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Christian Values

Before Christianity, did we not know it was bad to kill, steal, lie, disrespect our parents? Do we really need a book to tell us how to be a decent human being? Do we need a list of dos and don’ts in order to simply be good-hearted? Doesn't common human decency already dictate that we love our neighbor?

By Eric Allen Bell

I keep hearing that America is a country that is founded on “Christian Values”.  I have read the Constitution and don’t see the words “Christian Values” anywhere.  

We could probably debate endlessly as to what the intentions of the Founding Fathers were.  Some say they were Deists, while others point to letters written where a handful of the Founders clearly state their personal views on the founding of America and its relation to Christian values.

But this raises a more important question in my mind.  What are “Christian Values”?  People who oppose the construction of a new Islamic Center here in Murfreesboro, TN often use as part of their argument that “America was founded on Christian values”.  I also hear this used as a rationale of supporting some ideas and opposing others.  In fact many of the people who repeat that phrase often are the same ones who would like to turn America into a Christian theocracy.  

Recently, Kevin Fisher, the man who organized the march against the mosque and then filed suit against the tax payers of Rutherford County to stop the construction of the Islamic Center, wrote an article in the Rutherford Reader stating that Christianity was under attack.  Talk about irony.  Would Fisher’s attack of members of another religion qualify as supporting “Christian Values”?

Before Christianity, did we not know it was bad to kill, steal, lie, disrespect our parents? Do we really need a book to tell us how to be a decent human being? Do we need a list of dos and don’ts in order to simply be good-hearted? Doesn't common human decency already dictate that we love our neighbor?

Vedic writings that predate Jesus the Christ also promote compassion, forgiveness and seeing God in everyone - even the lowest among us.

But can any religion claim the copyright on these ideas?  Common human decency is something that comes from within and it predates Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and even Hinduism (a religion that is said to be seven to ten thousand years old).

Being a good-hearted human being, something I strive towards and fail at often, dictates that we treat others the way we would like to be treated.  No religion has the market cornered on that idea.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is the hardest thing any of us can do.  Certainly Jesus the Christ was a positive example.  And so too was the Buddha and many other prophets, holy men, and many unsung heroes since the beginning of time.

America is a country many of us love.  But it was also founded on slavery, warfare, suppression of woman's rights, segregation, oppression of the poor, intolerance of “the other” and so on.  We are, all of us, a work in progress.  This country will succeed or fail to the extent that we all come to the realization that we are one unit, comprised of many parts.  We are not a nation of Christians or Jews or Muslims or Conservatives or Liberals, but rather a nation of flawed human beings all pitching in trying to make a better world for ourselves and for those generations who will come after us.

Arguing over which religion is superior, over which religion gets to stamp its brand on our collective psyche is counter-productive.  And, ironically, if there is such a thing as “Christian Values” forcing thy neighbor to conform to your ideas about religion would fly in the face of such a value system.

Peace,

Eric Allen Bell

http://www.EricAllenBell.org


Originally posted to Eric Allen Bell on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 04:52 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Umm? (0+ / 0-)

      Before Christianity, did we not know it was bad to kill, steal, lie, disrespect our parents?

      You might not know it, but most of your readers do.

      The Ten Commandments predate Christianity by several centuries. (How many depends on your authority.)

      Corporations are people; money is speech.
      1984 - George Orwell

      by Frank Palmer on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 10:20:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's because the founding father weren't (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, QuestionAuthority, jconn

    a bunch of tree hugging commies:

    I have read the Constitution and don’t see the words "Christian Values" anywhere.  

    It's too bad, I suppose.  

  •  What? (19+ / 0-)

    I have read no letters that any of the founders wrote about the Constitution and it's relation to "Christian values". I have however read many of the letters of Madison, who sat across the table and discussed the various points and then penned the Constitution. I have also read the correspondence between Madison & Jefferson. I think it could not be any more clear that they wished for a purely secular government. Indeed, I keep referencing it wherever I can, but in Madisons letter to Edward Livingston (available free on the net), I think his writing settles the issue for all time.

    I urge all Kossaks who give a damned about the separation of church & state and are sick of the revisionist bullshit emenating from the Republican half wits to download that letter & keep copies of it at all times. I shut up a couple of Repugnicans last week with that letter. I urge all of you to push back. It's very important that this Republic does not sink back into a theocracy.

  •  Tea Party Wal-Mart Shoppers... (9+ / 0-)

    have about as much in common with Jesus Christ and Thomas Jefferson as I have with Superman and Batman.

  •  I've never understood why so... (3+ / 0-)

    ... many people turn to some old fart nattering from some ancient book to have their personal moral compass delineated. To be badgered and brainwashed by either a charlatan or someone so delusional that they proclaim that they are a "holy man" (with preferred access to whichever magical deity), to patently acquiesce to a feverish mob mentality, to clash with others over who has the "real" friendly ghost looking after them... it all seems like an absurdly unconvincing method of developing one's individual spirituality. The more virulent religious folks (much like the current republicans) insist that if anyone refrains from joining their heaven-bound rank then those "others" are an "enemy" to be despised and destroyed. The next two years of this "history revised" to quell the jesus goofballs are going to be an extremely annoying period.  

    •  Please Visit Your Local Megachurch Sunday (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HylasBrook

      In addition to answering your question, you'll also learn that it's not going to be merely "the next 2 years."

      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 Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 05:50:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wouldn't visit a megachurch... (8+ / 0-)

        ....or anything that resembled a "house of worship" even if somebody held a gun to my head. Those bible-zombies give me the major CREEPS. If this country gets much more jesusy I'm expatting the fuck out to Iceland or Greenland or Finland or some other haven where I can get through my elder years far away from rabid nuts who commune with cloud-phantoms and to place which is off the radar for American bombing and occupation campaigns.  

        •  I would not visit a megachurch either. (8+ / 0-)

          But please do not tarnish all Christians with the broad brush of megachurch evangelicalism. It is truly unfair, whether you approve of Christianity or not.

          I have nothing in common with the kind of people you describe, nor, to my knowledge, does anyone else I attend church with.

          Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

          by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:11:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wasn't specifically.... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SheriffBart, commonmass, Ed G, vinny67

            ...referring to evangelical megachurches. Any group of people who gather to affirm, proclaim, or celebrate their shared mental illness alarms me. True believers are like soccer hooligans using their numbers to intimidate and harass rational people because their "team" is the best. I used to be able to just ignore the besotted god-freaks but when they started inserting their dementia into politics I realized that this fetid brand of mytho-lunacy was steadily encroaching into my sphere of being. You wanna whisper sweet nothings to an imaginary figment, fine. I don't care. But when this shit starts to be taken seriously in national discourse I've got a problem. Government should deal in facts and reality, not fruitcake fantasy from ancient times.  

            •  my 'mental illness' means everything to me (4+ / 0-)

              and i gather to affirm, proclaim and celebrate it as often as i can!

              Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

              by Ed G on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:44:11 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  And no one else (6+ / 0-)

                is obligated to do the same just because you and I and others do... some who eschew religion have a tendency to channel their inner republican and tar any and all who differ from them in that respect with the brush of the most extreme religious nutjob they can find.

                We are supposed to be the tolerant party. We are supposed to be the ones who embrace what Jefferson said... that if a man has 10 gods or no god at all it neither breaks my leg or picks my pocket... but for some the Pavlovian response is too ingrained and the mere mention of religion evokes insults and intolerance that if directed at anything else the persons making the insults would find such statements objectionable in the extreme.

                The biggest irony is that the ones most insistent that others should cast away their chosen belief for that of others come from the camp of those who eschew religion who berate any who does not take their view as ignorant, idiotic or delusionally insane and immediately lump any who professes Christianity in particular with Fred Phelps and those of his ilk.

                We are supposed to be better than that... and one's having had bad experiences with people who subscribe to a religion in the past is no more a valid excuse for such behavior than the teabaggers who attacked the people at their demonstrations for "appearing muslim"

                •  Amen. n/t (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dirkster42, JDsg

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                  by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:32:18 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  And most atheists are not like Christopher (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JDsg, commonmass

                  Hitchens.

                  Both believers and non-believers should refrain from making broad, sweeping statements about the other.

                  The minute someone from either side makes a broad brush statement of another group they get it back.

                  The accusations are balanced, but we really need to not do it.  Anyone "who started it first" needs to be reminded such statements are not helpful; if people on BOTH sides slap the statement down we don't have to get into this 'you're not ok/you're not OK' tit-for-tat.

                  Please.

                  HylasBrook @62 - fiesty, fiery, and fierce

                  by HylasBrook on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:23:15 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I have made no broad brush statement (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JDsg, commonmass

                    about atheists in general. I am speaking specifically of those here at DK who make knee-jerk responses that insult Christians or attribute to them beliefs not expressed solely on the basis of their having stated they believe in Christianity.

                    Invariably, those statements are made unsolicited and without provocation and without any knowledge of where that professed Christian stands on whatever hot button issue that has the commenter's dander up.

                    While I am sure if I looked long and hard enough through the DK archives I could find instances where a professed Christian took a gratuitous swipe at atheism and atheists, it is a false equivalence to say that such swipes occur with the regularity that they do from those who eschew Christianity towards those who believe.

                    •  Funny, I didn't single out... (0+ / 0-)

                      ..."christian" believers in particular yet that is whom you envision (repeatedly) as the sole object of my contempt. My "broadbrush" covered anyone from Hindus to scientologists to mormons to jews to moslems...but in your little cramped field of "tolerance" you read it as only christians are important enough to rate being thusly targeted. Very tribal. Very typical. I'd of had a little more respect for you had you at least defended all faiths.  

                •  The Jeffersonian quote would... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...be more apt for your argument if my "pockets hadn't been picked" my entire life from the tax-free status of "churches" and the tax break on charitable donations. But whatever. Like I said, I could care less what anyone believes (although "facts" would be nice) but when it's thrust on the population and insinuated into the political arena, I have some grave reservations. The Bush "Gog and Magog" shit in France...we just don't need a person with that pathetic level of understanding at the helm.

                  •  The stupidity (0+ / 0-)

                    of GWB and his rationalizing stupid decisions by his belief is not something that is disputed... and I doubt you can name a single Kossack who professes Christianity who will say either that they are in agreement with said decisions of GWB or with the expressed belief by which  he attempted to rationalize them.

                    You most certainly cannot show any post in any thread on any topic where I stated or implied that one can and/or should attempt to give bad choices legitimacy by hiding behind one's faith, whatever that faith may be... at best, you would be hard pressed to infer such but your inferring it does not obligate me to have implied it... so since I have made no such claim... and since GWB is not part of this discussion, either as a participant or as a topic, what is your point? Guilt by association ( for very small values of association )?

                    •  "Guilt by association.... (0+ / 0-)

                      ....(for a very small values of association)? Would you care to parse that sentence for me? George Bush isn't relative to this discussion? My whole contention is that religionists are dangerous in the political realm. If folks want to bleat nonsense in their private lives, fine. But forcing the thinking world to incorporate that crap into government is unwise. Saudi Arabia? Iran? Uganda?      

                      •  None has argued (0+ / 0-)

                        that "religionists" are not dangerous in the political realm... because that is not the path this particular discussion was on... your attempts to hijack notwithstanding.

                        How does the existence of dangerous religionists justify the the blanket presumption that anyone who chooses to embrace a religion must be a "dangerous religionist" and as such is only fit for condemnation and scorn and insults?

                        If you want to participate in this dialog, that is what we are talking about. If you want to discuss something else, you are quite entitled to do so... but not by hijacking this thread.

                        •  I didn't hijack anything. (0+ / 0-)

                          Had you or anyone else wanted to protect the boundaries of this diary topic, all you had to do was ignore my comment altogether. Instead those who felt somehow besieged continued to engage with me. Easy-peasy.

                          •  Typical (0+ / 0-)

                            So now it's my fault you wanted to hijack the thread and change the topic.

                            Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

                          •  How would you know what I "wanted"? (0+ / 0-)

                            I was just participating in a discussion. My comments were related to the general topic or else I wouldn't have entered the fray at all. I didn't imply that anything was your "fault"...I'm pretty sure that it was commonmass with whom I engaged in debate and not you...I don't even remember your involvement other than some convoluted comment with bizarre syntax at the end...

                          •  No, you weren't participating (0+ / 0-)

                            in a discussion; participation in an ongoing discussion would require you to make remarks relevant to that discussion rather than to make remarks that could only serve to change the subject.

                            I agree with the fact that you didn't imply anything was my fault; you state it rather overtly:

                            Had you or anyone else wanted to protect the boundaries of this diary topic, all you had to do was ignore my comment altogether.

                            By not ignoring your comment it's my fault you tried to hijack the thread according to this statement from you.

                            As for this:

                            I don't even remember your involvement other than some convoluted comment with bizarre syntax at the end...

                            re-read the thread. The comment you jumped in on was mine, not commonmass'; that is why I asked you what your point is... a question that remains unanswered... or perhaps you simply have no point...

                          •  Hmmm.....Okay, obviously this.... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...thing bothers you. I had no intention of "hijacking" anything. That's your interpretation of my contribution. When I pointed out that my comment could've been handily ignored, I'm making a factual statement and in no way applying blame or "fault" on anyone else. These threads are organic and sometimes deviate or explore tangential issues. You cannot predetermine the direction any particular conversation might take and generally that's a good thing. When respondents clash and parry everyone hones their own argument and either solidifies their position or reassesses their original opinion...it's called dialogue. If diarists expect or demand a one-note, unified reaction to their offering they are deluding themselves that absolutely everyone on DKos agrees wholeheartedly with their point, theory, conclusion or reportage. If you chose not to see my aspect as being relevant or intrinsic to that topic, fine. I said what I felt was necessary (in my view) in the thread and see no point in regurgitating my perspective. If you feel that my words were lacking or inflammatory or nonsensical...again, fine. I apparently don't think like other people do but I'm not going to apologize for it. Or change it. Let it go. Or not. I'm exploring other matters today.  

              •  As long as you're not pressuring some.... (0+ / 0-)

                politician to include your stance into legislation, have yourself a fun party.

              •  That's a lovely sentence. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ed G

                You might want to have it embroidered on a pillow.

            •  Fruitcake fantasy? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              drawingporno

              As a gay man, I have LOTS of THOSE!

              Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

              by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:25:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  "Mental illness"? Really? (6+ / 0-)

              Do you realize how many Kossacks of faith you just insulted?

              Not to mention trivializing psychiatric illnesses.

    •  Morality is doing what is right, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drawingporno

      no matter what you're told.

      Religion is doing what you are told,
      no matter what is right.

      Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

      by lockewasright on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:58:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is your opinion. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TexMex

        I am told by my religion: love one another as I have loved you.

        Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

        by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 09:28:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But if tomorrow... (0+ / 0-)

          ...your religion told you to start hating someone? Heathens? Muslims? Are you only bound to your faith because they instruct you to do nice things? The point is that as you adhere to Anglicanist dogma so too do other believers fervently treasure whatever fantasmagoria is being read from their own version of a pulpit. So you are all complicit, you all follow the same formula, and you are all co-conspirators in whatever madness is wreaked on the world by your ilk. I've been following the "bishop" Eddie Long stories and it seems that many (closeted) gay men attend these virulently anti-gay churches in the Black community. I just don't see how being constantly derided and vilified as being somehow spiritually uplifting.

  •  I'm an atheist, and I often get asked (6+ / 0-)

    where my "moral compass" and sense of right and wrong come from.  I make an argument similar to the one in this diary.  Paraphrasing Bill Maher...even if the Bible hadn't been written, I think sooner or later we'd have gotten together and said, "Okay, let's not kill each other, and let's not take each other's shit."

    As human beings, most of us come with a sense of right and wrong, with "values" if you will.  It's inherent.  We didn't need Christianity to give us our values.

    Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy destroying the sanctity of marriage and eroding the moral fabric of society.

    by Chrislove on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 05:30:39 AM PST

  •  The way the right and religous right act sure (5+ / 0-)

    doesn't make me think much of their christian values, the vales they live by is not much like the values I learned about in church when I was young.

  •  Christian values are under attack, alright. (8+ / 0-)

    Mostly by people who call themselves "Christian". I'm a Christian. I take my religion in church, thank you, not on the courthouse steps, or in congress, or from the oval office (why, in general, presidents think they always have to say "God bless...." I will not know).

    Of course, here on the Daily Kos, as a Christian, or were I a Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Hindu, or a Sikh, or anything else, I would likely also be under attack by folks who think any interest in the mysterious or spiritual or divine or belief therein is irrational, ludicrous, silly and probably evil. So I suppose I know what it feels like to be under attack.

    As far as that jackhole in South Tenkuckistan is concerned, no, Christianity is not "under attack" when someone wants to build a mosque. And no, this is no more a "christian nation" than it is anything else. Let's keep the government secular, and let one another be free, as the constitution tells us, to practice--or not practice--the religion of our choice.

    Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

    by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 05:50:05 AM PST

    •  Hmmm (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass

      "Of course, here on the Daily Kos, as a Christian, or were I a Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Hindu, or a Sikh, or anything else, I would likely also be under attack by folks who think any interest in the mysterious or spiritual or divine or belief therein is irrational, ludicrous, silly and probably evil. So I suppose I know what it feels like to be under attack."

      Not sure about that. I dont find it very difficult to find Christians attacked, but Muslims? Hindu? Buddhist?
      I think that is a rare find here.

      "Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote." - William E. Simon

      by jconn on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:04:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Follow most athiest diaries. (6+ / 0-)

        I have written two for an ongoing (now ended) series. I found that anyone who had any spirituality was pretty much considered to be misguided, irrational and silly. And I am putting that politely.

        I will say that Christians get bashed around here much more so than others. But there is a segment of our little on-line society here that is--pardon the pun--hell bent on the O'Hair style hating of all religion regardless. I find it uncharitable, humorless, and frankly distasteful.

        I do, of course, think that non-belief is as American as apple pie. But I would not, were I among that set, try to force it on others. Frankly, some atheists, in my opinion, have turned atheism into a religion, and a dogmatic one at that.

        Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

        by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:08:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am an equal opportunity basher (0+ / 0-)

          I will say that Christians get bashed around here much more so than others.

          That may be true, since "Christians" are the ones who respond to any discussion of magic beliefs here on KOS.  That doesn't mean that I don't find other cult beliefs equally as preposterous.

        •  Shushing atheists. (9+ / 0-)

          Yes.  We think that you're irrational.  Deal with it.  I don't understand why whenever anyone else expresses their views on religion it's ok, but when an atheist states his or her opinion we're being rude.  The way to show that you're rational is to give arguments and evidence.  Not shushing people.

          Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

          by play jurist on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:42:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And some of us think you are (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JDsg, EricAllenBell

            joyless. I'm not trying to shush anyone. I just wish that you could make your argument (which, by the way IS rational--if I did not take wonder in mystery, I would be one, too) without being so harsh. Not you, play jurist, in particular, but some of you. Just as I think some Christians and other "religionists" can be harsh in making their points, I find some atheists harsh in making their point.

            I don't find atheists "irrational". And religion, all proper religion, is about exploring things that cannot be explained rationally. I believe, deeply, that religion is innately part of the human nature. I don't argue it to be TRUE, I argue that it exists in human nature, as a human construct. Which is why, I think, some atheists elevate atheism to a near religion.

            Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

            by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:11:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  One thing about the New Atheists' stridency... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              commonmass, HylasBrook, vinny67

              is that one purpose it serves is to break taboos that have been silencing even less strident atheist speech.  I think you agree that it's very important that there's space in our country's discourse for criticism of the more virulent strains of religion.  Perhaps a little rudeness is in order to break some of the silencing taboos that have been in place.  

              I don't think that giving up supernaturalism means giving up a sense of wonder, profundity, or mystery.  Actually, it's in the scientific image of the world that I find myself most humbled and awed: I dig that whole Carl Sagan trip.  My own focus is in philosophy and mathematics.  To just learn all the mathematics we know would take 20 lifetimes.  And it would still be (necessarily) incomplete.  The religious images all seem, to me, to put an artificial completion on what can be known.  

              Indeed, the major Western religions ALL in one way or another rest on a claim of prophetic finality (closure, completeness), whether it be revealed through Moses, Jesus, Muhamed, or John Smith, that closes off further metaphysical and moral inquiry.  In the philosophical tradition of moral discourse (which is directly opposed to the religious tradition at least since Socrates bothered Euthyphro for a definition of piety) there is no final authority and the conversation is continually open.  So who has lost their sense of wonder?  The Jew/Christian/Muslim/Mormon who says Moses/Jesus/Muhamed/Smith has given the final word on how to live a good life or the secularist who says "I don't know, but here's what I think and this is what I feel. What do you think? How do you feel?" but insists that no dusty old book contains the last word on the topic?

              Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

              by play jurist on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:22:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am just finishing reading (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                commonmass

                'The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality' by Andre Comte-Sponville.  I disagree with a fair chunk of it, but I agree with a larger portion than the parts to which I object.  He covers this idea very well:

                I don't think that giving up supernaturalism means giving up a sense of wonder, profundity, or mystery.  Actually, it's in the scientific image of the world that I find myself most humbled and awed: I dig that whole Carl Sagan trip.  My own focus is in philosophy and mathematics.  To just learn all the mathematics we know would take 20 lifetimes.  And it would still be (necessarily) incomplete.  The religious images all seem, to me, to put an artificial completion on what can be known.  

                I recommend it to everyone.  It is only a couple of hundred pages and it is a very interesting read.  He sees belief as much more benign than I do, but his arguments are very well laid out and he kept it all as simple as he could to make the ideas accessible to any reader.  

                Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

                by lockewasright on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:30:55 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  A thought experiment I've indulged in (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dirkster42, commonmass

                many times, is 'How can I as an Atheist totally absent themselves from the Judeo-Christian culture?'

                Answer is I can't, because that is the social world I grew up in.  I'd have to be born in Eastern Asia to have that worldview.

                I'm not saying Judeo-Christian culture is bad, it's that by the time a person has the opportunity to make a decision on their personal beliefs they have grown up in a cultural environment they can't ever shed (and most don't realize they have it.)

                HylasBrook @62 - fiesty, fiery, and fierce

                by HylasBrook on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:34:37 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  How is accepting a made up canned and impossible (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              commonmass

              explanation instead of being honest enough to embrace the far more accurate "We don't know yet." that is atheism when faced with mystery anything but the exact opposite of wonder?!  To do so eliminates wonder and replaces it with tidy (even if false) explanations.

              I am much more joyful because of my atheism.  I am free to take joy in this life.  I am encouraged by it to appreciate the here and a now.  I don't have to hope for a more enjoyable existence that may never come.  Instead, I can control that which is within my sphere of influence in this life which I know to be both real and realtime.   I can find my joy here and now made of my own efforts rather than impotently hope for it later.

              Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

              by lockewasright on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:26:20 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  We're not forcing atheism on anyone (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass, EricAllenBell

          And Christians get bashed around here a lot for their stupid stances on equal rights for gays, abortion, and things like child molestation in the Catholic church.
          It's simply hypocritical for Christians to claim "we want the  government out of our lives!", except when it comes to regulating morality, other people's  sex lives and other people's bodies.

          How come the dove gets to be the peace symbol? How about the pillow? It has more feathers than the dove and doesn't have that dangerous beak. Jack Handey

          by skohayes on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:02:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ok, how's this: (5+ / 0-)

            Commonmass' Stupid Christian Stances on:

            Equal rights for gays: Commonmass is gay. And, he's for equal rights for gays. Marriage equality even. He keeps the pair of shoes he wore out canvassing for it in Maine on his desk. Stupid stance. Or those shoes would still be......nevermind.

            Abortion: All for it. Commonmass' stupid stance on abortion.

            Child molestation: Commonmass opposes it. Another stupid stance.

            Other People's Sex Lives: Icky, TMI. But Commonmass supports the IDEA of other people having sex lives, just as long as he doesn't have to hear about it. Unless, you know, he's curious. Then he'll ask.

            Now, I'm being snarky here, but the positions are real.

            Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

            by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:06:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But according to many Christians (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              commonmass

              you're a sinner simply because you're gay or I'm condemned to some very hot place deep underground because I had an abortion. How stupid is that?

              How come the dove gets to be the peace symbol? How about the pillow? It has more feathers than the dove and doesn't have that dangerous beak. Jack Handey

              by skohayes on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:26:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It is completely stupid. (5+ / 0-)

                That's why I'm an Episcopalian. And I have to tell you, not all Episcopalians agree on that. I like that. That people disagree.

                My mother is Roman Catholic. She had to, for medical reasons, have an abortion. She asked me if she should still take communion. I told her that no priest, Roman or Anglican that I know personally, would ever deny it to her. The late Cardinal Bernadin, in a famous interview with Terry Gross, said that he could not see any reason to ever deny anyone the sacraments of the Church. There was a real Christian.

                Yeah, lots of it is stupid. I know, trust me on that.

                Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

                by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:29:12 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  First, you cannot label individuals (4+ / 0-)

                based on what you see from "many Christians".

                Replace 'Christians' with 'African-Americans' or 'Jews' or 'gays' or 'women' or any other delineation and the statement becomes obscenely offensive and you would not even post it here.

                Second, you are not sufficiently knowledgeable about "many Christians" at best you can say this about many of the Christians that you have encountered... and those two groups are not even close to synonymous.

                The overwhelming majority of professed Christians that are Kossacks don't subscribe to any of the positions you find objectionable... and the overwhelming majority do not attempt to evangelize, proselytize or condemn you ( or anyone else, for that matter ) for choosing to eschew religion. I am sure if one digs through enough posts one can find someone who professes religion to have said something stupid... but what does that have to do with anyone who is not that person?

                Dr. King's dream that people be judged by the content of their character rather than the personal biases one holds towards certain externals ( and yes, if you don't know a person from a can of paint and  presume them evil, ignorant and delusional upon hearing they profess Christianity, then you are judging them on a external ) still has a way to go, it seems.

                •  Well the difference is (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  lockewasright, skohayes, vinny67

                  I don't know of any manual you can point to that defines the beliefs of 'African-Americans', 'gays', 'women' where we have a piece of literature that is supposed to codify the beliefs of Christians.

                  "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -- George Bernard Shaw

                  by Inspector Javert on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:13:20 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No, it doesn't (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    commonmass

                    But don't let that get in the way of your need to rant. You are attempting to make the same claim that the pharisees did in John chapter 5... and you are equally erroneous as they.

                  •  But not all Christians agree on the Bible (4+ / 0-)

                    In fact, different Christians sect differ on which books belong in the Bible... The Greek Orthodox have books the Roman Catholics and Protestant denominations don't have ... and the RCs have book the other groups don't ...

                    (The Protestants have the barest bones edition)

                    And not all Christians agree that the Bible is the codified Faith ... we disagree on how the Bible came to be, how to interpret it, and how to translate it ..
                    name it, and Christians disagree ...

                    The Bible is a collection of writings from a multitude of cultures and times .. it isn't even written in the same format.. Several denominations teach that the concept of Deity and grace and moral codes can be seen to evolve overtime in one read the Bible in its chronological history rather than the presentation it has now ...

                    So you cannot say that all Christians agree on a codified book .. the opposite is more true!

                    Give your heart a real workout! Love your enemies!

                    by moonbatlulu on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 10:17:00 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  And according to many other Christians (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                commonmass

                neither gay sex nor abortion are morally wrong.

                In fact, in the 1950s, Planned Parenthood's strongest allies were Protestant clergy, especially the popular theologian and preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick, author of the 1922 sermon Shall the Fundamentalists Win.  The story is recounted in Sacred Work: Planned Parenthood and Its Clergy Alliances.

        •  As an atheist, I'll agree with you (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirkster42, moonbatlulu, commonmass, Ed G

          I've seen atheists ruthlessly attack Christians.  I have no problem attacking Christian bigots and theocrats, but I see no need to be so harsh with people of faith who aren't using their religion to inflict harm on others or on society.

          Christianity and I have a complicated relationship.  I grew up in a very evangelical Christian home, and as a gay person that's always really tough.  It turned me against Christianity completely for a while.  But throughout the years, some of my biggest allies have been Episcopalians, liberal Catholics, UCC members, and even Muslims.  My own cousin, a minister in the UCC, performs same-sex marriages.  So while I don't believe in God, I try to take care not to be an ass about it - some of my best friends are people of faith.  It's a process...it hasn't been easy to stop distrusting all religion.  Sometimes I'll attack "Christians" when I really mean "Religious Rightists"...though I try to distinguish between the two, because the Religious Right doesn't represent all of Christianity any more than Christopher Hitchens represents me.

          Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy destroying the sanctity of marriage and eroding the moral fabric of society.

          by Chrislove on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:03:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  P.S. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            commonmass

            Atheists also face a lot of "bashing."  As I've said, I'm both gay and an atheist.  And as I've become much more secure in my sexuality, I still have a very difficult time "coming out" as an atheist.

            That's a pretty sad commentary, considering we're supposed to be a "pluralist" society.

            Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy destroying the sanctity of marriage and eroding the moral fabric of society.

            by Chrislove on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:41:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  We need to stop doing this! (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirkster42, JDsg, moonbatlulu, commonmass

          Frankly, some atheists, in my opinion, have turned atheism into a religion, and a dogmatic one at that

          We've gone back and forth on a good topic "Christian Values" doing the "Most xxxs are good, but SOME xxxxs are annoying/arrogant/ whatever -"

          We're just irritating each other without getting anywhere.

          Let's agree:  In the 6 1/2 billion population of the world SOME people are assholes, and MOST persons are decent, irrespective of their religious beliefs and non beliefs as well as nationality and ethnic group.

          Then let's get on with our discussion instead of taking swipes at each other.

          HylasBrook @62 - fiesty, fiery, and fierce

          by HylasBrook on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:30:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is a Conquest Not a Discussion (3+ / 0-)

    If it were a discussion or debate, it would be meaningful to quote Jefferson:

    ...Sir Matthew Hale, that "Christianity is part of the laws of England," citing Ventris and Strange ubi supra. 4. Blackst. 59. Lord Mansfield qualifies it a little by saying that "The essential |P1324|p1 principles of revealed religion are part of the common law." In the case of the Chamberlain of London v. Evans, 1767. But he cities no authority, and leaves us at our peril to find out what, in the opinion of the judge, and according to the measure of his foot or his faith, are those essential principles of revealed religion obligatory on us as a part of the common law.

         Thus we find this string of authorities, when examined to the beginning, all hanging on the same hook, a perverted expression of Prisot's, or on one another, or nobody. Thus Finch quotes Prisot; Wingate also; Sheppard quotes Prisot, Finch and Wingate; Hale cites nobody; the court in Woolston's case cite Hale; Wood cites Woolston's case; Blackstone that and Hale; and Lord Mansfield, like Hale, ventures it on his own authority. In the earlier ages of the law, as in the year-books, for instance, we do not expect much recurrence to authorities by the judges, because in those days there were few or none such made public. But in latter times we take no judge's word for what the law is, further than he is warranted by the authorities he appeals to. His decision may bind the unfortunate individual who happens to be the particular subject of it; but it cannot alter the law. Though the common law may be termed "Lex non Scripta," yet the same Hale tells us "when I call those parts of our laws Leges non Scriptae, I do not mean as if those laws were only oral, or communicated from the former ages to the latter merely by word. For all those laws have their several monuments in writing, whereby they are transferred from one age to another, and without which they would soon lose all kind of certainty. They are for the most part extant in records of pleas, proceedings, and judgments, in books of reports and judicial decisions, in tractates of learned men's arguments and opinions, preserved from ancient times and still extant in writing." Hale's H. c. d. 22. Authorities for what is common law may therefore be as well cited, as for any part of the Lex Scripta, and there is no better instance of the necessity of holding the judges and writers to a declaration of their authorities than the present; where we detect them endeavoring to make law where they found none, and to submit us at one stroke to a whole system, no particle of which has its foundation in the common law. For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement in England, and altered from time to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law, or lex non scripta, and commences that of the statute law, or Lex Scripta. This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here, then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it. If it ever was adopted, therefore, into the common law, it must have been between the introduction of Christianity and the date of the Magna Charta. But of the laws of this period we have a tolerable collection by Lambard and Wilkins, probably not perfect, but neither very defective; and if any one chooses to build a doctrine on any law of that period, supposed to have been lost, it is incumbent on him to prove it to have existed, and what were its contents. These were so far alterations of the common law, and became themselves a part of it. But none of these adopt Christianity as a part of the common law. If, therefore, from the settlement of the Saxons to the introduction of Christianity among them, that system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians, and if, having their laws from that period to the close of the common law, we are all able to find among them no such act of adoption, we may safely affirm (though contradicted by all the judges and writers on earth) that Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

    But it's not a debate. They're taking over. They just say things to help in that.

    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 Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 05:55:03 AM PST

    •  Well quoted. But praytell, who are (4+ / 0-)

      "they"?

      Again, I am a Christian, but am not interested in introducing it into the common law or the public square, where I do not, as an American, believe it belongs.

      One must be very careful about the use of the word "they". It smacks of "some say". It smacks of "other".

      Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

      by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 05:58:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You are a kindred spirit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, commonmass

    when it comes to this ironic view.

    It's almost as though it seems paradoxical to those so swallowed by christianity that they just can't seem to grasp what a bought and sold hallmark card religion really can be.

  •  Apparently some people do need a book. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Brahman Colorado, skohayes

    Think how bad it could be if they didn't have it.

  •  I just returned.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, EricAllenBell

    ...from a trip to the South.  Judging by my interactions there, the answer most American Protestants would probably give you is "No," but the correct answer to the first question is of course "Yes."  The answer to the second question is of course "No," third is "Yes" (yes, people do need those lists), and fourth is, in my opinion, no, you need not love your neighbor, but you must not lynch him.

    These are sound principles that can be applied in every human society, and all people will be happier for it.  

    "All along the watchtower, princes kept the view..."

    by Alec82 on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 05:58:32 AM PST

  •  that's the beauty of Christ (4+ / 0-)

    You are right, Eric, in that there is nothing new presented in the Gospel about telling right from wrong. In fact, Jesus simplifies pages and pages of Biblical law into the simple phrase, love God, love your neighbor.

    What I have come to know over the past decade is that the gift of Jesus is not rules... it's relationships.

    For years, I longed to be in a relationship with the God of the Universe, the father who created me.

    It wasn't until I came to know Jesus that I knew in my heart that I was loved just for being me... that I did not need to change or clean myself up in order to earn God's grace.

    And yet I have changed... though am still a work in progress... for loving God and loving my neighbor every moment of every day does not always come naturally, it requires effort.

    Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

    by Ed G on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:13:50 AM PST

  •  If the Founding Fathers were informed by (5+ / 0-)

    Christian values, for many of those Christian values hadn't yet evolved to the point of condemning slavery, extermination of native Americans,imperialism, or gross exploitation of others' labor.

    Since then some people's values have evolved. Other's have not.

  •  Good essay... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Mama, skohayes, EricAllenBell

    Except for the last bit.  Christians, like all religiously deluded people, do tend to get into forcing their neighbors into their religion whenever they get into power.  There's a long history confirming this.  Better you have a little water torture baptism than leave this world uncleaned by the blood of the lamb.  

    Our founders, of course, had Enlightenment Values and saw to it that there should be no religious test to serve in government, no government establishment of religion, and no government infringement upon the private right to worship.

    Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

    by play jurist on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:30:36 AM PST

    •  Hmmmm. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sunbro, martydd, EricAllenBell

      Christians, like all religiously deluded people, do tend to get into forcing their neighbors into their religion whenever they get into power.

      That I find unnecessarily uncharitable. And I will say that I am not interested on forcing my neighbors into anything. I am from New England, where good fences make good neighbors.

      Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

      by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:34:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Uncharitable (3+ / 0-)

        but not untrue. Christianity has a long and well documented history of bad behavior by adherents who simply cannot abide competing belief systems.

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:45:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Please don't lecture me about the history (5+ / 0-)

          of Christianity. I agree with you: it has a bad history. So does the United States. You won't, however, find me universally condemning my country for its past bad practices, or asserting that because Slavery was once practiced here no matter how much we amend our constitution, America is still an evil place because it once countenanced "bad practices".

          And I personally have no problem with competing belief systems. I do, however, find the dogmatic brand of atheism espoused by some on this blog to be clearly joyless and yes, uncharitable.

          Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

          by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:49:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The past bad practices of the US... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neon Mama, skohayes, commonmass, Ed G

            are evidence against the myth (one with Judeo-Christian origins) that white Europeans are a chosen people with a manifest destiny to rule the continent.  People truly acting under the divine guidance of providence would not do these things.  Similarly with the behavior of Christians.

            Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

            by play jurist on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:53:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I completely concur. n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ed G

              Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

              by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:53:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  but many cultures have had that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dirkster42

              "divine" delusion ... not just Judeo Christian ones...

              Certain Native American tribes thought they were the greatest thing going, and had the right to enslave or murder other tribes...
              The Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans ... various islanders ..

              IN Africa, certain tribes sold other tribes into slavery

              I think this idea of MY group, MY religion, MY whatever is the very best there is and all OTHER should be subjugated to MY  is unfortunately the way we are ... maybe it was part of our survival as we evolved .. we learned that what wasn't like us was probably going to kill and eat us so we better kill and eat it first ...
              and yes, religion has been used to continue that mind set ...
              But religion has also been used to counter it

              and to get back to the topic of this diary...

              People differ on what Christian values are ...even among Christians ...
              But there is one thing all these differences have in common.   Most of the stuff being pushed (ie, sexually oriented laws, prayer in public,anti-homosexuality, etc) is not central to Christian belief and practice ... and most so-called Christians, particularly those anxious to establish a theocracy, ignore all of what Jesus said about loving one another and that his Kingdom was NOT of this world ... those two things never seemed to be applied by the theocrats

              Give your heart a real workout! Love your enemies!

              by moonbatlulu on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 10:35:20 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  it's interesting, commonmass (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            commonmass, EricAllenBell

            if you read the Bible, the so-called heroes, the holiest of holies, are all flawed men and women.  Isaac, David, Moses, Peter, Paul -- they are killers, adulterers, liars, denyers, selfish, arrogant, power hungry, hypocritcal, yada yada.

            the fact that religious leaders throughout history (and today) share these same flaws is not news.

            what is news to some is that despite our weak, selfish, hypocritcal nature -- we are still loved and invited to come home whenever we want.

            personally, i would have given up on me a long time ago... thanks be the Lord!

            Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

            by Ed G on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:58:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Atheism has no "dogma". (3+ / 0-)

            Dogma refers to central,  unquestionable tenets of a belief system, usually a religion.

            Atheism is the absence of belief in a deity.

            "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

            by happy camper on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:03:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  By this standard (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass

          as an african-american descended from slaves, I should immediately and utterly condemn any and all caucasians since they have a "long and documented history of bad behavior" in order to maintain dominion over those they exploited and oppressed for the purposes of material gain.

      •  uncharitable? (4+ / 0-)

        The poster simply said that theocracies are bad.  many people of faith- and the christian right certainly apply here - considers theocracy bad, as ong as the theocrats i power have the same beleifs as them.  the religious right wing in this country is truly a dannger to our democracy.  Yo may not be one of them, but that doesn't in any way decrease their danger.

        •  What I read is that the poster said (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          EricAllenBell

          that Christians like to force their religion on others, and while historically true, and while many evangelical christians today like to do this, not ALL christians or people of faith are engaged in this kind of behavior.

          Theocracies are bad. Ancient Rome was a theocracy. I wouldn't want to live there. And I don't want to live in a Christian one, either, thank you very much.

          Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

          by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:51:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Painting Kossacks w/ a broad brush (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            skohayes, commonmass

            I would submit that you mistake a general commentary on "Christianists" as an attack on Christianity. I, like many other readers here at DK, am talking about a very specific group of people when I refer to "Christians" or "Christianists." I think that is implied, but you take it as an attack on the entire religion. I believe you are making a red herring argument. Moreover, in your zeal to paint others here as unabashed atheists, aren't you guilty of stereotyping atheists, agnostics, and non practicing people yourself?

            •  I would invite you to go back and read (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sunbro

              the two diaries I wrote for Atheist Digest 10. Read the entire comment sections. All of it. Then come back and tell me who is painting whom with what brush.

              And I am not trying to paint "others" as "unabashed atheists". I respect atheists. I would die for their right to be atheists. But I have encountered some atheists here who are, indeed, dogmatically so unto the point of making it into a religion itself and being as uncharitable to believers as they claim believers are to them.

              Any Christian who would be intolerant of atheists or any others, in this modern day, are Christians I would not want to associate myself with.

              Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

              by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:59:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Read the history of Christianity in Europe. (4+ / 0-)

        It's nice to know that Enlightenment Values have influenced some Christians, such as yourself, but there's really no denying what Christians have done when they've had political power.  And there's no denying what the most devout American Christians, the ones trying to write the influence of the secular enlightenment out of our history books, want to do to our country.

        Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

        by play jurist on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:46:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Are you aware that the whole point of Frost's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ed G

        poem is that -- despite meeting each year to keep their fence good --- they never become good neighbors?  It is thus satire/irony/self delusion for poetic character to keep repeating the good fences meme.

        De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

        by Neon Mama on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:50:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My experience has been nothing but negative (6+ / 0-)

    Being gay and a woman, the only "christian values" I've ever seen demonstrated are unadulterated, irrational, seething hate and a willingness to do violence. I'm more afraid of a group of young white men coming out of a church, or holding a bible study group in a public place, than I am of just about anything else. I don't know whether they'd be happy to assault me, rape me, or kill me, and I sure as hell am not going to stick around to find out.

    This is the reality in which I live. I can't afford to rely on the fact that yes, there are good, decent people out there who call themselves christians, because they are not easily distinguishable from those who would do violence to me. The hate has eclipsed the hope.

    When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. - Practical Magic

    by Keori on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:37:12 AM PST

    •  At my church, in Austin, Texas, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      EricAllenBell

      and granted, it is of the Episcopalian variety and a city church, not a suburban one, this is who you'll find in my pew every Sunday: myself, a gay white man, an interracial gay couple, a middle-aged straight couple who are fiercely politically and religiously liberal, and an Honduran immigrant. I guarantee you, if you saw us coming out of church holding copies of the Book of Common Prayer, we would be more likely to take you out to brunch at a gay restaurant then to bash you up with our prayerbooks. Trust me.

      Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

      by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:42:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why should I? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass, Ed G, Chrislove

        What ever have christians done to earn my trust? You're asking me to have faith. I don't do faith. I do hard evidence and trend analysis, and the pattern thus far has been that it is most emphatically not in my best interest to trust people who call themselves christians.

        It's nice for you that you have a different reality. My reality is that I fear and distrust christians, and with good reason.

        When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. - Practical Magic

        by Keori on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:05:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And my problem is that I trust everyone. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirkster42

          Unless, you know, they are obviously trying to con me out of grandma's retirement money or something.

          I trust until others prove untrustworthy. I do faith: faith in my fellow man. Oh, and I get disappointed easily. Which, you know, I can handle. Because otherwise, I would be totally cynical and that would affect my ability to function. And it would make me even more difficult to take in real life than I already am, and that I don't need.

          Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

          by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:16:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Seems like (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirkster42, commonmass

          hard evidence and trend analysis

          two doors to a cold and lonely world. Sorry.

          Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management. Edward Kennedy

          by Klick2con10ue on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:00:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It is ironic (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, Ed G, EricAllenBell

      if you consider that, that is how Jesus himself would feel also.

      Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management. Edward Kennedy

      by Klick2con10ue on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:53:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I must say that I have never understood (6+ / 0-)

    why we give people such credit for having faith.  Faith is the belief in the unbelievable. ( Otherwise it doesn't require faith.)  The more faith the better- apparently the more unbelievable things you believe the better- as long as they are the "correct" unbelievable things.  God help us (sic) if we were to teach other creation myths alongside the christian creation myth in our evolution classes!

    So christians believe in miracles (have faith)- if they were not miracles, then JC was just a nice guy who believed in being sorta nice, usually, to others.
    Never mind that virtually all the miracles they ascribe to JC ( virgin birth, raising others from the dead, walking on water, being murddered and rising from the dead himself after 3 days) were first ascribed to the Egyptian god Horus a thousand years earlier ( Google it).

    Personally, I would not want to live in a world where the laws of nature could be arbitrarily suspended at any moment by a capricious or malevolent god who seems to care deeply about the outcome of high school football games but is unmoved by the suffering of millions.  Imagine if the sun really could stand still in the sky or the earth was really 6000 years old..  "Modern" Christians might ( or might not) say ,"Oh, that is just allegory"

    that is the beauty of their magical book.  All scripture can be divided into three types:

    1. Unerring word of their god.
    1. Stuff that used to be true, but isn't any longer- (Go ahead and eat pork, maybe and it probably isn't still ok to give your virgin daughters to strangers to save some guy staying with you...)

    and, 3) Historical allegory- to be read any GD way you please.

    The beauty is that each of the faithful gets to decide (Or have decided for him by a charismatic preacher) which scripture falls in which category.  So it can never be wrong!

    •  You realize, however, that you have (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      memiller, EricAllenBell

      just espoused dogma. Just sayin'.

      Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

      by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:44:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am currently levitating. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NCrefugee, commonmass, EricAllenBell

        Deny it?  Well that's just your dogma.

        Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

        by play jurist on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:50:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can't. Your karma (4+ / 0-)

          just ran over my dogma.

          Join CM and Co. for AWARDS PLUS EDITION diary each Wed. at 8pm ET.

          by commonmass on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 06:53:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  sorry? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            EricAllenBell

            How is my description of scripture "dogma"- a codified system of beliefs?  To say that anyone who disagrees with your Christian dogma is spouting dogma of some other belief system is  silly.  I am simply pointing out that the"Dogma" of the christian church is a moving feast (sic).  Christians spin their scripture however they like.  
            Please respond if there is another category into which scripture falls than the three I suggested.

            My point was exactly that Christian dogma is not dogma at all but simply 1500-2000 year old scriblings used as selective support for political and , occasionally, religious beliefs of current members of the various Christian/Jewish sects.  If the Christian dogma was inerrent and codified, then there would not be  a multitude of different Christian sects- whose very history and being results from disagreements about the "dogma" espoused by the scriptures.

            That view is not dogma.  My bleiefs in evolution and science are not dogma either- any falsification of any currently believed explanation of the world immediatly results in a new set of theories and explanations.  contrast that to the world of religion, where any new scientific finding is more or less ignored.

            All of my beliefs are imminently falsifiable. Show me one fossil of a person living with dinosaurs, and my entire theory needs re-working. Show me one person walking on water or feeding thousands with seven loaves- ditto. I would wager that none of your beliefs are falisifable- or that evidence avainst them would have any effect on your "faith" and dogma.

            Dogma is not simply one persons belief system- it is a codified series of beliefs which defy falsification.
            i

  •  First of all..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, commonmass, EricAllenBell

    Th do's and don't's you list are Judeo-Christian values, predating Christ by at least 1,500 years.  

    I was brought up in an intellectually-based Jewish congregation.  We were taught that the laws upon which Judaism is based were codifications of already existing common sense rules for civilization.  

  •  When I meet an athiest (5+ / 0-)

    I assume he is a good person.
    I try do the same with a Christian, Jews, Muslim, Gay, as well as an infinite variety of other human beings. I think, when I see inappropriate behavior among members of a group, that there are individuals among that group who are misguided. Most people are good when given the chance to be so.  

    Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management. Edward Kennedy

    by Klick2con10ue on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:13:10 AM PST

  •  Christian values... or blank check to sin? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, commonmass, EricAllenBell

    I know a whooooole lot of Christians.  Living in the deep South, I'm surrounded.  And I know some really nice ones... but, also, the biggest assholes I know are some of the biggest Christians.  In my experience, the breakdown of niceness and good character seems to have little to do with religion.  In truth, almost all the non-religious people I know are very nice, moral people... but, that could be because I don't know nearly as many of them, and it's easier to get 100% of a sample of 10 than it is to get 100% of a sample of 1000.  

    But, anyway, yeah, churchgoing apparently hasn't even pumped the brakes on a lot of really lousy behavior for a lot of the right-wing Christians I know.  For some reason, almost all every Republican Christian I know has raised lousy kids.  I can hardly think of one Republican couple whose kids aren't on drugs or in rehab, have a criminal record, and have several babies out of wedlock.  So all their Bible-thumping has to be considered an epic fail...

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 07:25:19 AM PST

  •  I thought I had moved on from Christianity. (7+ / 0-)

    Then I started posting on DailyKos, and realized I'm still way more Christian than I thought I was.  The complete ignorance of anything other than modern-day Evangelicalism gets really old.

    The central point of Christianity from day one has not been that you need a book to tell you what's right and what's wrong.  The central point of Christianity is that you need the grace of God to overcome the rationalizations everyone engages in to paint unvirtuous behavior as virtuous.  You can disagree with that point, and have good reasons for doing so, but if you don't understand that it's a completely different point than "Christianity is just following some rules we all know anyway" you don't know what you're talking about.

    Regardless, separation of church and state is a core constitutional principle worth defending vigorously.  I just wish people didn't feel so insecure that they feel they have to resort to strawmen arguments to do so.

  •  Atheists and Secular Humanists often hear from (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lockewasright

    Fundamentalists that we can't live a moral life before we don't believe in God.  (Some how Fundamentalists believe people won't behave decently on earth unless the threat of eternal damnation is hung over their heads.)

    Secular Humanists know a belief in a god is not necessary to live a moral life.  Moral, not in the sense of never having sex except in certain circumstances, but moral in the sense of being tolerant, charitable, and open minded.

    We know 'Christian Values' don't appear in the Constitution because America was founded on religious tolerance - Pilgrims, Puritans, Anabaptists, Huguenots and countless other religious minorities flocked to the US to practice their religon freely.

    The people who speak of Christian Values do not understand the Constitution; they also forget  the primary Christian value - "Love thy neighbor."

    HylasBrook @62 - fiesty, fiery, and fierce

    by HylasBrook on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:03:44 AM PST

  •  And hopefully our government continues to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    We are not a nation of Christians or Jews or Muslims or Conservatives or Liberals, but rather a nation of flawed human beings all pitching in trying to make a better world for ourselves and for those generations who will come after us.

    protect our right to be flawed.

    Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management. Edward Kennedy

    by Klick2con10ue on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 08:14:42 AM PST

  •  The terminology and the sociology (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EricAllenBell

    and the theology of American Christianity are a confused hash.

    I find it easier to initially ignore the labels people give themselves and others and then try to reclassify them on the basis of what they actually do and the things they actually advocate.

    There are a lot of believers in some blend of magic and unsophisticated theism out there.  A lot of it is nature deity worship and a kind of politics or tribal narcissism (e.g. 'Christian' to denote 'white people like me').  The religion consists of recognizable elements of the tribal religions of Europe (or Africa, or elsewhere) that predate Christianity/Islam, mostly cleaned up and intellectually reworked with some notion of impersonal love added in.  The deity names have been turned into those of e.g. the New Testament and Christian tradition.  But the tribalism and enforced social conformity and exclusivism of the belief is the core.

    Then there are more matured versions, where decades or centuries (or millenia) of careful revisions have trimmed out a lot of the tribal elements and doctrines about h ow to manipulate other people and the material world.  These are "balanced" by other groups where the authoritarian, tribal, and magical elements are considered the indispensable core- usually these term themselves "traditionalists" or "orthodox".

    Atheism is where there is a real terminological problem.  There are two kinds of atheisms- a pretheist kind seen e.g. in young children throughout the ages and a posttheist kind that is becoming increasingly common.  Religionists like to pretend the two are the same thing.

    Terms like "Christian values" seem to me to be an effort to boast or assert themselves by people who are at some level immature.

    I've watched the "family values" sorts, the most hardcore activists within the "Christian values" crowd, for a couple of years now, trying to figure out what the point of the thing is.  These are the people who spout a great deal of paranoid and apocalyptic stuff.

    The longer I've watched the more I've come to the view that the principal ones suffer from probably undiagnosed disorders in which they lose control of their behavior and are unable to suppress paranoid thoughts.  The more I look at their behaviors the more I see bipolar spectrum symptoms.  All the policies they advocate seem to be projections of their messed up sense of themselves and their personal histories of inability to remain rational onto white Americans.  They construe a high selfcontrol/discipline they admire and try to adhere to (but often fail) as virtue and onto conservative Americans.  Losses of selfcontrol they project onto liberal Americans, notably gay people.  Their existential fears and fantasies they project onto e.g. Muslims.

    In short, if you look into "Christian values" long enough, it becomes a view into a regrettable social pit after a time and starts to look like an abyss.  At the bottom of it lies some vicious, but also horribly pitiable and lamentable, insanity and inability to understand.

    Which is to say: the United States was founded as an endeavor to achieve "a more perfect union" by a very disparate aggregate of people.  American history since has been both about the remarkable hope and remarkable horror of the attempt, which implies a comprehensive overcoming of human problems and undue limitations.  The argument about religion in America is in part one about religion, but that is not per se a particularly difficult one in Modern times.  In tow behind religion per se in the American argument has always been the problem of sanity and insanity, often talked about as "morality".

    *at work immanentizing the eschaton*

    by killjoy on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 09:44:44 AM PST

  •  You might be a good Christian if you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EricAllenBell

    at least try to live up to what Jesus said he valued and emulate how he lived.

    He said separate state (Caesar) and church (God).
    He said don't stone others unless you have no sin.
    He said you defile your body by what comes out of your mouth, not by what you put in.
    He said not all are alike sexually.

    He lived as a communist. He hung out with drunks, fishermen, hated tax collectors, and stopped disciples from sending woman to the kitchen when he was teaching. He drove the moneychanging tricksters away from worship.  He spoke strongly against public praying phonies and coreligionist who put adherence to rules above true justice and humanity.

    He said love neighbor as you love self.  So I think job one is to start loving yourself instead of focusing on being a perpetual flawed sinner persona.

    De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

    by Neon Mama on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 09:46:38 AM PST

  •  If (enormous if) jebus did exist and espouse (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EricAllenBell

    certain ideas to supplement the core principles of the hebraic religion of the time, he was not, himself a christian. A formal religion rose up around his purported life and teachings, and, quite naturally, evolved into a myriad of sometimes warring sects and schisms. It is these entities and the members, followers and adherents thereof to which/whom the word christian applies. It is their values to which the term christian values adheres.

    A brief review of the actions and behavior of these christians will confirm that the observation that America

    was also founded on slavery, warfare, suppression of woman's rights, segregation, oppression of the poor, intolerance of "the other" and so on.

    along with greed, thievery, an eagerness for warfare and conquest; things like genocide and torture and the like is not evidence that it wasn't a christian nation, but is, n fact, evidence that it was.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 01:07:11 PM PST

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