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This is the really irrefutable difference between the USA and Europe - you care too much about religion. Even on a lefty website, the amount of time, energy and front page real estate spent discussing religion and spirituality is staggering - and not a little bit disturbing.

Religion deals in absolutes. Politics deals with the shades of grey of human life. Our whole history shows that the two do not mix well - in fact, our whole history is about slowly, but completely separating the two, so that politics can be democratic, and religion can be about individuals practising their faith.

The current mix of the two in the USA, including on the left, is scary.

"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" - Diderot

Europe, home of the Inquisition and, more recently, of that modern cult, communism, knows something about how absolutes lead to the worst human catastrophes. Indeed, America was founded on a large part by those Europeans that fled the religious wars and persecution of our continent.

"The end justifies the means" is the most dangerous argument. When your end is God, or doctrinal purity, or black and white morality inspired by a Superior Being, you end up committing the worst crimes, as they are easily justified by a greater good in the future. When that greater good is in your afterlife, you end up - inevitably -with suicide bombers on one side, and torture and preemptive strikes on the other.

Religion and spirituality belong to the private sphere. If someone finds solace, peace, fulfillment in his/her beliefs and religious practice, that's great. If you find an anchor for your personal values and morality in religious doctrine, that's also a good thing. But religion is NOT THE ONLY SOURCE OF VALUES AND MORALITY.

Bring your values into the political debate, not their source. Do come into politics to promote your values and your morals. But please do not come into politics to get others to adopt the source of these values. That's totalitarian.

And I get worried when, even on DailyKos, so much time is spent on religion - and especially when the debate does not center on the values, but on their sources. The religious right has brainwashed your country enough by making it a "fact" that you cannot have values without (their) religion. It's that link that must be fought, not religion. It's that linkage, that many here on this site seem to accept, that gives the religious right its power.

Religion needs to be kept as an individual matter, and should be taken out of politics. That does not mean that it cannot inspire political ideas or drive individual politicians, but that should be it, and being religious should not be a criteria to be a politician.

Religion brings simple answers to the questions we all face with respect to our own mortality and the meaning of our life. Religion can also provide valuable guidance to live our life in a "good" way. The temptation to make this the only way has always existed, and has been used and abused by religious institutions (Churches) and political leaders to herd people. That happens when some elite, whether born as such or self-selected, gets to decide what is "good" for others. Religion as a political entity, like any other ideology-based movement with higher ideals, brings the ultimate justification for what is "good" and is easy to ride to negate the individual values of peole and take away their liberty.

Europe has learnt this the hard way, and has pretty much taken religion out of public life. That does not mean that people or politicians have no faith, but that most citizens are healthily skeptical or those that put their religion on their sleeves and try to proselytise. Going to church is a social activity and/or a personal choice, not a political one.

Please, America - get religion our of politics as well. And please, Kossacks, do not try to outfaith the religious right, you play right in their game by legitimising the link between faith and values.

Stand by your values proudly, faith or not.


I am sorry I cannot respond to all the comments. I have read all of them (at least as of a few minutes ago...) and thank all of you for your participation. Just a few points to answer some items that have come up several times:

  • to those that say that France or Europe are in no position to lecture the USA: I specifically mentioned our sad history with religion (and other ideologies like communism) to make clear that "we" are not better. I am not trying to give any lesson, just to provide another perspective. If you think this is not welcome on dKos, well, what can I say? And if you think I am an uncritical cheerleader of France, go read this: Ordinary police racism in France


  • to those that bring up the "French riots": please don't bring your religious fantaisies into our riots. They have very little to do with religion. Or do you believe Fox News and CNN now?

  • to those that think that I oppose religion inspiring political action. Read what I wrote. I am not opposing it, I am only saying that that you should fight for your ideas and ideals, not for their underlying source. Ideas inspired by religion are no better (and no worse) than ideas inspired by secular or personal values. If you think your political ideals are more deserving because they are based on your religious beliefs, you are entering the game of the fundamentalists.

And PS: "the Romans are crazy" is a very famous quote from the comic series Asterix the Gaul. It's not an insult.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:12 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar - Nov. 16 (3.97)

    In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
    Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

    by Jerome a Paris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:08:40 AM PST

    •  In America (4.00)
      Separation of Church and State is mandated by the constitution.

      In Canada God is specifically mentioned in our constitution, and indeed, two of our mainline churches are creatures and creations of the government (United Church and Anglican Church). More of a percentage of Canadians than Americans claim membership in church congregations... In our major province (and until recently - in the majority of our populated area) schools wer set up along sectarian lines.


      We attend services less often than Americans.

      Our politicians almost never speak of their religious affiliation, or even God. The few that do are considered wingnuts.

      Religion and faith are considered as a separate discourse domain from politics and public life. We are comfortable with both - but not comfortable with mixing them.

      So, as a lefty and a practicing member of a Christian church I really can not relate to the overheated debate I see boiling over in teh states. To me fundies are not even on my political radar. They are just quaint people with quaint belief systems.


      Smoke and flashing lights are turned up, as the Great Oz pronounces. Meanwhile, out the back door go the flying monkeys - Dallas Doc.

      by deepfish on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:16:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The U.K. too has no separation (4.00)
        of Church and State, quite the opposite. Yet the culture has the sense to separate religion and politics by common consent. Imagine someone standing for MP blathering on like Bush, Brownback, all these idiots. Everyone has to genuflect to even consider running for congress.

        And it is so tiresome to see this eruption on kos.

        •  I get the same feeling... (3.38)
          ...when I see the atheists complaining about religious excess of the fundies, that I get when I have to separate pairs of warring students on my playground.

          Yes it is sometimes even clear at the outset which of the parties is offended and which offensive, but you know that after ten seconds of listening of te tiresome litany of complaint from both that you just wish they would QUIT IT.


          Smoke and flashing lights are turned up, as the Great Oz pronounces. Meanwhile, out the back door go the flying monkeys - Dallas Doc.

          by deepfish on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:27:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I will quit complaining (4.00)
            when the right quits oppressing.

            Would you have asked blacks in the 1960's to stop protesting?  Sure it is somewhat different, but I submit it is a difference of degree, rather than a fundamental difference.

            I don't have kids yet, but I plan on having them some time.  I am not sure I want to raise them here, because it is considered OK in 'our' culture to insult me because of my beliefs, it is considered a good thing to try to convince my children that I am fundamentally wrong.  And the most frightening of all, it is becoming OK to demand to use my taxes to do this.

            Try walking a mile in the shoes of an American atheist before asking us to quit it, please.

            "That blood was already on the flag; we just made it visible." - Clare Grady

            by tamman2000 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:06:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good luck with that (none)
              Man, I don't see any hope of common ground between aetheists and the Right.  And I'm not too sure that there should be.
              •  The common ground is (4.00)
                leave me alone.

                I don't ask that public schools teach that there is no god.  I don't want them to teach that there is a god.  I don't ask the right to fund my club that teaches of the non-existance of god.  I don't want to fund their club that teaches the existance of god.

                Since there has been no definative proof of the existance of a higher power, and it is logically imposible to prove the non-existance of anything (I believe as I do because of occam's razor, not because I know there is no god), the government should take no position on the issue.  This is a perfectly reasonable middle ground.

                Live and let live.

                "That blood was already on the flag; we just made it visible." - Clare Grady

                by tamman2000 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:43:39 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  What about Comparative Religions? (4.00)
                  I'm perfectly content if a class on Comparative Religions is taught in a history, philosophy, or social studies class. I'd welcome the chance for my child to get exposed to the systems of beliefs of the cultures around the world, and to get a sense of their place in history.

                  You can't get an adequate sense of European and American history, as Jerome points out, without mentioning religion.

                  But these would be classes about what various people have or do believe, as opposed to classes telling you what you are supposed to believe. And no "personal testimonies" - factual debates only, please.

                  •  Religion is fascinating (4.00)
                    as history, mythology, anthropology and philosophy. It would benefit us all to learn about it.  I struggle with this as a parent.  I'd like my kids to learn about the Judeo-Christian stories and philosophy, but I don't want to teach them to believe it.  Currently, they won't get any of that in the public schools, and while we have books on Greek/Roman myths, Norse myths, and Celtic myths, there just doesn't seem to be a whole lot of material out there for kids on the Bible as mythology.

                    BTW, as someone who grew up in nominally Christian country where religion was personal but not political, and then moved to the US, I completely agree w/ Jerome's take on the whole thing.

                    •  The key word is "mythology" (4.00)
                      ...while we have books on Greek/Roman myths, Norse myths, and Celtic myths, there just doesn't seem to be a whole lot of material out there for kids on the Bible as mythology.

                      In contemporary American culture, it is unfortunately impossible to approach Christianity from that viewpoint. Frankly, I don't think Jesus ever even existed, due to the too-many-to-be-coincidental convergences of Mithra, Horus, Apollo and so on.

                      Christianity is the ultimate syncretist belief system, and represents (even to this day) one of the most advanced forms of mental conditioning/social engineering known to man. It's a shame that it cannot be studied as such.

                      Economic Left: -6.25 Social Libertarian: -5.03

                      by OhioLen on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:59:30 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  amen to that (4.00)
                        <ducking and running>

                        sorry, couldn't help myself ...

                        I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am fascinated especially by Elaine Pagels' work -- her books really blew up a lot of Catholic training.

                        It's also instructive to read Jack Zipes: common fairy tales are insidious but you don't realize their  historical, economic, and political context when you hear them as a child.

                        •  GET THE FUNDIES OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM (none)
                          Enough talk, how about some action?

                          TELL YOUR SENATORS: STOP ALITO (they've collected 500,000 signatures, let's make it a million!):






                          •  Great comment (none)
                            it's past time to DO some things, big or little, to let the spineless folks in Congress know that as of now they must stand up and reinstate the values that the vast majority of Americans have.

                            And no they aren't the values of the God's Clown Circus nor are the the values of the Corporate oligarchy.

                            Most Americans want the have a choice in their lives, they want clean air, they want clean water, they want good schools for their children, they want health care for their families.

                            You wouldn't know it by paying attention to the Lame Stream Media but they do. Go see Zogby and other reputable pollsters; they'll tell ya.

                            I often wonder just how many of the folks commenting here on dKos take the time to make their very appropriate views known to their elected representatives.

                            Thus I found your post to be a good one; I went to those sites and took action.

                            It's no coincidence that The Republican Party the Party of Torture and Corruption is running away from Bush. They want to stay in power and they can see that the citizens of this country totally reject what Bush has done in the name of either God or 9/11. Dude changes his mind so much about why he's doing the fucked up things he's doing I can never keep track.

                            Don't matter...we got 'em on the run.

                            Put the boot in!

                            "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."

                            by Nestor Makhnow on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:32:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  But you know, all those others really are myths... (none)
                      while Christianity is the one truth.  You know.  because my mom said so.  And so did some pastor who relieved us of significant sums of cash.
                •  the fundies will not stop trying to oppress (4.00)
                  ...because they think all of their problems started when Madalyn Murray O'Hair's group won their lawsuit regarding school prayer.  They will not stop until they have their way by repealing this.  Several members of my family are fundies and I hear this all of the time.

                  Political Compass: -6.00, -5.64

                  by BlueInARedState on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:16:09 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Checks and balances (4.00)
                    I will continue to resist their pushing then.

                    If this has to be an eternal battle, so be it, but I am not willing to allow any group to force the rest of us to pay for/support their desemination of unproven beliefs.

                    That is not what our contry was founded on.  I want them to be able to believe what ever they want. As much as I don't want them to, I think they should be allowed to raise funds and use those funds to try to convert me, or my unborn children.  I will fight them hard though if they try to use our government to do it.  If they have a problem with that, that is just that, their problem.

                    "That blood was already on the flag; we just made it visible." - Clare Grady

                    by tamman2000 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:28:53 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  They do hate her. (none)
                    I finally responded to one of those forwards saying that the woman was murdered a decade ago and it probably wasn't Christian to continue to demonize her.

                    I don't understand why these people want prayer in schools, though. It's like they don't understand that the prayer, even if Christian, could come from a completely different tradition and stress things they don't believe at all. And I don't understand why, if they think the government can't handle even the smallest of tasks, they think the government should be handling religious instruction, which you would think would be rather important to them. It makes no sense whatever.

                    •  I think we should let them have prayer (none)
                      and require that prayers from ALL religions be used.

                      That includes Islam, Judaism, Hindu, Buddhist, Wicca, etc.

                      This is only fair. There are multiple religions, and it's not right to limit the prayer to one holy book.

                      The first time they have to sit through a Wiccan or Buddhist prayer, they will no longer want prayer in schools.

                    •  I'm all FOR prayer in school (4.00)
                      ...long as it's done silently, privately, and non-disruptively. Pray all day if you like. Why isn't this good enough for the fundies? It can only be that their aim is not simply to worship, but to proselytize (did I spell that right?).
                      •  prayer in school (4.00)
                        And how is that little muslim boy going to unfurl his prayer rug and ask the teacher to indicate what direction is Mecca in relation to the classroom without causing disruption and most likely unwanted taunts.........PRAY AT HOME--------

                        "What is history but myths agreed upon." N. Boneparte

                        by say what on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:50:56 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  I just don't understand that. (none)
                    Why would it be insufficient to pray at home and at church?  Why do they think they need prayer in school?  I think they are big, fat liars.  The only need for it in school is to evangelize to others.
              •  What do You Mean the Right? (3.14)
                From what I see Atheists don't care who they argue with - the Right, or those of us non-atheists on the Left. That was pretty well documented here yesterday.

                Hey if one does not believe in God that's fine. But why the need to shout it out when no one asked?

                Especially here on a "Political" blog. This is a place to discuss politics. That is what Kos created it for.

                It is not the the venue to discuss religion. If you want to discuss religion go to a Righty site. They are the ones who want to inject religion into politics. And if you want to discuss atheism go to a religious site and discuss it with them.

                But then it is clear that I am pretty much alone on the above opinions given the large number of posts discussing atheism yesterday.

                Maybe I am wrong. Maybe DailyKos is no longer a political forum as intended. Maybe it has been hijacked and is now a general discussion forum where anyone can rant about whatever they want be it religion, atheism, the right to say fuck wherever and whenever they want, etc...

                This site has already lost many of it best political contributors over the years. They have gone on to other "pure" political blogs...

                Maybe they saw a disturbing trend.

                Maybe the DailyKos 'brand' is being diluted. What a shame.

                •  This is Why Many Internet Forums (none)
                  use categories for threads.

                  I think dKos would benefit by having several categories. Even if there were just three: Politics, dailyKos itself, other.

                  This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

                  by Mr X on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:23:52 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not a bad idea (none)
                    I gave you a four for not only recognizing the problem, but for offering a solution.

                    Personally I wish that dailykos could remain a pure political but maybe that is no longer possible.

                •  Hey, and I don't care if you're gay (4.00)
                  I just don't want to have to see it or think about it.  Just get back into the closet!  And what are discussions of sexuality doing on a political blog, anyway?

                  Atheists have to deal w/ people flaunting their religion all the time, just as gays have to deal w/ people flaunting their heterosexuality.  Why should we be the only ones to have to stay closeted?

                  And it wasn't the atheists who made religion a political issue, either...

                  •  Good Point (none)
                    And in actuality both religion and gays enter into politics so as far as I am concerned discussion of them 'pertaining' to politics is fine. But when the discussion strays from politics, that is where I have a problem with the discussion.

                    Granted I do not have to take part in those off-topic discussions, and I don't, but they do dilute the political discussion which is the purpose of this site and I'd like to believe the reason most people come here in the first place.

                    •  Kossaks want to discuss with Kossaks (4.00)
                      important issues that may not be primarily political. There are not many places athiests and agnostics are free to discuss their views without people coming down on them.

                      Religion is an important issue in America right now because of the impact of the religious right so an occasional dialogue here makes sense and is not a sign of people being too absorbed with it as this blog suggests.

                      •  I respect your opinion Gorette (none)
                        but you don't speak for everyone. You say 'Kossaks want to discuss with Kossaks' - well not all Kossaks want to stray from politics.

                        This has been the #1 blog for political discussion for quite some time. As I said in my post above a lot of good political thinkers have left here. In my opinion one of the reasons they left is because the blog lost focus - people wanting to talk about other things non-political. By doing so the blog lost the focus and quality it used to have.

                        Now that may not bother you or maybe it does. If it does then you should be conscious of adding to, not taking away from the quality and focus of it. If it does not bother you then I ask why don't you respect what it is and what it was designed for.

                        I just do not want to see it continue to degrade and become a free-for-all blog. There are other places available for that.

                        Thanks for listening.

                •  You seem to miss the point (4.00)
                  This diary is not about religion, it is about religion being used in politics as a way to seperate people. Why do I see so many people lashing out against this quite legitimate complaint? Religion has ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS been used as a method of control by politicians. Bringing up the fact that religion is discussed too much in politics IS a part of the political dialogue that should be included on this site. Bringing up religion/morality in the united snakes is a way for the powers that be to keep us seperated by playing on emotional reactions. All of amerikkka looks like a bunch of superstitious troglodytes waiting for the sky to fall when we allow this to continue.
                  •  You missed My Point (none)
                    My post didn't comment on 'this thread'. I was commenting on the non-political related posts about religion, atheism, etc.

                    In my third post downthread, titled 'Good Point", I say that talking about religion or gays in a "political context" is fine.

                    My problem is with ranting about 'Why I'm an Atheist', etc. This is a political blog. That is what Kos developed it for. If someone wants to start an Atheist Blog, then go ahead they cost nothing to start.

                    This is a political blog and people should respect that. This is not a place developed for people to rant or chat about whatever they want. To do that dilutes the blogs purpose.

                    •  Understanding (none)
                      Did you ever stop to think that understanding what it feels like to be Atheist/Gay/Black/Muslum/Female/Sexually Abused...  is a valuble tool to be used in understanding everything, especially politics?

                      "That blood was already on the flag; we just made it visible." - Clare Grady

                      by tamman2000 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:41:47 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You forgot Latino... (none)
                        Which is what I am. So yeah I can relate to being a minority - although I don't let that be a ball and chain to hold me down, hold me back, or to let it screw with my mind.

                        Like I said upthread if any of the categories you mention are discussed in a political manner, and they obviously can be, then that is keeping with the spirit of the blog.

                        If they are discussed outside the political framework then they are not in the spirit of the blog.

                        My problem is not that they are not legitimate discussions, they are - just not here. My problem is when they are discussed here in a non-political way. That dilutes the purpose of the blog.

                        tamman2000, as I have already said, there has been a lot of brilliant political thinkers leave here and I explained why I think that is. I really miss their thoughts. Over the last few days there has been a lot of non-political subjects that I am afraid will drive even more from this blog and we will have lost once again the very thing that many of us come here for.

                        •  seems to me (none)
                          that just standing up and declaring "i am an atheist" in this country at this time is a political act in and of itself!

                          "I was always dreaming of very powerful people, dictators and things like that." -- Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Pumping Iron"

                          by hoodoo meat bucket on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:25:20 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Thi is... (none)
                            ...precisely what the diarist was talking about.

                            It shouldn't be a "political" anything to be religious, atheist, or a noodle-slurper (cultist). I have posted in comments on this subject elsewhere.  You want to pray in public and have your little social hour, be my guest. Just don't drag the body-politic inside and try to baptise it

                          •  but isn't it society (none)
                            (particularly bush's america of the last five years) that makes it "a political anything" and not the atheist's own action of saying this is who i am? i don't think "should" or "shouldn't" has anything to do with the reality externally forced upon people who are members of discriminated groups. for them the realiy is the reality is the reality; and, they did not ask to placed in that situation, after all.

                            "I was always dreaming of very powerful people, dictators and things like that." -- Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Pumping Iron"

                            by hoodoo meat bucket on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:04:22 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  christian/muslim/gay (none)
                        in my mind non-believers are majority,
                        but christians are minority, they just keep
                        pretending that everybody else is minority.
                        such time is gone
                •  Dude you clearly misunderstand the function... (4.00)
                  ...of this site if you think that the discussion of religion and how it may or may not affect politics was expressly NOT the intention of Markos when he started it.

                  Read the tag line under the header "Political Analysis and daily rants on the state of the nation"  As Jerome rightly points out in the OP, this country has ALWAYS been deeply moved by religion, whether it was in the very beginnings when people were escaping religious persecution or now when a politician can't even dream of being taken seriously unless he drops a few hundred "God Bless America"s into his speeches.  The "state of the nation" is very much concerned with the religion of fundamentalists since they are RUNNING THE COUNTRY.  And not only that, but the reason yesterday's diary by DarkSyde has caused such a stir on this side of the proverbial aisle is because of the fact that many people who claim to be Democrats or Liberals share many of the fundamentalist religious ideals.

                  The point here is that religious people on either side don't get what its like to not be religious and when it comes from people who seemingly share your beliefs on other ideals, it is incredibly disheartening.  And here's where it really comes into play;  if a Republican majority truly takes over this nation and starts persecuting the non-believers, which is exactly what anti-choice, god-in-pledge-and-prayer, anti-gay, etc. is, then that doesn't really worry the religious Lefties as much as it does the rest of us.  Yes you can say you care and I'm sure soem of you do, but its not you or your kids getting beat up after school.  Its not your or your kids who won't be able to find jobs or have friends or live a normal life because their very beliefs mark them as "outsiders" or even worse "traitors".  We have already shown that these people believe that there truly are different classes of people who deserve different levels of treatment, since we wouldn't dare torture Americans, but if its someone from another country and in another country then sure its fine.  How long is it before that devolves into being a line between those who toe both the party and religious line and those who are second class citizens because they "don't believe".  That may sound crazy to you who don't have as much to lose but to those of us who see fewer and fewer avenues for our kind of thinking, it is not so unrealistic.

                  This site is so far out of Kos's hands now anyway that talking about original intentions is very silly anyway.  Most of us would LIKE this country to focus on helping its citizens to have the best lives possible and to reasonably spread the abundance we enjoy with those less fortunate in the world.  The Republicans have different priorities, but despite the few extreme Lefties, no one is jumping ship and throwing away their citizenship.  

                  Just the same, this site is a microcosm of our American Society, mostly liberal/progressive of course) that is managed now based on ratings and quality of debate topic.  Why do the religious postings get recommended?  Because we all want to talk about it.  It isn't like KOS has a magic button to recommend something to the top ten list (he might actually but I'm guessing he doesn't use it) so it must be that a large majority of people WANT to discuss this topic and every time I have seen it discussed, sans a few days around 6 months back for which I wrote my own diary, have been about how religion affects political thinking and all of our lives.  IT is seriously hard not to think or want ot talk about religion when the people who run the country you live in and make decisions that you have to live with, are extremist outspoken religious people who feel they have a mandate fro mtheir "God" to do things in our fucking name!  

                  It pisses us off and we obviously want to talk about it so stop trying to shut down debate.  If peopel leave Kos because 2 of the top 10 diaries, once every 6 months is about religion then they got bigger issues than worrying about this sight "losing its focus".  This site is about debating the topics we all care about with mostly like-minded people who often have differing opinions.  This is the epitome of free speech and trying to curb that further than the ratings/recommend system already does is saying you want to censor the site which truly would be the biggest mistake of all...

                  -5.0, -4.87 -- I have the same rating as the Dalai Lama??? Yeah surprises me too... "Wake up every day and live like you mean it"

                  by I Want My American Pride Back on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:34:00 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Maybe Kos Agrees With You (none)
                    Maybe he thinks his site is out of his control. But then again maybe not. He has made some adjustments and rule changes this year so I wouldn't be so sure if I was you.

                    You talk about free speech. Well speech is free up to a point. You are not going to let me come into your house and talk about things you don't want me to talk about are you? And you are not going to let me come into your business and talk about things that are bad for your business are you? In each case I have the right to tell you to take it someplace else.

                    Well guess what? DailyKos is a business and if and when Kos sees his political advertisers going elsewhere because his political 'brand' is being diluted you might see some rules changes again.

                    •  Well if we are going to get into fine points (none)
                      ...I'm not going to let you come into my house without beating the living shit out of you because you are a stranger and would be trespassing.  Yes I'm being overly dramatic for a reason...because KOS has invited us here and since he has invited us here and we are essentially free (within the bounds of societal overview - recommends and ratings) to say whatever we want, we do have free speech here and the content is out of Kos's control.

                      I want to be real clear that I wasn't trying to make any sort of case that this isn't Kos's creation and that he doesn't have the ability to shut it down at a moment's notice if he wants and I really don't want to get into the politics of who this blog should answer to like the arguments that have so often followed GBCW diaries in recent past.  

                      My point is simply that, this blog has gone well beyond a single person's vision (and I imagine Kos would think that pretty cool) and although he still has the power to shut it all down or add all kinds of restrictive rules to it, either of those actions would be the end of Daily Kos.  The site might still be there and might have the same name but what makes this the most popular blog on the net is because everyone is invited to come have a say and for the most part, even if we strongly disagree with someone (including people supporting the criminals in the administration) they are given a fair chance to debate the issues we are talking about.  The choices of interest and marginality are determined by the fellow users in a societal manner rather than by overlord employees of KOS Media trying to shape their own agenda.  Kos (and the FPers) of course get a bit of a higher profile for their views of course but I think the majority of people come here for the diaries and the discussions that ensue rather than just the front page stuff (not dissing it as some of it is very good).

                      I can't of course speak for Kos himself, but if I were in his position, I would be so proud of the free speech zone (I) had created, the wealth of energy and enthusiasm (I) had brought to one location for synthesis, and the fact that, even beyond (my) control, this site is one of the last refuges for truth about so many issues in our lives today, and if any pissant pissypants advertiser couldn't handle the 'tone', or 'content' of the site then (I) would tell them to go cheney themselves...

                      -5.0, -4.87 -- I have the same rating as the Dalai Lama??? Yeah surprises me too... "Wake up every day and live like you mean it"

                      by I Want My American Pride Back on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:05:03 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You Lost Me... (1.50)
                        in the first sentence. No sense reading anything after that because you have showed what type of person you are and as such it's no wonder that you think like you do.

                        Thanks for wasting my time.

                        • thats how you win a debate... (none)
                          ... "I'm taking my ball and going hooooooome..."  

                          You have no idea what kind of person I am as I was making a point in the first sentence which I explained quite clearly in the rest of the comment.  If I made it too difficult for you to get or you truly are overly sensitive enough to have had your feelings hurt by my first line and felt compelled to bitch about it and walk away then it is you who have wasted both our times by acting like a child.

                          -5.0, -4.87 -- I have the same rating as the Dalai Lama??? Yeah surprises me too... "Wake up every day and live like you mean it"

                          by I Want My American Pride Back on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:35:31 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  Good points (4.00)
                    Also - if a politician running for office ever admitted the fact that he/she didn't go to church on a regular basis, or even that they were a (gasp) atheist, it would be political suicide.  The person would be constantly attacked by religious people as being "immoral" and anti-American.

                    This would be rather ironic because some of our Founding Fathers were actually deists.  They would be unelectable today.

                    •  Absolutely. (none)
                      Glad someone actually mentioned that.

                      Let's be honest here: however easy it may be for all of us to declare that however religious or non-religious we may be, whether we have faith in any god or none at all, whether we believe any god's existence can be proven or whether we believe it can never be proven, it's far too easy, and too much of a cop out to repeatedly state the point that so many of we Democrats already agree upon, i.e. that personal, private religious beliefs should not be engaged in the public sphere, particularly within politics, if they happen to attempt to "enforce" or "control" a particular morality.

                      Haven't we all said, at some point or another on this thread, or in any other post or blog, that we're okay with religion so long as it isn't expressed as "person A enforcing his morality on person B?"

                      It's a great sentiment.  Truly, one I believe.

                      But MUCH easier said than done, especially in a country like the US, whose very constitutionally protected freedom of religion has allowed - perhaps even fostered - such a vibrantly diverse religious community.

                      I think Jerome and Darksyde and Pastordan and all the other recent posters on religious topics have excellent diaries and good points.  But please, let's stop this simpleton talk, shall we?

                      Where exactly is the line drawn between what's appropriate as a personal view to make political, and what is NOT appropriate to be made political?  Where is this specificity?  Did I not get the email?  Someone PLEASE point out the no-fly zone here, because I just don't see it.  I don't.  Fundies do not distinguish between the personal and political sphere; neither do many liberals.  Don't many feminists say the personal IS political?  When someone clearly distinguishes the way we should deal with any issue affected by religious belief (which number quite a few) then I will wholeheartedly follow the just-let-it-go crowd.  But so long as there is no clear delineation, so long as many denominations of many churches do not discuss what such a delineation should be, so long as there is continued persecution of non-believers by believers, I will have to continue to burn the midnight oil and fight the battle for the soul of liberty as a militant, unapologetic feminist/woman/atheist/quasi-socialist.  And frankly, I'd bet good money that worry over people like me keep Bush up at night more than wackos like Bin Laden.  

                      If I had a nickel for every president who lied the country into war.... Oh, wait....

                      by deep6 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:46:01 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Who has Left (none)
                  and what blogs have they gone to? Might want to add a couple to my favorites.  (Also, general statements without specifics always make me want to ask a clarifying question.)

                  "If you compromise the truth, the whole system is lost." - Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney

                  by Rona on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:27:30 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  I have less problems with the fundies ... (none)
            ... than I do with people like Amy Sullivan.  The fundamentalists are not taken seriously by people I respect, but Ms. Sullivan and those like her argue that Democrats can only win by out-praying the right and by strongly disassociating the party from unbelievers like yours truly.  Many Kossacks have similar attitudes, unfortunately, and that's what Jerome is talking about.

            I greatly respect what Martin Luther King and his fellow ministers did.  But his successors are using the same faith that King used to advance the rights of blacks, to deny the rights of gays, so faith is not a reliable source of progressive values unless used very selectively.

        •  Yes (4.00)
          But the British government is now overwhelmingly religious compared to the country.  Blair, Brown, Kelly, Clarke: all practising Christians, totally out of touch with the country.  We're good European atheists and have the lowest churchgoing figures in the world.  Someone tell that to our politicians!

          We corrected your deed and based it on miracle, mystery and authority.

          by Fyodor on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:48:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's just (none)
            nonsense, the fact that these people go to church has nothing to do with their popularity or not as a political figures, in fact Blair was widely ridiculed for praying with George so I fail to see how you can decide that the British government is 'overwhelmingly' religeous...
            •  Why is Europe so unreligious relative to (none)
              the US? I grew up in England with non-Christian parents but I had to do religious study (Anglican) classes at school and had to attend formal religious assemblies every morning, for 13 years. The whole country did (unless you happened to belong to a religion that was exempt - I didn't). I'm glad that I had to go through that. It gave me a healthy disrespect for organized religion while still accepting that it was a part of my daily life.

              Is it because here in the US there is such a schizophrenic attitude towards church and state mixing that such unhealthy intrusions of personal faith into politics are tolerated?

              "Guns don't kill people, people kill people, and monkeys do too (if they have a gun)." -Eddie Izzard

              by peaceandjoy on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:22:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Why Europe is more secular (none)
                Firstly, most European countries had official state churches, which ended up being taken for granted.  American churches, not having any official status, were forced to actively compete for adherents, making them more vigorous than their European counterparts.

                Also, in much of Continental Europe, the Church was discredited by its support of reactionary right-wing politicians - the kind of politicians who collaborated with the Nazis.  Atheist Marxist ideology attracted a big following post-war, because the Left, unlike the Right, was 100% against the Nazis.

        •  Ah, but they used to - quite a lot - BUT (none)
          then the Brits got wise and shipped all the whacko religious cults to America (where they lived happily ever after)

          "the fools, the fools, they've left us our Fenian Dead" (Padraig Pearse - Gay Revolutionary)

          by padraig pearse on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:59:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  There are pockets within Canada (none)
        Think of southern Alberta's fundamentalists and their prominence within the Conservative Party, formerly the Alliance, formerly the Reform Party.

        Now it could be argued that such an open association is a liability for the Conservatives as they attract candidates who openly profess positions the rest of the country has difficulty in accepting precisely because of mixing their belief system with politics. Such ideas, if they play at all, play well to a rural population. And that segment of Canada's population is in serious decline.

        As a result it is difficult to imagine the Conservative Party as it presently constituted ever forming a majority government in Canada.

      •  so true (4.00)
        could you imagine Paul Martin ending a response in Question Period with "And God Bless Canada"?? It would be obscene and he would be rightly labeled a wingnut (although he is far from one politically).
      •  It used to sort of be like that here (3.95)
        But since the early '80's our public discourse has been hijacked by this "quaint people with quaint belief systems" who want to turn our country into a theocratic state in their own narrow image. They don't see it that way, they see it as returning our country to its moral roots, of taking back their holy country from the damned secularists who are ruining the greatest country on earth. I can think of few movements that could have scared me more.

        Religion plays a large part in our political discource in America because a relatively small group of very vocal people have forced us to address the issue. We are forced to address religion in politics because one party, the Republican Party, decided to exploit these narrow-minded fanatics with a fantastically huge ignorance of the world and use them to assume a moral high-ground when they had previously been seen as a party of the rich with few morals beyond money.

        I personally deplore this emphais on religion in the political discourse. I hate it. Yet, it has to be confronted because if we ignore it, we end up with myths being taught as science in our classrooms, narrow, Middle-eastern ideas of gender roles and morality being the law of the land, and institutionalized discrimination based on religiosity. (the discrimination already exists, but then it would become institutionlized.) I'm not talking of discrimination against a different religion, that does exist and could happen, but instead the kind of discrimination we already have, that of discrimination against those who are not religious. (what are the chances of even the most qualified person becoming president if he or she is an athiest?)

        I agree, we need to stop talking about religion in our political discourse, but we're going to have to do this by discrediting politics as a forum for religion, not by just ignoring it.

        Plane Crazy

        "It is hard to fight anger, for a man will buy revenge with his soul." Heracleitus, 500 BCE

        by PlaneCrazy on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:58:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  qualified (3.40)
          what are the chances of even the most qualified person becoming president if he or she is an athiest?

          It's been clear for some time now that being qualified is not even a qualification for president.

          But that's the one thing that's been chafing me about all of these atheist threads here. I've been thinking, "Would even those liberal Christian's vote for me as an atheist, or would they claim on the one hand to be open, and then gossip behind their backs about how they didn't know they could trust me?" It could just be standard outsider paranoia, of which I already have plenty without the help of atheism, but still...

        •  black discourse (3.33)
          what people completely ignore is it is NOT just the white fundies and REligious right for whom religion is central in their politics. for people of color, esp. African Americans it is ALSO the foundation of our politics. we CANNOT separate our faith from our politics. if you had to survive slavery and segregation in a foreign land, you'd rely on a higher power too for your politics. This tradition was what inspired both the abolitionists (here and in Europe) as well as the civil rights mvt. you can't take God our of the equation for us. Also, our social gospel tradition is distinctly different from the Religious Right. However, the increasing secular nature of the Democratic Party, their ignorance and naivete about the religious tendencies of their minority base (latino, blacks) which are at distinct odds with their white secular activists, is how the GOP is cutting into their core constituencies.

          Unlike the diarist, i agree with Jim Wallis, faith may be personal, but it is NEVER private.

           i hope people read his new book on this subject. Progressive faith was an integral part of organizing workers in the robber baron era, it helped to get the New Deal passed, along with progressive era reforms in child labor and workplace safety.  

          America is not Europe. We probably are so religious because we didn't have 100 year wars and Crusades on our soil. unlike a lot of white secular liberals, i think our religiousity CAN be a good thing. i do not feel threatened by it. i believe it's impulse has led to some of the best progressive legislation being passed. do i agree with the narrow-minded fundamentalist bent it has taken under the GOP?? Hell no, but unfortunately, when the Democrats started abandoning having a clear coherent moral vision and taking about values instead of "programs", they ceded the ground to the GOP to dominate the conversation.

          •  Agree 100% (none)
            I've been getting knocked around down-thread for expressing this same idea using the example of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. White progressives could learn a whole lot from African American leaders of faith from the past and present. Religion and spirtuality can be (and have been) powerful weapons for progress and change.

            And indeed, by firmly ensconsing ourselves in secularism, the left has ceded the religious (and therefore, moral) high ground to the wingnuts who are cynically using it for selfish gain.

            [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

            by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:30:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  slavery (4.00)
            "....we CANNOT separate our faith from our politics. if you had to survive slavery and segregation in a foreign land, you'd rely on a higher power too for your politics...."

            don't you ever get tired of invoking slavery and segregation? it is almost 150 years since slavery was ended. can't you get over it?

            compare your attitude with the latinos immigrants: they know they're looked down upon, but they just mind their own business and are taking back the southwest u.s. house by house, street by street and community by community. and business by business too.

            american negros, take a lesson before it's too late!    

          •  I'm not interested in your faith (4.00)
            At. All. In fact, I regret the precious minutes it's forcing me to waste on writing this post.

            Does your faith inspire courage in adversity? Great. Is it your faith that led to you believe so strongly in the equality of all men, or the need to help the poor stand on their feet? Awesome.

            But the second you enter political discourse, your faith becomes irrelevant.

            First of all, other people have faith, too, in different gods or different versions of your God. And their faith may tell them completely different things: that slavery is endorsed by the Bible, or that God created the white man as the master of the black man.

            They believe these things as strongly as you do. Their faith is just as deep. They know you are wrong, as clearly as you know you are right.

            That's why the political realm is no place for a battle of believers. You have no rational or objective basis to prove your God is real and theirs is false, so all you have left is a religious war. And I don't want religious wars taking place in my country.

            Second, you also seem to confuse morality and religion. Things aren't "wrong" simply because God, in some arbitrary whim, randomly declared them so. Segregation is wrong because it's wrong in and of itself. It violates values that are deeply held by people of many religions, and none.  Appealing to those values allows you to win political values through reason, instead of simple declaration's of God's so-called will.

            In short, faith may help gird you for battle, and even tell you what's worth fighting for. However, in actual combat, it's useless as a weapon, because your adversary can always call on a faith that's just as strong as yours.

            •  all i know is (none)
              faith sure as hell helped a lot of folks get through the civil right mvt, including one Rosa Parks.

              and just because your faith inspires you to enter the political realm doesn't mean you disrespect all other faiths (or no faith!) why is it an either/or for all you secular fundamentalists? atheists, jews, buddhists, they all marched with Dr. King.  

              faith IS relevant to political discourse. at least here in America. for better or worse. you can keep denying it, wishing it weren't so,, denouncing it, but you will keep losing elections that way. you want to go to a place where faith has no bearing on politics? move to Europe.

              most Americans (including myself) have no problems with Bush's invoking of God. i'm quite inspired at times by his rhetoric about liberty and freedom being a gift from the Almighty. many americans are also moved by such sentiments. what i take issue is with his policies, which in no way upholds his rhetoric. you may hate the fact that Bush invokes God, which is your right to (and which is why the right wing always blanches on and on about "how much godless liberals hate your values."

              •  yes (none)
                atheists, jews, buddhists, they all marched with Dr. King.
                As Americans, not as atheists, Jews, Buddhists.  That's the way is should be.  

                faith sure as hell helped a lot of folks get through the civil right mvt, including one Rosa Parks.
                Of course it did.  Did you read the parent post?  That's totally irrelevant.  

            •  What Garbage (2.20)
              Things aren't "wrong" simply because God, in some arbitrary whim, randomly declared them so. Segregation is wrong because it's wrong in and of itself.  

              Do you actually read what you type? It isn't wrong because God said so, it's just wrong because it is? Because you said so? Where does your value system comes from? You just made it up all by yourself in your mother's womb? Bullshit.

              [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

              by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:06:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Huh? (none)
            A uniformly ignorant comment and it gets highly rated?

            Don't say 'for people of colour,' as though you speak for all of them. Nor should you say that they can't seperate their faith from their politics - that's a massive generalisation: there are many, many non-white traditions of atheism and secularism, as well as many black atheists.

            As for the comment about having to survive slavery and segregation, and thus the need for religion - what a nonsense. You personally didn't suffer slavery, and I'd wager that most people on this board have no memory of segregation. Even if it were the case, why should it make it any more likely you should decide to adopt religion? Again, you're trying to talk for everyone. As far as I'm concerned, black  Americans don't 'need' religion because of their history any more than whites need it - that's as close to a racial stereotype as you can get without cracking somethnig out about watermelons and fried chicken. Black people are just as capable of free thought as anyone else.

            Finally, what does the war and the Crusades have to do with religiosity in Europe? Isn't it more likely that the current secularisation is a result of a general tendency towards rationality and seperation from religion that came about after the Enlightenment?

            Personally, I don't see how religiosity can ever be a 'good thing.' I can see many ways in which it isn't a bad thing, but I've never actually found religion has brought anything particularly insightful or useful to any discussion. And particularly the type of extremist religiosity which is infecting America at the moment, and which this diary addresses, is positively malign.


            The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one - George Bernard Shaw

            by Mephistopheles on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:49:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  go watch (none)
              Tavis Smiley's State of Black America roundtable if you want to see how faith and politics mix in the community.

              in the Pew Forum poll, the ONLY group that wanted Bush to be even MORE religious was African Americans. even if you are an atheist and black, you know enough not to diss religion and call religious people names, as has happened in a lot of these threads.

              The GOP is making their inroads into the black community (and latino) with their appeals to faith. the tone-deaf secular fundamentalists Democrats don't get it.

              •  Communication is a two way street (none)
                While I agree that many secularists don't know how to listen to religious people, it's also true that many religious people don't make an effort to understand the non-religious. Rather than pointing fingers and calling names, people should talk over their differences respectfully and listen, mutually.

                My political compass: -7.38, -8.00

                by seaprog on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:46:37 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Ihlin....thanks for telling it like it is (none)
                The GOP is making their inroads into the black community (and latino) with their appeals to faith. the tone-deaf secular fundamentalists Democrats don't get it.

                Thanks for saying this, it's the truth and there's plenty of evidence if only people would listen. I'm seeing it happen all over and it's scaring me. Dubya's speach in NOLA and the continual outreach of the White evangelicals towards the Black ones will bring more and more Blacks into the's already starting to happen. It's a trickle now, but I fear a flood.

                Too many White Dems are missing the signs and just handing over one of their most loyal voting blocks by taking it for granted. The signs are everywhere......

                Ignore Reverend Al Sharpton and other Black leaders at your own peril Dems! Sharpton wasn't lying when he let it known that too many Black folks are tired of being taken for granted by the Democratic Party. This state of affairs has left the door nicely open for Republicans. They will use it too and some Black folks will use it too.

            •  Typical liberal White bullshit (none)
              Don't say 'for people of colour,' as though you speak for all of them.

              Well as one on "them", I feel I know more about my own than some outsider. I reserve the right to speak for myself as one of "them". It's nice to be reminded of what the left side of racism looks usually hidden better than the right bothers to do, but it's always good to be reminded.

              Nor should you say that they can't seperate their faith from their politics

              Who said "they" couldn't? What was said is that most DON'T and choose not to.....and frankly, I'm probably in a far better position to know that you are.

              You personally didn't suffer slavery, and I'd wager that most people on this board have no memory of segregation.

              Of course you're right about that.....most people on this site and any other are White, but if you know any Black people over 50, MOST of them have had some experience of institutionalized segregation.

              As far as I'm concerned, black  Americans don't 'need' religion because of their history any more than whites need it

              How mighty White of've given us permission to leave White Jesus behind and come into the Age of Enlightenment! I guess that means we can save that money we've been wasting in the offering plates.

              Unless you are Black, how the hell can you know what Blacks need or want?

              that's as close to a racial stereotype as you can get without cracking somethnig out about watermelons and fried chicken.

              Says alot about where you're coming from.

              Black people are just as capable of free thought as anyone else.

              Thanks for letting us know thing you'll say is that you have Black friends.

      •  Don't set too comfortably up there (none)
        Dobson has his eyes on you next, and brags on his shows about expanding his organization into each Canandian Province. You may see there political influence grow as well if you don't learn from our mistakes and head them off at the pass (and I believe you can).
        •  Anglicans (none)
          I'm an Anglican priest, and I can tell you that the mainstream of Christianity is still the liberal, mainline churches.  The largest Protestant denomination is the United Church of Canada, which preaches social justice and began marrying and ordaining gays and lesbians years before it hit the front pages as an issue in the US.  The Anglicans are close behind numerically.  

          In the US, the largest Protestant denomination is the Southern Baptist Convention.  That tells you all you need to know.

          "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Trudeau

          by fishhead on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:06:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's wonderful... (none)
            ...but as I responded to the "I am a Christian" diary yesterday, when people on dKos spew invective about "Xians" they are generally referring to the fundmentalist evangelical confessions.  That these people in no way represent mainline Christianity here in the US, much less command a majority of Christians, has not stopped them from claiming the mantle/title of "Christian", and purporting to represent the only (valid) Christian point of view on any topic.

            Wait 'till you get a few of them up there - you'll see what we're bitching about.

            To the schoolteacher - ya, I've been a teacher too...and the only reason you can sit back and contemplate telling both sides to knock it off is that you aren't confronting the issue directly as a peer.  Do you have proselytizing fundamentalists on faculty dragging the religious debate into every interaction?  Perhaps then you'd see why atheists and agnostics have such push-back.  

            •  It may also be cultural (none)
              Canadians, as a general rule, don't discuss their personal beliefs with strangers or colleagues (unless it is in a social setting and there is an implicit invitation to do so).  This is especially true of religion - I think I speak for a lot of Canadians when I say that someone talking about their religious principles - much less trying to inculcate them into the workplace - would be viewed with something approaching social horror.

              When I lived in the US, OTOH, people seemed much more free and easy about coming up and talking to me about any old thing - in the coffee shop, on the bus, what have you.  Which was kind of refreshing.  I found that, in the classroom, students and profs were also very open about their personal feelings, emotions, beliefs - sometimes even breaking down in tears.  I found that a little embarrassing, because I was just not used to it.

              So there may be some culture checks on the sort of activity you've had to endure.

              "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Trudeau

              by fishhead on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:41:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah... (none)
                ...I think we used to have more of the same "no politics or religion" polite company rules here least, I grew up with them.  The new televangelist breed promotes a much more in-your-face approach though.

                Ah may be time for me to emigrate to Canada!

      •  "Quaint" (4.00)
        "just quaint people with quaint belief systems"

         a quaintness that inevitably leads to suppression fo rights and or wars.

        Let's stop feeding greed. In fact, propose we make it a commandment: The greedy shall not be fed.

        by idredit on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:15:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Quaint?" (none)
          And this: Religion brings simple answers to the questions we all face with respect to our own mortality and the meaning of our life.

          I suppose my parents, a teacher and a scientist, would say that if religion is giving you simple answers, you probably aren't doing it right. Which is why, although they are what you may consider "fundamentalist" Christians, they hold no truck with Dobson and his kind. Or any Republicans, for that matter.

          What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq? Bush knew how to get out of Vietnam.

          by strandedlad on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:00:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  It seems to me that the fundies (4.00)
        who have been active since the 1960s in trying to change secular American life to fit their minority and narrow interpretation of the role of "religion" in our nation, are holdovers, or continuers if you will, of the nineteenth-century religious movements that generated communities such as the Mormons and the Shakers.  

        Back then, in the early 19th century, there was a lot of land to claim for whatever cause-- ranching, development, or doing the work of "God."

        Once they got kicked out of Illinois, it was entirely credible and possible (at least to thousands of original followers) for the early Mormons to claim that God told them to start a new life out West and practice in that still largely, to white people, new and unsettled land.

        There is this tremendously important place that was made for centuries, in American culture, for people who claimed new territories in the name of God or of starting a new way of life to honor God.  What do we celebrate every thanksgiving, for goodness' sake?  Who do we think the Pilgrims were, anyway?

        The problem of course is that nowadays there is no uncharted land for fundies to go to.  There are no new million-square mile territories for them to claim and squat on.  So what are they left with?  They set their sites on RECLAIMING American public space and life for their vision of how things should be.  They decide that they will squat on, and take over, the spaces of our existing laws and jurisprudence, and impose on them their ideas about God.

        We need to come up with some good long-view historical arguments about why it simply should not be legal or a part of "American life" for them to be able to do this anymore.

      •  Church/State Separation, Religiosity, and Coercion (none)
        I went to an interesting lecture at my 5-year college reunion this summer (no doing the math, please) about Religion in America - the prof had a fascinating conclusion based on these facts:

        The U.S. has mandated freedom of religion, often referred to as the separation of church and state.  Most European countries have some form of state religion (same with Canada) in whatever form, even if they also have religious freedom.  

        So why is it that, contrary to what many would expect from this situation, that Americans are far more religious than Europeans?  Americans go to church more often, are far more likely to identify themselves as belonging to a religion, far more likely to say that they pray often or that their religion is a factor in their day-to-day lives, far less likely to say that religion isn't a big deal to them or that they are an atheist.

        Here's an idea:  the quickest way to get someone to resent doing a thing is to tell them that they have to do it.  Whether it's telling a kid to pick up their toys or clean their room or go to Sunday school, it's human nature to resent being ordered around.  So European nations, which have a religious mandate (however lapsed it may be) actually discouraged religion, while the laissez-faire attitude of the U.S. towards state religion actually encouraged private faith.

        I'd also argue that the reason people in the South are more likely than New Englanders to advocate religion in politics has to do with history.  People in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut et cetera have a historical memory of religious rule - that area had religious rule for a while, and the accompanying sectarian strife and witch burnings.  The South was a religious area no doubt, but never had as theocratic a government.  In short, the South hasn't been burned by religious government (terrible pun intended), so they're willing to try it.  New England tried it once, and doesn't want to again.

        O it is excellent to have a giant's strength: but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.  --Measure for Measure, II.2

        •  Americans are not more religious (per se) (none)
          So why is it that ... Americans are far more religious than Europeans?  Americans go to church more often, are far more likely to identify themselves as [etc.]...

          This is a mistake. Americans, which we'll define here as white, middle-class, suburbanites and exurbanites to name a particular group of them, aren't particularly religious.

          Sure, many of them attend church services, but most of them tune into CSI after dinner, have a few drinks, and screw like weasels. Some attend church services, fight on the way home, and have adulterous affairs. They're the same as people anywhere else.

          Now, you grab one of these folks and start asking 'em questions, in the form of a poll: "Do you believe in God?" or somesuch, they'll answer "yes" every time. Do they really believe in God or have any idea what it actually is that they believe? Unlikely.

          Deep reflection and self awareness are not common commodities and seldom observed in practice. Rather, your average American enjoys group affiliation and would prefer to be in whatever he or she conceives of as the "majority" than to be identified as an iconoclast.

          I'd bet that most Americans are probably fairly secular in their outlook, but play the "christian" game for social and economic advantage. I'll tell you this - belief in God and church attendance do not appear to alter personal conduct to any measurable degree.

      •  Some points (none)
        It is interesting to note that, despite having had a raft of Roman Catholic prime ministers (including the current incumbent), access to abortion is relatively uncontoversial in Canada.  Rome never threatened to excommunicate Trudeau, Clark, Mulroney, Chretien, or Martin; nor counselled the faithful to oppose the federal parties which support  abortion access.

        Also, in Canada, the Anglican Church was never established by the government, although its origins in England are as an established church.  And the United Church was created by the union of three independent denominations - the Methodists, Congregationalists, and most Presbyterians.  No gov't. involvement at all.

        "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Trudeau

        by fishhead on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:01:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not quite... (none)
          The United Church was created by an act of Parliament... in 1905, I believe.


          Smoke and flashing lights are turned up, as the Great Oz pronounces. Meanwhile, out the back door go the flying monkeys - Dallas Doc.

          by deepfish on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:16:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Misunderstanding (none)
            Every national religious or charitable institution requires an act of incorporation - be they Cistercians or Hutterites, or whatever.  It's not the same thing as establishment, though.  The UCC constituted itself, then petitioned the federal government to be incorporated.

            The fruits of Googling efforts:


            "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Trudeau

            by fishhead on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:34:07 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Why are our tax dollars able (none)
        to go to religous sponsored programs under this president?

        BIRTH CONTROL....the solution to many problems.

        by mattes on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:13:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Because (none)
          the Congress hasn't stopped it.  The two houses of congress are responsible for the spending of public money in this country.

          And why hasn't Congress stopped it?  Because congresspeople care more about their chances for re-election than they do about how public money is spent.  They'll spend tax money on anything they think will help them get re-elected, and right now that includes religious programs.

          And even if the majority of taxpayers don't INSIST on their tax money being given over to "faith-based initiatives," they don't care enough about it to stop voting for a Congress that does it.

          The only way currently to stop your taxes from going to religious groups (including tax exempt religious organizations) is to stop paying your taxes altogether.

          Then you can watch the U.S. political debates  from a foreign country or the comfort of a stateside prison cell.

          "Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price." - Joan Didion

          by SueDe on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:28:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Julius Caesar (4.00)

        I think that Americans are like the Romans in some ways.  We seek portends and constant reasurrance that we are 1) right 2) that we are great and 3) that we will get what we want.  The mystical becomes more important as we feel and have less control or sense of mastery over real life affairs.

        I have been watching the HBO series "Rome" which depicts Caesar and others at key times looking at entrails, bathing in blood and even paying off priests to make appropriate findings of the portends.  Their uncertainty drives them to these rituals that they themselves don't probably actually believe.  The Romans also had an inflated sense of their importance in the world and took their hegemeny for granted - kind of (though they were obviously fearful that it was just a house of cards).

        America was founded by the same mix of crazies that still govern her culture and government - the puritans and the robber barons.  We ARE crazy and have been that way all along. The Salem witch trials were spurred by religious freaks in the interior counties who were blind to their actual motivations and tranferred their accusations onto people of the more prosperous coastal areas. They were jealous of their wealth and the challenge of their relaxed diversity. No different now - its still to some extent jealousy of the richer coastal areas.

        We have only had brief periods of relative sanity.
        I DO see the reign of terror here ending in the next five years or so.  But it won't end clean - lots of blood and gore and frankly more danger for our country, but end it will...for a time anyway..

        Stop Looking For Leaders - WE are the Leaders!!!

        by SwimmertoFreedom04 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:08:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There is nothing quaint about them (none)
        when they are running your country.

        "Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar." Edward R. Murrow

        by justrock on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:55:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Republic of Ireland too (none)
        Here, the role of the catholic church is given prominence in the constitution, it's the national religion. For quite a while during the early days of the establishment of the state (1920s through to 60s) the church had something of a strangle hold on politics and public debate. Catholic theologians and priests assumed a place on cencorship boards, etc.
        At this stage though, religion and government are thoroughly separate here. Many still attend mass, and the church attends to spiritual matters as best it can in the wake of crippling child abuse scandals.
        But the government does not engage in the business of religion, they're the people who waste our taxes, who try to make sure the bins are picked up, (and who give tax breaks to their rich land development friends in return for a little something in a subtle brown envelope) but they don't talk about religion. Any politician who brings religion into his argument is seen as just being a bit daft, so when Irish people see a president seemingly describing himself appointed by God, it's just hilarious, the daftest spectacle in the world. And that you would vote him in twice? Hah! That God cares about America must be a subtle notion poured in to the water system instead of fluoride to keep these guys in there. It's as laughable as God killing Supreme Court judges on Pat Robertson's orders.
        So, Democrat or Republican, if the guy on the podium starts talking about his connection to God, you just have to start laughing. Who cares? Pray on your own time, you're there to govern. We've got enough priests to preach.

        "Families is where are nation finds hope, where wings take dream." - George Bush Jr

        by bobcatster on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:15:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Now you've done it (4.00)
      M. Jerome --
      Exhorting "you Americans" to give up on something that is fantastically important to well over 90 percent of us is a fools errand.

      And, of course, by posting on it, you've guaranteed that vast quantities of dkos space will be devoted once again to this topic.  Surely, you could have predicted this, but chose to post anyhow.

      Reform in the US will never come by insisting that there be a left of center wholly secular party and hoping that it will somehow overcome all.  And although you may wish it were so, it's not going to happen.  (Nor, of course, do many of us want it to happen).  So....thanks for your thoughts...

      I hope this diary does not end up on the recommended list. There are many very important developments in the war, the Plame investigation, the defense appropriations bill, the compromise on denial of habeas corpus, the massive giveaway of federal lands in the House reconciliation bill, and other things.   Giving a scarce recommended spot to some wishful thinking that we would all just stop being so religious would, I think, be a poor use of the space.

      •  Well, I recommended it (4.00)
        because I thought it expressed my opinion on what's been going on for the past two days on Dkos perfectly.  I agree that there are some very important developments occuring that we should be all over.  I noted that the WP diary got kicked off the "recommended" list just before this diary posted, while other diaries that contain (in my opinion)reams of comments about issues we haven't been able to work out since the beginning of humanity, remain.  I think  the viewpoint in this diary needed to be shared and that it can lead to us getting back to work already.    
      •  The difference is in the focus (4.00)
        Those other diaries are about religious belief, this one is about the separation of church and state. I agree with Jerome, we need to rebuild the wall between church and state here in the U.S. Possibly, the reason that a wall has to be stated explicitly here, while it is tacit in Europe is that a large percentage of our founding stock were, essentially, religious radicals who would have created a theocracy if they had a plurality.

        Thanksfully, at the time of the writing of the US Constitution, they were split up into a large number of sects which could not agree on anything. The framers looked around and realized that if ever any of those groups grew or merged enough to form a plurality, the sectarian government would be under seige, as it is now.

        Yes, remove religion from the political arena. I have beliefs, but they are internal and used to guide me. I find it false and, well, icky, to talk about them in a public forum and use them as a political tool. That seems to me a bit like taking your underwear and using them as a pennant at a football game. You may want everyone to know that you are a sponge-bob boxers kind of guy, but probably, they don't really want to know, and their primary function is not for display.

        I've watched the explosion of religious diaries the past couple days, particularly from Darksyde (really well written, those) with bemusement, but not surprise. When it comes to dealing with religious beliefs in the public arena, Americans have depended upon the edicts of our grandparents (via their writings in our founding documents) but haven't quite yet matured in dealing with them on their own, without such a support structure. I just hope it doesn't take us 400 years of religious and political wars on this continent to reach that level of maturity.

        (And don't think that you Europeans can't backslide in this arena, especially now that you're dealing with large demographic shifts thanks to low native birth rates and large numbers of immigrants.)

        -- I share no man's opinions; I have my own. -t -6.75 -3.79

        by tergenev on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:46:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  exactly (4.00)
          thanks for making the distinction.

          (And I agree about your point on backsliding. Sometimes it seems that people cannot handle all that personal freedom and crave a guiding hand - communism or Statism played that role in France for a long time)

          In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
          Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

          by Jerome a Paris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:52:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Focus, yes, but you missed it... (4.00)
          What I took away from this diary is not that we need to fortify the Church/State wall, but that we have to attack the link between religion and good. The reason Americans are hesitant to take down that wall is they still believe that religion somehow strengthens morals. If we keep the political pressure on maintaining the church/state wall, that's good. But even better would be exerting some social pressure on removing that linkage. Because without that connection, people will be much less hesitant to say, "Well, of COURSE religion should be involved in government. It's the source of all that is good and right."

          Here's a story that might help illustrate part of this problem: I used to go to church, and for me going to church was a big deal because I've had to such struggles with it. Part of my going to church was to seek fellow wanderers, people looking for answers. So I talked to people about their faith, and why they were coming to church. Most people just shrugged. It's just something you do, you know, because it's the right thing to do. They thought it strange I was asking.

          But here's the strongest connection to this diary: I met many parents who were there because they thought it would "be good for the kids." Now why anyone thinks that Christianity would teach children to be "good" has obviously never been to Sunday school. But it just struck me then that people have absolutely no idea what morality is or where it comes from.

          Or their concept of morality is driven by fear of punishment and desire for reward, so that it is necessary to first destroy a child's sense of his own goodness by declaring him a sinner that god will cast into burning damnation unless he accepts Jesus. It doesn't take a mean or cruel person to deliver that lecture to a child; it's just what's taught in Sunday school by every sweet lady Sunday school teacher, delivered with a smile and a fill-in-the-blank quiz.

          Anyway, I've gone one step further than what Jerome has mentioned -- the link between morality and religion -- and gone right to attacking the source -- religion itself. Which might not be a bad strategy, actually ... if we can just keep ourselves out of boiling oil.

          •  religion != good (4.00)
            Yeah.  As far as I can tell, religion is often an excuse people use to be evil.

            No wonder atheists have among the lowest crime rates of any 'religious' group.

          •  Morality is NOT religiousness (4.00)
            This is the most important thing that we must insist upon.

            We all want to live in a moral, just society that encourages its members to do good, care for the weak, etc.

            The reason that the Religious Right has affiliated itself with NeoCon and Tax-Cutting Conservatism is because they both have no use for secular government. The RR has no use for secularism: they firmly believe that if it doesn't have God, it's not good. The NC/TCC has no use for government: they firmly believe that if it costs them money, it's not good.

            So the arguments that Bush makes all elide "morality" and "goodness" with religion, rather than government. He and his brethren are working to destroy government.

            America was founded on the concept that reasonable people of good will can govern themselves through a representative government. God is not involved. Humans have the complete capacity to logically govern themselves without any recourse to religion.

            Anyone can believe anything. The only thing our Constitution does not permit is that the Government favor or endorse or punish or prosecute religious belief.

          •  A co-worker brought me up short one day... (4.00)
            A couple of joblets ago, I had my earphones tuned to AAR at work one afternoon and was listening as they reported the latest instance of the Busheviks' betrayal of the American Dream (I don't remember the particulars - they've been so prolific) and I was so applalled at whatever the current monstrosity was that I involuntarily exclaimed about it out loud.

            A co-worker, a very warm and caring person (despite being a vocal and stalwart Bush supporter), asked me what was wrong. As I expressed my outrage, I asked her how she could support such awful people?

            She's a devout person and has spoken of her beliefs before so I put it in terms of her practice of christianity. How could she adhere to christian teachings as the core values of her life yet support such unchristian treatment of the poor and elderly?

            She appeared stunned, looked at me with bewilderment and said, 'But you're a christian', as if this distinction allied us and required my automatic support of King George and his court.

            Short digression - I am, in the words of my immigrant grandfather, 'as Irish as Paddy's pig'. And I look it, having (same grandda)'the map of Ireland' across my mug. So I suppose she could be forgiven for assuming that as an Irishman, I was a member of a church.

            She went from stunned to aghast when I informed her that I was, in no uncertain terms, quite definitely NOT religious. Her response was a wondering, 'But you're a moral person.'

            Then it was MY turn to be stunned and aghast.

            In her mind, one can ONLY be moral if one is religious and conversely, if you are irreligious, you are, by definition immoral. I'm afraid that this is an unvoiced but pervasive conflation in the minds of most Americans and it explains why many politicians are very careful to signal their membership in the brotherhood, so to speak. It has become political shorthand.

            We must have stem-cell research. How else will Congress and the media grow spines?

            by bablhous on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:47:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ah, those warm and caring religious friends... (none)
              I have one warm, caring religious friend myself, and she & I are very close. But over lunch one day, she just began a rant out of nowhere about the "fools who want to take God out of the pledge of allegiance." I asked her how someone would feel about the pledge if they weren't Christian. Her reply: "It doesn't matter. It's still God, no matter what religion you belong to." Assuming, I suppose that the full range of religions spans from monotheism all the way to monotheism.

              I then asked her, "What if they're an atheist?" Her reply: "Well, they're atheists. They can say it. It doesn't mean anything to them anyway."

              Then we got to talking about church and state, and history, and she didn't know that "under god" was inserted in the 50's, etc., probably due to brainwashing at church...

              but, at any rate, yes, I think we all have friends like that, and we find them very moral, very decent people who, however, are very in their capacity to understand the multivariegated world we live in.

              Incidently, she doesn't think I'll be going to hell; a minor concession, but I can lay it at her feet if it turns out she's wrong.

              •  Under God (none)
                Under god got into the pledge of aliegence to distinguish the US from the godless Communists who were doing well in the marketplace of ideas at that time.

                "Be just and good." John Adams

                by aztec on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:16:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Correctamundo (none)
                  ... and another delightful contrasting fact about the Pledge of Allegiance is that congress decided NOT to make it mandatory. Why? To contrast ourselves with the Nazis, who fetishized compulsory displays of obedience.
      •  90 percent? (3.91)
        fantastically important to well over 90 percent of us

        Is this one of those pulled-out-of-your-ass statistics? Based on 2001 Census data, about 15% of the population is not religious. Care to show what fraction of the remaining 85% are regular churchgoers, much less consider religion "fantastically important"?

        I don't see anywhere that Jerome advocated a "wholly secular party". He merely suggested that politicians especially should keep their religion private, and not flaunt and exploit it.

      •  In the U.S. (none)
        unfortunately, religion is deeply wrapped up in politics.  It's an important topic because, face it, BushCo is in power, giving away federal lands, denying habeas corpus, etc. because there is a very large group of voters who vote PRIMARILY on religious issues, and BushCo took advantage of that, and now we have a horrible mess.

        I'm not saying religion is responsible for the mess, but I am saying that the separation of church and state is massively critical to America remaining a democracy and not becoming (although we're on the way) a theocracy or an oligarchy.

    •  What do you mean (3.83)
      Americans are about religion?? As if! Here's PROOF that we are 100 percent sane and normal!
    •  Most of the time (none)
      ... in fact, every day during the last three years, I've thought Americans have gone crazy.  There has only been one time during that period when I thought the French were crazy... when they banned religious displays in public schools, so that young muslim girls would have to display their hair contrary to their religious beliefs.  That is not religion and government respecting each others' respective spheres.

      You rail against absolutism and for secularism.  There are dangers in absolutist secularism as well.

    •  You Europeans are Crazy (3.85)
      From what I have seen of Europe, the level of assumed societal religiousness is higher than the parts of America I have spent time in.  Most European countries assume Christianness for its citizens and are less considerate on non-Christians than I was used to growing up (Ok that was California).  People may spend less time in Church, but the culture of Christianity is pervasive.

      In England, its little things like Sunday shop hours, and that even the Tube in London closed on Christmas Day as well as Boxing Day.  That the University I went to started Term on Yom Kippur and scheduled Final exams for the first two days of Passover, despite complaints months in advance.  The head of Church is still the head of State.

      In Ireland, Spain, and Italy the Catholic Church still has a significant influence on the political system (consider abortion that is still illegal in Ireland, until 1992 it was illegal to leave the country for one).  In Greece the country is still very religeous, they are just now working on taking religion off of the National ID cards because of European Law.  The Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/ Christian Social Union (CSU) are the leading parties in Germany after the last elections.

      In France, their French Secularism is a religion of itself with all the of hallmarks of other established faiths.  Like much of Europe there is a cultural bias towards Christianity.  The government has even passed laws (i.e. the Headscarves) which make it difficult to be French while Muslim (I won't get into how difficult it can be to be French while Black).

      Religion is still the dividing line on many conflicts.  Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia. Rampant anti-semetism throughout Europe (particularly in France), to the point that European Jews don't go to services without security.  All of the countries in the EU are Christian, some have pushed for language that reflect that in the EU Constitution Treaty.

      We may have our religious nutters here in the US, but Christianity is prevalent throughout European culture and society.  You have less of an issue with it because there is significantly more uniformity of belief in any given country.  We are going through our third "Great Awakening" and that is being abused by one of our political parties, but the pervasive influence of religion in your societies is so strong and present as to be ignorable by those who are not outsiders. the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent
      -G.W. Bush
      -7.00 -7.74

      by Luam on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:32:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have lived (4.00)
        in both England for 42 and the US for 4 years. Believe me their is no comparison whatsoever.

        The average English person has about as much to do with religeon as they do with the military which is very little.

        'Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it'. - GBS

        by stevej on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:55:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not as long as you (4.00)
          I only lived in England for five years, and I agree that it isn't an overtly religious country, more like the American stereotypes of New England I guess.  I did know a fair few who went to Church regularly.  With England what I was talking about is the background level of Christianity.  Local authorities are often Parish Councils, many of my friends attended religious classes and Christian Services at school, the Christian Union was a strong presence at my Uni...

          I would argue with my atheistic friends that England is a Christian country.  It is difficult to explain, but as an agnostic Jew in England, I really felt a stronger assumption of Christianity than I did in California.

          I should have included in my prior post that much like American states, Europe has different religiousness in different countries.  Different countries have different dominant or official religions and different levels of religiousness.  I am not certain that taken as a whole I would consider Europe or America more Christian, it is just expressed in different ways.

 the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent
          -G.W. Bush
          -7.00 -7.74

          by Luam on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:28:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Luam, (none)
            just one small point, I think you are confusing Parish Councils with Parochial Church Councils.

            Parish Councils were civil bodies, it is just a hangover from when a County was sub-divided by the church parishes for convenience, they stopped being religious bodies long ago. An British Parish Council is just as much a civil body as the Parishes in Louisiana.

            The PCC is the governing body of a local Anglican Church and confines itself to church affairs.

            So in any "Parish", there are usually two bodies, one for civil affairs and one for church. The membership does overlap, but the roles are seperate.

            •  Actually, my point exactly (none)
              Is that the historical models are still in place which create a CE bias throughout the country and create an assumption of Christianity.  I know that the Parish councils are essentially civil, but it seems to me that the membership often overlaps.

              Regardless of reality the name, Parish council always invoked the image of Old Men (and maybe old Women) deciding the village rules in the back room of the Church over cold tea and cucumber sandwiches.

              What I am really saying is that as a non-Christian I felt like more of an inconvenient minority that I ever did in the US.

     the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent
              -G.W. Bush
              -7.00 -7.74

              by Luam on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:43:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  So what? (4.00)
          That is one small part of Europe.

          Compare living in San Francisco with living in Paris.

          Compare living in rural LA with living in rural Ireland.

          Compare living in Lubbock with living in the Serbian portion of Bosnia.

          I wish people would stop thinking that because they've been to one portion of EITHER Europe or the USA that they know all about them.

          Both places are hugely diverse in ideas, inspiration, geography and culture.

          That's why I cringe when the comparison is made. The differences are complex, and Europe as a whole is probably more diverse and probably encompases more extremes than the US.  

          by coigue on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:30:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Was replying to the (none)
            posters comments about England  thats 'so what'.

            That's why I cringe when the comparison is made. The differences are complex, and Europe as a whole is probably more diverse and probably encompases more extremes than the US.

            Sometimes generalizations are neccesary and for the sake of this discussion one has to deal in generalities. Are you saying that there is no room for discussion of national traits etc?

            Take this statement for example - 'American society is more militaristic than Europe's'.

            This doesn't mean that all American's are more pro military than all Europeans. Just that a randomly chosen American is more likely to be militaristic than a randomly chosen European.

            This is a legitimate statement as a very cursory look at the evidence would support it.

            'Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it'. - GBS

            by stevej on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:36:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I disagree. (none)
              "American society is more militaristic than Europe's"

              It's an overly simplistic statement that is so vague that it can be used to make just about any point from any side. In fact, it invites dissent due to it's vagueness, and distracts from any forward movement of an argument....

              And the poster was discussing Ireland. no? Where there are no abortion rights?


              by coigue on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:43:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Militarism (none)
                A half of a trillion dollar (if you throw in the wars in Iraq and Afgnaistan) annual War Department budget.  A military-industrial complex that even Eisenhower had nightmares about in 1958.  Jingoistic slogans like "God Bless America" or a "nation under God."  Media that glorifies war, federal agents and local police even if (or because) Constitutional rights are being violated.  Since World War II, wars in Viet Nam, Korea, the Gulf, the former Yugoslavia, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaraugua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan etc.  Declaring war on Afghanistan and killing and displacing civilians to capture one man even before the US had proof that the man was guilty.  Essential media blackout on civilian deaths and casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Torture as US policy.  Using white phosphorous, napalm and munitions made out of radio-active waste on civilians.
                Employing mercenaries.  And polls saying the American public holds the military in relatively high esteem.
                Yeah, I'd say the US is more militaristic than Europe.

                "Be just and good." John Adams

                by aztec on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 03:48:56 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Arguable. (none)
                  The Soviet Union was partly in Europe
                  The Europeans have really messed with Africa and the Middle East

                  I'll give a few examples (luckily you restricted me to after WW 2)

                  Serbia v Croatia
                  Bosnia v Croatia
                  Revolutions in Romania, Georgia,
                  Russia v Chechnya
                  Russia v Latvia, Lithuania
                  Serbia v Bosnia
                  Greece v Turkey

                  Belgium in the Congo
                  Belgium in Ruwanda
                  Britian in Camaroon

                  Everywhere NATO went, Europe also went

                  Turkey attacked the Kurds

                  USSR in: Afghanistan, Nicaragua, other places

                  France and Belgium sent troops to Zaire

                  UK France Polish to Iraq

                  And that is just a 15 minute look around on the internet.

                  Also, when did the British leave India?

                  All I am saying is that the points are arguable and Europe is a big place. Do I think America is TOO militaristic...Hell yes? More militaristic than Europe? Maybe...probably not much, if at all.  Plus there ARE those pesky world wars, that WE did not get into very quickly...And WHO WAS IT, I WONDER, that was in VIETNAM before we went in? Parlez-Vous Francais?

                  African and Middle Eastern History is as chock full of capitalistic fuck=ups by different European countries that led to horrifying problems like Ruwanda in the 1990s.

                  So, is not a given. Unless you are thinking of Sweden as Europe. Yes. I think I'll buy it that Sweden is less militaristic than the USA.


                  by coigue on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 06:41:19 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  bang on. (4.00)
        You have less of an issue with it because there is significantly more uniformity of belief in any given country.

        Some aspects of US culture are extremely homogenized (the creeping universality of generic corporatized suburbs, for instance), such that most of the population is "comfortable" in the unchallenging familiar.

        But the US has been through repeated phases of various cultures (and subcultures) colliding--sometimes working up to violence and oppression--before mixing amiably or sometimes just establishing a tentative truce.  Europe's historical record of managing coexisting differences isn't all that great, and I personally wouldn't rely too much on deep-rooted stability of the current enlightened sophistication.

        From my own experience, I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, in a minority "racially".  After college, I moved to Portland, Oregon, which was (and largely still is) a shockingly "white" and relatively uniform (albeit quirky) set of subcultures.

        I can't recall the number of times I heard both locals and visitors observe how politically enlightened and culturally tolerant Portland is compared to other cities.  In many respects, it is.  But a historical look at some of the reasons for current uniformity provides a more complex (and sometimes ugly) perspective.  Likewise, there hasn't been nearly the depth of challenge (like in Atlanta, for instance) to demonstrate the substance of "enlightenment".

        It's no great feat for a majority culture to not recognize its inherent power and the potential--if not actual--oppression of others.  It's disappointing when the lack of awareness is interpreted as an indication of cultural or political maturity.

      •  Please leave Yugoslavia out of it (none)
        That war had nothing to do with religion. Many other crappy reasons for it though- stupid nationalism for instance.
        I'm Croatian, by the way. And atheist. And I strongly disagree with the most of your reading of Europe. My argument should be spread over a long dinner, in european fashion, and not condensed in a short post right here. (Sorry, I realise this is not fair)


        •  Dinner and Scotch (none)
          You are absolutely right these kind of discussions are best held over a long dinner and some Scotch later to smooth of the disagreements and hammer out the details.

          I would assume that many Europeans would disagree with what I wrote, part of what I saw was that many in Europe take for granted their cultural traditions, which are steeped in religion.

          I almost left out the reference to Yugoslavia in part because the conflict was along both racial and religious lines and in part because it is no longer current.

          PS A good friend of mine when was in England is Croatian, gave me some insight into the conflict.

 the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent
          -G.W. Bush
          -7.00 -7.74

          by Luam on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:04:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'll have wine instead... (none)
            But yes let's have dinner any time.
            Wish you did leave out Yugoslavia. My take (way oversimplified here) is that the religious veneer was added as an incentive to hate the "other" more. And it grew in importance as another distinction between "us and them."

            And for the outsiders who can't figure out what is the difference between these people fighting (they all look the same!) it's an easier explanation of the whole mess.

            I think it started as an economical (for the people) and power-grab (for those in power) conflict. Then the leaders overlaid the whole nationalistic (and religious in smaller measure) topping to get people to do what they wanted them to. And the people were stupid enough... Just crazy shit. Sometimes I can't  believe it actually happened. Now we are all way worse off.

            Wonder what your (other) croatian friend's opininon was?

            As for european traditions based on christianity... they are also mostly  (all?) based on prechristian traditions...another long story?


            •  Wine is also good (none)
              I think that red is more conducive to conversation...

              I think that you describe most conflicts with your description.  The question is not what the causes of the conflict are as all wars start over the distribution of power, but if they divide on ethno-religeous grounds.  Far too many do on some level.  Not that other wars are much better, people still die.

              My friend had a lot of crazy opinions by the time I met him.  His experience with Croatian democracy had destroyed his earlier democratic ideals and he claimed to have become a "Bonapartist".  I am not sure how serious he was about it, he was a student of history...  He is currently trying to emigrate to Canada as he was forced to leave England (bloody home office) and has not had luck with jobs or the like in Zagreb.

              Where abouts are you, are you still in Croatia?

     the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent
              -G.W. Bush
              -7.00 -7.74

              by Luam on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 06:51:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Luam, sorry for the long delay (none)
                I was away for Thanksgiving.

                I wish your friend the best of luck. Such a crappy difficult situation to be in.

                Bonapartist? As in "benevolent dictator" or?  

                Well, croats can get histrionic and love to play devil's advocate and argue a lot. Democracy can only function in a well educated and well informed society - so what we had there was not a democracy but some sort of a banana republic. Just like here in the US.

                I've been in the US this past 8 years, and in France for 5 before that. Not too proud to be here paying the taxes right now.



                •  Fair enough (none)
                  Hope your T-day was a good one, my first on US soil in about five years...

                  I guess he believed in the Benevolent Dictator concept, he certainly believed in strong government.

                  Where in the US are you?  I just set up in Philly.


         the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent
                  -G.W. Bush
                  -7.00 -7.74

                  by Luam on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 11:14:59 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Ireland (none)
        Ireland has no legalised abortion because it would need to be ratified by a referendum of the people. During the most recent referendum on the subject several of the main parties (a multi party system!) came out in favour of it, despite the politicians themselves --in private-- being quite attentive Catholics.
        Some of Jerome's point was that politicians legislating through their religion, rather than values etc was a problem in the US; wearing their religion on their sleeves.
        That the Irish people have not ratified abortion is a different matter altogether, and speaks more to the religion of the people than the politicians.

        "Families is where are nation finds hope, where wings take dream." - George Bush Jr

        by bobcatster on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 02:27:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  To quote Cheech or Chong (can't remember) (4.00)
      "I used to be all messed up on drugs. Now I'm all messed up on Jesus"

      That throw-away-line just about covers our last 30 years.

      "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

      by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:33:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Amen to that! (none)
      And that Diderot dude is my kinda guy . . .

      You are right, Jerome--American culture is so godstruck it can't even see straight.  

      Enough about the tooth fairy already--we have some real problems to solve.

      -8.38, -7.13   Soapblox/Chicago, for progressive Midwesterners

      by rhubarb on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:55:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Love it, Jerome! (none)
      I'm loving your diary, Jerome, and I agree with everything in it. All we gotta do now is get this lady  - and the millions and millions of Americans like her - to read it:
    •  We are what we are. (none)
      The right uses religion like a bludgeon. Because the left usually eschews it in politics, the right is bleeding away some of our voters for whom Jesus is a big issue. This hurt us (and the world) in the 2004 elections.

      The less a man knows about how sausages and laws are made, the easier it is to steal his vote and give him botulism.

      by SensibleShoes on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:34:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Priests and puritans. (none)
      Our left coast was settled by Catholic priests. Our right coast was settled by Puritans. Squeezed in between were the African slaves and Caribbean islanders with their mix of paganism and Christianity, the Latino Jews in New Mexico, the Utah Mormons, the Scandinavian Lutherans, the Native Americans, etc.

      Is it any wonder we're exploding with religious strife?

    •  Jerome, you just don't get it (4.00)
      If we took faith out of politics, how could we continue to use our current voting machine system, which requires blind faith and the suspension of common sense?

      Even on liberal blogs, it is heresy to insist that, under the current system, we simply have no evidence to warrant confidence in the integrity of the "official" results.

    •  You Godless Heathen You (4.00)
      You atheist commie pinko fag. You terrorist loving, America hating hippie.

      You're trying to take our bible away from us. You obviously want to outlaw Christmas and are persecuting Christians for our beliefs.

      The laws of God supercede the laws of man. We are trying to save your soul whether you want it saved or not. You sinner. You son of satin. Child of iniquity confused and deluded by the great evil one. Nothing you say can be believed. You speak the words of the great deceiver.

      No one shall come to God except through me said the Lord, Our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are here to save the world and you persecute us. We are fishers of men. We serve a higher purpose and a higher God then your God of Mammon. Repent your sins you deluded one.

      And this is key... remember these words...

      The laws of God supercede the laws of man. Do not try to distract and deceive us with your Constitution. We do not believe it. We need not obey it. It does not control us. It is wrong. We do not believe in The Constitution of the United States of America. It has been corrupted by you commie pinko fag Osama bin Laden loving haters of America.

      Repent your sins and bow down before us!

    •  Hajabs (none)
      Europe has learnt this the hard way, and has pretty much taken religion out of public life. That does not mean that people or politicians have no faith, but that most citizens are healthily skeptical or those that put their religion on their sleeves and try to proselytise. Going to church is a social activity and/or a personal choice, not a political one.

      Tell that to the French who have banned the wearing of Hajabs even though many of the women wore them as religious and cultural items, not because their husbands made them to do so.  Tell that to the French that are experience riots because they have isolated a class of people based on their religious and ethnic origins.  

      The US has it's problems but I rather resent this holier (ironic, non?) than thou attitude that your putting forth here.  Europe has plenty of issues with intolerance and monolithic thought which are akin to the religious zealots we see in this country.  Just tell me about how well the average European country treats the average Gypsy, then go on about the problems that we have in the US.

      Yes, we have religious wackos and their power has peaked ladies and gentleman.  These things are always cyclical.  People forget for a time why our government has tried to seperate religion from governance, and then they see what happens when those people get some power and things change.  

      What we see is typical reactionary responses to changes in our society.  Primarily it's the role of technology in our ability to control reporduction and the basics of life and death that has people in a tizzy.  They get scared and they freak out.  Invariably in the end a balance is achieved, their worst fears aren't realized, and everybody calms down.  

      Frankly the reason why our country works as well as it does is because these things are out in the open and it forces us to deal with it.  It forces us to come to a balance that may not thrill everybody but at least achieves a common denominator we can live with.  

      Jerome, I normally love your stuff, and I think you often make some great points about the common misconceptions about American power.  Having said that, this feels more like throwing stones rather than legitimate well constructed criticism.  

      --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

      by sterno on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:09:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Jerome, as always you are the voice . . . (none)
      of reason, sanity and truth.

      I agree, it's staggering the amount of time we devote to this.

      by nyceve on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:17:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Great diary, Jerome. (none)
        Agree, agree, agree with all you say, including your update.

      ...the White House will be adorned by a downright moron...H.L. Mencken

      by bibble on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:51:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yet another diary (2.90)
    from an overseas friend with a title generalizing  and attacking all Americans, inviting us to read the entire body to appreciate its subtleties.

    I hope this trend ends.

    I've got blisters on my fingers!

    by Elwood Dowd on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:13:23 AM PST

    •  yes (none)
      see my comment to BarbinMD below.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:19:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yesterday we were stupid (none)
        according to Welshman, today from you we get "crazy"...I wonder if I can move to Canada by tomorrow, so I can be the non-American kossack who talks about how fat we are! <snark>

        Well, we are....:-)

        Good diary, btw.

        "...I believe in the power of laughter to subvert authority and promote democracy."-Kate Clinton

        by Revel on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:45:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well said. (3.83)
      No matter how "subtle" the content, I found that headline coming from a non-American just a little too pissy this early in the morning.  

      Jerome, you need to understand that no matter how right you are or how fed up most Kossians are of our country, in general, or its infestation of religiousity, specifically, we have an innate prickliness about criticism from outside. Even though we need more intelligent analysis and criticism from saner heads abroad, you still need to tread lightly.

      As much as I am fed up with the insularity of the Bushies and the entire NeoCon bunch, I think you went a little overboard.

      Tim LaHaye can kiss my "left behind"

      by homogenius on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:35:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As long as U.S. criticism of the rest ... (4.00)
        ... of the world comes in Carrier Groups, cluster bombs and White Phosphorus, you should probably take a little criticism from the outside in stride.

        It's always been provoking to observe that the U.S. likes to dole out retribution upon foreign lands from above, in Godly manner, substituting self for deity. Think about that.
        The flying fortress armadas of WWII, the ICBM missiles, the Stealth bombers, the B-52s carpetbombing. Unfortunately, always a little too "we are right because God is with us" to leave us comfortable about what the U.S. is up to next.

        Therefore, have a little piss and vinegar in the morning. It's better than napalm, from above.

        "I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

        by SteinL on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:48:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  WWII? (none)
          Do you really want to play that card? Give me a fucking break.

          P.S. Overgeneralize much?

          Tim LaHaye can kiss my "left behind"

          by homogenius on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:09:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  homogenius - relax (none)
            Most grateful the U.S. was involved in WWII. Just pointing out that U.S. military might likes to rain down, Biblical style, from Above.

            "I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

            by SteinL on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:26:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  er, um, well, no (none)
              Actually, the US was quite slow to take up aerial bombardment, and even had to borrow planes from the British, Italians, and any other good guys who would submit to arm-twisting in WW I.  It wasn't really until Pearl Harbor that the bigwigs were convinced that aerial bombardment could be effective (like 5 battleships and their men gone in minutes).  Before that, infantry and artillery were the focus.  It was Curtis LeMay, of course, who drove aerial bombardment in the Pacific, then rode to the top with the SAC superbombers, the longest lived being our old friend the B-52, of which 92 are still flying.
          •  straw man (none)
            Please put your card back in the deck. I think the point was everything that has come since WWII. And yes, the US's ultimate involvement in that action has always been greatly appreciated.

            -7.00,-7.74 No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. -- Edward R Murrow

            by subtropolis on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:16:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I know n/t (4.00)

        In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
        Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

        by Jerome a Paris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:51:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Naw (none)
          No need to tread lightly Jerome. You are entitled to your opinions about America or anywhere else. Just as Americans are entitled to their views of other countries, and express them quite freely.
        •  You're all right, Jerome (4.00)
          If the Christian God is going to affect our daily lives, who gets to pass his 'holy word' to American citizens?  George?  Now that's a scary thought.  We need God out of government, and the sooner, the better.

          Speak your mind, dude, and don't be intimidated by the occasional religio-freak.  Not that you are.

          What's your direction? Take the test! Economic Left/Right: -8.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.05

          by Jensequitur on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:25:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  when American's stop (4.00)
        imposing their beliefs or will on "outside" then perhaps "outside" will not feel the need to criticise. I'm more than well aware that this is a generalisation, but it's not the people that lost the election that get to decide where to invade next, or whether to deny global climate change, or whether to condone torture, or whether to build new nuclear weapons, etc etc.

        Your government does. And by definition a democratically elected government represents the people.

        I'm with Jerome. You Americans are crazy.

        Give us back the America we trust and respect!!!

        by icerat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:16:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I beggeth to differ! (4.00)
        I don't consider Jerome to be an outsider.  His views, whether he is a bona fide American or not, are always worth considering and he is a real asset to DailyKos on whatever topic he choses to address.

        One of the things that bothers me about Americans is their thin skin when it comes to criticism from abroad.  It's's's so FRENCH!  ;-)

        And, furthermore, I agree with Jerome's point about religion in the US.  Enough already!  

        "Pro-life" really means "pro-criminalization"

        by Radiowalla on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:17:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not pissy (4.00)
        My first reaction was "yes, of course we're crazy, but what specifically is Jerome complaining about?" I've been on travel for a few days so I missed whatever religious war apparently broke out here.

        I picked up a book in the Paris airport a few years ago written about Americans, by an American (Time or Newsweek bureau chief, I think) for the French. The entire point of the book was "we Americans are crazy". As I recall, Chapter 1 was informing the French about the anti-French boycott of '03 and trying to explain it.

        So no, I don't take offense at stuff like that. Of course we're nuts. That's what makes it fun to live here.

        Ah, found the book. Here it is.

    •  I hope this trend continues. (4.00)
      First, it's great to read an outsider's point of view.

      Second, we have elected a government that is hateful to most of the peoples of the world. And we have opened ourselves up for criticism by allowing that government to commit heinous crimes while preaching fundamentalist Christianity. Yet, even on this liberal site it could be argued that we pay more attention to religion than values.

      Neither Jerome nor Welshman attacked us. Both gave us constructive criticism and we should thank them for it.

      "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

      by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:53:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Plain meaning of words (none)
        Both Welshman and Jerome lumped all Americans together and attacked them in their diary titles. They believed -- with some justification, since both diaries made the Recommended list -- that deliberately provocative titles, to the point of dishonesty, would help garner more of an audience.

        They then went on to offer more nuanced thoughts in the diaries themselves.

        The trend toward provocative dishonest titles is what I hope will end.

        I've got blisters on my fingers!

        by Elwood Dowd on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:06:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed. And well said. (none)

          Tim LaHaye can kiss my "left behind"

          by homogenius on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:11:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  What's dishonest? (4.00)
          America's mixture of God and politics is crazy. Actually I thought the title might be a riff on a movie title, `The God's Must be Crazy. It's a fine diary title.

          And I don't see this "lumping all Americans together" as wrong when religion gets so much play even on the most liberal of sites.

          The trend that needs to end is the arrogance of many Americans, especially the religious ones.

          "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

          by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:28:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, come on. (none)
            How about these hypothetical diary titles:

            • You black people are great athletes
            • You Frenchmen are racist
            • You Welsh are heavy drinkers

            Those all use the same construction as 'You Americans are crazy,' and they are similarly offensive and dishonest.

            I've got blisters on my fingers!

            by Elwood Dowd on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:38:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If a friend said to you, "you're crazy" (4.00)
              I don't think you'd be insulted. You'd probably think he was making a joke or a point?

              But if he said "you're a racist" or "you're a drunk"
              you might well be insulted. I guess it's just in how you read it.

              I suppose arguing about diary titles is better than arguing about religion ;/)

              "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

              by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:46:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  he didn't use those titles (n/t) (none)

              -7.00,-7.74 No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. -- Edward R Murrow

              by subtropolis on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:18:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  And if he'd said (4.00)
              "You Americans are wonderful" - which has the same construction - would that have been offensive? Dishonest I can see, but offensive?
              •  Could be (none)
                depending on context and depending on reader. The context of this diary was 'You Americans are crazy [for giving religion such a prominent role].'

                If a diary and context were 'You Americans are wonderful [for being so free of prejudice]' there would be many victims of prejudice who would find the staement offensive.

                'Fat people are jolly' isn't offensive because there's something wrong with being jolly. It's offensive because stereotypes of any type are degrading.

                I've got blisters on my fingers!

                by Elwood Dowd on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:04:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Broad brush (none)
      It is never OK to say all (fill in a nationality) are (fill in insulting term).  

      The next time I hear a wingnut call the French cheese-eating, surrender monkeys I will think of this diary and I won't feel as confident that those on my side of the political divide are above doing the same thing as the wingnuts.

      We should be careful that we don't become what we despise.

      Oh by the way, which one's pink? -R. Waters

      by Blue Neponset on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:11:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What scares me more (4.00)
      Are the reams of Americans here who either have totally misunderstood Jerome's comment, or totally misunderstood the role of religion in American political life.

      For many years, religious people did good work for our society by taking their values and applying them to social problems. Although those values came from a religious base their application was secular in nature.

      What is going on today is totally different - you see a concerted attempt to impose religion on society. This was not done before. It's new, and few of you seem aware of it.

      I have yet to see any intelligent refutation of Jerome's claims. Therefore I have to assume he is right - Americans have an unhealthy obsession with religion. We should be returning to the spirit of our founders and continue the drive for a secular society.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:37:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's not unhealthy (4.00)
        to be obsessed with something that the right is using as a cover for their fascist tendencies. it's unhealthy that we've come to that point, but being on edge about the theocrats is a natural reaction. one doesn't need to go that far back in europe to find similar tensions, actually. we're just in an uglier spot at the moment.

        crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

        by wu ming on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:46:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps... (4.00)
    ...your title should include "a lot" or "many" Americans.  After all, not everyone participated yesterday's public flagellation.  ;-)

    Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

    by Barbara Morrill on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:14:31 AM PST

    •  I thought about this (4.00)
      but if this applies to even a majority of kossacks (or at least a significant fraction) - supposedly one of the least susceptible groups in America, the proportion can only be higher in the rest of the population.

      Seen from Europe, the religiosity of America is really stupefying - even if of course each individual is its one case - which is precisely the point of my diary and the political lesson that seems forgotten in the brouhaha.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:19:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Seen from... (4.00) desk chair, the religiosity of America is really stupefying.  But your point is well taken.

        Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

        by Barbara Morrill on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:22:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Amen, brother! n/t (4.00)
      •  Jerome, (none)
        in many parts of the US, religion is politics - and just about everything else.  Remember, unlike Europe, large parts of this country are rural (or at least exurban) in character.  Churches, as social nodes, are important simply because - aside from schools - there really are no other outlets.  

        This also explains the importance to the churched of pulling everything together under the flavor of their particular Christian sect's beliefs.  It also goes far in explaining the peculiar power of the teevee preacher, a creature that simply cannot exist elsewhere.

        In short, it's not a matter of religion so much as it is a matter of church.

        "If you get an outfit, you can be a cowboy, too..." : The Smothers Brothers.

        by wozzle on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:59:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The other thing, too, is that (4.00)
          contemporary evangelical religion is likely in large part a response to the rise of consumer culture in the US since the 1950s.  In this respect, the US led the world in secular materialism:  undercutting the Protestant work ethic by stating, "you don't need to save for a rainy day; you don't need to be frugal and modest; with credit cards, grocery superstores, instantaneously available entertainment, television, etc., you don't have to wait -- you can have it all, right now!"  

          Any kind of delayed gratification or the understanding of the afterlife as a goal towards which one would work is severly undercut by the eternal "now" of consumer culture.

          So are we surprised when the response to this culture is fiercely God-fearing, a search for spirituality that has the venom of a return of the repressed?  Of course, this culture doesn't supplant materialism:  it merely adds to it, and in so doing, justifies it.  It becomes easier to embrace certain aspects of consumer culture -- the rampant consumption of resources, the McMansions, the SUVs -- if you can do so and still feel like you're all right with God.

          It's the secular liberals in the US who are genuinely tormented about rampant consumption, because they see no metaphysical justification for their unbridled exploitation of the environment.

          Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

          by Dale on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:48:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  How about an opinion from a Europe based American? (4.00)
        It's has been frustrating and refreshing living in Scotland for the last 4 years. It seems ridiculous to a lot of my friends how much Christianity is involved in American politics. But then, most of my friends are liberals.

        I don't think it does anyone any good to get on a high horse, whether that horse be American or European.

        I dislike the fundies agendas as much as anyone else. However, I have heard from people in Scotland that admire the way that America wears its religious ideals proudly on its sleeves. They think, since Scotland has the highest teen pregnancy rate, highest amount of teenage drunks and highest crime rates in Western Europe, this country should become more like America with its perception of better morals.

        For all of its so-called secularism, the religious divisions can be deep and painful. Ask anyone who has spent time here about Celtic and Rangers. You have zip damn fools killing each other about football teams because one is Catholic and the other Protestant. I watched in horror a young man getting his head kicked in because he was wearing the wrong team jersey in our part of town.

        So yes, I feel that the religiosity of the America is crazy, but Europe offers no perfect model either.

        Peace if possible, justice at any rate

        by conturnedred on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:39:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Woah there! (none)
          Is there any correlation between the relative absence of god in public forums and teen pregnancy, etc.? I doubt it. Look at the least religious nations in Europe (I think France, Germany and Italy are all up there) and you will probably find teen pregnancy rates considerably lower than here in the USA. I know that within America the most vocally religious parts of the country are also those with the highest rates of teen pregnancy (yes, you, The South).

          Teen pregnancy is about a lot of things: lack of knowledge about contraception, lack of self-respect or a belief that one can have a successful career, perverse social expectations, and so on. One of the things I am sure it is NOT about is religion, per se.

          Next time your Scottish friends wax longingly about US religiosity point out that those fundies as a group have social problems every bit as bad as the rest of us.

      •  It's not the religiousity (4.00)
        it's the intolerance.

        I have no problem with people being as religious as they want, choosing where they buy their car based on that person's religion (or lack thereof), choosing what school they send their kids to, or even who they vote for.

        I DO have a problem with said elected person FORCING their religion on anybody else. I have a problem with ANYBODY forcing their religion (or lack thereof) on anybody else.

        Religion is a PRIVATE matter. Not a state matter, not a local matter, not a federal matter. It's PERSONAL.

        And I, for one, want the govt to keep it's grimy hands out of my personal beliefs.

      •  Jerome, Could Not Agree More (4.00)
        Yes, religion has gotten itself "immunized" from political analysis - and that's real scary if it happens on the left.  

        I'm tired of all the delicacy with which religion gets handled.  That just reveals the mental lockdown that religion has achieved in the U.S.

  •  Morality and religion are not the same (4.00)
    Thanks, Jerome, for an useful palate-cleanser in the midst of another battle in the Kos religious wars.

    It's useful to point out that morality and religion are two separate concepts.  At best, religion is a vehicle to teach moral precepts, but no religion invented morality.  Morality existed prior to religion, and is a necessary feature of life in a social species.  Morality encompasses the rules which allow us to live together in cooperative societies, and hence is much more closely related to politics than to religion.

    To initiate a war of aggression is ... the supreme international crime. ---Nuremberg Tribunal -4.50, -5.85

    by Dallasdoc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:16:32 AM PST

  •  and so you're piggybacking (4.00)
    on that obsession with religion with this diary, eh?

    Ok, let's watch this one shoot up the rec list too. ;)

  •  What is so astonishing is how far we (3.95)
    have strayed from the sense of Jefferson and Madison. And old Ben: "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." All of them spinning in their graves at this pathetic spectacle.
    •  Jefferson (4.00)
      is discussed in this month's Harpers magazine - Jesus without the Miracles: Thomas Jefferson's Bible and Gospel of Thomas.

      Interesting to learn that Jefferson created a bible by redacting all the miracles (starting with King James he removed virgin birth, resurrection etc.)

      What he was left with he called "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth".

      If you read any of my stuff before you know I'm a strong Atheist but who can't get behind what was left after Jefferson was done with his editing -

      Be just. Justice comes from Virtue which comes from the heart
      Treat people the way we want them to treat us
      Always work for peacful resolutions even to the point of returning violence with compassion
      Consider valuable the things that have no material value
      do not judge others
      do not bear grudges
      be modest and unpretentious
      give out of true generosity, not because we expect to be repaid.

      Jefferson knew 200 years ago that the Christianity  being preached was "wingnut" he called the preachers "soothsayers" and "Necromancers."

      So it appears that (here in the US especially) that "many" (Jerome a word that should have been in your title) have lost sight of the valuable message of the bible... and adopted a bizarre interpretation that allows the "faithful" to press their views on others, kill (war or death penalty) seek, squander, or hoard unlimited wealth, value "toys" like Hummers and thin cell phones over starving people
      Fight fire with fire
      Isolate, judge, discriminate, demean others
      etc... (why can't we see the world as just being and avoid labeling, judging, categorizing???)

      I've often thought of moving to europe from this insanity


      •  I'm still thinking of it. (none)
        Because I find my own attitudes on many issues congruent with the cultures there.  And how many times have I been told by the right-wing kooks "Love it or Leave it!" ?  Add in the growing hostility towards anyone who doesn't buy that 'Jesus is The Answer', and Europe looks pretty damned good.

        "Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering." - R. Buckminster Fuller

        by Shadan7 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:55:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's sad... (4.00)
    ... that we spend so much time on religion. Religion is something we should all practice in the privacy of our personal lives... or not. It has no place in a disucussion about politics.

    I agree that a majority of this country is "obsessed with God" but you and the Welshman's diary from yesterday seem to lump all Americans into one big category. It's like saying that all Europeans love Tony Blair. I see the point you are trying to get across but I'm not sure it's going to work when you put us all under one big blanket judgement.

    Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. -Samuel Johnson

    by bhlogger on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:19:34 AM PST

  •  I agree completely... (4.00)
    Trying to get through some 1200 comments yesterday on Dkos in arguments about religion and lack there of, in the end, only served to make me re-learn that faith, non-faith, religion, etc. are subjective experiences and our founding fathers were geniuses.  
  •  funny thing is (4.00)
    that's why many of the first settlers left Europe for America in the first place.

    Excellent diary!

    •  well actually (4.00)
      many left Europe BECAUSE they were religious extremists.

      The Puritans were MORE extreme than the ones staying in Europe.

      Fortunately we also got a huge number of convicts :)

      SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

      by mollyd on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:34:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've long said... (4.00)
        America was settled by Puritans and criminals, and we've come to be run by people who are both...

        "What do I get out of this? / I always try. I always miss."

        by plover on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:55:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  sure (4.00)
          Remember, the Puritans didn't want tolerance, they had that in Holland. They needed to be in charge, to dominate. That is why they came here to build the Shining City on a hill.

          SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

          by mollyd on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:13:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Who settled America? (4.00)
          Not one group.

          America during the Colonial Period was settled by three "types" essentially, each living in three different areas.

          New England had religious outliers who couldn't find a home in cosmopolitan Europe - strict Puritans, the Roundheads of the English Revolution. How the Pilgrims/Plymouth Rock/First Thanksgiving myth became the popular and dominant one in grade-school history books is a fascinating and political story.

          The South, beginning with Jamestown, had a lot of Cavaliers and adventurers, all of whom were chasing get-rich-quick schemes and the reconstruction of the old class system they had left - as long as they were the ones on top. The whole experiment was about to collapse when the secret saviour of the South arrived - a slave ship sailing into Jamestown harbour in 1617.

          The Middle Atlantic states were settled by the mercantilists. Dutch, English, German, you name it - if you wanted to do business and make money, you were welcome. Even if you were a pirate. Even if you were a Jew or a Mohammadden.
          The big thing to believe in was Trade. Civic duty consisted of supporting yourself and keeping the property values up.

          How this broad spectrum of values was able to form a union is truly amazing. The Right's attempt to dumb it down into Noble Founding Fathers building a Christian Nation is an insult to the Founders, and a criminal blow against contemporary Americans and their self-knowledge.

          •  absolutely correct (none)
            The diary written by Smith in Jamestown was used to "sell" life in the New World. The economic benefits were a major selling point. Even in Religion crazy New England most settlers were not Puritans, though very religious.

            And the settlement in St Augustine is older than either Jamestown or Mass Bay, I believe.

            Colonial House series on PBS was excellent to gain insight.

            SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

            by mollyd on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:03:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not to mention the natives (none)
            who had a reverent relationship with Mother Earth.
            •  Which natives? (none)
              Generalizing about native American cultures is just as misguided as generalizing about European settlers. There were--and are--hundreds of distinct cultures here, and they didn't--and don't--all practice the same religion.

              It's quite likely that the predecessors to those cultures were responsible for the extinction of most of the megafauna species in North America. How's that for a reverent relationship with nature?

              I also have problems with some of the generalizing about subgroups of settlers. For example, from the very beginning, Puritans were a dominant culture in New England but numerically a minority, with the rest of the population resisting them. For example,  the Puritan attempt to impose their will over the rest of the Mayflower was a main spark for the Mayflower compact, which was in large part designed to limit the power of the wealthy and puritanical minority on board.

              We'd be better served to learn our own history and realize that from the beginning, America has been a nation of diverse people, and not a land of stereotypical groups.

              My political compass: -7.38, -8.00

              by seaprog on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:36:16 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Jerome A Paris (4.00)
    Hi Jerome A Paris.  So you are a real blogger?  When I saw your other long article about the French Riots and French Rap and Hip Hop then saw your last name I assumed it was all a satire and Joke.

    But here you are again, writing an interesting and serious piece.  I apoligize that I got confused and made a joke about how you had played a good joke on me and everyone else who had been taking your earlier column seriously, until we learned it was a spoof. (Apparently mistakenly.  Sorry.  It's good to see a European perspective.  I have traveled through Europe extensively as a consultant, strategic advisor and teacher.  European senior executives are a notch above any other regions in their sophistication, their educational background, and their ability to look objectively at complex issues with less of the "group think" problem.

    I taught a seminar of strategic anaysis and change that was availible to only the topmost managers of the Fortune 100 multinationals for about 10 years.  It came as a real surprise to me that virtually all of these senior most business managers were familiar with all the great books, capable of dicussing almost any period of history, the globe, philophy, the environment, politics,  science etc at the drop of the hat.  And were truly curious and passionate about the world and making a difference to it in their careers.  

    I was able to teach my material at a substantially higher level than to managers anywhere else in the world.  

    Keep up the Good Work

    A non-partisan pursuit of high crimes and misdemeanors in the White House

    by HoundDog on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:22:14 AM PST

  •  Theocracy (3.95)
    When one lives in a country that is taking on many of the aspects of a theocracy there is bound to be a lot of discussion of religion.

    In addition the US has always had a high level of religious participation. What is different now is that instead of the prior mainline Christian sects (Episcopal, Catholic, etc) those in power are coming increasingly from the more fundamentalist sects. These are also the fastest growing churches in the US. Some have memberships of 30,000.

    So, where in previous times, people would go to church on Sunday, mouth some commonplace pieties and then do whatever they wished in business or politics, we now get politicians being selected on the basis of their religious beliefs. The debate about the Supreme Court is just such an issue. Alito was picked exactly because of his religious outlook and for no other reason. With his confirmation the court will be controlled by a majority of Catholics with strong religious opinions. Scalia and Thomas have made statements to the effect that their rulings are in conformance with religious precepts not with the constituion they swore to uphold.

    This is the first time in history that the court will be controlled by a religious minority, the implications are vast. The irony is that the younger demographic groups are much less religious than their parents and will be saddled with a theocracy for decades to come.

    The economic implications are also serious, theocracies are very poor at economic development. There is not a single advanced society which is a theocracy. Iran is a good example of what happens to an emerging society when the religious sector takes over. It has gone 100 years backwards in economic and social development and has a 30% unemployment rate. Something for the US to look forward to?

    I don't think Europe will be immune, the influx of Muslim immigrants may spark a rise in Christian religiousity as a reaction. Look at Poland as a possible early indicator of the power of organized relgion re-emerging.

    Musings on Society: policies not politics

    by robertdfeinman on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:23:49 AM PST

    •  but the real problem (none)
      is that they don't rule according to their religious precepts, if those precepts are christ's teachings. if they did this would be a much different country! none of these so-called christians with such a hard-on for bush knows a goddamn thing about jeesus' teachings.

      "the christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'i love to make a grown man piss himself.'" - cpl. charles graner

      by mindtrafficcontrol on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:42:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  New sort of relgion (4.00)
        Many of the mega-churches preach a type of get-rich-quick religion. The claim if you believe and contribute to the church you will find wealth in this world, not the next. It's a kind of pseudo-religious justification of greed.

        The fact is that this appeals to many people and that it doesn't agree with traditional teachings of piety, humbleness and charity is not a concern. Just take it that this an emerging force in the country regardless of what is it called. The issue is what can be done about it. Appeals to selfishness are always popular.

        Musings on Society: policies not politics

        by robertdfeinman on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:50:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In those churches (none)
          the only ones who find wealth in this world are those running the churches.

          The others either are wealthy to start with, or are LUCKY. Or both.

        •  Bible (none)
          The RR are not Christians.  They take only Revelations from the New Testament.  They cherry-pick the Old Testament (particularly Leviticus, I think) to conclude that they are rich because they are his chosen and the poor are poor because they're evil

          "Be just and good." John Adams

          by aztec on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:37:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  No, that's not the problem. (4.00)
        You're right, they don't seem to have grasped or even heard of the core teachings Jesus tried to deliver. But, you know... the Sermon on the Mount is a hard set of precepts to follow. Even the people who really try, only succeed for part of the time. So it shouldn't be surprising that most of the organizations using his name don't actually try. Instead they invent something easier. Often, that "something easier" turns out to be composed of humanity's less attractive characteristics, like being hostile to people who are different from them, and getting to feel righteous about how much holier "we" are than "they" are.

        Another nasty characteristic that has been appealed to over and over is the desire people have to control other people. This has been endemic to organized Christianity since there was an organized Christian church at all.

        But... that's not the problem. This always happens. Always. If you let unpleasant religious fanatics set the rules for everyone, you should not expect what Jesus said to be a factor. It won't be. It never is. People for whom controlling others is part of their religion, are by definition not following Jesus' teachings. You have to assume from the start that their rules will not be about love and forgiveness.

        The problem is that Americans, as a culture -- perhaps because they were protected for so long by their constitution -- have forgotten how inevitably this happens, and what the really, really bad consequences are, when you relax your vigilance and let religion into politics.

        Yes, there are a lot of individual Americans who still understand how pernicious it is to mix religion and politics. But they are on the defensive. They are losing ground. And Jerome's point is that, even where the understanding should be strongest, ie, here on dKos, the general cultural frame is largely missing this extremely essential point.

        Europeans, and Canadians too, look at where the American discussion is centered, and see a dangerous mass obliviousness to a lesson that they still remember. It is a lesson that had to be learned the hard way: You can't stop religions from trying to use politics, there is no feedback mechanism. The only thing that works to keep the two separate is to punish politicians who try to use religion, by not electing them.

        For that to work you need a majority consensus, which has now been destroyed in American culture. The majority of Americans see nothing wrong with religion in politics. It's scary, it's dangerous, this ignorance of history. It leads to terrible things.

        Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

        by Canadian Reader on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:48:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i wasn't responding directly to the diary here (none)
          i was specifically responding to the above comment about supreme court justices abandoning the constitution in favor of their "religious precepts"

          i was just making the point that if they really based their decisions on, say, the sermon on the mount we might actually have things like equal rights under the law, clean environment, etc.

          of course they're not "true" christians, and of course they're fanatics -- that's my point!! i fucking hate religion!!!

          "the christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'i love to make a grown man piss himself.'" - cpl. charles graner

          by mindtrafficcontrol on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:17:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  No veils in French schools (4.00)
      My own philosophy is that religion should be kept completely out of politcal issues.

      But as a cross-cultural observation, I was surprised to hear that the French government was banning all religious symbols from students' attire.

      This included Moslem girls wearing veils in school. Since it is forbidden for women to appear in public without a veil in some Moslem sects, this seems like an intentional insult and a "veiled" invitation for Moslems to leave France.

      The burning cars may not be an exclusively economic protest.

      •  that is a cultural thing (none)
        it really has nothing to do with Islam. There are plenty of observant Muslims who don't wear the headscarf all the time, if at all.

        If it was just covering the head that was important, there would be no reason they couldn't wear hats or wigs.

        No, it's that particular type of scarf, not just a head covering. And that's cultural.

      •  I've spent 10% of my life in France (4.00)
        and I still don't fully understand the separation of church and state thing as implemented there.

        I had a lovely convsersation with a French family a few months ago about politics.  We were jammin' until this topic came up, and then we were like ships in the night.  Our paradigms didn't allow us to see any validity in the others' views.

        I feel like forcing these poor kids to remove their veils is a profound religious violation.  My French friends could not imagine doing anything else.

        Perhaps this is becaue I am a pretty religious person, and I can't fathom the government telling me what to wear.  My friends are not religious at all.

        But it was sure a gee whiz moment for me.  I was grateful for respect of religious values in the US, and realized that on this one, the cultural gap is indeed a gulf.

  •  So true, and to show you how crazy... (4.00)
    ...I have to admit to a misspent youth as an American France.
  •  You think we obsess over religion? (4.00)
         Don't even get us started on sports. Go Illini!

    "When the going gets weird, the Weird turn pro" Hunter S Thompson

    by irate on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:25:59 AM PST

  •  Thank you, Jerome. (4.00)
    I'm starting to grow angry (I'm already weary) at these diaries and the thousands of threads they've generated.  So much energy is being wasted on the "source" of one's morality, whether that source is a god or logic.  How is that relevant?  Why care? I make no distinction between religious or atheistic totalitarianism....

    We tend to forget that there's a reason to keep religion out of politics, and politics out of religion.

    •  poodles are proof of god (none)
      since i can't see how the hell they could've evolved on their own

      "the christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'i love to make a grown man piss himself.'" - cpl. charles graner

      by mindtrafficcontrol on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:35:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Guided evolution (none)
        Poodles (and most purebreds) didn't evolve on their own.  People bred them for certain characteristics, like white fur, fluffy hair, that they thought were preferable.  The same is true for most breeds of dogs - and the inbreeding that was necessary to do it is why so many purebreds have so many problems, like hip dysplasia and Springer rage.

        In fact, most species used in some way by humans stopped evolving on their own once we got in the mix - I remember going to the Natural History museum and seeing a preserved ear of a corn predecessor from a couple of millenia ago.  It was about two inches long and had maybe 15 kernels on it.  Fast forward through a thousand or so generations, and we have big beautiful modern ears.  Same with apples, wheat, horses, cows, etc...

        •  the great thing about kos (none)
          is that for every joke you tell there is a scientific explanation immediately offered to kill it before it's funny;-)

          "the christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'i love to make a grown man piss himself.'" - cpl. charles graner

          by mindtrafficcontrol on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:03:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And I argue that (4.00)
          for the last 4000 years or so, human evolution has been guided (exactly like you would breed poodles for fluffy hair) for belief in god.  Believers had 12 kids, non-believers were burnt or lived in hiding.  The last executions of atheists (in Western countries) stopped barely 100 years ago.

          So, what will this shining new American Theocracy do to atheists?  We already know that they're 1) not people and 2) necessarily immoral and 3) a danger to the Republic (so it's been said)

          Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

          by Kingsmeg on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:25:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Man is the agent of his own evolution (none)
          it begins in animal husbandry (breeding) and agriculture...

          Where it ends....

          Well, that's speculation.

          "the fools, the fools, they've left us our Fenian Dead" (Padraig Pearse - Gay Revolutionary)

          by padraig pearse on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:01:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  What? No consensus yet on religion??? (none)
    Well, I missed the whole thing because by the time I saw the posts there were already several hundred comments. I tried to click on Pastordan's, and my computer froze. Good thing. I needed to get some stuff done yesterday.
  •  Ok, so different cultures are...different... (4.00)
    I really like most of Jerome's posts, but for goodness sakes, one hallmark of American culture is that it is more religious. It's fine to criticize that, but there it is.  It's the big giant tapestry o' life. I just moved to Minnesota and they love fried cheese curds. It'll kill 'em all in the end, but every state fair, they gobble them down like cows eat grass. I can't tell them to stop, they'll pull out their hunting rifles and come after me. Ok, that's off topic.

    Now I'm a lapsed Unitarian (it IS possible, trust me, and it's fun too), so I'm as pissed off at these fundamentalist nutjobs trying to take over my country as anybody. But defeating them doesn't require America to become as secular as France, it requires America to embrace concepts such as "common sense" and "self preservation", neither of which is incompatible with non-fundamentalist religious movements.  But a less dysfunctional America will never look like a less dysfunctional France. Because despite what some might think, we do have a culture here, and it IS unique.

    Do I expect Europeans to see the fine gradiations in American culture? No. I lived in Britain for a year and discovered people over there don't really care about the subtleties of America, they have their own concerns and lives. All the more reason for Americans to take responsibility and clean up our own mess, in our own way.

    •  I'm pretty sure (4.00)
      your Founding Fathers (specifically: Franklin, Jefferson, Monroe & Madison) would completely disagree -

      But defeating them doesn't require America to become as secular as France,

      No one is saying you have to stop believing, but you really do need to pay attention to the separation of church and state and recognize that by having them separated that is the very definition of a "secular" country... and the Constitution is a secular document... just as the Founders intended.

  •  Its not the God part thats crazy... (4.00)
    Its the..."I know what God says and I want to tell everyone"

    First of all, you dont know what God said.

    So believe what you want, but stop talking about how much you know about God.

    You know nothing about God!!!!!!

    Now, why would you spend so much time talking about something that you know nothing about?

    God, you Americans are crazy!

    (I am an American, by the way)
    (I honeymooned in Paris though, so I guess I hate America)

  •  religion is not a value (4.00)
    it's a hobby.

    "the christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'i love to make a grown man piss himself.'" - cpl. charles graner

    by mindtrafficcontrol on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:31:27 AM PST

  •  The only reason we care so much... (4.00)
    Is that our government is Controlled by a bunch of Pseudo-christo-fascists whom intend to push their pseudo-religious morals and values on us. Did you Prime Minister or President (Chirac?) claim that "God told me I had to liberate Iraq"? Does your government want to teach that we're were put here by a supernatural intelligence, as part of science class? Does your government want to outlaw abortions and remove contraception from sex education classes?
  •  clearly (4.00)
    It's not just the U.S. that's obsessed with religion though we certainly are annoying about it of late. I think Sam Harris has it right in "The End of Faith" and that is that all countries and people need religion OUT, or we're doomed.

    George Bush is an unnatural disaster.

    by michele2 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:32:42 AM PST

    •  Yes, but as you can see here,... (none)
      and on DarkSyde's threads, it seems that we can't convince even many of our well meaning allies, that the refusal to even discuss what is wrong with having religion treated with kid gloves, is enabling to those who wish to tear down the wall of separation.
      BTW I loved seeing your reference to The End of Faith. It's probably my favorite book in over five years, to deal with the relationship between politics and religion.

      "We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail Adams 1764

      by greeseyparrot on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:25:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Merci, Jerome, merci (4.00)
    for providing some synthesis to the thesis/antithesis debate of religion on Dkos. I  heartily agree that it is appropriate for us to discuss and debate how the values we hold affect our political philosophies and policies. It is a no win game of frustration to debate the source of those values, whether they come from religious or secular origins.

    I believe we liberals must defend the separation of church and state in government, and we also ought to practice those principles on this politically oriented site.

    Dubya, yer momma may think yer cute, but I sure don't - - Moondancer

    by cosmic debris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:32:45 AM PST

    •  How do.. (none)
      we defend the separation of church and state without discussing religion? We want a secular government, that means we don't care about one's religion, be it Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Whatever. Doesn't that say to the religious, "You faith doesn't matter to us"? How do we crucify such hateful, venomious groups such as Focus on the Family, without contronting them about their so-called faith?

      Saying lets not talk about religion as it applies to politics, is just like a fundie preacher saying "Don't question the Motives and the power of the Lord". Failing to question these connections is what has led us to the Fundie-State we live in now. IMO, obviously.

      •  IMO, the problem is (none)
        that it simply has no place in the discussion, period.  No one is saying faith is not meaningful to the person that has it.  The nature of faith dictates, however, that it will never lead to consensus based on evidence.  Our best route is to remove these debates entirely from politics, in my opinion, and therefore completely undercut those that are benefitting from the manipulations.  When we fall into debating people's faith/non-faith we're granting entrance of religious considerations into government.  We should move back up a notch and answer with "There is no way of proving reality from faith, we're not going to allow our government to operate on considerations that have no evidence."  
  •  I TOTALLY agree (4.00)
    we have let the "religious" right dictate the blurring of faith and politics and it's WRONG!!  WHat's even more overwhelming is that we don't even point out the hypocrises.  Religion needs to go back where it belongs, as a personal, private matter.  Live the life, if you have the need to constantly talk about it, there's a problem.
  •  God, how right you are. (4.00)
    When first I saw the first of Darksyde's atheist posts yesterday, I thought, "Now why did he write this? Who cares?" But I came back later and there were 500 comments.

    No, I don't get it. Of course I was born in Europe and raised as a European, though a European Catholic. Over the years I have lost my faith and my father's has grown deeper. Yet we both regard it as a personal matter. It's certainly not something one blogs about, or even talks about outside of your own family or closest friends. And it has nothing to do with politics.

    I don't think Europeans will ever understand American religiosity. I'm not even sure Americans do.

    "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

    by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:35:34 AM PST

  •  Meh (4.00)
    While I would greatly like to see a much greater sense of secularity in public discourse in this country, this is one area where it makes a tremendous amount of sense that the United States lags far behind Europe.

    Europe has had a millenium of religion in politics, complete with holy wars and atrocities.  Any French child discussing the Jesuits, for example, will know that they were expelled from France on three seperate occasions for treason.  They will know about cardinals who were the de facto rulers of France, such as Richelieu and Mazarin.  They will know about bloody civil wars between Catholics and Protestants.  Americans simply do not have that history, nor do we have much willingness to learn from the history of others.  To us, the Jesuits are just the nice people who run a few colleges.

  •  How right you are. (4.00)
    And I don't say that just because I'm a Francophone and Francophile.  I refused to open any of the diaries with god or atheist in the title.  I don't f'ing CARE what anyone's religious beliefs are or aren't!  As you so rightly point out, it's the values we should be talking about, not their source.  The U.S., founded by those seeking religious "freedom," is singularly obsessed with religion as part of the public and political debate.  That those who came here looking for religious freedom were, in fact, religious fanatics might have something to do with that, but that can't be the whole story.  Goddess help us, enough already.

    "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

    by scorponic on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:37:36 AM PST

  •  All this reminds me of something that (4.00)
    happened to me a few years ago.  A friend of mine was going around asking people to donate clothing to her mother's church missionary group.  I thought to myself, that's a really good idea, until I heard where this missionary group was located.  The missionaries were in some region of the world where there was this tribe of people that had no contact with the outside world, and they ran around basically naked.

    When I heard that part I almost exploded.  How dare these missionaries take it upon themselves to feel the need to clothe these native peoples.  That is how these people have lived for probably a thousand years, how dare they go and try to force something like this upon these people!  Why do these missionaries feel the need to go and spread "their" religion to all parts of the world.  These native peoples have their own religion or something akin to it, why force that upon them?  Why force them to wear clothes?  Let them be, those native peoples are better off without us.

    •  Reading Michener's Hawaii in high school (4.00)
      Really drove this home for me.  Historical fiction as it was, it was sad and disturbing to read how missionaries screwed up the native polynesian society by trying to "save" people.  What they don't realize is that in their misguided (in my opinion) attempts to "save" natives and "improve" their standard of living, missionaries irrevocably destroy human culture.  Sad.
      •  Missionary work... (4.00)
        is cultural genocide. In my opinion.

        "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war."

        by RonV on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:36:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Had a lot of missionaries in my family... (4.00)
        ...a few gererations back.  One was on Maui during the time the US annexed Hawaii in the late 1800s, and the letters she sent back home survive.  One story pops to memory:  She worked at a mission school for girls, run by Congregationalists.  The nearby mission school for boys was run by the Catholics (or was it the Methodists?)  At any rate, one of the girls told her she was going to get married to a boy from the other school.  At that church.  The missionary was upset at this religious betrayal, apparently enough so that the wedding was transferred over to the Congregationalists.

        One of the snarky comments made by Native Americans to missionaries from time to time amounts to:  "You say you there is One God.  And that we should follow your One God.  Yet you can't seem to agree amongst yourself about this One God."

  •  Is that what's happening? (4.00)
    I haven't read any of the religion diaries, but I never figured that most of the people participating cared as much about religion as they did about arguing with one another, and that religion was just the most convenient and faddish opportunity available at the moment.

    Howard Dean. Paul Hackett. Pie. Religion. Whatever.

    •  Did I ever tell you... (none)
      ...that you are one of my favorite posters here?  You have a gift for separating the wheat from the chaff...

      Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

      by Barbara Morrill on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:47:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I exercised my... (none)
      God-given right to not click on any of those other religion diaries. They attract me just about as much as the topics you listed.

      And John Kerry diaries.

      "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war."

      by RonV on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:50:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly! (none)
      The ONLY interesting question to me about any of these hot-button discussions is what can we learn from them about our need to persuade others to think like we do and make judgments about what you value vs. what I value. Kossacks display just as much missionary zeal as religious extremists do on any number of subjects.

      A little self-reflection on that topic is a discussion I would want to read and one that might even be productive vs. reductive.  

      You can't teach an old dogma new tricks. Dorothy Parker

      by garbo on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:18:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The U.S. has a long and fine tradition of... (4.00)

    We seem to love hucksters and fall for all their bullshit. Most of the people dragging religion into public life are nothing more than grandmaster hucksters.

  •  Preaching to the Choir (on Saturday) (4.00)
    I think we'll get this some day, but telling us now is a little early to have us listen -- my impression is that this is something that must be learned through experience. You correctly note that it has taken Europe thousands of years of religious wars and persecutions to realize that the difference between hypocrisy and religion is something that is not obvious on its face. A few more centuries of Ralph Reeds and the majority here will become innoculated (it might taken places like Iran and Texas a little longer).

    What I am really waiting for is an end to religious exceptionalism. While Europe has taken religion out of public life, and is ahead of us in that way, it has not done away with other forms of absolutist thinking, and perhaps looking at America's foibles has made it a little complacent about doing so. Do people believe in religion any less than they believe in race-based generalizations, or in the potential of technology to sustain open-ended industrial expansion without deleterious side-effects? Many different faiths are out there, and one day we will both critically examine them all.

  •  Separating Religion and Politics (4.00)
    Religion needs to be kept as an individual matter, and should be taken out of politics.

    I wonder what America would look like if Dr. Martin Luther King had believed that.

    Religion has brought out the worst in people, both here and in Europe. But it has also been a great source of American strength, resolve, morality, and righteousness.

    I strongly believe in the separation of church and state - that the government should establish no religion. But I also believe that our much-maligned "religiousity" has been at the heart of many of the progressive movements in this country. Should we throw the baby out with the bath water?

    [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

    by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:43:37 AM PST

    •  Yes! (none)
      If you want Martin Luther King you get Jesse Jackson. You also want Jerry Falwell, Pat Dobson, and Pat Robertson. Do you?
      •  I'd argue.... (none)
        ....that frauds like Pat Robertson don't give a damn about religion except as a way to make more money. I mean, this thug is good buddies with Charles Taylor, the former dictator of Liberia who was fond of using children to serve in his army. Religion isn't the problem here, it's gross misuse of religion. Taking religion out of politics wouldn't do anything to hurt Pat Robertson. He'd just find some other way to con Americans.
      •  Sure (4.00)
        I would take 1 Martin Luther King for 100 Pat Robertsons, Falwells, or Dobsons. A 1000 even. Because his power to move people to act for justice was immeasurably greater than Robertson's power to move people to act for greed and selfishness.

        [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

        by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:56:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unfortunately we have zero King's right now (4.00)
          And plenty of Robertsons, Dobsons, Falwells, as well as Jesse Jackson, Al Shapton, and Louis Farrakhan.
          •  Of course.... (none)
            If we did have one, would we be able to recognize him or her? Especially if we adopt a strict, exclusionary policy of pure secularism in the progressive movement.

            And for the record, I don't see anything wrong with allowing all the people you've mentioned to be involved in politics. Any American citizen has a right and duty to participate.

            [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

            by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:27:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Unless he was preaching to a church... (4.00)
      ...MLK didn't invoke god as an authority for civil rights equality.  Jerome is not saying the religious shouldn't get political.  Of course they should.  He's saying that whether one is religious or not should not be part of the general conversation.  I, for one, am all for people in a shared faith speaking to each other about what their religious beliefs should motivate them to do in the political arena, but once you step out the church or temple door, the values, not the religion, should be the focus of the conversation.  Christians, Jews and Muslims come in all stripes and flavors, good, bad and ugly.  In the end, your religious preference says very little about whether you are my political friend or foe.

      "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

      by scorponic on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:49:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mischaracterizing the Diary (3.00)
        Jerome is not saying the religious shouldn't get political.

        Of course he did. He wrote: "Religion needs to be kept as an individual matter, and should be taken out of politics."

        MLK didn't invoke god as an authority for civil rights equality.

        I don't want to argue the specific historal details of Dr. King's life. But do you think that if Dr. King hadn't been spirtual or religious, he would have had the same power and courage to inspire, move, and make change? His cause would have had the same resonance? His religion motivated and inspired everything he did. If he hadn't been a man of faith, I don't think he would have accomplished nearly as much.

        [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

        by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:05:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are (deliberately?) misreading (4.00)
          "Taking religion out of politics" is not the same thing as "keeping the religious out of politics."  The former means, go ahead, be as political as your religion leads you to be, but don't make your religion a political or moral issue.  Talk about your the content of your values, not why their values that God demands we follow.

          It's not a difficult point to understand, or all that controversial, if you try to hear what he's saying instead of misconstruing it as an attack on the religious.

          "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

          by scorponic on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:21:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed (none)
            I don't think I'm alone in not understanding your rather arbitrary distinction between the words "religion" and "religious." "Religious" isn't even a noun, it's the adjective form of "religion." They are pretty much the same word.

            That being said, I completely agree with the point you make. Did I suggest otherwise? Passing laws against homosexuality, for example, just because the Bible allegedly proscribes it is unacceptable. Fighting for gay and lesbian rights because of Jesus' ideas about treating your fellow humans as equals seems perfectly acceptable to me, however.

            [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

            by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:34:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Jerome's point... (4.00)
     that, in arguing for any of these positions in the public political arena, however, the policies and the values underlying them should not be confused with the religious or non-religious motivations behind them.  He's not saying people shouldn't have religious motivations for their political views, just that we shouldn't, as a supposedly secular body politic, inject those religious motivations into the debate, make them part of the argument for why a policy should be adopted or rejected, or even care whether advocates for this or that policy have (or lack) religious motivations.

              What seems arbitrary to me is to say it's OK to appeal to religion when discussing politics if you believe that Jesus taught X, but it's not OK to do so if you believe Jesus taught not-X.  That devolves into a debate about what Jesus really taught and how it applies today, which is an unproductive and ultimately pointless debate to have, especially in a secular democratic society.  Not a soul on earth can vouch for what Jesus really believed, or if he even existed, so we might just as well base our policies on interpreting cloud patterns, or the migratory patterns of geese, or whatever other thing you can think of.

              "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

              by scorponic on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:59:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good points (none)
                You make good points. I admit that I am having a hard time answering them in writing. But isn't the difference between advocating unjust laws that oppress, humiliate, and denegrate in the name of God  and just laws that uphold the dignity and worth of humankind in the name of God obvious? To me, it is. An unjust law should never be implemented, regardless of how central it is to a religion. We shouldn't let a few extremists with self-serving agendas force us to cede the ground of religion and values to the right. The language and power of religion can help people understand what is just or unjust (and conversely, can obscure that very fact).

                [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

                by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:54:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Advocating anything in the political arena (none)
                  'in the name of God' is wrong. Any religious justification is irrelevant in the secular arena.

                  'Because it's in the Bible' is NOT a reason for any action of law or governance in a secular state.

                  If you advocate a course of action because it is the just and fair thing to do within the rules of that secular arena, that is a whole different state of affairs.

                  If you have come to the advocacy of a just and fair thing to do 'because it's in the Bible', fine. That's YOUR personal motivation, not necessarily MY motivation, although I'll agree that it is the fair and just thing to do and I'll support you in your advocacy.

                  Your motives for doing something or acting in some way are your own business. And mine are my business.

                  Let's review:

                  Motivation: God = A
                  Advocacy of course of action = O
                  A => O

                  Motivation: Personal ethics = B
                  Advocacy of course of action = O
                  B => O

                  A = B

                  Conclusion: A or B are relevant only in that they are equal motivators. Their content - not so much.

                  We must have stem-cell research. How else will Congress and the media grow spines?

                  by bablhous on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:10:54 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Way to jump in at the last minute.... (none)
                    And mischaracterize our entire discussion! Nice straw man you built there, but I'm not taking the bait.

                    I'll just note how stupid it is to say your motives for taking action should be kept secret. So I'm supposed to fight for, say, stem cell research and not tell anyone why I doing so? Whatever.

                    [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

                    by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:14:56 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  well (none)
                      the comment above yours makes EXACTLY the point I made in my diary.

                      O is what you should focus on, politically speaking. Whether it is inspired by A or B is important to you, can be explained, but neither should bring an additional argument in favor of O. (i.e. O is not better because you support it for A instead of B)

                      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
                      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

                      by Jerome a Paris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:14:24 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Religious = religious people (none)
              The word "religious" when used by itself is commonly meant to stand for "religious people", or "people of a religious faith". Apparently you haven't heard that usage before. The distinction between "religion" and "religious" isn't arbitrary at all, it's precise, well-established, and an important distinction to make.

              A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

              by tmo on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:50:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  If you say so (none)


                1. Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity.
                2. Of, concerned with, or teaching religion: a religious text.
                3. Extremely scrupulous or conscientious: religious devotion to duty.

                n. pl. religious

                A member of a monastic order, especially a nun or monk.

                I've honestly not seen/heard that specific usage before. Why not just say "religious people" or "those who are religious"? I don't it's unreasonable or stupid not to have understood that distinction.

                [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

                by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:00:38 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  perhaps the more pertinent question (none)
      would have been... I wonder what America would look like if Thomas Jefferson et al had believed that.

      Probably a lot like it looks today.

      •  So Thomas Jefferson's America is better? (none)
        I seem to recall that Jefferson's America possessed a few little problems such as slavery, sufferage only for white property-owning males, no social safety net, the Sedition act, and regular massacres of Native Americans. With all its flaws, I prefer today's America to his America any day.

        I'm not knocking Jefferson. After all, he was a Unitarian just like me :) But religiously motivated, progressive movements have made this country a better place. I think it's hard to argue that.

        [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

        by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:45:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Jerome even precludes his own values in this diary (none)
      Jerome says, "Do come into politics to promote your values and your morals." if my values and morals say destroying the planet for future generations with global warming is a bad thing...I need to check these values at the door?  

      I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

      by markymarx on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:49:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think we should just stop trying (none)
      to find consensus or really even an  understanding of others' faith/lack of.  Everyone sees this in a unique and personal way.  What has to happen is RESPECT for the right to beliefs and a recognition of common ground in social norms and mores.  Where the idea to treat one another well came from should be less important than just treating one another well.  The diarist said it better than I.  
    •  Morality doesn't necessarily come from religion (none)
      MLK was a great man not because he was religious.  Even more fundamental to his identify was his courage, his leadership, and his sense of justice.

      Religion is more like a strong drug than bath water.  It may help people deal with the stress of life, but it also has plenty of negative side effects.  The progressive baby needs love and conviction to thrive, not the drug of religion.

      The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

      by Bragan on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:56:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reply (none)
        Even more fundamental to his identify was his courage, his leadership, and his sense of justice.

        ...qualities which came from his...what? Soul? Innate brain chemistry? Good upbringing?

        Your morality and values are a type of "religion" even if you believe in no gods at all (which I personally do not). I can prove that just by talking to a few members of my Unitarian Universalist church. The word "religion" is tainted in our language. But doesn't it just mean that you hold to a certain ethical/moral code and view of the universe? Whether you're motivated by the fear of Hell, a strict creed, a desire to do good works in Jesus' name, a notion of karma, or the simple belief that humans should help each other is all just window dressing.

        [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

        by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:20:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I wonder what history would look like (3.57)
      if people like sohei kept misunderstanding it.

      King NEVER brought his religion into politics. Never. He alluded to it in speeches but did so in a very generalized way. His politics were extremely secular, and were motivated by a very broad base of values, some religiously inspired, some not so.

      King is a perfect example of what Jerome is calling for - let religion provide you with some values and morality, but check the doctrine and conversionary zeal at the political door.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:33:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  King NEVER brought his religion into politics. (4.00)
        When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

        - I have a Dream

        We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights.

        A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.

        - Letter from a Birmingham Jail

        I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.

        - Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

        And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a away that men, in some strange way, are responding -- something is happening in our world.

        - I've Been to the Mountain Top

        [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

        by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:57:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Misunderstanding him (4.00)
          His goals were not religious in nature. He simply framed his very secular goals in religious terms. And he was not doing so from an evangelists point of view, not trying to impose his beliefs on others.

          King is a perfect example of how religion SHOULD be used in politics - respectfully, and in the service of secular goals.

          I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

          by eugene on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:50:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Dr. King (none)
      wasn't a politician. He didn't run for, or hold, any elective office.

      He ran other organizations, and was a minister, and gave people the strength to demand their rights, but none of those things has anything to do with politics.

      Now, if he had held office, and tried to pass a law giving religious organizations federal funds, or requiring religious teachings in public schools, that would have been an entirely different matter.

      Somehow, even if he'd been elected President, I can't see him trying to do any of those things...

      •  None of us here are likely to hold elected office (none)
        Yet we are all involved in politics. As a rule, elected politicians love the status quo and do not seek change. Real change in this country was not achieved by elected politicians. Furthermore, this diary was not limited to a discussion of elected officials. It stated that none of us (presumably meaning we liberals) should bring religion into politics because Europeans don't and they're inherently better than us. I disagree, and I used Dr. King as a familiar example to show how injecting religion into politics can be a good thing.

        [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

        by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:12:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  two points worth making over and over (4.00)
    1. religion is not the only source of values and morality.

    2. bring your values into the political debate, not their source.  Do come into politics to promote your values and your morals. But please do not come into politics to get others to adopt the source of these values. That's totalitarian.

    no matter how many times they are said, there is always someone who needs to hear them again.

    thanks, jerome a paris.  I agree 100%.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:45:42 AM PST

    •  Religion is no source of morality... (none)
      I'm not even sure that I agree with the premise that religion is a source of morality at all.

      I mean, PastorDan and Oral Roberts are both Christians. I doubt they share the same moral values.

      What's closer to the truth is that your pre-existing values determine the church you choose. And the church as a self-selected social group, transmits its values to kids.

      When all the churches in Alabama are conservative, and all the churches in Cambridge, MA are liberal, it's pretty darn obvious that the common denominator -- religion -- has nothing to do with their values.

      •  Very good point (none)
        Infact Nietzsche mentioned something along the same lines: It is the "respectable" in the society who's dominant values became "good", not the other way around. Religion has commonly understood has a very messy and complicated relationship with "morality" as commonly understood. Both are social contructs and change depending on many other (economic, political, military, techonlogical) factors. In the long run, whoever holds the power centres in the society dictates the terms of morality and/or religion.

        But there is another side to religion, the mystical or the contemplative side. And it is this side which is both fascinating and myseterious. This mystical side often comes out in the open and directly challenges the dominant social mores which is often championed by the priestly/political class. Notice the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. Pharisees were the "good" ones, the middle class, God-fearing folks who go to the church, paid their taxes, followed the accepted rules and were averse to the changes. In other words, they were the Pat Robertson's of their days. Notice, how they were angry with Jesus's teachings because for them he was subversive.

        So, the debate goes on and on. If I have choose a side, I will side with the contemplative side although it is the hardest part to explain in clear language. And what I have seen in American churches, they don't go near the contemplative side of their tradition. The result is that people often hold dogmatic views without ever questioning the source of them and you get Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson.

        •  Religion and contemplation... (4.00)
          Yep. I think most people in my generation make it a point to say they are not religious but that they are spiritual. It's to say that they hate going to church and being lectured to but can appreciate life on a deeper level than sex and television.

          That self-awareness and self-confidence that comes from internal contemplation may help people see the hypocrisy of the power structure...

          And thanks for bringing up the pharisees. It just makes me sad how people who claim to be following Jesus get things so wrong.

  •  One man's religion (none)
    is another man's bellylaugh.  None the less large amounts of time and money are spent on them. Non-religion or anti-relion seem to absorb about the smae amount of time and money.  The European origins of the religion/anti-religion fight are so well known as to make me wonder if this diary isn't a teensy bit disengenious. So Jerome, where DID all those French Huegenots and anabaptists go? Hmm?  

    Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. - Mark Twain

    by Rolfyboy6 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:47:03 AM PST

  •  Well... (4.00)
    I don't think there's a consensus yet regarding the issue of seperation of church and dKos. The FAQ's are a bit vague on this, but the establishment clause in the User Agreement has historically been interpreted as meaning that it's okay for Kos to post a display of the Ten Commandments on this site as long as he also posts a cyber-offering to Crom at the same time.

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war."

    by RonV on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:47:38 AM PST

  •  Totally agree, Jerome (4.00)
    Thank you. While our democracy disappears, many are distracted by religion. This is playing into the hand of the religious right and the corporatists who use them. I saw those diaries over the past few days, but refused to read any of them.

    Separation of church and state is imperative, and faith is a personal and private matter. If Democrats let themselves become involved publicly in this matter, poke a fork in our democracy. It's done.

    Capitalism is not a form of government.

    by cotterperson on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:48:01 AM PST

  •  I had this same notion this am... (4.00)
    after logging onto dailykos.  Religion has hijacked public discourse in this country, and provided good cover for the hijacking of our government.  And here at 'kos we supposedly know this.  Which diaries are guarenteed to get press?  Ones on religion.  


  •  I long for the times (4.00)
    when it was a matter of good manners not to bore someone with one's religious beliefs. It seems to me that the whole country has gradually become like Jehovah's witnesses  (who, then, were the only ones to break the rules)... annoying, intrusive and smug beyond endurance.

    Pre-empt Vergangenheitsbewältigung!

    by Petrasays on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:51:28 AM PST

    •  but paradoxically, the Jehovah's Witnesses (none)
      seem to be among the only self-proclaimed Christians who aren't blatant hypocrites, in so many respects:

      They're the only "Christians" who stood up to Nazis - and many died for it.

      They're the only "Christians" who don't cooperate when a teacher or school asks a classroom - full of agnostics, atheists, and kindergartners who barely understand what they're reciting - to say the lord's name in vain.  In that moment, all the other "religious" parents reveal that they actually worship conformity, privilege, and power, and care nothing about the Commandments or the Bible.

      Though they proselytize, I find Jehovah's Witnesses somehow they don't make it a disrespectful political attack the way born again fundies do.  They seem to come by it honestly.

      So when Jehovah's Witnesses knock unexpectedly on my door, I'm not offended.  I follow my dad's example and - especially if I'm entirely naked - invite them in.

  •  A bit myopic (4.00)
    Religion led to most of Europe being a highly secular place by being so brutal and corrupt over nearly two millenia. In the US, religion hasn't simply been a tool of the establishment to oppress the people. Relgious groups were strongly involved in opening peoples' minds, fighting slavery, seeking social reforms, leading the struggle for civil rights, and being key movers and shakers in the antiwar movement (both against Vietnam and the debacle in Iraq). Of course, that also means we have to put up with the fundamentalists and their association with the KKK in the 1920s and the Christian Coalition and their nonsense in the last twenty years.

    I'm against taking too strong a step to cut religion out of politics for the simple practical reason that it would hurt Democrats, particularly with African-American voters.

    •  Especially when you consider (none)
      that the modern progressive movement had its roots in the liberal churches of the nothern and northeastern part of the country.

      In prison, Tom Delay will no doubt be called 'the Hummer' by his fellow convicts.

      by soonergrunt on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:38:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  US V. Europe (none)
      Ever since Raygun and especially under Bush, Americans have become increasingly insecure because of economic globalization.  Fear of losing a job, health coverage, housing, even food has been growing.  People are looking for absolutes to ground them and a higher being accessible to them to feel their life is worth something to someone in authority.  I think that is the recent upsurge in fundamentalist religion in America today.

      In Europe, the political economies are only starting to become Americanized.  As their insecurities grow, Europeans will begin to find god again, although Americanized.

      In both, the religion will become less of the social justice of the New Testament, and more the exclusive, jealous and vindictive god of the Old Testament.

      To do social justice requires courage and faces the headwinds of a political economy that is and becomes more and more inequitable.  To follow the flow is easier although ultimately self-destructive.  Most will follow the second path.

      "Be just and good." John Adams

      by aztec on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 05:58:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  RELIGION (none)
    I agree with your comments, too much religion can make a person stupid.

    I wish Americans were more politically minded, apparently we are not as well versed in that area like Europeans are.  

    •  I think that.... (none)
      ....part of the problem is that Americans don't have confidence in politicians to help make their lives better. So they turn to religion. Sometimes this is isn't bad, if the religion isn't corrupt. But in the case of these sleazeball right-wing loving megachurches, they're part of the problem. They keep supporting politicians who make peoples' lives worse. Now, in Europe, you have more support for government, because they can and do actually deliver a lot more to their people than the US government does. Maybe if we pushed universal health care and a number of populist-progressive measures, people would stop turning to megachurches and their poisonous adgenda.
  •  Don't smear us all by making such a broad (4.00)
    statement as "You Americans".  I personally couldn't stand to be near DailyKos yesterday for long with all the talk about religion in any shape or form.  Why the obsession with it?  I don't know.  But it is peculiar and boring to say the least.  The most bothersome of the discussion to me is the one up-ed-nes of one side against the other, or my thoughts and beliefs are better than yours, purer than yours, more believable than yours, or whatever.  Who the fuck cares?
  •  This is why I can't stand D or R. (none)
    I'm definitely I, because I have no choice.  Neither represent me and my views.  Neither can have an honest discourse of the difficulties of ethics because we have such a massive Christian population.

    I personally believe that the Christian God, the one who punishes non believers is unethical, and anyone who believes that non believers will be punished is equally unethical, and that people would all be better off if they realized that everything was a shade of grey.

    It is actually quite disturbing, living here and seeing what happens, having people knock on my door and what they believe, the denial of science in general.

    The left here is the center in Europe, and where I lie is probably beyond the left in Europe, so for me, it is extremely painful to see the D try to be 'leftist' or 'progressive', as these parties don't exist here in the US.

    •  this is why religious debates are a pain (none)
      I personally believe that the "Christian God" is a clear guide among the shades of grey amidst which we all live.

      Of course this leads me to think that warfare is abhorrent, that political corruption is immoral, that posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings is evil idolatry, that taking care of poor and disadvantaged people is a moral duty.  So politically, I come out perhaps somewhere near where many dkos posters come out....perhaps for different reasons.

  •  I'm pissed off... (4.00)
    that we even have to have this discussion. It's not just the fundies that are the problem. We on the left in this country have bent over backwards in an attempt to be "tolerant" of people's religion. We extended an olive branch and expected the same. The problem is the other side of the isle doesn't want to live in peaceful co-existence. They want to destroy our way of life. It isn't enough for the fundies to say "I believe in this" they say "I must make EVERYONE believe in this." We must stop reacting so passively. I'm all for embracing the faiths of others... when they don't actively work to destroy your way of life. The right in this country doesn't want freedom of religion, they want the state to support THEIR religion. We, the left, through our own sense of decency and politeness have allowed dangerous people and those sheep that support them to dominate our political discussions.

    Answer this question: Who's done more harm to the United States of America? Muslim extremists or Christian extremists.

    Everyone thinks the mistake the Dems are making is that they aren't comfortable talking about faith. That's wrong. The mistake is even allowing faith to be part of the discussion.

  •  I for one (none)
    Thank you!! Some of my friends think im over paranoid when I make links from us to alquida and the incuisition.This religion run nation scares me to death.
  •  Self-examination is never a bad thing (4.00)
    In both of DarkSyde's diaries, I've seen many people groping towards an understanding of where their values come from. I'm grateful so many are offering their perspectives on this. (Including the sniping and trolling — that's part of a thorough debate.) For one thing, as an agnostic and/or atheist, I am genuinely curious  about passionate and intelligent people who have faith, even though I don't.

    But more to the purposes of dKos, it is precisely because religion is breaking through traditional walls in America that this examination is worthwhile. We do need to look at the sources of faith, because they are affecting all our lives here right now. While Europe does seem to have removed religion from the public domain, that says nothing about tomorrow. Please don't assume you are done with this issue either; some Americans thought in the middle of the last century that we were effectively done with religion then. (Remember the "Is God Dead" Time cover?)

    •  Yep (4.00)
      Having lived in Europe several times, I think the aggressive secularism of Europe is a religion in of itself. The political has taken on religious overtones. All societies are religious, its just that not they all share the same god. Some have omnicient God of the State, others have a God that wears a grey beard and has the power to zap people with thunderbolts if he's cheesed off enough. Same difference.

      Finally, I think its easier for Europeans to have a secular view of morality because each country tends to be more culturally and ethnically uniform. Look at Scandinavia. Dropping their Lutheran identity is easy because they - for the most part - still share a deep common bond of the same ethnicity and culture.  We don't have those bonds in the US. We are made up of hundreds of different cultures and many different races. As a result, people here are more likely to hang on to religion as a cultural and social bond, identity and a source of morality.

      I bet you that if Scandinavia were all of sudden to become a great deal more ethnically- shall I say - "dark", and there were aggressive challenges to its culture (say, its traditions or tighlty held personality traits), you would see an increased interest in Lutheranism.

      Finally, as a non-religous perons who loathes - absolutely loathes, the religious fundamentalist extremists in this country, I repeat the comment made above: why do you think America is overly religious. Partly because Europe was NOT tolerant of people of passionate faith and they were pushed out and sent to America. Intolerance keeps begetting intolerance.

    •  I agree with you (none)
      that the discussion could be an important and useful one.

      But it generally doesn't end up that way, because for it to be useful requires that no matter where an individual poster is coming from, he or she approaches the topic with respect for others' ideas, with a willingness not to overgeneralize, and also (seemingly in contrast to the last point, but not really) with a willingness to discuss the broader social meanings of religion rather than only the individual's personal relationship with God/lack thereof/whatever.

      While there are plenty of us here who are willing to have that discussion, it usually becomes dominated by those with the most visceral reactions -- which are usually, on either* side, also those displaying the least openness in terms of a quest for understanding. Some religious folks try to set up the discussion as "you can't prove me wrong so therefore I'm right" and some athiests try to set it up as "there's no evidence for your claim so therefore you're wrong". Neither is a valid statement, IMO, but both are emotionally charged and lead to a huge argument that can simply never be resolved to anyone's satisfaction.

      Any discussion of religion that leaves the realm of its macro-meanings and enters the realm of which side is wrong or right in its fundamental belief is of little use. And I must admit that I find the level of offense often taken on both* sides to be a little bit hilarious, personally, since people say things here and elsewhere that are personally offensive to me as a queer woman on a regular basis. If I took great offense to every possibly offensive statement I heard/read in a day, I wouldn't have the energy left to feed and clothe myself.

      * there are, as always, more than two sides -- though of course we really seem to like to reduce everything to a binary. Which is a huge part of the problem, IMO. But that's a whole nuther can o' worms.

      Sorry for the long ramble. Copper coinage, etc.

  •  Oh please. (3.60)
    When was the last religious genocide in America versus, say Europe? Let's look back to, I don't know, the Serbs in the 1990s? Get off the high horse Jerome.
    •  most of our religious killings stopped (none)
      in the 19th century. Like for example the massocre at Mountain Meadows.

      And those "heathan" Indians.  Unless you count the slower means like startvation

      SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

      by mollyd on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:03:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please keep Yugoslavia out of this (none)
      as I posted upthread. It was NOT a religious conflict. I feel like screaming here, I'm so tired of hearing this over and over again. It's just so convenient for you over-religios-ied americans to qualify everything through this lense. One of the results of that war might be more religious enforcement and intolerance, unfortunately.

      Please educate yourself before mentioning that war offhandedly again.
      (Sorry for my imperfect english- obviously I'm a foreigner: a Croatian here)


    •  Let's not put the horse before the cart.... (none)
      for all you know we could be 5 years away from the next religious genocide may think that it isn't possible...but come on...with the people we've got running things at the moment...anything is possible.
  •  out-faithing (none)
    America all together over-faithed as it is.

    This discussion here isnt really an indicator of an overmeasure of faith in the progressive community.

    Its just a bunch of rants in cyberspace.

    JIP - To understand what we are dealing with here, you need to come and live in the South a few years, attend the churches, attend a few football games (in Texas, there is little difference between the two, Football IS a religion), stick around a few election cycles, then tell us to just relax.

    It aint pretty, its been here some time, it aint going away.  By not processing it, we do not deal wth it.  By processing it here on DKos, not much happens either, its rantage.

    No reason to judge the progressive community or "Americans" (tm) with it.

  •  You've said what I've felt (4.00)
    I grew up believing that my faith was something that was private, between myself and my God.  As a Catholic, I grew up listening to sermons from the parents of friends who told me that I was going to hell for being a Catholic.  I just couldn't undertand these people.  Was the God I grew up learning about the same God these people knew?  I wondered what happened to mercy, kindness and tolerance.

    In the past 5 years, I've come to believe that Bush opened a window into hell when he brought religion into politics.  We now have politicians who sound like preachers and preachers who sound like politicians.  This is crazy.

    My Mom is as Catholic as you can be and even she hates what America has become with all the talk of religion she hears around her.  The day she told me that she would walk out of her church if the priest gave a political speach, was the day I knew this country was heading over a cliff.

    Religion belongs in a church and politics belong in elected office.  The wall has to return between the two or this country will face a divide that it may never recover from.

  •  Excessive rationality can lead to insanity, too. (4.00)
    <quote>"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" - Diderot</quote>

    Ideas like that are what gave you the Reign of Terror in France.

    I'm an agnostic that leans strongly toward atheism, but I think having an open discussion about religion, spirituality and "what it all means" is HEALTHY.  Attempting to shut down debate by declaring yourself correct and everyone else foolish and deluded is the dangerous and unhealthy impulse.

    No matter what you believe, the most important belief that everyone should always have is: "I might be wrong"

  •  Great Post! (none)
    Thanks for your insights, Jerome...
  •  That is SO true (4.00)
    This is the really irrefutable difference between the USA and Europe - you care too much about religion.

    Absolutely spot on.

    Interestingly, let me point out that some European countries - Britain comes to mind with its Anglican church - have a state religion.  America does not.  Yet America of late is the religion-mad Western democracy.  Odd, no?

    Believe me, there are days I want to move to Europe or Australia or somewhere, just to get away from the religion stuff.

  •  You are right Jerome. n/t (none)
  •  Well said Jerome (none)
    Especially since, you know, there is a whole Daily Kos affiliated blog that deals with religous issues (which needs tags!).

    I found Darksyde's first post interesting, perhaps a bit lengthy. But I find the phenomenon interesting that his diary seems to necessitate an enormous response. I bet if I had written a diary about my lack of involvement in a religion there would have been only a handful of comments, for better or worse.

  •  As long as we're on this, (4.00)
    I'm for separation of religion and spirituality.

    Since when does atheism mean we have to deny our own soul?

    And anyway, Western religion is so passe. I find Buddhism, Taoism, and sometimes even Hinduism to really transcend this usual pointless God/no god debate. Not that there isn't great wisdom hidden in Western spiritual thought, it's just mostly underground.

    My pet "issue" is the environment. I work and dream every day for a peaceful habitation of a beautiful green earth. As I've learned about myself, much of this drive comes from understanding that there is a Self which transcends our ego. So, Jerome, I don't think this either/or, black and white, thing will jive well. Politics come from society and culture, not the other way around.

    I recommend agnostics check out "Essential Spirituality" by Australian psychologist Roger Walsh, or perhaps The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley.

    I've had mystical experiences, albeit brief and fleeting, but they were there. And yes, the majority, but not all, of them came when experimenting with mind-expanding substances. And no, I don't really get hallucinations (often to my disappointment, but ah well). But do we really have to argue against the existence of mystical experiences also? I don't think we should legislate based on my particular mystical experience, but hey, as Keynes says, in the long run we're all dead, and the secret of life certainly isn't economics.

    Do it GREEN, know what I mean?

    by SonofFunk on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:08:58 AM PST

  •  Generalizations (4.00)
    I sure love it when people speak in broad generalizations, eg, "you Americans are crazy." Replace that word with "Europeans" and you'd be calling us troglodytes - or with "blacks", racists (and rightly so).

    If you can't speak with specifity to a specific problem, you badly need to rethink your arguments.

    •  Specificity - (none)
      Maybe it's just my interpretation, but I thought that "God - you Americans are crazy" was pretty specific.  
      •  Specific (none)
        Yep, all of us Americans are crazy. Jerome's take applies equally and correctly to everyone! Highly specific.
        •  I mean that it was specific about (4.00)
          the insanity of debating God in America right now.  I don't think anyone would argue the generalization in saying "you Americans", it was obviously meant to provoke, like most titles do.  Outside of the sarcasm, however, I can also admit that to the rest of the world, with the people we have leading our nation and the pundits supporting them, with the on-going completely beside-the-point salacious religious arguments, the generalization is easy to understand.  Do I like it?  No!  Am I embarassed and horrified that this is the way the world at large sees us?  Absolutely!  Is it a realistic perceptual assessment of what's going on in our nation?  Unfortunately, yes.  This is an insane time in our nation and this penchant for confusing everything by infusing religion/non-religion is part of the problem.    
  •  Religion is not faith (4.00)
    Religion is not faith; religion does not deal in absolutes. That is, unless "religion" is only on the Christofascist or Islamofascist model.

    Nobody questions the Buddhism is a religion, yet Buddhism is not about faith (not even about God, and the gods that are mentioned play minor, sometimes even pathetic, roles). Taoism, in its foundational texts, is precisely about undermining all faith in the sort of linguistic formulations of doctrine that the Christo- and Islamofascists get bound up in.

    Even among Christians, faith isn't necessarily the focus. When asked if he believed in God, Carl Jung said, "I don't believe, I know." But of course that sort of mystic — if direct — relationship also undercuts need for adherence to doctrin and faith. That sort of relationship was familiar to that of the Deists who were the majority of the Founding Fathers — we were never a Christian country, in the Christofascist sense. And the one originally Christofascist state, Massachusetts, transformed into (very liberal) Congregationalism and Unitarianism, the Transcendentalism of the Emerson and Thoreau sort, and now puts its faith in gay marriage.

    France, perhaps, equates religion with faith based on its own dark history. France, perhaps, still produces doctrines (e.g. "deconstructionism") that are exported as faiths, to the detriment (and entertainment) of other nations. Yes, the Christofasist, faith-based wing of American spirituality is pathetic. But the other wings of American spirituality — where home-grown Transcendalism blends with Buddhism, Taoism, Native American, Wiccan and Hindu practices, are vital and important because our spirits are of central concern — although perhaps the Germans rather than the French are in better position to appreciate the real role that spirits play in human societies (for both great good and great ill; and best not left to the unconscious).

    What I mean by "spirits" would be far too long an aside here. They aren't, suffice it to say, something that requires faith, although they reward knowledge.

  •  2nd comment (4.00)
    Don't you guys think Jerome was being tongue in cheek? Have we lost our sense of humor?!?!
  •  The real tragedy (4.00)
    is that most people confuse religion with theology. This is a dangerous illusion with extremely anti-religious implications, but it is rarely exposed.  You may call it a hallucination.

    Thus, politics and morality are generally based on dogmas and dichotomies. Just like the born-again wouldn't know that they were saved if they didn't know that everyone else were damned, the Bush supporters need the evil-doers of darkness to contrast America as the Shining City on the Hill.

    When someone is the business of describing the world through doctrines that must be accepted as absolute, else something very bad will happen to you, then they cannot use black chalk on the blackboard. If they do, it only goes to show that Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit.

    But it's not so. Out of nothing comes something. They just don't know it.

  •  I love going to Europe for many reasons. (none)
    But the best thing about going to Europe is that I don't have to deal with fundamentalists. If we were able to take out the fundamentalist element in this country we wouldn't have the divisive issues we are hammering on Kos.

    I appreciate your diary Jerome.

    Not the church. Not the state. Women will decide their fate.

    by JaciCee on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:20:51 AM PST

  •  I'm praying that C&J goes up soon ;) (none)

    "We can stand here like the French, or we can do something about it." Marge Simpson

    by PhillyGal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:21:22 AM PST

  •  yuck (3.40)
    What an icky 18c attitude this diary espouses.

    I agree, the Europ'eens are uncomfortable with religion in the public sphere--ever since the Church was forced to loosen its grip on the public sphere, that is.

    The fact is, it wasn't religion that caused the mess in mid 20c Europe.  It was culture.  The whole shebang.  Economics, politics,  religion, philosophy--you name it, everything played a party.  Can't really separate religion out as a bad guy.

    The idea of confining religion to the home as social contract for a healthy society is well, repugnant (and I mean that in the nicest of ways).  Religion is so much more than the narrow absolutism you espouse.  From what I have noticed, the Constitution does a pretty nifty job and solving 99% of the problems you fear.  That last 1% is our job (imagine that).  And I have never known a single social problem that was solved by worrying about it or avoiding it.  We solve them by heading straight in...

    •  Interesting (none)
      This is actually quite a thought provoking comment.  I'm not sure how much or little of it I agree with, but it is quite interesting.  

      Feldmans of the world unite, and all that.

    •  Begone 18c attitudes (none)
      ....we don't need no stinking Enlightenment.

      Natural rights, privacy rights, property rights, checks and balances, representative democracy, the bill of rights, all those icky 18c attitudes are just icky.

      Jefferson, Paine, Locke, Hume, Franklin, Madison, and the rest of those icy 18th century ideologues have no place in the post-modern world where the issues are only as solid as the language we use to frame them and principle is just another word for "talking point."

      •  My ancestors were told (none)
        that if they wanted to play at the big kids table in 18c Germany, France, England, Russia, etc., etc.,  they need to: stop praying in a different language, wearing religiously prescribed clothes, eating different food, etc., etc.  They could stay exactlly as they were--as long as nobody saw them being too Jewish in public (shhh...).

        The enlightenment was a good old time, and it brought lots of great documents, sure.  But too bad if you were a Jew in Europe, an African in America, a woman anywhere on the planet (oh well).  Beh, what's another 200 years of waiting...

        •  Ah, but those are... (none)
          .....leftover medieval attitudes which deserve to be identifed as such.

          The reality is that with the French Revolution came the anti-Enlightenment counter-revolution, which continues to this day.

          Issues of communal segregation (whether imposed from without or within or some combination of the two) continue to present interesting questions.

          Eighteenth Century Enlightenment notions of secularism remain radical in their challenge to communities which define themselves primarily through their separateness, whether Jewish, Christian, Moslem, or one of the faiths not centered on the worship of the deity William Blake dubbed "Nobodaddy."

          On the other hand, since my people have been here since the late 16th Century, your people's experience in Europe in the 18th-20th Centuries is of historical interest as a reason for their subsequent emigration, but not terribly relevant to current discussions of the role played by religion in the public sphere here.

          In that regard, the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom and the subsequent First Amendment to the constitution are determinative; subsequent European experience is instructive but not foundational in any respect.

          As a small businessperson, I would only observe that every time someone has opened our discussions by reference to their religious affiliation, it has been the opening move in an attempt to get a special deal that no other customer would get. My visceral sense is that the same is often true in the political sphere.

          •  Most interesting (4.00)
            but medieval as you are using it is not quite right.  There are now reams and reams of scholarship on how well Jews and Catholics co-existed in this so-called dark period of prejudice.  Sure there were blood libels, miraculous hosts, etc.  But it wasn't the misery everyone says it was.

            The Enlightenment, for all the good in brought, also set us on a path that became the horror of the colonial period and the first half of the 20c.  Ah, but nothing's perfect.  I'm a big fan of Jefferson the slave-owning father of equality (his University even gave me a degree).

            This actually is very relevant to the discussion.  There's been a very interesting conversation in the news about what's behind the violence in France, and one idea has been to link it to the European model of integration, based on confining difference--religious and ethnic--to the home, whereas the American model  has focused on locating ethnic and religious difference in communities.   I don't know if there's much to this idea, but it is interesting to think about it.

            And...Jews were not a community that define themselves primarily through their differences (although that is in there).  Europe was holistic prior to the Enlightenment--everyone had their own position/location vis-a-vis the great chain of being.  It was the collapse of that particular model of difference that caused all the trouble (e.g., ghettos, etc.).  

            If you can stomach reading social anthropology, there's a great book by Louis Dumont called Homo Hierarchicus  that explains this (in an appendix).  Holistic societies are the hardest for us Americans to imagine, because they are so foreign to our way of thinking.

            Tricky stuff!  But beyond this diary,  I'm afraid.

            Nice to meet you greenskeeper...

      •  I'm speaking for someone else here... (none)
        but I don't see how condemnation of a particular 18th century attitude means that he is condemning all ideas and attitudes of the 18th century.

        I seem to remember several unsavory ideas of the 18th century that I could list too, such as slavery and the diesnfranchisement of women and non-landowners and manifest destiny.  I can think of more than a few thinkers of that era whose ideas deserve dismissal.  I'm not sure what you are saying here greenskeeper, that the 18th century was without fault and should be what we as a society aspire to?

        •  No, not what I'm saying (none)
          See above.

          The Enlightenment is a project that was controversial in its heydey, with large gaps in practical application that we continue to deal with in the areas you note.

          The continued implementation of the most progressive ideas of the 18c is what we should aspire to, along with the most progressive ideas of the 19th and 20th centuries.

          Radical secularism is one of those ideas. Part of radical secularism is allowing space for the  each individual's private religious beliefs or ritual practices. Part of radical secularism is insuring that private religious beliefs do not constrain public debate, even public debate which adherents of one or another belief or practice may find deeply hurtful.

          •  Hmmm (none)
            Well, I obviously thought that my snark in suggesting you wanted to defend the 18th century as a whole to be more easily noticible.

            That being said, how is the public debate being constrained?  I certainly feel that all views, even my own atheistic/anti-religious views, which I am certain are hurtful to some (like my Mom, for instance), are free to be expressed.  Perhaps I am misunderstanding your interpretation of radical secularism, but aren't some private beliefs dependent on attempting to alter or convert others?  Is there room in your theory for those to whom free practice of their faith depends on their attempting to bring the 'word' to their community?  Isn't it constraining their ability to join the public debate if we limit their right to express their beliefs, no matter how offensive you or I find them.

            •  First Amendment "Speech" (none)
              ....and the point at which "acts" are "speech" is really very interesting in the abstract as well as in practice.

              In the abstract, we're in complete agreement.

              In practical terms, the pervasive and systematic failure of the American political class to offer the same level of support and protection to a-religious or anti-religious speech as to religious or pro-religious speech is deeply disturbing.

              As for those who wish to convert, I've already put one co-worker on notice that I am not interested in being proselytized, that I view such proselytization as harassment, and that if it didn't stop I would file a formal complaint on the grounds that the proselytization was creating a "hostile workplace."

              And I'm quite sympathetic to the similar claim made by Jewish and atheist cadets at the Air Force Academy.

              There is a point at which -- in government offices, in places of employment, or any other time or place where my attendance is a matter of compulsion and not of free assembly -- that observance of the religious obligation to "convert" may be strictly limited.

              Any politician who is not willing to say, clearly and explicitly that there is no necessary connection between religious belief and ethical conduct has already demonstrated their adherence to one of the last acceptable bigotries in American public life, as well as their willingness to apply constitutionally proscribed "tests of faith."

              And that's just not acceptable.

              •  Our Political Class (none)
                I love that turn of phrase, even if I don't know if I think it is true.  

                Well, I do feel that this is one of the reasons our nation depends on a strong and assertive judiciary.  Simply put, it is rarely the will of the people to permit others to have their constitutionally endowed rights.

                The Air Force Academy issue I believe is a separate issue; we are, in that circumstance, speaking of State endorsement of particular religious views.  I agree as well that in the workplace, we are talking about compulsion.  But in general, I don't have a problem with religious people having a prominent role in American politics.  They constitute the majority, and it is important to give that all the consideration which is its due.  

                The problem is that most people in America, particularly religious conservatives, do not know or don't care what the measure of that consideration is in a constitutional republic.  They believe not in our republic, but in majority rule.  Of course, those who are foolish enough to believe that being a Christian (or the right kind of Christian, or for that matter a Buddist or a Ba'hai) is evidence of goodness or ethics will get their comeuppance.  As for the preposterous and what you correctly term unconstitutional religious tests that are currently being allowed by the administration for positions such as the Supreme Court, we couldn't be in closer agreement.

            •  this seems pretty disingenuous (none)
              for someone who lives in a country where every public schoolchild is subject to daily religious coercion, and not a single public office can be openly held by a nonbeliever.

              What country to you live in?

              •  The United States (none)
                And when I went to (public) school, I wasn't subject to 'daily religious coercion'.  I'm not even sure what that is referring to, unless you are talking about the Pledge of Allegiance, which was voluntary throughout my education.  I never said the Pledge from at least the fourth grade on.

                I would dispute your second point as well, in that not only am I quite certain that many openly non-believing persons have held public office in this country, but also that even if your statement was true, it certainly isn't because they aren't allowed.  There is no religious test that is required for the holding of public office, and if in the vast majority of circumstances the electorate chooses representatives who hold some sort of religious belief I fail to see what the problem is.  

                •  the US courts and Constitution disagree with you (none)
                  on what constitutes coercion of a 6 year old.  "Voluntarily" asserting his right to sit quietly while the rest of the class pledges, or to say a different pledge from the teacher, obviously makes that child a second class citizen; and you're still being disingenuous.

                  Likewise, the fact that 99 Senators attacked the courts and the atheists over these rulings is not a coincidence.  It not only mocks the courts and the Constitutinom - it's religious Jim Crow.

                  The religious requirements operating in the Congress are so blatant as to include open attacks against Rep Jim McDermott for omitting "god" from the Pledge one day last year.  Several of his colleagues attacked him, and not one defended him.  In reply, McDermott  had to claim it was a grade school habit, from the bygone days of religious freedom - before "under god" was added to the pledge in 1954.

                  In context, your argument is the equivalent of saying that there's no racial discrimination because no one is forbidden from trying to pass for white.

                  •  First of all (none)
                    The courts have not reached a conclusive final decision on the issue of the Pledge.  But the courts and I disagree on many matters, so it isn't an uncomfortable position for me, assuming that I disagree with the position that 'Under God' should be removed from the Pledge.  

                    Look, Congress behaves in all kinds of asinine and childish ways.  They usually do it for reasons of political expediency, and not because it is the law. For example, I think that what happened to McDermott is an example of a bunch of idiot representatives trying to score some political points.  But he didn't 'have' to claim anything - and could just as easily said "take your Under God and shove it up Tom DeLay's ass" if he wanted.  What a person does so that they can remain electable is not the same as a requirement.  And it certainly isn't any other Congressperson's fault if McDermott thinks so little of his constituents as to have to make up silly stories to defend himself.

                    Look, I'm a non-believer.  But I accept that the majority of the citizens of this country are not.  And I accept that they have every right to make as much or as little out of their beliefs as they choose, so long as they do not violate the Constitutional protection against the state endorsement of any particular faith.  I value their freedom to believe as much as I value my freedom not to.

                    And your final sentence is a massive distortion.  What you are pointing out is bias on the part of the electorate.  The analogy would be that I am saying that if it were the case that not enough blacks were being elected that we should not have restrictions on white candidates to level the playing field.  And while that is still a lousy analogy, it comes far closer to describing my position than you have.

                    •  So you're kidding yourself, not just us. (none)
                      Ignore the courts if you like - are you claiming you personally don't think it's coercive when an 8 year old atheist must choose between lying in school - hand on heart - or confronting his teacher?

                      Look, I'm a non-believer.  But I accept that the majority of the citizens of this country are not.  ...I value their freedom to believe as much as I value my freedom not to.
                      This is so phony - as if Newdow or the Courts had demanded that children pledge "under no god" every day.  Why are you so full of hypocritical self-loathing?  I suspect the answer lies in coercion since childhood.

                      The McDermott incident is not about the electorate - it's about religious tests in Congress that are clearly in force.  You can call him a coward, but you can't pretend that if he answered "I'm a patriot and an atheist and I can't make a pledge I think is false" he wouldn't expect to be attacked again by 99 Senators and hundreds of Congressmen.  The electorate has nothing to do with it.

                      The point is, the Congress unanimously admits that "god" is not optional, so you may as well get real.

                      There clearly is a religious test in force, it's a violation of Article VI of the Constitution, and you evidently don't care.  It's sad some non-believers go along to fit in.  I know Jewish families from Hungary who went along, sure the system would take care of patriots and veterans like themselves.  I prefer to emulate those who survived.

                      •  Congress doesn't elect itself (none)
                        To be clear, I think Newdow is right.  But I think it is something of a mountain out of a molehill, and I think there are much bigger and more crucial battles to be fought right now.  Oh, and it is ever so childish to suggest that because I have a different perspective on what really matters, that I am full of any sort of self-loathing.  You don't know me.  Don't try to be my analyst.  

                        Congress doesn't get to place religious tests on itself.  We elect the Congress.  You either don't understand that, or you don't understand the Constitution.  If any district in the country sends an atheist to Congress, that representative will get to do as they please, and if the rest of Congress doesn't like it, they can jump off a bridge for all the good it will do.  But don't try to pawn off this crap as an unconstitutional religious test.  They don't get to elect each other to their jobs, so their opinions on who gets to be a representative don't matter.  It is evidence that they are pricks, and nothing more.

                        As for Hungarian Jewery, I did something concrete to make sure that what happened to them won't happen again: I put on an IDF uniform and fought to ensure that my people would never be at another's mercy again.  You'll pardon me, I hope, if I don't see fit to be lectured on the Shoah.

                        •  I would much rather you tell me (none)
                          why it took so much back and forth before you simply acknowledged "Newdow is right," than make my own psychological theories.  It mystified me.  Newdow is fighting for all our religious freedom, and yours in particular.  When instead of defending him you put up a smokescreen like "I value their freedom to believe" - as if Newdow doesn't - you're descending into Justice Sunday rhetoric.  Why?

                          Moreover, 565+ comments here and a dozen other diaries prove people care about these issues.  They're not a "molehill" and it's not obvious why you want to marginalize people you think are "right".  Is our Constitution about protecting powerless minorities, or just the biggest minorities?

                          The Democratic party has been weakened by its decisions to marginalize minorities and take them for granted - including non-believers (roughly 1/3 of their base), hippies, the peace movement (whoops, it's the majority of Americans) - and face it, most Democrats them can't even say "liberal".  Unrepresented people often don't vote. So Democrats have made themselves powerless by throwing their entire base overboard.  Questioning this huge losing strategy may be the main issue to fight right now.  After all, our problem isn't that Republicans have credibility - it's that Democrats emulate them too much, lacking credibility and courage.

                          (By the way, Article VI doesn't admonish voters to avoid any religious test at the polls.  It's clearly talking about the government, and when the legislative branch attacks Newdow, McDermott, and the Courts on religious grounds, it's clearly violating the whole point of it.)

                          •  Well (none)
                            It wasn't clear to me at first that you and I were discussing Newdow, which is why you and I have been going back and forth like this; I thought we were discussing the more generalized points of the diary.  However, just because I feel that Newdow is correct on the Establishment Clause doesn't mean that I feel his actions are well advised.  Even if we were to limit the landscape of issues to Establishment Clause issues, I simply don't believe that the Pledge or removing "In God We  Trust" from our currency are as important as fighting Intelligent Design curriculum or religious interference at the FDA.  Also, I believe that making an issue right now out the issues that concern Newdow will be counterproductive politically for the causes he endorses.  But, legally, he is in the right, and of course he has the right to bring whatever suit he wishes to court.

                            Generally speaking, and in the context of this diary, I mean what I said about the freedom of others to believe and to allow their personal religious views to influence their politics.  That is their business.  It isn't my role to go on the stump for the secularization of politics, and I don't think that is desirable.  

                            I don't think the Democrats really even try to represent the views of much of their base, so I'm with you there.  Simply put, they don't have to pay much mind to atheists, because where else are they going to go?  On the other hand, Democrats are having problems nationally because they are percieved as being far more athiestic than they are.  I'm not an expert in electoral demographics, so I don't know what direction is 'right' for the Democrats in this context.

                            As I read the Article VI, the prohibition is against any religious test that will be "Required as a qualification to any office or public Trust" (emphasis mine).  Which means that for all that it matters, Congress can stand in unison and say "Episcopalians suck!" but as long as they do not prevent or limit the ability for Episcopalians to hold office, they are in the clear.  In other words, what they say about Newdow is irrelevant (since he isn't seeking public office) but what George Bush said about why he picked Harriet Miers is a violation (since he chose her based on her faith).  I understand that it isn't an admonishment to voters, I am just saying that Congress has to actually prevent or enable the service of a person based on religion to qualify as being in violation.  Your example of Rep. McDermott doesn't qualify because he holds public office, so nothing at all is preventing him from having it.

                          •  I was advocating that 8 year old's rights, whether (none)
                            Newdow defended them or not - in fact, I think our obligation to defend them would be greater if Newdow wasn't there.  So this isn't about him or his priorities.  It's about whether and how we defend Constitutional rights.

                            You've repeatedly insinuated that the right to proselytize needs defending, whereas keeping the government out of religion is for kooks.  This still sounds like Justice Sunday and Bill O'Reilly - as if atheists are forbidding citizens to say Merry Christmas - a giant big lie that unwittingly makes you a tool of the right.  What am I missing?

                            Simply put, they don't have to pay much mind to atheists, because where else are they going to go?  
                            By this reasoning, Democrats should also discard people of color.  You epitomize what's wrong with the party.
                            On the other hand, Democrats are having problems nationally because they are percieved as being far more atheistic than they are.
                            And there you go again, spreading Justice Sunday talking points.  Every single Democratic Senator publicly attacked Newdow and the Courts that stood up for his rights.  Do they need to jail him and impeach the 9th Circuit - or are you heading in the wrong direction?

                            (I get your Article VI point.  Perhaps we can agree that a unanimous "Episcopalians suck!" bill would intimidate and violate the spirit - perhaps not the letter - of it.  If a suit was brought on that basis I doubt the Judiciary would dismiss it - as long as it didn't have to defend atheists.)

                            You don't have to be an expert in demographics to get my larger point.  Just compare Hillary's poll numbers to McCain's.  Now that she's openly thrown overboard MoveOn, and Out of Iraq, and Fahrenheit911 fans, and of course, non-believers, she's already all but doomed her party for 2008.  The only upside is, by doing it so early she could give the majority she's too clever to embrace a chance to organize another party.

                          •  I see where you're going (none)
                            I guess my point is that the eight year old in question, or better yet, my six-month old goddaughter, has lots of her rights abriged already.  And I want to get those rights back for her, but I know I can't get all of them back for her, not today at least.  And I'm more worried that she was born owing over $30,000 to the Chinese and the Koreans and the Saudis than that she might feel pressured to say the Pledge.  I'm more worried that because she lives in Virginia she might not get to learn about biology because they won't teach her evolution, even if they don't fill her head with some Intelligent Design claptrap.  I'm more worried that they will censor the music she listens to and the books she reads and the websites she can look at.  I'm more worried that she'll do ten years in prison for smoking a joint.  I'm more worried that she will never know what it is like to walk down the street without being videotaped, or check out a book from the library that the government doesn't want her reading and have her home searched without a warrant and her phone tapped.

                            And I'm also totally unwilling to defend anyone's rights by abridging the rights of others, which is why I've taken the position I have in this thread.  I don't think that the right to proselytize needs defending, exactly; I think it doesn't need my help at all, except maybe here on dKos.  But I do feel that the majority of religious people are not dangerous nor hostile to my lack of belief.  I think that most of the problems we have in this country regarding religion are problems of certain groups of religious people, and not religion.  There is a growing movement in this country that is simply anti-Democratic, and the fact that they have latched on to theology as the method of delivering their totalitarian message says more about them than it does about religion.  You keep mentioning Justice Sunday; I keep thinking of Chuck Colson, Justice Sunday participant extraordinaire.  He was for totalitarianism long before he 'found' Jesus; he went to prison because he believed in a conservative government that was not answerable to the people long before his conversion.  And he is an excellent example of the mindset of the 'Passion of the Christ' Christians in my eyes.  If he can't have Nixon to create his society, he'll use Jesus.  What difference does it make to him, as long as the people are held back?  

                            I hope I don't epitomize what is wrong with the Democrats just because I can tell you what the conventional wisdom is; that doesn't mean that I am endorsing it.  The Democrats should stand up for atheists when something like what happened to McDermott happens.  On the other hand, I also understand that this is not a fight they are likely to win today, and as I said before, there are a lot of fights that badly need winning.  I understand why they abandon atheists (and people of color), but that doesn't mean I endorse it.

                            Hilary Clinton is my Senator, although I have never voted for her and probably never will.  I'm on board with you on the notion that the DLC isn't leading her where she should be headed.  I don't think that the right path is to jump on the MoveOn train either.  Ultimately, I'd much rather see a multi-party system, where we could all vote for people who really represent our views and have that be meaningful.  But she could take a page from Bernie Sanders and Feingold and Barney Frank and come out much higher in my estimation, and I wager if she had the record of any of those three she'd have an actual shot at being President.

                          •  It's good to find much more common ground. (none)
                            I appreciate your points and wishes for your god[!]daughter.

                            I'm certain it's our job to challenge conventional wisdom, and if we're not going to we're working against ourselves and, ironically, against most Democrats' values and campaigns - even if the candidates don't realize it.  If instead we just repeat CW, we indeed epitomize the party's worst failings.

                            But I do feel that the majority of religious people are not dangerous nor hostile to my lack of belief.
                            Dining every day in the whites only section arguably isn't hostile, but it can be both ignorant and dangerous, and it should be challenged.

                            It's actually easier to win many of these fights than you think.  Most judgeships have yet to be filled with Harriet Miers's, which means the courts still side strongly with the Constitution.  I've recruited multiple teachers, a principal and superintendent to support religious equality in class.  You don't have to sue.  If you presume it's "not a fight [we] are likely to win today" and don't challenge the status quo, you needlessly make them oppressors and make yourself a loser.  

                            Moreover, when you stand up for your rights and win, you set an example for others and weaken the "religious" right.

  •  Almighty God will strike Jerome! (4.00)
    just as soon as HE deals with the people of Dover, Pennsylvania!

    Whoops, sorry, got carried away by peer pressure, I am actually a devotee of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism which can coexist with Jerome's point of view, for now.

  •  Religion and Spirituality are not the same (none)
    Jerome a Paris, you might want to pick up a copy of Cornell West's Democracy Matters.  You might learn the essential "spirituality" that is required for a democracy to work:  a sense of universal justice and a deep responsibility to one another...
  •  the ashes are barely cold (2.00)
    before france, in the embodiment of jerome a paris, begins to judge the u.s. and find us wanting.

    we'll work things out in our own way, thank you very much.  it may be ugly but it WILL get worked out.

    your high and mighty been there done that, can stay on the shelf for a while longer in my view.

    i may agree with most of what you say, but the pleading, you stupid children tone, ......not appreciated.

    in case you haven't noticed, the "debate" on spirituality, religion, religiosity, government, leadership, is the dominant debate on the WORLD scene.

    ps:  rethink the ban on headscarves in school.

    pps:  rethink the policy of letting young people torch hundreds ....thousands.....of cars and thinking let's just let it blow over because the 'republique' will miraculously manage the problem.  

    allowing children to destroy is NOT a good idea.

    'take the mot out of your own eye.'


    "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." Rumi

    by sudiepatou on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:22:33 AM PST

    •  Yeah, cause we're so responsible (4.00)
      with what we let our kids do.  None of our teenagers have shot up their high school this month, so we can snark about the French not being able to control their rioters.

      If you don't like someone's tone, then say so.  What his tone has to do with France, Europe or anything else is beyond me.

      •  you missed my points entirely (none)

        "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." Rumi

        by sudiepatou on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:37:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No I didn't (none)
          I just don't care.  Jerome isn't responsible for all of French society, and moreover, he isn't the embodiment of all things French.  Your comment made two assertions that I disagree with: that 'France' was criticizing the United States in the person of Jerome, and that it is somehow wrong for the French or a French person to criticize the US until they have their house in order.  And I think (again) that you mock your own claim in your post.  You claim to agree with much of what he says, but tell him to basically buzz off because America needs no advice from no Frenchies.  You criticize his tone, yet you suggest that before he speak his mind that he had best end the headscarf ban, as if he was responsible for such things.

          So like I said before, if you think that Jerome's tone sucked, then say so without the French-bashing.  If you think that France sucks, then justify to me what that possibly has to do with the American problem that Jerome was talking about, and his general observance that in Europe these sorts of issues aren't dealt with the same.  In any case, I can understand your point and still feel that you are both off-topic and rude.

    •  HA! (4.00)
      that's right, our kids don't burn cars...

      they kill each other!

      Let 'em kill each other off, that'll show 'em, hell that's just part of growin up! That's what all our guns are for, to keep us safe from kids with guns!

      and Jerome hardly Embodies  France... I don't think he would find that very comfortable.

      (-6.88, -8.31)-- "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

      by binFranklin on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:26:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you also missed my points (none)
        what is he another one of the sacred cows on this blog?


        your comments hardly add to the discussion.

        "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." Rumi

        by sudiepatou on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 08:39:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Remove the beam from your eye (2.42)
    Presented in typical French manner!  

    Jerome; I, as a person of color, would avoid your country even for brief visit, despite the recent revelations.  

    I, as a person of color and a foreigner, can hardly think of any other nation where I can work a bit harder than the natives and achieve as much, certainly not in France.  Your nation is treating its own citizens as second class human beings, because they happen to be of a certain origin, color and lo and behold RELIGION!  This is done in the open for everyone to see!  The U.S. has its own problems in those areas, but it is openly shunned by believers and political affiliations of any shade!

    It is pitiful that you are trying to capitalize on the current hysteria of self-loath this country is wallowing in as a result of the current misadministration's actions.

    First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.  Yes that's from the Bible.  I don't believe in it, but it makes perfect sense in this situation!

    Man's most judicious trait, is a good sense of what not to believe. -Euripides

    by peelinglayers on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:24:54 AM PST

    •  too bad (none)
      france is beautiful, and you should remember all the Americans of Colour who found refuge and community there when they couldn't step foot inside a White Church.

      Yeah, some french people were pricks but it wasn't nearly so bad as Marietta, Georgia.

      (-6.88, -8.31)-- "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

      by binFranklin on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:20:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Beautiful Paris! (none)
        Wow! I did rub a few the wrong way, didn't I!  Folks, don't get all rattled up.  This was merely a frank discussion.  May be not the right place for it?

        To respond to your comment directly, binFranklin, it is one thing when a nation and its people offer refuge to people of other nations who are persecuted and quite another to persecute their own.  Do you think those sons and daughters of North African immigrates are a whole bunch of spoiled kids who don't realize that they are better off than their cousins back in Africa?

        I live near Marietta, GA.  It is quite a diverse place with Arab-American doctors, Indian-American shop keepers and African-American lawyers living among European-American businesspersons.  Do they all love each other as though they are brothers?  Hardly!  Do they see the world in similar ways?  Not a chance?  Do they look alike?  Not even close?  Do they go to same buildings of worship?  Absolutely not!  Do they live and let live? Hell, yes!  Their kids play together, go to the same schools and visit each other's homes.

        Tell how beautiful Paris is to the North-African immigrant's child, and he will tell you how ugly it is from the suburban high-rise he often views it.  He will tell you how it has been systematically isolated from the Paris of the romantics, the lovers, the artists and the idealists!  He will tell you how hope is a scarce commodity at his side of the fence where it is in abundance on the other side.  He will tell you how ugly he feels in a country that has effectively isolated him from any shred of dignity!

        Man's most judicious trait, is a good sense of what not to believe. -Euripides

        by peelinglayers on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 10:57:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'd be happy to remove (4.00)
    jingoism, militarism, religion and conservatism from this political blog. They are all hoaxes in my opinion.
    We'd not have much left to talk about though: Endless conversations about which principals are set in wet concrete and which are cast in stone.

    I enjoyed all the Atheist/Agnostic/Religious talk, the minds here are exceptional.
    Jerome and Diderot are no exception and I read dKos to learn.

    Avoiding Theocracy at Home and Neo Cons Abroad

    by UniC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:26:23 AM PST

  •  "God - you Americans (4.00)
    are too religious!!!"

    Haha!!! I like your sense of verbal irony.

    "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention."

    by adigal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:27:05 AM PST

  •  Too Much Evangelizing (4.00)
    on both sides of the fence.  The atheists many times attack us Liberal Progressive religious folk with the same fervor as the religious right.  So, instead of having a conversation and try to get to some point of reconciliation, everyone gets bloodied.

    I do believe the discussion of religion on the side serves an important function.  Unless we, both atheists and religious, can get to some understanding of our shared values (dare I say humanist regardless of prefix), we will be chasing our tails.  And please do not forget that the GOP is very good at employing religious gestalt.   We need to get a handle on faith and god talk if we hope to start winning nationally.  What we are witnessing at dKos is getting that handle, even though it looks like the making of sausage.

    Pray for my Beloved Country

    by lubarsh on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:27:46 AM PST

    •  You know what drives me nuts? (4.00)
      Is when people thank God or Jesus when they've won a sporting event.  God taking sides in a football game or a boxing match?  If God is there, he can hardly take such nonsense as a good sign.  These people think this anything to do with religion?  Praying before a game that no one gets hurt is one thing.  Invoking God to intervene in the games outcome is quite another.
      •  yeah (4.00)
        the ultimate cheapening of their own values.

        meanwhile children starve, but that's their own fault....
        after all we have to have accountability.

        -----"now watch the Lord guide this drive!"

        (-6.88, -8.31)-- "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

        by binFranklin on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:15:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's good to see some of the heavy weights (none)
    get drawn into this semi-annual event.  I think it makes for great persuasion on the part of us Democrats to those voters we need to bring back to the Democratic party if we want back the majority.

    I just don't think we've locked up the agnostic/atheist vote yet.  But we're close.  

    This semi-annual debate is a great use of Daily Kos to convert some of us sheeple to agnostism or better atheism.  

    In reality we just need to persuade the 3-4% not voting for us who are the difference between turning this country around to come back to the Democratic party.  

    I think this debate may just be the 50 state message we've been missing.

    Never have so few taken so much from so many for so long.

    (-6.75, -3.85)

    by mapKY on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:28:23 AM PST

  •  You are mistaken, monsieur. (3.00)
    France's policy of refusing to allow people their freedom of religious expression... Wearing headscarves in schools for example... Is resulting in schools being burned down.

    The religion has to be taken out of the government. But the people should be allowed to do whatever the Hell they want religiously within reason in public spaces, whatever their age (or religion).

    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

    by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:29:33 AM PST

    •  If you think the troubles in France... (4.00)
      ...are fundamentally about headscarves and other religious expression, you're the one who's mistaken.  Maybe listening to Lou Dobbs too much?

      Some people find the need to frame everything in terms of religion.  I have no way of knowing if you're one of them.  At any rate:  A big mistake, to my thinking.

      •  Okay Then... (none)
        ...Why are hordes of muslim youngsters specifically targetting classrooms and school buildings?

        I don't listen to Lou Dobbs, or any other MSM anymore at all, for a year now.

        I blame the problems in France on the uneasy coexistence of good ideas and bad ideas. And the good ideas are being blamed for what the bad ideas have wrought. Inclusion is being blamed, when it is policies of exclusion, of which the headscarves issue is a small part, that have backfired.

        9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

        by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:15:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  hey when I was 15 (4.00)
          i wanted to burn my school down. ...and just about everything else in that shithole Alabama town.

          of course i was facing religious persecution... Daily School Prayer.

          It is still happening down there.

          They didn't comply with Intergration in my town until 1969!!

          They're still praying over kids and if they don't like it they do what i did... drop out.

          (-6.88, -8.31)-- "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

          by binFranklin on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:11:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  My Comment (none)
        Was not specifically about the troubles in France (riots) but about the resentment of strictly enforced religiousness on people for whom religion is supposed to be inextricable. Which has been well documented. And which the diarist had recently pledged to use as a wake-up call regarding being holier than thou.

        Not everything we do in the US is BushCo. Religious tolerance is one my people are responsible for... Both literally and because I like to think so.

        The balance that American liberals try to uphold is a good one. You can say or display anything of religious significance, except through the agency of a government institution... But being a user of that institution is not to be assimilated into it and limited as it is.

        9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

        by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:45:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It is no accident (4.00)
    that America's current preocupation with religioun (reflected here at kos) coincides with the greatest outbreak of crime, brutality and lying that this country has engaged in since Grant and the Civil War.  Yes religion appears hand in hand with torture, chemical weapons, a barbaric preemptive war, a goverenment of bandits and a culture of lying which is consistant with history.

    What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? unknown

    by moon in the house of moe on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:30:35 AM PST

  •  You are defined by your enemies (4.00)
    Our enemy for 50+ years was Godless Communism.  If they were wrong about one thing, they must obviously be wrong about everything.

    Once the Boomers die off, we may get back to a more secular society.

    •  Bwahaha! (none)
      Isn't that just a sidehand way of saying "Clinton's generation did it?"  You're gonna have a long wait for me to die off, sonny.  Young people make mistakes.  That's why there are fewer old people.  Old pilots/bold pilots, capiche?
      •  No, it's not (none)
        I'm saying that the enerations that were deeply in the ColdWar mentality (Boomers and WWII) are going to be mentally invested in the Godless Communism reaction subconsciously that they won't change their minds.

        Every generation has its prejudices.  My generation and the net are probably going to be more atheistic because our enemies now are Godful Terrorists.

    •  Interesting point. (none)
      Religious identity can be a strong element in separating from the enemy. I think of Ireland and find it hard to believe the country would have remained so staunchly Catholic for so long had the British shared that religion.
  •  BTW, Jerome, you know how (4.00)
    a parent can try to give his or her child the benefit of lessons learned the hard way? We the people in the United States, a very young and new and cocky country compared to Europe, don't want to listen to the lessons of our elders.  Many of us want to swagger around the town, scaring the neighbors, breaking cars and storefront windows.  "We don't want to listen to nobody - we are the man."

    "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention."

    by adigal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:34:11 AM PST

  •  A Very basic (4.00)
    problem at the exoteric level of popular religions is that "my" religion is seen as truer or better than yours.  Evangelical religions like Christianity and Islam particularly have this problem.  At the esoteric level you will find that few of the world's mystics have any trouble getting along, whatever the external vehicle of their faith. A problem arises when popular religion wants to force all of its specific behavior codes and idiosyncrasies on everyone else. In essence they have stepped beyond the spiritual and want political control.  Historically, this is a recipe for disaster as the Europeans know.  
      A further problem arises when one has the mistaken notion that proclaiming faith makes you a superior person.  This is particularly invidious in religions which believe you can be saved by faith alone.  By contrast in terms of relationships to others, YOUR FAITH MEANS NOTHING. Sorry, it is YOUR ACTIONS which are the true measure of your religious understanding.  In these terms a huge disconnect arises when people claim to follow a divine figure which teaches love but they themselves are actually full of judgement and hate.
       I do not see having religious belief in itself as being a problem in America (although I am strongly for separation of church and state).  The problem is the degree to which a certain strident religious viewpoint has been allowed to dominate the discourse. That domination largely comes from buying airtime but it also comes from the claimants to religious authority our media machines choose to put before us as leaders. Why are we stuck with Pats Buchanan and Robertson?  Why don't we get to hear from Matthew Fox or Thich Nhat Han?  Because they would not support the current political agenda? Because we might hear more about not making wars and helping the poor?  
      Religion has come to not only dominate the discourse, it has come to be a political tool in itself and this should be a cause for concern. The historical lesson is that when religion dominates, people suffer.  Unfortuately America teaches history so poorly that people have no grasp of this, just as they have no grasp of the actual works of the Founding Fathers on the subject of religion and the state.
       As for my personal opinion, I find ethical philosophy a far more reliable source of moral behavior than religious dictate.  At least you have to understand why you are taking a given position.  And as for my own beliefs, most fundamentalists would probably burn me at the stake given the chance. The intolerance in certain hearts has not changed much, whatever tolerance government has mandated.

    Theocracy is tyranny

    by Druidica on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:34:56 AM PST

    •  Whatever religious freedoms the settlers... (4.00)
      ...were after, they weren't quite so sanguine in recognizing the rights of this continent's aboriginal residents to live according to their belief.  Though that's somewhat of a moot point if there's something tantamount to genocide going on at the same time.

      Lest we forget, a colonial roots of a huge portion of the US start with Spain, not the Pilgrims.  New Mexico last hung a Jew (explicitly for being Jewish) in the early 1800s (pre-Mexico).  1492 was Columbus, but it was also the final expulsion of the Moors (Muslims) from Spain.  The Inquisition was in full bloom in short order, and many Spanish Jews fled to the colonies.  Where the the Inquisition carried on as well.

      I think it was Simon Ortiz of San Juan Pueblo who tells it this way (probably butchered in paraphrase):  The Spanish came and told us about Jesus.  He sounded like a good man, and we added him to our prayers.  The problem came when the Spanish also insisted we had to stop praying to all other spirits.  "Insisted" being a bit of a euphemism.  

      There you have the problem with monotheistic religion in a nutshell.

  •  Exceptionally well agrued (4.00)
    "America was founded in large part by those Europeans that fled religous wars and persecution.."

    What a twist of history that their decendants have resurrected religous wars and persecution a mere 229 years later. Perhaps not yet to the same intensity but we are on the same slippery slope.

    Oh, we may couch it as "Cultural wars" - same thing, different paint. How quickly the good people rushed to embrace torture as ends justify the means. How Godly?

    First we started another "crusade." Oh, that was only a slip of tongue. Next came torture, secret prisons, abolishing habeas corpus. Same thing different paint.

    Let's stop feeding greed. In fact, propose we make it a commandment: The greedy shall not be fed.

    by idredit on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:38:12 AM PST

    •  Those Europeans who fled religious (4.00)
      persecution came over here and engaged in the same by exterminating the indigenous population.

      Oh, I forgot, those savages were heathens, not humans--and of course their was no "system" to their religious forms (it was just "spirituality", just like there was no "system" to their forms of governance).


      "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

      by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:19:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Worth 100 4's for this statement alone (4.00)
    Bring your values into the political debate, not their source.

    Amen (if I may say so). The best and most succinct advice I've seen on this subject, bar none.

    Thanks, Jerome, for such clarity.

    •  Agreed, (4.00)
      a fine statement.

      The inability to do this, of course, indicates an utter lack of spiritual relationship with the source. An inactive spiritual belief is lifeless; there is no 'religion' without practice, but the practice needs no ID as validation.

    •  but what can we do (none)
      about the endless "word game" pissing contests that really seem to have nothing to do with religion or logic or anything?

      this was a really shitty week for me to regain my TU ship... last week a lot of that nonscense would have just been hidden... but not enough.

      (-6.88, -8.31)-- "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

      by binFranklin on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:02:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, reality dictates we confront religion (4.00)
    Many on this site -- even the most religious -- very much value our country's seperation of church and state. Unfortunately, the opposing party, the Republicans, has exploited the sorry state of our public school system, which has left far too many in our country unaware that one of the main reasons the first settlers of this usually wonderful country came here from Europe was to escape religious persecution. As a result, history in many ways is repeating itself. Those of us who want a government that continues to respect all religious backgrounds need to understand this development.

    Until now, we have had an attitude similar to yours: in essence, scornful of those who look for religiosity in political candidates. Consequently, we have lost all three branches of government. Without majority control, that dividing wall has been greatly eroded. If we want to ever reverse this trend, we've come to realize we have to take the concerns of these people seriously. Only then can we start a dialogue in which we can make our concerns clear.

    I hope that we can come to understand our fellow Americans and not let our desire to regain majority rule compromise our principles.

  •  Red light here.... (4.00)
    Most Americans are not crazy nor are they a bunch of religious fanatics trying to create a religious state. Some are nuts unfortunately, but not all. Many of those that claim to be "reborn" aren't either.

     Most Americans (that includes us Kossaks) are busy taking care of kids, struggling to pay  bills, working longer hours, union busting, Social Security and pensions, worrying about  layoffs and energy costs, medical costs, washing dishes, buying groceries and so on. They aren't fretting about religion and government.  

     Europeans and others should stop lecturing us how we are SUPPOSED to be (of course, this has been occuring for over 200 years--we will never be up to snuff.)  
     Americans are struggling under this Bush regime without lectures on how terrible we are.  We are trying to survive here.


  •  I can't deny (4.00)
    Yes, Americans must seem crazy to the rest of the world -- but I hardly think we're alone in that. Other countries, and my own, all seem crazy to me at times. We're humans. Humans are kind of crazy.

    But I think that the religiosity of America is a strange little paradox that isn't quite what it appears to be. We have freedom of religion and from religion guaranteed right there in our Constitution, while many of your "secular" European countries actually have an official state religion.

    Last Christmas I was in Indonesia, a country with lots of Muslims (on Java) and Hindus (on Bali). There really aren't Christians there, except for Australian tourists. Yet, commercial establishments were all decorated for Christmas, bands in hotel bars sang Christmas carols, waiters in cafes wore little Santa hats. We flew back to the US on The Longest Christmas Day, and were given a cheery send-off by a Bali Santa handing out candy and little gifts in the airport. Every Asian airport from Bali to Singapore to Hong Kong was decorated for Christmas and playing Christmas music.

    We landed in San Francisco, and it was still Christmas, but you'd never know it by the decor or the behavior we encountered.

    Why the difference? I don't really know.

    I would like also like to point out that

    "The end justifies the means"
    is not a religious argument. The religious argument is, be righteous and let god or gods worry about the outcome. "The end justifies the means" is a political argument, and, as you  point out, an exceedingly dangerous one.

    Kossacks get caught up arguing about religion the same way people at a party get caught up in the discussion. It engages people. But part of why the subject comes up is that we are fighting the results of a twenty-year stealth campaign to mingle religion and politics -- first, the politicians took over the churches, and from the churches they created a shadow communication system, and then they used that communication system to gain political power using what even they think of as "the wacko vote."

    Religion has become a cancer infecting our political system. Likewise, politics has infected our churches.

    The current American liberal movement needs to get religion out of politics, of course. And politics out of religion. But part of how we do that is by finding the deluded people of geniuine faith and trying to deprogram them. No, you don't have to be an atheist to be a liberal. They've been lying to you over there. GOP does not stand for "God's Own Party." There is nothing in the Bible telling you to vote Republican or go to hell. Honest.

    There are good, practical, winning-elections reasons for the subject to come up in dKosland. It doesn't really have anything to do with what any individual happens to believe, although the discussion often veers that way, just because...well, people are like that.

    •  The Native people of the Pacific Northwest... (4.00)
      ...had/have a cultural tradition called the potlatch (often referred to as a "giveaway").  A big part of one's status in society was based on how much one gave away on various ceremonial occasions.  It was an effective social organization to make sure no one gets completely left behind.

      Official US policy, 100+ years ago, was to stamp out the potlatch.  Characterizing it as "pagan" religion, or some such.  People caught engaged in it got hauled off to jail.  Lodgepoles (carved totem poles) which embodied clan relations and cultural traditions were also discouraged.  "Graven images", or some such.

      Perhaps not surprisingly, Coast Salish people have taken up Christmas in a big way.  In the extended families of my acquaintance, I don't know anyone who calls themselves a Christian, attends Church, believes in Jesus, or any such.  Yet, every year they have a big feast at Christmas, everyone gets together, and gifts are given.  And I mean to tell you, I've never seen gift-giving on the scale they do it.  It's a very big do.

      Christmas?  Nominally.  To me, it just seems a way for traditional religion to carry on clandestinely, even if somewhat transformed.

      •  Yes, and Christianity did exactly the same thing (4.00)
        Christmas isn't when Jesus was born, shepherds wouldn't have been in the fields in winter. Likely in spring, but not the middle of the winter. However, there WAS a big midwinter celebration they could use to hide the fact that they were celebrating something else -- and all those Romans who thought about converting to Christianity didn't want to give up their fun.

        Same with Easter, though that does correspond closer. However, if Easter was really when the BIBLE says it was, it would be the week after Passover. How people can read the Bible and not realize that is beyond me... it's right there, written down. It doesn't take a genius to realize that the date has been fudged. Why? To correspond to some Roman holiday feast, so the Christians wouldn't get persecuted.

        Hey fundies -- how 'bout following the Bible more closely, huh? How 'bout actually READING it for a change?

    •  Hm. (none)
      You write:

      We have freedom of religion and from religion guaranteed right there in our Constitution, while many of your "secular" European countries actually have an official state religion.

      All western European countries that I've ever seen the constitution of, guarantee freedom of religion and do not have a state religion.

      Which European countries have a state religion, and do you have links to their constitutions? Like I said, I'm not aware of any, but I'd like to know if there are.

      I do not have my own blog.

      by Frank on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:31:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please check your research ... (none)
        I will not take the time to fully research and provide links but ...

        •  United Kingdom:  Church of England

        •  Sweden:  Protestant

        And, so on ... there are formally favored -- even state -- religions throughout Europe.  

        But, the fact of this formal status (and funding from the state) does not mean that daily life of politics has the same religiousity (prayer breakfasts / et al) that permeates the culture of politics in the United States.

  •  We are a young country (none)
    And we have not learned the lessons that Europe has. The people who founded this country made church and state separate, but generations later, many of us have forgotten why, and those in power are exploiting that. We will have to learn the hard way about why we keep keep politics and religion separate, why we shouldn't let corporations run all our media for profit, why we should be educated about propaganda tactics and wary of excessive power, etc. This is why it's a problem that education in this country has become more about teaching meaningless facts than about context.
  •  Brilliant concept, getting religion out of (1.50)

    Just like the French did when they banned Muslim schoolgirls from wearing headscarves which they are required by their faith to wear, eh Jerome?

    Please, we don't need a lecture from the French on anything.  Especially not the virtues of getting religion out of politics.

    The rioting all across La France proves that the example of the French in trying to stamp out people's religious beliefs is not an example that Americans should follow.

    For better or worse, Americans are a religious people.  And we believe in religious freedom and religious tolerance.  That means giving politicians and candidates for public office the right to talk about God as much as they'd like to.

    And if we want to win in either 2006 or 2008, we have to figure out how to connect with middle class voters who abhor the Republicans preferential treatment of the rich but vote Republican anyway because they perceive our party as being the party of ribaldry and decadence.

    War is hell. Execute Order 66.

    by raymundo on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:45:44 AM PST

    •  Hang on there (4.00)
      You have a point on the headscarf issue (which, I might add, also covers the wearing of yarmulkes by observant Jews, and any other identifiably religious garb, like the Sikh turban, Christian crucifixes or other symbols, etc.). But you're way off line on the rioting issue. And about French efforts to "stamp out people's religious beliefs."

      The issue fostering the riots isn't the fact that many of those taking to the streets are Muslims. It's the fact that they're Africans, and they're having a hard time finding jobs, which means they're dependent on the dole and they live in pretty crummy conditions. Their religion is a secondary issue--at best. I can assure you from personal experience that there are plenty of places to worship in France, and that nobody harasses anybody who wants to do so.

  •  Twain etc. (4.00)
    Great post, Jerome.

    This kind of thing flustered Twain as well-- who saw the insanity  of his fellow human beings, esp. Americans, and tried to wake us up with with a little laughter.

    Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion--several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.-- Mark Twain

    There's a fine comment upthread by robertdfeinman that really nails the situation as to why our waters are getting stirred up with this discussion here at Dailykos.

    When one lives in a country that is taking on many of the aspects of a theocracy there is bound to be a lot of discussion of religion.


    Do look up, if you have the time, an excellent article by historian Fritz Stern, on the prospects of a fascist theocracy in the U.S.A.


    BTW Religion and politics must be kept separate, but I still like good stories like Wizard of Oz ("Who's the man behind the curtain?") and meditations on power gone awry...i.e.
    Frodo failed, Bush has the ring

  •  "Amen" from an atheist (4.00)
    I have:
    1. Moral values
    2. Aesthetics
    3. Emotional depth;
    All of which do not need a deity to justify them.

    It's ridiculous when a diarist here stereotypes atheism as "all intellect." Imagine if somebody here said women are "all emotion."

    "There is no god, and I am his prophet." SocraticGadfly

    by steverino on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:48:44 AM PST

  •  Si tu le dis... (3.40)
    Yes, we in America tend to talk a lot about religion. But as a general rule, you don't find us killing other people because of it (see Crusades, the; Reformation, the; Thirty Years' War, the...). We also don't believe in "state" or "official" churches, no matter how loudly our radical Christianists howl about getting one.

    So this American will thank you not to lecture him on how crazy he is. Really, Jérôme, I expect better from you.

    •  You'll get to the killing. (3.60)
      It'll come. If you don't learn where your current path leads from European history, you'll have to learn it the hard way, and the lesson will be written in American blood.

      If you don't believe it can happen to you -- it will.

      Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

      by Canadian Reader on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:03:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I seriously doubt it (3.33)
        One of the other traits in the American national character is a general disinclination (the present administration definitely excepted) to get entangled in foreign wars. We'd far and away rather let all the rest of the world slaughter itself and pick up the pieces afterward, impractical as that may be.

        I study modern European history, and I'm writing my M.A. research project on the social history of French policies on women and illegitimate children in the French Zone of occupied Germany after World War II. Believe me when I tell you that I see the problems very clearly.

        •  Not talking about foreign wars. (4.00)
          Let's not get into the astonishing ease with which Americans can be stampeded into foreign wars just by making them appear costless -- all that's saying is that you're human, and not as immune to cheap jingoism as you'd like to make out.

          But I was talking about something else. A theocracy persecutes those who don't subscribe to its own brand of religion. That's just what it does. Religious persecution is inherent in theocracy. Given the actual variety of religion in the US, if you let one fanatical religious sect gain political control... say, for the sake of discussion, the current SBC or something like that... what would they do, if they could, to Wiccans? Or Moslems, for that matter?

          Moreover, there's the mother of all religious wars waiting when the SBC finally falls out with American Catholics. If you've studied European history, you must be aware how often minor, hair-splitting theological differences were used as grounds for burning individuals at the stake, or slaughtering whole cities. (Think Fallujah, only in the US.)

          If you think that sort of thing could only happen in the bad old times among ignorant foreigners, you're wrong.

          It doesn't have to happen, of course. But it will, if people don't know the danger and don't actively work to steer the culture away from theocracy. If you fold your arms and say comfortably that it can't happen because the US is so different... well, by saying no danger exists, you're doing your small part to open the path so that it will happen.

          The US is populated by human beings. It is not immune to the pitfalls of human nature.

          Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

          by Canadian Reader on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:14:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  We don't kill people based on religion? (4.00)
      How did approx 16 million indigenous people disappear from the face of the earth?

      You do all realize that it wasn't until 1978 that American Indians were "granted" the right to practice their religion in this country, right (see American Indian Freedom of Religion Act).

      This country was founded on religious persecution and the extermination of non-Christian populations.

      "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

      by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:14:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, mostly from smallpox (none)
        and other diseases for which they had no immunity.  Entire nations of Mesoamericans died of disease without even meeting a European immigrant.
        •  you mean like the smallpox (none)
          deliberately distributed to the tribes in the form of blankets in what some scholars have described as the first incidence of "biological warfare" (sorry don't have time to provide links; look it up, it's out there).

          The history of the specifically religious persecution is also out there. And indeed, land was also a central issue, but I don't think the extermination in this instance can be reduced to a single issue any more than the Nazi extermination of various groups (or any other case of genocide) can be reduced to a single issue.

          The fact is, the extermination of the indigenous population was entirely deliberate--partly because the unsettler population wanted the land, partly because they regarded the indigenous population as "subhuman" and therefore "fair game".

          Killing savages, after all, can't be seen as a crime or a sin.

          "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

          by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:43:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, it is much more nuanced than that (none)
            Well, what you are saying is true, but hardly the whole story.  There are incidents of the delibrate infection of native tribes with smallpox.  But that is long after much of the decimation of smallpox had occurred, since it wasn't something that anyone at the time anticipated.  So for millions of deaths, it was not deliberate.  Another factor that you are discounting is that many of the exterminations were not state-sanctioned but were the work of private homesteaders, whose advantage in technology and science allowed them to decimate large populations with small numbers.

            It took 200 Spaniards to defeat the Incan empire.  Your premise that these behaviors were the norm for all colonists presumes much that is not in the record.

            •  You say this like this is a good thing: (none)
              "were not state-sanctioned but were the work of private homesteaders" -- in my view, that almost makes it worse. I mean at least the Germans can plausibly advance the "'excuse" that the extermination of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals and Others was done at the hand of a state over which they supposedly had no control.

              If what you say is true, what does that really say about the national character of Americans as whole--extending all the way back through its history?

              I think there's much merit to what you say, indeed. But what are the implications? Is a "regime change" (i.e. ousting the Bush regime) going to have any substantial impact on the fundamental character traits that allowed this to happen and which, in my view, are really at the core of what is still destroying this country today.

              I love this land. I love it very much. And for the duration of my life, have been diligently engaged in the process of trying to give its people the benefit of the doubt--in every regard. However, that task is becoming increasingly difficult.

              The greed, the self-interest, the willingness to sacrifice everyone else's life, the "I got mine" mentality so fuck the rest of the world" mentality, (ruthlesss individualism)....these are indeed the foundational principles upon which this country was built and they remain operative today. The very fact that these Bushites were able to rise to power is an index of the degree to which those principles remain operational and indeed foundational.

              "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

              by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:43:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It is, kind of. (none)
                How could the Germans possibly say such a thing?

                This is a good thing, first of all.  Even in today's society, it is impossible for the state to be responsible for the actions of each individual member.  In the case of the settlement of the Americas, this is even more true: for a long time, the settlers were citizens of governments separated by the Atlantic Ocean.  After that period was over, homesteaders became those citizens of the United States who moved west into what was legal no-mans-land, beyond the ability for any legal authority to hold them responsible for their actions.

                Second, I think that this is a universally human trait, and not a particularly American one.  First of all, there really is no distinction between what the antecedents of the United States did and what the Spanish and Portugese et al did in other parts of the Americas.  It also cannot be distinguished from the experience of European settlers in Australia or of Polynesian settlers in the Pacific Islands.  Societies that develop advanced technologies and diseases will, in the absence of a controlling authority, overwhelm societies that do not.  Even if this process was not aided greatly by intent and violence, the result was inevitable; Native Americans had no immunity to smallpox, influenza, and any number of other diseases that had evolved in Eurasia over the course of a thousand years.  The colonists had no cure for those diseases to give the natives, even if they had wanted to.  I highly recommend Jared Diamond for further reading on this subject.

                I too am appalled by the longevity of selfishness.  I suppose it has its roots in the genetic need to ensure the replication of our own DNA, but the reasons it has continued to flourish so far beyond the genetic exigency saddens me.

                •  I am familiar with Jared Diamond's work (none)
                  I recommend Ward Churchill (A Little Matter of Genocide), David Stannard (American Holocaust), Richard Drinnon (Facing West), Russell Thornton, Vine DeLoria (everything), among others.

                  "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

                  by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:30:49 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (none)
              "Your premise that these behaviors were the norm for all colonists presumes much that is not in the record."--

              Um. Wherever you are in the US of A (even if you're on an Indian reservation): look out your front door.

              That record speaks for itself.

              "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

              by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:36:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Uh, what does that mean? (none)
                Seriously, what does that mean?
                •  It means that (none)
                  the "culture" that has been built on this stolen land, with all its greed, its crime, its rape of the environment, its cultural monotony, its consumeristic plastic filth, its hatred of (and willingness to destroy) anything that doesn't "fit" into its mold, its indifference to the poverty and suffering of others, etc.,   is to this day condoned, supported and promoted by the colonist/unsettlers who are still here (and happily so): that is to say, it is and remains the "norm" (norm: i.e., what most people, with a few exceptions, participate in and accept without question).

                  It's not something that can be passed off on "state-authority," and it's not something that can be passed off as "ancient history"--because it is the norm. Face it: most Americans are quite happy with the fact that the land they live in and on is what it is, and they really don't give a flying fuck about who and/or what paid the price for its existence.

                  The Bush regime is not the problem. The people are the problem, and the sooner "they" figure that out, the sooner we might be able to salvage something positive from the tragedy and the travesty that is this country's history.

                  We can do better. Really, I believe we can, but not as long as we keep telling ourselves "we are the champions........ of the World!"

                  "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

                  by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:24:32 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Okaaaay (none)
                    That's just crazy talk.  Seriously.

                    When should we have cemented which people live where?  1491?  Or earlier?  When do we start the mass relocations of everyone on earth, not to mention the restitution of land to people who've been literally eliminated from the earth for generations?  Where are these cultures that do not have greed or crime?  Where are these cultures that are beyond hunter-gathering that do not impact their environment?

                    This is what human history is, like it or not.  I'm not excusing or discounting suffering due to the colonization of the Americas by saying that.  And like it or not, you are engaging in a moral fallacy by presuming that people who live here now are responsible for the actions of those who may not even have been their ancestors from half a millenium ago.  Your implication is that someone like myself whose great-grandparents emigrated here a century ago bear some sort of moral responsibility for the actions of Vasco de Gama.  Bullshit.

                    •  Well, frankly, there is something in between (none)
                      There is a difference between "having an impact" on the environment and completely destroying it with recklessness, carelessness and flatout laziness.

                      Since the thread is about differences between Europe (in this case France) and the US, let's look at this:

                      I lived in Germany for 10 yrs, from 1984 to 1994.

                      Just to establish that I'm not advocating a return to the stone age: Germany has what is probably the best highway system in the world--blank as a baby's ass, not a pothole in sight!  And indeed, I took great pleasure in driving 110 mph along Hitlers' highway in my fuel efficient late-model VW, for many years.

                       I am not necessarily implying that you bear responsibility for the past, either. What you are responsible for is the present (and so am I).

                      Back to the German example:

                      When I first moved to Germany in 1984, there was virtually NO homelessness. Even the poorest of the poor had their basic needs met: i.e. roof over their heads, food on the table, guaranteed health care, transportation and clothing.  The term "driveby shooting" did not EXIST in the German language. The notion of attempting to orchestrate a "murder free" day (as often happens in many of our major urban areas) would have been completely unfathomable in the context of German society. (Those are just random anecdotal examples pulled from the top of my head; see William Greider, One World Ready Or Not: the Manic Logic of Global Capitalism for a fairly decent systematic study of some of these things).

                      Recycling. By the time I left Germany in 1994, I don't think there was ANYONE who was not participating in recycling programs. If you weren't, you certainly didn't admit it to anyone because to not participate in recycling pretty much made you a social pariah. In other words, it was socially unacceptable in Germany to waste energy. It was socially  unacceptable to pollute (excessively). That wasn't a state mandate: it was the mandate of the PEOPLE.

                      Don't recall what year it was, but I distinctly remember when a law was passed about "excess packaging"--the law stated that businesses were responsible for taking care of the waste produced by excess packaging (and, to the best of my recollection, there were pretty stringent standards for businesses as far as recycling waste was concerned).

                      That meant that if you purchased say a print cartridge that was packaged in twenty times more plastic than was necessary, you could leave that excess packaging in the store and the store was responsible for its environmentally sound disposal. The day that law was passed, German environmentalists got together and made very sure that those businesses understood the implications of that law. Twas great fun leaving that packaging in the stores making sure that the businesses put pressure on the manufacturers to develop less wasteful types of packaging because if they didn't, it meant that EVERY DAY, they were going be confronted with shopping carts full of garbage.

                      Those are just some very small examples. Don't get me started on what German labor laws used to look like before they started following the American corporate model. Don't get me started on what universal health looks like in Germany.

                      My point being: there are other "civilized", industrial nations that are doing a better job in terms of crime, in terms of poverty, in terms of the environment, in terms of health care--and one reason they are succeeding is that the PEOPLE who live in these societies DEMAND it of themselves and of their government.

                      ...for the sake of brevity, we'll leave out the fact that the current population of the US includes approx. 3.5 million American Indians and that the United States government has entered into legal contracts with the governments of these people/s--many of which have yet to be upheld today--yeah, I do think it is in part your responsibility to see to it that your government uphold the terms of the treaties it has entered into with sovereign nations, both outside the territorial bounds of this country and within them--the US government STILL OWES many of the tribes money, and is holding millions of dollars in trust monies "hostage". Yes, I do think it is the responsibility of the American people who live on those lands to force their government to uphold those treaties.

                      The German government, incidentally, is also doing a better job of making restitution for the damage done to the Jewish population there. In fact, even the US government is doing a better job of making restitution for crimes committed against the Jews than it is with regard to crimes committed (and still being committed) against Indians. The US gov can't even bring itself to pass legislation "apologizing" symbolically for the crimes it has committed against the Indian people (the legislation is there, just dormant).

                      Do I consider it your responsibility as an American citizen to force your government to uphold its legal agreements with the tribes? yes, I do.  

                      But geez, I'd probably be content to see failure to recycle be a more heinous "social offence" than smoking cigarettes. I'd be content with fewer guns and more health care, too.

                      yeah, just crazy talk, I know. Village idiot foaming at the mouth here. God you Americans are crazy!

                      "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

                      by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:40:47 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  hmmmm (none)
                        Now we (mostly) agree (again).

                        Look, I don't know much about modern Germany.  I have something of a historical beef with them.  But I do agree that much of what I know about modern Germany is reflective of what I consider the future for modern democratic republics.

                        I am a dual citizen of the State of Israel, however, and lived there for a period of years, so I can say that there is much that modern society can and should be doing to improve.  Israel has national health care and recycling.  Israel has strict environmental laws.  Israel has, outside of terrorism, very little crime and almost no homicide, which is particularly interesting since it is a society where nearly everyone has guns, and carry them openly.  There are only so many parallels one can draw, though, since Israel is a very small society (with about 10 million citizens) that certainly lives under very particular circumstances.

                        That being said, there is a great deal wrong with Israeli society too, as well as with German society.

                        Much of what we are talking about are problems that particularly affect the United States for a myriad of reasons, many of which are unique to the United States.  I would say that gun violence in particular is one of those problems.  But I think we ought to try to stick somewhat to the problems at hand.

                        I agree that the government has to do a far better job living up to its commitments regarding Amerindian nations.  I don't think it will happen though - they'll let them have casinos for a few years until they flat-out legalize gambling, and then they'll forget about them again.  It is one of those problems like reparations that I doubt will ever be resolved.  But I'll keep putting my name on petitions for the rest of life anyway.

                        Your earlier post confused me into believing that you were one of the several with whom I have spoken who believe in a sort of American Original Sin.  Please accept my apologies.

                        •  No harm, no foul. (none)
                           I certainly share your historical beef with Germany (I am German-Jewish paternal descent; am not "jewish" in any strict sense of the word; ). By virtue of the quintessentially JEWISH name I inherited from a father I never knew, I am already marked as a "Jew" in Germany by virtue of my name (translates into Hebrew, I suppose, as Har Shalom).

                          No society is perfect, and indeed the size factor is an important one. Both Germany and Israel are much more "manageable" in that regard. Relative cultural "homogeny" is also a factor (let's just leave the "Palestine" issue out of the equation for the moment).

                           Anti-Semitism is certainly still alive and well in Germany (often thriving under the guise of philo-Semitism), as are many other forms of racism, and the Germans have their faults as do any other people.  But I have to give the Germans credit for at least trying to "make amends" as it were, or at least for admitting their "guilt" in the aftermath of the Shoah  (even if only because they were forced to do so by the international community). America just likes to pretend "it" never happened, and if it did, well, it was all for the better (kill the Indian, save the man, you know). America's problem is DENIAL. Denial, denial, denial. Cover it up, maybe it will go away.

                          But what Israel and Germany may have in common is that there is a greater degree of social consciousness, a greater emphasis on "collective welfare" (even if it may be ultimately motivated by self-interest). And that's my beef with America: this "ruthless individualism", this single-minded focus on me, me, me, me, me....myself, and I. And that is what I mean when I talk about the PEOPLE being the problem, not the government because if the people would change, sooner or later, the government would have to follow.


                          "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

                          by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:03:02 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Very interesting stuff (none)
                            I wonder how much that 'rugged individualism' is ingrained into the American conciousness by tradition and culture.  I wonder if that is something that can conceivably be overcome, for the collective good.

                            There is a certain sense of the ultimate rights of the individual which is historically key to the notion of America.  While this has certainly been a strength for the US in many instances, it also has a very real dark side, as is evidenced by such historical occurences such as homesteaders and the Confederacy.  It is interesting that the ideal of these individual rights has persisted even as we have gone through multiple phases of increased Federalism that make much of those mythic rights moot.  However much these rights have disappeared over the last century, the mythic nature of them has persisted in the American imagination, and remains a strong electoral wedge.  How to surmount that, if indeed that is a more advisable route than a return to a greater sense of individual rights, is a question for people with more specialized knowledge than I.

                          •  It used to be "rugged" (none)
                            now it's just "ruthless" ;)

                            And it took a decided turn for the worse with the election of Ronald Reagan, the guy who made greed acceptable as a traditional family value.

                            Ironically, the answer would seem to require a collective paradigm shift, but I think the only way you're going to get that is one individual at a time. So, you're probably right, it's never going to happen. This population will consume itself before there's time.  

                            "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

                            by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:57:33 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This has been a very interesting dialogue (none)
                            For me, at least.  Thanks.
                          •  Ditto. see ya around. (none)

                            "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

                            by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:02:40 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

          •  First instance of biological warfare... (none)
            ...predated the smallpox blankets (of the 1800s, no?) by centuries.  Involved catapulting recently plague-dead bodies over the walls of a besieged city in the Ukraine.  Catapulters: Tatars.  Date: 13th century.  Not to belittle any of the later atrocities, but rather to set the record straight on that point.  Americans can't get credit/blame for being first on everything!
            •  qualifier: (none)
              first incidence in north America.

              (Haven't you noticed yet LoE, that European history doesn't matter? Europeans are a people without history. Ukraine? Where the fuck is that?  just kidding of course).

              "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

              by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:33:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  In more ways than one (none)
            look it up, it's out there

            It's mostly "out there" because it's effectively an urban legend. There is little evidence on the matter to begin with. And there are virtually no documentary sources, apart from one journal entry and a sequence of letters between Sir Jeffrey Amherst (commander of the British forces, by the by) and one of his field commanders, Colonel Henry Bouquet.

            Bouquet wrote a letter to Amherst on 13 July, 1763, to which he added this postscript:

            P.S. I will try to inocculate the Indians by means of Blankets that may fall in their hands, taking care however not to get the disease myself. As it is pity to oppose good men against them, I wish we could make use of the Spaniard's Method, and hunt them with English Dogs. Supported by Rangers, and some Light Horse, who would I think effectively extirpate or remove that Vermine.

            Three days later, Amherst wrote back, also in a postscript:

            P.S. You will Do well to try to Innoculate the Indians by means of Blanketts, as well as to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race. I should be very glad your Scheme for Hunting them Down by Dogs could take Effect, but England is at too great a Distance to think of that at present.

            Bouquet wrote back on 26 July:

            I received yesterday your Excellency's letters of 16th with their Inclosures. The signal for Indian Messengers, and all your directions will be observed.

            It is not known (Halsall's sourcebook at Fordham, referenced above, quotes a journal entry from a different outfit, but that entry is dated 24 June, or a month before Bouquet first wrote to Amherst--so it is unclear that the two events are related) whether Amherst or Bouquet ever went through with the plan. Even if they had, it's far from clear that it would have worked. Amherst and Bouquet's correspondence is from exactly the time that Edward Jenner was finding out that it was possible to vaccinate against smallpox, which was the first time (at least in the Western world) that it was understood to be a contagious disease and where the seat of that infection might lie.

            Furthermore, smallpox is a viral disease--and viruses don't tend to survive long outside of a living host. As the CDC notes:

            Generally, direct and fairly prolonged face-to-face contact is required to spread smallpox from one person to another. Smallpox also can be spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects such as bedding or clothing. Rarely, smallpox has been spread by virus carried in the air in enclosed settings such as buildings, buses, and trains. Humans are the only natural hosts of variola.

            So the blanket trick might have worked, had it been tried. But it would have been a long shot. Far more effective to spread it simply by getting into contact with as many Indians as possible and letting their lack of anything like a natural immunity take over.

      •  Not even close (none)
        Sure, we "expanded" westward over the bodies of thousands of Native Americans. But we didn't kill them so much because we wanted them to be Christian (though we certainly tried hard enough to get them to convert if we didn't kill them outright) as because they had land we wanted.
      •  A stretch (none)
        The motivation wasn't religious. It's not like they were killed because they wouldn't convert to Christianity. They were killed because they had land Europeans wanted. Sure, whites would justify it with concepts like "Manifest Destiny" and say God wanted a Christian nation, but the natives could have greeted the settlers with Communion wafers and crosses held high, and the Europeans still would have slaughtered them.
        •  You may be right about that (none)
          but then the historical narrative probably wouldn't have been one of a glorious nation of pilgrims, founding fathers, heroes, etc. --rather one of crusaders, killers, criminals and thugs.

          "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

          by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:33:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The Crusades? (none)
      Oh the irony.  Didn't Bush refer to his war on terrorism as 'this crusade'?  Christian against Muslim, so to speak, as in days of old.  As Jerome said Europeans have learned its lessons the hard way.  We are a young country and like an adolescent, apparently we seem to have a pretty big chip on our shoulder.  

      ...despite those nets of tuna fleets...we thought that most of your were pretty sweet...

      by moira977 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:08:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But there's a huge difference (none)
        between using a word (like Bush did) and actually setting off on a religious holy war and slaughtering people wholesale in the name of God. At least thus far, Bush hasn't done that--though this historian was hardly the only American to cringe when that word escaped that twit's lips.
    •  Michael (none)
      I specifically mentioned Europe's religious follies in my diary so I don't understand your harsh reaction.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:21:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Simple (4.00)
    The difference is simple.

    Europe is comprised entirely of the North -- Europe.

    American is comprised of a North and a South -- a metaphorical Europe and a Middle East.

    Imagine a European Union that contained Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    Then you'll have the idea of what our situation is.

    "When you starve the beast, you starve the people. And the bathtub was a reference to New Orleans." -- bink

    by bink on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:50:39 AM PST

  •  America is religion mad? (none)
    Heh! Film at 11.

    Harold Bloom (Yale University) wrote about this decades ago - - his book "The American Religion" is fascinating.

  •  We care too much about religion? (4.00)
    Have you LOOKED at European history?

    Okay, then.  

    I'd say the modern European passive attitude toward religious differences is a post-WWII thing.  It was only 60 years ago that, well, Europeans were shoving other Europeans into ovens over religious differences.

    "The American people want someone to articulate their rage for them"
    -Diana (Faye Dunaway), in "Network"

    by Leggy Starlitz on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:51:52 AM PST

    •  If you're referring to the Jews (4.00)
      that wasn't the case: the Jews were not exterminated based on their religious affiliation. A whole body of pseudo-scholarship first set out to establish that Jewishness was a racial category, not a religious one. Jews were subsequently exterminated based on racial arguments, not religious ones.

      "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

      by starkravinglunaticradical on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:11:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you're making Jerome's argument for him (none)
      You're talking about events that happened over half a century ago. The present Europe learned from these mistakes to become the Europe that Jerome is referring to.

      What's a shame is that America seems to possess the need to learn from these mistakes all on it's own. America seems incapable of learning from others, or even from it's own past mistakes, if you consider the similarities between Iraq and Viet Nam.

      Democrats -- Progress for the Working Class

      by rogun on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:20:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a practicing Christian (4.00)
    But I believe firmly in the separation of church and state. In my opinion, when Jesus says "give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" he is clearly saying the spiritual life is separate from the public life.

    Being a Christian doesn't automatically make you a person with good moral values. Just look at Karl Rove.

    However, I love discussing religion and am very glad that Street Prophets is linked here.

    Bushco, putting the mock in democracy.

    by Southern Bell on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:52:37 AM PST

  •  If you want to increase secularism (4.00)
    in the US, then the answer is simple.
    Do what many European countries do, and withold a tithe along with taxes from people's salaries.  Any member of a religion automatically gets 5% of their salary withheld for tithing.
    I remember this from my discussions with german friends from my time there, and how many of them no longer were members of a church for that very reason.  It also explained why these huge beautiful cathedrals were almost empty even on Sundays.
    If you want to destroy the power of the churches in american politics, simply take people's money away for the churches.  Religious participation and the power derived from it would drop 75% overnight.  And the delicious irony is that the conservative churches would support this action.

    In prison, Tom Delay will no doubt be called 'the Hummer' by his fellow convicts.

    by soonergrunt on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:56:09 AM PST

  •  I posted once on this last night (4.00)
    Having been otherwise occupied during the preceding diaries.  Not worth repeating, except the conclusion that sexuality and spirituality are both deep things, and neither one belongs in the public square.  To which one user took such exception that he rated me a "1" for saying so.  That's what I get for offering an opinion to the public square, eh?

    I have French relations (our common ancestors aren't French), and I enjoy visiting them from time to time.  Family dinner in France is so different from the madcap fast-food eat and run so common here.  All manner of things get talked over regularly, and in depth.  The fabric of society is woven from simple (and deep) things like that.  I even drink coffee and smoke after-dinner cigarettes in Paris, something I never do here.  In many ways, family ties seem more deep & genuine (though less stridently proclaimed) than what one sees here.  That said:  All generalizations of this sort are only marginally useful at best, and there's plenty of counter-examples.

    Since I'm American, talk naturally turns to things on this side of the Atlantic.  (And, given America's role as the 400-pound gorilla in the world's living room, likely when I'm not there as well.)  Having a government which horrifies me, and does things which could spin totally out of control and throw the world into chaos, one always wonders how best to address this.

    The following went over pretty well:  John Ashcroft is (was, now) Attorney General, though most countries would have a name more like Minister of Justice.  Anyhow, Ashcroft routinely used a public space for addresses, briefings and press conferences.  (Gotta announce those high profile arrests from somewhere...)  And, that hall included a statue of "Justice".  Classical in nature, her bare female breasts were there for all the world to see.  Ashcroft found this intolerable, and so had the statue draped with some kind of fabric for modesty's sake.

    This was good for laugh, the common sense (to all assembled) conclusion being that religious fanaticism and political power don't mix.  And went on to talk about other matters:  How the problems in putting the US constitution together might help inform the EU effort to do same, for example.

    It might be useful to recall that the earliest US settlers were generally seen as religious fanatics or troublemakers in their home countries.  And the powers that be (aristocracies & monarchs) were just as glad to cast them off to faraway shores.  To some degree or another, that vein has always colored (tainted?) our national discourse.  For better or worse.  Am I "UnAmerican" for thinking its done more harm than good?

    Certainly, some (many?) would think so.  Including the Kossack who rated my comments Unproductive.  But I'm American through and through.  Nothing but.  And that is how I see it.

  •  Europeans have the luxury (none)
    of not caring about religion.  Europe is Christian in its bones, blood and scenery.  But that luxury will not last forever - the Muslim population is changing the European scenery.
    •  Luxury? (none)
      You call hundreds of years of bloodshed luxury? Europe learned its lesson the hard way. Why can't we learn from others's mistakes? Why do we have to repeate them? Why?????
    •  Europe has always been religiously heterogenous (4.00)
      Between Catholics and Protestants, as well as between Christians, Jews and Muslims (Muslims have been in Europe since at least the 15th century).

      That's why, ya know, all those religious wars and such.

      •  Yeah (none)
        And us Jews have had such a wonderful time in Europe too!
        Sooo happy the Romans brought us into the mix so that Europe could be heterogeneous!

        The first step toward liberty is to miss liberty; the second, to seek it; the third, to find it. - Leopold Zunz

        by loganme on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:45:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (4.00)
    I don't think there is much difference between the beliefs of Europeans and Americans.  Americans just think their individual ideas are worth shouting out to everyone else.
  •  It deeply rooted in our history (none)
    America was founded by religioius nutjobs seeking asylum from persecution.

    Now the country is an asylum being run by religious nutjobs who persecute the rest of us.

    •  You are mistaken (4.00)
      America was founded by religioius nutjobs seeking asylum from persecution

      The Puritans, who could be described as religious nutjobs and who were essentially the predecessors to the Religious Right, did not found the country.  They may have been some of the first Europeans to displace the native population, but they did not found the country.  Our country actually was founded by Deists, whose modern equivalent is more along the lines of the Unitarian-Universalists, although there are also a smattering of people today who claim (much like, say, the Jedi knights in the UK) to actually be Deists.
    •  It takes all kinds (none)
      To be more precise, some of the nation's founders were religious nutjobs, and some were deists, and some were all along the spectrum in between.

      One apparent irony in Jerome's post is that religious freedom was, in the context of the enlightenment, an American idea. Note that Scots presbyterians were the leading thinkers of the enlightenment, yet they tended to be religious zealots, not at all interested in teasing apart that which was the Lord's and that which was Caesar's. Jefferson's Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom is up there with Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence in its historical significance, not just within the US, but in Europe as well. It had certainly caught the attention of the Parisian intellectuals Jefferson encountered as ambassador to France.

      But is this irony after all? Jefferson spent much of his life in intellectual and legislative combat with the New England calvinists. I recently heard someone assert that this was wholly self-interest on his part -- that the presbyterians were anti-slavery. Whatever. The important point is that Jefferson drew the line really, really clearly, about how/where/when it was appropriate for religion to mingle with politics.

      And Americans have been fighting about it ever since.

  •  It deeply rooted in our history (4.00)
    America was founded by religious nutjobs seeking asylum from persecution.

    Now the country is an asylum being run by religious nutjobs who persecute the rest of us.

  •  Hypersensitive Kossacks (4.00)
    "Oh yeah? Well what about the Crusades?"

    Sound familiar? Sound a little like this?

    "Oh yeah? Well, how do you think the people in the World Trade Center felt?"

    Yes, people, we're crazy. And if we can't laugh at ourselves, we'll lose our ability to cope with the craziness and do something about it. Mark Twain wrote satirically about fundamentalism well over a century ago in "Huckleberry Finn", and all of his caricatures are easily recognizable today. It's OK to laugh. Huck Finn is funny.

    I mentioned this book upthread. It's written by one of us, Ted Stanger, about us, for the French. And while my French isn't great (that's largely why I bought the book, to practice my reading), his message is basically: we Americans are crazy.

    The religious nuts get a chapter, but he touches on a lot of other aspects of American culture about which we are, yes people, nuts.

    Laugh. Try it. It's good for you. Lighten up. Geeze.

    •  Fundamentalism (none)
      "Mark Twain wrote satirically about fundamentalism well over a century ago in "Huckleberry Finn", and all of his caricatures are easily recognizable today."

      This is impossible, since there was no such thing as fundamentalism a hundred years ago.  Fundamentalism emerged in the early twentieth century as a response to the twin threats of Darwinism and the higher Biblical criticism that filtered into America from German universities.  "The Fundamentals", a series of pamphlets attacking the new religious liberalism, was published in 1917 and is viewed by historians as kick-starting the fundamentalist movement.  Everyone knows about fundamentalism's emergence to national promenince in the 1920s.  Thus while it is possible to speak of Biblical literalism or even evangelicalism prior to 1917 or so, fundamentalism simply did not exist as a movement or a concept.

  •  All I can say is (4.00)
    if it hadn't been for all those fucked up European attitudes toward religion from the 17th to the 19th centuries, America wouldn't have been in this predicament to begin with!
  •  Very good, Jerome. (4.00)
    This is the really irrefutable difference between the USA and Europe - you care too much about religion.

    Can't argue with that.

  •  Hoi Jérôme (4.00)
    Veel mensen begrijpen deze "diary" niet.  Ze antwoorden zonder te denken, e.g. "De Fransen haten Amerikanen!  Jij bent een eikel en een snob!  Krijg de klere, Fransman!"

    Ze spreken als Bill O'Reilly en ik schaam me Amerikaanse te zijn.

    Ik denk dat jouw titel hun kwaad maakt.. hm.

    In elk geval deze "diary" is goed.  Ik heb hem aanbevolen.

    p.s. Ze zullen zeggen "Page is een snob!"

    I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been/ Each week we lose a hundred fine young men. -- Johnny Cash

    by Page van der Linden on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:15:09 AM PST

    •  Speak English, (none)
      you @%^*!#& immigrant!" Wait! This was the caption of a hilarious cartoon featuring Taco Bell's talking chihuahua. Only trying to bring some humor to this  discussion. I understood 80% of what you wrote and agree 100%.

      Pre-empt Vergangenheitsbewältigung!

      by Petrasays on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:35:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  LOL (none)
        Check my profile.

        I'm American;  I just immigrated to Amsterdam, and I'm learning Dutch.

        I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been/ Each week we lose a hundred fine young men. -- Johnny Cash

        by Page van der Linden on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:42:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hope you (none)
          didn't misunderstand me... Now I'm a bit worried - really sorry if was being unclear. I already knew from one of your previous post (diary? weeks ago) that you are an American learning Dutch. Anyways, I was just 'funning' in a right wing sort of way :)

          Pre-empt Vergangenheitsbewältigung!

          by Petrasays on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:55:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  With all due respect (4.00)
    I don't think that France is the one to be lecturing the US on this.

    After all, france has gone to extraordinary lengths not just to be indiffirent to religion but to actively hound it, especially the minority religions.  Muslims, Jews, and Sikhs are now not allowed to go to public schools wearing their traditional head coverings and outfits.  Their religious freedom is being actively suppressed and as a consequence they are being forced to choose between their culture and religion and the rest of the society.  most choose the former.  The consequences of such policy are amply demonstrated by the unrest of the last month.

    •  Even more offensive ... (none)
      Was that they tried to make it seem "fair" by banning crosses and the like, too. Christians, of course, aren't required to wear those to practice the religion, but hey, it sounds nice. It reminds me of the fundies who argue that gay people have the same rights to marry a person of the opposite sex as a straight person. Sigh.
      •  It actually is even worse than that (none)
        they only banned "large and conspicuous" crosses.  So if you wore a nice and tasetful cross or if you wore one under your shirt, you are a-OK.  But if you wore a small yarmulke, well then, you were mounting an assault on the entire foundation of the French Republic.
  •  Cher Jerome, (4.00)
    I rarely recommend your diaries because you already have quite a fan club taking care of that action...

    But I did today just because you are so damn right!

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." -Voltaire

    by poemless on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:23:55 AM PST

  •  Our obsession with spirituality... (4.00)
    ...(as opposed to religion) is just another measure of our self-absorption.

    My personal early experience with religion, on the other hand, was a measure of my immigrant community's need for self-preservation.

    I grew up in the last vestiges of the Franco-American ghetto once found in every New Hampshire, and in most New England, milltown. The catholic church - more specifically in my family's case the French-speaking parish - was the center of our culture, with a house of worship in the native language, an elementary school with attached convent, and several male/female societies and charities all presided over by Quebecois priests.

    Up until my 3rd grade (1963-64) morning sessions were conducted in French, and afternoons in English. None of my Quebec-born grandparents ever learned to speak English, and our associations were either within the extended family (everyone in my parents' generation married within the culture), or within the broader French Canadian community.

    That structure broke down for my generation when I was in grade school, though my siblings lived with it well into high school.

    I pretty much left that all behind when I moved to the big city.

    Note also that in my hometown, what I've said about French Canadians also applied to the Polish, Lithuanian, Irish, and Greek communities (there was no Italian community for whatever reason): everyone had their own parish hubs (most now closed or consolidated), with native language shools, etc.

    I think that many of my contemporaries were ultimately attracted to the clear structure provided by fundamentalist christianity in response to the relative lack of structure that followed the dissolution of our cultural communities. For better or worse (usually worse, IMO), when you were identified as French, Irish, Polish, etc. you knew who you were and what you stood for.

    I guess lots of people need that kind of shit.

    "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

    by RubDMC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:25:55 AM PST

  •  Hear, hear! (4.00)
    Not much to add other than GREAT DIARY!  Unlike surprisingly many here, I don't take offense at your post; rather, I welcome your efforts.  We really are all in this together, and any thoughtful insight is welcome.  I myself fall firmly within the moral agnostic-toward-atheist camp, but don't labor under the narcissistic belief that anyone else really cares what my views of religion or spirituality are.  

    I've never understood why so many feel so strong a need to convince others of the rightness of their beliefs -- could it be to convince themselves???  Too many people are simply not able to sit with the ambiguity inherent in religion -- there is not, and never will be, a definitive answer to the god question...  


  •  I agree with every word you said (4.00)
    but we live here. It IS a problem here. Discussing it on DKos does not exacerbate it. Also, these were hardly the only diaries that Kossacks spent two days - or more - analyzing. I am non-religious, but still found the diaries, and especially the comments, interesting.
  •  Meh (4.00)
    The way I see yesterday's events was that DarkSyde wrote a brilliant analogy piece to wide acclaim that still managed to somehow offend a very tiny number of theocratist-apologists in our midst.  Then PastonDan wrote a followup piece in which he was largely supportive of DarkSyde's piece as a religious person in which he pointed out in case it was somehow lost to someone that not all religious people are bad people (which, by the way, was never suggested by DarkSyde's piece).  A whole lot of squacking about nothing going on.  

    I'm not sure of the purpose of this piece here--are there those on the left who actually acknowledge the fundies claim that values come from religion?  I myself think that claim is garbage.  Fundies hate gays because their religion tells them to?  Nonsense, they hate gays because they are hateful bigots, and because they are hateful bigots they warped their religious values to include hatred of gays.  Same goes for toleration of war, capital punishment, inferiority of women, desire for wealth, etc., etc.

  •  Excellent! Thank you so much...... (4.00)
    Jerome, this is the best piece I have read this entire year.  Our obsession with religion here in the US has always troubled me especially now.  I have a friend that grew up in Ireland and he is constantly saying that we do not understand the danger of mixing religion & government, that it is a leathal combination that strangles the life out of the citizens.  The Catholic Church's control of Ireland has been a nightmare that they are just beginning to climb out of.  Only people who have lived with this comprehend the danger and people in the US just don't get it.  
    I thank you so much for your diary.  I have saved it to my hard drive and will read it to as many friends as I can make listen.  
  •  "Religion" on DailyKos (4.00)
        Come on, Jerome. You know as well as I that the people who come on DailyKos to vent their spleen about religion are Freepers and wingnut trolls who are trying to deflect the conversation away from values and the disintegration of the Neocon cabal.
  •  Would you care to lecture Indians (4.00)
    about being too obsessed with Hinduism and/or Islam?

    Perhaps we should lecture moderates, liberals, and democracy-proponents in the Middle East that they should really do nothing to associate Islam with democracy and women's rights.

    And while we're at it, can't those Israelis get over the whole Jewish thing?  


    •  As an Indian (none)
      I can tell you about my utter astonishment about American religiousity when I first came to this country as a student. I lived in South Eastern Minnesota during my college years and I can assure you that in my entire life in India, I have never seen people /that/dogmatic regarding religion. Even under BJP government, Indian policymakers would not go to a nearby temple to ask a monk for his advice on Land Reform.
      •  I must have missed the extreme sectarian (none)
        strife that takes place in Minnesota.

        The BJP speaks in code much like Republicans do.  Republicans talk about "family values" and the BJP talks about "Hindu tradition/culture."

        •  Considering (none)
          the overall cultural difference between Indian Hindus(with their five thousand year old historical baggage) and post-60's Midwest in US , the difference is still staggering. BJP came to prominence playing religious cards, no surprise if they chose to exploit it whereas GOP historically has never been this close to such a narrow sect of a religion.
  •  Jerome (none)
    You only figured this out today?

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard

    by illinifan17 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:45:40 AM PST

  •  I strongly disagree: Cogito ergos sum (4.00)
    As your countryman said. The two broad topics of discussion in life that interest me are about Politics and Religion. I think thinking is what makes us liberal, we debate, we challenge and don't take things just at face value.

    DarkSyde's recent diaries have been great and have sparked a lot of discussion on what we believe.

    I live in Europe and see many people go through the motions of religion without probing the "Why".  It may be less divisive this way but I am not sure the approach is superior.

  •  Simple: Several U.S. Faiths are Imperialistic (4.00)
    I don't give a good God damn about anyone's religion in this country.

    --Except for the utterly certain knowledge that millions of them are ordered by God and by their pastors to try to take over the country and rule my personal life.

    To paraphrase one of the site's pastors: That's what the fuck my problem is.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:48:36 AM PST

  •  I dunno about crazy... (none)
    ...delusional, maybe.  

    "...the big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

    by Roddy McCorley on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:49:13 AM PST

  •  I'm offended by this, Jerome (4.00)
    As a born and raised practicing Pastafarian (full pirate regalia twice a week) I have no choice but to speak out against people like you who want to keep me from worshiping the one true ultimate being - the Flying Spaghetti Monser. We must make sure that all people everywhere appear as pirate-like as possible, as often as possible, even if that requires legislative enforcement. If government is the only way for FSM to be happy, so be it.
  •  A-Men! (4.00)
    I that too weird? Saying A-Men in response?
  •  I apologize for my fellow citizens. (4.00)
    There are a few of us who recognize that Europe's past religious problems are a good lesson, and that by denying our shared past with Europe, we are dooming ourselves to repetition.  There are a few of us who don't think that your own country's current issues in relation to religion mean that you automatically can't say anything about it, and we won't attack you to make ourselves feel better about our country going down the tubes.

    In other words, I understand what you are saying and agree with you, and I'm appalled by the ad hominem responses in this thread.

    No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -Eleanor Roosevelt

    by tryptamine on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:58:06 AM PST

  •  Was this a test? (none)
    All you have to do is bring religion up on a political website, and you get record-breaking amounts of attention. Thus proving your point.

    As far as learning the hard way, that appears to be the only possible way.

  •  Book rec (4.00)
    I just started reading God's Politics:How the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn't get it, it's a very interesting read so far. It's written by an Evangelical Christian Democrat. There is a religious left out there folks.

    Europe has learnt this the hard way, and has pretty much taken religion out of public life.
    Bullshit, you live in nearly homogeneous societies where the choices on the ballot have similar religious affiliations. Oh wait, what just happened in France with the Muslim immigrant under class and the head scarf thing a couple of years ago? What about England and Ireland, no religious clashes there!
    Stand by your values proudly, faith or not.
    Jerome, there's enough in the Christian Muslim and Jewish faiths to establish that gray area that you long for.

    Greed vs. charity? War vs. Peace? Abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage vs. Separation of Church and State? Okay that's a secular value but even Jesus said: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's."  Many, myself included, argue that this is the faith based justification for the secular doctrine.

    The Left wins on all these issues, yet the Left in this country doesn't engage on these issues. It just looks like all religious people are on the other side because they chose to pander. They treat religious people in this country like an electoral ATM machine. There's a lot of gray area to be had, it's ripe for the taking.

    The essential problem with these right-wing Republican Christians, in my opinion, is that there's no Christ in their Christianity, it's all Old Testament, fire and brimstone, hell and damnation and above all exclusion of other faiths. Jesus taught tolerance of everyone, speak truth to power, turn the other check and "Don't make a mockery of my Father's House." That sounds like the Left to me.  

  •  Fuck of Frenchie (1.12)
    "Religion deals in absolutes."

    How do you figure?  Maybe SOME organized religion, but not must of the spirituality I see on dkos.

    Sounds to me like you're dealing in binary absolutes:  Bad/Crazy/Americans v Good/Rational/Europeans.

    Now, back to my lunchtime freedom fries!!

    Everybody talks about John Edwards' energy, intellect and charisma -- Bill Clinton

    by philgoblue on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:24:51 AM PST

    •  Fuck Off Frenchie II (none)
      Hmmm .. why the typo the first time... nah....

      Jerome many times write things similar to this:
      "Religion needs to be kept as an individual matter, and should be taken out of politics."

      But then Jerome ends:
      "Stand by your values proudly, faith or not."

      So what the hell is he talking about?

      Everybody talks about John Edwards' energy, intellect and charisma -- Bill Clinton

      by philgoblue on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:35:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ummm... (none)
        what the hell are YOU talking about? You sound angry just for angry's sake...or do you have some grudge against Jerome? Either way...I don't see how THIS kind of commentary on your part is productive to ANY conversation.
      •  It's simple, really (none)
        He's talking about your values  - what your religion TEACHES you - versus your specific religion.  Like, ah... "turn the other cheek" or "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" versus "Christianity."

        He's also saying that there are multiple sources of values, both religious and non-religious.

        And he's right on both counts.

  •  Brilliant, Jerome (4.00)
    My crush on you is increasing by the moment.

    I completely share your frustration with this issue not only here on the blog, but in public life in this country. I also share the view that in order to do precisely what you are saying--separate religion from values in public discourse--we've got to start practicing it here.

  •  AMEN!, I mean yeah! (none)
    Quebec learned that lesson the hard way and only got out of the 18th century in the early 1960's thanks to what has been called the Quiet Revolution (la Revolution Tranquille).

    The power of the catholic church  over French-speaking Canada until then had been immense and pervasive. Then it crumbled in a matter of a decade. Quebec is now a secular, tolerant society, very much European in its views on separation of church and state.

    Re. tolerance: we once had a two-term gay prime minister. This was known to the press but not made public BECAUSE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPROPER. One of the most beloved public figures in Quebec today is gay, a former minister who has (had?) a TV show on the gay community. Did I make my point?

    I owe a tremendous debt to my parents and their contemporaries for shaking off the yoke of religious  intolerance and dogmatism.

    Sadly, the USA is driving down a road to an updated version of the Dark Ages. Unless stopped.

    Good luck guys...

    Condoning torture is the worst form of moral relativism

    by nailmaker on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:43:12 AM PST

  •  Just what I needed (none)
    Start the day with a holier-than-thou lecture.

    Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on. --Winston Churchill

    by rmwarnick on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:43:47 AM PST

  •  Two Topics You Should Never Talk About! (none)
    unless you're looking for a fight.

    We all know what they are.

    Since this site is all about one of the topics (politics), and specifically has an editorial opinion about that, that one's ok.

    The other one? Only if you're looking for a fight.

    This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

    by Mr X on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:45:16 AM PST

  •  Sacre Vous! (none)
    (Just kidding)
  •  You're right - Americans are crazy. (none)
    I think it comes from the seriously mixed ancestry, myself.
  •  I disagree (none)
    politics has no more claim on ambiguity than does religion

    there are absolutes in both, as well as plenty of room for interpretation

    and if you think religion provides simple answers to difficult questions then I say you are naive about religion

  •  simple answers for simple minds (none)
    Hey, freedom is very scary stuff.  YOU are responsible for your choices that you are free to make. Can't blame anybody for the consequences of those choices. Puts you on the spot to figure it out for yourself.  Isn't it so much safer and more secure to have someone else tell you the answers?  

    That's what religion provides, for those who need it.  A way off the responsibility hook; someone else to blame, an abdication of the responsibility for one's self.  Put yourself in (insert favorite diety here)'s hands and you don't have to trouble yourself to figure it out on your own.

    Freedom is much more than the right to be able to choose between a ford or a chevy, or between coke and pepsi, but that's about how most Americans view it.

    Freedom's just another word for no one else to blame.

    -8.0, -7.03 don't always believe what you think...

    by claude on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:09:12 AM PST

  •  This is why I'll never feel 'at home' (none)
    until I'm living in Europe. My country will always be haunted by the Puritans.

    (Thanks for the new sig line...)

    "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" - Diderot

    by Cliff Talus on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:13:25 AM PST

  •  Rawls! (none)
    Hooray for Rawls and the idea of public reason and the overlapping consensus!

    Bring your values into the political debate, not their source. Do come into politics to promote your values and your morals. But please do not come into politics to get others to adopt the source of these values.

    That's public reason.

    in fact, our whole history is about slowly, but completely separating the two, so that politics can be democratic, and religion can be about individuals practising their faith.

    That's separating a mandated comprehensive doctrine (totalitarianism) from the overlapping consensus (of democracy and being free and equal).

    Rawls is fun.

  •  American Christianity is Bullshit (none)
    if it weren't it would produce better people, better citizens, better politics.

    All I need to see is the reality... Christians can take their semantics and shove it. They've got no argument for their way of life... their way of thinking. It's pure bullshit... through and through... 100%.

    American Christianity is bullshit... mostly because American morality is bullshit. But also because Christian fundamentalism is bullshit. Always has been. And they don't even know why...

    Americans, religious or not prove everyday how debased they are. American Christians just cement it and highlight the hypocrisy of their gluttony and selfishness.

    And yeah yeah... what I said is "bullshit." Come on Christians, you can be more creative than that... or maybe not. I guess creativity isn't something y'all are familiar with or particularly good at. But do your best... I know you're only playing with half a deck... but do your best.

    U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1998 it was 1:418.

    by Lode Runner on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:16:59 AM PST

    •  Everyone loves the monolith today (none)
      You're a fool.  Yep, I said it, you're a fool.  At least about this (I don't know you that well).

      Tell me, what is this 'American Christianity' you speak of?  Or this 'American Morality'?  Since I live here, I'd really like to know.

      •  I live here too... I'm a Hoosier (none)
        American morality is this:

        Blind Consumption. Gluttony. Lack of personal integrity or sacrifice in order to live responsibly.

        American Christianity is Fundamentalist Christianity. Even the Methodist Church these days is no safe haven for the enlightened. Evangelism. Evangelical culture...

        It all stems from ignorance and apathy and it's all tied up together of course... but it's basically our gluttony all around that poisons just about every aspect of our society. The religion is inevitably tainted by our lack of integrity.

        U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1998 it was 1:418.

        by Lode Runner on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:04:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yeah, whatever... (none)
          Do you even buy that yourself?

          You and I are Americans.  Are we gluttons, blindly consuming, without personal integrity?  Is that our morality?

          I'm not now nor have I ever been a Christian, but I do know quite a few of them, and they aren't Fundamentalists.  And I know quite a few people with a great deal of integrity.

          Maybe things really suck in Indiana - it has been quite some time since I've been to Ft. Wayne.  Here in New York, I know a lot of good people with good values, who don't understand what has happened in their country to muck everything up so fast, and are right now trying to figure out how to fix it.

          •  get real... (none)
            you live in new york.

            you can't use the people and places you know as a metric.

            go here:

            Test Your Ecological Footprint

            Take the test. Then imagine what your score would be if you didn't live in New York... if you lived in Ft. Worth, Texas.

            Americans are gluttons... even the good ones. So imagine what the fat pasty Midwestern and Southern Republican racist s.u.v. drivin' Americans really are. Huge slobbering hogs. Huge filthy diseased swine.

            That's America.

            (p.s. my footprint is 18 acres. i live in l.a. that's 6 times what would be considered ideal... and that's pretty tame wrt most Americans. There are only 5.2 acres of biologically productive area on this planet for every person alive today. In 2050, there will be 10 billion people (barring more Republican administrations) on this planet. So that gives us 3 acres... if we take more than our share.

            Yup. I use 6 times my share everyday, and that's being a conscientious shopper, living in a very tiny apartment... who bikes to work...

            Get real.

            Get educated.

            Know what you are...

            Know thyself.

            And then you can blather with something approaching a valid perspective.

            U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1998 it was 1:418.

            by Lode Runner on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 11:52:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  One practical issue (4.00)
    This is more than a "private-public sphere" or "morality" debate.

    In a very practical sense, political organizing through religious institutions and organizations has been to the rise of the reactionary right wing what organizing through factories and labor unions was to the rise of the socially-oriented left 2-4 generations ago.

    The right responded by slowly crushing the life out of the major institutions of the left, and strangling the connections -- making it harder to organize, making it harder to use dues for political activity, auditing the snot out of union locals, and wave after wave of coordinated negative PR.

    It seems to me that similar measures must be enacted if the power of right-wing churches is ever to be broken.  Without tying them up in knots somehow, institutions on our side -- like the labor movement -- will continue to be grossly impeded (by stacked regulation and selective enforcement) from making any kind of comeback.

    If I were Eliot Spitzer, I would put a large task force on the issue of misappropriation of funds given to religious institutions...

  •  Fundamentalists of all stripes and creeds (none)
    deal in absolutes. Not all, or even most IMO, religious folks are fundamentalists. Therefore, I don't think it is correct to suggest all, or even most, religious people are absolutists. In fact, mosts faiths are extremely malleable. The threat to democracies is not so much from religion in general as it is from fundamentalism. It's sad that in the United States "Christian" is becoming a four letter word among those of us on the left. It's because we have allowed the Pat Robertsons of the world to define what a Christian is, when in fact most people who would consider themselves Christians are appalled by the things Pat Robertson says.
  •  Unfortunately, the barbarians of faith... (none)
    have already breeched the barrier between politics and religion.  Your request to not legitimize a link between politics and religion is too late.  Political discourse must now address the religious beliefs of these barbarians and force those beliefs to live or die on the basis of fact and truth.  Nearly every issue in the current political debate in the US is being driven by religious zealots.  It is not enough to argue against the bad political policy of the Bush administration.  It is necessary to argue that Bush bases his policy (as Jim Wallis wrote in "God's Poltics") on bad theology.  We have to debate the theology because "bad theology" is already sitting in the political room.
  •  However, the opposite stance is not helpful (none)
    I agree a lot with what the diarist is saying, however the opposite point of view (religion is bad bad bad) is not helpful.  I am a very religious and very liberal individual.  I want government taking care of things like education and healthcare. I do not expect religion or so-called "moral" issues from my leaders.  

    However,  let's not fall into the trap of attacking religion just because it is being used in such a disgusting way by the right.  I think there has been way too much of that on Kos in the last few days.  I find it to be a big turn off.  If you do not believe in God or religion, fine.  But if I do, that does not mean that I can't have shared political goals with you (which I have!).  Pushing religious people away helps your enemies.  It plays right into their hand.  We need to be "neutral" on religion, not anti-religion.  Their use of religion as a politial tool is catching up to them even as we speak.  Don't make the same mistake in the opposite direction.

  •  "Religion deals in absolutes" (4.00)
    Oh, so not true. As the writer Anne Lamott says, "the opposite of faith isn't doubt, it's certainty." That's how you can tell the crazies from the rest of us normal folk.
    •  And just cause I'm feeling quote happy... (none)
      on this beautiful day:
      Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.
      - Mohandas Gandhi
      •  Well. You want quotes? (none)
        Faith is not a function of stupidity but a frequent cause of it.
            -- Wendy Kaminer

        The Bible and Church have been the greatest stumbling block
        in the way of women's emancipation.
            -- Elizabeth Cady Stanton

        If God has spoken, why is the world not convinced.
            -- Percy Bysshe Shelley

        Suppose we've chosen the wrong god.
        Every time we go to church we're just making him madder and madder.
            -- Homer Simpson

        The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.
            -- Bernard Shaw

        To YOU I'm an atheist;
        to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.
            -- Woody Allen
  •  Why religion talk is important in US politics (4.00)
    As a viable institution, those that go by the name of "church", are in collapse.  It is the same sort of collapse that Europe experienced after World War I and especially after World War II.  The silence or complicity of the European churches in the Holocaust undermined any legitimacy that the churches could claim for their commitment to values.  Religious language, particularly Christian religious language, no longer illuminated ideas but instead inflamed hostilities.  The European church was judged by World War II as irrelevant in anything one could ever call a "kingdom of God".

    America was insulated by an ocean from these intellectual and cultural changes.  And responding to what was happening in Europe, American religious thinkers mounted a defensive intellectual campaign and when that failed a defensive propaganda campaign, and now that that has failed seeking the enforcement through the power of the state.  It is a sign of intellectual collapse and cultural irrelevancy.  And being considered culturally irrelevant is what is driving the Fundamentalists nuts.  It is this sense of cultural irrelevance that makes them seek  for Jesus to judge and destroy the world that they hate--and it has turned to hate.  And this has over the past fifty years made them vulnerable to the seduction of right-wing Republican politics.  And it is the Republican politicians that have forced debate into religious-speak and used cultural conservatism as a tool for increasing commercial corporate power.

    Discussion on dKos is important in US politics to disentangle a whole lot of conflated ideas about church and state.  For example, "values" is a sociological concept (Max Weber, maybe?) that religious groups have appropriated just has they have psychological counseling and advertising and marketing and entrepreneurial forms of churches (like storefront churches up to the Robertson and Falwell empires).  They sought to use "the devil's tools against the devil" and got caught in the snare--now that is a metaphor, not a religious assertion.  So the whole discussion of "values" has taken Christians away from the things that they could contribute to the conversation.  The post-modern equivalence of belief systems is not the problem; it is a result of a globalizing culture.  The problem in the US is the Christian response to that conversation.  The Christian Right would deny others to speak, which ain't gonna happen.  The Christian Left is struggling to find an authentic way to contribute to that conversation.

    There is a difference in history between the Christian institutions in Europe and those in the US.  In the 18th and 19th century, a whole lot of people came to the US to get away from the state-sponsored churches of Europe, their suppression of dissent, and their continuing inter-faith wars.  In Europe, that rebellion was accomplished in the Enlightenment and its revolutionary (French-Russian) consequences.

    It was churches that insisted on the separation of church and state in the US Constitution.  It was the religious who pushed the abolition of slavery.  It was the religious that finally ended segregation.  But in all of these, they sought social change not the imposition of their Unitarianism or Quakerism or Baptist theology.  But in their churches, there was neither individualism nor confining theology to the personal.  Churches were parts of civil society, communities of people who knew each other, helped each other, called each other to account.  Churches like that are a nostalgic memory even if you can find the contrary examples that prove the rule.  The Religious Left seeks a contemporary re-establishment of those community and civil society functions without being nostalgic about what that means.  And that discussion feeds into political discussions about how that space for religious and non-religious civil society can be created in the midst of the the tyranny of corporations and the failure of US government.

    Religious talk traditionally has been the cloak of legitimacy in the US system.  "With a reliance on Divine Providence"..."In God We Trust"...Those are claims to legitimacy that transcend tradition or hereditary institutions.  Until American political discourse is weaned from this cloaking of the secular in the religious, the Left will have to engage in some form of religious talk.

    -6.00/-7.18 The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

    by TarheelDem on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:35:44 AM PST

  •  I couldn't agree with you more. (4.00)
    Thomas Jefferson constructed our constitution to separate church and state after spending a long time in France listening to the revolutionaries regarding liberte, egalite, fraternite.  Of course, the righties dismiss France as "old Europe" and ignore all the lessons learned during all those religious wars that were fought "over there."  The religious righties have overthrown our government, with zealots righteously hacking into voting machines to turn the tide in favor of their "chosen by God" Bu$hCo fool.  Our country, our democracy, our way of life and the separation of church and state guaranteed in our constitution have all been overthrown as a result.  Hopefully, dKos and the other honest blogs will be the handbills of free speech and free press that will overturn this tide of religious zealotry that is systematically destroying our country.
  •  Hi, I'm Satan (4.00)
    God gaves me one thing to keep when he threw me out of heaven.  I kept religion.  Have a nice Day!
  •  Yeah (none)
    Cuz like none of those superior European countries would ever get bogged down in Viet Nam, or fight an insurgency in a Muslim country, or have race riots.

    Europe is so cool.

    We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

    by badger on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:55:02 AM PST

  •  jerome... i don't know if you noticed (none)
    two of those diaries, the highest trafficked... the were NOT about religion.

    according to the diarist, anyway.

    i guess if someone ever posts a diary about not  collecting stamps, would you call that a diary about a hobby??

    of course not.

    "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

    by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:55:46 AM PST

  •  It's not a crime (none)

    to vote your conscience. Our representative republic is built on that ideology.

    Speaking as a religious person myself, I have to say that I'm offended whenever an Atheist starts making speeches like this. My political opinion is to be thrown out because I hold religious convictions (and in case you're wondering, I'm not a Christian.) Atheism is also a religion IMO. Don't think so? Just try asking one and you'll see a zeal you thought only existed amongst the Christian Right.

    Seeing things in Black and White isn't a crime solely of Christian types either. Some of the most intolerant, close minded people I know aren't Christians.

    Lastly I'd like to point out the First Amendment of the United States:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF"

    Most people can quote the first clause but forget the second.

    Listen to "The Tzimisce Show" every Thursday night from 8-10 pm only on "The Growl" ( Radio with byte!

    by Koldun on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:01:29 AM PST

  •  God - You Europeans don't get it ! (4.00)
    Jerome, everything you say I agree with, but you haven't touched the issue of why the Americans are so different, when it comes to their religions, their religiosity and the way they use religion in their daily public and political life.

    The Americans are not crazy - they are helpless and abused by their own creation of a capitalist society and they have found a way to deal with it using their religions to cover up those feelings of being abused and enforcing civility and justice in their lives through religious teachings, because they have no control over their own civil and political fate.

    You forget that most people, who are religiously going to church and following their teachings literally and down to the letter in fundamentally and totalitarian ways, have a deep-rooted need for it and I can understand why.

    It's because the American society fails to be civil, just and humane towards its own average citizen. They use their political and legal system to help the winner, the richer, the supposedly smarter but in reality more evil person to gain power over the other citizens.
    Then they need their religions as a tool to cover their ethically and morally failing political system up and make it "under God" justifiable and moral.

    It's a society in which abuse is part of system like the sweat is part of your skin.

    Every immigrant went through hell in this country to "make it". Americans just can't handle their own creation of what they see as their superpower status, without "concentration on hope and on belief in God and his teachings".

    Most people in this super-powerful country are very, very powerless. They also have no idea who actually has the power over them and how to take this power away from whoever might have it. It's obfuscated to them.

    People are also very lonely here. There is a huge need to find a "neighborhood of soul brothers" and the only place where you can hope to find those soul brothers without getting betrayed and abused is in the churches.

    Of course that emotional need has been abused plentiful and now the situation arises how you prove that the good preacher is a business and other things grabbing evil-doer, who betrays the people as anybody else in the corporate world of fighters for survival.

    Facing that much betrayal within the churches thmeselves adds only to the insult and increases the desperation. Again you need your belief in God to "not get crazy" here in America. If the US had not their religiosity kept in their lives, this country would be a stinky, messy place of human abusive, cruelty and silent painful desperation.  

    Ok, I guess I can't express what I think. You see, I don't like how they abuse their religiosity in public life and politics, but I believe they don't do it because they are nuts, but because they don't know any other way to fight "the bad" in themselves and their own society and they don't know any other way to keep on going in life and try to better their fate.

    Telling an American he is crazy about how he handles his religion is the same as telling a paralized wheelchair-bound child it is crazy not to walk on his two feet.

    •  Bit embarrassed to say this.. (none)
      ..but your post was an outstanding contribution to the debate here. It reflects very much an understanding that I gained of the role of religion when I spent some time with some black friends in Ohio two years ago.

      New International Times, the place where Kossacks and the world meet.

      by Welshman on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:50:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mimi, that was superb (none)
      While I'm nominally an atheist, I don't see the problem as religion.

      Religions believe they create morals. In reality all they do is reflect them, and attempt to legitimise them.

      When those values are based on insitutional repression and systematic abuse of the powerless by the powerful, the religion of a state will reflect that. As will all of its other ideologies.

      So 'religion' is a side issue to the problem if ideology in general. All religion ever does is attempt to legitimise political, social and ultimately tribal agendas. If those are wrong-headed in the first place, religion will do a lot of damage by making them worse. If they're right-minded, religion can do a lot of good by making them better.

      I've been reading about the Nazis recently, and what's shocking about it isn't the horror but the everday banality that caused it. That banality is still very much around today. You can see it whenever anyone makes a 'free market' decision that starves people, makes them sick, kills them, tortures them, or otherwise abuses them.

      The problem we have at the moment isn't religion, it's the fact that decisions and consequences are just that little bit too far apart for most people to see the connection. If someone mugs you, you see your adversary face to face. If someone takes away your food stamps for free market reasons - well, you'll likely never meet them in person. And if you do there will be some good rationalisation they'll tell themselves and tell you to explain why they couldn't help what they did, and it was really a good thing and not something to be ashamed of.

      But ethically, even criminally, there shouldn't  be a difference between these two actions. Distance shouldn't be used as a valid defence. A crime against someone, or an injustice, should still be considered a crime whether it's perpetrated by a thug with a gun, a CEO, or the local pastor.

      It's not really religion that's the issue. It's individual accountability, and the cult of power that tries to subvert it.

      "Be kind" - is that a religion?

      by ThatBritGuy on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:44:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Agreed... (none)
    We in the US and on DailyKos spend way too much time discussing things religious.

    The only reason I put up with it is because of the fear of smack down and the ensuing counter-diary and remarks where the responder usually starts out with "as a <fill in denomination> I find your comment to be too <fill in description>."

    There's a place for religion: church.  Bringing theology and religious mumbo-jumbo into intelligent debate is just plain dumb.

    I wish there was a filter for excluding these kinds of philosophical discussions.  Maybe a button or checkbox which could just consign all such diaries into a "whacky, weird, and religious" folder.

    Oh Louisiana, oh Louisiana They're trying to wash us away, oh Lord, they're trying to wash us away

    by lalo456987 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:16:50 AM PST

  •  Unfortunately, the wacky, weird and religious are (none)
    in control of the government.  So we MUST talk about it.  It's not going away and unless we bring it out into the open, it will just grow and fester.
  •  Usually I just pass on this kind of bilge (none)
    "That's what religion provides, for those who need it.  A way off the responsibility hook; someone else to blame, an abdication of the responsibility for one's self.  Put yourself in (insert favorite diety here)'s hands and you don't have to trouble yourself to figure it out on your own."

    As a rational person, I prefer not to get into spitting matches, and usually just pass on comments like this.  Actually, its a little unfair of me to pick up on this one rude remark because I encounter a multitude of snide remarks directed at people of faith, throughout Koss diaries and comments, which I generally ignore.

    My point in taking issue here is that if you don't want commentary from religious people, avoid making insulting remarks.  I respect your right to say what you wish, but freedom of speech does not insulate you from responsability for what you say.  

    •  That being said (4.00)
      As a person of faith and as a child of the enlightenment, I expect my government to keep an armed wall several miles wide between church and state.  Any mixture of the two is poisonous to freedom.  

      As far as political discourse is concerned, everything is politics but I fully endorse the idea of bringing one's values to the table while leaving specific religiosity, or lack of it, in the private sphere.  I won't bore the Koss community with the details of my Episcopal tradition if atheists abjure  boring me with the details of their atheism.

  •  Protest in Norman,Ok (none)
    Hey,in dispute to your opinion, as one american who opposes the arrogant greed,corruption,hyprocrisy,and abuse of power from our current executive(corporate) branch of governmemt; I got to say that at 12:00 pm today there was a protest against the "reverse robin  hood" budget cuts of poor people in this country.
     And in this state of Oklahoma their were 6 people there , so there!
  •  we're are crazy (none)
    Jerome has it right.  America is basically nuts.  Europe is evolving into a post-religion society.  Europe has many people of faith but the vast majority of the public supports and defends the idea that governmental institutions should be secular.  In America, we are a long away from this idea and I doubt we will be where in the Europeans are today in my lifetime.

    Much to consternation of many here at Daily Kos, the issues of non-religious are not going to go away.  The non-religious constitute too high a percentage of Democratic party to be continually ignored.  While the Republicans are far worse, the Democratic party has had tepid if any support of the reducing government promotion of religion.

  •  Yes, we are crazy (none)
    You foreigners should always keep this in mind when dealing with us.
  •  The Religious Right in America (none)
    is a POLITICAL movement.

    When they say Christian, they mean white, by which they mean Anglo-Protestant.

    Southern Baptists were virtually the established church of the Confederacy - and why not, they only came into being to defend the moral righteousness of slavery.

    There is a book waiting to be written on how a new crop of televangelists and a power grab among the Baptists gradually built up and politicised America's bible-belt.  (The subtext of racism was what helped them to do it as well as being the reason for it)

    If europe is more mature and able to weigh pressing questions of existence and morality within secular philosophy and institutions it is only because the religious zealots had already milked centuries of blood and war out of it's citizens.

    Rather like why the home of the Puritans is now the most secularly liberal AND most "moral" state.

    "the fools, the fools, they've left us our Fenian Dead" (Padraig Pearse - Gay Revolutionary)

    by padraig pearse on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:10:32 PM PST

  •  America is crazy? (4.00)
    This from a country that claims headscarves threaten the French republic!

    No, the French don't talk about religion all the time, because Catholicism is just part of being French. Yes, they've learned to take religion out of politics, but they replace it with the word "culture". Why are there Christmas trees in French schools? That's just French culture! Oh, 25% of our students don't celebrate Christmas? They need to learn about being French!

    The French are wedded to the idea that everyone is equal. This is noble and just. But it makes them so guarded and sterile that they are unable to address real problems of discrimination, believing instead that people should just, well, be like them, and that it would  be racist to talk about it.

    How's that working out for you, France? Are they integrated yet?

    Americans sometimes overdo it on the diversity rhetoric. Our country is not perfect by any means. But we do have a public discussion regarding religion and diversity that allows us to discuss, account for, and take action against discrimination.

    Hopefully the current (religious, racial, economic) crisis in France will lead to more than just Sarkozy calling people scum and deporting them. Let's hope for some real reform (job growth, affirmitive action, ethics lessons for Ministers?). France could learn some things from America, you know.

    •  btw, Jerome, I love France (none)
      And I think France has a lot to teach America.

      But I do think that France is racist. And, yes,  it DOES have something to do with religion. The French are blind to it, as are you, obviously.

      My point was about discrimination, and the Loi sur la laicite demonstrates the French attitude. This attitude has caused the circumstances that provoked the riots.

  •  The problem seems to be (none)
    that extremists on both sides of the "God" debate tend to take an absolutist view on things:  "Let me tell you why my way is the only rational way, and why you're damned/a moron if you don't agree."  However, if you go over to Street Prophets, you'll find a commmunity of people who believe radically different things about religion, but all agree on one thing...that George Bush is screwed us all.

    Blessed Be,

  •  I applaud you Jerome a Paris! (none)
    Finally a diary on religion that I can completely agree with. This is EXACTLY how I feel and it's what I've unsuccessfully tried to communicate the past few days.

    It often seems that America has become more like the Europe it's forefathers left behind, while Europe, through many agonizing lessons on it's own, has become somewhat more like the America our forefathers foresaw. I tend to believe that Europe is leading the way to the future of civilization and that it might be successful in this endeavor with support from America behind it.

    This isn't to say that all is swell in Europe and it's important to note that America couldn't follow in Europe's footsteps right now, even if it so desired. But it is the Motherland for the majority of Americans and I think that we could learn a lesson or two, if only we'd try.

    Democrats -- Progress for the Working Class

    by rogun on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:59:27 PM PST

  •  can i get an 'amen!' n/t (none)
  •  No Freedom Fries for you ... (none)
    But Beaujolais Nuevo ... yes! Clink!
    Hey, it's November, can you send a case?
  •  I would argue that if the European (none)
    Union included all of Europe, and was mandated to make, interpret and enforce the same kind of Federal laws that the USofA does, then they would be more likely to be debating religion in the open, as issues of death penalty, drugs,  abortion, gay rights, etc. come up as wedge issues as strongly debated as they are here.

    So, IMHO, you are comparing apples with a fruit salad.

    by coigue on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:49:15 PM PST

  •  Oh yeah...and you Europeans aren't crazy. (none)

    by coigue on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:50:48 PM PST

  •  Great diary, Jerome (none)
    I agree with all your points.

    As a Christian who is also a humanist and celebrates all that arose out of the Enlightenment, I appreciate your main point:  that we bring our morals to the table irregardless of their source.

    One need not be Christian to have high moral standards.  And there are a lot of Christians, especially but not limited to the RW Christian Fundie Whackos, who have horrid moral standards.

    Anyway, I'm rambling, so I'll just say thanks for a great diary.

  •  Jerome... (none)
    I'm WAY late to this party...but THANK YOU for your thoughts. While I like to discuss religion...I definitely agree that there is a problem with people believing that morality and values are only available to those who are religious. That idea is ridiculously false....and we should keep shouting that until everyone hears it.

    Hopefully everyone will read your words and rethink where they stand...and then come to the realization that religion does not equal morality...(and then we'll be able to avoid all the fighting that Europeans had to go through)

  •  Glad (none)
    to see you are over your funk and back to setting us colonials straight! Half of our difficulties arrise from being such a young country.

    We are all wearing the blue dress now.

    by PLS on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:51:09 PM PST

  •  You are so right.. (none)
    You are so right...Do know that we have KKK christians in charge of our country now and most americans, yes they do believe in god,but do not agree with our KKK christian govt.  Honest, these are scary people in charge now..Religon and govt. should not mix.Our forefathers even knew that..thats why they put it in our constitution..You would think we would have learned from europes mistakes..Most americans hope this corrupt govt. that says they are christian but are not ,implode before they take everyone down with them..
  •  Erasmus (none)
    Not that anyone will read this, comment #999, but for what it's worth, let's take a moment to thank Erasmus of Rotterdam for first conceiving the Separation of Church and State.  Oh and yes, Erasmus was gay.

    No gays, no Renaissance.  No gays, no Reformation.

    Power corrupts. Hey, let's learn it the hard way!

    by Bob Love on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:59:42 PM PST

  •  Les sistras (none)
    Jerome, two points:

    First: the quote you give is not Diderot's it's by an obscure parish priest named Curé Meslier who died in 1729 and whose testament was found to contain the words: "L'humanité ne sera heureuse que lorsque le dernier roi sera étranglé avec les boyaux du dernier prêtre."

    Second: it's one thing to accuse French cops of racism - so what's new? What I still can't deal with is the inability of a majority of French people, even progressives, to come to term with their own racism. Like the problems in the banlieue this is going to take a lot more than sensitivity training for CRS.


  •  Remember (none)
    my standard poodle is God.

    And I don't waste anyone's time (including my own) in trying to debate the issue on dKos with believers or non-believers.  (However I do have a tightly woven Thomistic argument to prove it, which I will be glad to send to anyone in exchange for a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a five dollar bill.  Foreign residents be sure to include airmail postage and a five euro bill.)

    And she is a French poodle.

    However, I do admit that the origin of the poodle breed is Germany, for what that's worth.

  •  mon dieu! (none)
       if we didn't have religion to fight about,we might notice that our country is being stolen out from under us.I subscribe to Jomo kenyatta's." pray with your eyes open for they stole our land when we closed them".And now i'll go to church and pray for all you heathen kossacks!!

    Go harry go! The American People.

    by blacklib on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:52:27 PM PST

  •  So right ... and yet wrong ... (none)
    Jerome -- Yet another amazing contribution to Daily Kos.  How do you keep your day job?  Maintain a relationship with your family?  

    I am absolutely in agreement with you about the perspective of American society.  I feel this pain from within and wish that wearing one's religion on one's sleeve were not such an accepted part of daily life and politics in the United States.

    Now, while I wish it were possible, I am unsure that a drive to separate out motives from objectives along the lines you suggest, with moving away from 'religiousity', would enable Progressives / the Democratic Party to recapture the nation -- the soul of the nation -- from the American Taliban and the Rethug conspiracy.  

    The reforming of American political dialogue, as you suggest, will not occur overnight and seeking to do so will doom the nation (and the world) to something as bad (or even worse than) the BushCo regime.

    If Progressive politicians need to wear religiousity on their sleeve to turn the tide, that is a cost that I am willing to bear.

  •  Religion is like a lift in your shoe (none)
    If you feel you need it, fine.

    Just don't make me wear your shoes.

    And for God's sake, don't go around nailing lifts on the natives' feet!

     - G. Carlin.

    The most un-American thing you can say is, "You can't say that." -G. Keillor

    by Eddie Haskell on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:45:11 PM PST

  •  'Be happy in your work' - Bridge on the River Kwai (none)
    Be happy in your religion, your beliefs.  Absolutely, no argument here. But leave me free to make my own god damned moral decisions.  

    I am the product of all my experiences and the religion of my parents.  I also have beliefs.  They are my own.  The are neither superior nor inferior to anyone else's.  They are just mine, thank you, and I would like the freedom to act in accordance with my beliefs, not yours, as long as I do no harm to you or your property.

    I have been working on a project with a very diverse group of people.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are catered to allow us to concentrate on our work and put in absolutely insane hours.

    South Asians make up about 30% and are largely Hindu or Muslim, and as such, vegetarians.  We all select from the same buffet and none of them object to seeing various animal flesh dishes next to the veggies.  They do not seem to be offended or outraged by us omnivores.  Not one has suggested that eating meat is sinful.  They are apparently happy in their beliefs.


    Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else. --Will Rogers

    by groggy on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:51:25 PM PST

  •  the worst part of it all (none)
    is that the intrusion of the fundies into politics and now government is that it reminds me of "rhinoceros" and the pod people of the "body snatchers" - am I too paranoid?

    but Jerome you are way cool - aside from your informative posts on the dismal science - you did a diary on windmills in portugal - how fucking cool is that?

    this whole topic of atheism, christianity, religion, american christofascists etc is actually very dismal

    your title should be "by God! you Americans are crazy..." other than that your english composition skills are impeccable

    "Sometimes it's like his record skips or like some coke-dusted and liquor-glazed synapse is unable to fire and he's just stuck" RudePundit

    by christhughes on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:34:34 PM PST

  •  Too close to the mark (none)
    Jerome, is right on target. The strength of the left is our ability to recognize and accept disparate points of views that still hold an essential truth in common. The right is crippled by it's singularity of vision and the Republican party is now paying the price for making such a pact with the devil. They are now beholden to those who would tie faith and politics together.  I am personally tired of defending the dignity of my faith to those who profess their disbelief. To me it is completely irrelevant to the common goals that we are trying to achieve. Let's keep our attention and energy focused on the task at hand, and God willing ;) these inane and counterproductive diaries will cease.
  •  Thanks Jerome! I was about to post the same thing. (none)
    I was two seconds from posting something I had typed up yesterday on the whole religious debate here.

    It said almost everything you said, except I was advocating a more tolerant tone towards religion, not a "I'm better than you because I'm an Athiest/Christian/Hindu/Jew/Flying Spaghetti Mosterist" shouting match.

    It saddens me to see people's animosity towards another relgious belief bring out such bigotry in us.  Save bigotry for the conservatives.  They're the experts at it.

  •  very nice commentary (none)
    unfortunately they are "pie in the sky" ideas.  europe of all places is still racked by ignorance, class warfare and intolerance.  your protests are not founded in reality.

    this is still a great country and tolerance of all religions is basic even in (uggh) the bush administration.  most all of us americans are descended from people who couldn't get away from foreign lands fast enough.  probably more for economic reasons than any other.

    sorry, a little off subject and you are entitled to your opinion in AMERICA.

    "the ubiquitous existential paradigm subsumes didactic proactive synergistic essence". buckley b. buckley vii

    by realheathen on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 04:20:59 AM PST

  •  4.0 (none)
    Rock on, Jerome! Shocked at how touchy some "liberals" get when the subject of their lord and savior comes up; when an outsider (including Canadians) talks smack about America's lust for god; or in this case both. Can't find a way to vote on this thread, so you'll hafta settle for one on the subject title.  
  •  Great diary, nice points, only one mistake - (none)
    You're 100% right until you get to the last paragraph.
    Please, America - get religion our of politics as well. And please, Kossacks, do not try to outfaith the religious right, you play right in their game by legitimising the link between faith and values.

    Yes, obviously if we Kossacks buy into "Justice Sunday" talking points hoping to win over red staters, we slit our own throats.  But nothing forbids us from jujitsu like "I'm against torture and pre-emptive attacks - like Jesus and Reverend King were - and I can't figure out why Republicans are for it."  

    Much as we'd like, we can't give politics a godectomy at this stage.  Instead, there's a valuable Democratic strategy I think of as A Cure for Christian Envy, but it'll wait for another diary.

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