of silence in honor of those that paid the ultimate price that day.

    Posted by: j2t2 at December 7, 2007 12:06 PM
    Comment #240212

    Jack said:

    It has always puzzled me how anybody can take a moral stand if they believe that all morality is derived from personal choices.

    Morality requires only intelligent self-interest. Adam Smith goes into great detail on this subject in Theory of Moral Sentiments, which is anything but a religious treatise. Do unto others as your modeling will have them do unto you. No religion required.

    In fact, this wisdom predates religions in existence today. This is originally clan wisdom. Treat other clan members as you want to be treated by them. The concept of reciprocity is part of the human evolutionary story and as old as human speech, and likely even older than that.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at December 7, 2007 12:08 PM
    Comment #240213

    Clearly it is time to start burning heretics. Its a national security issue.

    Posted by: Bills at December 7, 2007 12:13 PM
    Comment #240214

    Mitt’s speech was fine if not a little arrogant. I mean this coming from a nominee, President, or President elect is one thing; coming from a guy who hasn’t even gotten one primary vote in his name is another. Ronald Reagan said it much better a couple of decades ago:

    We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not to believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief, to apply moral teaching to public questions.

    Religion will always enter into our politics as long as we remain a Representative Republic where the populous is predominately religious. You can not have a secular government where 80%-90% of its elected representatives are faith believing people. Romney is saying he believes and that those beliefs will guide him if elected. No where does it say he has to check his religion at the door.

    Posted by: George in SC at December 7, 2007 12:49 PM
    Comment #240220

    George in SC,
    The beauty of a Constitutional government is that one has documents to refer to on issues like this. Our Government’s province is to secure defense, protect certain liberties, and promote the general welfare of all its citizens. The 1st Amendment also pretty clearly proscribes that the government is not to be the instrument of any religion, nor is any religion or adherents to one, to be treated any differently than any other religion or citizens who are not religious by the government.

    The issue continues to arise as a check and balance upon those in or seeking government office whose words or actions imply a violation of this Constitutional proscription. So, you are right. This issue will continue to arise.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at December 7, 2007 1:07 PM
    Comment #240221

    Kansas

    I am not sure about the details of faith. It may be unknowable. But I do think you need to believe in something beyond the ordinary life if you have a morality that goes beyond self interest.

    David

    I am not trying to make a political argument. It is just my own understanding.

    Reciprocity or enlightened self interest would work very well until you got to the end of the game or felt completely in control.

    For example, committing murder or even genocide might be in your enlightened self interest, since you and your supporters might be much better off if rivals were eliminated completely. In fact, that is what many animals do. When a lion takes over a pride, he kills all the offspring of his predecessor. It makes perfect sense from the self interest point of view.

    There is the famous Melian dialogue in Thucydides, where the Athenians very calmly and matter of factly explain that they will obliterate Melos because it makes sense from the point of view of their state power.

    W/o some transcendent morality, how can you judge such things as immoral? They often work to the long term advantage of those doing them. History is replete with examples of massacres or pogroms that benefited the perpetrators. Does it really come down to what they Athenians told the Melians about morality, that the strong take what they can and the weak grant what they must? That is a form of reciprocity. When the weaker group’s value is less than their costs to you, wipe them out and better don’t leave any, since that adds to your risk of reciprocity, now called retribution.

    Posted by: Jack at December 7, 2007 1:19 PM
    Comment #240225
    Jack wrote: But I do think you need to believe in something beyond the ordinary life if you have a morality that goes beyond self interest.
    So, does that statement essentially mean agnostics and atheists have no morals? Or are somehow inferior in some way? Does that mean atheists and agnostics can not have a morality that goes beyond self interest?

    You are entitled to your belief, but what is scary is how far some people will go with such beliefs by discriminating against those that don’t share their beliefs.

    It’s like what George H. W. Bush said on 27-Aug-1987. He goes so far to say you are not an American citizen or a patriot. What’s also very interesting is that how something so important can go so long under the radar? If that’s the way he feels, why didn’t he say so while campaigning for office? Were his feelings supposed to remain a secret.

    It’s like Huckabee who stated:

    • Gay tolerance reflects lack of fixed societal standards. (Jun 2007)
    • {So gays should not be tolerated?}
    • USA has gone from Barney Fife to Barney Frank. (Jan 2007) {Barney Frank is gay. This is another condemnation of gays?}

    • Tax-credited programs for Christian schooling. (Sep 2007)
    • {Hmmmm, and how about Islamic or Buddhist schooling? … Doesn’t the 1st Amendment state: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, … Huckabee clearly doesn’t have a clue about the 1st Amendment.}
    • Ending school prayer was one step in society’s moral decay. (Jun 2007) {Right. So which prayer shall we use? Christian? Jewish? Islamic? Buddhist? Atheist? Shinto? Hindu? Unitarianism ? Mormon? Paganist? Zoroastrianist? Baha’i? Jainism ? Taoist? … again, Huckabee doesn’t have a clue aobut the 1st Amendment. People can pray anytime they want and no one can stop them from it. What Huckabee is talking about is organizing and institutionalizing it. OK. Which religious prayer shall it be? And what about the agnostics and atheists? Will they be forced to participate? What does religion have to be institutionalized in public schools. If were are going to allow one, we must allow all. And now the problem is all too obvious. You can’t have freedom of religion by forcing it on people. }

    • Does not believe in evolution. (May 2007) {That’s his choice. It’s not a crime and that belief hurts no one else. So why does he feel compelled to tell others that? Are those that disagree somehow less moral or inferior?}

    • Support displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools. (Nov 2002) {Hmmmm … from which religion? Does he realize that the Ten Commandments vary by religion? Again, is Huckabee trying to promote moral values or proselytize HIS religion?}

    • More bible; less blogs; more music; less network TV. (Jan 2007) {More bible? Is that Huckabee’s place to tell others to do that?}

    Jack wrote: W/o some transcendent morality, how can you judge such things as immoral?
    Morality is not that difficult. Knowing the difference between right and wrong is not that mysterious. Are you saying only those with religious beliefs are capable of moral thought, behavior, and goals?
  • Posted by: d.a.n at December 7, 2007 1:56 PM
    Comment #240227

    I feel good that most of you believe in the separation of church and state - regardles of your personal religious beliefs.

    This, to me, is the main issue. I wrote this article because I thought too many Americans seek to blur the distinction.

    This distinction is what makes America great. It allows everyone, regardless of what they believe, to fully participate in what America has to offer.

    Posted by: Paul Siegel at December 7, 2007 2:05 PM
    Comment #240230
    But I do think you need to believe in something beyond the ordinary life if you have a morality that goes beyond self interest.

    I’m sorry to say this, but this is an ignorant statement, Jack, and requires the willful ignoring of the existence of empathy in many beings, sentient and not.

    Your statement may be correct of sociopaths/narcisists, but we views those as being abhorations, not the normal human condition.

    It’s an attitude of superiority that the ‘believers’ want to have over those who do not, but it isn’t based in any sort of reality. Thankfully those with a some true religious beliefs, like the Dali Lama, are tackling this error of the self-interested believers who use religion as a way to get the things they want, not live a life of a moral human being.

    Posted by: Rhinehold at December 7, 2007 2:39 PM
    Comment #240232

    d.a.n.,
    You continually take short snippets of sentences about Huckabee from a web-page whose purpose is to discredit. The entire list is conjecture and purposefully taken out of context.

    If I hadn’t just addressed this ridiculous bias in wherever you are copying that from, in the “a mormon for president” thread, I would do it again here.

    Honest debate requires thought, not just cut-and-paste.

    Posted by: Yukon Jake at December 7, 2007 3:08 PM
    Comment #240234

    Yukon, we just had 8 years of compassionate conservatism under the Bush administration. Why would you think that Huckabee, the compassionate conservative candidate, would be any different should he be the republican candidate for President?

    Posted by: j2t2 at December 7, 2007 3:15 PM
    Comment #240235

    Romney kicked a$$! Man that was such a great speech!! It was (extremely) positive, not to mention Presidential, and reinforced the American traditions and values. It’s good to hear positive references about our country and the founding fathers; I wish other Presidential Candidates would speak like that.

    Posted by: rahdigly at December 7, 2007 3:19 PM
    Comment #240239

    Jack, enlightened self interest according to Adam Smith is not the narrow selfish or self-centered concept you seem to interpret it as. Enlightened self-interest acknowledges that one is a member of many communities, and what benefits those communities usually benefits oneself and progeny in the long run. That reciprocity and enlightened self-interest is based on a simple proposition of logic, if most others act as I am considering to act, would I be better off or worse off in this community that sustains me and my future progeny?

    If many others in my community do what I am about to do, would their action make me concerned for own welfare of that of my children’s in this community? If the answer is yes, then what I am considering doing is wrong and should not be enacted. It is the cornerstone of Adam Smith’s and many of our founding fathers understanding of “enlightened self-interest”.

    Such understanding required a certain kind of literacy and education in their day, which led their decision for very limited suffrage, reserved for white, male, landowners, who were the only identifiable group in the Colonies of that time likely to have the literacy and education prerequisite to enlightened self-interest, as found in classical literature and philosophical writings. And by virtue of vested landownership, the motivation existed in landowners to be vigilant and hold politicians accountable to this same standard.

    For some, like Jefferson and Franklin, religion and church were important for the illiterate and uneducated as far as morality teaching was concerned, where acceptance, without understanding, would have to suffice on the authority of faith in the Church and its clergy. A substitute for enlightened self interest. Where enlightened self interest was evident in the character and actions of a man, it qualified that man for leadership, the clergy, or a role in government.

    They in large part relied upon a man’s character to instruct them whether to have dealings with that man or not. They had no SEC, FEC, FBI, Background checks, etc. to protect their dealings with others. They did however, have the recognition capacity for seeing enlightened self-interest evident or absent in another man’s behaviors and actions.

    They knew too well, that being a Church goer was no guarantor of good character or reliable nature. But the wisdom and character of a person guided by enlightened self-interest was very difficult to counterfeit. That is still true today for the most part. Anyone can memorize passages from the Good Book, and recite them as many in the KKK and Aryan Nation have. Comprehension and understanding of the religious texts, philosophical and classical literature, are hallmarks of enlightened self-interest, and therefore cannot be faked by simple recitations to serve selfish ends.

    This was one of the fundamental themes of Inherit the Wind. Two learned men, one of recitation and the other of enlightened self-interest. Their contrast was as stark as night and day.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at December 7, 2007 4:13 PM
    Comment #240245
    Yukon Jake wrote: d.a.n., You continually take short snippets of sentences about Huckabee from a web-page whose purpose is to discredit. The entire list is conjecture and purposefully taken out of context.
    False.

    If you want to see the full context of all of Huckabee’s statements, go here. Feel free to debunk the meaning of his own statements allegedly taken out of context. You will find all his statements, in full context, and all of the sources there.

    Yukon Jake wrote: If I hadn’t just addressed this ridiculous bias in wherever you are copying that from, in the “a mormon for president” thread, I would do it again here.
    Honest debate requires thought, not just cut-and-paste. Again, those statements are not mischaracterized, and here are just a few of the sources:
    • Meet the Press
    • Mike Huckabee’s own book: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, 2007
    • 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida Nov 28, 2007
    • Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews Nov 18, 2007
    • FOX News Sunday, 2007 presidential interviews Oct 21, 2007
    • [X-ref Paul] 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News Sep 5, 2007
    • 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007
    • Character Makes a Difference, by Mike Huckabee, p. 4-21 Jun 1, 2007
    • 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC May 3, 2007
    Posted by: d.a.n at December 7, 2007 4:51 PM
    Comment #240248

    Just curious, how would those of you who take your morality from a source without a religious basis view the morality of a sitting President of the U.S. getting a BJ in the Whitehouse administrated by someone not his spouse? Simple question and a simple answer would be appreciated. Please, no parsing or comparing this action with the actions of others…just try to answer this simple question.

    Posted by: Jim at December 7, 2007 5:25 PM
    Comment #240249

    Now, let’s take a look at Mitt Romney.
    Mitt Romney voted/stated:

  • Illegal immigrants shouldn’t get tuition break in schools. (Nov 2007) {FactCheck: Illegals employed at his home, but by contractor. (Nov 2007); Oooopssss. Romney fired the contractor 6-Dec-2007}

  • Mitt Romney states:There should be no driver’s license & in-state tuition for illegals. (Nov 2007) {FactCheck: Massachusetts state cops never enforced immigration laws. (Nov 2007); FactCheck: Romney took no actions against 4 Massachussetts sanctuary cities. (Nov 2007) }

  • Mitt Romney states: “Not wise for us to describe our interrogation techniques.” (Nov 2007) {Really? How about: We don’t torture people?}

  • Private accounts work better than extending retirement age. (Oct 2007) {That will be hard to do now with the approaching 77 million baby boomer bubble, $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent form Social Security, massive $9.1 Trillion National Debt, and Social Security is pay-as-you-go.}

  • Commission studied FairTax and found serious flaws. (Aug 2007) {Good. But is that a definite NO ? I hope so.}

  • I believe in domestic supports for our agriculture industry. (Oct 2007) {There’s way, way too much pork-barrel and graft and too many of these farm subsidiesand corporate welfare.}

  • Bush & Cheney have made mistakes, but have kept us safe. (Aug 2007) {Made mistakes? A few at least.}

  • Wants a Balanced Budget amendment and the Line-item veto can & should pass constitutional muster. (Oct 2007) {How about One-Purpose-Per-BILL instead? But then that might require an amendment, and Congress has complete control of the amendatory process since all 535 members have chosen to violate Article V of the U.S. Constitution. Good luck getting any amendments passed. All 50 states have already submitted 567 amendment applications (only 34 states are required) and Congress has blatantly ignored it since year 1911. After all, used the line item vetoe 844 times, but he fails to note that 700 of his vetoes were overridden.}

  • That’s not great, but better than some of the other candidates.
    The problem with Romney is that he will most likely follow Bush’s Iraq strategy (keep Iran and Syria from getting the oil) and if he does, we may be in Iraq for a long, long time.

    Jim wrote: Just curious, how would those of you who take your morality from a source without a religious basis view the morality of a sitting President of the U.S. getting a BJ in the Whitehouse administrated by someone not his spouse? Simple question and a simple answer would be appreciated. Please, no parsing or comparing this action with the actions of others…just try to answer this simple question.
    It’s immoral, regardless of one’s religious beliefs.

    First of all, do you want a president that deceives his wife (not to mention the embarrassment and dishonor after geting caught).

    Some may say it is his personal business, but it speaks volumes about his honesty and integrity (or lack of).

    Posted by: d.a.n at December 7, 2007 5:29 PM
    Comment #240250

    And the lack of integrity and honesty was compounded by the subsequent lies and evasiveness and the truly ridiculous but revealing statement: “it depends on what the definition of “is” is.”.
    Here’s some more of Bill Clinton’s handy work) (546 pardons and 140 on his last day in office.

    Posted by: d.a.n at December 7, 2007 5:34 PM
    Comment #240252

    Atheists are equally religious as Christians. They are also equally qualified to govern since civic responsibility is a separate issue.

    If your defined religion improves your character and interaction with others then it also improves your ability to govern. The opposite is also true.

    Religious beliefs are above mere politics and governing since they affect your very existence, future and outlook. Politics and civic matters need to be separate from these not to simply preserve a written document but a man’s ability to make these profound decisions for himself.

    A church is an organization or a faction of common views much like a political party. Beliefs or religion are conclusions about life that all people have when they are outside the church. We should be inclusive to all with their character being the focus. Excluding a Christian because of his life views is as bad as excluding an atheist. In civic matters belief is of no importance unless there is a dangerous mystic quality such as cleansing the gene pool or the infidels. We can debate the merits of each belief in another forum.

    As far as mentioning God goes; If you believe in democracy and the consensus is toward acknowledging God then why not? . As long as you have the choice to abstain , freedom is intact. It isn’t a matter of governing but national identity. No one is demanding adherence to a church doctrine or issuing penalties for nonconformity. Logic dictates the existence of a creator to most people. We can also debate that logic in another forum.

    Everyone makes statements occasionally without thought, Bush 41 is no exception.
    I don’t expect perfection from anyone. Too bad there isn’t an eraser to remove spoken words. If there are consistent quotes about a subject then I might become alarmed.

    Posted by: Kruser at December 7, 2007 5:58 PM
    Comment #240258

    Jack

    I am not sure about the details of faith. It may be unknowable. But I do think you need to believe in something beyond the ordinary life if you have a morality that goes beyond self interest.

    Aka is pure altruism possible?

    I think no. I think all our behavior during our ordinary life are driven more or less by self interest. This self-interest is itself often driven by education: we are happy to behave as we were raised to (“the good boy/girl effect”).

    While I’m an agnostic too, I was raised in a country with values based on Christian ones. Even if I don’t believe in god, my everyday behavior is, unconsciously, “tinted” by my education.

    Morality is not static. It’s a very dynamic one.

    Now if you want me to say what I actually believe into, i believe what we believe doesn’t matter one bit.

    Only what we do does.

    Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 7, 2007 6:53 PM
    Comment #240260

    Jim,

    Just curious, how would those of you who take your morality from a source without a religious basis view the morality of a sitting President of the U.S. getting a BJ in the Whitehouse administrated by someone not his spouse? Simple question and a simple answer would be appreciated. Please, no parsing or comparing this action with the actions of others…just try to answer this simple question.

    My view is he’s cheating on his spouse, if any.
    In case she both exists and know he does and say nothing against, then my view would be: have fun, guys.

    Why? Do you have sex morality issue ?

    Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 7, 2007 7:07 PM
    Comment #240266

    Ooops, forgot: in both cases, it’s personnal business between three adults.


    d.a.n.

    it speaks volumes about his honesty and integrity (or lack of).

    Find me one person who never *ever* lied, even when he was a kid. Everybody lie one day. Does it make all of them dishonest and without integrity for the rest of their lives?

    Thinking that moral people should never lie is utopia. That’s why we *trust* people, but never *know* them ever.

    My moral view is limited to not harming others and, if possible, helping some being happy.
    And that’s hard enough.

    Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 7, 2007 7:26 PM
    Comment #240269

    Jack said,

    “I do think you need to believe in something beyond the ordinary life if you have a morality that goes beyond self interest.”

    I’m really at a loss for words Jack.

    I’ll admit that I hope others learn from my tolerance. I’m just dumb-struck that you think compassion and a sense of right & wrong can’t exist without religion.

    Color me stupid!

    Posted by: KansasDem at December 7, 2007 8:48 PM
    Comment #240274

    Morality is always based in religion. What is yours? A humanist believes morality is based on treating humans kindly and therefore human thought and experiences define morality. This is noble yet it is subjective (or mind dependant)as you can see by Philippe’s examples.
    Christians take an objective approach by observing a harmony of truth in all societies that must come from an outside source that is mind independent and easily recognize by all. (Respect, freedom, care)
    We believe subjective thought alone can justify anything and is dangerous without being limited by some sort of accountability.
    This is the reason there are numerous references to God while defining ourselves as a nation in the past. It need not be sorted out in the base arena called politics and civil law since truth should be obvious and recognized by all, regardless of your persuasion.

    Posted by: Kruser at December 8, 2007 12:08 AM
    Comment #240277

    Philippe,
    Truth is static, mercy, understanding, and grace are relative to each person.
    Adultery, lying and breaking vows are wrong. Our ability to accept human frailty is relative. To recognize that we all lie and therefore should give others a break is good. It still doesn’t make lying right.
    A person who heads up our executive (law enforcement) branch has no business perjuring himself before a judge. He was having legal problems and encouraged others to participate and lie under oath. This was the actual offence and the reason the fearful secretary kept evidence. She was afraid of the court and the president.
    Instead of being a fatherly example to his interns he used them as sex toys. This is morally disgusting to me but isn’t illegal.

    Posted by: Kruser at December 8, 2007 12:26 AM
    Comment #240283

    Kruser, if you were educated in Philosophy, you would recognize how incredibly wrong your comment is on the secular foundation for morality vs. the religious. Both in fact, build their concepts of morality from the same historical social observations. The only difference is the religious call their morality givers prophets and son of god, whereas the secularists call their morality givers like Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant, philosophers.

    Their observations and basis for morality stem from the same observations of the condition of human social interaction, and the same motivations to elevate that interaction to a higher plane. Making both, objective in the fundamental arguments and tenets. Religion is just philosophy endorsed by authoritarian figures like “son of god” or, Prophet who has a direct line to God’s voice and mind. Which explains why all the world’s major religions share so many of the same tenets and lessons for human behavior.

    If there are subjective and objective difference, it is opposite what you posit in the following way: The religious are told “Thou shalt not kill”. When asked why, the answer is: because God or the Prophet said so. (subjective, the inquirer accepts the wisdom on faith in the authority of admonition, or not). Whereas the secularists appeal to reason when the Inquirer asks, why not, explaining that if you set the example by killing another, you also create the reality that you must fear being killed, as retribution for such acts are not uncommon. Living in fear of others doing as you do, is not an ideal state of living.

    Hence the need for Sunday School teachers and preachers, who serve the secularist role of explaining why the the moral commandments are justifiable, even to those who would question the religious authority of the admonitions or commandments.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at December 8, 2007 3:35 AM
    Comment #240284

    Kruser,

    Truth is static

    Hum, it’s very debatable. There is several schools of truth theories, and only a few think that thruth is absolute or common to everyone. Many acknowledges that some subjectivity is mandatory, due to the truth observation process.

    Our ability to accept human frailty is relative. To recognize that we all lie and therefore should give others a break is good. It still doesn’t make lying right.

    According to your moral view.
    Which tolerates kids being lied about Santa Claus every year. This big lie power the magic in our kids mind. They believe in Santa Claus *because* we continue to lie to them. And when they find out, we ask them to do the same, so their younger brother or sister could enjoy the magic?

    Isn’t such belief against every proof that’s false the definition of Faith? Isn’t rejection of such fact rejection of truth too? Isn’t forging or twisting facts to keep a belief alive lying?

    I really don’t think there is absolute truth, right or wrong.
    Life is change. Our view on everything is driven by past experience, which the present instant modify.

    We used to think “earth is flat” was an absolute truth. We used to think Sun was orbiting around the Earth. We used to think bloodletting was an effective medical practice.

    We used to consider people who were disagreeing about these then “truth” as being plain wrong. I’ll bet the few first doctors who refused to blood-let a patient were seen very immoral for not attempting any practice (at this time, any practice == blood-let pretty much) on a dying patient.

    Today, when a doctor acknowledge he can’t do nothing, it’s considered more moral than one who refuse to say it and keep putting an excessive therapy burden on his patient without any clue to justify it.

    Our values system, both collective and individual, is a very dynamic one.

    Instead of being a fatherly example to his interns he used them as sex toys. This is morally disgusting to me but isn’t illegal.

    Again, to you.
    To him, it was not. To Monica, it was not too, as AFAIK, never said she was forced to blowjob him.
    They will have behaved differently if they though it was.

    That’s all relative.

    Take two examples of strong morality shift between many people : death penalty and euthanasia.
    Without an absolute consensus on such topics, any moral stand regarding these is subjective, even if it’s shared by many people (social process which play a big role in many moral view).

    Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 8, 2007 5:03 AM
    Comment #240293

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” This invokes reason or objective observance. A “secularist” distinguishes himself from “religion” only by his “belief”
    in the absence of God. All people have profound religious beliefs. The philosophers you mentioned have some good ideas that Christian people have also endorsed. The belief that the mind or reason alone is the final authority is religious one. What you describe as religion are the mystic beliefs that any philosophy can also digress to.
    To blindly follow any religious belief (secularist,christian) without reason causes opression. Reason is a mind function and not an end because of obvious mind independent truth.

    “I really don’t think there is absolute truth, right or wrong.”
    Is that an absolute truth?


    Posted by: Kruser at December 8, 2007 9:37 AM
    Comment #240294

    Relativists contradict themselves by using absolutes selectivly.

    In the political arena, relative and absolute truth varies according to affiliation as in your blowjob example.
    It would be an outrage on this site were it a republican. He would certainly had been impeached and removed from office since it is a true violation of human dignity and the office of president and not simply moral judgement. We would all recognize this. There are always loyal followers who turn a blind eye to terrible offences. This is the true danger and not religious associations.

    Posted by: Kruser at December 8, 2007 10:08 AM
    Comment #240297
    Philippe Houdoin wrote:
    d.a.n wrote (with regard to Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky): Some may say it is his personal business, but it speaks volumes about his honesty and integrity (or lack of).
    Find me one person who never *ever* lied, even when he was a kid. Everybody lie one day. Does it make all of them dishonest and without integrity for the rest of their lives? . Thinking that moral people should never lie is utopia. That’s why we *trust* people, but never *know* them ever. . My moral view is limited to not harming others and, if possible, helping some being happy. And that’s hard enough.
    Philippe Houdoin, So most (if not all) people tell a lie sometime in their life.

    But how many do it repeatedly (and in the Oval office to boot)? ; disgracing the office, himself, his wife, and daughter? Bill Clinton is a repeat offender. When caught, Bill lied some more to cover it up. And then he followed it up with the famous “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”.

    Of course no one is perfect. But that’s a straw-man arguement, because we’re not talking about one mistakes. Bill Clinton cheated on his wife two (or more times: Monica Lewinsky while President; Gennifer Flowers). That is, unless Bill and Hillary had an understanding and it was all fine and dandy with Hillary.

    So, the question is, do you want a President who lies to his wife? Do you think a person that lies to his wife will lie to the people?

    But, as far as lies go, these lies (6 minute video; re: George Bush (43), Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Slam Dunk George Tenet, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleza Rice, etc.) are far worse than Bill Clinton’s, since no one died due to Bill Clinton’s lies.

    So, the issue is not merely about mistakes that most people make, or a few white lies. It is about repeat offenses and lies that impact others lives in a huge way. There’s a difference.

    Posted by: d.a.n at December 8, 2007 10:58 AM
    Comment #240311

    Romney needs a history lesson. I tire of the revisionist history offered by those who would have our secular government, designed as such from the outset, infused with a dose of good old time religion. The United States was founded as a secular government, as is clear from the Constitution which says nothing substantive of god or religion except in the First Amendment where the point was to confirm that the government is not to establish an official religion. To be sure, some of those who drafted the founding documents professed their belief in the Christian god. So what? Others among the drafters did not profess, or denied, any such belief. In any event, they drafted documents plainly founding the government on the power of the people (not a deity).

    Lest there be any doubt, shortly after the founding, the President, with the unanimous consent of the Senate, entered into the Treaty of Tripoli declaring, in pertinent part, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Note that, treaties, apart from the Constitution itself, are the highest law of the land. So—as a matter of law as well as history—“the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

    Romney’s railing about those seeking to create a religion of secularism (an oxymoron apparently intended as an insult, which itself is ironic coming from a religionist) and to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of god(s) is but a strawman. The concern is not whether people may acknowledge god(s) in the public domain, but whether GOVERNMENT weighs in one way or the other. Our government should not be in the business of promoting religion by putting god slogans on its currency or calling on its citizens to pledge allegiance to the nation “under God.”

    His railing reflects his bigotry as well. I gather from his speech that the tolerance about which he waxes eloquently does not extend to the religion of secularism (as he puts it). That apparently is one religion he feels free to dismiss as “wrong.”

    Posted by: Doug Indeap at December 8, 2007 1:12 PM
    Comment #240344

    Our founders were concerned about hierarchy, be it governmental or church related. This makes clear the need for a separate from church rule or a secular government.
    Church leaders have a history of believing they are the “anointed ones”. They throw reason and civic obedience out the window as do people of other associations. This is a hindrance to reasonable discourse. I think they would be shocked at the elitist lifers in congress today and their exclusionary attitudes.

    Many of them were deeply religious and had no intention of keeping their moral beliefs to themselves (or the basis of them).

    Religiphobes want to ban all discourse that doesn’t comply to their humanist views. The bigotry is astounding. Just mention Jesus or the Bible.

    It is all about esteeming one another and having respect for each others beliefs. This includes allowing Christians to have their say even in congress.

    The Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus have wisdom on par with any other writings. They are to be referenced without “separation” cries.
    Philosophers of the past participated in their own crazy religious rites but we look at their teachings for the universal truths they contain.

    A secular government has to do with excluding church hierarchy while allowing free exercise of “religion” even in reason and discourse.


    Posted by: Kruser at December 8, 2007 9:34 PM
    Comment #240369

    I can think of few perks I’d want the man with his hand on The Red Button more than a little oral now and again. In fact when I’m Pres., I think weekly will about cover it.

    Posted by: Ray at December 9, 2007 10:29 AM
    Comment #240414

    Paul,

    Great article. You wrote:

    If you want America to go back to its founding principles you must vote this time for Democrats.

    Yes - except, the Republicans have drawn this country so far into extremism that even the Democrats pander to religion.

    I don’t mind if someone has a religious faith. I have a religious faith - Atheism. Mine is just as good as yours and none of your God forsaken business.

    But what happened to the good old days when it was a private matter. I believe private faith is more real, sincere, spiritual, and meaningful than this public “window dressing” religious faith that politicians practice today. That is sad of course, but the real scary ones are true religious zealots like Bush.

    Hitler was religious too.


    Posted by: Ray Guest at December 9, 2007 9:11 PM
    Comment #240426

    Kansas

    I am talking more re faith than religion. Compassion can exist w/o faith, but there is no reason to believe that it is in any way better than the alternative of not being compassionate. W/o something beyond simple preference, you have no moral basis.

    Posted by: Jack at December 10, 2007 1:05 AM
    Comment #240431

    Again, Jack, I have to completely disagree. What is the difference between subscribing to a faith that says you should act a certain way (or be burned forever) or subscribing to a belief that you should act a certain way (because that is a better way to live)? Don’t both require you to act of your own accord, evaluating every instance against your personal set of morals, one imposed upon you by an outside force and the other one you agree with from the beginning.

    In fact, it can (and has successfully IMO) be argued that a chosen set of morals are more likely to be followed than those forced upon you by a religion that you may not embrace 100% and believe in only out of fear.

    Posted by: Rhinehold at December 10, 2007 1:52 AM
    Comment #240436

    Kruser,

    A “secularist” distinguishes himself from “religion” only by his “belief” in the absence of God.

    Nope, that an atheist definition.

    A secularist believe that religion belief should not influence public and governmental decisions.

    A secularist can be religious too.
    An atheist can’t.

    See the difference?

    All people have profound religious beliefs.

    I disagree. Some people don’t believe at all in any kind of higher force or spirit or wonderful ether thing. Some people don’t believe their mind or reason are the ultimate stuff, as we know our conscious mind is not that much in control of everything. They just think ordinary life is all we have, period.

    “I really don’t think there is absolute truth, right or wrong.” Is that an absolute truth?

    Nope, by it’s own definition, it’s mine and only mine. Maybe people shares a similar one, but this one is still mine, and human expression limits even forbid that I explain fully.


    d.a.n.,

    So most (if not all) people tell a lie sometime in their life.

    […]

    So, the question is, do you want a President who lies to his wife?

    Well, considering the present french president is divorced, I don’t care currently ;-)

    Do you think a person that lies to his wife will lie to the people?

    Yep. And as you agreed, most people lie eventually, I fail to see why a president wont.

    The issue is not the lie, but its consequence and how far one is ready to protect it. People should keep any president under constant scrutiny not to catch him falling under human well-known weakness, no, but to catch him trying to escape their consequences.

    And Clinton repeated lies’s consequences were mostly private to his relatives, while the current government ones have huge consequences on many more people, up to their death.

    While we could debate about lie immorality, I care less about mistake (even repeated) than about their consequences and the responsibility taken (or not) for those.

    Back to the initial topic, I don’t care about a president candidate expressing his intolerance of non-believers - after all, that’s called free speech for a reason - but I care about any possible consequences such speech could trigger and him taking responsibility for it.


    Doug,

    The concern is not whether people may acknowledge god(s) in the public domain, but whether GOVERNMENT weighs in one way or the other.

    Agreed. And people who think the answer is negative are all secularists, but not necessarily all non-believers.

    Jack,

    I do think you need to believe in something beyond the ordinary life if you have a morality that goes beyond self interest.

    Why? Ordinary life is shared by all humans, why would you need something else than the human condition to justify some compassion between humans?

    To me it’s well enough.

    Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 10, 2007 7:00 AM
    Comment #240449

    Jack

    I am talking more re faith than religion. Compassion can exist w/o faith, but there is no reason to believe that it is in any way better than the alternative of not being compassionate. W/o something beyond simple preference, you have no moral basis.

    Compassion born out of common sense and a genuine caring about the welfare of others surely is more meaningful and sincere than that induced by the fear of going to hell. I consider myself a very compassionate person. That compassion is not the result of teachings of the church or any other iconic institution. It is simply the right way to be. I find it quite gratifying to help others and expect no like treatment in return. However I am not so naive as to not realize that good deeds, once done, have a tendency to grow from that root good deed. I believe it is mostly that warm feeling of gratification that tends to perpetuate genuine compassion.

    Your argument that compassion without religion can not be better than non-compassion is imo false. Compassion is compassion regardless of religious or faith beliefs. The only differences are the root source of ones compassion. One is genuine the other may be genuine as a result of teaching or may be fear induced and not so genuine. But then a person who can not be compassionate without demands and fear of burning in hell, probably can not understand that some people simply are.

    Posted by: RickIL at December 10, 2007 10:53 AM
    Comment #240527
    Yep. And as you agreed, most people lie eventually, I fail to see why a president wont.
    The issue isn’t a few white lies.

    The issue is repeated lies.

    But, as noted above, at least Clinton’s lies, exaggerations, spin, and fraud did not result in the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands of people.

    Posted by: d.a.n at December 11, 2007 12:43 PM
    Post a comment