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View Diary: Louie Giglio: Master of Deflection (21 comments)

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  •  I don't care (4+ / 0-)
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    Rogneid, irishwitch, sfbob, msmacgyver

    I don't think that the problem is really a matter of prayers and no prayers (although I certainly understand that some do.)

    What I think really matters is how we respect religious differences and embrace pluralism for people who are religious and non-religious; Christians and non-Christians -- as a lasting value of constitutional democracy.  Finding ways to profoundly represent the values of democratic pluralism in what we say and do in public life is a powerful way to inoculate our politics and government against theocratic interests while also honoring the rights of all. It is reasonable (and I think necessary) to insist that our elected and non-elected representatives embody these values. This would probably save at least some of them from the avoidable error of thinking that grafting ersatz elements of church services onto public events is actually a good idea.  

    Of course, both parties have viewed faith and "people of faith" as political commodities in ways that have been crass and demeaning to both religion and government. I am not so naive as to think that there were ever some halcyon good old days when politicians would never, ever think of exploiting the most sacred of religious traditions for political advantage.  But we can also be realistic about how we make our political culture to reflect our values, and to avoid pandering to the lowest common denominator.

    When pols get in the business of making the choice of who will give a public prayer based on crass political calculations -- the "message" that they wish to send is not always the one that is received, as we have seen in the cases of both Rick Warren and Giglio.  At the very least, relying on such personifications of superficial messages is risky. And the risk is not only to the passing political interests of a president, but to our most deeply held common values as a nation.

    The message that I received in the selection of Giglio is that the president and his team do not share the above mentioned common values as a nation. I would prefer to believe that they are out of their minds with overreaching political opportunism, but I can't quite persuade myself that that is so.

    •  Don't you think a prayer in and of itself, (1+ / 0-)
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      no matter how watered down or nondescript or "ceremonial deism"- like, still carries a message? How does one construct a prayer or find someone to recite that prayer that will not at the very least convey the message of endorsement of religion over non-religion by government?

      To me the only way to respect religious differences is not to wade into the topic at all in public civic ceremonies related to government.  Of course we do this all the time, but that has never made it right.  

      I can't read Obama on religion, but it certainly seems that he errs to often on the wrong side of the issue. For example, last year he not only attended the Family's Prayer Breakfast but stated he came as a representative of the American people. What WAS he thinking?

      •  I already answered your question (0+ / 0-)

        and the answer is no. I don't think a prayer in and of itself is a big deal and that far more important is the intention of the speaker and of the event organizers. I do agree that structuring the inauguration like a church service trivializes both sacred religious traditions and calls into question the integrity of the government as the unbiased guarantor of equal rights.

        That said, there are no perfect answers in a religious plural society based on equality. What matters most is that we all do our best. I don't detect that intention from the Obama White House and the inaugural committee.

        •  Then I respectfully disagree. (1+ / 0-)
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          Just to give the point of view of an atheist watching the Inaugural on television, seeing their government use a religious activity (prayer) in the ceremony IS a "big deal".  It doesn't matter what the "intent" is of the person speaking the does one measure that anyway, and whose guidelines are used as to good or bad, ecumenical or political intent? It is another instance where government is explicitly or implicitly making the statement that it holds itself to the authority/approval of a deity and that this deity exists and must be addressed or acknowledged by what is supposed to be a secular institution during a public event.

          Thomas Jefferson addressed this quite well. Too bad we don't hold to his view as I think it clears up the "perfect answer" issue.

          •  There is a difference (1+ / 0-)
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            between creating an inclusive society, and pretending that religious diversity( including those who do not have a religious point of view) does not exist.  

            Some atheists don't like prayers at all (others don't care). Some Christians think that the government goes all to hell without them (others don't).  And there are a whole lot of views in between.  Just saying no to inaugural prayers is a non-starter -- no many how many time some people say it, and no matter what arguments are made.

            One seemingly productive approach would be to try to make such events as inclusive as possible in style and substance. Unfortunately, Team Obama has a warped sensibility about religion and public life of which the Giglio and Warren episodes are symptoms. So much so, that I think they would say that they were, in fact, trying to be inclusive. Go figure.

            •  Like I said, I can't figure out Obama when (1+ / 0-)
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              it comes to religion.  He says all the right things in certain speeches, and has certainly thrown bones to non-believers, but his actions are sometimes more blatantly in opposition to separation of church and state than George W. Bush's.   I would agree with the application of the word "warped" in his approach. I might add "dishonest" to that, especially in his lack of follow up on promises made about the hiring discrimination in faith based organizations receiving federal funds.

              I think it is possible that we may someday have an atheist President, and at that point we may have a lovely Inaugural ceremony with music and poetry and readings about the meaning of our democracy, etc. with no prayers.

              If Thomas Jefferson could write this in 1808, then anything is possible- right?

              "Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government".  

              •  I suspect (2+ / 0-)
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                MichaelNY, Parthenia

                (but can't prove) that there are lots of closet atheists in public life who misuse their position to pander to certain religious constituencies. People lie. Pols pander. Regardless of religious identity.

                That said, I thought the former professor of constitutional law, and a (former) longtime member of the pro-separation United Church of Christ (in which Barry Lynn is an ordained minister) would do a lot better on church/state issues. But he hasn't. And I was wrong. I was hoping that that maybe Obama would do better in his second term. But with a start like this, it seems unlikely that my hopes will be realized.

                I think that on these matters, just like just about every other issue, it is not so much who pols are or what they say that they believe. It is our capacity to hold them to account, instead of allowing them to become the captives of self interested (and often wrong) consultants and pundits, that will make the difference over time.  

                I still think it is revealing that the inaugural committee claims that Giglio was chosen because of his work on human trafficking.  While he may (or may not) have done fine work in that area, after the Warren disaster it was not an adequate reason to pick someone for the role in which he was cast.

                Apparently the eleven dimension chess people in the White House and the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Initiatives didn't know how to use the Google to see what else Giglio was all about.  You'd think after the Rick Warren debacle, they would have learned their lesson...

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