Friday, April 29, 2005

What's In A Word?

I’ve talked about this before, but I feel that it may require mentioning again.

I’ve heard others talking and speaking and they’ve used words like “theocracy” and “fundamentalists”. They weren’t talking about our foes on the other side of the ocean. They weren’t talking about Iran. They weren’t talking about Islamic terrorists.

It’s easy to understand why they use these words. Somewhere, a little group of regular citizens were sat down with some little electronic devices and they were shown a tape, or listened to a speech or were just fed some words, and they’d click this little button or the electrodes would take readings of their pulse when they heard those words. The marketing research recorded that they all had negative responses to those words and they reported it to the people who run the party and they passed it down to their little speech-writing folks who then figure out how to incorporate those words in the speeches of whatever group or person they are working for.

Those words are powerful words indeed because they are associated with some of the worst incidents in American history.

From the Iran Hostage Crisis where the revolutionaries installed a “theocratic” government and held our hostages for 444 days to the continuous chants from then on of “Death to America” to the fall of the towers perpetrated by men who were “fundamentalist” Islamists whose own propaganda desires to install a world wide Islamic “theocracy”. These words are embedded in the American psyche as equal to “evil”, “oppression”, “terror”, “anti-freedom” and “death”.

These words are used now to prick the American conscious in new ways, but for the same purposes: to instill fear of something that has no real public face, nor stated agenda, nor leader. The ethereal. It cannot be defined with a specific organization and a defined membership with a list that can be explored and reviewed. The organization is loose knit with many “cells” and they don’t always proclaim themselves in the open.

This organization is loosely associated by their shared faith. They are often active in politics, but work largely behind the scenes, associating with actual political groups and working to put their own views forward in the political scene, trying to influence society.

The people they want you to fear are not aliens, nor subversives, nor foreigners. They are American and they call themselves “Christians”.

They want you to believe that these people want to take away your freedom. They want you to believe that the “morals” and “values” that they believe in are anathema to American values.

This must be the most ironic, if not outrageous, implication ever made.

Not only have I heard this from political forces, but common people who have had their common fears, funneled and re-channeled, away from the real threats of fundamentalists and theocratic governments, back towards their own citizens. I’ve seen editorials, articles and words written on the inter-net, denouncing these alleged “Christian Fundamentalists” as something that must be feared as much as, if not more than, those that truly seek to use their “fundamentalist” religious beliefs to stir up sectarian anger, attack our citizens and install a government based on religion, a “theocracy”.

I’ve also heard people who normally identify themselves as Christians, backing away from their identity. They say, “I’m a Christian, but I’m not one of THOSE,” fearing that they will be identified with this mythical, American “subversive” group that these others claim are waiting in the wings to take away our freedoms and make us adhere to some form of religious laws. What these laws are, no one knows since there is no codified law, nor list nor single list of laws adhered to by all Christians.

Well, who are “those” Christians that they all speak of? Who are they that seek to impose this invisible, unknown religious law?

I am a Christian. I will never say that I am not one of “those”, because I don’t know any of “those”. They don’t exist. They are the bogeyman made up to make you afraid; the invisible monster in your closet. They are the unknown meant to make you look the other way, make you forget that some of the things that they, who point to this bogeyman, have pressed for in the past as “freedom” have actually lent towards the destruction of “good society”. They have codified it, forced precedents that insist that, above the common sense of “good society”, these freedoms must be allowed.

Abortion. The concept of “rehabilitation” of criminals and that certain sentences are “cruel and inhuman” because they are too long allowing criminals to be back on our streets.

As a matter of fact, I recently saw a ticker on the news that proclaimed, “prison populace increases even as crime decreases”. What a concept. They’d have you believe that there is something wrong with this picture.

The irony of pointing to Christians and shouting about theocracy and fundamentalists is that it was Christians, devout Christians even, who came here and developed the very concepts on which this land was created, on which this government exists. It was they, these fearful Christians, who actually created the idea of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, today, you are to fear these same people as those that might actually destroy this thing called freedom.

The further issue here is that some how, some way, Christian ideas do not have a place in guiding our society. This from the simple idea of “freedom of religion”, that now religion and any moral ideals or values that might be gained from it are NOW an anathema.

Fear morality. Fear values. Fear Christians.

That is what they want you to believe.

Why? It is so simple. It is about marketing. It is about publicity. It is about politics. It is about the last election.

In the last election, after the party that is proclaiming your need to fear these “subversives” lost the last election, they were viewing the exit polls and the reason people most often gave as the reason they voted as they did was “values” and “morals”.

This literally put the fear of “God” into them.

Immediately, the media and the party that lost began to ask, “Who are these people? Who are these people that say that they were voting for values and they did not vote for Democrats? Who are they that say that we do not have morals or values? They must be extremists, fundamentalists…*gasp*…they must be “Christians”!”

And these Christians are much more scary than terrorists. Terrorists they have ideas on how to fight. Christians and other people with “values” they have no idea how to combat except to make you fear these “values” voters. Put names to them, use words to equate these same “values” voters with the very people who actually did harm America.

This ought to be telling to those of us who do believe in “values” and “morals” and who call ourselves “Christians”. They don’t understand these “values”. It would be simple to say they have no “values” and, if you look at some of their actions in the last couple decades that have led to the destruction of what was once considered “good society” it would be so easy. But, then, I’d turn into them and be telling you to fear them. I believe each person can decide for themselves.

They tried to glom on to this “values” base and recognize their own “Christianity”. Their party leaders started talking about their own beliefs, their own base in Christianity, started quoting scriptures. But, they sounded so fake that, when the marketing groups and pollsters checked how this was playing in the populace, they found that this “values” group did not believe them. They did not get the boost from the use of this language.

Instead of understanding how their policies and ideas did not jive with the general populace and “values” so they could change their policies, they decided to attack it now with flaming rhetoric. Theocracy. Fundamentalists.

If they can’t join them, they want to beat them.

Well, I’ve been to plenty of Christian meetings and organizations and I have yet to hear anyone talking about how we Christians are going to take over the government and install a theocracy. Maybe I’m just too low in this “subversive cell’s” command structure to know that this plan exists?

Values are not wrong. Values based on religion are not wrong. Values based on Christianity are not wrong. Many people in this society have gotten their ideas about values from both religion and through the functioning of “good society”. They aren’t Christian values alone. They are the values of common people that work everyday and live everyday in this country, deal with society and have a fine tuned sense of what these values ought to be.

What are the basic values? Well, we think that society has gone to the dogs. People don’t appreciate each other. They aren’t courteous. Lying is okay. Cheating is okay. Everything is excusable because where someone was born, how someone was raised. Dangerous criminals aren’t just treated with compassion they are given free passes in attempts to “rehabilitate” those that good society and common sense would otherwise deem to be non-productive citizens who endanger society. There is the continual spread of sexual diseases and alarming numbers of unwanted births and abortion, even though, through the auspices of public money, we have sex education, free or very cheap birth control, health programs, welfare systems.

This says to those of us who believe in “values” that there is something wrong with those other ideas and they are not working. Somehow, because we question these policies adhered to by the so-called “liberals” (libertines), we are now the subversives that mean to take away freedom.

It is we “values” voters that recognize that legislation does not make society better, but understanding of “good society” and the peer pressure of those with “values” can actually improve society. We don’t believe that it’s the government’s job to tell people that promiscuity can be dangerous to your health. We don’t believe that it’s government’s job to cure social ills like unwanted births and abortions. But we do believe that the government should not make any laws that enforce ideas on the public that “good society” does not deem to be in its best interest and may actually lend to the creation of social ills.

We don’t believe that we should pat people on the head and tell them not to worry, they didn’t really do anything wrong and there will be no consequences. We believe that experiencing consequences, understanding that they exist and there is a price to pay for going outside of the law, or what society in generally excepts, is what keeps people from doing it in the first place. Not laws or programs that belay the consequences after the fact. We believe this actually harms society and is very costly.

This is, in effect, the social policies and laws that have been forced upon us for years in the alleged attempt to create a more free and open society. We believe people should have all the freedom they want, but that society should not have to pay for their mistakes and it is in societies best interests for people to try with all their might, not to make these mistakes.

Strangely, in these subversive meetings of Christians that I’ve attended, no one has actually put forth the idea that we should re-institute stoning for adultery, hand chopping for theft, public stocks, scarlet letters, burning at the stake, drowning witches, branding convicts, covering women from head to toe, veils, or forcing women to go back into the kitchen, completely subjugated to their husbands, barefoot and pregnant.

As a feminist, if I heard that last one, I’d laugh myself right out of our little subversive meetings.

What I believe as a “values” voter is that we need leadership that actually stands up and says, yes you have the freedom to do what you will, but you have a responsibility to insure that you do not harm yourself or society and there are consequences if you do.

We want our children to be safe, not worried about whether some repeat pedophile has been released and living down the street because they are considered “rehabilitated” by a penal system that does no so thing for a problem that has no such solution. We don’t want to have to worry about being robbed and shot at the grocery store because someone who was seventeen when he shot his last victim, got out of juvenile jail when he was 21 and now is shooting us when he is 22. We do not want to worry about being raped and killed by someone who has been in prison for ten years for raping three other women, whom he did not kill, but now he escalates, because he was not “rehabilitated” in a penal system that does no such thing.

We are appalled that 1.4 million abortions happen every year in this country. Not only because of the question of life, which we find sacred, not just religiously, but in the miracle of biology that creates it, but because it says something very wrong about our society. It says that there are no consequences for not behaving responsibly. It says that no amount of sex education or free clinics takes the place of the censure of the public for irresponsible behavior.

We are equally appalled at the number of children that are born and abandoned, neglected or simply given away for adoption. Not because we have no compassion for these children or do not want them to go to good homes where they will be loved and cared for, but because it means that there is something wrong with society when this practice is an acceptable replacement for responsible behavior. Behavior that is, again, not mitigated no matter the amount of public resources we pour into education, clinics, welfare systems, etc.

We value our freedom and those of others. We know that that freedom does not exist in every country as we have it here. We do not believe that Communist China or true Theocratic Iran or despotic Syria or fake democracies in Africa are equal to this free society. We believe that this gives us a unique place in this time and space to lead the free world and oppose tyranny in its every form. We believe that we need to protect this freedom and that we should be viewed as strong in our freedom, but a society based on common values that are looked up to not ridiculed for not being whom we said we were or acting on what we believe.

We believe in wrong and right. We know that there are reasons that things happen, but we don’t believe that those reasons always mitigate the actions or that “nuances” should render us unable to act.

This is what they cannot understand about the “values” voters. This is why they have chosen to use market tested words in the public like “theocrats” and “fundamentalists” so that they can put fear into the hearts of the common man and make them believe that there are people out there who don’t really share their values but want to impose some extreme ideology on them, far beyond these shared values.

This is, very simply, an attempt at “divide and conquer” using scary words with scary meanings. Don’t listen to those Christians. They want to invoke a theocracy here and we all KNOW what a theocracy looks like, don’t we? They are “fundamentalists” who want to enforce their “values” on us and take away your freedoms. Why, tomorrow, they might even demand that everyone has to go to church and worship God through Christ. If those terrible Christians have their way, it will be the LAW. So Al Gore says. Mark his words. He knows. He invented the inter-net after all.

And, they’ve got people scared. Afraid enough to be running away from their ideas in an attempt not to be associated with these alleged subversives trying to take over the country. Yes, asking people to take some responsibility and saying that government programs to date have not helped the situation and that a little application of “values” might go a long way to fix it, is subversive.

Every time I hear someone proclaim themselves a Christian, but not one of “those”, I get a picture in my head Christians hiding their services in caves so they won’t be crucified by Nero. Or, better yet, Peter, also called Simon, who fulfilled the prophesy at the last supper and denied Jesus thrice before the cock crowed.

Usually, I’m amused when I hear the words “theocracy” and “fundamentalists” spilling from the mouths of people who are beating on pulpits and preaching like a hell fire and brimstone pastor at the Baptist Church on Sunday morning. Where ever did they learn those oratory techniques anyway?

I’m simply not finding it amusing anymore because it is quickly leaving the confines of hilarity and foolishness for fear mongering and persecution.

I am equally amazed at people who decry “religious cultures” and point here to the US as if it had any equivalency to a Saudi Arabia or Iran with religious police. We are a country that was founded on the backs of Puritan Christians and it was they who gave us the foundation for creating this free society and no amount of trying to wash it away will make it otherwise. It is wise to remember that, without this foundation, the United States would never have existed. Without this foundation, we’d either be an anarchic country constantly in revolution, a country controlled by a tyrant or a bunch of little colonies owned by many different countries without a constitution that stated specifically, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” recognizing that these rights came from something more powerful than the silly and often greedy desires of men.

So, to my fellow Christians, stop huddling in dark corners and fearing to speak about politics without first denouncing your Christianity. We have every right, just as a person of Jewish faith or Muslim or Buddhist or Atheist to talk about politics, to put forth ideas about how to govern our “good society” and improve it. Using values based on our religion and up bringing to create these ideas is not wrong nor without precedent.

To all those who are worried about “those fundamental Christians bent on a Theocracy”; they don’t exist. They are the bogeyman created to scare you away from examining the idea that “values” might be important and those who are screaming “fundamentalists” and “theocrats” might not actually share your values and that some of their policies don’t jive with your sense of morality. These words are meant to frighten you into believing if you step one little toe over the line of “values” you are in danger of losing your freedom.

You can be both a person of faith and a person who values freedom. A person that has values based on his faith that guide his political idealism without fearing that the ill winds of a theocratic state follow your every decision.

Stop hiding in your cave. Stop denouncing your Christian brothers and sisters.

Stop looking for the bogeyman. He’s just a ploy to take your mind off the real problems like looming social security insolvency or real terrorists and tyrants that wouldn’t blink an eye at your Christianity before really taking away your freedom.

"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?" --Thomas
Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782.

"A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society." --Thomas Jefferson to George Hammond, 1792.

"It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately." --Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 1816.

"A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have
no sensibilities left but for sin and suffering." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.

"I consider ethics, as well as religion, as supplements to law in the government of man." --Thomas Jefferson to Augustus B. Woodward, 1824.

"Political interest [can] never be separated in the long run from moral right." --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1806.

"It is rare that the public sentiment decides immorally or unwisely, and the individual who differs from it ought to distrust and examine well his own opinion." --Thomas Jefferson to William
Findley. 1801.

"Lay down true principles and adhere to them inflexibly. Do not be frightened into their surrender by the alarms of the timid, or the croakings of wealth against the ascendency of the people."
--Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.

See also, The Extreme Christian Right: The Rottweiler

30 comments:

Kathy K said...

They do exist.

ÐÇRøçk§ said...

Kat,

I will have to say, that even though I am a neo-con, that there is a "fundenmentalist christian right", that really beleives in the "theocracy" concept as a good thing. They are no where near as violent as the Fundenmentalist Islamic groups that declaired war on Western Civilization, but they are out there, and active around the US. That being said, they are in no way a real danger to the US political process, and are a fringe element, in a vast sea of decent christian groups, that wholeheartedly support the ideals our founding fathers based our country around. The Liberal Left, is simply grasping at any straw to claw thier way back into power, in yet another failed attempt to present themselves as the party of the majority of Americans, even though the last election clearly showed they were not.

Tom said...

kathy and DCRock(?) - yes they're out there. I know, I've heard a few of them. But as DCRrock says, they're nowhere near as numberous or influential as the ACLU types would have you believe.

Kat - another great post. You write about this type of subject much better than I do. I didn't quite read every word but as you can figure I agree with you wholeheartedly.

The issue is that Christians actually think that there can be no such thing as "private" morality. Morality is meaningless unless it influences the decisions you make. Thus when determining public policy one simpy must take one's moral convictions into account. And if those moral convictions stem from Biblical teaching, so be it. That this is somehow considered unacceptable by the left is absurd.

NY Gov Mario Cuomo famously said that he would not let his religion interfere with his decisons (or words to that effect). Thus while he was "personally against abortion", he would not want to "impose his views" on other people. Arrruuggghhh! I always thought he was overrated.

Kat, the May issue of Harper's Magazine contains a story called “The Christian Right’s War On America". While it's not available online yet, Stanley Kurtz discusses it over at NRO (you may have seen it). Either way, your post seems to echo some of the themes Kurtz discusses.

take care,
Tom

Kat said...

Kathy and DC...I know whom you speak of, but believing they wield the power even to have the smallest influence on government is crazy. The "values" voters and Christian people are the usual folks. And, even if there are people who believe this, I find them far less reprehensible than the communist party or the American Nazis and in no way equivolent to Islamic extremists who are daily beheading people.

Just the facts. So, this imaginitive "they" is still a cheap bogeyman to beat people with.

Kat said...

Tom..thanks for that column. That was nearly the same as mine. definitely the same gist.

I consider myself fairly moderate but they are starting to irritate me greatly with this continued bashing. A fantastic way to insure that we never vote for them again. Nothing like entrenching the forces more deeply.

Scott from Oregon said...

As an athiest who believes religiousity is an aquiescence of the critical mind, I firmly believe in the seperation of church and state.... That said, I too, think the ACLU is carrying the torch too far.... I look at religious symbols on governmental edifices as historical artifacts, to be neither storied nor shunned. I do believe, however, that banning the 'addition' of religious artifacts and symbols on government (the people) owned buildings is warranted. History is history. Seperation of church and state is the ongoing process of a society trying to accomodate all.....

Kat said...

See Scott, I am reasonable and I would agree. There is no reason to incorporate religious symbols into new public buildings. I'd agree that we are pluralistic society that needs to be sensitive to other religious beliefs.

I agree that the problem is going after these old items. Accept for the judge in Alabama who received the ten commandments and had them put in his court house as a new item, I don't really know of any new buildings being built with religious symbols or text on them so I am quite confused by the ACLU's approach.

As for "an aquiescense of the critical mind", believing in God or something powerful in the universe does not mean that you can't believe in science. Only a fool would disregard the laws of nature and the universe. I believe that I can believe in evolution while simultaneously believe that there was a purpose and a reason beyond simple mitosis of the cells and some chaotic organization of an uncontrolled universe.

Maybe it is just my need to feel that it is not just emptiness and nothingness and that there is a method to this madness. Maybe it is just comfort. But I also tend to believe that there are lessons in religious ideas that did not just come from the human drive to be kind or generous. Even beyond Christianity or Judaism, ancient man believed in the cosmic karmic forces and what he did would come back to him some how. Modern religions simply refine that concept.

Cynica said...

There definitely is no Christian bogeyman, but it seems that some elements of the left are pointing their fingers at Christian televangelists, who don't represent all Christians.

Anonymous said...

I have never had a problem with those who choose the Christian rituals to 'connect' themselves to the great mysteries.... It is those who don't view Christianity as a 'tool' but as an absolute that babbles my brook.... In my view, man created religion--not this 'higher power'....
That religions across the globe are very similar in their basic tenets is just a tribute to the inherant goodness of humans and their desire to cohabitate in some social structure acceptable to many if not most of the inhabitants.....

Remember (vis a vis critical thinking) you can't believe that the Bible or any other BIG BOOK is the word of God and incorporate modern science. You can hedge like crazy, but then, why believe in something you have to disbelieve, in order to believe in things like modern science? It's not critically sound thinking, and returneths us to my original statement--
"religiousity is an aquiescence of the critical mind"

These Books are allegory and metaphor. So was Alice in Wonderland....

MichaelH121 said...

Hey Scott I have read the Constitution and nowhere within have I ever found these five words:

"...Seperation of Church and State..."

It does say that the Government "shall not establish a religion" but it also states quite plainly on religion that the people have a right to "Free exercise thereof"

It never says freedom "from" religion and no where does it list one of your rights as the right "Not to be offended"

As Thomas Jefferson said, "ALL laws should consist of those in which all religions agree, that murder is wrong, that theft is wrong, that bearing false witness is wrong"

The 10 Commandments ARE the common moral laws in the majority of the religions of the world.

It is funny though that the Atheists actually have their own religion. And until someone PROVES that GOD does not exist, which Thomas Jefferson said is, "illogical and devoid of reason when one looks at the perfection in the universe" and that "one can only conclude there IS a supreme power that had a hand in it's design"

Scott from Oregon said...

Those five words are the interpretive, boiled down version of "Gov. should not establish a religion"....

I have in no way implied I need to be free 'from religion'. It would be like asking to be free 'from loudmouths', or from "irritating gum chewers"....

We play--in this lifetime-- with those who are here at the playground, or we swing alone....

If, however, I am asked to go before a judge because I was doing seventy in a fifty-five, I have a right NOT to have to navigate his personal landmines of belief to get my fine meted. What if an athiest judge chastised all 'believers' with a sign as they entered court?

The ten commandments are common sense, and were common sense way before a bush was said to have burned. But they are also mirrored in Asian religions, Native American religions, etc.... You don't have to claim God gave good counsel to understand that killing and stealing are bad ways of living.... The Lord's name in vain thingy is nonsensical to those who believe in multiple dieties and athiests alike....

Religion is nothing but ritual, coupled with myth, metaphor and allegory..... You don't have to believe in a higher power to utilize myth, metaphor, or allegory. It is done everyday.

Whether a 'God' exists or not is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Not being able to 'disprove' it doesn't make it/him (her?) provable. That is either/or logic which is (ahhh, back to my assertion) uncritical.

Personally, I embrace the question for what it is AN INCREDIBLE MYSTERY. Embracing the mystery of life implies that there are unanswerable questions that may never recieve adequate answers. Throughout human history, all planetary dwelling humans have sought out answers, and the best they could come up with are Big Books full of allegory, myth, and metaphor.

What if the Mystery itself were embraced, and these antiquated books were sent to the library to join ranks with all the other works of fiction?

Humans wouldn't be hell bent on killing each other for disagreeing whether knucklehead A or B was the 'true' prophet, and we could all rejoice in our ignorance and eat ....

FRENCH FRIES WITH CHOPSTICKS JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT.....

Brian H said...
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Brian H said...
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Brian H said...

Just to be quite clear, theocracy merges the power structures of a church and the state. (Note the "a" church, especially.) That position in a church hierarchy should not automatically qualify one for public office is the core requirement, IMO.

Beyond that, I don't want ANYONE who seriously holds that Adam stood in the Garden and named the dinosaurs as they trooped by having ANY influence on education or science policy. Same for those who believe that undocumented children of Adam and Eve incestuously gave rise to all the races of Man. Etc., etc. It's a question of keeping the irrational away from power, you see?

MichaelH121 said...

The problem Scott is your irrational fear.

You have personal bias, which you put into decisions in everyday life.

Just as President Bush said in the press conference, "Religion is a personal matter"

With most people it is. Just because a judge may believe in GOD does not mean he will dictate you fine based on his belief. And in the obverse, a judge who cannot seperate his political beliefs is also a danger.

The difference in lib vs. conservative judges is that word "interpretation"

Libs believe a judge reads the law and interprets what HE thinks it should be. They often make law.

A conservative believes a judge is merely one who interprets the LAW so that the common man can understand it. They do not try to make law.

The judicial Branch in the Constitution is ONE SINGLE court, the USSC and ALL other inferior federal courts "..SHALL be established by and their Jurisdiction determined by CONGRESS.."

If Congress decided to CLOSE all FEDERAL courts tomorrow it is their Constitutional Right.

The Judges who make law are VIOLATING the Constitution. And yet I see no religion in their decisions. The 9th Curcuit is THE MOST OVERTURNED court in the country. They base their rulings on their Political Ideology.

SO which is the more dangerous?

Contrary to what the anti religious people and the PC crowd would say the Crusades were not the Christians war, it was a Muslim one. They were invading the world. History repeats itself.

Kat said...

A great discussion going on here.

I'd have to say that I've yet to meet a judge that actually used their "religion" to determine a sentence. If they did, we'd have a lot more eye poking going on in the south.

Brian makes a very good point and one that is important. Unlike certain countries (all over the world), here, the concept that a cardinal or Bishop would hold public office does not float. It is a reality that Americans, by dent of historical precedent, expect that their pastors will be pastors and their politicians politicians.

Of course, this is not absolute as many a reverend has stood for public office or appointed to it.

I'd say that people like the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. al Sharpton were not elected, not because they were black, or because they were reverends but because their politics didn't suit.

But there is a bit of a difference. Should Frank Graham stand for office and retain his position at the head of his fathers Organization, I'd say he'd have little chance of election.

More so, in agreement with Brian, if the election of an official was for the purpose of bringing the church's opinion into congress or higher office, I'd say it would be rejected whole heartedly by the American populace because that does begin to smack of theocratic ideas.

I believe we should leave that to the "other" countries.

But, I would agree with Michael, as was also written by Jefferson and actually washington I believe, that a man may base his morals on his religious ideas and using those to guide his decisions is not tantamount to theocratic state.

Mavenette..you may be correct that they are directing this fire at very large organizations and televangelists who are capable of motivating their people as a block to vote, but as you say, still hardly constitutes a desire for theocracy.

That is why I titled this "what's in a word" because words often get thrown around well beyond their original intent. Like some folks who want to claim Bush=hitler or the right is full of Nazis (which is really hysterical when you watch protest marches from the extreme left that includes all the little neo-nazi skin head grouops)

Words are well beyond their original meanings and into the ludicrous, often losing their real ability to describe certain activities and resulting in weak equivolence.

Kat said...

I forgot to mention John Danforth who is an Episcopalian ordained Preist, was US attorney general, an ambassador to the UN etc, yet, while his faith may have guided his judgements, he did not use his political offices to push the episcopalian church as a guide for policy.

Therein lays the difference i believe and one that the common people should understand maintains our ability to have this little "separation of church and state".

I also believe that Jefferson, when writing on these subjects really understood how the Anglican church ad the catholic church had their fingers in British and European government for centuries and was determined not to have that same concept here.

We don't and never shall.

As I said, fear of religion as a moral indicator is irrational at this point.

What I would fear is if someone demanded that a woman's place was in the home because the bible or the koran or any other religious teaching said so and they were trying to make that a law. Or, that one must pray on certain days or be penalized (as opposed to days of Thanks giving which is a holiday but no one is forced to attend church or abjure their religion or lack of it).

I would alos object to the ACLU trying to have federal holidays like easter, thanks giving or Christmas thrown out or renamed simply because they have a religious background based on Christianity. At this point, they have long become ingrained as a "holiday" regardless of personal faith and, beyond declaring them days off, the state has not done anything to enforce Christian ideology on its citizens.

this is, to me, where common sense of the people comes in, common sense of ALL the people to accept somethings without feeling put upon.

Scott from Oregon said...

What, pray tell, am I irrationally afraid of? Religious folk, from Born agains to unharry Krishnas amuse me to no end....

You can't be rational and believe the word of God is in the Bible. You tell me 'the creator' forgot about his pet dinosaur project? Oops.... I mean... tee hee....

I guess standing before a judge who believes Noah's Ark was anything more than just a nice fairy tale might scare the hell out of me....

Ahh, but I digest....

(gotta love them fries)

Kat said...

Scott...I don't want to get on the "scaredy cat" band wagon here, but do you really think that Noah's Ark was a good position to start the "biblical fairy tales" from?

Seriously, multiple cultures in the Mesopotamiam region have similar oral and written accounts of such a disaster including the Sumerians who account Noah as being one of theirs. Not to mention the current archeological digs in the area that have supported a number of devestating floods in what was then the known world.

As a matter of fact, I was just watching a national geographic program on Sumerian archeological digs that actually dug up tablets with the flood story and mentions of this Noah character that told a similar concept, but with a little more logical detail, such as the fact that Noah was a merchent who frequently shipped cattle and other goods up and down the Euphrates using barges, sometimes strapped together to form much larger vessels (accounting for the size and measurements of the biblical noah's ark) and that his family practically lived on these boats (hence they were all aboard when the flood struck).

Now, if you want to debate whether God actually spoke in Noah's ear and told him to get everyone on board or whether he just happened to be a good foreteller of weather (considering his constant meanderings up and down the river) and lashed all his barges together with all of his goods on board, that may be open for debate on whether its ratioinal to believe it so or that its Noah and his ancestors giving God (or gods credit as in the Sumerian texts) for intervening, I'll go with ya there, but I hesitate to point to all the stories in the bible and refer to them as "fairy tales" since many of the incidents, though told in parables and nearly Homeric prose, have been actually supported through archeology as historically accurate.

for instance, they found Jericho and the walls did come tumbling down. Of course, this was after the wooden and other material structures built close to the walls caught on fire and the heat basically made the bricks and mortar brittle enough to begin falling on its own (hence, God intervened and assisted Joshua in his assault) not unassisted by an army hurling boulders at it.

I could name a few other instances, but I think my point is that not everything is a fairy tale, they just had a different literary technique in explaining these things.

Besides, what can be more scary to your enemies than having them believe you have a powerful entity on your side that gave you the battle? Kind of makes an undefeatable ally in future conflicts and possible deterence(like nuclear warheads of the time).

Anonymous said...

One could use archeology to 'prove' that all of Michener's novels were 'true' accounts, but one would be pretty silly.

You are fudging so broadly on the Noah tale that you have already shown me that you do not believe the Bible is the 'word of God'. You believe the Bible is a metaphorical exercise, blending fact and fiction, written by man, attempting to explain the universe using what was known and understood two thousand years ago.

Sure these stories have common themes. Native Americans have flood stories, creation tales, etc... as well....

So yes, the two by two tale is full of fairy dust....

MichaelH121 said...

The Bible did not mention gnats but they are there. It does not say squirrel but we have them.

It does mention Bohemouths.

As to dinosaurs Evolution is a theory. It has not been proven.

I'll give ya this Scott. Gather all the DNA that is WE then create the ideal conditions for the primordial ooze. DO it in a lab. When you can grow a human let me know. Then you can disprove a higher power.

But even with DNA and the right conditions we cannot create something out of nothing that has a soul, individuality. We can splice and split and clone. We cannot create from nothing.

Everyday science contradicts its own theories. Moderm man from HomoErectus. Oh wait, HomoErectus and Modern man competed at the SAME TIME in what is now France. And the scientists involved says "I guess we have to re-examine our ideas of modern man"

Stephen Hawking said it best. There is evidence that points to a big bang, but there is no evidence as to what or even who caused it. And even I would not rule out GOD. Or a supreme power.

There is simply no way to prove it either way.

Scott from Oregon said...

"There is simply no way to prove it either way."


EXACTLY!!!!!!!!


Life is still a MYSTERY. Ain't it grand!!!!

Kat stated above--"Maybe it is just my need to feel that it is not just emptiness and nothingness and that there is a method to this madness."

Do you know how common that need is? It transcends geography, time, culture, MTV.....

It is the reason we have our stories, out Big Books. To fill the void created by the unknown.

Not knowing does not mean any interpretation of 'God', is true. It simply means not knowing.....

Someone said to me that the Bible is the word of God because Darwin couldn't prove his theory. That logic is silly. But you hear it all the time.

Isn't it enough to simply find joy in the great mysteries of life? Why the need to adhere to archaic stories full of myth, metaphor, allegory?


Especially ones that defy logic in the known world of today....

riceburner147 said...

1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God[a]; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going."
Jesus the Way to the Father
5Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

8Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

9Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John Chapter 14:1 - 14

These are the words fo a madman...or GOD !!

Kat said...

So...historical proof of a flood and many accounts is now the same as a michener novel? LOL

When michener survives millenia, we'll revisit your theory.

In the mean time, you've convinced me to write another post.

Why Science and Nature convinced me there was a God.

MichaelH121 said...

Scott, you cannot always see the SUN in the sky but it is there. Science has said in the past that the sun will eventually burn out. Yet now they have different evidence that says the sun will last billions of years.

It seems though in what you say it is you who are PREACHING your Lack of faith and trying to convert others.

You cannot seem to let others live with what they believe but want to put down what they believe. You are a bit condesending towards your fellow man. And yet it is always the Atheists who say they do not want to try to convert others. Or deny them their faith.

All I ever hear is how Atheists are right and all others are wrong. There are differing beliefs in faiths, but there is truth that Jesus walked on this earth, whether or not he was the Son of GOD is disputed. Not his existance. Roman records show he was crucified.

So he was either mad and thought he was the Son of GOD sent to die for the world or he was the Son. But either way he was put to the cross by Rome.

It is like playing a game, Scott, if you live your life like GOD exists, then in the end you have lost nothing.

If you live life like their is no god and you are wrong you have lost eternity.

Unless you can prove that GOD does not exist, your idealogy is merely a theory.

Faith is to believe without proof, if Christians are wrong then only the end will tell.

The idea that one world in the millions + worlds is the only one with any life seems to say that we are not random.

And on Darwin, at the end of his life he recounted his research. He found faith when it was needed. But that always seems to be left out of his mention.

You make fun of and belittle the faith of others and wonder why people ignore Atheists. Fairy tales are not merely stories, they are lessons in moral choices. They are to make a point to the listener. But if Christians laugh at Evolution they are attacked as being irrational.

Discuss and debate Scott without attacking others beliefs, use logic and reason, If T-REX evolved into a meat eating bird today, then one question?

Where are ALL the in betweens? Why have we not found ANY of the Steps? We have T-Rex and a bird Science says is what he became. What came after T-REX first? Next? After that? There are too many missing links. That is why even today Evolution is THEORY.

Find those answers and prove evolution is. Until then it is illogical to believe in missing evidence.

Scott from Oregon said...

No, there is no PREACHING in my opinion. It is simply my opinion.

I have stated in this thread that I have no problem existing with people and their beliefs. In fact, I was very clear on that.


"If you live life like their is no god and you are wrong you have lost eternity."

This is the kind of statement that amuses me. I have lost nothing. It is illogical to assume only those who follow Jesus get special treatment when they croak. What about Hindi? Taoist? Islamist? Athiest? The truth is, death is another GREAT MYSTERY. There is nothing but a white tunnel of light (caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain) to indicate there is life after death. The Mystery is intriguing, yes, and creates much anxiety in humankind. But it is still a mystery. White robed women with golden wings playing the harp is simply amusing.....

Evolution is a THEORY without proof. It is another attempt to breach the mystery of the origin of life. American Indians had great animal gods producing the world and everything in it. Their Creation stories are not any more silly than the Bibles.... The Mystery is a wonderful, enigmatic, unanswerable question that humans strive to answer. So are questions about the essence of an individual, and where that essence goes when they die.

If fairy tales comfort you, I have no compunction to see you change. But I can smile and giggle when you try to 'explain' to me why faith (believing in the abstract) is more pertinent when it comes to a Book than when it comes to things like the Legend of Bigfoot....

Scott from Oregon said...

Evidence of a flood (there have been many, many floods, dating back way before the Bible says the world even existed. The story doesn't account for the ai, the platypus, or the Cane toad. Do you know how many variants to the species of rats there are in the world? How DID Noah sort them all out? Silly stuff when you think about it.

Scott from Oregon said...

"If T-REX evolved into a meat eating bird today, then one question?

Where are ALL the in betweens? Why have we not found ANY of the Steps? We have T-Rex and a bird Science says is what he became. What came after T-REX first? Next? After that? There are too many missing links. That is why even today Evolution is THEORY.

Find those answers and prove evolution is. Until then it is illogical to believe in missing evidence. "





"Someone said to me that the Bible is the word of God because Darwin couldn't prove his theory. That logic is silly. But you hear it all the time." SfO--


God or Evolution? Since when did the MYSTERY of life get boiled down to an either/or supposition?

The mystery is so profound it deserves better than such poor logic. An unknown has an unknown amount of answers....


Ahhh, the mystery deepens....

Scott from Oregon said...

Hey, your comment section above is either going haywire, or you or your God have intervened....

Kat said...

My God finds you infinitely amusing. ;)