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Romney’s speech  has led to much bloviation.  I watched Chris Matthews say how it was the best speech of this political season, although eventually he acknowledged that there were some problem areas.  David Brooks has written a somewhat sensible column.  The Boston Globe has an editorial entitled Romney on bended knee in which they note

Romney got applause when he criticized those who would supplant a faith-centered nation with "the religion of secularism." But given the amount of violence and intolerance that various religions have generated throughout history, it is unwise to insist that religious belief is a prerequisite for freedom.

 I’m not sure that an ordinary school teacher aka blogger has much to add to the discussion, but as this is a question that concerns me, I will offer a few thoughts below the fold.

Let me set the context in which I wish to address this.  First, I have been fascinated by religion for much of my life, and have often described my own life as an inchoate and constant search for meaning.  In the process of my 61+ years I was raised as a non-practicing Reform Jew who had his Bar Mitzvah on his 13th birthday; attended Quaker Meeting while on active duty in the Marines in the 1960’s without officially joining; was baptized as an Episcopalian in the middle 70’s, spending the summer in an Episcopal Benedictine monastery; became an Orthodox Christian (like Russian or Greek) for 14 years, including directing choir, serving in lay leadership positions at parish, diocesan and national levels, and made repeated trips to monasteries here and in Greece, and had the abbot of a monastery on Mount Athos serve as my personal spiritual father for a decade; returned to Judaism first as an Orthodox Jew then as a Conservative Jew, for a total of perhaps a decade; and finally completed a journey that began as a freshman in College in 1963 when I joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), committing in the Fall of 2002 and officially enrolled as a member in early 2003.  Along the way I picked up a Masters from a Roman Catholic Seminary, taught comparative religions and ethics to adults in a church, and teens first in a synagogue and then in a public high school.  I have read extensively in religious traditions which I have never joined, and have found myself influenced by the poetry of several traditions, especially that of the Sufi Rumi, and have seen my own meditation practices and attitudes towards life strongly influenced by a number of Buddhist teachers.

I also teach government, with an especial reverence (the word is used deliberately) for the ideas of separation of church and state, whether it is reference to Article Vi and the "no religious test" statement, the First Amendment’s two clauses on religion (no establishment and free exercise), Washington’s letter to the Jewish Congregation in Newport, or Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists from which the term "wall of separation" is obtained.  

And perhaps it is because my own religious association has, with the exception of the Episcopal Church, always been with minorities that I am sensitive to aspects of religious discrimination.

My AP government students are now studying Congress.  Yesterday we explored the demographics of who becomes a Member or Senator.  It is interesting to look at the religious background.   In the entire history of our nation there has been one Hindu, one Muslim (Keith Ellison), two Buddhists (Maizie Hirono and Hank Johnson).  There is only one acknowledged atheist (Pete Stark).  The percentage of Jews in the Senate is 6 times their percentage in the US Population.  We have had four Arabs in the US Senate, but all have been Christians:  Abdnor and Abourezk of SD, Mitchell of ME, and Sununu of NH (CORRECTION - there have been at least five - I forgot about Spencer Abraham.  h/t to neon vincent who pointed this out).  we discussed what if any conclusions we might draw about religion and politics.  I will not share all of their comments, but since a number of my students - regardless of the family’s commitment - are themselves fairly hostile to or apathetic about religion, there were more than a few who expressed concern about the amount of religious rhetoric in American politics.  And finally, personally, I have been thinking about this subject because there is a candidate for Congress in Virginia who has been making an overt outreach to people one might describe as progressive evangelicals - this is a potential candidate against Virgil Goode, although he will have a primary opponent.  I have been asked what I think about him, and whether I might be willing to talk with him and then write about what he is doing.

That seems like a long setting of the context.  I apologize, because I think it is necessary for the few insights or observations I might now offer.

I have no problem with a person having his or her life defined by his sense of faith,  I know many people whose commitment to service to others, including in the political arena, is fueled precisely by how faith drives their life.   I think it is good that a person has a core which, if they are willing, they can explain how it influences them.

And while it does not make me especially comfortable, as individual voters we each have the right to apply any test we desire, including a religious test, in determining for or against whom we will cast our votes.    In fact, there is no real obstacle to a religious leader saying to those for whom s/he has pastoral responsibility that a particular candidate either should or should not receive the votes of the followers, although at that moment any exemption from taxation perhaps should be lifted:  there is freedom from taxation so long as the religious body is providing for general well-being, and that exemption perhaps exists even though the body might advocate on policy, but explicit instructions about voting seem to me to cross the line.  In a sense this parallels current law about the magic words in political advertising, whether it constitutes an in-kind contribution to a political campaign.

We were at the time of our founding, that is, during the period between 1775 when the American Revolution began in Massachusetts and the ratification of the Bill of Rights in December of 1791, already a diverse nation.  One reason we did not move in the direction of an established religion was that such a move would have split the nation, at least along regional grounds:  in New England the established churches were the Congregational Churches descended from the Puritans while in Virginia it was the Anglican Church.  Some of the Middle Colonies like New York and Pennsylvania were already so diverse that no real religious establishment was possible.  Yes, it is true that many states had religious tests, some maintaining them for many years.  But already the direction was away from even informal religious tests, although this continued to be a struggle for many years:  after all, one reason for the establishment of Catholic schools was that the public schools often had an explicitly Protestant orientation.  

While the largest religion in the US is the Roman Catholic church, its adherents represent less than 1/4 of our population.  The second largest denomination is the Southern Baptist Convention, but they have less than 10% of the population nationally, even if they may be an overwhelming majority in some communities below the Mason-Dixon line.  Our religious makeup has changed over the years.  The Episcopal Church may have produced the greatest number of Presidents but now numbers less than 1% of our population, and by comparison the Mormons and Jews are each about 2%, and it is possible that by now there are even more Muslims than that.  

Even if we were to paint broadly and say the vast majority of Americans are Christians, not all denominations are willing to give that acknowledgment of a shared basis (followers of Jesus) to other denomination.  It is not merely that some Catholics still hold to the Feeneyite assertion that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation (an ancient doctrine that seems to be gaining strength again, especially under the current Pope);  different sects are not sure what acknowledgement they will make of one another, whether 7th Day Adventists, or Unification Church members, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons should be included in the broader definition of Christian. And there are some which would be willing to label Catholics as other than Christian.  And many have no idea what to make of the Eastern Churches, whether Orthodox or Oriental (and the two groups acknowledge one another but are still split by doctrinal differences dating back to the 5th Century of the Common Era).

We are actually fairly ignorant about religion as a nation.  Thus it becomes easy for some to demagogue on religion.  That is a scary proposition, because once that begins, we can never be sure where it will stop.   It is not just the Ann Coulters who represent a problem on this, generals who say while in uniform that their own god is a bigger or more real god than those who follow Islam.  And the danger of even taking the first step, of asserting that freedom requires religion and religion requires freedom, as was asserted by Romney in what I thought was a frighteningly ignorant and dangerous speech, opens the door to all kinds of problems.

In 1940 the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because they viewed it as a violation of the Commandment against graven images, could be expelled from public schools, the nation saw a rash of burning of Kingdom Halls, the churches of the Witnesses - and here I note that one of the most famous of those incidents took place at Kennebunk, Maine.  We have seen Jewish synagogues and temples bombed during the Civil Rights era in the South.  More recently we have seen mosques desecrated, and efforts made to prevent additional mosques from being built to serve the increasing population of Muslims in this nation.  Yet for all of this, the discrimination and hostility towards those who openly admit their own lack of religious commitment, or even opposition to religions, may be even greater.  And we have seen oft seen this discussed on Daily Kos.  Unfortunately at times the hostility of some towards all religion has been as intolerant as that of some religious types towards non-religion or towards religions other than those they are willing to accept.

A person who seeks to run for high political office should not be dividing us up, pitting one group against another.  It is clearly no longer acceptable to do this on the basis of gender or of the color of our skins.  It also should not be acceptable on the basis of our orientation and commitment to or against religion, whether of specific religious loyalty or even in the broadest sense of being religious or not.  In that sense what Romney said yesterday was very dangerous, and he should be challenged on it.  The theology of his faith is of no matter provided his commitment is to the Constitution he will swear or affirm to uphold, and it is appropriate for him to make that clear. But to pander to those who insist on an unofficial religious test before they will commit to support is to reject the rest of us who do not ascribe to such an approach, whether because it is not our own faith orientation, and I remind people that the evangelical types to whom Romney is appealing are a minority even among Republican voters) or as in  my own case view it as contradictory to the principles upon which this nation is built.

The next step would be imposition by law of things one believes because of one’s religion.  We have seen how devastating this can become of our political discourse in the arguments over abortion.  Public policy should be justified on the basis of arguments that are not ultimately rooted in one’s religious beliefs.  It is perfectly proper to advocate for one’s strong beliefs, but one must be able to find a basis other than one’s religious faith for such a policy lest one be moving in the direction of imposing a religious regime upon a nation diverse in its religious orientation, a diversity which includes as full participants those who deny the existence of a deity or oppose the idea of a organized religion.  

I cannot say that Romney’s speech disqualified him in my mind as a potential president, because I had already reached the conclusion that there was no rationale for his running beyond his own ego.  I will say that those in the press who failed to note the danger of his division between those with religion and those without have in my mind disqualified themselves as competent to attempt to explain politics and government:  if they do not understand the importance of that statement, they truly do not understand the nature of what this nation has been and has to be if we are not to tear ourselves apart.

Originally posted to teacherken on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:33 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is strictly a personal reaction (126+ / 0-)

    offered because I feel rather strongly on the issue.  I attempt to provide the context from which I derive my strong feelings.

    I now must travel to school, and will be off-line for at least 45 minutes.  I will be happy to engage in any dialog when I can, providing it does not interfere with my responsibility to my students.


    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

    by teacherken on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:34:40 AM PST

  •  I will read this more carefully in a little while (27+ / 0-)

    I started the same (reform Jew) but from there, went a totally different way - from very early in life, I have been an atheist/agnostic (agnostic in general, atheist with regard to the Judeo/Christian type God), flirted briefly with taoism, and am most comfortable saying

    I don't know what is going on

    Humans seem to have a need to "know" what is happening.  From the pagan Gods of the ancient Egyptians, to all the multifarious faiths of today, people seem to want to think that things happen for a reason.

    But I think there is little reason in the universe, and none from any deity

    •  There was a program last night (11+ / 0-)

      on Canadian TV about the old Egyptians worship and that they had found tablets that tell the same storys of Jesus, a hundred and fifty years before he walked this Earth. The program was called Doc One.

      "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

      by Owllwoman on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:57:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That would be because (11+ / 0-)

        the Mystery Religions (which constituted a lot of Paganism in the Roman days, by the way) started in Egypt and were all about the idea of someone dying for our sins.

        In The Jesus Mysteries, the authors argue that the Jesus story may originally have been intended to create a sort of myster religion for Judaism.  One of the main issues with doing that, however, is that in Judaism the Messiah has to actually come and do his thing; he can't just be some symbol like in the Mithras cult.  As a result, they had to put dates to everything, which, the authors argue, is when things started going astray.

        They also use that point to argue that the Gnostics may have been the original Christians (because Gnosticism resembles the mystery religions in a lot of ways) which was eventually put down by the more purely orthodox Christianity which emerged once the religion was adopted by Rome.  

        And that's my potentially controversial comment for the day, I think.

        If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. -- George Orwell

        by nilocjin on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:42:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A little known fact (0+ / 0-)

          At the time of Jesus' execution, there were dozens, scores of Messianic preachers all over Judaea, saying things rather similar to those that Jesus said. So his specific activities were not exceptional, in that if you were attending a festival during his day, you'd find many flocks of followers attending to their favorite speaker.

          In a sense, he just lucky to be executed at the right time in a rather spectacular fashion, and his followers were savvy enough to parlay the story in such a way as to glorify themselves and keep the movement alive despite the loss of their leader. Just as the Scientologists have survived the death of Elron Hubbard.

          Given a slightly different course of events, we might all use the term, "Avath Christ!" as an epithet. Anyway, I'm off topic. Romney is especially offensive to me because he appears to believe that the inventor of his religion found missing tablets of the Bible, inscribed in gold, buried under the soil of North America some 2000 years following the death of Jesus.

          It takes a special kind of gullible to believe that.

          Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

          by The Raven on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:46:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  "I don't know what is going on." (9+ / 0-)

      That 'bout sums me up too.  I raised under the teachings of the Worldwide Church of God, attended WWCG church for many years.  Stopped attending when having to drive 70 miles one-way every Saturday (because that was the closest congregation of the WWCG for us) finally became too exhaustive for me and my mom.  That was a bit before I finally came to terms with my sexuality, which prompted me to reconsider everything I had been taught by my church throughout the years.  I've eyed various other belief systems some: neopaganism and taoism particularly.  But ultimately I do always keep coming back to the simple statement: I don't know.  So, I guess I'm agnostic.

      I do miss the comfort of feeling certain like I used to when I was a believer.  But I can't truthfully say I have any kind of faith anymore.

    •  Religion answers questions. (9+ / 0-)

      Not always are the questions answered correctly but religion makes humans feel better about where they have come from and where they are going.

      Not the church. Not the state. Women will decide their fate.

      by JaciCee on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:32:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd agree with you (7+ / 0-)

        but with the caveat that for as many questions as it appears to answer it simply creates a huge array of others that are fundamentally unanswerable.  

        Take for instance placing a creator at the beginning of the universe.  Immediately the question arises of where the creator came from.  That sequence goes on as long as our projected stay in Iraq.  

        I'm afraid people delude themselves into thinking a religious belief solves all of life's mysteries.  It truly just adds more.

        •  I agree with you. (5+ / 0-)

          I have been through enough churches on my own to make my own decisions about my own faith and belief system.  The one commonality I've seen in every church I have gone to is that the participants want answers.  They want to know why they lied, why they cheated, where they came from, why they are afraid of death...and on and on.

          I no longer participate in organized religion.

          Not the church. Not the state. Women will decide their fate.

          by JaciCee on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:57:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (5+ / 0-)

          I'm not a Buddhist. Like teacherken, I have been a student of religion/philosophy my entire life so far. But this quote from a Buddhist I read last night is timely and apt:

          Suppose I were to come up to you, hold out my closed fist, and tell you I have a jewel in it. Now, I might be lying or I might be telling the truth. Either way, you have little to go on. As long as my hand remains closed you don't know whether or not I have a jewel in it. The most you can do, given the limited information I've provided, is believe or speculate that I have, or don't have, a jewel inside my fist.
          Only when I open my fist can you see if there's a jewel in it or not. And once I do open it, the need for - and the usefulness of - belief vanishes. You can see for yourself whether or not there's a jewel, and you can base your actions on what you see, rather than on what you think.
          So it is with any issue, question, or dilemma. Belief may serve as a useful stopgap measure in the absence of actual experience, but once you see Reality, belief becomes unnecessary. Indeed, at this point, it stands in the way of clear, direct perception.

          from "Buddhism Plain & Simple" by Steve Hagen

          Vote with your conscience, O Progressive, for there are many Conservatives who will vote without one.

          by MahFellaMerkins on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:44:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The idea of death scares people so much... (3+ / 0-)

          The idea of religion offers a way to avoid death.

          So many people live a life filled with suffering.  We long to believe there is more to it than that.  That's why we want to believe in an afterlife so much, because it has to be better than this.    

      •  Religion deflects questions; (6+ / 0-)

        it doesn't ever answer anything at all.  "God did it" is nonresponsive to the question of how something came to be.  It doesn't explain what god supposedly did nor where god came from.  Other religious statements are similarly short-circuits to inquiry rather than actual answers.  The only questions ever truly answered by religion are fictional hypotheticals; the rest of religion's "answers" are more properly characterized as post-hoc rationalizations or empty assertions of moral authority.

        If religion gave meaningful answers it would be science, not religion.

        "In my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."--George W. Bush

        by cjmarshall on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:54:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think we need to recognize (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wishingwell, dus7, mystery2me

          that religion does answer some participants questions.  The answers may not be truthful but they aren't necessarily looking for the truth.  People go to church for many different reasons; some totally unrelated to faith.

          Not the church. Not the state. Women will decide their fate.

          by JaciCee on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:59:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't get it. (0+ / 0-)

            "The answers may not be truthful but they aren't necessarily looking for the truth" doesn't make sense to me.  The search for answers is the search for truth, at least so long as the question is honestly and accurately stated.  That truth might be subjective, or it might be illusory, or the argument to arrive at the putative truth might be invalid, but determining truth is definitely the point of the search for answers.  

            "In my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."--George W. Bush

            by cjmarshall on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 11:29:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Philosophy is completey non-existent in your view (0+ / 0-)

          apparently. Which isn't shocking, it's typically overlooked in all of these religion/science mini-debates.  Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, really. But as such, your characterizations of religion are rather narrow.

          •  Philosophy (0+ / 0-)

            I find philosophy interesting, but you surely know that even philosophers have doubted its relevance and efficacy. Love this quote from a famous philo:

            "At the core of all well-founded belief, lies belief that is unfounded." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

            Vote with your conscience, O Progressive, for there are many Conservatives who will vote without one.

            by MahFellaMerkins on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:41:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not true at all. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Philosophy most certainly exists, and my characterizations of religion are extremely broad.  What distinguishes philosophy from religion is religious faith.  When putatively objective axiomatic facts other than self-existence and the belief that observations generally have objectively true--if perhaps indeterminable--causes are drawn from observation and logic is rigorously applied to those facts, then you have the basis for legitimate philosophy.  When any putatively objective axioms beyond the given two are presumed based on faith or not subject to revision based upon observation--or if, functionally equivalently, logic is just given a toss--then you have religion. Communism, for example, is religion, as is libertarianism, as neither allows for various critical axioms to be challenged by observation.

            Philosophy need not give objective real world answers in order not to be a religion--legitimate philosophy and science are hardly coextensive.  When axioms are treated as hypotheticals assumed arguendo or subjective truths rather than facts with an objective truth value, you have legitimate philosophy that isn't science.  When you make an argument about the consistency or inconsistency of sets of beliefs you are making--or at least trying to make--a philosophical argument that may or may not be scientific as well.  

            Religion is based in the claim of objective truth either derived from faith or not subject to revision due to observation.  Philosophy is the valid application of logical argument to a set of axioms--often, but not necessarily, axioms relating to subjective truths such as most morality and ethics--agreed upon for the sake of argument.  Science is the application of philosophy to axioms based upon observation.  

            Philosophy is absolutely critical in my view; religion however, in which axioms without any sort of objective real world referent are presumed to have such referent, is simply useless.  Religious argument itself is incapable of giving answers that anyone should care about, serving at best to cloud subjective truths and untruths in a haze of putative objective truth.  Philosophical argument can, of course, give useful answers to questions based upon subjective truths derived from religious beliefs, but only if such arguments are themselves strictly philosophical, not religious.

            I'll say it again, with clarification: if religion gave meaningful objective answers it would be science; when religion seems to give meaningful subjective answers it is only because the argument from religious premises is logically valid and introduces no new unstated faith-based premises--i.e. the argument is philosophical even though the underlying premises are religious.

            Now, if you'd said religious philosophy is nonexistent in my view you'd be a little closer to the truth.  Assuming valid application of logic to axioms based in religious faith, I would call the argument strictly philosophical if it claims subjective truth and strictly religious if it claims objective truth.  Still, I'd say that the "valid application of logic to axioms based in religious faith" can broadly be categorized as religious philosophy, even though the underlying arguments are either strictly religious or strictly philosophical.

            "In my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."--George W. Bush

            by cjmarshall on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 11:17:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The answers one gets from religion (4+ / 0-)

        are as reliable as the answers one gets from torture. Their veracity is questionable and to act upon them for policy or strategy will at best be fruitless, and more likely cause great harm.

        •  What an interesting analogy. (0+ / 0-)

          Thanks for that, I find that very interesting.

          I like to go to school, but because of the explosions I can't focus. -Muhammed, 12-year-old Iraqi schoolboy

          by mystery2me on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:26:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  from another child of the Enlightenment (0+ / 0-)

          Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

          Nathan the Wise (original German title Nathan der Weise) is a play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, published in 1779. It is a fervent plea for religious tolerance. Its performance was forbidden by the church during Lessing's lifetime.

          Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, it describes how the wise Jewish merchant Nathan, the enlightened sultan Saladin and the (initially anonymous) Templar bridge their gaps between Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

          The centerpiece of the work is the Ring Parable, narrated by Nathan when asked by Saladin which religion is true: An heirloom ring with the magical ability to render its owner pleasant in the eyes of God and mankind had been passed from father to the son he loved most.

          When it came to a father of three sons whom he loved equally, he promised it (in "pious weakness") to each of them. Looking for a way to keep his promise, he had two replicas made, which were indistinguishable from the original, and gave on his deathbed a ring to each of them.

          The brothers quarrelled over who owned the real ring. A wise judge admonished them that it was up to them to live such that their ring's powers proved true. Nathan compares this to religion, saying that each of us lives by the religion we have learned from those we respect.

          The character of Nathan is to a large part modelled after Lessing's lifelong friend, the eminent philosopher Moses Mendelssohn.

          Whatever happened to the tradition of Enlightenment thinkers?

          "Jedoch ich wollte, dass ihr nicht schon triumphiert: Der Schoß ist fruchtbar noch, aus dem das kroch." -Bertolt Brecht

          by Jeffersonian Democrat on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:33:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree. Religion does NOT answer (0+ / 0-)

        questions but simply causes more questions.

        Organized religion is a way to categorize and force you into a niche. To be a good catholic you MUST believe and practice this. To be a good baptist you MUST believe and practice that. And to be a good mormon, well don't ask. Just be sure you tithe.

        The bible has become deity, not a "good book" it once was.

        There is no glory in dying. -- Tatanka Iyotaka (Sitting Bull)

        by Flippant on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 10:12:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But it does answer questions. (0+ / 0-)

          For some.  Not for me and apparently not for you.  But there are many people who find answers to their questions even if the answer is as simple as "because God said so".

          Not the church. Not the state. Women will decide their fate.

          by JaciCee on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 10:39:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, I agree entirely with this: (18+ / 0-)

    Public policy should be justified on the basis of arguments that are not ultimately rooted in one’s religious beliefs.

    and it is why I really got annoyed at Mitt for high-jacking high-jacking JFK's seminal speech in 1960 and mangled it managed to bring religion in the forefront as opposed to the intentions of the original.

    The Democratic Congress is now divided into three parts: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.

    by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:52:14 AM PST

  •  Like you, I find some value with having a (17+ / 0-)

    'religious' core background- mine is catholic. However, that core value has led me to explore religions and philosophy on a personal level because so much of that religious teaching and learning did not ring true, make sense, was so hypocritical that I came to the conclusion that all organized religions create more trouble, pain, fear, wars and hatred than anything else,except for maybe money and greed.

    That anyone has to stand up before the world to explain themselves regarding their religious practices is sad. That the world is being judged by so called christian values across the board is sad.

    I believe people can be good without religion in their background. I don't understand the religious team attitude.

    Mitt, like many who want power and to lead suffers more from an inflated ego, much like many of the religious leaders of the day, and seems more interested in pandering to the phoney christians power mongers than anything else.

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones"

    by roseeriter on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:53:07 AM PST

    •  I so identify (8+ / 0-)

      with this.  I was raised catholic though my parents were only quasi interested.  But I was very vulnerable to the nun in the catholic school.  Up until I was about 14, I believed, or I wanted to.  I wanted there to be miraculous wipe outs of evil; I wanted all the commies in the USSR to be saved.  I thought if I prayed  hard enough and long enough I could protect all the people I loved from everything I feared: death, illness, things I could not control which was mostly life.

      Nothing major precipitated the change.  I just started having serious doubts about the "stories".  But for a long time, I was afraid to admit, even to myself, my doubts.  

      In my twenties I stopped going to church.  Later I started reading more historical renderings of Jesus; reading about other philosophies.  Finally I had to admit.  I am am agnostic.  And I am comfortable saying "I do not know".   As well I am uncomfortable following religions that distort the message of a man, Jesus, who I believe in essence, whether or not he was "god", was a social liberal fighting against the abuses of the poor, of women, of those that were disabled, the sick and the different.  I doubt strongly Jesus of Nazareth would be accepted by any of the Christians of today's religions.

  •  My personal reaction was of outrage that they, (22+ / 0-)

    the MSM, would give him special treatment over and above the other candidates. And then to compare pictures of him and John Kennedy. That in and of itself is a form of brainwashing. I believe the Church or churches are part of what is wrong with this Country. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to build churches. I follow the Native Americans way of worship, even though I am a baptized Catholic. It is a way to worship the Creator in a very simple way without all the detractions.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:53:55 AM PST

  •  It's news to me. (25+ / 0-)

    I didn't realize that "secularism", whatever that is, was a religion. I'd like to remind Mr. Romney about a little parable called, "The Good Samaritan", that neatly wraps up ideas of right and wrong that transcend an earthly religion.

    Romney is a panderer, plain and simple. He stands up there and spouts words put in his mouth by his handlers hoping enough people will be mollified by the words to cast a vote for him. He's another George W. Bush - a guy who wants to be called "Mr. President", act important and be treated special...oh, and give favors to his rich pals. If that means kowtowing to a religiously zealous segment of the population, that's what he'll do. The problem with Bush wasn't that he was a religious nut - his religion is narcissism. The problem with Bush was that he surrounded himself with True Believers who cared more for their religious sect than they did for a government and country they saw as theirs. I don't know what cloth Romney is cut from but he comes across as an increasingly cheap suit.

    Land in your hand you'll be happy on earth Then invest in the Church for your heaven.

    by Splicer on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:54:26 AM PST

  •  If Romney believes "secularism" is a "religion",, (18+ / 0-)

    why is he preaching intolerance of this particular religion? (One of Olberman's points last night.)

    CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. A. Bierce

    by irate on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:05:11 AM PST

  •  Religion and politics (9+ / 0-)

    will always be a theme. Is it possible for somebody who has a strong faith and adheres to a religion and lead a country as diverse as America ?
    Is it possible for that person to make a decision that directly conflicts with his or her faith for the good of all ?
    I answer no to both of these questions (my thoughts).
    To have strong religious beliefs is fine by me but not when it's carried into public office.

    Blame God and you'll get away with anything.

    by langerdang on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:05:32 AM PST

  •  Good reading (14+ / 0-)

    To which I would add, from Juan Cole's thoughtful reaction:

    So Romney's so-called plea for tolerance is actually a plea for the privileging of religion in American public life. He just wants his religion to share in that privilege that he wants to install.

    It is so interesting to me the way the R's don't consider policy positions manly enough for them. On torture, they don't want to really deal with the problem and so their comments are, in Nigel's words, "... we need that extra push over the cliff...Eleven. One louder." Same with immigration. And the religion speech fits the pattern, too. Instead of talking seriously about the separation clause, Romney bypasses the whole issue of policy, redefining the discussion of religion in public life to be about a litmus test: "do you have enough religion for public life?"

    Seriously, these people aren't running for president of a constitutional democracy, they're running to succeed Dick Cheney as autocratic crazy uncle.

    We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error. - HAL 9000

    by MarkC on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:07:37 AM PST

  •  "Freedom requires religion" (21+ / 0-)

    Romney said religion is essential to freedom, without pointing to any specific faith.

    "Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.

    ...while I have no problem with anyone subscribing to a theological view that supports this statement in the abstract, this phrase is extremely ominous coming from the mouth of a Republican politician in 2007.

    It implies that Romney really thinks people who don't subscribe to the tenets of some major doctrinal theistic religion either do not deserve freedom or should be deprived of it. And I have no doubt that if the GOP rw "base" had their way in this country, that's what they would undertake to do.

    Restore constitutional government in America. Impeach Bush and Cheney.

    by revbludge on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:07:48 AM PST

  •  Just a minor point (5+ / 0-)

    I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to believe what he wants, including Mormons, so I won't get into the substance of this, but...

    just for correctness, "Reformed Jew" sounds like something that Ann Coulter might say.  "Reform Jew" on the other hand refers to the millions of Jews worldwide that practice "Reform Judaism".

    "I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue."

    by dfb1968 on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:09:30 AM PST

  •  Absolutely NO to religion in politics (9+ / 0-)

    Teacherken, you are one of my most respected diarists, but I strongly disagree with you on this. We can have public discourse as a nation because we have shared experiences. We can talk about democracy, the land, the economy and lots of other things because that is common to all citizens. Separation of church and state means that we do not have that commonality. It is really important in forming a union and one of the most brilliant parts of the Constitution. It also means that when Romney talks about Jesus in a public setting that it is both exclusionary and irritating to all non-Jesus religions and non-believers.

    When (if) we become an enlightened political society we will realize that to fulfill the promise of the Constitution we will religiously exclude all talk of religion from public discourse.

    •  sorry, strongly disagree, and not possible (12+ / 0-)

      government can neither favor a particular religion, religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.  Your approach would fail the last of those three tests.  I would totally agree that government cannot coerce.  But your approach would if one attempted to mandate by law violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment - after all, religious exercise includes for some their responsibility under their religion to preach it, to attempt to convert others.  The government has under the Constitution a balancing act of allowing that expression while insuring that it does not impinge on the rights of others not to have it imposed upon them.  

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:51:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately, you're right. (6+ / 0-)

        Until the day we would seriously consider an Atheist for President we will not be living up to our own standards of religious tolerance.  That's when I'll believe that Mitt's thinking will not be the accepted (even demanded) norm.

        "The angels left this nation, Salvation, caught the last train out tonight. He lost one Hell of a fight." - Bon Jovi.

        by rainmanjr on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:55:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not laws, not coerced, and political sphere only (7+ / 0-)

        When (if) we become an enlightened political society we will realize that to fulfill the promise of the Constitution we will religiously exclude all talk of religion from public discourse.

        I am referring only to the political sphere. The term "religiously exclude" was selected on purpose, to indicate that it would be the one public belief that it was inappropriate to discuss religion in a political context. If you say that we are doomed as a society because we have lost faith in Apollo and must elect Apollo worshippers people would think that you were nuts. People would think "What the hell is he talking about, why is he saying this to me, and what about my beliefs?" Well, thats what many of us feel when you talk about Jesus in a political public venue.

      •  If proselytizing defines your belief then (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it is imperative that your belief be left out of politics.

        I do not care what your "religion' is or how you practice it in PRIVATE.

        Just keep it out of my politics and my congress and my president.

        There is no glory in dying. -- Tatanka Iyotaka (Sitting Bull)

        by Flippant on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 10:38:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Forbidding God in our national discourse... (9+ / 0-) the other end of the spectrum and just as extreme as forcing God (or one's perceptions of God) down the peoples' throats. One is just as damaging as the other. Jefferson said, The government derives its power from "the consent of the governed". Belief in God or any other religion should also be by consent of the believer, and WE THE PEOPLE should have the option.

      Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.

      And the government has no inherent right to force-feed religion onto the people as some sort of litmus test for citizenship--or a nationalistic measure of one's allegiance or patriotism.

      "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

      by ImpeachKingBushII on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:34:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I grew up eating fish on Friday at school (8+ / 0-)

    I am not Catholic.

    Despite this, I didn't seem to suffer any lasting damage, other than an aversion to fishsticks.

    Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them - T Paine

    by breezeview on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:47:45 AM PST

    •  OMG..Fish on Friday sure triggered memories... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, breezeview

      My High School was surrounded by many Churches, a Cathedral and a Synagogue [they had great tennis courts] back in the day. Friday was always 'Spirit Day' as in School Colors were the uniform of the game day. We all endured the 'fish sticks', had a pep assembly, game, sock hop in the gym and then sat watching the clock so we could share our MEAT Pizzas at the stroke of Midnight.

      But then there was my "what a work House Mother" in College. She drove me to 'pretend that I was Catholic'. Seven of us would be assigned for a Week to sit at her table and take her to church on Sunday. Every Friday she 'fasted' stating as soon as we finished singing Grace, emphatically and loudly that she wasn't going to 'eat fish' just for the Catholics [she had a frig in her room]. Besides, she always drove the group to church. The Catholics got excused from church duty, so off I went to Mass with my Catholic sisters every week.

      But, really, could I get Cable and News that is Religiousity Free...they're a preachin' on all channel's today and I'm sitting here disappointed waiting for something about Pearl Harbor Day..

    •  Sigh. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's not about this life, it's about the ever-after. like whether you'll live with wings and flowing robes in the clouds with a bunch of virgins at your beckon call never wanting for anything again.

      Or whether you're doomed to return to earth as a cat at the hands of a Frist or a fish doomed to be a fish stick.

      Or simply sent to a place where you'll be strapped into a dentist chair with a clamp holding your mouth open in a room aflame with wretched naked people moaning and writhing around on the floor while a guy with horns and goats legs goes at your teeth with a dull rusty drill for all eternity.

      Better start praying, chanting, whipping yourself across the back and hopping in a circle on one foot to atone for your sins before it's too late.

      Religion, it's really that simple.

      Contact Pelosi about impeachment:

      by Pescadero Bill on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:19:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your standards are much higher than mine (9+ / 0-)

    You seem to be looking for a sort of legal or technical trigger for the disqualification of a candidate that vomits pioty every speech.  I am content to dismiss them just because of the speech.  And that's ok with me, so long as society - however slowly and deliberately - comes to the same conclusion.

    The experiment of religion in politics that began in 2000 failed.  I am thankful for that.  There are strains of "Hymmmmmmmmn, that didn't work so well" being sung from almost every choir in the evangelical south.  It shouldn't have worked as well as it did.  Religions should not be assembled as armies against other Americans to achieve a political goal.  And I frankly don't know how it should be stopped when it does happen, as a peaceful nation.  But I am glad that it is stopping.

    The only thing that I concede personally is that people, individuals, are each on their own spiritual journey, seeking the meaning of their existence, and the answer to the question of "I and You".  But there is no more reason, no more justification for each of those 6 billion individual journies ... personal reflections ... becoming a force against peaceful government, or against any one of the other 5.999 billion individuals ... than should my personal reflection today of what I will wear to work.

    The rest of it is a huge pile of stomach turning, intelligent insulting vomit to me.  And we will be infinitely and perpetually just shy of being a truly civilized society until the religion that binds each of those journies together and distorts them into a singular power of hate and destruction against ourselves has been destroyed forever.


    •  no, I am not looking for legal disqualification (5+ / 0-)

      and the same way a religious voter can choose to remove from consideration a person whose religious views do not match their own, you have every right to disqualify  from your consideration a person who chooses to talk about her religion.  In both cases the government should remain silent, and protect your right to decide however you want.

      What the government cannot allow is the attempt to suppress dissent or to impose one point of view - either of the religious who seek to move however negligibly in the direction of what for many would imply a theocracy or of the anti-religious who wish to exclude the rights of believers to express their beliefs.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:56:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Teacher, where do you stand on funding NGOs that (0+ / 0-)

        are religious-political and tax exempt status for religious reasons?

        The Feds do the Red Cross but not the Salvation Army.
        [although I don't agree with the 'religion' of the SA I donate to them over the ARC because of their use of my money].

        For example the Assemblies do as much 'politicing' as 'saving the backsliders' where I come from.

        I see Sen. Grassley is trying to redeem himself after his Robbin' the Hood 'bankruptcy bill' by investigating the teletubbies, oops, that's tele-evans/mega-churches.

        •  for humanitarian or social purposes (0+ / 0-)

          without requiring attendance at a religious service, listening to a sermon, or any of that, I don't see a problem.  Given the 3-part Lemon test, if the government's involvement with a religion has primarily a secular or civi purpose, doesn't advance or hinder religion, and avoids excessive entanglement with religion, it should be okay.

          Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

          by teacherken on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:45:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like Mitt Romney... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murrayewv, Owllwoman, binkaroni, kyril

    "The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life."

    Sounds like his ignoble(sic) vision for new theocratic America.

    Do you know who really said it and when?

    "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:57:11 AM PST

    •  sorry, you just violated Godwin's law. n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, JanetT in MD, Dimetrodon

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:59:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And which laws will get violated...once again... (4+ / 0-)

        ...and will we even have any vestige of freedom or a Constitution left, if a repub is elected potus? I'm going to use everything at my disposal to stop them, up to and including invoking Godwin's law, if necessary to get the job done. America just can't afford another repub in the WH. Agreed?

        Politics is inherently a dirty business. Look no further than our own primary season. Many here think Romney's going to be the repub nominee. I'm just getting warmed up for the general, teacher, and I for one am playing to win! Show me a good loser and I'll show you, well, I'll show you a loser. My purpose is to ensure that the agony of defeat in 2000 and 2004 won't happen again!

        "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

        by ImpeachKingBushII on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:14:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Must have been Adolph. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There is no glory in dying. -- Tatanka Iyotaka (Sitting Bull)

      by Flippant on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 10:42:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It wasn't Mitt Romney just some other... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annrose, murrayewv, binkaroni, kyril

    ...enigmatic figure who tried to force his warped "I am God, God is state" perceptions on our world:

    Adolph Hitler (My New World Order, Proclamation to the German Nation at Berlin, February 1, 1933)

    "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:03:54 AM PST

    •  this after Hitler (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dus7, ImpeachKingBushII

      had risen to power in alliance with the moderately religious, who found it pragmatic to accept his bizarre little self if it meant an increase of influence for them. A rug Hitler abruptly pulled out from under them.

      I hope the Bush experience has wisened up Religion to this process. If knowing comes at the expense of believing, it will make this mistake every time.

  •  I thought his speech was scary (15+ / 0-)

    but I think all the pundits reactions are scarier, because most of them don't seem to pick up on the "freedom requires religion and religion requires freedom" line, as you have done so well. Thanks for a thoughtful diary, as usual.

  •  Bottom line to me... (9+ / 0-)

    is that the founding "Fathers" left England because of religious intolerance there.  

    They left to escape a religious test.

    They left to get away from state sponsored religion.

    This country was therefore founded by people who didn't want to be bullied into a certain religious belief by their politicians.

    Let's not digress.

    HotFlashReport - Opinionated liberal views of the wrongs of the right

    by annrose on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:07:00 AM PST

  •  George Carlin Worships Joe Pesci (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MahFellaMerkins, rainmanjr, kyril

    HotFlashReport - Opinionated liberal views of the wrongs of the right

    by annrose on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:15:46 AM PST

  •  I would love for my kids to be in your class (11+ / 0-)

    Your background is fascinating and impressive, and I appreciate your respect for this country and its ideals.

    Thanks for another insightful diary!

    Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. - Ayn Rand

    by CA Libertarian on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:23:38 AM PST

  •  A candidates religion? (10+ / 0-)

    I never used to care.  The operative phrase here is used to.  Now I care.  Bush has changed everything for all of us.  He has used his faux religious beliefs to garner support for dangerous and immoral policies and actions.  He has held the personal salvations of millions of Americans over their heads to get what he wants.

    We have to care about the faithful lives of potential candidates.  We have to care about what their personal faith dictates to them about civil rights, war, medical research, education and the environment.

    Romney doesn't differ from Bush much.  

    Not the church. Not the state. Women will decide their fate.

    by JaciCee on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:31:09 AM PST

    •  But, I am moving so strongly to ACTS as the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, JanetT in MD, JaciCee, kyril

      measure of the person while here on Earth. And I will allow God to evaluate the soul of the person.

      But in the meantime, please, let them go to the closet as in the Sermon on the Mount sense to do their praying. And remember that even the Disciples were men with very human failings...
      and the Cock still crows every morning.

      Bottomline: It is time for a few good men to come to the aid of their countries. While the lazy brown dog will lie down with fleas to bask in the sun.

  •  ritual,religious LAWS not faith my objection (6+ / 0-)

    Most people of faith admit their doubts , but adhere to the laws and practices of the chosen religion for thier (AND MY) own good . Thats my problem with it,finding ones way in the world should have more to do with getting along with the others around us than religious laws that devide us. to quote Shelley,"The good want power,but to weep barren tears.The powerful goodness want:worse need for them.The wise want love; and those who love want wisdom." (sounds more democratic than religius faith)

    have we hit bottom yet?

    by eddienic on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:41:58 AM PST

  •  Non believers need not apply (9+ / 0-)

    Athiests and agnostics are being written out of the political system by these pandering theocrats.

    If Hillary Clinton wins, the Democratic Party loses.

    by Paleo on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:56:44 AM PST

    •  not really (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, binkaroni, kyril

      Paleo, I appreciate your sentiment, but I think it is the superstitious public that writes us out.

      The best we can hope for, aside from the occasional Pete Stark, is someone who at least acknowledges the separation of church and state.

      When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

      by onanyes on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:01:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As long as it is acceptable... (7+ / 0-)

        .. to ask a candidate, in a national televised debate, to give their favorite bible verse, the "religious test" is on the table.

        The only shame in ignorance is taking pride in it.

        by carver on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:43:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  it is acceptable (0+ / 0-)

          in LEGAL terms for the public to do that; there is freedom of speech.

          No, I didn't like that at all.

          But I suppose one can argue that knowledge of the Bible is part of western cultural literacy and a "common currency"  in communicating ideas.

          Now I'd love it if one of the candidates would say "that is MY business and none of yours" but, well, I am not holding my breath.

          When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

          by onanyes on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:25:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  True enough. (0+ / 0-)

            Anyone who considers themselves literate should have read the Bible, IMHO.
            The allusions to the bible in western literature are extensive which makes it a pretty essential reference tool.
            In the last debate I don’t think the question was directed at determining the literary acumen of the candidates, however.  It was an effort to keep religion in the political conversation, as it was with the free time they gave Romney to explain Mormonism (as if that is a vital public message).  

            The only shame in ignorance is taking pride in it.

            by carver on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 09:43:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  frankly I've given up... (7+ / 0-)

    I'd love for all of our leaders to be atheists or agnostics, but I know that isn't going to happen in my lifetime.

    I'd settle for those who will assume "naturalistic" causes for world events and would rule out making decisions based on their belief that their deity is going to supernaturally intervene.

    So, in my mind, people like Mike Huckabee are disqualified.

    Romney:  his back was against the wall, so to speak.  I won't vote for him as he is nothing more than one of the Bourbons who happens to be Mormon; he is more about money than anything else.

    On the other hand, if I lived in Nevada, I'd have no problems in voting for Harry Reid.

    When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

    by onanyes on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:59:09 AM PST

    •  I have a major problem voting for Reid, again. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishgrease, MahFellaMerkins, kyril

      After his performance, in the last year, I can't see doing that.  But, I was with you till that line.

      "The angels left this nation, Salvation, caught the last train out tonight. He lost one Hell of a fight." - Bon Jovi.

      by rainmanjr on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:10:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ok, understood (0+ / 0-)

        But because I don't know much about Nevada politics, I'd assume that Reid is about as good as it gets there.

        Obviously he wouldn't fly in, say, Mass. or Illinois (I can't spell "Massachusetts" without using google)

        When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

        by onanyes on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:22:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  lol. I can't spell it, either. (0+ / 0-)

          He is as good as it gets here, in Nv., and that's sad.  But our demographics are changing, Dem's are growing in number (unless it's just a "this year" thing), so maybe we can do better.

          "The angels left this nation, Salvation, caught the last train out tonight. He lost one Hell of a fight." - Bon Jovi.

          by rainmanjr on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:33:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  "There can be no freedom without religion" (10+ / 0-)

    Actually, historically, it's more, there can be no freedom with religion.

    If Hillary Clinton wins, the Democratic Party loses.

    by Paleo on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:00:18 AM PST

    •  Actually, historically, this is inaccurate. (0+ / 0-)

      Religion being merely the cover story for corrupt leaders isn't an indictment of religion.

      Similarly, the presence of a president like we have currently isn't an indictment of our democracy, it's an indictment of the people that made it and continue to make it happen.

  •  Thank you.... (5+ / 0-)

    ....for this diary.  

    I made an attempt to put voice to this very thought process yesterday in a post to several diaries.  However, your intellect and experience did it great justice.

    One statement that you made rings true; Americans are, on the whole, quite ignorant about religion, it's history, and our place within that history.

    "Virtus Junxit Mors Non Separabit"

    by Fuzzy5150 on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:10:11 AM PST

  •  You can be whatever religion you want ...but... (11+ / 0-)

    I would argue that any candidate that denies evolution should be disqualified from running. Obviously this can not be made an explicit disqualification, but I would hope that the media etc would slam their ignornace so hard that they would end up going back to where they came from.

    Huckabee is a particularly worrisome creature.

    To hear him talk on evolution is to listen to someone suspend the intelligent workings of their mind so as to parrot some recorded message. This is the last type of thinking that is required from the person chosen to be the leader of 300 million humans that possess nuclear weapons.

    To roughly quote Keynes: When the facts change I change my opinion, what do you do?

    I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

    by taonow on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:22:28 AM PST

    •  Not only agreed, but love your sig line. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cathy Willey, Fishgrease, taonow, dus7, kyril

      There is a line in Clockwise, uttered by John Cleese, that I simply love for its eloquence.  It's a terrible movie, though.  Cleese's character is trying to get somewhere to deliver an important speech.  Of course, everything goes wrong.  He reaches a point, while sitting in mud, no transportation, and having so little time left that he's going to give up, when a bike is presented to him.  Cleese looks up at someone and says, "It's not the disappointment.  I could live with the disappointment.  It's the bloody hope!"

      "The angels left this nation, Salvation, caught the last train out tonight. He lost one Hell of a fight." - Bon Jovi.

      by rainmanjr on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:16:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the last 4 digits for the 1-800 number under Bush's plan to save the sub-prime borrowers were....H-O-P-E!

        Are we surprised, I think not.

        I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

        by taonow on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:22:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  agreed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taonow, Brooke In Seattle

      but my reasons also include that anyone who does not believe in evolution and feels that science changes but God doesn't so he is going with not apt to favor more funding for scientific research, science and math programs in the public schools, and badly needed medical research that could save lives.

      Impeachment is not a Constitutional Crisis. Impeachment is the Cure for a Constitutional Crisis.-John Nichols

      by wishingwell on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:31:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd say it should disqualify Romney anyway (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    UndercoverRxer, dus7, binkaroni, kyril

    As I'd mentioned yesterday.

    It's not you or I who need to be convinced - we're not, as you astutely pointed out.

    But it's the person who - even the Republican, or the "moderate" who was told he was by the news what his "moderate" views were, the person with an innate sense of fair play and an awareness of that sense of fair play, which is still operative despite all the baying and howling from the right, amplified as it's been over the past twenty years.

    That person should see Romney's speech for what it was: nothing courageous like Kennedy's speech was (and I'm not really a big fan of Kennedy), but instead designed to divide, blatantly opportunistic, the type of slick operation of the guy who'd work at a place called Bain Capital, make sure lots of folks were impoverished by layoffs and call the result "value creation."

    "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

    by Mumon on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:23:53 AM PST

  •  I agree he crossed the line !!! (8+ / 0-)

    Saying religiously involved monotheists are the only people he represents - That is wrong. Period!

    "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Oscar Wilde

    by bloomster on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:30:05 AM PST

  •  It really gets interesting when (4+ / 0-)

    a religious book includes history, tales of health care delivery, guidelines for social behavior, and a public health manual.

  •  a frighteningly ignorant and dangerous speech (5+ / 0-)


    Diary of the month!

    Facinating, accurate and well written!

    It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

    by Fishgrease on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:38:27 AM PST

  •  This subject is of great concern (8+ / 0-)

    This subject goes deeper than the quip "freedom requires religion" because it is representative of a deeper ursurpation of American and indeed, Enlightenment, principles.

    This is the propagation of the myth of the Christian Nation, which has never existed.

    First, the Latin natio (which means nation and the root of nationalism) means a group of people who share a common ethnicity, territory, and language in common.

    The United States was never and is not a nation, but rather a country made up of many nation, almost every nation on the earth.  There is a distinct reason why the term Patriot is used in this country and not nationalist; the same reason the the French Republic is considered the first nation-state though they had their revolution in 1789.  It is also the reason that this country was the most beautiful experiment of the Enlightenment.

    Second, as you rightly point out, our Christian roots begin with the Puritans fleeing from Cromwell and the English Civil War.  Calvinists that were considered extreme even among the protestants of the era.

    There is a Christian history of this country and we can see it reflected in literature such as The Scarlet Letter among others.

    But by the time of the revolution, the Children of the Enlightenment guided this country out of old superstitions and authoritarian tendencies.  I personally try to carry that tradition on as a Deist, Freemason, and doctoral candidate of Mr. Jefferson's University.

    But this mythology is dangerous.  Literature is dangerous if used improperly.  Literature is not only great works, but also so mundane as high-school text books.  Keep that in mind while I quote a professor of mind below:

    Literature in the modern sense was thus born in the lap of development and establishment of the major modern nation-states of bourgeois-industrial-parliamentary Europe, and I do not think this circumstance was an accident.  The evidence after the fact is clear enough: the newborn concept of literature does not really begin to have importance in intellectual life until it is used to create the idea of a national literature, which in turn underpins the increasingly flourishing nineteenth-century production of histories of national literature and makes possible the increasingly common incorporation of national literature into school and university curricula, where it serves the nation-state by indoctrinating its young citizens with the idea of a cohesive and continuous national culture stretching far into the past.  Already at the beginning of the nineteenth-century, the notion of national literature as such is so well established that Goethe feels called upon to conceptualize its opposite in what he calls "world literature."

    [...] What we have, then, in literature, is a firmly established institution with an inherently conservative tendency which very probably contribute - not directly, but by way of an illegitimate and self-obscuring conceptual operation that makes it difficult to criticize convincingly - to the maintenance of existing national structures and ultimately of nationalism itself in some sense."

    Benjamin Bennett
    All Theater is Revolutionary Theater
    pp 220-221

    Thus, then, what we are witnessing is an attempt by certain elements in society to alter the truth of history into some romanticized past that never existed, much like the German Romantics managed to do with "pan-Germanism" in the early 1800s with Novalis, Tieck, and the Brothers Schlegel and thankfully ended in the rubble of Berlin in April, 1945.

    Look at the attempts to change the literature with ID over science, that our forefathers where god-fearing Christian.  Then look at the process of how high-school textbooks are approved and where the largest textbook publisher resides (hint: Texas).

    Then, looking at the perspective of Mr. Bennett's observation, it is very apparent that an effort is underway to indoctrinate our students with the concept of a Christian Nation that is false in both terms.

    geez, perhaps that should have been a diary!

    "Jedoch ich wollte, dass ihr nicht schon triumphiert: Der Schoß ist fruchtbar noch, aus dem das kroch." -Bertolt Brecht

    by Jeffersonian Democrat on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:44:57 AM PST

  •  do I have the logic wrong? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, kyril

    Isn't the converse of this Romneyist edict:

    If no religion: restriction.

    Can one be more un-American?

  •  Christianity (12+ / 0-)

    I see Romney's speech as a way to get other Christians to join him. His speech and recent other remarks are all to telegraph the message that "we Christians need to stick together".

    He has promised, in effect, to make a particular religious doctrine part of his administration. The clue is his complaining about banning religious symbolism from the "public space". This is a meaningless concept, but is meant to imply that he supports things like the ten commandments being displayed in government facilities.

    Bush played the Christian card, even though he is not religious and many think that attracting this group of voters is what gave him the edge. Reagan did the same thing although not as blatantly.

    Contrast this with Kennedy who said explicitly that religion would have no place in his administration. This even extended to government payments to parochial schools. This, of course, has been ignored in recent decades.

    Romney is hoping to repeat Bush's success and he is guessing that he will gain more "Christian" voters than he will lose by alienating the non-religious or those of other faiths. I think he misjudged. Even the NY Times editorial of today saw through his plan.

    •  We listened to JFK (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      C-Span replayed his speech in Houston and Kennedy's lively responses to questions from the ministers last night. We had just heard Keith O. expose Romney for his "holiness is mandatory" interpretion of the Constitution and founding fathers. So your points are excellent. I am struck also by the fact that the most fervently biblical and devout amoung the Repug candidates are most in favor of waterboarding. Is this some new interpretation of baptism, or what? (Snark: I was dunked into the baptistry when a teen, came up choking, so the organ music had to play louder as my lungs recovered. The experience didn't by itself cancel my faith. Years of watching politicians abuse religion is what made me one whom Kennedy described as those who choose not to believe.)  

    •  Obviously so, but the real question is... (3+ / 0-)

      What is the consequence? The New York Times criticized it, but we know how the country perceive the religious orientation of the New York Times (disclaimer, I'm a Member Of the Tribe).

      Some of us will argue until we're blue in the face that religion has no place in government, that this is NOT a Christian nation, and ought not be, that we are better if if we're open to all faiths, and no faith.

      The truth, though, is that we won't be heard in some parts of the country -- most of the country, where this nation is perceived as a Christian nation, and folks won't vote for someone unless they have a sense that he/she has accepted Jesus Christ as his/her personal savior.  

      Romney's appeal was no accident. It's meant to reach out to those people. If he's effective at doing that, he might just win.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:16:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I also think it bears remembering.... (7+ / 0-)

    That the war over religion in public life has been waging since our Republic was founded.

    The idea of "separation of church and state" may have eked out a narrow victory in the 1780s, but to my knowledge it was hardly a consensus. The same voices arguing for official acknowledge of the US as a "christian nation", were just as active back then--and they have never accepted the 1st Amendment.

    There has always been a weird irony in the most strident christian adherents. On the one hand, they claim their religion is the one preferred by god over all others, the sole path to righteousness and salvation, a mighty power destined to conquer the world. On the other hand, their faith seems meaningless to them unless it is officially acknowledged by the government as the preferred belief. Is their faith so weak that they need someone as trivial as an elected government official to validate it?

    Republicans: Appealing to the worst in people for the worst of reasons....since 1980

    by Azdak on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:04:32 AM PST

  •  Very well said (7+ / 0-)

    The idea that we need freedom from religion (i.e. freedom from coercion and oppression committed under religious self-justification) is not popular in the United States.  This is because freedom here has become, instead of freedom, a near-meaningless totem word to which breast-beating politicians bow knee to mollify increasingly (religiously- and non-religiously-) ignorant voters.

    Try this.

    "Do you love freedom?"  You will get a "Amen" from the Amen crowd.

    "What freedom do you love most?"  The response is guaranteed to disappoint.  This is because "freedom" has less lexical content in the United States than a "Go Red Sox" cheer.  So when Romney says "freedom requires religion" and it gets no meaningful challenge, it's because "freedom" is a totem, not a concept anymore.  

    The Founding Fathers would choke and puke.

  •  Christianity and the Constitution disagree on (11+ / 0-)

    many things.

    IssueProhibited by the
    Prohibited by
    Marriage Between Persons
    of the Same Sex
    Marriage between persons
    of different races
    Birth ControlNoYes
    Subjugation of WomenYesNo
    School Prayer YesNo
    Gays Serving in the MilitaryNoYes
    Teaching of EvolutionNoYes
    Teaching of Intelligent Design
    aka as Creationism
    Denying Employment
    based on Race
    Stem Cell Research NoYes
    Abortion NoYes
    Denying of Public Office
    to Atheists
    Protecting Religion NoNo
    Protecting the Constitution NoYes
    Separation of Church
    and State
    Placing the Bible Above
    the Constitution

    The only point of agreement is that both the Constitution and Religion agree that Religion should be protected.  In direct contravention of the Golden Rule of Reciprocity, Religion does not agree that the Constitution should be protected.

    These differences and many others show that The Constitution and Religion will always be at odds as a matter of permanent principle.

    If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

    by hestal on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:06:01 AM PST

    •  What the hell? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, SadTexan, stormhit, Mae

      Where do you get off claiming that Christianity prohibits most of those things?

      •  All of these points are well documented, (0+ / 0-)

        and I will be glad to respond to any specifics you may have questions about.

        I presume you know that Christianity is opposed to gay marriage?

        I presume you know that once upon a time Christianity and the marriage laws of many states prohibited mixed-race marriages?  Now that is legal in most states, perhaps all, but Christianity's position has not altered.

        I suppose you know that many Christian Churches, including the largest Christian denomination in America are opposed to birth control?  This is long-standing fact.

        President Jimmy Carter resigned from the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination in 2000 and one of the reasons he gave was that the SBC favored the "subjugation of women."  On October 29, 2000, R. Albert Mohler Jr., the head of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville was wrathful in his response to the Carter resignation and he cited the role of women as enforced by the church as a point of disagreement between Carter and the SBC.

        School prayer is a perennial point of contention between Christianity and the government.  It never dies.  In fact one of our Democratic presidential candidates has said that school prayer is "a good thing."

        The open service of gays in the military was a point of religious contention at a recent Republican presidential debate.  The retired army officer who raised the issue was found to be a Hillary Clinton supporter which gave the Repubs a chance to duck the issue.

        The recent Dover, Pennsylvania court ruling in which Intelligent Design was kicked out of public schools is easy to find on the Internet.

        One of the problems with funding for faith-based groups is that the churches want the money and they want to be able to continue to discriminate in hiring people who might be paid with federal funds.  Discrimination on the basis of race is but one of these points.  One of our Democratic presidential candidates is in favor of funding the groups but he says that they can't discriminate.

        How can you not know that Christianity is opposed to stem cell research?  The current president severely limited such research because of his religious beliefs, thereby putting the Bible ahead of the Constitution.

        But I grow weary.  If you have any questions about anything specific I'll be happy to answer.

        If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

        by hestal on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 10:28:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

      Perhaps you should cite the relevant Constitution and Bible passages. In any case, uprated for stupid TR.

      Vote with your conscience, O Progressive, for there are many Conservatives who will vote without one.

      by MahFellaMerkins on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:05:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, TR is removed (0+ / 0-)

        but it sure looks like a troll to me.  If this isn't a troll, what is?

        •  see here (0+ / 0-)

          Vote with your conscience, O Progressive, for there are many Conservatives who will vote without one.

          by MahFellaMerkins on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:21:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hestal certainly overgeneralized (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            since there are so many Christian denominations, many of which don't prohibit birth control, for example. But there are Christian denominations for which the comparison holds true.

        •  What this is is an honest opinion about the (0+ / 0-)

          relationship between Christianity and the Constitution in America.  Many Christians don't realize just how different the two institutions are.  I am very concerned that the two political parties, in their hunger for votes, will compromise the Constitution.  The Republicans clearly have done this, and the Democrats did it from 1876 until the end of Jim Crow in the South.  The record of both parties in catering to religious bigotry is clear and undeniable.

          For months now I have been speaking out here and elsewhere about the Constitutional rights of gay Americans.  And I have been troll-rated for it and called many ugly names.  But the Constitution is clear.  There is not a single prohibition in the Constitution against gay marriage, just as there was none against mixed-race marriage.  But all of our Democratic candidates, save one, do not support gay marriage.  The talk of civil unions, which, in my mind, is the same as the old "separate but equal" dodge used by Southern racists for decades.  It is shameful conduct on the part of these candidates.  But their defenders accuse me of being a "purist" or of not being "pragmatic" or of being in too big of a hurry.  Well I am a purist when it comes to the Constitution, and my pragmatism tells me that if we don't start the fight now we will never win it, and I am in a hell of a hurry.  Civil unions, if they ever are passed at all, will take decades to work their way through state legislatures, because Christians will fight them every step of the way.  

          If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

          by hestal on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 10:36:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  10 people uprated this? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's just ignorant, bordering on bigotry.  Someone making stuff up but putting it in fancy chart form doesn't change the fact that it's fabricated.

      •  Your insulting remarks show that you are (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        living proof of the old adage, "it ain't what people don't know that makes them look silly, it is what they know that just ain't so that does the trick."

        If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

        by hestal on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 10:38:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Religion involves (6+ / 0-)


    The lig in religion is related to the lig in ligature.

    If one doesn't steal or murder, others can have freedom from these dangers.

    However, religion often comes with the desire to influence others and to keep behavior inconsistent with the self-restraint desired by the religion in the closet.

    Christianity and Islam are major faiths because of active efforts to convert others.

    This can involve public shaming and proselytizing, an expectation by believers of vigorous faith declaration in exchange for patronage, or even stronger measures such as were used during the Inquisition.

    One may not get robbed or murdered, but one may get preached at or boycotted by a follower trying to build up a religious following.

  •  God (9+ / 0-)

    The word "God" is a great rorschach test.  As long as we don’t define it in detail we can build a community in the name of it.  

    With that community we can then exclude and discriminate against others based on how we say they define their God.  This separation often leads to those who attack and kill under the banner of their God against those with the false God.

    The Iraq and Afghan wars have cost the average family more than $20,000.

    by NCJim on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:07:40 AM PST

  •  Discrimination (5+ / 0-)

    Belief is no more a choice than race or gender. I'm an atheist because I'm incapable of believing in God.

    In other words, it's not my fault I do not believe in God. I can try to believe in God. I have, at various earlier times in my life. I cannot.

    So Romney is talking about nothing less than blatant discrimination. Belief is not a choice, it's a condition. No human can choose what to believe.

    Try not believing you exist. I mean it. Do it. Right now. Concentrate.

    That's where I end up if I try to believe God does exist.

    It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

    by Fishgrease on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:17:01 AM PST

    •  Right there with you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishgrease, Brooke In Seattle, dus7

      but it seems that there is a non-negligible subset of religious people who believe that they can and do choose what to believe. To me this suggests a lack of authenticity of belief, but of course as a tolerant person I'm required to take them at their word.

      During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

      by kyril on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:27:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then there is the other type (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Saint Theresa struggled all of her life with the fact that God did not speak to her.  Her desire for that to happen and her hope that it was merely a silent God lead her to do great works, even as it lead her to great personal despair.

        The Iraq and Afghan wars have cost the average family more than $20,000.

        by NCJim on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:41:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Upon Reaching a Mountain Top (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishgrease, wishingwell

      For some people when they come out of the woods and see a beautiful vista in front of them the say "Oh my look at God's creation".

      For others when they come out of the woods and see a beautiful vista in front of them the say "Oh my look how beautiful this is".

      Already science is starting to discover the human inherited difference between these two types of people.  

      I think there are two separate "survival of the fittest" instincts that required some to follow the strongest leader, which later became "God" and others to venture out alone.

      Both were necessary for the survival of the species.  

      Human differences have always been an excuse for one group to discriminate against the other.

      The Iraq and Afghan wars have cost the average family more than $20,000.

      by NCJim on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:32:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  sorry - you are improperly universalizing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishgrease, wishingwell, cdsmith

      your own experience.  For some people belief is a matter of choice, even if it may not be so for you.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:58:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We just disagree upon a definition (0+ / 0-)

        It's just the definition of 'belief' we dissagree upon, teacherken. I view it as a physical condition, at any given instant. I completely remove religion from it (because I can still do that, even in America in 2007).

        That is, I can't separate religious belief from other sorts of belief. Place an object in front of you. A pencil. Now try to believe the pencil does not exist (or alternatively, start with an empty surface and try to believe a pencil is there). You may actually succeed for an instant, after which you look... and there's your real belief, strong, right there in front of you.

        I'm not saying religious people cannot believe in God. Not at all. I'm actually saying that people who truely believe in God cannot choose not to.

        It's not a choice. But that's just my definition.

        Others may separate religious belief from, say, belief whether a pencil is there or not. I accept that completely.

        It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

        by Fishgrease on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:31:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yep (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and religious discrimination is, of course, no more right if religious belief is a choice than if it isn't.

        As I said yesterday (in the context of the "is homosexuality a choice?" discussion), it really doesn't matter.  People make lots of choices over which they have the right not to be discriminated against.  Religion, political affiliation, even to some extent socio-economic class.

        •  Mind reader! Witch! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          No shit!

          I was just thinking of that. I was thinking of asking teacherken if sexual orientation was a choice.

          Can belief be a choice, and sexual orientation not?


          Don't think so.

          It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

          by Fishgrease on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:41:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  A way to tell (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        if someone has settled upon their actual belief:

        They will be calm and happy. Their blood pressure, if previously high, will return to normal. Lines will dissapear from their face. They will become more sexually potent and competent. If fat, they will lose weight. If too thin, they will gain. Their environment will be as a grace upon them.

        Fooling one's self is such a strain!

        And this would apply to a former atheist discovering his or her belief in God every bit as much as it would the opposite circumstance.

        (sometimes I amaze myself, the pure bullshit I can come up with)

        It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

        by Fishgrease on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:55:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Here's why.... (0+ / 0-)

        As a matter of fact, some of history's most prolific theologians like Thomas Aquinas and Soren Kierkegaard have written that believing — or at least believing religious dogma — is a free act of will. This shouldn't be unexpected, because only if we can be held morally responsible for our beliefs can disbelief be treated as a sin. It isn't possible to defend the idea of atheists going to hell unless they can be held morally accountable for their atheism.

        from Here

        It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

        by Fishgrease on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:55:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Simply because religion (4+ / 0-)

    includes valuable notions of self-restraint such as that stealing and murder are forbidden [at least at the individual level], it does not mean everything a religion offers is essential.

    A society can function without also embracing belief in a deity or even when individuals indulge in religiously banned behaviors that merely have bad consequences for those individuals.

  •  More and more... (0+ / 0-)

    I'm considering never voting, ever, for anyone who is not an atheist. And I mean a self-described, self-proclaimed atheist. It all falls back upon what I am, at my core.

    I'm a progressive, a liberal, and a Democrat. But after reading Hitchens' beautiful book, "God is Not Great", I found that more than any of those other things, I'm an atheist.

    There comes time to draw a line. I'm going to draw mine immediately after the 2008 elections. No candidate for ANY office after November, 2008 will get my vote if they say they have a belief in God. I refuse to continue to contribute to what I now believe to be the greater evil -- that atheists cannot be elected.

    To any candidate who cannot understand that, I recommend they pray. God's vote is obviously more important than mine, anyways.

    It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

    by Fishgrease on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:34:10 AM PST

    •  I understand that sentiment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishgrease, wishingwell

      and I find myself unfortunately agreeing with you because of the role religion has come to play on the national stage.

      At the same time, if we ever got another Martin or Jack or even Jimmy Carter, I would have a hard time, personally, not voting for them.

      Or even, hell at this point, a Malcom

      "Jedoch ich wollte, dass ihr nicht schon triumphiert: Der Schoß ist fruchtbar noch, aus dem das kroch." -Bertolt Brecht

      by Jeffersonian Democrat on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:51:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't get me wrong (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jeffersonian Democrat, dus7

        I'm not going to feel good about it. I'm not going to be very comfortable about not voting for, say, Obama or Edwards or Clinton (or Kucinich, for that matter) for their second term as President in 2012.

        It's going to be tough, not voting.

        But Ima gonna draw that line and stay behind it. Not going to vote for another candidate who's a believer in God.

        Funny thing is, it's also a sense of relief I cannot adequately describe.

        It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

        by Fishgrease on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:06:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  So you're as much as a bigot as the other side (0+ / 0-)

      of that equation.  Don't let the door hit you.

  •  This statement you made: (2+ / 0-)

    First, I have been fascinated by religion for much of my life, and have often described my own life as an inchoate and constant search for meaning.

    to me defines the difference between religion and spirituality.

    My early years were defined by religious wars in my family-specifically Roman Catholic relatives railing against my parents for not bringing me up in the faith.  The fact that there was a war about this insured that I would be hooked but, even as early as the age of five, I did not believe in a Jesus who sat on a cloud in the sky.

    To me, spirituality is precisely looking for meaning in life and understanding that we are a small part of this organism we call "universe".  Our inidividual stories will tell whether we join organized religion or not.

    For me, culturally, I accept organized Christianity with all its worts - and it does have worts that can block out the sun.  Of course, I am a heretic, but that's okay.  I guess it's my way of atoning for the inquisition and the Jerry Falwells of the modern church.

    Part of my heresy is to accept all religions as being the human expression for that which is larger than human existence itself.

    crystal eyes, above, mentions the tolerance for ambiguity being the continental divide between progressives and conservatives.  I agree with that and also see the tolerance for ambiguity as the essential requirement for spirituality.

    Teacherken, your unique experience as a pursuer of the spiritual and a teacher of government has resulted in a thoughtful essay that is  most useful.  I will have to read it several times to fully appreciate it.

    Dinner table conversations when I was a child focused on social and economic justice, the constitution and bill of rights, ethics, and particularly the separation of church and state.  Oddly so, it resulted in my never travelled your thoughtful route, because I have always thought that my faith was my private affair (as was everyone else's) and had not place in the consideration of matters of state.

    So I will be printing out your diary and reading it over many days.  I always enjoy your diaries.  You are a wise person.

    My moniker is in honor of three generations of women whose soul's were seared in the cauldron of Hell's Kitchen, NYC

    by hells kitchen on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:36:14 AM PST

  •  relevant quote (8+ / 0-)

    I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off.  
    So I ran over and said 'Stop!  don't do it!'  
    'Why shouldn't I?'  he said.  
    I said, 'Well, there's so much to live for!'  
    He said, 'Like what?'  
    I said, 'Well...are you religious or atheist?'  
    He said, 'Religious.'  
    I said, 'Me too!  Are you Christian or  Buddhist?'  He said, 'Christian.'  
    I said, 'Me too!  Are you Catholic or Protestant?'  He said, 'Protestant.'  
    I said, 'Me too!  Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?'  He said, 'Baptist!'  
    I said, 'Wow!  Me too!  Are you Baptist church of god or Baptist church of the lord?'  
    He said, 'Baptist church of god!'  
    I said, 'Me too!  Are you original Baptist church of god, or are you reformed Baptist church of god?'  
    He said, 'Reformed Baptist church of god!'  
    I said, 'Me too!  Are you reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?'  
    He said, 'Reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!'  
    I said, 'Die, heretic scum,' and pushed him off.  

    ~Emo Phillips

    The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

    by NCrefugee on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:37:14 AM PST

  •  Romney's speech was straight out of the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, MT Spaces, dus7

    Republican prototype.  It's why no observant person of good conscience could ever consider voting Republican.     Religious bigotry of many stripes runs deep in the Republican political machine, alongside homophobia, xenophobia, and other destructive strands of bigotry.  And not just the soft and squishy bigotry of vague uncomfortableness with the other; Republican bigotries demand severe oppressions to be written into the law of the land.  The broad Republican consensus is that non-Judeochristians, homosexuals, and noncitizens deserve to be treated as second class people.

    There may be individual Republicans who aren't bigots, but too much of the Republican power structure is devoted to institutionalizing destructive and completely irrational bigotries for an observant person to vote Republican and not be tainted by bad conscience.

    "In my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."--George W. Bush

    by cjmarshall on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:45:41 AM PST

  •  Teach, thanks for the words (0+ / 0-)

    But in this case... it isn't about religion.
    It always boils down to me versus not me. Religion is just the latest rehash of the same crap humans have been doing since the first artist painted those cave walls and the first critic came along to bitch about the style.
    The sad part is, religion is the real loser here because it's something inside of us that wants to know the unknowable and instead it becomes just another excuse to restrict, hurt, or even kill those who we feel too different from.
    But now, the trick is finding a way to get down to that very basic fact behind the rhetoric and shut this idiocy down once and for all.
    That isn't going to happen until someone, some candidate speaks out against it once and for all and reminds every one that we are indeed all human. Every thing else is a product of thousands of years of trying to get past the first cave and understand the universe we live in. (And yes, that includes how we see the God and Goddess).

    A pity we don't have the votes to defend the Constitution.-me

    by RElland on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:47:33 AM PST

  •  The media are treating this as if Romney (0+ / 0-)

    has a chance.

    Polls nationally put him where?

    He's still behind Fred Thompson isn't he?

    It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

    by Fishgrease on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:50:57 AM PST

  •  What Part of "Conquest" Remains Unclear? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeffersonian Democrat, dus7

    Look, there is a formal Christianist movement to take over the United States and terminate the recognizable Constitutional government. All of authoritarian Christianity is participating in some of the activity related to this.

    Conquest is the problem. Not philosophy of government or niceties of faith or relationships to gods and nature.

    I expect denialism on the right, they need it to advance their several conquest movements. We need to call a spade a spade and handle that spade intelligently.

    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 Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:56:43 AM PST

  •  religion:politics::astrophysics:agriculture (0+ / 0-)
  •  I haven't read all the comments, (0+ / 0-)

    but are you going to post this on Street Prophets?

  •  Deep down I think Mitt is a tolerant guy. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  I love you teacherken, (0+ / 0-)

    but I can't get past the first sentence.

    "Romney's speech has LEAD"?

    Please. That needs to be fixed in a recommended diary even after 150 comments.

  •  As a fairly religious person... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fishgrease, dcrolg, dus7

    ...I have always known -- rather than merely "felt" -- that mixing politics and religion is both bad politics and bad theology. For all Romney's talk about how he would never let his faith interfere with his politics, he already has -- some of the kinds of far-right stances he's been taking lately can only be justified with very parochial religious ideology. They're certainly not "moral stances" in and of themselves.

  •  This is all you need to know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fishgrease, MahFellaMerkins, dus7

    I'm sorry I can't attribute the paraphrase, but someone on Kos the other day in a popular diary or front page post said something like

    "I find it a little scary 3 of the worlds major religions all can be traced back to a guy who was 'Told by God', to murder his son."


  •  The dual uses of the word "freedom" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeffersonian Democrat, dus7

    I recommended a comment just a moment ago talking about how "freedom" has lost any meaning.  I don't think that's necessarily true, though.  The word freedom has distinctly different meanings within Christianity and in the non-Christian sense.  I see Romney's famous "freedom requires religion" statement as an intentional blending of the two.

    Within Christianity, there is a gigantic half-metaphor/half-truth that extends throughout much of scripture and religious writing and speech.  It holds that we are "prisoners" to sin, and to our emotions, and that the purpose of our life is to escape from that prison and return to the path God has set out for us; that the way to do so is to be freed from those sins through Christ.  In that sense, Romney could have been making a statement of his faith, and it would have been fine.

    The problem is that he deliberately conflated that meaning of freedom with the meaning from the political sphere.  He can believe that ultimately, sinners are never free; and that's fine with me.  I'll agree with him.  But from the perspective of politics, one has to take the concept of "freedom" at face value.  That is, I may think someone engaging in hate speech is at some deeper level enslaved by their emotions; but I must admit that the freedom of speech guaranteed by the constitution refers to an intentionally naive view of freedom, and that it gives people the right to say what they want.

    It's the confusion over this that bothers me most about Romney's speech.

  •  the disgusting rise of the religious test (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeffersonian Democrat, dus7

    Few moments in American history have so reflected a treasonous sentiment abroad in the republic against a key tenant of the Constitution as the speech in Houston this week by presidential candidate Mitt Romney to a largely Republican audience did against the separation of Church and State. Romney, a Mormon, felt compelled to give a speech to satisfy the requirements of what is essentially a religious test many Americans would like to make a requirement of candidates in America, supposedly the "land of the free."

    The Constitution expressly prohibits religious tests for holding office. But the religious test as it exists now is not something written into law; rather, it is a reflection of two facts, one of which is worrying as it elevates religion too much into political and governmental affairs.

    Fact one. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals comprise up to 40% the Republican Party. (Read here about the Christian Rightwing's rise to great influence within the Republican Party.) So be it.

    But: Fact two. Most of those Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are unafraid to subordinate questions about a candidate's competency, experience, intelligence, wisdom, or even general character to questions about a candidate's religion, theological opinions, positions on particular policy issues seen as theologically significant (e.g., positions regarding the rebuilding of Jerusalem's temple, so to fulfill a prophecy about the end times), or even the use of evangelical nomenclature or colloquialisms (e.g., phrases like "changed my heart" or lyrics from popular worship songs, like, "our God is an awesome God").

    Mitt Romney gave into this test instead of defying it. What is worse, in submitting to this monstrous abuse, Romney echoed the propaganda--half-truths and lies--routinely spread by the Christian rightwing.

    This is touched upon by The New York Times' editorial, "Crisis of Faith," about Romney's speech:

    [I]n his speech, [Romney] courted the most religiously intolerant sector of American political life by buying into the myths at the heart of the "cultural war," so eagerly embraced by the extreme right.


    He didn’t mention Thomas Jefferson, who said he wanted to be remembered for writing the Declaration of Independence, founding the University of Virginia and drafting the first American law — a Virginia statute — guaranteeing religious freedom. In his book, "American Gospel," Jon Meacham quotes James Madison as saying that law was "meant to comprehend, with the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination."

    He also didn't mention that Thomas Jefferson was attacked by what might be called the Christian rightwing of his own day, especially in the run-up to the 1800 election.

    He also didn't mention the sentiment in the 1797 treaty with Tripoli that "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion," (Art. 11), which passed the U.S. Senate unanimously and was signed by President John Adams, whose Christian-equse beliefs were heterodox, certainly not evangelical, and who is usually classified as a Unitarian.

    Importantly, the Times' editorial also points out a myth Romney's helping perpetuate:

    The other myth permeating the debate over religion is that it is a dispute between those who believe religion has a place in public life and those who advocate, as Mr. Romney put it, "the elimination of religion from the public square." That same nonsense is trotted out every time a court rules that the Ten Commandments may not be displayed in a government building.

    The New York Times' editorial is correct that Mitt Romney is a candidate "cowed into defending his way of worshiping God by a powerful minority determined to impose its religious tenets as a test for holding public office," and that "religious testing has gained strength in the last few elections." These realities are problems not just for Mitt Romney, nor are they developments arguably benefiting conservative evangelical presidential candidate Mike Huckabee; they are problems for all Americans, for they reflect a limiting of freedom and a weakening of the separation of Church and State, and they benefit all observers in America and abroad who would seek to make political and governmental spheres subservient to religion.

  •  How many Gods are there, anyway? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    taraka das

    It is not just the Ann Coulters who represent a problem on this, generals who say while in uniform that their own god is a bigger or more real god than those who follow Islam.  

    Many commentators have talked about the God of those who follow Islam as being a different God than the God of Jews or Christians.

    But if you really believe in One God, you'd have to recognize that Allah is, in fact, God.  You may claim that Muslims have an inferior understanding of God than Jews or Christians, but to compare "Gods" doesn't sound very monotheistic to me!

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember the professionals use water."

    by Happy Days on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:09:18 AM PST

    •  good question (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund, Happy Days

      and argued among theologians.  If the Hebrew is to be believed, the commandment of "you shall have no other god before me" doesn't necessarily discount the existence of other gods, rather it says that if you priviledge any other before me, you'll get your ass whooped.

      "Jedoch ich wollte, dass ihr nicht schon triumphiert: Der Schoß ist fruchtbar noch, aus dem das kroch." -Bertolt Brecht

      by Jeffersonian Democrat on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:22:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bravo. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to write this important diary.  

    Decided to be an undecided Democrat until December. It's still early...

    by kck on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:18:28 AM PST

  •  Might be a silver lining here (0+ / 0-)

    First of all, thank you for a fine essay.  Your students are well-served by such an introspective teacher.  There's a skill society could use in larger dose.

    But as for Gov. Romney and his speech, I suspect the speech will be re-visited should Gov. Romney's candidacy grow out of the vanity stage.  Part of the minimal reaction is probably due to the perception that Gov. Romney isn't a viable candidate.

    Or put another way, there will always be people out to erase the wall of separation.  Candidate Romney has pandered to these people.  The fundementalists are happy for the supplication, but, they seem to assume all the risk he lies at candidate Romney's feet.  But there is a risk here for the fundementalists too.

    If the fundementalists are seen to embrace Gov. Romney's candicacy, they share a bit inhis fate.  If his campaign continues to sputter, then the fundementralist voting block suddenly might seem a lot less threatening.  The crack in their armor begins to show.

    I am sure there are plenty of GOP politicians hapy to get out from under their thumb.  As teacherken says, the fundementalist block is a minority even within the GOP.  In the long run it is likely the GOP needs to change its internal structure away form this minority domination.  Romney's speech might be the foot in the door.

    Keep the fingers crossed for Gov Romney to tank in the polls.

    It's long past time for the party of the opposition to do its duty.

    by Quicklund on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:26:16 AM PST

  •  Perfect example of problem with org'd religion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Teacherken has spent his life trying to figure out where he belongs as a matter of faith. Some of us -- most of us -- are born into a family of one faith, and we accept that faith. It limits our choices, often to one. Even if we do look at other faiths, it is with a jaundiced eye.

    For example - the Jews who have been turning to buddhism or hinduism, or mysticism, since the 60s -- they're rebelling against the faith that brith gave them, but they're not considering each possibility, because their view has been colored by their own experience. They have a craving for non-traditional thinking that leads them away from the dominant ethos in their family, as well as the dominant ethos in the country. Similarly, the ones who turn to Messianic Judiasm do so for personal, albeit very different, reasons -- most likely a craving to belong, to not be an outsider in the largely Christian Western world.

    I met a young man on a man plane who was most interested in my views because I was Jewish -- I guess he hasn't met many Jews. He claimed to be a devout Christian, but not because he was born into the faith. No, he'd rebelled as a teenager (he still was only 19), but he'd come back to the Church of his parents. I'm willing to bet that he didn't explore the full range of possibilities because a Christian upbringing already colored his view what a religion must be.

    The problem really is in trying to find the answer to existence, or meaning in one's own life, within membership in an organized religion (church, temple, mosque, etc.) There IS meaning in life -- it's in our own humanity. I stay with the Jewish customs and I suppose, to some extent, faith because it is my heritage -- it connects me to the family history. I find some meaning in that belonging -- not top the faith, per se, but as an acknowledgement of my personal family story -- and that does connect me to others with similar histories. But, I cannot make that the focus of my life. It's neither personal enough, nor big enough to have all the answers. It doesn't explain my own life, and it doesn't connect me to everyone.

    So, I find that we make far too much of religion -- even those who subscribe to one faith -- and especially those who embark on lengthy quests to find their own faith. The answers we seek in religion are unknowable in life. We should just chill out. Our purpose-driven lives should be separated from our religious identity -- and I include atheism in that, because too many atheists have a missionary zeal that I find equally misplaced.

    Anyway, those are my somewhat random musings. Obviously, I find Romney's message to be deeply disturbing and wrong-headed. I don't want a President who elevates any part of his faith as he did yesterday. This is a nation for everyone, not just those who go to church and believe in Jesus Christ.

    We are all equally able to lead such a nation. In fact, I could make an equally compelling argument that a devout Christian is least equipped to lead such a diverse nation. That wouldn't be fair either. The only disability would be the inability to perceive the irrelevance of one's faith, and Romney, unfortunately, proudly announced that he suffers from that disability.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:42:20 AM PST

  •  Romney still viable as a candidate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Upthread someone speculated that Romney is no longer viable as a candidate. I disagree. Giuliani's Sex on the City stuff is surely not playing well. The more people see of him, the less they like him. Thompson is a lazy-ass bum who never really had a chance. Huckabee's serial rapist incident, a general lack of any foreign policy background and lack of money could take him down.  McCain so pro-war he's scary. Plus he's too associated with Bush's foregin policy.  Romney is a morally upstanding hubby and dad; he's bland but not repugnant to them (well, he is to me but I'm from Massachusetts!). He's raised a lot of money and he campaigns hard. For all his faults & flip flopping, he may be the most attractive to the rethugs in the end. I wouldn't count him out yet!

  •  Good analysis - tell it to Obama and Edwards (0+ / 0-)

    who both want to deny gays the right to marry because they think it is a religious thing.

    (As did Kerry)

    As far as I know Clinton doesn't offer religion as an excuse for her discrimination - she just states flat out that it is for political reasons.

    Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. - Sam J. Ervin, Jr.

    by tiponeill on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:48:25 AM PST

  •  Fred Thompson (0+ / 0-)

    actually said something extremely sensible on this subject.  Andrew Sullivan has this quote:

    [Fred Thompson] said he gained his values from "sitting around the kitchen table" and said he did not plan to speak about his religious beliefs on the stump. "I know that I'm right with God and the people I love," he said, according to Bloomberg News Service. It's "just the way I am -  not to talk about some of these things."

    Don't worry, this is by no means a generalized endorsement of Fred Thompson.  But I do genuinely like this statement.

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