Anti-Americanism: Religion, Certainty & Morality

Americans are NOT more religious that most other people in the world. They are more religious than the very secular Western Europeans, but pretty much in line with the rest of the world. If you map it out (click on introduction) the U.S. does not seem particularly exceptional. Yet the perception is that we are. Maybe it is our certainty in using that the “evil” word.

Religion has a different quality in the U.S. than it does most other places precisely because of our long separation of church and state. In most places, you are what your parents were. It is almost a part of your ethnic makeup. For example, most Scandinavians are Lutherans. They support their churches with their taxes. After that, they don't think much about it. The clergy, like many government employees, don't think much about their customers. It is a comfortable and ineffective socialism.

Religion in the U.S. is entrepreneurial. People have alternatives. Preachers depend on market forces and they have learned how to use market methods. Adherents are more enthusiastic about their religion, since they made a conscious choice to adopt it. (In this situation, the U.S. is ahead but others are following. U.S. style evangelicals are making deep inroads into traditionally Catholic Latin America. The same has been happening in Korea or even China despite fierce persecution. Islam has also learned to market itself, BTW. I am not talking legitimate religion, not terrorist here. They are often late blooming bad boys who have converted to pseudo religious form)

Religion is very salient in America. Americans, even secular ones, are also likely to use religious metaphors in their speech. American oratory traditionally harkened to the rhythms and phrases of the King James Bible. George W. Bush evokes the name of God in his speeches, but as even Madeline Albright notes, this is the rule and not the exception among American leaders. Religion does not play a NEW or very different role in American life, no matter what you hear on TV.

With the admittedly big exception of U.S. support for Israel, religion also does not have much influence on U.S. foreign policy. But others think it does and that makes a difference. Secular Europeans are anxious that the U.S. is too religious, while religious Middle Easterners might say that the U.S. is not religious enough in the right way. Perhaps, however, it is not religion that they fear but rather the perceived certainty it gives U.S. leaders. Even after years of dealing with us, others still don’t understand that we often use strong metaphors, but Americans are fundamentally a pragmatic people. And besides sometimes what scandalizes the “sophisticated” people is actually just better vision. When President Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall and demanded tear down this wall the sophisticated guys said he was being childish. Who's smart now?

Posted by Jack at June 6, 2006 2:58 PM
Comments
Comment #154835

Jack

Religion is at the very basis of our Representative Republic. Nowadays society has decided via radio, print and visual media that outward, bold attempts at making this foundation known are threatening - to those who are made uncomfortable by a belief system that would make their own choices less than moral according to a code of conduct sought after by those who believe, as Patrick Henry, that - “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations”. To deny that Judeo-Christian beliefs are at the core of the Declaration of Independence and are the bedrock upon which the Constitution sets is to deny America its roots, and to make it in the end just another country. I’ll leave you with another portion of Patrick Henrys’ great oration…“Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings”.

Posted by: JR at June 6, 2006 3:48 PM
Comment #154839

Religion or Christianity is and was key in the goverment of the nation. It seems that most institutions have been corrupted, and have debome hostile to believers. Our media and politicians are liars, and focus on economics not morality, and thus we will loose both.

Posted by: John Morrison at June 6, 2006 4:09 PM
Comment #154848

Jack- Americans are very spiritual,not neccesarily religious.
American policy is not affected by religious belief? Balderdash. The puritans used to burn women with black cats.(although most were drowned)
It was O.K because they were in charge. American religious fervor cause us to ban the sale of all alchoholic beverages,creating the Prohibition era.
In today’s society,we have developed a litmus test for all political candidates. They must be observant in at least one of the major religions of the U.S.and very public about it.
We will never elect a Atheist or Agnostic to the White House. Religious freedom in America only exists in the sense of you can have power and choose an acceptable one,or have no power and choose none.

Posted by: jblym at June 6, 2006 4:44 PM
Comment #154852

I’ve read this through several times and it took me a while to figure out (in my mind, anyway) why I don’t really understand your point here, Jack. And I think it comes down to what “religion” and “religious” mean.

You say that Americans are more “religious” than Europeans. Perhaps that is true in terms of how often you go to church and the metaphors you use in your language, but I see a whole different perspective on “religious” that puts the Europeans out ahead of Americans.

Europeans don’t let you rot on the sidewalk if you cannot afford a doctor. Europeans don’t put you to death. I see those as religious values far more important that how often you can be found inside a house of worship. By those measures, Europe is a lot more religious than America.

Posted by: Steve K at June 6, 2006 4:51 PM
Comment #154854

Religion’s place in our society is undoubtedly important. Religion holds a powerful, crucial position in the lives of almost all Americans, even non-believers. Where religion does not belong is in government, or subsidized by government. Some, particularly in Evangelical circles, are dissatisfied with the effect they have been able to have by preaching and tecahing their beliefs, and therefore seek laws to force people to abide by their moral code.

Further, saying our country was built on a Judeo-Christian foundation is not entirely accurate. Of the Ten Commandments, 1, 2, 3 and 10 are not reflected in any laws of this country. The 4th commandment was once strongly represented, but is fading. In some cities, banks are even open on Sundays. That puts us at only 50% of the foundation of Juedo-Christian morality being represented by laws. Then there are the commandments that are represented, but with exception. Thou shalt not kill (unless you are an sanctioned government agent or in fear for your own life). Thou shalt not lie (only applies when under oath or making claims about something you are selling, politicans exempt).

The portions of religion that supposedly made up the foundation of America were really just the norms of society at that time. As society has become more diverse, those norms have evolved.

Further, if you look at the commandments that are backed up by laws, I think you would be hard pressed to find a society on earth, regardless of religion, that does not hold those same ideals.

Posted by: David S at June 6, 2006 4:53 PM
Comment #154859

Jack,

You are correct when you state that Americans aren’t necessarily more religious than other people in the world. But I would argue that you’re not completely right when you say that religion doesn not have much influence on U.S. foreign policy. Consider, after all, what our President has stated:

“The cause we serve is right, because it is the cause of all mankind. The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable—and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know that His purposes are just and true.”
—State of the Union Address, January 20, 2004

“I believe that God wants everybody to be free. That’s what I believe. And that’s one part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty. And I can’t tell you how encouraged how I am to see freedom on the march. And so my principles that I make decisions on are a part of me. And religion is a part of me.”
—Third Presidential Debate, Tempe, AZ, October 13, 2004

Posted by: scoreggi at June 6, 2006 5:15 PM
Comment #154863

Great. Just what we need in Watchblog, another religion thread.
I look forward to a bunch of people who don’t know much about the founding of our nation spewing absolute nonsense (there has already been a few of these, I see). No doubt this will soon be followed by a whole lot of folks eager for the chance to show off their bible quoting ability!
Oh what a veritable cornicopia of self-righteousness it will be for all to enjoy!

Posted by: Adrienne at June 6, 2006 5:21 PM
Comment #154867

Adrienne

Great word…cornicopia…I gotta use it tonite twice if I can …..rhymes with myopia,right?

Posted by: sicilianeagle at June 6, 2006 5:31 PM
Comment #154869

Sic Eagle,
Right.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 6, 2006 5:34 PM
Comment #154877

Wow, only 50% of the 10 commandments are part of our countries foundational documents? Who mentioned the 10 commandments? Then we must be Druids then, no? Buddhists? Proponents of an anti-religious, more specifically, anti-Christian rewrite of American history will look for any and every reason under the sun to deny the truth. We hear about how Franklin wasn’t really a religious man, Jefferson was agnostic or was guilty of raping a slave. These things are at the crux of anti-religious theory today. Take the time to look into our founding fathers documents, the speeches given by those early patriots, their personal correspondence. They BELIEVED! Not only did they believe, they were so bold as to state that this beautiful experiment of Representative Republican government may well fade away, if it’s citizenry turn their backs on the basic christian principles espoused in the Holy Bible. WE are indeed seeing THAT premonition come to pass as we drift farther and farther away from those founding principles, into the religion of SELF. Organized religion is bad, well not all - mostly just Judeo-Christian principles, other religions - eh, their OK, ‘cause they aren’t responsible for holding me reponsible, except Islam, but thats a religion of peace and they wouldn’t be so violent if it weren’t for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. Forget it!
Bias has insinuated itself into daily life for those on the Left who adamantly oppose any GOD telling them they are wrong about anything THEY believe to be right, regardless of it’s obvious detriment to mankind. Again, let me leave you with the words of one of our founding heroes, George Washington, at his first inaugural…“Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow- citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage”.

Posted by: JR at June 6, 2006 5:51 PM
Comment #154880

Adrienne_
just a quick note I found that Dr.Scholl’s makes a great pad for cornucopias,but for some reason it is only effective on Thanksgiving.

Posted by: jblym at June 6, 2006 5:55 PM
Comment #154883

Steve K

You are saying that Europeans behave more in line with your ethical values. Neither the death penalty nor government supported welfare programs are a part of religion as most believers define it. Most religions have accepted the death penalty for most of their history. And BTW -European public (not legal) attitudes toward the death penalty are similar to Americans’).

The European themselves tell pollsters that religion is less an important part of their lives than Americans do. Europeans also believe Americans are too religious. I just report. You can judge whether or not they are worthy.

Scoreggi

The president uses religion to support his belief in freedom. Abraham Lincoln did the same to oppose slavery and explain Civil War (look at the link). How should these policies have been different w/o reference to religion?

Religion informs values. In that sense it affects our policies, but it does so in an indirect manner.

jblym
The Puritans you are talking about did all this before there was a U.S., so they are not “Americans” in the sense of the United States. Maybe you could call the protoAmericans. They also did not do as much of that sort of thing as the stories suggest. There was that period of hysteria in Salem. 24 people died. Nineteen were hanged but some died in prison. I don’t know about any cats, but nobody was burned. One man, Giles Corey refused to stand trial, which meant he could not be convicted legally. However, his examiners chose to subject him to interrogation by the placing of stone weights on his body. He survived this brutal torture for two days before dying.

Posted by: Jack at June 6, 2006 6:01 PM
Comment #154888

Jack if you want examples of more recent witch hunts,look no further than the former junior senator from Minnesota. While communism is’nt technically a religion,it does have many of the same supports for believers.
While my trip to Salem,Ma. was admittedly several years in the past.(After vainly looking for a good snack in Sandwich,MA) I seem to remember that several burnings did in fact take place.

Posted by: jblym at June 6, 2006 6:10 PM
Comment #154893

“While communism isn’t technically a religion,it does have many of the same supports for believers.”

“Communism, like any other revealed religion, is largely made up of prophecies. “

H.L.Mencken

Posted by: Tim Crow at June 6, 2006 6:31 PM
Comment #154898

Adrienne,
Brace yourself for a particularly stupid week of conservative politics. The Republicans will spend three days in Congress pushing a Constitutional Amendment effectively banning gay marriage. This will be followed by an attempt to repeal the estate tax, and finally by another go at a prohibition on flag burning.

Some very interesting things are happening though. First, the US caved to the Iranians, and offered them basically whatever they want. Smart move. We caved for a reason. Bombing Iran is off the table-

Thanks to Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He made it clear, he will fight oil induced inflation by raising interest rates.

The Bush administration finds itself staring down the barrel of a recession shotgun. The clock has run out.

Caving to Iran is absolutely necessary, to stop Khameini & Ahmedenijad from playing “good country/bad country” and jawboning oil prices, and therefore US inflation, higher and higher. We cannot play their game. The Iranians win again. But it is ok, because maybe now we will stop the insane, fear-driven push for a Hundred Year War with Islam.

Meanwhile, Mogadishu fell to the Islamic, anti-american faction.

45 million Americans without health insurance. Working people saw their real income drop 1% in the last twelve months.

But no.

Gay Marriage. Repeal the Estate Tax. Flag Burning. Rush Limbaugh assures me Republicans do not do wedge issues, and that these represent the heart of the conservative agenda.

Unbelievable.

Posted by: phx8 at June 6, 2006 6:43 PM
Comment #154903

phx8,
Yes, unbelieveable. What horrible leaders we have.

jblym:
“Adrienne_
just a quick note I found that Dr.Scholl’s makes a great pad for cornucopias,but for some reason it is only effective on Thanksgiving.”

Interesting. Must have something to do with the squash…
Btw, did you know that Paul “Bunion” signed the Declaration of Independence? Yes, and he was never really a lumberjack who cut down trees, he was instead a Baptist minister who cut down the evil secular humanists who were trying to destroy America!

Posted by: Adrienne at June 6, 2006 7:01 PM
Comment #154906

JR-

That entire rant didn’t contain one statement backed up by fact. Tell me how those 5 commandments are represented by the laws of this country, or ever have been?

I’m not saying Christianity is bad, or even wrong. I’m Christian. The point is that religious morality has never been the primary source of the legislation passed in this country. The role of the law is to ensure a smoothly functioning society, where the strong cannot take advantage of their strength over the weak, be it physically, emotionally, economically, politically, etc. It is not illegal to take the Lord’s name in vain, and freedom of religion pretty well gurantees we’re going to have some people worshipping false idols. Sunday may still be the Sabbath for some, but for many its NFL-day.

Let me ask you a question: do you believe it is possible to be a good person AND an atheist?

Posted by: David S at June 6, 2006 7:11 PM
Comment #154908
Neither the death penalty nor government supported welfare programs are a part of religion as most believers define it.

Jack,

Who are the “most” you are talking about? And who said anything about “welfare?” Again, to illustrate my point, you look at a very narrow definition of what I consider “religious” behavior. Mine doesn’t stop at the church door.

Posted by: Steve K at June 6, 2006 7:23 PM
Comment #154916

David S

I was answering a previous post about the 10 commandments. I am saying that we need not see the 10 commandments in our Declaration or Constitution to see the effects of them in our laws. Our nation is INFLUENCED by Biblical teachings, no mandate to be Christian or Jew exsists in the texts, (as it does in countries dominated by Islam).

A rant? Sorry if the inaugural speech of George Washington seems to be a rant to you.

Could a culture that doesn’t believe at it’s core that man’s duty to his fellow man is to love his neighbor as himself have written the Declaration? Would our Constitution be a document that is the envy of the world if the writers in their heart didn’t see it as a duty to God to set up a government that “freely” allowed the worship of such.

While many will argue that any war is against Biblical teachings, I would refer them to the texts of some of the giants of Biblical interpretation, who thru the centuries have wrestled both pro and con about this. “Blessed are the peacemakers”… While early on in pursuit of MANIFEST DESTINY we engaged in wars of aggression, to secure our county as a whole - would such a country, if not balanced by the teachings of the Bible, have settled for the land mass we now call America?

Without that Biblical influence would we have purchased Alaska, the Louisianna territories, or would we just have gone to war to conquer it? Would Canada still be a sovereign country? Mexico? Historically the US has been on the side of freedom, not aggression.

No, the point I was making is that we don’t have to see specific Biblical passages written out in our founding documents to understand that only men inspired by such could have founded such a magnificent country. Thus endth my rant!

Posted by: JR at June 6, 2006 7:49 PM
Comment #154917

Jblym

I assume you are talking about the junior Senator from WISCONSIN re Communism. But think about this. Communism in Russia killed tens of millions. Communism in China even more. How many people died as a result of the Junior Senator from Wisconsin?

David S

Interesting question. Most Americans (58%) think it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral. Most Europeans do not. The lowest is France with only 13%. See the research.

Steve K

I will leave the judging of the validity of other people’s religion to you. What I am telling you is the self reported response to the question re how much religion is important in your life. American CONSIDER themselves more religious. Europeans agree. Europeans (with some exceptions) consider themselves less religious and Americans agree. I don’t know or really care if they are sincere. That is a different debate.

Posted by: Jack at June 6, 2006 7:50 PM
Comment #154921

Jack-

Thanks for the link. Pretty interesting.

JR-

I know which post you were responding to, I posted it. My point was that those laws are basically the same the world over. They were laws before the Ten Commandments even existed. Murder and theft were no-no’s long before Moses.

“Wow, only 50% of the 10 commandments are part of our countries foundational documents? Who mentioned the 10 commandments? Then we must be Druids then, no? Buddhists?”

What does that even mean? Are you saying all Ten were represented in the founding documents? Druids? Buddhists? WHAT?!? I need a drink…

Posted by: David S at June 6, 2006 8:13 PM
Comment #154934

Jack — Read Bush’s second quote again. He isn’t using religion just to support his belief in freedom, as you say. He is using it as part of his foreign policy:

“I believe that God wants everybody to be free. That’s what I believe. And that’s one part of my foreign policy…”

Posted by: scoreggi at June 6, 2006 8:57 PM
Comment #154947
What I am telling you is the self reported response to the question re how much religion is important in your life.

That’s fair. But my point is that what any such survey would find about what people consider “religion” is far different than what many serious theologians would. Same with me.

When most people think about “religion,” their first reaction is church services and clergy. Everything centers around organized denominations and 2,000+ year old writings.

Many theologians would place a priority on people’s empathy towards their fellow human beings and the importance they place on the daily work they do making the world a better place through interactions with their neighbors. So do I.

And I argue that, if the “religion” question were asked in that way, you’d get a different answer.

Posted by: Steve K at June 6, 2006 9:33 PM
Comment #154970

Steve K

Maybe you would get different answers. But the survey is trying to get at the perception of religion and that is what people are feeling comfortable or uncomfortable with in others.

I have always thought of “religion” as something that people practice in a formal setting with others and with some sort of ritual or holy books. Spritualality is something else. So is whether or not a person is a “good” follower of the religion.

Most religions seem as interested in following the instructions and rituals as anything else. The Catholic Church has major heresies over the idea of exactly how pure everybody had to be or if a priest had to be sinless or if he could still perform services if he wasn’t.

Your emphasis on empathy is a loose concept. Do you mean saying people’s bodies or their souls? You might not save a person’s life if you think it would jeapordize his soul.

All this is too much to talk about here, however. It is impossible to judge another person’s heart. Americans are very generous as a people. Europeans do with taxes what we do with private charity. We can only see the manifestations and render onto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and onto God what is God’s.

Posted by: Jack at June 6, 2006 10:19 PM
Comment #154990

jack

You’re right. McCarthy’s zealous campaign to seek and destroy the communists living among us caused no physical deaths that we know of.

But what about all the lives and careers his allegations ruined? McCarthy left in his wake a lot of walking dead!

All

I’ve never understood all the fuss about the ten commandments. Nearly every religion has embraced moral precepts similar to the ten commandments.

One of the earliest forms of the commandments (in secular form) could be found in the ancient Egyptians’ “Book of the Dead” long before Moses went up the mountain.

The Jews just went one step further and added their god to the mix.

Note: The United States was not founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs. James Madison even went so far as to include that sentiment in a treaty with Tripoli in 1797.

The exact wording is as follows: “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

In fact, many of the Founders were Diests, as were many of the world’s great thinkers and statesmen during that period.

But in their public lives, they found it necessary, and politically convenient, to embrace one Christian denomination or another.


Posted by: ulysses at June 6, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #154995

JR

You can take any quote and fact you would like from the Founders and paint any picture you would like. They were public figures that said many things to appeal to the public and inspire a nation. Their quotes can be taken out of context and be misunderstood. But to suggest were founded on Judeo-Christian principles is not written anywhere. There are no facts to support this. It is assumed to be true by mostly deeply religious evangelicals.

But Evangelicals should remember that in the 1700’s they were labled dissenters for not conforming to the state church. They needed a state issued license to practice their religion.

Jefferson was not an Agnostic. He did believe in God. So did Thomas Paine, James Madison, Franklin, Washington and they were also Freemasons. but they did not believe in the God of Christianity, but the God of Deism. Also known as “Nature’s God”.

Did you know Thomas Jefferson rewrote the Gospels and removed all references to Jesus’s miracles and Son of God?

Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli states “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” - This was ratified by congress and signed by President Adams.

What about Thomas Paines Infamous book “The Age of Reason” where he attacks Christianity with venom and flatly states he is not a Christian and is a deist.

I have a lot more quotes and facts to suggest that Judeo-Christan principles did not influence our Constitution. It all depends on how you want to see it.

In reality, the answer is somwhere in between the narrow view of left wing liberals and Conservative Christians.

Posted by: Jerseyguy at June 6, 2006 11:18 PM
Comment #154996

Ulysses


McCarthy was bad. He was a reaction to communist agression and spying that was real. Hiss, the Rosenburgs, Klaus Fuchs really were spies. Spies really were passing information to the Soviets and real people died as a result Communists really did infiltrate Hollywood. Our system was self correcting. Unlike the communist systems, nobody died. Few innocent people suffered lasting harm. They are old or dead now, but you could often see the victims interviewed on tv or you could read their books. Not many people who suffered the Galags were alive or is good enough health to do anything. More people died horrible deaths on any DAY during the Culural Revolution than suffered from McCarthy in all the time he operated. Hundreds of Americans lost their jobs due to McCathy. Millions of people lost their lives because of Stalin or Mao. We overreacted and some people suffered. They overreacted and millions died. There really is no parallel.

Posted by: Jack at June 6, 2006 11:21 PM
Comment #154997

Conservative Republicans want this next election to be about gay marriage, & repealing the estate tax, & prohibiting flag burning.

Obviously, they will not be running on their record.

Serious question. What record would conservative Republicans run upon if they actually went that route? What achievements?

Posted by: phx8 at June 6, 2006 11:22 PM
Comment #155002


In my opinion, the overriding factor of concern for our fore fathers in establishing this nation was tyranny. They wanted to give We The People the ability to defend ourselves from tyranny by a minority or a majority. If they had chosen to describe this nation as a christian nation, they would have left the door wide open to tyranny. Christianity, like any other religion has the potential of being used as a instrument of tyranny.

Posted by: jlw at June 7, 2006 12:00 AM
Comment #155023

While many of the Founders were not practicing Christians, they did recongnize that the huge majority of the nation at the time was. jlw is right in that the main focus of the Founders was to avoid a tyranny, since they had all risked their lives to become independent of one. However, they did not have the fanatical obsession with rooting out religion (in this case, Christianity) from the body politic and from all public forums. The Army has had Chaplains from its foundation, as has the House and Senate.

The main reason that liberals seek to remove religion from American public life is a political one. The liberal agenda endorses the concept of moral relativism, ie you can do whatever you want so long as it does not harm anybody else. Religion sets clear moral codes and deliniates what is and is not acceptable behavior. As this flys in the face of moral relativism, it is an enemy to be destroyed to liberals.

Their methods are myriad, and mostly involve labeling their opponents. If you oppose homosexual marriage and behavior your a homophobe. If you oppose abortion your a male chauvanist. To any of these or the huge number of other labels, you can always add intolerant.

I personally find the whole idea of tolerance amusing. Tolerance by definition says that what you tolerate is wrong, you just won’t actively oppose it. This small minded way of thinking undermines a society as it destroys all common core beliefs. Furthermore, the idea that religious people are imposing their beliefs is asinine. Abortion was widely opposed in America and the liberals knew they couldn’t get it to work at a national level through the elected government, so they ran it through the courts. The same with school prayer, sodomy, gay marriage, and almost every other liberal “achievement” of the last 60 years.

Beyond this, all of these cases struck down laws already on the books, many of which were over 100 years old. If our Founders were really so anti-Christian, why did they allow these laws in the first place?

The simple fact is that liberals have imposed their views of morality (or a lack thereof) on America. Conservatives have seen the damage these changes have wreaked. We remove barriers to divorce and the divorce rate skyrockets. We tear down the ideals of sexual virtue and see massive increases in STDs, illegitimate birthrates, sexual abuse etc. We remove the foundation of God from our society and then wonder why our society is crumbling.

Even if one agreed with the idea that there is no God and no inspiration within the Bible, the rules it lays would then be based on generations of experience of how to regulate a society so that it is cohesive, unified, and passes on its values to the next generation. Liberalism is fundamentally destructive to a way of life that has succeeded for centuries. To what end, I don’t know. But I don’t like where the path of liberalism takes us.

Posted by: 1LT B at June 7, 2006 2:37 AM
Comment #155042

Jack,

Perhaps, however, it is not religion that they fear but rather the perceived certainty it gives U.S. leaders.

Agree. I don’t like certainty. Maybe because I was raised and educated in a culture of doubt, maybe because total lack of doubt in leaders sounds very scary.

Anyway, Jack, in you post you talk a lot about religion and certainty being a debatable factor of anti-americanism, but I fail to see where you talk about morality? Does it means religion & certainty produce morality automagically??? Since when!?!
Does it means you think secular nations are less moral?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 7, 2006 5:13 AM
Comment #155043

JR,

When you put in bold half a post, use CAPS here and there, it’s quite counterproductive in highlighting your point(s), if any.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 7, 2006 5:22 AM
Comment #155044

Jack,

European public (not legal) attitudes toward the death penalty are similar to Americans’).

15 EU members agreed the draft European Constitution, many by referendum, when 2 voted against. In this draft, death penalty is banned forever in EU zone.

Clearly, if most european public are pro-death penalty, it didn’t show!
But I’m moving this thread quite off-topic.

So, US Morality is higher than any other nation on earth, hence the worldwide anti-americanism, right?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 7, 2006 5:36 AM
Comment #155074

I think there is a misunderstanding of Liberals and Religion in this post. “Liberals want to remove Religion from public life” is frequently quoted.

Personally speaking, as a liberal, this is not how I see it. What Liberals want is, they do not want government to mandate religion in public life. But an individual can freely choose to practice their religion in public life. It is also a matter of free speech and freedom of expression.

For example, the liberal view is that the government needs to remain neutral in all matters of religion. If the government does not, then they will either be denying an individual’s right to free exercise of religion, or they will favor one religion over another thus violating the establishment clasue. Secularism is what made religion thrive in this country. It allowed as Jack pointed out competition for souls.

You may not agree with this position, but it does not mean liberals want religion out of public life. They want government sponsored religion out of public life. I think there is a difference.

The ACLU which I know is not well liked in this post has taken on cases to this point. They defended a Baptist church’s right in Virginia to conduct baptisms in a public lake. However, if the state of VA mandated that this lake on Sunday’s can only be used for Baptism, then the ACLU would oppose it. If you look carefully, religion cases the ACLU takes on involves government laws, regulations or tax dollars to either promote or deny religious expression(albeit as they see it).

You can reasonably argue that this position or philosophy is sometimes taken to an extreme (under god in pledge, In God we trust, manager on the town hall), but this does not invalidate the general principal. I think most people would agree with a more moderate interpretation of this view.

This is the liberal logic on religion as I see it.

Posted by: jerseyguy at June 7, 2006 9:13 AM
Comment #155077

any of you college boys want to print the communist manifesto and compare it to what we are doing today and which party looks like it?

welllllllll

Posted by: lm at June 7, 2006 9:20 AM
Comment #155101

Jack,

You’re continuing to look at religion way too narrowly for my tastes. That’s you perogative.

By describing religion as “something that people practice in a formal setting with others and with some sort of ritual or holy books” limits religion to an hour or two a week.

I argue that the truly religious practice religion 24/7. I see this sort of practice in staunch conservatives and left-wingers, plus every shade in between. That’s why very shallow surveys about religion that try to gauge people’s “religiousness” by measuring how often they attend services is, to me, pure BS. Those folks rarely are the people whom we describe as “religious” when comparing them to other people like Mother Teresa, the evangelicals who try to shut down abortion clinics, or the Quakers who try to stop the shipment of nuclear weapons. Those sorts of people are the ones engaging in day-to-day religious acts (and we may not agree with them, as the examples I plucked out of memory atest). I argue that I did a very religious thing when I attend the Save Darfur rally a month ago.

In short, I refuse to accept your premise of what “religion” or “religious” is, and I refuse to accept any survey that purports to measure people’s religious attitudes by focusing on such limiting practices as reading ancient texts or attending a rote service.

Posted by: Steve K at June 7, 2006 10:24 AM
Comment #155146

Jlw & 1lt B

I think religion forms a natural counterbalance to the state, a competing center of power. Religion was crucial in defeating communism in Poland, for example, because it was the only institution that could stand up to the power of the state. When religion and the state become one or either the state or religion becomes too dominant, we have trouble.

Philippe

Let me be clear that I am not judging morality. I am just saying that religious based morality is a more important factor in America than Europe Publics on both continents say so to public opinion pollsters. When President Reagan or Bush OR Clinton talks about rights given by GOD, he is talking religious morality. You just don’t hear that from European politicians. I am trying to deal here with perceptions and what people say. What they really feel is beyond my pay grade.

European attitudes toward the death penalty are very similar to American ones. Both have mixed feelings. You probably know that MOST American states do not have a death penalty or do not actually use the one they have. Look at this fact sheet on death penalty.

I did a quick search on death penalty in Europe. I turned up only stuff like this.

“In France, for example, President Mitterrand abolished the death penalty in 1982 despite 62% percent of the French being retentionists; Two-thirds of the German population favored the death penalty at the time of its abolition. Today 65-70% of Britons, nearly 70% of Canadians, a majority of Austrians, around 50% of Italians, and 49% of the Swedes favor its reinstatement. It is difficult to argue, therefore, that the United States and Japan differ from Europe primarily in terms of public opinion.”

Steve K

It doesn’t matter what you think or what I think about religion. This is just how people perceive themselves and others. When we ask Europeans about Americans “too religious” comes up. I don’t know what they mean by that, but they say it. When we ask Americans about Europeans, “lack of religion” is one of the things they think of. Again, what they mean, who knows? But they say it and it seems to affect their attitudes and behaviors.


Posted by: Jack at June 7, 2006 12:24 PM
Comment #155156

Jack,

And I’m sure a lot of other things come up in those surveys that you aren’t reporting on here: Europeans think Americans are greedy and self-centered, Americans think Europeans are wimps, etc. etc. But you choose to zero in on “religion,” when I argue those other topics are valid issues in defining what “religion” really is.

Posted by: Steve K at June 7, 2006 12:49 PM
Comment #155167

Steve K

I have been writing these posts on various issues a few at time. Relgion is just one of them. Look back. Today I plan to write on the legacy of revolutionary socialism (communism & fascism)

Posted by: Jack at June 7, 2006 12:55 PM
Comment #155215


`Christians are quick to point out that the liberal notion of live and let live is a major factor in Americas moral decay. And yet, the Christian concept of morality is disingenous and compromised. Christians try to make compromise between their perceived notion of tollerance that they get from Jesus with the hardnosed attitude of kill the enemy’s of of God as laid out by the Hebrews in the old testiment. When this discrepency is pointed out, the Christians counter with the tired notion that the scriptures are taken out of context. But, some Christians also point out that the only true interpretation of the Bible is a litteral one ( what it say’s is what it means.)

How do Christians want to handle homosexuals? Do they want the government to give no special rights (equal rights) to homosexuals? Do they want the government to condemn homosexuals? Do Christians want the homosexuals chastized? Do they want the queens driven back into the closet? If any or all of the results are satisfactory to a Christian then that Christian has compromised God’s moral code. The Bible plainly states that homosexuals are to be killed so that they cannot corrupt the children of God. This punishment also applied to any tribe that was a perceived enemy of the Hewbrews, adulterers, fornicators, etc.. and the reason for the punishment is also the same.

In my opinion, the Hebrew concept of a God that is both good and evil, both loving and hateful is a false concept which relegates God to the domain of man. It is a concept that makes God no better nor worse than men. It is a concept that has no need of a Satan.

Perhaps I am the stupidest man on Earth but, I believe that Jesus had a concept of God that was quite different than his fore fathers. To me, the Christian concept of God is a being that offers eternal life, eternal salvation for the soul of the individual that follows the path of good, the path of love. The concept of Satin is the one that offers eternal damnation and suffering. Satin want’s the souls of individuals as much as God does. He will lead you down the path of evil and destruction if he can. I believe that Jesus made it clear that each individual has enough of a problem saving his own soul in a world of temtation. For an individual to even think that he or she can save anothers soul makes them susceptable to following the wrong path.

I think that it was J R, on another thread that pointed out that those, who in the past, did terrible things such as the inquisition, the crusades or the treatment of the savage’s in the Americas, were not Christians. I agree but, they did do those things in the name of Christ. Christians should never forget this lesson. Christians should always be aware that tyranny does not care about in whose name or what cause it uses to perpetrate it’s evil. I think that the influence that the radical muslems are having on the rest of the Islamic community should be proof enough of the modus operandi of tyranny. Tyranny works well within a frame work of fear. Moderates or liberals who speak out subject themselves and their families to the vindictiveness of the tyrants.

Posted by: jlw at June 7, 2006 2:40 PM
Comment #155223
Today I plan to write on the legacy of revolutionary socialism (communism & fascism)

Ah, yes — the horrid “S” word. Please be sure to carefully point out that the “socialism” you are referring to has nothing to do with the “socialism” as it is practiced in most Western Democracies (Scandinavia, Germany, UK, Canada, etc.)

Posted by: Steve K at June 7, 2006 3:12 PM
Comment #155225

what about that manifesto? what countries who are socialist or communisit can boast of a free society or economic growth in which citizens can freely travel at will.

weeeeellllllllll?

Posted by: lm at June 7, 2006 3:13 PM
Comment #155230
what countries who are socialist or communisit can boast of a free society or economic growth in which citizens can freely travel at will.

lm,

Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Italy (and others) are all “socialist” to a certain degree, have free, growing, market economies and the citizens are free to come and go as they please.

If you’re going to point to a particular country (past or present) where this is not the case and call it “socialist” or “communist,” you’re using different labels that that apply to entirely different policical and economic systems. But don’t criticize Western Europe’s socialist system because the Soviet Union’s was a failure. They use the same name but are totally different systems.

Posted by: Steve K at June 7, 2006 3:21 PM
Comment #155235

Steve K

Re socialism

No country is a pure anything. I always refer to the free market systems, which include rule of law, light government regulation and the use of market mechanisms.

The socialism people worry about is where the government owns nearly everything and determines the prices & supply. That is the case in none of the countries you mention.

In fact the competitiveness ratings and index of economic freedom tell an interesting story.
Ireland, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg &, Denmark all rate higher than the U.S. is economic freedom. These are the things I care about. I have advocated, for example, LOWERING our corporate taxes to the level of these countries. Some parts of Europe have really reformed their formerly socialist heavy economies. Others not. France and Germany are still waiting for their Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan.

When I use the term socialism in “revolutionary socialism” I mean exactly that. Socialism in the sense that the central government runs or controls most important enterprises and revolutionary in that it is making radical changes.

Evolutionary socialism was never so odious, but it is an ideology whose time has come, and gone.

Posted by: Jack at June 7, 2006 3:37 PM
Comment #155245

1 LT B
You said some basic things very well. Without some basic Christian spiritual input into our lives, society is indeed likely to go to the dogs. And apart from Hinduism, Buddhism and one or two similar religions there is little worthwhile substance in most others, but plenty of intolerance and headchopping. While it may not be perfect, let’s be grateful for what we have and recognize it as vital to our culture.

Posted by: fred at June 7, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #155254

Jack,

I’m glad to read the distinctions you make. I pretty much agree with you. The trouble is, people use the word “socialism” in the same sentences to describe Scandinavia or the former USSR, without qualifying the terms. That is not appropriate.

Regarding what you say about France and Germany, I’m not sure I agree with you. Much of what we see as negative in France is as much cultural as it is political. France’s habit of tightly controlling the economy (and the variety of economic unrest that can create) goes back to pre-Napoleonic times, and isn’t really embedded in “socialist” traditions. They’ve really just carried that forward and had it with someone as conservative as deGaulle as much as Mitterand. Perhaps that can change, but France’s traditions argue against a big economic upheaval.

I don’t see Germany in need of a Thatcher or Reagan. Much of their woes (which are not as bad as some people make out) still derive from the absorption of the old DDR, which will heal in time. And Germany has a stronger tradition of fixing things carefully and incrementally (like Sweden has done over the past 20 years), which bodes well for it in the future.

All of this, of course, has to work within the umbrella of what comes out of EU and its treaties, which is probably the single biggest plus in Europe’s favor if you want economic reforms that are pro-market. That fact that goods and labor can flow so much more freely than they did even 20 years ago means market controls will have to give way to better market efficiencies. And of course, the EU is doing all this within the framework of a common set of social policies which value the needs of the citizenry better than pure markets do. (And that point gets back, in a round about way, to what I was arguing at the beginning of this thread.)

Regarding an “index of economic freedom,” I don’t trust any analysis out of Heritage, but you probably guessed that.

Posted by: Steve K at June 7, 2006 4:18 PM
Comment #155292

Adrianne- If God blesses an evil secular humanist in the woods,does it make a sound If you are a secular humanist is it even possible to attribute religious definitions of good or evil to you? Jack-Thanks for the geography lesson,but the point remains,while not wishing to debate the relative merits of communism,He did destroy many peoples lives and has had his terrorist activities blamed for at least one suicide. Communist nations commited many atrocities,as have many eligious ones.

Posted by: jblym at June 7, 2006 5:45 PM
Comment #155313

jblym

McCarthy was bad, but our society corrected it w/o killing anyone. If you look at the times, with the real life spies, the recent history of communist subversion, the murders of millions of civilian etc, it was a fairly moderate episode that shows the good sense of the American people. I don’t defend religious societies, only the United States.

Steve K

Heritage is probably on your side on this one. The old left-right stuff really doesn’t work well. It actually never did. Any scheme that puts Stalin and Hiler on opposite ends is obviously flawed. The experience of being a member of any group either of those guys disliked was very similar.

BTW - I lived in Norway four years. I found the experience a lot like living in Minnesota, where I went to school. But my experience with socialized medicine was less encouraging.

Posted by: Jack at June 7, 2006 6:29 PM
Comment #155341

I personally think those that proselytize the most are the least spiritual. I think many Americans call themselves religious, see themselves as religious, when in reality it’s another thin veneer covering an ultimately shallow people. I think most Americans are believers in their own righteousness and pray at the god of consumerism.

What we need is a good depression to wake up Americans. As the stock market tumbles, in the light of all Jack’s positive news, on the prospect of our tax and spend Congress and President. Tax? What tax? The inflationary money supply(i.e. printing dollars, the hidden tax to fund deficit spending) that the Fed must now counter to attempt to tape this economy back together. Oops. The business cycle may not be contained by conventional wisdom. The Wall street wiz kids learn the lessons of the 20’s and 30’s all over again. Economic markets are based on trust, not just M1 or M2. If you scam the system often enough and large enough, it fails. Oops oil crisis, China withdraws credit.

Maybe unrestrained capitalism isn’t the cure for all the worlds ills. Maybe screwing the middleclass only squeezes so much more marginal GDP out of the economy.

Posted by: gergle at June 7, 2006 8:23 PM
Comment #155349

Jack

You made some valid points. It is a fact of history that the Soviets had spies in many sectors of the U.S., public and private.

My problem with McCarthy is that he saw a spy behind every tree and under every rock.

I have never questioned that McCarthy acted out of a sense of patriotism. But it was the way he used it as a weapon of mass destruction that bothers me.

Posted by: ulysses at June 7, 2006 8:38 PM
Comment #155364

Actually, ulysess, I DO suspect McCarthy acted out of venal motives. He was a classic bully. He was a bad guy. My point is that in the U.S. the harm such a man could do even in times like those, which were really dangerous, was so small. And many of those he attacked really WERE communists. In those days, American communists worked for Moscow. They were not harmless idealists. The Rosenbergs did real harm. Klaus Fochs did real harm. Alger Hiss undermined his country. In the UK Kim Philby passing U.S. information to the KGB cost dozens of our friend in Soviet Union their lives and they did not go in pleasant ways. This could have been our fate. When you see people as highly placed as Hiss and Philby, it is no surprise some people worried about spys behind every rock.

The communists in Hollywood were planning to take over, first by propaganda. They used thugs and couragous people like Ronald Reagan had to face them down. This was the communist MO. The fact that we beat it back before it got really bad is a tribute to American vigilance, not communist good will.

Posted by: Jack at June 7, 2006 9:17 PM
Comment #155375

jblym:
“If God blesses an evil secular humanist in the woods,does it make a sound”

Ah, mystery! I really don’t know. Next time I’m there, I’ll be sure to shut off my ipod, and really listen.
Then again, my questioning mind tends to focus more on the earthy rather than the ethereal. For instance, I’ll wonder: Does the Pope sh*t in the woods? Or: Is the bear Catholic?

“If you are a secular humanist is it even possible to attribute religious definitions of good or evil to you?”

In my opinion, yes. But first these definitions must be derived from Natures God: Reason
;^)

Posted by: Adrienne at June 7, 2006 10:24 PM
Comment #155386

does socialism really work or is it capitalism that rewards the achiever. socialism rewards each the same and the economy, moral fabric, creative ability all like water seek the path of least resistence and each reap the same dime.

darn if it don’t sound a lot like Liberal America.

no one has answered the question of the communist manifesto and which party most follows its teachings.

weeeeellllllllllllllll?

Posted by: lm at June 7, 2006 11:12 PM
Comment #155455
European attitudes toward the death penalty are very similar to American ones. Both have mixed feelings. You probably know that MOST American states do not have a death penalty or do not actually use the one they have. Look at this fact sheet on death penalty.

I knew that but I let my prejudices on this topic take control over my previous post, generalizing to all americans. Good example of a prejudices-based anti-americanism…

Sorry.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 8, 2006 5:58 AM
Comment #155476

IM Have you READ the Communist Manifesto?
Or do you think that’s something that only “college boys”(like that’s a bad thing) do. I think if you’d read it you would realize that what is in there is related to but was not personified by the old Soviet Union we remember from back in the day. When you refer to the “evils of communism” refer to the USSR or China’s example.
Oh and by the way - neither of the 2 biggies embrace communism because communism depends on the end of the “bourgeoisie” and that “comrade” is exactly what they (and all americans) are.
And speaking for at least some liberals - I’m not looking for communism - I just want to live in a country where I didn’t have to sell my engagement ring to help pay medical bills for the baby I wouldn’t & couldn’t abort. So think before you speak there. Give us all a little more credit.

Posted by: kp at June 8, 2006 7:46 AM
Comment #155494

Have you read the naked communist? The Democratic party has aligned itself with this platform and shout it from the house tops. No being a college boy is not a bad thing unless you let your much learning make you mad.

If I am not mistaken, Bill Klinton was the one pushing the idea of ” realignment of wealth.”

Social health care, homosexuality. He brought them in and tried to make it seem like an ok deal.

Can’t seem to cotton to a party whose frame for the platform is murdering babies then embrace a white owl’s egg is a white owl at conception.


Posted by: lm at June 8, 2006 8:59 AM
Comment #155514

KP, sorry for the college boy remark. did not mean to offend you since you spent all that money to have some left wing prof. tell you what and when to think.

you don’t have to sell your ring to get meds for your baby. you have that liberal education and the socialist friends you made in college to fall back on for help. or you could just apply for some “government” help since your ilk think they are the cure all, after all.

sorry about your wasted youth!

Posted by: lm at June 8, 2006 9:49 AM
Comment #156244

{hilippe in response to your statement that “15 EU members agreed the draft European Constitution, many by referendum, when 2 voted against. In this draft, death penalty is banned forever in EU zone.Clearly, if most european public are pro-death penalty, it didn’t show!
But I’m moving this thread quite off-topic.”

The rejection of the proposed constitution had nothing to do with the death penalty. You’ve put two an two together and made twenty two instead of four! Europeans are very anti-death penalty. Ireland even held a specific referendum to ensure he historic possibility of a death penalty (not used for well over sixty years - perhaps more -my memory fails me) and we voted overwhelmingly to insert a prohibition on the death penalty into our constitution. No European country can extradite anyone to a country in which they face a risk of being executed (see Soering v. UK (ECHR). This commitment is found in the European Convention on Human Rights which all EU member states are a signatory. There is also a Protocol affirming this view signed by the member states.

Religious people are not necessarily more moral than athiests. I am a secular humanist (I’m European).Everyone has the capacity to tell right from wrong, we use our innate sense of ethics but as a humanist I do not assume that any belief I hold is the absolute truth, therefore my views can evolve over time if I test them against a another view and the come up short in terms of empathy, altrusim and compassion.

Posted by: abhcoide at June 10, 2006 8:17 AM
Comment #156247

Here’s some information on the death penalty.

A recent study published in the article by Stanford University Psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt authored the piece along with Paul G. Davies, Valerie J. Purdie-Vaughns, and Sheri Lynn Johnson. “Looking Deathworthy: Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts Capital-Sentencing Outcomes,” May 2006 issue of Psychological Science, the journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

- Racial characteristics are still prominent factors when it comes to deciding the fate of defendants in death penalty cases, when the accused is of African descent. Results from the study were which appears in the Black defendants who are darker skinned and who have prominent African features, “like a broad nose and thick lips,” are more likely to receive the death penalty from jurors, than Blacks with lighter skin. “If you look more Black, it more than doubles your chances of receiving the death penalty when the victim is white,” Prof. Eberhardt said in a recent interview.

The Philippines recently became the 87th country in the world to eliminate the death penalty.

Countries which have abolished the death penalty include:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Estonia, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Kiribati, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niue, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vanuatu, the Vatican and Venezuela.

The US is in the company of countries known for their terrible human rights records such as China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran in keeping it’s death penalty.

Posted by: abhcoide at June 10, 2006 9:06 AM
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