Skip to main content

   
       So I came across a discussion today and the person who I was talking with insisted that religion was bad. I, too, once believed such that until I became involved with the Occupy Movement.

    I admit that before Occupy I was a bigot and had total disdain for organized religion; I painted every church in my mind as right-wing rhetoric and distanced myself completely from any affiliation with churches.

    Once I became more of an activist with the help of the Occupy movement, I was forced to work with certain groups and some of those groups were religious groups. The image that I held in my head that made me view all churches as evil-conservative cults began to change.

    I began to realize that there are indeed left-wing churches out there that do not despise gay people and women's rights, but fight for them.

`    Churches have played a huge role in Occupy by providing activists food, shelter, supplies, and support.  As I began to work more with labor, churches became a common meeting ground especially in the winter; the church would allow us to have a warm-place to strategize.

    Another aspect I gained from Occupy was more insight into the civil rights movement. Churches in the 50s and 60s were lead organizers with the civil rights movement; churches united both black and white communities through a common faith and a common struggle.

    It is important to remember that leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were pastors and faith leaders first and activists second.

     

       Now with movements like Occupy, churches and their leaders have rallied their congregations in support of the movement.

    Part of the reason why I have had disdain for churches was in fact that I felt that many churches were anti-gay, but as I see more and more churches change their doctrine and march in pride parades, and preach love and acceptance, my tolerance for organized religion has grown.

    When it comes to the bible, many groups and people have different interpretations of what it means. It’s easy to assume that people who are religious are homophobic bigots, but I’ve come to realize that homophobic views and religion do not go hand in hand.

    Just like gay rights, people used the bible for both side of the issue during the civil rights movement. Groups like the KKK used the bible as a way to promote their hate while at the same time leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., used it to preach equality.

    During the NATO summit churches provided food and housing to out of town residents. But looking beyond the scope of activism, and into community, churches benefit the lives of many.

    After visiting a church on the south side of Chicago one night in a neighborhood known for its crime and gun violence, I realized that to many, the church served as a safe-haven, and was heavily involved in a campaign to stop the violent shootings that plagued the neighborhood.

        Now with campaigns like Occupy Sandy, churches have opened up their doors to allow Occupy Wall Street to use the church as a hub to store and organize supplies.  

    I, like many of the left, like to assume that a church is right-wing, and want no affiliation with religion, but there is a strong religious-left that do embrace things like civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and science. Simply hating someone or a group for simply being religious is no different than simply hating someone for being black or gay.

    Occupy has done one of its most-important goals and has united people who would have never ever realized that they are on the same side of the fight, and that unity is the most-important part of any struggle.    

Originally posted to Alex Forgue on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 06:18 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, Street Prophets , and Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  There is and always has been a religious left (72+ / 0-)

    in this country, and I'm a proud member of it. Thank you for recognizing that some of us are totally, completely, on your side. In fact, when it comes to the position of LGBT persons, my church, the Episcopal Church, is far ahead of the COUNTRY on civil rights.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 06:29:27 PM PDT

  •  As I noted in a previous discussion... (43+ / 0-)
    I read some comments (on Kos) that characterize Christianity in ways that do not seem to recognize the existence of my moderate, progressive Christianity.
    Thanks for providing a little balance here.
    •  Yes. (11+ / 0-)

      And in ways that do not represent liberal thinking.

      I'm always surprised when I read vitriolic comments about religion from those who identify as liberals.  

      Being the single intellectual in a village of 1,100 souls ain't much fun, especially when 1,099 of those don't think you're all that smart.--Lucy Marsden

      by Miniaussiefan on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:42:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't be surprised. Much evil has been perpetuated (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, JosephK74, tikkun, SilentBrook

        in the name of religion -- in this country and throughout history. Many of those without religion are refugees from intolerant varieties of it.

        Better to understand why some people might resent religious bigotry, and educate them about the fact that there are still many in this country who believe, yet who are not bigots and idiots like the American "Christian" Taliban.

        "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

        by Kombema on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:58:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bigotry is bigotry (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tikkun

          The diarist gets this. Let me edit your comment to reflect the diarist's points.

          Better to understand why some people might resent religious bigotry are bigoted towards religion, and educate them about the fact that there are still many in this country who believe, yet who are not bigots and idiots like the American "Christian" Taliban. bigotry is never justified.
          •  Sorry, no -- I'll have to respectfully disagree. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, Rieux, gsenski

            I think the burden is on the religionists. Being a believer is a choice, unlike other characteristics that are not. And criticism of religious bigotry is not bigotry per se, either. There are shades of gray on intolerance of religious intolerance, and it is a legitimate observation to suggest that religion on average (i.e., not in all cases) predisposes toward intolerance of others. Huzzah to those who are not intolerant religionists, nonetheless.

            "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

            by Kombema on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 12:31:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Religions are IDEAS. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SilentBrook, Tonedevil, gsenski

            Opposition to ideas is not bigotry—and, as a result, opposition to religion isn't, either.

            The constant conflation of religious belief with religious believers is a species of fundamental dishonesty that keeps fundamentalism alive, powerful, and all-too-capable to destroy lives.

            It is not bigotry to oppose destructive ideas.

  •  Thanks for bringing this up (23+ / 0-)

    I think we're doing progressive politics real hurt when we can't acknowledge the history and power of the many social justice movements that were nurtured among people of faith like Dr. King.

    Or of people like Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin who started the Catholic Worker movement.  Anyone near Chicago can contact a house and go volunteer for half a day and get a first hand view of what is going on.  My familiarity is with a house on the south side, Su Casa, that was formed 20 years ago to help war refugees from Central America.  Among them included victims of torture that we transported to the Kovler Center for help.

    Or you can drop by here to talk with some Su Casa people (be sure to RSVP):

    Sunday, April 28th at 6:00pm
    5045 S. Laflin

    May 1st is a historic day for Left mobilization in Chicago–from Haymarket in 1866 to 2006′s massive immigration rallies. What do the many groups that turn out into the streets have in common? Are we all marching toward the same goals?Join us for a potluck dinner and discussion with individuals and groups who have mobilized or marched on May 1st. We’ll ask each other “why do YOU march,” and share stories, ideas, and hopes for the future.

    I find it almost scary that sometimes people of faith are putting more on the line for progressive causes than most of us can conceive of.  

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 06:57:07 PM PDT

  •  good for you. The religious right has been so (35+ / 0-)

    vocal over the past couple of decades that they have managed to cultivate an opposing anti-religious left (the neo-atheist movement)--each one representing a very small extreme of the religion spectrum--and each one reacting only to its perceived antagonist rather than acknowledge the millions of people in the middle who, religious or not, do their own thing, go their own way, and are generally decent people.

    It's ironic that the radical right has managed to cultivate a radical left in the religious discourse that is just as dogmatic.

    I"m glad OWS helped you to learn more about religion, and what it CAN mean if used well.

    •  Brilliant comment, thanks. (14+ / 0-)

      You speak up about the degree to which militant atheism, is a response to modern, militant religious fundamentalism.

      OK, don't believe in God; that's your right. But to tell others what they should or should not believe? You're out of bounds.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 07:11:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks. I think that belief systems that arise (20+ / 0-)

        from anger--just like non-belief systems that arise from anger--are really, really unhealthy and often dangerous.  And I see that same anger (and fear) underlying both radical fundamentalism and radical 'neo-atheism'.  

        Ray Bradbury had some beautiful observations about the interplay of science, art and religion--although I'd have to dig them up (I remember one in the Martian Chronicles--articulated by a character named Spender)

        I wish people would lose the anger and see the magnificence of the unknown.

        •  I've got some rereading to do (19+ / 0-)

          of Bradbury.  I find the religion vs. science thing in popular society baffling.  To me it's a phony conflict based on superficial understanding of one or the other.  Some of the pro-religious/anti-science folks seem to have come by an amazingly shallow, narrow sighted faith.  And some of the pro-science/anti-religious types seem to thrive on criticizing the easiest possible targets.

          I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

          by Satya1 on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 07:35:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The religious historian Karen Armstrong (13+ / 0-)

            discusses the evolution of atheism, and of religious fundamentalism, in one of her books, I think "The Struggle for God."

            Atheism first arose after Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain attempted to purge Jews living within Spain in the early 1500s. The Crown told Jews they could either convert to Catholicism, or leave the country. Many left; many also converted. But the forced conversions weren't sincere, with the result that many became alienated from religion altogether. The urban cosmopolitan sensibility of the day absorbed this alienation. That's the earliest historical incidence of formal "atheism," the lack of a belief in God.

            Religious fundamentalism, a belief in the literalism of scripture, according to Armstrong, arose as a reaction to the scientific worldview taking over in the west at about this same time. Science purported to uncover the "literal truth," so religion felt it had to compete.

            It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

            by karmsy on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 07:57:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And amazingly (8+ / 0-)

              the extreme examples of each seem to need each other.

              I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

              by Satya1 on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 08:07:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Re (10+ / 0-)

              There is no such thing as formal atheism.

              From the time back when the first idea of gods formed in people's heads, there were other people who said 'no, I do not believe it'.

              Atheism is not a religion (it isn't really a 'thing' at all). It didn't form as a political statement or as a response to (or encouragement of) any sort of repression or political event.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 04:32:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  OK, I'm sure you're the expert :) n/t (0+ / 0-)

                It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

                by karmsy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 04:41:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually it's just logical (7+ / 0-)

                  If someone asserts the existence of an Invisible Pink Unicorn and I say no, I don't think so, I am not "just advocating another kind of belief".  If Invisible Pink Unicornists start trying to convert others by the sword, and I fight back, I am not just another believer in a religious war.

                  And if I say that believing in Creationism is not consistent with science, I am not somehow failing to see a grand truth that faith and science are not incompatible.

                  There are other things that you and others in this thread are saying that are true, or partially true, but please take care not to conflate them with falsehoods like the ones I mention above.  These arguments are not from authority, just logic.

                  I will not make a "craziness exception" for religion.  A lot of religious beliefs are nuts, some much more benignly so than others. One of the most benign ones may be believing that the arc of the moral universe is long but bends toward justice.  I tend to belief that, but rationally, it's only verifiably true to the extent that a lot of people persist (with some luck on their sides) in doing the bending.

                  "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                  by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:42:25 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I agree but I think the Dawks are a new (0+ / 0-)

                  wrinkle

                  Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

                  by tikkun on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:32:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The only thing (0+ / 0-)

                    new about the "New" Atheists is their cultural prominence.

                    There is nothing that Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, or Dennett (or Victor Stenger, Julia Sweeney, Greta Christina, P.Z. Myers....) has said about religion that wasn't previously stated decades, centuries, or millennia earlier by Socrates, Lucretius, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Twain, Russell, Ingersoll, O'Hair, and the like. And the "New" Atheists themselves have consistently pointed that fact out.

                    One consequence of an increased profile for atheist criticism of religion is that it's much harder for religious figures and organizations to hide from that criticism. They can (and have) attempted to shoot the messenger by pretending that the Gnus are barbarians who deserve to be disregarded, but it's demonstrably not working.

                    So what's new about the Gnu Atheists is that religion is scared of them.

                    •  What Is Different About Them (0+ / 0-)

                      is their Calvanist methods.  I don't take it from Calviinists and I don't take it from Dawks.

                      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

                      by tikkun on Thu May 02, 2013 at 06:37:17 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  What exactly (0+ / 0-)

                        are "Calvinist methods"? That sounds very much like a stand-in for "they do things I don't like, even if I don't have legitimate reasons to object to those things."

                        You'll forgive me if I don't give the benefit of the doubt to vague complaints directed at members of despised and disempowered minorities for doing things that just so happen to bruise the unjust privilege of the overwhelmingly powerful hegemon.

              •  Well, it's a 'thing' in that it embraces logic and (8+ / 0-)

                skepticism. And it insists that extraordinary claims (for instance, that the Universe is ruled by an invisible omnipotent & omniscient being who has chosen not to speak to us openly for the last 2,000 years) demand extraordinary evidence. Something more rigorous than a clumsily stitched together pastiche of collected oral traditions dating from circa 1000 BCE to 200 AD in multiple different languages with countless internal contradictions.

                •  Logic is of human construction. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  tikkun

                  When you think of the force that brought about the universe, why do you think it would need to talk like humans?

                  The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

                  by dfarrah on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:37:25 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Then why is the only thing that has helped (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    No Exit, Tonedevil

                    us understand how the universe works based on logic?  (I speak of SCIENCE! <== read in the voice from that Thomas Dolby song)

                    "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                    by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:46:32 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  As much as I love that song, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      dackmont

                      we are humans and what we use to understand anything is still limited by ourselves.

                      The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

                      by dfarrah on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:21:30 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  True, but then how useful is religion? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        gsenski, Rieux

                        If we're gonna take science down a peg (which is reasonable, but tends to be overdone by the faith ~ science false equivalence advocates), then we need to do the same for religion, which doesn't have any irrefutable evidence for having ever helped us understand the universe.  I strongly refute "God of the gaps" thinking.

                        But I think we'd agree that religious experience can show us a lot about ourselves, as can (even moreso) science, and as can basic sympathy and self-understanding (which can be but isn't necessarily something that happens in a religious context).  Alexander Pope had a good point when he wrote "the proper study of mankind is man".

                        "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                        by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:10:39 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  God speaks English (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    dackmont

                    One curious glitch committed by Biblical literalists is they believe God is at once all-powerful and all-knowing, yet is still constrained by the limitations of human language. I know that when I think, English words run to and fro in my head. Literalists seem to think God also thinks in English. Were that true that alone would prove God's lack of omnipotence.

              •  I might suggest that there is both informal and (5+ / 0-)

                formal atheism, in the sense that while certainly there have people for most of recorded history that didn't believe that there were gods, or didn't believe in them if they did exist (informal atheism) there has only been a term "atheism" for that situation for a fairly brief time, and some people who self-describe that way maintain websites and have meetings, which is a fairly formal expression of it.



                Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

                by Wee Mama on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:18:52 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There was Gravity long before there was a word (6+ / 0-)

                  for it.  

                  Non-belief or naturalism has a long and proud history going back at least to 600 BCE with the Buddha, who preached against belief in gods on the grounds that such beliefs are indemonstrable, and so disturb peace of mind by leaving it in a state of needing demonstration and proof all the time.  

                  The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

                  by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:02:20 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes yes yes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    No Exit

                    There was/is room in Buddhism for materialists.  The Buddha discouraged believing that one's actions don't matter morally, but didn't care whether one believed in heaven.  He believed in karma, but there is a tradition of Buddhist logic that interprets karma in a materialistic way.

                    "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                    by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:49:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  formal, as in semantically. Maybe. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cotterperson
            •  ugh no (7+ / 0-)
              Atheism first arose after Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain attempted to purge Jews living within Spain in the early 1500s.
              Yes, let's just ignore pre-Christian atheist philosophy.
              •  Who has studied it? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CBrachyrhynchos

                What have they written about it?

                A paraphrase, sort of a counterpoint to Karen Armstrong, would be interesting.

                It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

                by karmsy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:46:18 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Caught flat-footed (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  karmsy, Tonedevil, dackmont

                  I don't really have much of a bibliography to share. The Guardian's CiF Belief section was running a series on Epicurianism. Not exactly pre-Christian but certainly non-Christian, Batchelor has some work exploring skepticism and agnosticism within the Pali canon.

                  •  Thanks for your candor. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    CBrachyrhynchos

                    Admittedly, this thread may not be the place for an in-depth discussion of this topic. But I think there probably is material for an interesting comparison.

                    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

                    by karmsy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:18:15 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Ack, I should have read this before posting (0+ / 0-)

                    my reply below -- you made the exact same points.  Hayes is fun though, and more trenchant than Batchelor!

                    "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                    by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:06:10 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Read Richard Hayes (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  karmsy

                  "Land Of No Buddha" for (along many other things) some discussion of Buddhist philosophers who were atheists.  I think Epicurus was too -- certainly some of the Greeks were.

                  "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                  by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:51:15 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Errrrrr No (4+ / 0-)

              This Bartonesque history lesson was brought to you by the letter W for WRONG and number 0 for the IQ of the poster.

              I suggest you try to pick up a history book before giving a lesson on Spanish history, as it seems you slept through most of class or were taught by a bible bashin goof. Utter twaddle.

              Atheism has been around as a recognizable and written down philosophy since ancient times. Ever hear of Diagoras orSocrates? Hellenic culture was full of atheists. There was also a strong atheist school of thought in Indian society in the 6thC BC. Then later in Rome, through the Byzantine period, and through the Middle Ages all the way to the day.

              And as for Armstrong...well wrong again. Fundamentalism has been around as long as religion itself, and is a reaction to contra-dogma or a belief that counters that of its own "brand" or a perceived threat to the faith from within or without. Example - the iconoclasts of the Byzantine period were active long before the birth of modern science.

              So please, put your holy book down and pick up a history book. You will learn more from the latter.

              •  There is such a thing as conscientious (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Buckeye Nut Schell, Quicklund

                and informed disagreement. Then there's attitude.

                This comment represents the latter, in full blossom.  

                It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

                by karmsy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:31:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  And Buddha was a staunch atheist (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                blueoasis

                The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

                by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:58:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Socrates was not an atheist. He questioned (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Quicklund

                and sometimes poked fun at various beliefs about the gods, thereby unsettling many people, who charged him with undermining belief in the gods.  However, he never taught that there were no gods.

                However, speaking during his trial, he said (doing this from memory, may not be precise) that he had a daemon (spirit) that told him when he did wrong.  So he knew that questioning beliefs about the gods was not wrong.  In fact, he considered pursuing truth (which involved questioning) to be a task laid on him by the god.  If those trying him offered him his life if he would stop questioning, he could only answer them by saying, "Men of Athens, I love you and I honor you.  BUt I will obey the god rather than you."

                I'm not saying there weren't atheists long before the Spanish Inquisition.  I agree with you that there were.  But Socrates was not one of them.

                --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

                by Fiona West on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:00:18 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  insulting the poster in your first line renders (0+ / 0-)

                the remaining paragraphs useless.

                continuing to insult the poster in the second paragraph renders your remaining paragraphs a bunch of bs.

                go back to the drawing board and learn how to engage in civil discussion.

                Have a nice day.

                •  Walter: "Am I wrong?" (0+ / 0-)

                  Dude: "No, you're not wrong."
                  Walter: "Am I wrong?"
                  Dude:  "You're not wrong, Walter, you're just an asshole!"

                  --the gospel

                  "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                  by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:15:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Ray Bradbury had a reputation as a (6+ / 0-)

          pulp sci fi writer. But his work occasionally rose to artistic heights.

          I liked his account of the tattooed man in "The Illustrated Man," basically a professional freak in a carnival road show whose body art, under the right circumstances, became animated and foretold the future. In one scene, he's telling somebody he'd just met that his tattoos behave one way if he "lies down with a man," and behave another way if he "lies down with a woman." Unforgettable stuff.

          I'll look at his "Martian Chronicles" again.

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 07:47:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  there was some pulp sci-fi. And definitely some (10+ / 0-)

            pulp horror.

            But I think he was one of the most brilliant writers of the genre, ever.  He was naturally poetic but could go overboard with words sometimes...  but I've never read anyone who could conjure up a dream-state like Bradbury.

            Reading Bradbury--particularly in the Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked...  some of the pulp stories too--  feels like lucid dreaming to me.

            •  The partly delusional dream-like sequence in (0+ / 0-)

              "The Man Who Lost the Sea" is exquisitely done, and very moving, imo.

              --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

              by Fiona West on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:05:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Belief that slavery is wrong (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          not2plato, Rieux

          arose partly from anger.

          "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

          by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:44:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You have that backwards (0+ / 0-)

            Why would anyone be angry about slavery, if there was no concept that slavery is wrong? No, people were angry because slavery is wrong, yet there it was, existing.

            •  Cruelty is offensive at multiple levels (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rieux

              and different individuals react in different ways.  Apes don't like it when their companions are maltreated.  Nor do little kids, and I think that that's emotion-based, and that the concept (at some point) follows.

              Anyway, in the overall picture, I would certainly argue that anger can be righteous, and channeled into good things.  "Voting is the best revenge", as was recently said by someone I'm justifiably angry at for various reasons.

              "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

              by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 04:57:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I'm an atheist, but a quiet one. (10+ / 0-)

        I was raised Catholic and fell away from the church, and ultimately away from believing in God.  Though I dislike the leaders of many organized faiths, I do have a strong appreciation for what that faith can mean for believers.  It can provide a solid framework for doing good in this world, and strong, steady support during difficult times.  Local churches can be the anchor of a strong community, and improve things for everyone, member or not.   It's unfortunate that some people can't see that side of things.  I guess you could think of them as Westboro Atheists.

        •  That allusion is offensive to me, as a life-long (5+ / 0-)

          atheist (since around age eight).

          I am not a "Westboro Atheist".

          I am not a believer in religion or any sort of supra-natural (not supernatural) being.

          I do not try and convert anyone to my way of thinking, although I freely admit I believe the entire world would be better off without organized religion.

          I do not degrade or offend others with differing belief systems.

          Live and let live has always been my motto, I only wish it were so for everyone.


          "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

          by Angie in WA State on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:53:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Since that shoe does not fit (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JDsg, alain2112

            Why assume it was constructed for you to wear?

            Do you feel every self-declared atheist is above criticism?

            •  If we are to have a respectful discussion of (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, Rieux, Simian

              religious beliefs vs non-belief, then when someone says

              Local churches can be the anchor of a strong community, and improve things for everyone, member or not.   It's unfortunate that some people can't see that side of things.  I guess you could think of them as Westboro Atheists.
              and I am an atheist who believes that organized religion serves no purpose, then I think that, yes, that person is talking about me.

              Your second question begs this question: What criticism is there to lay at the feet of self-declared atheists, other than to note that they do not believe in a supra-natural, omnipotent being?


              "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

              by Angie in WA State on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:51:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Then the problem lies with you (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                alain2112, gene s

                People are free to discuss their personal experiences. You don't get to veto their comments because - even when it is clear they do not apply to you - you perversely insist they are aimed at you.

                What criticism is there to lay at the feet of self-declared atheists, other than to note that they do not believe in a supra-natural, omnipotent being?
                Way to dodge the point. The point is this: Even athiests can be assholes.
                •  I did not "veto" any coment. Point of fact: (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Tonedevil, Simian

                  I have often Rec'd comments by lineatus for years now.

                  But this one comment struck a chord with me. So I responded.

                  I clearly explained why that comment DID APPLY to me.

                  You asked a question, I asked one in return. That is not "dodging the question". It's called 'arguing the points' and 'debate', in most places.

                  Yes, even atheists can be assholes. What's the point of saying that? That I am an asshole? Yes, on occasion, I am. But not in this case.


                  "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

                  by Angie in WA State on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 11:52:58 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Fine. Delete "Veto". Insert "complain about" (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    alain2112

                    No, you described why you insist a "if teh shoe fits" comment applies to you. If you feel the shoe fits, then the problem lies with your foot.

                    And yes, you did dodge the point of the question. The "if the shoe fits" comment you complain about is predicated on the fact that yes, even atheists can be assholes. It was not, as your dodge would have it, that to be an atheists is to be an asshole. Simple.

              •  Oh come on! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JDsg

                Some of the rock stars of the recent "new" atheists have been rather militant and absolutist about their philosophy. So much new (heh!) atheist writing focuses on and attacks the strident Abrahamic faith-based religions. That's fair game, I suppose. But people of more liberal traditions find themselves lumped in with the crazies all the time. So, I guess all I can say is, how does it feel?

                Not good, eh? On the other hand, it's OK to say things like "religion serves no purpose" or "...I believe the entire world would be better off without religion". I wonder how that makes someone feel who has dedicated their life to helping the community! In addition, as well explained in this diary, some organized religion did indeed bring about good. It did "serve a purpose" in spite of what you believe. In fact, it caused the writer to re-evaluate their thinking in regards to religion. I think that's a good thing. You state that you've been an atheist since you were 8. Yet, you are upset by certain atheists being called "Westboro". I don't know if you ever frequent some of the atheist blogs, but comments like that are hurled at the spiritual or religious community constantly.

          •  Was not directed at you or others like you and me. (2+ / 0-)

            I have my non-belief, and I don't push it.  You don't either.

            I'm contrasting with those who feel it necessary to insult people of faith, who go out of their way to provoke.  As you say, you do not try to convert anyone to your way of thinking, nor do you degrade anyone for their beliefs.  Ergo, you are not a Westboro Atheist.  I don't think Christians (or Muslims or Jews or any believer) should be defined by the most extreme "believers" of their faith, nor should atheists or agnostics be defined by the loudest, most provocative voices on our side.

            I think we're saying the same thing, but perhaps I didn't clarify it well.

      •  Well, Allah loves everyone regardless. n/t (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JDsg, cotterperson, dfarrah, Quicklund
      •  Not at all (8+ / 0-)

        It's simple historical reality that religions are more likely to breed monsters and monstrous acts than saints. (As a former Catholic, it was disappointing to discover how few so-called saints were in any way truly saintly - or even just how little religious history was actually true.)

        That doesn't make the saints or the concerned citizens any less valuable, but it does raise questions about the role that religion plays in politics.

        And since religion is so rarely truly private in practice, and since it overlaps so obviously with politics, it's not at all unreasonable to question whether or not it offers a net social benefit.

        The basic moral fact is that no matter how much religious people would like to pretend otherwise, absolutely any moral position can be justified religiously.

        Whether it's gay-indifference or gay-hate, feminism or anti-feminism, hatred of the poor or support for the poor, killing your neighbour or loving your neighbour, some preacher somewhere will be preaching it from a pulpit, and their followers will believe that it's religiously-inspired morality.

        It's not belief in god that's the problem, it's the political forces it creates.

        Now, if the political forces were reliably progressive, progressive atheists would be more likely to make an accommodation with them.

        But they aren't. The religious left is a tiny minority compared to the religious right.

        So yes, you can believe what you want. But faith is not enough to create effective change when your beliefs are a minority interest, when the majority of the established religions are institutionally reactionary, and when even progressives use the 'I believe this because god tells me to' to justify their politics - and certainly not when progressive politics should be able to offer much more robust and persuasive reasons for doing the moral thing without leaning on supernatural narratives.

        "Be kind" - is that a religion?

        by ThatBritGuy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:48:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Factual Correction (7+ / 0-)

        for the hard of thinking - that would be you my friend, and a lot of the equally low wattage bulb commentators here who seem to think like you....

        Most atheists, even what you laughingly call "militant" ones (and as I am more strident than most or more vocal I guess that I'm one of those....), do not insist that the religious pack in believing in whatever they believe in. That my chum is just what the religious think atheists are insisting on.

        NO

        what secularists believe in, and I want you to note the correct word there, and insist on is that your particular brand of faith, or that of any other faith, plays NO PART WHATSOEVER in public policy making and laws.

        Why?

        Because in a modern pluralistic society, making laws based on one particular faith only favors the particular beliefs and prejudices of one section of society. The only fair default setting therefore is total neutrality.

        And the reason occasionally some of us sound rude, abusive or snitty is because after decades of attempting to explain that, the message still hasn't frickn sank in has it?

      •  Where atheism falls short is recognizance that (0+ / 0-)

        religion does fill a void - a community void.  I don't think it is the only way to fill the void, or necessarily a good way, but it does fill the void of creating / fostering community.

        For example, imagine this:  Imagine a community where it was NOT considered rude to talk about politics in public.  In fact, NOT TALKING politics was considered rude, and considered free-loading off the community as the person benefits from the civil society but does not contribute to its governance.  Imagine a society where, instead of being told what to believe every sunday, you went to a Popular Assembly or Town Hall where a moderator introduced an agenda and some background information, then asked you what you believed about the matter...???  And no-one felt threatened by your beliefs...???  And, everyone felt it was their duty to attend such meetings every sunday....

        To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

        by ban48 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:55:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Apples and oranges (0+ / 0-)

          That's kind of an apples and oranges comparison. Atheism isn't a movement or institution in the same way as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or Neopaganism. It's more similar to vegetarianism and pacifism, ideas that developed independently in multiple cultures via different theories.

          That said, certainly atheist groups including Ethical Culture, UU Humanism, Secular Judaism, and a new wave of congregational groups have an explicit focus on community building.  Unfortunately the response when atheists organize humanist and interfaith communities is generally skeptical or hostile.

          •  My point is that a side-benefit of membership in (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Simian

            a church is membership into a community.  Heck, wasn't there a survey that 1/4 or so of the people attendant at church functions don't believe but stick around for the community.  The problem is - when you ditch the religion you also lose the community functions.  Atheism isn't a spiritual movement, but a church is a also community function.  You leave the church because the magical mumbo-jumbo has lost its appeal and 2000 year old tales-of-the-desert don't seem to inspire, well, you also lose the church picnic....

            To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

            by ban48 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:47:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  What on earth is this supposed to illustrate? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil

          The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

          by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:55:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You can be an atheist and still (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, A Citizen

          embrace community and ritual.

          "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

          by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:52:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I know. That is actually my point, but it is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dackmont

            harder because there are fewer structures and organizations.  (I also got to this part pretty clumsily....)

            But, I also think the structure and organization of church also inhibits, because you are listening and talking about tales of times long gone, but you are not talking about the school board.

            To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

            by ban48 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:15:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Couldn't agree more (0+ / 0-)

              It's a real goldmine to find like-minded people along those lines.  What has your experience been?  There are various community-based art projects, like Figment, that have a prosocial angle; Burning Man people know of a lot of stuff like this -- and that's cool if your inclined to bohemian/art stuff.  More sedately, there are always Unitarian Universalists -- sometimes a bit dry on the ritual side, but it depends, and they have subsets like Quakers and Buddhists and Pagans.  They can be really, really cool.  They're all over the country, and trust me, you will meet a lot of people there who would love to talk about the school board!

              One thing I've learned is that even if these things seem like silver instead of gold, silver isn't to be sneezed at, and can "appreciate" (transmute?) over time into gold.

              "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

              by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:36:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  If the religious right is going to mistreat me (5+ / 0-)

        I will mistreat them right back.  Your opinion of militant atheism ignores its motive.  You simply denounce it and move on without reasons -- very, er, religion like.

        The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

        by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:04:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Neo-atheists are not dogmatic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      They're too extreme (pragmatically speaking -- they alienate too many people) in their approach, but their beliefs are no different from any atheist's.

      It's not dogmatic to say dogmas are misguided and wrong, and to take the next logical step and say that the world would be better off without them.

      "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

      by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:30:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually That Discourse Has Been (0+ / 0-)

      going on for some time now and is more inspired by obvious need rather than by the religious right.  The left has not been particularly interested.  We were involved in the discourse even when the world, left and right, was mainly interested in high heel shoes, week-end beer brawls, and hooking up.

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:30:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In my own life (21+ / 0-)

    I have no use for religion and/or religious institutions.  But, holy shit, who knew?!?  Other people aren't exactly like me, or even like I'd expect them to be.

    If our political hopes are ever gonna amount to anything, they'll do so because we include, because we refrain from making kneejerk judgments about the lives of people we know nothing about.  Most of all we have to stop demonizing everybody who annoys us for one reason or another.

    We are the powerless many against the powerful few.  We need each other, even when we don't walk in lockstep.

  •  Not all super-religious types are involved (6+ / 0-)

    in the anti-gay and anti-women legislation efforts and movements.

    And obviously, all the more tolerant and accepting religions (neo-paganism/Wiccan, Buddhists, etc) are not a part of the problem. They typically have no power anyway in this country.

    However.

    All people that are involved in the anti-gay and anti-women legislation efforts and movements are super religious. In America, this usually means Christians.

    In other words:

    Name an anti-abortion or anti-gay group that isn't overtly religious or religious in theme.

    Times up. You can't. Because it's impossible.

    This is the reason they fuck up all their court arguments. They have to dance around what they really want to say: My religion/God/the Bible/Jesus/etc says it is bad.

    --

    In short, when it comes to devout Christians, the tolerant ones are the minority. They exist, and there are many of them on this site. But they are the exception, rather than the rule.

    I'm not saying this to be a jerk. I'm saying this because it's true, and we have to keep our guard up.

    The Christians have a lot of political power, and we don't want to turn this country any further into a theocracy. They've already started a full on campaign attacking women's reproductive rights. They don't give up.

    Plutocracy is bad enough. When Christians get large amounts of power ... well, history is able to provide us with many horrific examples.

  •  To quote a dude with a really awesome beard: (19+ / 0-)

    That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary — [and now] go study.”

    I'm not Jewish, but that about sums it up for me.

    Great diary, T&R

    "Every book is like a door"

    by Hammerhand on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 07:32:15 PM PDT

  •  Seriously? You didn't realize until the (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, BYw, blueoasis, mathGuyNTulsa, Rieux

    Occupy movement that there are liberal Christians in this country?  Where have you been?

    The basic problem for liberal Christians is that they are a dying breed being done in by the fact that they are the other side of the same coin bound at the hip to the fundamentalists by the glue called "the bible", and therefore left with little ability to effectively counter the fundamentalist views.

    The people who were nice to the Occupy protestors would have been nice to them without being tied to a religion. Good hearts are good hearts. Jesus was rude to his mother and intolerant of pagans.  Religion has nothing to do with goodness.

    •  It was churches that provided (9+ / 0-)

      money, space and other critical needs as well as individual members.  The help came from the community as much or more than from individuals

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 08:59:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Bible is a sacred circle (0+ / 0-)

      You don't even need to take a death oath to step into it-- just pick it up with an open mind!

      •  I did pick it up and read it from cover to cover (6+ / 0-)

        with a clear mind.  I found the stories often immoral, the "savior" unsavory and the "God" a petty tyrant whose system of "salvation" is nothing but a divisive ruse.

        I used a clear mind instead of an open mind because sometimes having an open mind causes one to let anything fall into it, especially unevidenced nonsense and woo.

          •  It would appear (0+ / 0-)

            you haven't actually read it yourself.

            But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

             - Jesus, in Luke 19:27


            I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

             - Jesus, in John 15:6


            But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

             - Jesus, in Matthew 8:10-12


            The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

             - Jesus, in Matthew 13:41-42


            Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.

             - Jesus, in Matthew 25:41, 46


            And that servant [slave], which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

             - Jesus, in Luke 12:47


            And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as [Jesus] sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
            And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
            And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

             - Mark 14:3-7 (italics added)


            And from thence [Jesus] arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

            But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.

            And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.

            And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

            - Mark 7:24-30 (italics added)

            ...And all of that is just Jesus. If you've read the book at all, what else have you turned a blind eye to?
  •  those who think "all Christians are the same" are (15+ / 0-)

    no different from those who think "all Muslims are the same".

    (DISCLAIMER: I'm neither a Christian nor a Muslim.)

  •  I'm not a Christian, but... (16+ / 0-)

    one of the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right are the words of Jesus.  Fundamentalism is a crooked and rickety business of rationalizing away half of the things that are in the Gospels that contradict their phony faith.

    •  A lot of right-wing doctrine comes from Paul (6+ / 0-)

      He was a former Pharisee and a proud Roman.  So everything he says is a bit stodgy.  

      Jesus's words are definitely more important than Paul's.

    •  Amen/rAmen. (8+ / 0-)

      One thing I wish we had less of is the tendency for some atheist critics of Christianity to essentially buy into the rightwing version of The Bible in order to attack all Christianity generally, rather than challenge the rightwing definition of The Bible in order to attack fundamentalist Christianity specifically.  

      When we discuss the Bible accurately--as a compilation of thousands of years of writing, describing a mythologized cultural history, including a profoundly inspirational spirituality, that has been edited at various times by fallible humans with their own agendas--we do the best possible work of challenging & countering literalist fundamentalism, rather than building up a biblical ignorance on the left as a counterpart to that on the right.   It's that literalist fundamentalism that is set in opposition against a secular government for a religiously plural society; it is against that influence that all progressives, theist & atheist, must work together.

      It's time to start letting sleeping dinosaurs lie, lest we join them in extinction by our consumption of them.

      by Leftcandid on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:47:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well said, and thank you. THis is my position too. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Leftcandid, SilentBrook, janislav

        Both atheists and agnostics, and spiritual/religious people of various beliefs, are involved in the progressive community.  Furthermore, many more religious people should be drawn into progressive politics as the attack on the middle and working classes, and on the biosphere, continue.  It's not productive to polarize against all believers and thereby weaken the progressive alliance.  We DO need to counter the authoritarian fundamentalist religous groups, who are strongly opposed to progressive policies and individual rights.

        I regret that some of the leading New Atheists believe that religion can and should be totally eliminated in a fairly short time frame, and that all religious belief should be aggressively challenged.  What I believe is that we're about to pass the 400 mark for carbon, we have roughly a decade to lay the groundwork for a sustainable energy system if we're going to prevent truly catastrophic levels of global warming, and the eradication of all religion can wait.  Whats crucial now is that the progressive community be inclusive and moving forward on key issues.

        --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

        by Fiona West on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:58:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think that's necessary at all (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Leftcandid

        to the given to task.  As you said:

        When we discuss the Bible accurately--as a compilation of thousands of years of writing, describing a mythologized cultural history, including a profoundly inspirational spirituality, that has been edited at various times by fallible humans with their own agendas--we do the best possible work of challenging & countering literalist fundamentalism...
        I don't think the fundamentalist are even half as literalist is they claim to be.  They are frauds using the Bible for their own political purposes.  I don't take the Bible as the literal word of God, either, but if I did, I wouldn't be able to submit to the kind of sophistry and cherry-picking that they engage in to rationalize the correctness of political views that run counter to the clear calls to help the poor and downtrodden in the Bible.  Leviticus may call for the killing gays, and a literalist can throw that in your face, but when Fundamentalists pluck that cherry out of the Bible to use against their enemies, they are turning a blind eye to the many other important passages that condemn to Hell those who don't help the poor.  And if you read Fundamenatlist websites, you'll see that this does occupy them, explaining away through various types of specious arguments that the things Jesus said don't mean what they seem to say.  

        So don't buy into the crap that they're literalists.  They certainly aren't.  They have a slanted political POV and the Bible is just a tool to promote it.  When it helps, they use it, and when it opposes them, they avoid it and rationalize it away.

        Use it against them.  Expose them for the frauds they are.

      •  Absurd preconceptions. (0+ / 0-)
        One thing I wish we had less of is the tendency for some atheist critics of Christianity to essentially buy into the rightwing version of The Bible....
        In my experience, atheist critics of Christianity (who, studies have shown, tend to be more knowledgeable about Christianity than Christians themselves) merely recognize that "the rightwing version of The Bible" is, in many or most respects, simply more accurate and honest than liberal attempts to conscript that particular compendium of millennia-old mythology for modern progressive ends. We're well aware of both conservative and liberal interpretations of the text; having examined all of the above, we find the former far better argued and supported by the textual evidence.

        It's hardly atheists' fault that liberal interpreters of the Bible routinely preordain their conclusions and then engage in silly rationalizations as backfill. Atheists (and plenty of others) are merely interested in seeking truth with integrity, rather than ginning up reasoning to support preconceived liberal notions that come from outside the text.

        When we discuss the Bible accurately--as a compilation of thousands of years of writing, describing a mythologized cultural history
        ...Created, maintained, and compiled by people who were profoundly ignorant about the world around them and profoundly backward on numerous matters of central moral concern. Yes, how could that possibly lead to false claims of fact and disgusting claims of value?
        including a profoundly inspirational spirituality
        Laughable preconceived bias. You've just declared acceptance of the notion that the Bible contains "a profoundly inspirational spirituality" as an indispensable qualification for anyone who deigns to "accurate" discussion of the Bible. So much for impartial interpretation of a mythological text.

        You're pushing a blinkered religious dogmatism, nothing more.

        ...rather than building up a biblical ignorance on the left as a counterpart to that on the right.
        Dissent from your impenetrable dogma is not "biblical ignorance." It's simply treating Bible interpretation the way we treat any other matter of inquiry into the world around us. You can't rule out dissent from your personal predilections by fiat.
        It's that literalist fundamentalism that is set in opposition against a secular government for a religiously plural society; it is against that influence that all progressives, theist & atheist, must work together.
        And the best way to do that, in this particular context, is to expose the Bible for the ugly, backward, and anachronistic text that it is. What theists and atheists can work together to do is to convince the world to put the Bible on the shelf alongside other volumes of ignorant and backward myth—Norse, Greek, Roman, Islamic—and seek guidance and inspiration from sources that avoid debasing us with absurd superstition and moral abomination.
        [O]ur purpose is to excise from modern life what little of the Bible is being used and also to eliminate the potential use of any sacred scripture as an authority in the modem world. Sacred texts are the problem that most scholars are not willing to confront. What I seek is liberation from the very idea that any sacred text should be an authority for modem human existence. Abolishing human reliance on sacred texts is imperative when those sacred texts imperil the existence of human civilization as it is currently configured. The letter can kill. That is why the only mission of biblical studies should be to end biblical studies as we know it.

         - Hector Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies

        •  Plus not everything (0+ / 0-)

          that Jesus is supposed to have said was wonderful and peaceful.

          The Old Testament doesn't really touch on the subject of Hell - particularly for not accepting him as your Lord and Savior. It's eternal torture for a thoughtcrime. If that's not authoritarian, I don't know what is.

          It was Jesus himself who is quoted as saying that mentally undressing someone with your eyes is the same thing as having sex with him/her and is thus adultery.

          Further, there's still serious, valid questions about whether there really was such a person that existed, not to mention whether these are accurate quotes.

          liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

          by RockyMtnLib on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:20:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ? (0+ / 0-)
            Plus not everything that Jesus is supposed to have said was wonderful and peaceful.
            "Supposed to" according to whom?

            According to the Gospels? Indeed, clearly not; as I've documented elsewhere in this comment section, in the Gospels Jesus says and does a huge number of disgusting things, including threatening genocide on everyone who disputes his reign, condoning slavery and the beating of slaves, spitting racist hatred at a destitute mother desperate to find health care for her sick daughter, and (more often than he communicates any other message whatsoever) shrieking that everyone who defies or opposes him will burn in Hell. To call all of that ugly dreck "not ... wonderful and peaceful" is a bit of an understatement, no?

            But "supposed to" according to Jesus' fans and defenders within liberal political communities? I think you'll have a difficult time getting any of those apologists (non-Christians as well as liberal Christians) to admit that the guy says a single legitimately discouraging word in the entire Gospels. That, obviously, is a position radically at odds with the scriptural text—a contradiction that engenders no little frustration in those of us who are aware of it.

            It's eternal torture for a thoughtcrime. If that's not authoritarian, I don't know what is.
            Agreed!
            It was Jesus himself who is quoted as saying that mentally undressing someone with your eyes is the same thing as having sex with him/her and is thus adultery.
            Indeed. He also promises that when he returns (presumably for Judgment Day), he will order his faithful followers to rob and massacre all of those who would prefer that he not reign over us. Call me crazy, but I'd say that's sort of a negative idea.
            Further, there's still serious, valid questions about whether there really was such a person that existed, not to mention whether these are accurate quotes.
            Actually, for the purposes of this discussion I don't think that's much of an important issue.

            First, if there never "really was such a person that existed' (and you're correct that that's a very real possibility), then what would it mean for the Gospel stories about him to be "accurate" or not? Can we coherently accuse J.K. Rowling of misquoting Harry Potter? (Perhaps more interestingly, can we coherently make that same accusation against Eliezer Yudkowsky?)

            It seems to me that the Jesus that actually matters in the modern world—in which we have no grounds to be confident in any idea about what a "historical Jesus" did or said—is the mythological character in the Gospels. That character exists just as surely as Batman, Sherlock Holmes, and Dora the Explorer do, and it is possible to have perfectly coherent discussions about that character's personality, ethics, behavior, etc. (This is why I try to be consistent about using present-tense verbs when describing Jesus' exploits; we're talking about a character who exists in an overwhelmingly popular story, not an actual person who we can be confident lived at a particular place and time in the real world.)

            Mainstream-to-conservative Christians assert that the Gospels' Jesus was and is a real being. Even if that's not true, in light of the impossibility of knowing anything about a "real" historical person (presuming there even was one) who inspired the Jesus myth, the Jesus that makes a difference in the modern world is the character described in a book that sits on billions of bookshelves. In that light, quibbling about whether the Gospels "accurately" portray Jesus seems to me to make very little sense.

    •  Oh, really? (0+ / 0-)

      Have you actually read the unexpurgated "words of Jesus"?

      But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

       - Jesus, in Luke 19:27


      I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

       - Jesus, in John 15:6


      But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

       - Jesus, in Matthew 8:10-12


      The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

       - Jesus, in Matthew 13:41-42


      Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.

       - Jesus, in Matthew 25:41, 46


      And that servant [slave], which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

       - Jesus, in Luke 12:47


      And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as [Jesus] sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
      And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
      And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

       - Mark 14:3-7 (italics added)


      And from thence [Jesus] arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

      But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.

      And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.

      And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

      - Mark 7:24-30 (italics added)

      And the above leaves out a huge proportion of the continual shrieking that Jesus did about Hell.

      Now. You seriously think that "the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right are the words of Jesus"? What are you going to do when they respond with any or all of the above?

      It's continually astounding how many liberals believe—sight unseen, obviously—that the "words of Jesus" are some kind of progressive wonderland. It's a laughable fantasy, folks. And certain people have been noticing that for a rather long time:

      Now here is a curious thing. It is believed by everybody that while [God] was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel; but that when he came down to earth and assumed the name Jesus Christ, he became the opposite of what he was before: that is to say, he became sweet, and gentle, merciful, forgiving, and all harshness disappeared from his nature and a deep and yearning love for his poor human children took its place. Whereas it was as Jesus Christ that he devised hell and proclaimed it!

      Which is to say, that as the meek and gentle Savior he was a thousand billion times crueler than ever he was in the Old Testament -- oh, incomparably more atrocious than ever he was when he was at the very worst in those old days!

      Meek and gentle? By and by we will examine this popular sarcasm by the light of the hell which he invented.

      - Mark Twain

      •  Your post doesn't make the point (0+ / 0-)

        that I think you want it to make.  For instance:

        And the above leaves out a huge proportion of the continual shrieking that Jesus did about Hell...
        And so?  Your point is?  Jesus was shrieking about hell in the hereafter for those who weren't part of his fan club.  Yup.  But so what?  That has nothing to do with the politics of compassion for the poor and downtrodden that he espoused.  Those quotes may offend both of us as overly aggressive marketing, but they're irrelevant to the topic.  The religious left could throw those same words at the right if they wanted to.  

        The Gospels are also very clear on certainly worldly acts that are the obligation of Christians, obligations that have less to do with the arcane metaphysics of the hereafter and more to do with actual politics.  There is an obligation to help the poor and downtrodden.  Fail at that, and Jesus says, you'll go to Hell.  

        I suppose that's unfair, too, that conservatives who rail against welfare for the poor and waterboarding prisoners are going to be doomed to something as dire as Hell... but that's the tough titty of the Gospels.

        •  WTF? (0+ / 0-)
          Your post doesn't make the point that I think you want it to make.
          Then you clearly have no idea what point it was supposed to make.

          My comment was—shockingly?—a response to your comment, in which you asserted:

          [O]ne of the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right are the words of Jesus.
          Which, given a complete account of "the words of Jesus," is in fact a ridiculous notion... as I then demonstrated.
          And the above leaves out a huge proportion of the continual shrieking that Jesus did about Hell...
          And so?  Your point is?
          "Your point is?"?!? Are you serious?

          In the context of your assertion that the Gospels are some kind of useful weapon for liberalism, the blatantly obvious point of the overwhelming amount of dreck the Jesus character in the Gospels shrieks about Hell is that it demonstrates that said character is a bloodthirsty zealot who advocates responding to people who defy or merely disagree with him by torturing and butchering them. Your notion that that exact character's words, complete with their intricate fantasies about unbelievers and dissenters being brutally tortured, are "one of the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right" is ludicrous.

          The modern Christian Right fantasizes about torturing and butchering their spectral enemies just as savagely as their mythological hero does. That you think said hero's words could be a useful weapon against them is just bizarre.

          Jesus was shrieking about hell in the hereafter for those who weren't part of his fan club.  Yup.  But so what?
          So what? Again, I have a hard time believing you're serious.

          So that—the freakish joy Jesus takes in threatening his enemies with hellfire and damnation—is disgusting. Immoral. Radically illiberal. Utterly divorced from any political notion that's the slightest bit progressive.

          How much gall and callous disregard does it take to greet that with a "so what?"

          I'll also note that you flatly disregarded the entire blockquote. Hell is Jesus' most frequent fixation—but as I just proved, it's far from his only disgustingly immoral one: above I've demonstrated that he's also into threatening genocide, condoning slavery, spitting racist hatred at a desperate mother (who has the ill fortune to be a worthless Greek "dog"), and plenty more reactionary inhumanity. Do you plan to use all that stuff as a "weapon" against the Christian Right as well?

          You decided to ignore all of that, though—reasoning that the Hell stuff was more defensible...?!? (Guess you ignored Twain, too. Pity.)

          Those quotes may offend both of us as overly aggressive marketing, but they're irrelevant to the topic.
          "Irrelevant to the topic"? The subject of eternal torture, to be imposed at the whim of a religious zealot, is "irrelevant to the topic" of responding to the Christian Right?

          Nice try. Fail.

          (And "aggressive marketing"? Eternal torture is just "aggressive marketing"? Your callousness is unbelievable.)

          The Gospels are also very clear on certainly worldly acts that are the obligation of Christians....
          The hell they are. And once again, you're ignoring the very passages I quoted for you that show the opposite.
          There is an obligation to help the poor and downtrodden.  Fail at that, and Jesus says, you'll go to Hell.
          Oh, really? So Jesus went to (and stayed in) Hell then, eh? Given his disgusting "the poor take a back seat as long as I'm around; I'm special, so I deserve my swanky ointment more than they deserve help" declaration in Mark 14:3-7 (which I quoted, and you've once again simply ignored), Jesus himself falls afoul of the "obligation" that you claim the Gospels are "very clear on."

          Ergo you're wrong: the Gospels are in fact not clear on that point, or really on any other point of value to modern liberal politics, at all.

          Look, you can feign ignorance all you'd like about the astounding amount of brutal inhumanity that can be found all over the Bible, very much including the Gospels and Jesus' words and deeds therein. Your willful blindness and denial does nothing to change the actual text.

          Regardless, the entire point of my previous comment (though you've clearly missed it) was to show the gaping holes in your notion that the Gospels are some kind of useful weapon against modern reactionary religious conservatism. If and when you try to use those books in the way you suggest, Christian Right-ists will laugh—because they know, far better than you clearly do, that the Jesus they worship is far more of a barbaric zealot than the worst of fundamentalists themselves. Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson may be disgusting pigs, but neither of them has condoned slavery (and beating slaves) or threatened genocide on every non-Christian in the world. Jesus does both in the Gospels. Fundies know that. The fact that you don't doesn't change what's in the Bible.

          •  What part of my original title, (0+ / 0-)

            "I'm not a Christian, but," did you not understand? I don't defend or condone Christianity and feel no obligation to.  If Hell is disgusting to you, I say, fine, that part disgusts me too, and I don't believe in it, and I'm not a Christian.

            HOWEVER (back to the point, since this is about having a point to make) the disgustingness or factual incorrectness of any facet of Christianity is irrelevant to whether it's theologically more compatible with the right or the left.

            You try to make a point, and you're really, really stretching things here, that Hell is an endorsement of torturing "your enemies."  That's creative.  I tend to see it just as I put it -- successful religions spread themselves through some marketing scheme, and telling people that not believing will send you to hell is a good idea.  I don't endorse the idea of Hell.  And if you can control the urge to hyperbole, you might be willing to grant that Hell is not itself offered up as a model of how humans should treat each other.

            This is the lynchpin, Matthew 25:35, the sheep and the goats.

            he Sheep and the Goats

            31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? 38When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? 39Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you? 40And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me. 41Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

            If you want to have some fun, google up Jesus+Socialism+goats+sheep and read the rationalizations on some christian right webpages for why this passage doesn't mean anything that it says it means.  This is the point I was making. I don't defend nor feel the need to defend Christianity, but I'm at least aware enough of the Bible to know how far from the text the "literalists" of the right take things.
            •  Oy. (0+ / 0-)
              What part of my original title, "I'm not a Christian, but," did you not understand?
              You seem to have a very difficult time staying on topic. Your status as a Christian or non-Christian is utterly irrelevant to this exchange. You have made claims about Christianity, and I have rebutted those claims. It makes no difference whatsoever what (if any) religious beliefs either one of us holds; our claims and objections stand and fall on their own merits. Why you insist on tilting at ad hominem windmills I have no idea.
              I don't defend or condone Christianity....
              Yeah, sure. If you want to pretend that your "one of the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right are the words of Jesus" line, and the efforts you have exerted to defend it (or, more often, to distract attention from it and talk about something—anything—else) don't amount to "defend[ing] or condon[ing] Christianity," knock yourself out. Your disingenuousness is pretty funny, but it's really neither here nor there with regard to the point in contention.
              If Hell is disgusting to you, I say, fine, that part disgusts me too, and I don't believe in it, and I'm not a Christian.
              Which, again, has nothing to do with anything. The reality you simply refuse to face is that the obscenity of hell entirely undermines your notion that "the words of Jesus" are "one of the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right." The Gospels' Hell shows that you're wrong, because that Hell is not only disgusting, it's directly parallel to the manner in which the Christian Right wants to treat all of us who defy them. To those millions upon millions of people who do, unlike you, believe in it, the Gospel Jesus' fervent support for the degeneracy of Hell is a massive point in favor of Christian Right governance.

              You simply refuse to consider this problem. You also simply refuse to notice that the Gospels' Jesus supports, in word and deed, several other notions that are (1) disgustingly immoral and, more to the point here, (2) closely parallel to Christian Right notions of proper social policy. "I'm not a Christian" and other attempts to evade the issue do nothing to rebut the massive problems these textual realities present for your "one of the greatest weapons" thesis. A thesis that just happens to be the thing we're talking about, if you stoop to consider such procedural trifles.

              [T]he disgustingness or factual incorrectness of any facet of Christianity is irrelevant to whether it's theologically more compatible with the right or the left.
              "Theologically more compatible"? WTF is that supposed to mean?

              The Gospels have a number of overwhelmingly blatant messages. Several very consequential examples of these are entirely congruent with Christian Right inhumanity. What in the world does "theological compatibility" have to do with anything?

              You try to make a point, and you're really, really stretching things here, that Hell is an endorsement of torturing "your enemies."  That's creative.
              Uh, no, it clearly isn't. "That" is the bloody obvious message of the Gospels' entire treatment of Hell, as is clear from both the plain text and from two thousand years of Christian history interpreting and applying it.

              Jesus makes clear that those who defy his dictates and thus earn the title "wicked" (Matthew 13:47-50, Luke 19:22-27) or "evil" (John 5:28-29) will be subjected to freakish torture. That is precisely what the Gospels depict, over and over and over again. It's simply absurd to pretend that the utterly standard "Gospel truth" about the nature of Hell and how one winds up in it is somehow "creative" or out-of-left-field. It's flatly de rigueur historical Christianity, thousands of years old. What in the world are you talking about instead?

              I tend to see it just as I put it -- successful religions spread themselves through some marketing scheme....
              Then you are simply refusing to apply the slightest amount of seriousness or intellectual honesty to consideration of the issue you yourself raised.

              You cannot actually think that you can use a religious text as an ideological "weapon" against people who fervently believe the text to be true by presupposing that one of the most important ideas asserted in it is a mere "marketing scheme." The interpretation you have just presented is an entirely secular (if not indeed atheistic) gloss on the Gospels. How in the world do you expect to use those books against fundamentalist believers if your approach requires everyone involved to accept that the story the books tell isn't actually true?

              It would appear that you're flatly refusing to think seriously about what these texts say and what millions of Christians, both within the "Christian Right" and without it, believe about them.

              I don't endorse the idea of Hell.
              Who cares what you endorse? The Christian Right heartily endorses the idea of Hell. And the Jesus character in the Gospels does so even more fervently. Therefore your notion that the Gospels are a useful weapon against the Christian Right is refuted.
              This is the lynchpin, Matthew 25:35, the sheep and the goats.
              According to whom? You? The self-declared non-Christian non-defender-of-Christianity? What kind of authority do you have to declare that particular passage "the lynchpin" of Jesus' policy (which is expressed in a huge number of other passages as well) on Hell? What textual evidence is there that that passage overrules any other? Do you have anything to present here that you're not simply pulling out of your ass?
              And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
              Do you really have no idea that Christian fundamentalists read this as encompassing, for example, their own
              "righteous" defense of "the least of these my brothers" that they call 'unborn children'? Or 'ex-gays'? Or poor unfortunate souls burdened by heathen religions who haven't heard the Good News of the Gospel?

              This "lynchpin" passage of yours is entirely consistent with right-wing Christian ideas about the Clash of Civilizations they are in with other religions, secular skepticism, and heretical 'pseudo-Christianity' alike. They cast themselves in that passage as the righteous believers awarded with Heaven, while the liberals and evolutionists and multiculturalists they despise have their supposed self-righteousness mocked and dismissed by a Hell-waving Jesus. At the end, the "righteous" follow Rousas Rushdoony, Francis Schaeffer, Jerry Falwell, and other such heroes into "life eternal," while the wretched rest of us "go away into everlasting punishment."

              That fundamentalist gloss on Matthew 25:31-46 (it might help you to cite it correctly) is at least as plausible as the liberal gloss that you presuppose without evidently actually thinking about it. Indeed, given the ending in verse 46, the bloodthirsty right-wing reading is considerably more congruent with the text, given (as you've conceded) the obscenity of "everlasting punishment" on any ethical grounds that betray the slightest hint of humanism.

              If you want to have some fun, google up Jesus+Socialism+goats+sheep and read the rationalizations on some christian right webpages for why this passage doesn't mean anything that it says it means.
              Those aren't "rationalizations"; they're explanations, and typically far more logical and honest ones than you have provided here, for why there's not the slightest bit of conflict between that detestable Gospel passage and the detestable program of fundamentalist Christianity.
              I don't defend nor feel the need to defend Christianity, but I'm at least aware enough of the Bible to know how far from the text the "literalists" of the right take things.
              You've shown nothing of the kind. The only thing "far from the text" in this exchange has been your absurd evasion, both refusing to face the long list of Gospel Jesus obscenities I posted (regarding genocide, slavery, overt racism, etc.) and pretending that a straightforward myth about eternal punishment is a mere "marketing scheme."

              You want "far from the text"? Try your "marketing scheme" bit. It's hard to imagine a more text-free interpretation than that one.

              Fundamentalist Christians have textual arguments. So do you. Thanks in large part to your disingenuousness and your unexamined liberal and secular preconceptions, theirs are vastly stronger.

  •  We still need (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, blueoasis

    Occupy.Where did it go?We need it back right now?Throw the bums out of office

    •  We weren't prepared to fight for Zuccotti (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      So this happened.

    •  Some from OWS (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, SilentBrook

      have been in Arkansas doing guerrilla reporting on the tar sands spill here! You can see some of their reporting at tarsandsblockade.org. I don't know if the KXL resistance in Oklahoma includes former OWS participants, but their activism is in that spirit.

      Of course, grannnies chaining themselves to machinery otherwise "occupying" work on KXL in Oklahoma aren't covered by the corporate media, but it's really inspiring to see it ongoing. (More at the link above.)

      "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

      by cotterperson on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:46:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are as much in charge of Occupy as anyone else (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alexforgue, Quicklund, SilentBrook

      If you want it back where you live, you need to step up and make it happen.  I was active for over a year and half and got fed up of meeting after meeting and the diffusion of the vision away from "Wall Street" to include every problem under the sun.  I have now found people who are actually actively 'being the change'.  

       I also got really tired of people saying things along the lines of "you Occupy people should do X" and when asking that person to step up and take the lead to make it happen, that person would invariably  disappear.    

      And after days up days of  people bash religious folks non-stop, Brother Dave still brought soup and hot chocolate every night to people camped in the park anyway.  It was incredibly refreshing to see Occupy Sandy work with churches in NYC.

  •  My 2nd biggest problem with religion (5+ / 0-)

    (behind all the justification for hatred) is that I don't understand why people would want to delude themselves.  Your religion is obviously not extra-ordinary (its a basic truism that the 100's now practices or 1000's ever practiced can't all be true), so what makes people take comfort in an illusion.  Just have the strength of character to interact with the world the way it is and not the way you want it to be.  Reality doesn't give a damn about us and our feelings, its not that hard to come to accept that, it just takes some time.

    "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

    by Auburn Parks on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:07:13 AM PDT

    •  Religion helps people deal with things they (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      beanbagfrog, AgavePup, SilentBrook

      otherwise couldn't deal with.  Some people just don't have the "strength of character" when a loved one dies to just say "that's that and life sucks" and prefer to think of an alternative when they'll be reunited with the people they love.  I know I'm not that strong.  

      I hope that adequately answered your obnoxious question.

    •  Sometimes you hit rock bottom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson

      Life is full of evil.

    •  Do you derive absolutely no joy nor comfort (5+ / 0-)

      no sense of expansion or transport ever from any type of art, literature, music, poetry, etc? If you do, what makes you "take comfort in an illusion"? People are positively moved by things, in ways that they don't understand; this can happen through experiences of love, friendship, art, religion, spirituality, crisis, emergency all kinds of things. That which is moved, call it "spirit" or "soul" or "heart" or "my true self" or "what makes me human" etc. & so forth--call it even just a concatenation of biochemicophysiological processes--is common to all, in our humanity, and should be the basis of compassion.

      There are moments when the body is as numinous as words, days that are the good flesh continuing. -- Robert Hass

      by srkp23 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:05:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If religion is no better than art (4+ / 0-)

        then it is worthless.  Why have it?  Why not just have art and get rid of the dross that speaks from the pulpit?

        The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

        by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:51:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why have art if it is worthless? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hammerhand
          •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rieux

            its tautological that the worthless has no worth, so, there could be no reason to have it.  

            Most people spend most of their day with art: music, drama, sport, text, visual representations.  Its the stuff of every day. So, few would argue that art is worthless.  

            Nonetheless, I agree with your assessment.  But religion is supposedly better than art in that something rides on it that does not ride on art: eternal life, redemption, salvation, holiness, peace of mind, etc.  Very high values.  

            If all that religion has going for it is the stuff we get from art, then we might as well keep the art and toss the dross.  

            The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

            by not2plato on Wed May 01, 2013 at 08:33:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  It's not quite like you think (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Satya1, SilentBrook

      It's true that most of us religious people believe that some things are true that we can't prove scientifically. But the part about "your religion is not extraordinary" -- as if we were in a competition to determine the one, true, correct religion -- doesn't generally apply to religious progressives. For one thing, many religious people do not, in fact, believe that their religion is the only "true" one. Many of us are aware that more than one religion has wisdom and helps people connect with God. Many of us interpret parts of our religions as metaphors. I happen to believe that Jesus literally -- not metaphorically -- rose from the dead, but other aspects of Catholic teaching (such as hell) I interpret as metaphor, and I'm not at all unusual in that. (Some believe that the Resurrection is a metaphor too, and at least at this point in the development of Western Civilization, people can hold such views without being burned at the stake.) I have no difficulty believing that all the many religions that have come and gone in the history of humankind have helped people connect with God (though I believe the Christian tradition is unique in some ways). So the whole "Everybody knows Poseidon was just a myth, so why believe in the Christian God" argument doesn't work for me.

      Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

      by Noisy Democrat on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:08:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you believe in Jesus (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mathGuyNTulsa

        then tolerating other beliefs is inconsistent: all of the other ones have to be false if your belief is true.

        The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

        by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:50:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your assertion is not true. (4+ / 0-)

          Belief in Jesus does not mean the rest of the religions are false.

          If nothing else, there is amazing consistency between religions at their core.

          The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

          by dfarrah on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:47:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No there is not (0+ / 0-)

            Judaism does not mention Jesus.  Inconsistency.  

            Islam denies the divinity of Jesus.  Inconsistency.  

            Hinduism is not consistent with X'nity.  

            Need I go on?  

            You are imagining things.  

            The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

            by not2plato on Wed May 01, 2013 at 08:24:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's your interpretation (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Noisy Democrat, SilentBrook

          People are free to formulate their own. Set down the broad brush.

        •  Jesus never said that all other religions were (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund, SilentBrook

          false. I honestly don't know where you're getting the idea that it's somehow a cornerstone of Christianity that all other religions are false. Sure, different Christian denominations have pushed that idea when it was to their political advantage to do so -- but to make it a basic tenet of the faith? Nuh-uh.

          Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

          by Noisy Democrat on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 11:21:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I recall... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rieux

            that Jesus said I am the way and the light, not a way and a light. There is also something biblical about not worshiping false idols. Not my club so make up the rules how you like, but I was under the impression that those were tenets.

            This makes about as much sense as Mike Huckabee on mescaline. - Prodigal 2-6-2008

            by Tonedevil on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 12:39:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Two comments (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SilentBrook

              The part about not worshipping false idols is an instruction to the Jewish People and, by extension, to the Christians -- but that isn't the same as saying that we're required to believe that all other religions are actually worshipping false idols, much less that we have to hunt them down and force them to worship our way.

              Yes, we do believe that Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the light," but we also think there is a multitude of ways to take that. To take one, assume it's a simple statement of fact but a very strong claim: He's saying, "I'm here, God incarnate, right in front of you; I am He." Still no instruction there that everyone has to worship him using the name of Jesus, or that anyone who thinks He (God) should be called by a different name or who has a completely different image of Him (God) is somehow bad and wrong. And there are plenty of other ways of interpreting the statement as well.

              Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

              by Noisy Democrat on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:53:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  p.s. just in case anyone really wants to dig in (0+ / 0-)

                the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament") and pull up quotes about "smash their idols and cut down their sacred groves" -- those were instructions to the Jews for what they should do inside the land of Israel (then Canaan). Those verses are the basis for current dispute over whether Jews should allow Christians to have icons in Jerusalem, but they have absolutely no bearing on anything anyone does anywhere else in the world; they're entirely about how the Jewish People could maintain its purity inside the Land of Israel. This is one of the big differences between Judaism and Islam in terms of doctrine concerning how to deal with outsiders -- Judaism doesn't have a call to subdue the gentiles all over the world, only to occupy the Land of Israel. Christians, on the other hand, do have a charge to bring the Good News to the entire world, but not to kill, torture or in any way coerce anyone. I won't deny that some Christians get confused on that point, but I don't see anywhere in the Bible that Jesus told us to go out and twist arms.

                Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

                by Noisy Democrat on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:59:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  As I said... (0+ / 0-)

                it's not my party make up the rules as you see fit. I just remember a very religious fellow I worked with once used that the way not a way line on a "spiritual not religious" woman while they were having a lunchtime debate about God.

                This makes about as much sense as Mike Huckabee on mescaline. - Prodigal 2-6-2008

                by Tonedevil on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 02:01:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Like I said, there are plenty of interpretations (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Tonedevil

                  My point is just that any argument "If you believe in Jesus, you must believe that all other religions are wrong" isn't going to hold together unless you build in a whole lot of other assumptions which many Christians don't subscribe to.

                  Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

                  by Noisy Democrat on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 02:03:24 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Its not a matter of what Jesus said (0+ / 0-)

            its a matter of logic.  

            If Jesus is true then the other religions are not.  Simple, eh?

            The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

            by not2plato on Wed May 01, 2013 at 08:27:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  You clearly don't understand the purpose (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDsg, cotterperson, SilentBrook

      of religion (and your sig illustrates it perfectly).

      Science answers a lot of the questions that there are about the way the world works. If you want to know why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, science is your goto. If you want to understand how life evolves over time, then again, science is the way to go.

      The problem is, after you mature, you start to realize that:

      1. There is more to science than you could ever know in a thousand lifetimes, and a large percentage of it is irrelevant to daily life.

      2. The sort of questions that science answers aren't of much use when determining how one should live.

      Religion answers the questions of "How should I live? What is my purpose? How should I treat others? What is right conduct?" "How do I cope with obstacles or tragedy?"

      So until you can come up with scientific answers for those fundamental questions (and you can't), there will continue to be religion if one form or another.

    •  To this (0+ / 0-)
      Just have the strength of character to interact with the world the way it is and not the way you want it to be.
      To me the world, the universe are vast places and my limited allotment of time and experience is so miniscule.  My mind and five senses can't comprehend all that is visible, let alone that which is not.  I can't pretend to know "the world the way it is" but only my own tiny piece of experience with it.

      There are literally billions of ways of experiencing reality and many ways I will never learn of during my short life.  I have no standing to claim I know reality and another human doesn't.

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:53:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Remember, when someone asks, (8+ / 0-)

    "What would Jesus do?" tell them that flipping tables of greedy and wealthy criminals that bilk the common people, and then taking a bullwhip to their sorry ass is an available alternative.

    •  Also: (0+ / 0-)

      * Denying health care to a desperate mother on racist grounds, complete with racist taunt flung at said mother. (Mark 7:24-30.)

      * Promising to order his followers to rob and massacre everyone who disputes his reign. (Luke 19:12-27.)

      * Condoning slavery and citing, with approval, the fact that masters beat their disobedient slaves. (Luke 12:47.)

      * Mocking his disciples for arguing that it's better to give money to the poor rather than lavish swanky luxuries on Jesus himself—because, as Jesus tells them, "ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always." (Mark 14:3-7.)

      And, more frequently than he delivers any message whatsoever (many times more than he talks about love):

      * Threatening anyone who defies him or disputes his message with Hell. (Many, many times, including Matthew 5:22, 5:29-30, 8:10-12, 10:28, 11:23-24, 13:41-42, 13:47-50, 18:7-9, 23:14-15, 23:29-33, 25:40-46; Mark 3:28-29, 9:43-49, 12:38-40; Luke 3:7-9, 10:10-15, 12:4-5, 16:22-31, 20:46-47; John 5:28-29, 15:6....)

      This is by no means an exhaustive list.

      May I ask why your account of "what Jesus would do" left out every one of the huge number of Gospel passages in which what he does is horrifically illiberal and awful?

      •  Dude - I'm not a Bible scholar (0+ / 0-)

        ... and not looking for a fight.

        •  You made a bald assertion (0+ / 0-)

          about how we should discuss the behavior of Jesus. You're advocating responding to "WWJD?" by citing a single episode in the Gospels—rather than, for example, by arguing that the behavior of a character in a millennia-old myth is not a good foundation for discussions of ethics or public policy in the modern world.

          Like it or not, making declarations like yours puts you in the arena, in the free marketplace of ideas, in which it becomes fair game to point out the deep flaws with your position—for instance, the fact that you are severely cherry-picking your example.

          Your decision to cite moneylenders in the temple implicitly accepts that the Gospels' Jesus is a figure worth emulating, and freakish fundamentalists can and do capitalize on that thoughtless assumption by pointing out all of the horrific things that that character does and says in the Gospels. In the actual Gospel text, as the fundies know (and it would appear you don't), the character is not remotely a liberal hero. The strategy you advocate gives fundies license to cite all of the Gospels' Jesus' horrific inhumanity as direct support for their every horrific policy preference, from indoctrination to torture.

          You staked out a position regarding the proper treatment of a certain religious myth in public discourse. That position, whether you like it or not, is subject to some very serious criticism. If you're "not looking for a fight," perhaps you should think twice before shooting your mouth off on a subject it would appear you know little about.

  •  Thanks for this. (8+ / 0-)

    Recently had an argument with a religious left friend of mine.

    It's hard for me to look at religion positively after experiencing what it's like to grow up in a very conservative Christian household and church (evangelical Presbyterian). For me, it's been difficult to understand how religion and liberal views are able to mix and I would like to start making  a more concerted effort to understand. So again, thanks for posting this. :)

  •  Saying religion is good/bad is like saying the (10+ / 0-)

    same for civilization.  They are giant, overarching, multifacted sub- and supercontexts of existence.  Some form of religious expression & culture has arisen everywhere as the result of spiritual experience, & a following impulse for social organization based on the desire to derive meaning from those experiences.  Like every other aspect of human life, this can go well or poorly.

    Yes, it is good/bad; some parts of it much more so.  There are many reasons why people feel more strongly about it, generally based on personal experience.  Religions are invariably influenced by the cultures in which they develop, even if at first they challenge some of the attitudes of the culture.  

    Our contemporary misfortune is the propensity of large religions to reflect the culture back at itself & reinforce it in a kind of positive feedback loop, thus becoming obstacles to change in significant ways by preserving all traditions, rather than applying a critical eye to old ways, via the powerfully described morality they claim to put first.  This is the tendency of patriarchs to wield the Bible as an unquestionable authority-cultural weapon on matters like being LGBT or a woman, in order to preserve not the spiritual core of Christianity in the example of Jesus, but rather patriarchal authority of the sort that existed thousands of years ago & is inescapably manifest in the Bible.  There's a similarity of mindset between Biblical literalists & Constitutional Strict Constructuralists: both are inclined to see the whole text as an inviolable, permanent truth, rather than describing very high ideals as components of a great truth at certain points in time.  Just as the Religious Right denies the great span of time in the Bible, & the huge moral changes that take place across it, so do the ostensible worshippers of our needlessly mythologized Founding Fathers conveniently forget that their newly-ratified Constitution was in short order Amended ten times.

    And just as in the corporate environment, it seems that manipulative, charismatic, possibly psychopathic leaders are more likely to succeed in creating a large, megachurch following by focusing on a more tribal, less inclusive mindset in their communities.  The social-cohesion role that religion plays can become beneficial or harmful depending on who is doing the talking.  The more that a community is involved in their church--the more bottom-up rather than top-down--as with government, the better things tend to be.  

    It's time to start letting sleeping dinosaurs lie, lest we join them in extinction by our consumption of them.

    by Leftcandid on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:29:39 AM PDT

  •  I was raised by christians (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noisy Democrat, Amayi, SilentBrook

    And then I got over it when I was 19 or 20.  

    19 or 20 years later, I realized how much clandestine spirituality there is in the world, even among people who call themselves communists.

    So I'm back to square one.  The bottom line is: people tell lies.

  •  Liberal Catholic, here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, SilentBrook

    and I attend a church in Boston that's very progressive. Thanks so much for speaking up.

    Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

    by Noisy Democrat on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:57:10 AM PDT

  •  As has been pointed out... (5+ / 0-)

    and as any Athiest should acknowledge, that there are indeed liberal Christians who step forward at times as has been described in this diary.

    The problem is they are a silent majority, they are a majority who seemingly has expended no effort whatsoever to counter the hate of the christianist.

    I have no doubt the things mentioned in this diary are correct, or even the things mentioned by other liberal christians in the comments that followed. They are laudable and worthy of mention.

    But until the liberal leaders (majority?) of the church step forward and vociferously counter the haters (minority?) in your religion it doesnt matter. Because of the silence of this majority, the minority has sway and it is this minority that is dragging down the country and your religion at the same time.

    I am an athiest, I respect your right to believe and to worship as you see fit. If your church leaders really felt the same way would they stand for the minority trying to foist their beliefs on the rest of the country?

    •  Certainly progressive religious leaders could do (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gorgonza, SilentBrook

      more but it's also a matter of both the lack of major media outlets and the respect progressive religious people have others belief/nonbelief.  We tend to be quieter and not insist government be used as a tool to push our religion onto others as the right does.  I don't often tell my progressive friends of my beliefs because in my experience I get ridiculed or I have to immediately supply a scientific proof of God.  

      It's been my experience that atheists who were raised in fundamentalist, right wing household will often adopt the same tone and insistence on being right and derision of others that their fundamentalist families have.  

      •  You make a very good point... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mathGuyNTulsa

        Let me first express that I am saddened that you dont feel you can express your beliefs to friends who would then belittle you over them, that is wrong in my opinion but then I cant imagine belittling a friend of mine.

        I have many very religious friends, one family has given me standing invitations to their easter and thanksgiving dinners. They know full well my position and they give me no grief over it, and I reciprocate.

        My complaint isnt about individual parishoners for the most part, unless for example they are parishoners of Westboro. My complaint is about the church itself, and it is the leaders of the liberal Christian majority I hold in contempt for their silence, not individual members.

        There is no lack of mass media outlets for them, the right wing certainly manages to find ample supply. Not long ago a single church managed to make newswhen they said they would cease to perform straight marriages until  gay marriages are allowed, if that single church can find a mass media outlet certainly the rest could.

        Some estimates predict roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the US, of those about 314,000 are protestant and other christian sects, 24,000 are catholic and orthodox. If liberal christianity is a majority, it shouldnt take any major effort to get say 1,000 of these churches to step forward, take out a one page ad in the New York Times saying they will perform gay marriages (for example). Even that significant minority (of the majority) would be newsworthy. As it stands, with only one church stating as much in public, it reinforces the belief that liberal christians are the significant minority.

        The maxim is Qui tacet consentiret: the maxim of the law is "Silence gives consent". Right now Liberal Christians seem to be consenting and until they stand up and be heard, their majority is irrelevant.

    •  This sounds like the logic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook, JDsg

      Republicans ask Muslims to demonstrate to show their religion isn't one of terrorists.

      http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/ Jesus Loves You.

      by DAISHI on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 12:53:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the media gives a lot more weight (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook, A Citizen

      to the evangelical/fundamentalist churches, even when they represent the minority opinion. In New Mexico, when we started the fight to allow same sex marriage, the Albuq. Journal ran a story on the 20 religious leaders who opposed it -- and completely ignored the 200 who supported it. (Sorry, can't find a link for that.)

      Anytime the pope says anything about gays or abortion it gets splattered all over the front page. When John Paul II said the U.S. invasion of Iraq was immoral, it got mentioned in The National Catholic Reporter, and nowhere else.

      It's possible that this has nothing to do with an intentional effort to keep the rabble bickering amongst themselves.

      There is not such a cradle of democracy upon this earth as the Free Public Library

      by gorgonza on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:10:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are indeed correct... (0+ / 0-)

        ...in that observation it is no doubt the case. Seems to me then, the only solution to that is to increase the amount of dialog by the liberal side, not reduce it, or write it off as futile.

  •  I am a proud member of the religious left as well. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Satya1, SilentBrook

    I grew up hearing about the civil rights struggle. My uncle was an original Freedom Rider, my mother organized on the campus of Tennessee State University. Her side of the family was Baptist; my father raised us Church of Christ. I left CoC at about 13 but not my faith. I attend services of differing faiths and non-denominational services as well. As a person of faith, I get the opportunity to correct other "faithful" as to why I support LGBT, fellow minorities, the poor, oppressed, undocumented workers and civilians in war zones. I get the opportunity to explain, even in church sponsored settings, why our faith doesn't dictate the nation's laws any more than Muslims or Zoroastrianists. I get to explain to African American faithful that there were both religious and pseudo scientific support for slavery, segregation, and not allowing race mixing. I get to explain to religious right members the hypocrisy of supporting state efforts against the Supreme Court ruling on abortion while finding 2nd amendment rights absolute but ready to amend the Constitution or deny rights to everyone else (Tsarnaev, minority voters, union members). Thank you for this diary. There are many of us faithful that fight on the front lines and are faithful to science and reason as well.

  •  Yes but (9+ / 0-)

    Yes, the religious left has a lot of good people, doing good things.

    But that's just it: Good people do good things.  By definition.  Whether they're religious or not.  Truly good people don't need supernatural prodding to do good.

    The problem with tolerating religion is that it means tolerating all of the bad stuff that comes along with it -- even for liberal religions.  The bad stuff is different for each religion, of course -- and even for each denomination -- but most religions have at least some.

    But one thing that almost all religions share is a promotion of the idea of faith.  Blind faith, usually.  The idea that there is something out there, something which none of our earthly senses can perceive, which no experiment can prove or disprove... yet you should believe it exists anyway.  The idea that truth can be realized without investigation, without reasoned thought is and should be abhorrent.

    That is the problem with religion.  It teaches our children that there are basic facts -- in fact, perhaps the most important fact possible -- the truth of which we cannot know, and that they should simply take an authority figure's word that what they say is true, since there's no way to prove it.

    It is that dangerous thinking that leads to the worst practices and behaviors of the Religious Right... but the Religious Left are enablers.

    •  Science tells us that there are elements in the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook

      universe that cannot be perceived with a human being's "earthly senses". I can't perceive dark matter for example.  I cannot hear subsonic sounds.  Might these limitations also apply to our 'reason'?  

      •  Expand your concepts (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rieux

        Of course, our "earthly senses" can detect subsonic sounds... if we use our intellect to construct devices that can detect them.  Or to understand how we can observe their other effects.

        God, on the other hand, is explicitly defined as unknowable and unobservable.  One cannot devise an experiment or construct a device that can detect God.  One cannot even theorize an explanation for God.  That is what separates religious belief from observable, testable phenomena.

    •  Intellectual dishonesty (3+ / 0-)

      is common to all religions

      The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

      by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:48:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thomas Merton would say to this: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook
      The idea that truth can be realized without investigation, without reasoned thought is and should be abhorrent.
      That genuine faith is not irrational  but suprarational.

      That is also how I understand and experience it.

      But in practice I know what you're saying and most of the time I view most of the noisy evangelical "Christians" as a bunch of  idol worshipers.

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:12:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Suprarational? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mathGuyNTulsa, Rieux

        There is no such thing.  People have claimed for eons to have mystical powers of knowing ultimate things.  This is just another word for instinct, esp, clairvoyance, or intuition -- in other words, another religious lie.  

        What you have is the same as the rest of us -- a brain, 5 senses, a language and history.  

        Have at it.  

        But don't pretend you have another tool you don't have, because honesty is an actual obligation (and no, your religion does not get you off the hook for that).  

        The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

        by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:24:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SilentBrook

          Guess you sure told me!  Except you completely misunderstood me and have no idea what I'm talking about.

          Toodles!

          I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

          by Satya1 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 11:10:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil
            Except you completely misunderstood me and have no idea what I'm talking about.
            Another possibility is that you weren't actually "talking about" anything coherent at all—that your whole "not irrational but suprarational" is an empty, meaningless dodge you've concocted as an excuse for (1) being happily irrational and (2) considering yourself entirely immune from criticism for it.

            ...A dodge you then followed through on by claiming anyone who criticizes your move must necessarily have "completely misunderstood" it.

            What a hermetically-sealed worldview, entirely impenetrable to challenge.

            Gee, how could anyone ever think that religion is a bad idea?

            •  I think it is wonderful of you (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Hammerhand, JDsg

              to take time out of your busy day to come participate in this diary about tolerance toward religious people.

              It's times like this that make me think I'm wasting my time trying to help others through volunteer work.  What good is that when I can come here and discuss abstractions endlessly and be corrected for the phony that I so obviously am?  And it is terrific motivation for forming coalitions with my open minded atheist sisters and brothers.  After all being constantly told by folks such as yourself that we live our lives based on illusion should motivate us to get more involved with you on these common political goals.

              It's fantastic that you've got 99.9% of reality figured out and are willing to share your brilliance with us poor deluded fools.  Sure you have no idea what my life experience has been, but it doesn't matter!  You've deduced it all with your magnificent mind.  You've obviously studied the universe seriously and all the history and forces in societies around the globe that form the experiences of billions of humans.  You've got the inside track on The Truth and you're willing to share generous portions of it.

              Ciao for now...

              I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

              by Satya1 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:30:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Wow. (0+ / 0-)

                The wounded privilege is strong in this one.

                I think it is wonderful of you to take time out of your busy day to come participate in this diary about tolerance toward religious people.
                This comment of yours, like the diary above it, proceeds from the fundamentally evil premise that it is unethical to call religious ideas into question—that is, to treat religious ideas the way it is uncontroversially acceptable to treat every other kind of idea in the world. Both diary and comment are ugly stains on any community that purports to value the free marketplace of ideas.
                And it is terrific motivation for forming coalitions with my open minded atheist sisters and brothers.  After all being constantly told by folks such as yourself that we live our lives based on illusion should motivate us to get more involved with you on these common political goals.
                That's flatly disgusting.

                You clearly have a notion that you, as a religious believer with all the privilege that that status affords you, are entitled to launch your religious ideas (e.g., "[G]enuine faith is not irrational but suprarational. That is also how I understand and experience it.") into the public discourse at will, whereas we who disagree with your ideas and find them self-serving, irrational, and empty are obligated to shut up and never say a discouraging word about any notion that flits across your overwhelmingly entitled mind.

                You badly need to grow up. By offering up your notions about faith in the free marketplace, you are accepting responsibility for the fact that other people are entitled to disagree, and to do so openly and directly. If you can preach the wonders of faith, it is flatly an outrage for you to demand that contrary assertions (for example, that faith is not wonderful) be silenced. And yet here you are, asserting the power and privilege to decree that all who disagree with you stay quiet and let you preach unchallenged.

                Now you pile on, in your fit of pique: if we scummy atheists dare to ignore your privilege to bind and gag us, you'll decide to abandon "common political goals."

                Do you even listen to yourself? And what you're saying?

                "GLBTs need equal rights? Fuck them"; that would require alliances with those nasty atheists who dared to treat your beliefs the way you treat ideas that you think are false and destructive.

                "Climate change? Who cares?" Again, those ugly atheists are all over it.

                "Economic injustice? Bah"; the poor can kiss your ass. Obviously your religious privilege, your right to preach your religion without fear of ever being contradicted, is more important than the poor.


                It is unbelievable how far wounded privilege will drive members of an ignorant hegemon to go to deny things they supposedly believe in. But in the end, it matters little: back here in the free marketplace of ideas, those of us who recognize the fallacy inherent in religious belief and the destruction it wreaks aren't going to shut up just because you impotently demand that we do so. If that leads you to abandon political causes that you supposedly care about, then it would appear that protecting your hothouse-flower beliefs from the slightest challenge is more important to you than actual suffering human beings are.

                Which once again leads to the rhetorical question: how could anyone ever think that religion is a bad idea?

                •  Wounded, schmounded (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JDsg, Hammerhand

                  LOL

                  Your claim about merely, "calling into question" religious ideas is transparent.  Your stance begins with the premise that I have nothing to offer in the way of ideas, but you've decided to engage me anyway.

                  Guess what?

                  I'm not interested in wasting my time attempting to discuss my experience and thoughts on the subject to someone who really doesn't want a mutually respectful discussion.  Is that so hard to understand?

                  No, I'm not feeling wounded.  Nor am I avoiding disagreement.  I just think it is hilarious that you think I should not see where you're coming from.  The ultimate irony is that you're doing it in a diary about tolerance for religious people but you've obviously got zero respect for them.  The irony is that insults are slung at people of faith in this thread while in other threads of the diary they're being called upon to take a more active political role among progressives at this blog.

                  IT.  IS.  TO.  LAUGH.

                  So this has been amusing, but I really have higher priorities to move on to.  If you should change your mind and want to have a respectful discussion with another individual who may have experiences different than yours, I am at your service.  But if you've got your mind made up and just need fodder for "calling religion into question", then  all the best to you and that's my last word on the subject.

                  I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

                  by Satya1 on Wed May 01, 2013 at 05:43:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ridiculous. (0+ / 0-)
                    Your stance begins with the premise that I have nothing to offer in the way of ideas, but you've decided to engage me anyway.
                    The hell it does. As our exchange has made clear, I'm well aware that you have something "to offer": self-satisfied hot air propped up by hegemonic power and privilege. That happens to be something that's solidly bad on multiple levels (e.g., on the merits of such nonsense as "not irrational but suprarational," and in the implications of your attacks on the ability of irreligious minorities to speak truth to power-such-as-yours), but it's still something. And thus we've had a discussion, combative as it's been.

                    I daresay there are plenty of lurkers on the sideline who stand to benefit from the exchange—from your attempts to use privilege and a hegemon's unjust social power to silence criticism of your ideas, and from my attempts to smack that prejudiced garbage down. Thankfully, it's not your mind in particular that I'm trying to change.

                    Nor am I avoiding disagreement.
                    "Avoiding"? Well, you are now ("that's my last word on the subject"), but you've responded to me more than once—so no, avoidance wasn't initially your game.


                    Instead, what you're trying to do is strangle disagreement, silence those of us whose irreligion makes us your social inferiors, so that you can blather your notions about faith far and wide without ever having to worry that a scummy atheist might dare to call "bullshit" on you. ...In precisely the way that absolutely anyone else announcing absolutely any other kind of idea in the world (very much including atheistic ideas) makes herself subject to criticism and contention.

                    Like your fellow bigots of other strains—such as unashamed racists, misogynists, and homophobes—you disguise your demands for impenetrable primacy and power as a request for "respect." Racists want lowly brown people to "respect" them by staying out of their pristine neighborhoods; misogynists demand that the women around them show "respect" by deferring to men's hegemony and control; homophobes demand "respect" for "common decency" that's shattered when gays and lesbians dare to hold hands in public, to say nothing of demanding equal marriage rights. All of you are alike in demanding that the minority you despise and wish to marginalize know their place—that we recognize and "respect" the fact that you are more important, and your fragile sensibilities more valuable, than anything we think, do, or are. Your demand for "respect" is in fact a demand that we deferentially worship at the altar of your privilege and power.

                    And the proper response to that demand is the same from the uppity atheists you wish to silence as it is from the ethnic minorities, feminists, and GLBTs who are abused by the tactics practiced by your fellow bigots: Kindly Stick It Up Your Ass.

                    We are not going to shut up, to bow and scrape and show "respect" to your absurd demand that no one ever say a discouraging word about your irrational and destructive ideas. You can try to silence your grubby inferiors all you'd like; we refuse. And you can pretend that your atheophobic bigotry is a polite request for "respect"; that does nothing to change the fact that what you're actually demanding is that people who disagree with you remain disempowered, marginalized, pathologized, and silent.

                    •  for the lurkers (0+ / 0-)

                      I happen to think that informative discussions happen in a tone of mutual respect.  I think overheated insults hurt discussion and do more harm than good to the truth.  I think there is some wisdom in the phrase, "we can disagree without being disagreeable".  I think there is a clear line between thoughtful criticism (which I relish) and hurling put downs.  I think the judgmental language that often spawns from heated exchanges is at the same time tragic and silly.

                      Rieux chose a discussion with me, opening with a comment in which I could not find any trace of respect or good will.  I responded with sarcasm and so not only has there not been a discussion about the underlying issues, there is no sign of agreement on the ground rules for holding such a discussion.

                      Later I offered a second opportunity to start a discussion if he could find a way to carry on in a respectful tone.  He clearly rejected that just as he has rejected the main thesis of the diary:  that there is room for tolerance of religious people in progressive causes.

                      Rieux may have suffered in some way at the hands of some of the many idiots who claim to be Christian.  Many of us have - me included.  In any case, I still wish her or him well.

                      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

                      by Satya1 on Thu May 02, 2013 at 07:10:01 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Cute. (0+ / 0-)
                        I happen to think that informative discussions happen in a tone of mutual respect.
                        So do I. The problem is that your unexamined privilege and prejudice lead you to believe that "respect" requires your social inferiors to remain silent and never question the self-serving ideas that you broadcast.

                        You call it "respect," but it's actually subservience. And we members of disempowered and despised minorities have every right to scoff at your demand.

                        I think there is a clear line between thoughtful criticism (which I relish)....
                        You pretend to "relish" thoughtful criticism. But it's a crock. You declare any criticism that is actually critical as disrespectful and thoughtless. It isn't; that's just your blind privilege talking.

                        You'd never have the gall to defend such absurd privilege in these parts if it were any other variety of privilege—white privilege, male privilege, straight privilege, class privilege, ableist privilege. But religious privilege is a generally unchallenged norm even in this community, so you think you can beat atheists up with it. It won't work.

                        Rieux chose a discussion with me, opening with a comment in which I could not find any trace of respect or good will.
                        No one is obligated to respond to your broadcast of your personal philosophy with "respect or good will" toward that philosophy. That, again, is the arrogant demand of a hegemon accustomed to the unchecked power to silence anyone who dares to question him or her.

                        Again, you wouldn't dare to whine about "respect or good will" if the exchange had been about race, gender, sexual identity, class, or ableism. But religion, you think, makes you immune from challenges you deem "disrespectful." Your privilege is showing.

                        He clearly rejected that just as he has rejected the main thesis of the diary:  that there is room for tolerance of religious people in progressive causes.
                        That is a bigoted lie. Nothing I have said carries the slightest actual implication "that there is" no "room for tolerance of religious people in progressive causes." That is nothing but your bigotry talking.

                        Open challenge and debate about religious IDEAS is not, in the real world, hostility to religious PEOPLE. You are so buried in prejudice and privilege that you think that you, unlike anyone else pushing any other kind of idea, deserve deferential silence when you push your theological notions into the free marketplace of ideas. But you're wrong, nastily wrong: your ideas are just as fair game for challenge, critique, and mockery as anyone else's ideas.

                        Your pretense that critical challenges to your ideas constitute a denial of "tolerance of religious people" is a hateful lie. Shame on you.

                        Rieux may have suffered in some way at the hands of some of the many idiots who claim to be Christian.
                        Your sneering ad hominem insult is noted. Again, you would never dare to respond to (say) a GLBT person who criticized a straight-privileged argument of yours by airily hypothesizing about what your opponent "may have suffered" at the hands of homophobes.

                        Your atheophobia is disgusting.

                      •  It's also worth noting (0+ / 0-)

                        that you were whining about the uppity behavior of disgusting atheists who dared to question you before I ever showed up on this thread.

                        This particular exchange began with your declaration that "genuine faith is not irrational  but suprarational." not2plato—and not I—exposed that notion of yours for the absurd bafflegab that it is, a response that you, with the tremendous arrogance of a privileged hegemon, took offense at:

                        Guess you sure told me!  Except you completely misunderstood me and have no idea what I'm talking about.
                        That, of course, is utter bullshit that lays bare your inability to support your hot air with reasoning. Which isn't surprising, given that you have so little practice defending your ideas against critique: as you've now demonstrated, your preference is to personally smear your opponents and demand "respect" (by which you actually mean silence) from them rather than confronting their objections on their merits.

                        ...But it's also a tellingly emotional response that demonstrates your whiny unhappiness that not2plato dared to ignore your stuck-up privilege. The offended dignity you affect in "Guess you sure told me!  Except you completely misunderstood...." is a hilarious caricature of a thoughtless blatherer caught shooting his mouth off—of a blinkered majority member who never imagined that a lowly unbeliever might dare to question his enlightened lucubrations.

                        All of this happened before I ever wrote a word in response to you. You were in high privileged-atheophobe dudgeon before I even showed up. Nice try, though.

  •  Well done (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1, SilentBrook

    The religious left in this country has a problem that the religious right does not have.  The corporatists and businessmen who gravitate to the financial control of local churches and denominations because "businessmen know about money" (btw, it is mostly men that are the problem) exert control on churches that make efforts of compassion difficult and efforts at social criticism almost impossible.  These boards can fire controversial ministers, shut down church programs, and through social networks create an atmosphere of shunning of religious left activists.

    The religious right, being a servant of power, has nothing like this.  On the contrary, the flow of money to them is why they gained in power over the past 50 years.

    The other great reversal since 1960 has been the attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church.  Vatican II opened up the Catholic Church to participation in many of the movements for peace, justice, and freedom in the 1960s.  With the emergence of abortion as a political wedge issue, the Catholic hierarchy beginning with the ordering of Father Drinan out of Congress became aligned with the Republican Party and the relgious right.  Urban ethnic Catholics who moved from being Democratic to Republican as a results of desegregation and patriotic support for the Vietnam War welcomed this change in the hierarchy as acted as enforcers in local Catholic congregations.

    In places where there was openness to the religious left in the 1960s, there now is active social pressure to suppress it.

    The Occupy movement provided a social vehicle for a lot of folks on the religious left to become active again in solidarity.  Building a counter-pressure through our personal networks that opens up the social space for the religious left to participate in conversations in the churches is a critical next step.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:14:10 AM PDT

  •  What the Bible says about gays (0+ / 0-)

    Have you ever read "A Letter to Louise" by Bruce Lowe?  

    He's a retired Baptist minister, about 95 years old now, who took a close, serious, scholarly look at the passages in the Bible that are usually cited by fundamentalists in condemning LGBTs.

  •  well of course they are not evil... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, mathGuyNTulsa, Rieux

    people are generally good and modest and gentle.  

    The worst thing about religion is its epistemology; faith, that is, belief without reasons and despite counter-reasons.  No matter how gentle and rational, there is a point at which reason and logic are not welcome -- like the question of what the last line of the gospel of John means, or why Nazareth did not exist when Jesus was around, yet he is allegedly from there, or the fact that there is no historical record of Jesus, Peter, Paul or the rest of the heroes of the new testament, or why there is no trace of a temple on the temple mount in Jerusalem, or why most of the Koran is rehashed tales from Muhammad's times...  Need I go on?  

    Priests and preachers and imams and rabbis are liars -- regardless of their good works.

    The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

    by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:47:09 AM PDT

  •  One can disdain but still tolerate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Rieux

    You wrote:

    "I admit that before Occupy I was a bigot and had total disdain for organized religion;"
    That is not a redundant sentence.  I have total disdain for the Tea Party, and belief its tenets are crazy and stupid, and think we would be better off without it, but I tolerate it and am not a bigot.  Likewise, I think that a Richard Dawkins, who (for the sake of argument) has total disdain for religion, is not necessarily a bigot.  

    The beliefs of the Tea Party are nuts, and so are a lot of religious beliefs.  There is no special "craziness exemption" for religion; it's just that some religious beliefs -- for many -- constitute a relatively benign form of craziness (unlike, say, believing in chained CPI, which would inflict suffering on millions in real life).

    I agree that a lot of religious belief is a mixture of superstition and prosocial, humanistic beliefs.  The more of the latter the better, as far as my preferences go; Unitarian Universalism is pretty much solely the latter.

    "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

    by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:22:00 AM PDT

    •  I must note (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dackmont

      that Unitarian Universalism harbors deep reservoirs of anti-atheist bigotry (for discussion see here and the resources linked from it), but otherwise I agree.

      •  Wow -- I guess one's mileage may vary (0+ / 0-)

        I haven't seen that at all, but then, I've only spent much time around a handful of UU churches.  Sorry to hear that; thanks for the link.

        Wonder how Liberal Quakers are on that; I can't imagine much better (note, haven't read your link yet).  Buddhist can be OK, in my again limited experience, depending on the sect/community.  New Agers can get pretty pissy.  Non-religious groups, like intellectuals and "art & wine" people (for lack of a better term), being inherently more diverse, can be safe.

        Despite my sometimes pointed comments online, I'm not a dick about my atheism (and am more of a nontheist anyway; atheism focused too much on rebutting theism for my taste).  I would never say certain stuff to people's faces.  But I don't want to have to hide my views either.  Anti-atheist bias can be like homophobia in that simply being "out" can be taken as getting in someone else's face about your own orientation.  I hate that -- such blind double standards there.  As if separation of church & state, like not having prayer in schools, is an affront.  That may reflect not only narcissistic xenophobia, but also an insecurity that deep down maybe one's theistic beliefs are just beliefs, if you ask me.

        "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

        by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:54:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Take a look. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dackmont

          I was a UU for seven years and found numerous UUs—probably more in the clergy and UUA administration than the laity—who traffic in just the same kinds of misrepresentation that you were responding to in your "One can disdain but still tolerate" comment above.

          I definitely don't know how liberal Quaker or Buddhist communities compare in that respect.

          Anti-atheist bias can be like homophobia in that simply being "out" can be taken as getting in someone else's face about your own orientation.  I hate that -- such blind double standards there.
          Yes, exactly. It is not difficult to find fervent support for just that kind of double standard in, for example, the UU clergy.


          Looking at the religious aspects of many intergroup conflicts, at the violence carried out by zealots in the name of religion, some people conclude that the world would be safer “religion-free.” They may even try living this way themselves. But too often they only practice a form of self-delusion. Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the human spirit. As C.S. Lewis said, the opposite of a belief in God is not a belief in nothing; it is a belief in anything. Sweep the demon of religion out the door and, like the story in the Gospels, you may only succeed in making room for an evil spirit worse than the first—this one accompanied by seven friends (Luke 11:24-26; Matt. 12:43-45). Zealous atheism can perform this role of demonic pseudoreligion.

          – UU Rev. and national UU Association President (1993-2001) John A. Buehrens, in A Chosen Faith, published by the UUA’s Beacon Press and billed by the publisher as “the classic introduction to Unitarian Universalism”


          Who are these people who still think that it’s special and unique to reject traditional images of the Deity? Are they the same guys who sit with me at weddings and let drop the bomb that they respect what I do [as a UU minster] but, rilly, they’re “spiritual but not religious??” “That’s fascinating and special, dear,” I tell them. “But I’d love it so much if we could conclude this conversation right this minute and you’d go fetch me another cocktail.”

          [...]

          For an atheist to expect CHURCHES to pander to the a-theistic search for truth and meaning is like hiring a dental hygenist with no arms to do your cleaning, and expecting her to do a good job of it.

          – UU Rev. Victoria “Peacebang” Weinstein, nationally published and prize-winning UU minister

          •  Gautama H. Buddha!, (0+ / 0-)

            those quotes are ridiculous, not to mention intolerant, and self-evidently, squarely contradict the pluralism asserted in the "seven principles".  (I mean, look -- I can party with believers, and appreciate that for a lot of them "God" just means {love + largely benign superstition}, but hostility toward the stuff I smoke?  No thanks.  Just treat me like I treat you -- politely, tolerantly, even if you think I'm really misguided.

            The second quote is just snotty triumphalism, and the first one is merely silly; C.S. Lewis's assertion is transparently wrong, indeed so wrong that it could scarcely be taken seriously outside of a religious context.  No, C.S., not everyone needs to believe in the Sky Bully in order not to be a murderous, nihlistic fiend... speak for your own bad self.

            A good antidote to Lewis is this from "The Big Lebowski" (the character who says it being, of course, a fervent convert to Judaism):

            Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of national socialism, Dude; at least it's an ethos.
            Anyway. The "seven principles" contain none of the dumbness or venality of the quotes you cited, but some of the other stuff on UU websites hints at a theistic stance, e.g.
            "We believe human life has meaning, that the high purposes of humanity may be achieved and the spiritual nature of humanity indicates something about humankind and the cosmos as well."
            And, so, so depressingly, it seems that where theism goes, so goes venal backlash at the suggestion that maybe it's not true.  Et tu, U.U.?  Why does it work out this way?  Is it that theism is so lacking in justification that one has to smoke a lot of gooey, mushbrained memes to accept it, and therefore reacts with rage to the buzzkill of rationality?  It reminds me of the lability seen in mood disorders... "don't bring me down, man."

            Well, you've given me a lot of timely stuff to read, and thanks again.  At least I have other ways to get my community/ritual jollies, and I wish the same for all who desire it sans the bullshit.

            "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

            by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:56:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I appreciate (0+ / 0-)

              the energy and integrity you're bringing to this exchange.

              I certainly agree that the Seven Principles are superior to the anti-atheist dreck I've pointed to. (Though I think the Seventh is, in its actual terms, foggy-minded nonsense—but at least it's mostly-well-meaning foggy-minded nonsense.) The First and Fourth are a huge part of what brought me to UUism in the first place. Not incidentally, atheophobic UUs shit all over those two.

              For whatever it's worth, I'm pretty sure Buehrens pulled that "Lewis quote" out of Buehrens' own ass. Lewis was an arrogant-Christian asshole, but I've spent a long time trying to track the quotation down, and near as I can tell, it's actually a line commonly, though still inaccurately, credited to Lewis pal (and fellow atheophobe) G.K. Chesterton.

              Anyway, the bigger point is that the President of the UUA was citing that quip in Beacon Press's "classic introduction to Unitarian Universalism as a relevant response to both atheism and to those of us who vainly "try" to live religion-free lives. That's an outrage, as I suspect you'll agree—and I think the bigger outrage is that thousands upon thousands of UUs have read that book (it's Beacon's all-time bestseller, other than hymnals), and I think a grand total of five or ten of us have openly pointed out it's loaded to overflowing with hateful shit. Could Buehrens (and Weinstein and company—and they have a lot of company) have gotten away with writing nasty garbage like that about GLBTs? About members of any other despised minority? If they'd tried, would the UU laity (you excepted!) have greeted it with such a deafening yawn?

              It's just endlessly disgraceful.

              •  Can't believe I let that one sail by (0+ / 0-)

                Crikey!  THE guy, the UU head guy.  He wrote that.  Somehow that didn't register... I think I got distracted by the faux-Lewis quote (which is admittedly low-hanging fruit) and then googling for the movie quote.  Priorities, you understand.  Sometimes I'm so out of it, it's scary.

                Not as scary as the fact that the former head UU dude said this, though.  Yeah, you're right, if he'd have said that gays "too often... only practice a form of self-delusion" (because they don't pork the opposite sex), that wouldn't have gone over too well.  (And of course how ironic the quote is -- it's like saying "I know you are but what am I?" to the entirely legit questions any objective person would ask about theism.)  And the book is full of this stuff?  Oy gevalt.  Well, we'll see where I go with this thing.  Forewarned, forearmed -- thanks again!

                I'm going to have to start following atheist civil rights closely, as I do with disability rights and privacy rights, and (the one that keeps us happy these days) LGBT rights.  When I google for that repugnant Weinstein quote, and come across stuff like "Unitarian Universalists Complain About Atheist Ads", let alone "Finnish Politician Fined for Blaspheming", then we've got a problem, and it involves people like me, and there's that whole thing about hanging together or hanging separately.  I appreciate the knowledge and insight you've shared, and will keep an eye out for your handle as I dig in.  Any other fora to recommend besides that link you posted & cites therein?

                "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                by dackmont on Wed May 01, 2013 at 12:05:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  No, I think you've got (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dackmont

                  the same things I do, now.

                  You may notice that there's a fair amount of me on those pages and cites. I believe I've written the longest review of A Chosen Fath in existence. And I even posted a handful of comments—one of which idiotically accused fabulous atheist blogger Greta Christina of something she was innocent of, d'oh!—on the Hemant Mehta "UUs Complain" blog post you found.

                  This has been a big-deal issue for me, though substantially less so since I left the church in 2008.

          •  Curious about other groups (0+ / 0-)

            Do you or anyone reading this have experience with other humanistic communities or congregations, like Ethical Culture (not aligned with any prexisting religious tradition) or Humanistic Judaism (obviously so aligned, but explicitly, at least in principle, rejecting all theistic language)?   Curious about this stuff... would be nice to find someplace sans the atheophobia.  Having another place to hang out with my kid is part of the motivation.

            "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

            by dackmont on Wed May 01, 2013 at 02:11:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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

          Read some of link & linked-to's, skimmed some, will be reading all carefully.  This is depressing but a good head's up.  Ben awhile since I UU'd down and have peripherally been around a church a friend goes to, and have been planning to check it out.  I'll keep my radar up.

          "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

          by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:33:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for reading. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dackmont

            As Adam Lee (a friend of mine who wrote the main article I linked to) can tell you, there are unquestionably local UU communities in which this bullshit doesn't happen at all frequently. It's entirely possible that the "church [your] friend goes to" is one of those.

            My problem is that the centers of UU power (and a number of places that aren't quite as powerful, such as the second and final UU church I belonged to) are positively drenched in it.

  •  Thanks for this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SilentBrook

    A recent book, The Underground Church, documents how the Church has been taken over by the State, but that underneath the rotten edifice is a vital movement devoted to social justice, peace, truth, and inclusion.

    Sadly, fundamentalists and people like not2plato just above understand scripture literally (some of them are better at history and archaeology than not2plato, but that's another story). The more I read scripture, the more I understand it as a meditation into truths much deeper than rationality is capable of: truths about caring about other people, about speaking truth to power, about finding meaning in suffering, about finding hope even when facing death. Like the famous Rubin vase, whether one finds healing or horror in religion depends very much on one's own spirit.

    As a practical matter, millions of Americans get through the day because of religion. If they didn't have that irrationality, they would be overwhelmed by what they face. And these are precisely the people that any movement for social justice needs to speak to if it has any practical hope of succeeding.

    I'm glad you found the beauty hidden in this underground church. Jesus is not dead, but lives through the many wonderful people who work for social justice and peace.  

    •  Predictable: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rieux, gsenski

      When you point out the intellectual slight of hand and ghastly falsehoods on which religion of all kinds is based, someone will demean and slander you for it.  

      1. CharlesII offers not a single reason that any of what I have said here is false, unlikely or unwarranted. He gave no reason to believe that I understand scripture literally -- he never even defines what he is talking about.  

      2. CharlesII disses of my use of history and archeology without offering any reasons for doing so.  He merely wants to abuse a person, and has no point to make when he adds his comments on sciences he probably does not care about.  At least, if my thesis is right, he does not care about them when they contradict his religious beliefs.  

      CharlesII thinks he is into

      truths much deeper than rationality is capable of
      but that just means he thinks he is immune from criticism, above the law and without accountability at certain moments in his life of contemplation and reflection.  There is no such state, and there are and can no such truths, because truth is a function of rationality.  When CharlesII claims this state, he is deluded.  In claiming it, CharlesII also manages to illustrate precisely what I was pointing out above: namely, that there comes a point where every man or woman of faith excuses his or her self from logic, science, fact, truth and the rest of our obligations, and gives themselves license over morality and the intellect, and forces stupidity into the world.  

      It is at these moments that I cannot stand religious people, no matter who they are, how close or how far, how liberal or not, how much I love them or don't.  For it is at these moments that you see how utterly immoral religious belief is from an intellectual standpoint.  

      If there is some reason that I cannot say something irreligious around you, or something skeptical, or something demeaning of Jesus, Muhammad, or any other religious figure or theme, then so much the worse for you.  That is one form of bigotry of which I am free.  

      All religions are equally foolish and equally wise.  Whatever your reasons are for not believing in Isis, Apollo, Jove, Thor and the rest, they are precisely the reasons you should not believe in your god.  

      The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

      by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:29:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hear, hear. (0+ / 0-)

        Well said.

      •  Well, let's start from here (0+ / 0-)

        You claim that there is no evidence of the Jewish Temple on Temple Mount, saying "there is no trace of a temple on the temple mount in Jerusalem."

        According to the Smithsonian Magazine, there is:

        In the southwest stands the Western Wall—a remnant of the Second Temple and the holiest site in Judaism.
        If you're this ignorant about basic archaeology but insist on being very definite about what is/is not known by science about religious history, it's very difficult to take anything you have to say at all seriously.

        So, you know, I don't.

        •  That wall is real, but ... (0+ / 0-)

          Supposedly there was a first temple built on the mount, the temple of Solomon.  There is no evidence of that temple, and none has ever been found.  There is also no evidence of the existence of Solomon, by the way.  

          This first temple was allegedly destroyed by Babylonians in or around 586 BC.  

          Then supposedly a second temple was built.  When?  No one is sure.  It might have been built by Persians, who ruled Jerusalem from ~500-300 BC.  Needless to say, they would not have built a Jewish temple.  But they may have built the wall that everyone thinks is a remnant of the fabled second temple.  Whatever this was, it was allegedly destroyed, then a Greek temple was built in perhaps 150 BC, which was then destroyed and Herod built a temple that was then destroyed by Romans in perhaps 70 BC.  When the 'real' second temple was built nobody knows.  (Because there never was one.)

          What gives the lie to the first temple theory is the dozens of references to other activities on the so-called temple mount during the period when the first temple would have been standing there.  

          How can these people sacrifice in the woods when there is a temple there?  

          Also, the Jews kept worshiping at pillars and stones, as had been their practice prior to the temple, after the temple was allegedly built.  I mean, if we are to believe what the old testament says, this is what they were doing.  

          So there you have it, CharlesII.  Prove there was a temple built by Jews on that mount.  

          I see that you like to draw huge inferences about people you don't know on the basis of very little.  

          That is a very bad habit.  

          The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

          by not2plato on Wed May 01, 2013 at 08:13:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You do not win by moving the goal posts, not2plato (0+ / 0-)

            You made a very definite statement, that there is no trace of a temple on Temple Mount. If you had only admitted you were wrong, or even that you had misspoken. But no, you scramble to justify a statement that was plainly wrong.

            I could have picked almost any sentence in your post and done the same. Evidence for Jesus as a living person? It's in Josephus. Nazareth's existence at the time of Jesus? Excavations show a town of about 50 houses.

            If you are so wrong about so much regarding matters that are easily investigated, why are you so certain that you know anything about deeper matters?  

            •  As you are quite aware, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rieux

              I was referring to the Old Testament tale of a Jewish temple on the temple mount.  Of course, I did not say that.  I said temple.  Perhaps you think my last reply established that some temple has been discovered there.  It did not.  

              f you want to claim that hunk of wall as evidence of a temple, well, go ahead. It could just as easily be a fortification.  I am not denying it is there.  I simply deny that anybody knows what it is or was.  And by the way, nobody has established that it is part of ANY temple.  So, I stand by my very general, original statement.  

              As for evidence of a Jewish temple of the sort the Bible discusses, well, I see you offer no evidence of that.  Because there is none.  

              You link to Wikipedia Josephus on Jesus, but did you read it?

              The three references found in Book 18 and Book 20 of the Antiquities do not appear in any other versions of Josephus' The Jewish War except for a Slavonic version of the Testimonium Flavianum (at times called Testimonium Slavonium) which surfaced in the west at the beginning of the 20th century, after its discovery in Russia at the end of the 19th century.
              Although originally hailed as authentic (notably by Robert Eisler), it is now almost universally acknowledged by scholars to have been the product of an 11th century creation as part of a larger ideological struggle against the Khazars. As a result, it has little place in the ongoing debate over the authenticity and nature of the references to Jesus in the Antiquities.  Craig A Evans states that although some scholars had in the past supported the Slavonic Josephus, "to my knowledge no one today believes that they contain anything of value for Jesus research.
              That leaves the references in the Antiquities, but, of course, they are not authoritative and are subject to much dispute.  You can pretend they are rock solid, but they are not.  Just read the Wiki about that.  

              As for Nazareth, your boy Josephus, a Roman general, waged war in Galilee for quite some time, yet never mentions Nazareth.  St Paul never mentions Nazareth, the Old Testament never mentions it.  Know why?  It didn't exist.  The archeology you mention has some hope, of establishing that there may have been something there other than graves and caves.  But it does not do much.  And, of course, it is probably just more wishful thinking from people who think their faith is also historical accuracy.  

              This paper attacks the very dig you cited as if it was gospel.  
              http://www.nazarethmyth.info/...
              For more, check out the whole site.  
              http://www.nazarethmyth.info/

              Looks like you have no ammo, CharlesII.  

              As for your belief that you know something about me (or anyone else) on the basis of a scribble on a blog, it is, like your faith, groundless.  

              The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

              by not2plato on Wed May 01, 2013 at 05:20:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You express contempt for science and rationality (0+ / 0-)

                1. You made a statement about the Wailing Wall that is contradicted by a reputable source. You are trying to walk this back. I am not fooled, nor am I impressed. There is a very good reason why there is not more archaeological evidence of a Temple on Temple Mount, but I am sure that you know what that is. No one is eager to start a religious war just to prove the idiocy of what you are asserting.

                2. The reference in Josephus' Antiquities 20:9:1 is stated by Wikipedia to be almost universally acknowledged as authentic. (In addition, there is a reference in Tacitus, about which there's no question). It does not matter that some passages of Josephus were fiddled. Contrary to what you assert, there is evidence, and not of the faith variety, that Jesus lived.  

                3. The site that you link to dispute the existence of Nazareth misrepresents the statement of the Israeli Antiquities Authority and makes assertions on the authority of unnamed experts. So, yes, the dating of the site is an archaeologist's opinion, not a settled fact. But a named, professional archaeologist's statement is actual evidence. Some guy on a blog using unnamed sources is not.  

                There are many valid reasons to challenge the literal/historical veracity of scripture. But you have chosen examples where the weight of the evidence actually contradicts your assertions. In so doing, you show me that you have contempt for science and rationality. Indeed, your method of argument resembles the worst kind of religion, the kind that denies actual facts and lifts up inventions to try to prove its case.

                And so, sir, enough with you. Life is too short to waste.  

                •  Yes, far too short. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Rieux

                  And as you know, a magazine is not an authoritative source.  Here is what that wall is not: evidence that the old testament tales are not lies.  

                  The remarks from Josephus, Tacitus and other non-biblical texts are from many years after Jesus allegedly lived.  They testify to the hearsay of their times.  Here is what they do not do: prove that Jesus actually existed.  

                  And none of those sources mention Paul or the other heroes from the new testament.  (Because none of them ever existed either.)

                  As for Nazareth, there is no dispute as to its existence.  A named archeologist is no better than the evidence he or she brings, and in this case it is at best very shaky.  So, again, there are many reason to believe, and almost none to disbelieve the thesis that Nazareth did not exist at the time of Jesus, and he could not have been from there (and by the way, the bible calls it a city, not a few houses).  The passage in Acts where Paul is accused of being a Nazarean priest is very curious: that was a splinter sect.  

                  The bible is a mass of contradictions and lies, and there is no god and no afterlife.  Get used to it.  

                  Your reasons for disbelieving in Amon-Ra or Thor are sufficient reasons for disbelief in Jesus the miracle man from Galilee.  If you disbelieve in all other gods except one, you are being unethical.  The evidence in favor of the historical existence of Horus or Poseidon is as good as that for Jesus.  Prejudice is the only explanation for your believing in one but not the others.  Rationality has nothing to do with it.  Faith is not rational, and if you will be honest with yourself, you will see that it cannot be and that you do not hold your beliefs on the basis of evidence.  People are not Yankee fans or Cubs fans due to evidence.  Ditto in regard to their faiths.  

                  If you attack me personally on this site again, I will again stand up to your bullying, and again humiliate you.  

                  The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

                  by not2plato on Thu May 02, 2013 at 07:04:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Religion per se needn't be bad... (0+ / 0-)

    it's rather the uses that religion are put to that are bad.

    We have this new "religion", Pastafarianism. Its use is to cause learning in those who are allergic to learning anymore.

    It's an admitted religion. It's not bad in my book.

    Likewise, a lot of "faiths" or "practices" that are based in the "Golden Rule", even "The Lord's Prayer" can't be bad at that level.

    It's when they go beyond the "golden rule" that they go bad.

    Ugh. --UB.

    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Randian Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

    by unclebucky on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:21:23 AM PDT

  •  The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (4+ / 0-)

    by Thomas Jefferson  "A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus." Thomas Jefferson found that when you boiled down the New Testament to the words and teachings of Jesus you get a very different perspective than what is typically taught by many preachers. For me I am still on my journey back to Christianity. One thing that has surprised me is that what I read seems so different from the faith that so many Christians profess. My steps back were first guided by Bishop Desmond Tutu's campaign for forgiveness. This lead me to see the Christianity in my study of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speeches. "Love Your Enemies -We have the Christian and moral responsibility to seek to discover the meaning of these words, and to discover how we can live out this command, and why we should live by this command." One day I heard a right wing politician complaining about the dishonesty of the work of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a woman that has devoted life to caring for the abject poor dieing in squalor. The wires crossed and I could see clearly, that those who preached conservatism had nothing to do with the real teachings of Jesus. Then as a lark I took the Beatitudes of St. Matthew and tried to write the opposite of what I could understand of what Jesus was saying, and to my very surprise it was nearly the identical to much of what the right wing is espousing as their philosophy. It made me so angry. The conservatives were preaching anti-christian beliefs as if they were christian. In the end I may not be there yet to being a true believer in Christ, but I like what I am hearing. Stick to the new testament, read it for yourself and at least know for yourself that what has been put forward as Christian by the right if far, far from the teachings of Jesus.  

    Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

    by joelado on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:54:50 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alexforgue, SilentBrook, JDsg

    Twice a week we pick up produce and baked goods at a grocery store to deliver to the local Christian Center's food bank.  I'd be happy to service an Atheists' Center should one be organized.

    If we have a problem with religion corroding our society,  that religion is Mammon's, not Christ's. I have no problem with any other religion or atheism.  But I have found that many people who consider themselves pious or atheistic are actually believers in the status of wealth and the attendant notion of  'happiness' through material possessions.

    Christ never said anything about homosexuality, but he had plenty to say about money.  11 of 39 parables to be exact.

    He never associated wealth with something good to be involved with.

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

    by martinjedlicka on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:03:52 PM PDT

    •  No? (0+ / 0-)
      And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as [Jesus] sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

      And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

      And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

       - Mark 14:3-7 (italics added)

      So Jesus' economic program, when his own luxuries were at stake (to wit: "me me me me me me me") sounds strikingly similar to the Republican one.

      I'm not sure how that's congruent with "He never associated wealth with something good to be involved with."

      •  Apparently (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CharlesII, JDsg

        conservative fundementalists are not the only ones willfully misinterpreting the teachings of Jesus.

        His 'economic program' is clearly outlined throughout the New Testament.  (I think Matthew 6:19-34 sums it).  He repeatly preached that that if we make it our goal to accumulate earthly treasure, we will be harmed spiritually and maybe even physically. Earthly riches also ultimately will let us down; if we pursue riches, the amount of money available to us will end up controlling our happiness.

        The story of the woman of Bethany describes the nature of a love to Christ that is free and unhindered.

        Proponents of 'prosperity gospel' bring up this incident in a likeminded attempt equate Jesus' desire to spare a devotee from abuse with an attributed desire to indulge in luxury goods.  Whether justifying a 'vending machine god' or attempting to discredit an entire religious text, it's still grasping at a pretty thin straw.

        An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

        by martinjedlicka on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:08:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Pfft. (0+ / 0-)
          Apparently conservative fundementalists are not the only ones willfully misinterpreting the teachings of Jesus.
          Pot, kettle, black, pal. The line "ye have the poor with you always ... but me ye have not always" actually means something, regardless of how intent you are on ignoring it.

          The Gospels' Jesus says, in so many words, that it is more important to spend wealth on him than on the poor. You can try to gussy that up all you want, but it's a deeply ugly message.

          His 'economic program' is clearly outlined throughout the New Testament.
          I didn't merely refer to "his economic program." What I said—and you ignored as inconvenient—was "Jesus' economic program, when his own luxuries were at stake." Find me another passage from the Gospels in which he advocates giving to the poor at his own expense.

          Talk is cheap—including Jesus' own talk. It's easy enough to shoot your mouth off about how everyone should give plenty to the poor when those expenditures don't come out of your own box of swanky ointment. Somebody somewhere once claimed that "ye shall know them by their fruits"—and this guy's "fruits," right here, are a sneering paean to selfishness and self-centeredness at the direct expense of the poor.

          Pity the poor disciples who thought this guy actually meant what he'd been saying—and earned a rebuke for their troubles.

          The story of the woman of Bethany describes the nature of a love to Christ that is free and unhindered.
          What a willfully blind, laughable whitewash. "Ye have the poor with you always ... but me ye have not always" does not cease to be in the text just because you can't bring yourself to face it.

          Your excuses are flatly silly: Jesus didn't need to wheel out a shocking level of monomania and selfishness in order "to spare a devotee from abuse." It would have been absurdly easy to grant the disciples' point about the poor while using the episode as a gentle teachable moment for the woman with the ointment. Instead, he directly declared that his claim to the ointment was superior to the poor's claim to the money it costs.

          It would appear you don't have the intellectual honesty to face it, but that is the decision that the Gospels' Jesus makes. And pretending, in the face of that, that "He never associated wealth with something good to be involved with" is simply dishonest.

        •  Thanks for the comment, Martin (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JDsg

          There really is a strong resemblance between the thought patterns of religious fundamentalists and those who hate religion (as opposed to atheists and agnostics, many of whom are good Christians in the sense of doing what Jesus taught).

          Hating on religion is the mirror image of fundamentalism. It's an ideology, an essential political ideology, rather than an open analysis of what is going on. Ironically, many good scientists are respectful of religion, just as many religious people are respectful of science. But haters gonna hate.

          •  Garbage. (0+ / 0-)
            There really is a strong resemblance between the thought patterns of religious fundamentalists and those who hate religion....
            Yeah: the "strong resemblance" is that you hate them both. That's not actually any kind of resemblance, absent your self-centeredness.
            Hating on religion is the mirror image of fundamentalism.
            Bullshit. Critics of religion (attempting to slime people who happen to disagree with you about a particular group of ideas as "haters" doesn't actually get you anywhere), as such, do not rely on blind faith to found their superstitions. We don't take over governments and oppress our opponents. We don't drive despised minorities to kill themselves.

            It's a sign of your inability to deal with skeptical critiques of your beliefs that all you can come up with is "Oooh, you're just as bad and mean as fundamentalists!"

            What critics of (your) religion have in common with fundamentalists is that your belief system doesn't provide you with a good basis to argue that any of us are wrong.


            Religion is not a person. It has no rights. It is not unethical to criticize or oppose it; no one has an ethical obligation to "respect" it. Your pretense to the contrary is based on nothing but your own arrogance and privilege.

  •  Sigh. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gsenski
    I admit that before Occupy I was a bigot and had total disdain for organized religion....
    Religions are ideas. It is not bigotry to have "total disdain for" particular ideas.

    Isn't it possible to express your support/sympathy for liberal religion without sliming or pathologizing people who disagree with you?

  •  In the sixties I knew some great, extremely (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, gsenski, Rieux

    liberal activists who were junkies. That doesn't mean that being a junkie is a good thing or that heroin is good stuff.

    It is not impossible for all kinds of persons to act kindly and all that for the wrong reasons or for reasons unaffiliated with their membership in this or that church or social club or motorcycle gang. That doesn't mean anything either except as a reflection on those individuals.

    The main problem with "religion" is that most of the mainstream ones are in the end, based on faith and rejection of empiricism or evidence based modelling.

    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 Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:26:18 PM PDT

  •  I have no doubt that there were churches that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rieux

    helped out the Occupy movement and are in general progressive, and that many religious groups have done good things, but that doesn't make their supernaturalism any more true. Religion will always be more popular than atheism because you can't beat the supposition of immortality with plain old  mortality.

  •  The problem I have with capital R religions is (0+ / 0-)

    that they tend to rely on dogma rather than critical thinking and with the mantle of self imposed moral authority historically they have hurt other humans.

    “... there is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist

    by leema on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:43:51 PM PDT

  •  I'm not religious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alexforgue

    I have no use for religion whatsoever, as I was raised Missouri Synod Lutheran, and I am done.  Just done.  But if the religious impulse can be of benefit to others, I do not begrudge them.  I'm so sick of the boring old back-and-forth about whether or not God exists, I think the Kierkegaard route is the only way to go: those who are inclined to dig religion, will, and those who are not, won't.  The religious left just needs better P.R., that's all.

  •  My parents.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alexforgue

    are very religious but they are also life-long democrats.  A lot of people assume that if a person is religious they are also republicans.  It's not true of course.  I think it depends on what the church leaders happen to focus on as to how their members will think and ultimately vote.  If it's a church that is mostly focused on how other people live their lives, i.e. anti-gay and anti-abortion then it's members will most likely be right-wingers.  If it's a church that focuses on helping others and talks about the sick and poor then it's members will most likely be lefties.  
    Unfortunately, the right-wing churches are the loudest voice, but it's not the only voice.

    "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

    by angrybird on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 11:52:11 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site