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Democrats, religion and religious voters
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, September 16, 2006

So I’m hanging out at “Open University” when I come across this by David Bell:
I agree with most of what Alan Wolfe and David Greenberg have written here (and elsewhere) about religion and politics. But I think that in terms of political strategy, this is simply not a fight that liberals can win, and instead of getting into it, they should try to avoid it as much as possible. It's true that most Americans are, for now, content with the politico-religious status quo, as David puts it. But the ingenious thing about phony issues like the "War on Christmas" is that it energizes the theocons' base, and gives many other religious people the impression that they must choose between the god-fearing and the godless — but it pushes very few people in the other direction.

I wish I could agree with David that much of the broad middle will get disgusted with the Christian Right for inventing such issues, but so far, at least, most of the people in this middle either aren't paying attention, or just don't care enough. So the net result is a shift in the status quo, and an electoral move to the right. Is there a way for Democrats to avoid the trap of having to choose between looking like atheist elitists or phonies? (for instance, Howard Dean, when he memorably called Job his favorite book of the New Testament?)

With all due respect to Mike Kazin, who wrote a memorable piece several years ago calling on liberals to take religion seriously, I'm not sure there is. In today's degenerate public sphere, it is all too easy for the Christian Right to boil down any serious debate over religion into the crude question of who is more religious. Democrats can't win this, and so maybe they shouldn't bother trying. Better to change the subject as rapidly as possible, and get to the same voters some other way. And if pushed to the wall, they can always repeat the words of the Scripture: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-16).
That particular “paragraph” is heavy with thoughts and ideas pertaining to religion and how Democrats can, for lack of a better description, reverse the trend and begin attracting the religious voters to the Democratic fold (I broke Bell’s paragraph into three for easier reading). It is also heavy with all the reasons that will never happen (theocons?).

At one point Bell says “most Americans are, for now, content with the politico-religious status quo.” I’m not sure where Mr. Bell gets the idea that the status quo is something with which the majority of America is content, but I have exactly the opposite belief. I’d suggest that most don’t find themselves content with the status quo and that is pointedly demonstrated in the great number of voters identified as “values” voters. That and the acknowledged movement of the country to the right.

While some would probably like to argue that those values aren’t necessarily religious, and that may be so, I’d argue that the vast majority are founded in religion and religious teaching. They may have been “secularized” for some, but for a majority of Americans (and I'd further argue that most of them are to be found in the "broad middle" Bell speaks about), religion is still very important in their lives.

Bell cites Mike Kazin who admonished liberals to take religion more seriously and says, in response, he’s not sure that’s possible, and, instead, suggests they change the subject ‘as rapidly as possible.’

That, for Democrats and liberals, is precisely the problem. First, they don’t take religion seriously and it shows. And it also shows up at the ballot box, or, in the case of the Democrats, shows up at the ballot box as votes for the other guys.

Taking religion seriously would have Democrats understand the point Stephan L. Carter made in his book “The Dissent of the Governed: A Meditation on Law, Religon and Loyalty”:
I am talking about ordinary, hard-working, law-abiding families, patriotic Americans who’s political allegiance to the nation runs deep and whose moral roots are in their religious traditions, to which their allegiance runs just as deep; families who are concerned, frightened, and, more and more, profoundly alienated from politics and from a government that they think does not care about them.
That describes the real religious voter. Not the “Christian right” or the “fundies” as the left so often loves to deride the religious among us. The bottom line is that paragraph by Carter better describes the vast majority of religious voters among us than does any other description I’ve seen.

Carter goes on:
Of particular concern to the members of these communities is the moral upbringing of the young. Once upon a time, it was said that values climbed from one generation to the next on a three-legged stool. The three legs were the home, the school and the place of worship. Should any one of the three legs break, so the story went, the stool would topple and the values would not be passed on. And were that to happen, the traditions that generated the values would simply cease to exist.
Now we can argue the accuracy of this description until we turn blue in the face, but we’d be hard pressed to make the case that traditional values are being passed well from generation to generation at the moment, and many people attribute that directly to the attacks upon and the removal of religion from public life. As Carter points out, whether right or wrong and regardless of your belief, that is the belief held by many religious people. For them perception is reality. And reality, given the problems we face today, seems to justify their belief.

Addressing the perception of these people, Carter writes:
Again and again in my travels, I run into people who complain that the deck is stacked against a family trying to teach what they often call “traditional values” or “family values”. Many of these traditional values, of course, deal with sexual behavior, which is unsurprising, because of the cabining of sexuality has long been of vital concern to the Judeo-Christian tradition. But of course these traditional values may also include everything from an obligation to feed the hungry to the importance of discipline and persistence. … My point is that there is a widely shared perception that the institutions of the government, far from reinforcing the values many people want their children to learn, actively frustrate them.
In the vanguard of those engaged in “actively frustrating” those values are secular liberal Democrats. Right or wrong (and I think they’re mostly right), these people see the secular liberal as the enemy of their “traditional values”. They see those who may not necessarily be secular, but, for the most part support their ideology, to be fellow travelers and just as dangerous as the secular liberals.

Bell demonstrates he doesn’t understand the problem when he calls the “War on Christmas” a “phony issue”. In reality, it reflects this deep-seated resentment and alienation felt by a large portion of the American population. For decades they’ve seen their religious celebration of Christmas secularized so as not to be “offensive” to others to the point that we now find schools celebrating “winter festivals”, only carols sung which don’t mention the holiday and nativity scenes banned for good. On a meta-level, they understand the need for separation of church and state, but on a personal level, they feel that has gone much to far for the nation’s good.

That lack of understanding, which Bell and others on the left constantly demonstrate, is why most of those who identify themselves as religious don’t consider the left’s appeals to the religious to be genuine - even when they end their pieces with quotes from Matthew or tell them their favorite NT book is Job. Again, Dr. Carter:
We talk a great deal about the stultifying effects of forcing people into religious observances, and we are right to have that worry; coercion of faith is both immoral and unconstitutional. But we sometimes miss, in our rush to celebrate our own open-mindedness, the way that a strongly secular bias can be equally stultifying to people whose religious faith is at the center of their lives. To tell people whose faith influences their values that there is something wrong with those values is to tell them that there is something wrong with their faith. For tens of millions of Americans, faith in God is central to existence, so central that there is no sphere of life in which acknowledgment of that faith is deemed inappropriate. This, I fear, is just one of several aspects of life in much of America that too many of the American people think their government either fails to understand or actively rejects.
Just as apparent among religious people is the belief that the secular liberals and their supporters on the left (and in the Democratic party) have no qualms whatsoever of using the government (and, in fact, plan on its use) to force their version of values on them. History stands by their belief, and they find that wrong and unacceptable. Despite the poorly crafted and mostly feeble attempts by Democratic politicians to appeal to these voters, for the most part they understand the nexus of their problem and aren’t likely to reward those who continue to use government in that way.

So while David Bell may not know why, he is exactly right. Democrats should quit trying to do something at which they are not very good and something which they obviously don’t take very seriously. Instead they should be what they are. And when the subject of religion comes up, they should “change the subject as rapidly as possible”.

 
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So democrats have noticed that they are not particularly popular with many Christians and observant Jews? Well, here are a few hints. 1) stop calling people theocons, 2) stop calling people the American Taliban, 3) Stop referring to God as the "magic man in the sky" and publishing comics about the flying spaghetti monster. 4) stop ignoring all the concerns of people in flyover country. 5) stop acting like Vacuous Hollywood celebrities and gansta rappers are some sort of moral authorities. 6) stop equating Christians with radical Islamic terrorists.

However, I do not have to worry, they will never take my advice.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
I think that I shall create a religion which is (to all external appearances) the same as atheism.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Thumbs down.

Theocons, a short form for Christian fundamentalists that support militarism and nationalism - which is by the way one hundred percent opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ, although not to the "re-interpretations" of his so-called followers like Thomas Aquinas - really do exist. Some of them protested military bases during the Iraq War, claiming that soldiers were dying because of our society’s tolerance of homosexuality. We can blame secular liberals for disliking them, if we like, but given the current political winds, a better question is,

If genuinely religious and politically active organizations - constrasting here with individual religious belief, which is held by many people who like Democrats just fine - want to stop being labeled as theocons, they should make a better effort to control the extremists in their ranks, before they destroy the political fortunes of those who cater to them. As demonstrated by the Terri Schiavo affair.

Most of my young, secular liberal friends have a tendency to see religion as a system of control pushed on them by intolerant freaks. I don’t agree, and think it’s a shame that talks between the two camps have broken down, but when push comes to shove, secularism wins and religion loses. In this country, anyway.

Traditionalist pushback against multicultarism, on the other hand, can score some points every now and again - more than religion vs secularism. Which is mostly what the underlying point here is. But in the very long run, it also loses. Thanks, in large part, to the underlying efficiency machine of the free market and its economic imperatives.

The "secular liberals" meme is a stereotyping mixing class, geographic, rural vs. urban, racial and religious themes to great effect as a political bludgeon. "Theocon" is a dose of the same medicine, fired in the opposite direction.

I will say, though, that I don’t like watching Democrats pander anymore than I like watching Republican politicans pander to religion. If you watch either for a while, you can tell - Senator Sam Brownback is genuinely religous: George Allen is pandering. Jimmy Carter was legit, which goes to show that serious Christians do not neccesarily lean toward the right. John Kerry, probably not.
A democratic politican who isn’t very religious should come right out and say so.


 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I think that I shall create a religion which is (to all external appearances) the same as atheism.
I’ve been wanting to list my religion as "Capitalist". Then I’ll just say that all my earnings are directly related to the practice of my religion.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Theocons, a short form for Christian fundamentalists that support militarism and nationalism -
Actually, it’s not. A theocon is:
...a conservative who believes that religion should play a major role in forming public policy; both the term and the phenomenon arose in the context of American politics, closely tied to the Christian right. This term first appeared in 1996 in a The New Republic article entitled Neocon v. Theocon by Jacob Heilbrunn. He wrote, "The neoconservatives believe that America is special because it was founded on an idea—a commitment to the rights of man embodied in the Declaration of Independence—not in ethnic or religious affiliations. The theocons, too, argue that America is rooted in an idea, but they believe that idea is Christianity."
Note that "fundamentalist", "militarism" or "nationalism" are not found in that definition.

Or this one:
A conservative who believes that religion should play a major role in forming and implementing public policy.
Instead theocon describes a large portion of the religious out there, and that’s precisely the point being made ... the left, you included, don’t understand the terms, much less the battle.

When you start tossing around terms like theocon, it isn’t some fraction of the religious right you’re talking about, you’re talking about most of it.

Which brings us to the "secular liberal". Fairly self-explanatory:
In solidarity with the Happy-Holiday-Patriots, I present to you these seasons greetings. Each was hand-crafted by me circa a year ago. I think they’ve aged quite well. Remember secular progressive brothers and sisters — our glorious war against Christmas ain’t over til... I guess its the 26th.
What the left can’t seem to fathom is those who consider themselves to be religious, even if politically they might find themselves to be left of center, find such displays offensive and threatening.

Now, you can pooh pooh this all you like, but one issue effecting the seeming tilt to the right has to do with religion and the assault on it by the secular left, through government, on its tenets. And every time something shows up like that above, even when tongue-in-cheek, it becomes more fodder to be used against the left by the religious on the right.
The "secular liberals" meme is a stereotyping mixing class, geographic, rural vs. urban, racial and religious themes to great effect as a political bludgeon. "Theocon" is a dose of the same medicine, fired in the opposite direction.
Secular liberal describes a type of liberal with certain beliefs just as theocon describes a type of religious conservative with certain beliefs. Just because you don’t know how to use them properly doesn’t mean they’re "stereotyping" or, necessarily, pejorative.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I will say, though, that I don’t like watching Democrats pander anymore than I like watching Republican politicans pander to religion. If you watch either for a while, you can tell - Senator Sam Brownback is genuinely religous: George Allen is pandering. Jimmy Carter was legit, which goes to show that serious Christians do not neccesarily lean toward the right. John Kerry, probably not.

A democratic politican who isn’t very religious should come right out and say so.
I agree that it can be discerned who is legit, but I believe that almost no one bothers to discern.

As a former Republican who left the party in part because of the religious right, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, et al, I must agree with the suggestion put forward that Democrats quickly change the subject. If Democrats don’t change the subject, they will fail in the eyes of anyone that cares, and they will be induce cringes from those who don’t.

I personally believe that a tiny minority of people in the public spotlight who prefess religious conviction actually have such conviction. Don’t misinterpret this to mean that I think that people who in general who are very religious lack conviction, it is only when the ambitious purport religious conviction and use this purported conviction in their quest that I am suspect. And I’ll tell you why...

Christianity (perhaps other religions, but I am most familiar with Christianity) as a faith has precepts that would generally preclude followers from the abasement that comes with seeking public office at this time in our history. Moreover, the modesty that genuine conviction requires is the antithesis of the qualities required (sadly) to advance a successful career in elected politics.

There are certainly people who have achieved electoral success that are raised with an abundance of Biblical training, and there are people that are not, the thread that ties them together are the character traits that lend themselves to success in electoral politics, and the only difference is that one has the religious background to draw on and does, if the other feigns religion, his background will expose him, but even if the purportedly pious has not one ounce of religious conviction, they still have the background to sell it to everyone that matters (the voters in their constituency).

In the end, and under normal circumstance, everyone should vote for the person that they believe will make decisions they favor, regardless of their purported religiousity or lack thereof. In these times, everyone should vote for Democrats because this batch of Republicans has gone bad, bad, bad. Far worse than the Democrats I campaigned hard to throw out back in 1994.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic (yeah, that one)
URL: http://
"Christianity (perhaps other religions, but I am most familiar with Christianity) as a faith has precepts that would generally preclude followers from the abasement that comes with seeking public office at this time in our history"

What precepts of Christianity preclude someone from seeking public office?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The theocons, too, argue that America is rooted in an idea, but they believe that idea is Christianity."

Since Christ and his disciples were militantly nonviolent, to the point of allowing themselves to be massacred rather than take up arms to defend their faith, it’s hard to understand how people who "argue that America is rooted in an idea, but they believe that idea is Christianity ",

come to support George Bush’s policies in overwhelming numbers.

either they don’t understand their own religion, or they don’t understand what those policies are. Or, the New Republic’s characterizations are incorrect.

I haven’t met many people who claim that America’s laws should be rewritten according to the doctrines of Christ. That would be one h*ll of a rewriting. It would also be a lot like the "Islamic state" that seems to be fairly unpopular around here. If they’re arguing that Christianity is a vital part of America’s heritage, who would disagree?

So, if we take the New Republic’s interpretations as gospel, they’re either arguing something pretty frickin’ vague "America is rooted in the idea of Christianity? what, exactly, does that mean America’s laws and policies should be, pray tell?", or else they’re arguing for the Christian State, or else they’re arguing something historically obvious about our nation’s heritage - its past.

I think my observations of theocon and their opinions on foreign policy and nationalism/militarism are based on observation,and pretty accurate, considering the tendency of Evangelical Protestants to be militant supporters of Bush over the tenets of their own religion.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I haven’t met many people who claim that America’s laws should be rewritten according to the doctrines of Christ. That would be one h*ll of a rewriting.
I belong to a Christian Conservative discussion group (the token lefty) and this came in up in a discussion of gay marriage.

I tried to make the point that making it legal does mean that one has to approve of it or participate in it, but rather that it would be reflective of the American ideal of allowing people to make their own decisions.

The responses I got was that since homosexuality is a sin, they felt compelled to oppose it as anything else with be supporting the codification of sin into law.

I asked if all sins should be against the law.

Some people said yes, all sin SHOULD be against the law.

I then asked if the Ten Commandments should be codified in law, making it a crime to violate any of the Ten Commandments.

Again, some of the people said YES.

So finally, I asked if the First Amendment to the Constitution should be repealed.

The one’s that answered yes to the above responded in two ways; some said yes, as long as Christianity was made the official religion and Christian laws were made into the law of the land. The other answer was that the First Amendment should NOT be repealed, as it protects their right to practice their religion.

I then mentioned that the First Amendment codifies in law that people may worship any God or no God, contradicting the First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me".

After that it got pretty convoluted, the most memorable comment being that since it only "allows" sin and does require it, then it is not the same thing as legalizing sin.

Conclusion: Yes, there are people out there that absolutely favor a Christian Theocracy and also, a lot of people are very confused and they don’t even know it.



 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
"Christianity (perhaps other religions, but I am most familiar with Christianity) as a faith has precepts that would generally preclude followers from the abasement that comes with seeking public office at this time in our history"
Yes, that’s what I said.
What precepts of Christianity preclude someone from seeking public office?
The question eliminates a portion of the assertion, namely the abasement that comes with seeking public office, and I wanted to restate this as it is an important element in my answer.

First, a couple of comments suggesting that perhaps Christians should follow a spiritual path and ignore politics altogether, this before we get to whether they should run for office.

In Mark chapter 12 verses 13-17, Jesus’ followers ask whether it was lawful to pay taxes to the Romans. The picture on the coin was a picture of Caesar the Roman Emperor. The Romans occupied Israel , the country Jesus lived in at the time. Jesus replied...
’Pay to Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God what is due to God.’
This can be interpreted to mean that Christians should not get involved in politics.

The next one I find particularly interesting:
Romans chapter 13 verse 1 ’Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God.’
This can be interpreted to mean that Christians need not concern themselves, God will place the government that needs to be in power to accomplish whatever his purpose is. To meddle in the placement of the government is to interfere with God’s will. What if God WANTED Al Gore to be President for some higher purpose is beyond our understanding? This quickly becomes circular.


Now, as to why I say that Christianity precludes one from running for office. Mind you I am basing this on Biblical teachings, not current American Conservative Christian thought.
Matthew 18
The Greatest in the Kingdom
About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them. Then he said, "I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Ambition is the opposite of being as a child, and humble is not a word that can describe what a politician must do to win an election. Politicians necessarily have to go out and say they are better than someone else.

There are literally hundreds of similar assertions in the Bible, there is simply no way to reconcile ambition and Christianity, and there is no way to get elected without ambition and ego.

Before I go on, let me point out that I would fail this test miserably as well.

None of this is to say that I do not believe that good people cannot be ambitious, and ambitious people cannot be good, or that someone who professes Christianity but fails to adhere to these Christian principals cannot be good, that is an entirely different point, but one who actually wants to follow Christ cannot pursue power, it is simply diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus.

I would suggest that the closest you get to conviction among politicians are those that have been "born again" and believe that they are saved through grace and as a result, all of the sins they have to commit to serve their ambition are forgiven.

Of course if this was all anyone needed to know, what is the point of the other 65 Books?

Oy Vey, what have gotten myself into now.

Cap






 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I wonder if I could get some help understanding this discussion.

First: This "assault on religion by the secular left" - could someone explain that to me? How is this perceived to be occurring? What are the issues involved? Who are these "secular left" people, and what are they assaulting?

Second: Sin should be against the law. Here again, I’m at a loss. My understanding has been that a sin is a violation of one of the principles by which a religious adherent chooses to live their life. Therefore, sin is against religious law by definition. I assume, therefore, that extending the consequences of this perceived unacceptable act to secular legislation is the act of imposing your concept of sin upon those people who do not share your religion? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? I do not honor my father; I am not a christian; therefore, I am not commanded to honor him; therefore, no sin.

If I conflict that with the christian experience with Islam, I ask myself why christians oppose seeing their daughters compelled to wear covered dress? Isn’t that just the Muslims imposing their concept of sin upon people who do not share their belief in Islam? Is that any different from Christians imposing their concept of sin on people who do not share their belief in Christianity?

Third: Either imposing your concept of sin on someone who does not share your beliefs is wrong - in which case there must be separation of church and state, and religious dogma must be kept out of public institutions, OR imposing your concept of sin on someone who does not share your beliefs is not wrong - in which case this country needs to splinter into as many geographical fragments as we have religions so that each region can be free to pass consistent legislation, we should withdraw support from Israel, and we should apologize to the Islamic fundamentalists for doing what comes nat’rully. Which is it, religious right?

 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
Whoops - insert "forcefully opposing them" between "fundamentalists for" and "doing".
 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
The largest minority races in America are blacks and latinos. Both groups are very devout Christians (or as the commenters here have called them, Theocons). So the best way for the dem party to pander to them is to pretend to be religious, and accept invitations to their church meetings for the purpose of getting votes.

I guess this argument is really about the "principaled" leftists who want to extinguish religion from every sector of American life against the practical leftists who want to trick voters into keeping them in power so they can pass more laws squelching the First Amendment.
 
Written By: Josh
URL: http://
Since Christ and his disciples were militantly nonviolent...
Heh.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Theocons, a short form for Christian fundamentalists that support militarism and nationalism - which is by the way one hundred percent opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ, although not to the "re-interpretations" of his so-called followers like Thomas Aquinas - really do exist. Some of them protested military bases during the Iraq War, claiming that soldiers were dying because of our society’s tolerance of homosexuality.
No. A small group of people, basicly one family, protested military bases during the Iraq War, claiming that soldiers were dying because of our society’s tolerance of homosexuality. The patriarch of this group has generally aligned himself with liberal politics (not limited to opposition to the war) but has found that such behavior provokes opportunities for the lawsuits by which he supports himself.
 
Written By: triticale
URL: http://triticale.mu.nu
No matter how hard you shake it, religion and politics mix like water and oil. Only superficially

And you can guess who sits in the grease.
 
Written By: Rick Day
URL: http://goplobby.org
So, what happens to this movement by the Democrats to court the religious, when they catch this editorial from the New York Times, I wonder?

(I think we have a partial answer to Gil’s question about the leftist assult on relgion with this link...)

The Times, if nothing else, has established itself as the voice of secular liberalism. It is also well established as the house organ for the Democratic Party.

It’s just a guess, but I suspect the Times firing virtiol at the Pope is not going to make many friends for the Democrats amongst American religious types.

Too bad for the Democrats that they can seem to get all on the same page one they start a movement. Apparently, they’re sending troops to the field without first sending instructions about whose feet to shoot at.

We will either see distancing between the New York Times and the Democratic party as a result of this, or this new effort on the part of the Democarts to court the Religious will be seen clearly has what it always has been... a hypocritical sham.


And while I have the editor open:
No matter how hard you shake it, religion and politics mix like water and oil. Only superficially
Well, no, that’s not true. Once politics, ideally, is supposed to be a reflection of one’s values. Ones values, in turn, are supposedly driven by one’s religious beliefs. It should be no surprise then, that religious beliefs would be reflected in politics... at least on the individual level. The relationship between the two is hardly to be considered superficial. Rather, the relationship is foundational, if indirect.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
No. A small group of people, basicly one family, protested military bases during the Iraq War, claiming that soldiers were dying because of our society’s tolerance of homosexuality. The patriarch of this group has generally aligned himself with liberal politics (not limited to opposition to the war)

Evidence, please regarding this patriarchs’ association with quote liberal politics unquote, or else I can disregard this as the disinformation that it certainly seems to be. Homosexuality = our soldiers dying is definitely not a liberal position on anything, making your argument look pretty ridiculous.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Fred Phelps is and always has been a Democrat.

Now to ease your mind that this isn’t "right-wing" propaganda, this is from "Mother Jones":
Phelps remained prominent in state and local politics, working for years as a major organizer for the state’s Democratic Party. (He still calls himself a Democrat, refusing to change just because his party has.) In 1988, Phelps housed campaign workers for Al Gore’s first presidential run; in 1989, his eldest son, Fred Jr., hosted a fundraiser for Gore’s Senate campaign at his home.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Reading some of the comments, I am reminded of a conversation/debate I had with a pro abortion-on-demand relative. We finally arrived at the consensus that there is no way to prove when human life starts, and therefore the underlying debate of whether or not abortion is the killing of human life necessarily is one of belief. Yet this relative continued to denigrate the anti-abortion crowd as religious nuts wanting to force their beliefs upon society, while absolutely rejecting the idea that her beliefs (life doesn’t start till birth) are already forced upon society vis-à-vis abortion on demand.

McQ’s surprising post delves into a core fallacy of the secular left - namely the arrogant denial that religious faith is intrinsic in the decision-making process for anyone other than a hyper-religious nut. As with my relative, far too many of the left, and some commentors here, behave as if their rejection that religion can be a core component of their decision making process somehow makes them superior to those who openly, and unapologetically, do rely upon religious convictions. Furthermore, so set are they in their secular ’faith’, they see those who believe otherwise as someone whose mental affliction (religious faith) prevents them from rational thought… or, one might even say, from “seeing the truth.”

Years ago, my undergrad thesis counselor, PhD Middle Eastern History, often reminded us that you do not have to believe what they believe, but you damn well better believe that they believe. Too often, today’s left sweeps aside and cavalierly dismisses those who base their politics in religious faith. That is, if that faith is Christianity or Judaism.

Bloody irony how they implore us to understand the Islamic world.

Excellent post Bruce.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Glasnost,

This goes back to a point I made in Fascism, Right or Left.
I am often told by Democrats or contemporary liberals that liberals (Democrats) have been responsible for a whole list of great things, ending segregation, fighting sexism, etc, and then simultaneously having Fred Phelps thrown in my face. Now given my political philosophy that is pretty silly, it becomes even sillier when I point out that Phelps is a Democrat, and pretty liberal on most issues to boot. This usually leads to a bunch of sputtering, denials or claims that he is not a real Democrat anymore than George Wallace. Fair enough, but he certainly doesn’t have much in common with Rush Limbaugh or me either.

The fact is, even if for the most part Phelps is a liberal Democrat outside of a few instances, that doesn’t reflect poorly on Democrats or liberals. However this has a bit of trouble, because liberals (I hate the term, but work with me) want to believe they stand for all kinds of good things and none of the bad. Therefore the fact that many people who were liberals in almost every respect that matters except they were vicious segregationists are not actually liberals, but conservatives in the contemporary liberal imagination. In other words we all tend to set up a tautological definition that defines away those we don’t like as not being part of our team. What I am trying to say is just because one is a liberal you are not responsible for the sins of Fred Phelps or Huey Long.
A point I should have made then is that when liberals (or conservatives and libertarians in other instances, this is not a partisan trait) speak of the votes or poll numbers that support their issues they want to claim those as showing their sides ideological strength. They are trumpeted as reflecting that their beliefs are widely shared. Of course then you get down to the individuals and find that they really hold all kinds of views you feel are objectionable and don’t want to admit they share large parts of your worldview. Fred Phelps does and you can throw him out of the tent if you want, but it would be wrong to throw him in the Republican or conservative tent as well. I won’t hold you responsible for Phelps supporting your presidential candidate, but then conservatives shouldn’t be painted with too broad a brush as well. In politics we all are in bed with people we don’t agree with on some pretty big fundamental issues.

There is a lot more to say on this post, but I’ll start there.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Bains gets it.
Yet this relative continued to denigrate the anti-abortion crowd as religious nuts wanting to force their beliefs upon society, while absolutely rejecting the idea that her beliefs (life doesn’t start till birth) are already forced upon society vis-à-vis abortion on demand.
Beliefs are beliefs, and what the religious perceive is values they don’t share are being forced on them by government. And, having tried every other means they could think of, that group now sees government as a method of what they would consider ’taking back’ their values.

Stephen Carter outlines, in those excerpts I gave from his book, the concerns of this core group.

As Bains points out when he reminds us of his thesis counselor’s words is that whether or not you agree with their values is irrelevant ... they believe in them and, apparently, have begun to do much the same thing politically that the secular left has done for year ... seek political power.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
As with most such discussions many of you have leapt onto a tangent of discussing a few renegade individuals or a small group of web fanatics. This is not germane to the discussion.

Also, there is no real need to doubt that there is an attack upon Christians, (and increasingly observant Jews) by those who seek to use the law to force all spirituality out of the public forum. The perception is that the attacks are there, therefore for all practical purposes they are.

I merely wish to restate my original post. If Democrats want to score points with religious (even mildly religious) voters they must first stop insulting them, and next stop making fun of them, and finally stop being condescending to them.

I am a person who was originally one of these religious conservatives and now believe that a Libertarian approach is the right one. But I still think that traditional, or Christian values if you will, are good ones. I have no problem whatsoever with a separation of Church and state, but when it takes the extreme forms like not letting the Boy Scouts use a public park, or destroying a decades old monument(taliban style) simply because it has a cross on it, well I think that is a perversion of the establishment clause.

Lets put it this way. IF you interpreted the entire constitution in a similar extreme way then the second amendment would require all citizens to be armed and join a militia.

 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
As with most such discussions many of you have leapt onto a tangent of discussing a few renegade individuals or a small group of web fanatics. This is not germane to the discussion.
I will disagree, here, insofar as the discussions, in a larger sense, ...(as in, the entire country)... are being driven by such individuals... And because they tend to end in the kind of events you mention.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
I’ve been wanting to list my religion as "Capitalist". Then I’ll just say that all my earnings are directly related to the practice of my religion.
Mammon welcomes your devotion. ;)
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Fred Phelps is and always has been a Democrat.

Now to ease your mind that this isn’t "right-wing" propaganda, this is from "Mother Jones":
Wow.

I stand corrected.

On the other hand:

Yet this relative continued to denigrate the anti-abortion crowd as religious nuts wanting to force their beliefs upon society, while absolutely rejecting the idea that her beliefs (life doesn’t start till birth) are already forced upon society vis-à-vis abortion on demand.

This argument is fatally logically flawed, from both a liberty-oriented and a logical perspective.

The legal availability of abortion is absolutely not a forcing of any particular belief - or behavior, for that matter - onto anyone. Now, *mandatory* abortions might be forcing behavior on religious people. But mandatory abortions (the threat of them, I imagine) exist only in the, frankly, fantastic predictions of some of the crazier theocons.

Laws that legalize abortion do, in fact, disobey Catholic and some other Christian teachings on the origin of life - but in a non-theocratic democracy, the state and society have the right to reject religious practices and beliefs, and enact laws that fail to obey or codify behavior that religious practices and beliefs demand.

This is not a forcing of either behavior or belief on religious indivduals. It is, in fact, a rejection of the forcing of these religious individuals’ beliefs on those who do not believe.

In a liberty-oriented society, those who believe abortion is immoral would not have abortions, and those who don’t believe it is immoral, would be free to have them. The availability of abortions force no beliefs on anyone. Only the banning of abortions constitute "legislated morality."

Of course, whether legislated morality is a good thing for society is a broader topic, which I have no specific position on - but it should be clear what is and is not legislated morality. To fail to legally prohibit any given private action is the opposite of forcing anything on society. It is the definitive act of choosing *not* to force anything on society.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
The legal availability of abortion is absolutely not a forcing of any particular belief - or behavior, for that matter - onto anyone.
The value in question isn’t about legality, but instead about morality. It is the acceptance, societally, of the unacceptable. And analog to those who are against abortion would be making murder legal. The value they reject is being forced by the law to be recognized as a ’good’ societal value when, in fact, their system of values, driven by their beliefs, see it as an ’evil’.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Which goes directly to my repeated comments about using government to override the value of the culture.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
I have always used the "War on Christmas" as a guage of civil liberties.

I mean, for the past 5 years there have been cries by civil liberties groups, most especially the ACLU, about the "Patriot Act" eroding the civil liberties of the American people. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, given the apparent grave nature of the threat of the "Patriot Act," if the ACLU has remaining resources to go after a Christmas nativity scene, the "Patriot Act" must not be much of a threat.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Hmm. Shouldn’t Shark have shown up to call me an idiot by now? He’s late.

McQ- In your murder analogy, a law allowing murder does not turn Christians into murderers; it does not force them to commit murder. It does not tell them they cannot believe murder is wrong. Each Christian is still free to choose whether or not to commit murder.

I would not advocate such a law, obviously, because there are plenty of good solid secular reasons for murder to be illegal, however - government enforcement of morality is equivalent to oppression of dissent. Freedom to choose is not an endorsement.
 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
I tried to make the point that making it legal does mean that one has to approve of it or participate in it, but rather that it would be reflective of the American ideal of allowing people to make their own decisions.

So, if I wanted to not support it by extending insurance benefits to same sex couples (Gay employees), you’re for it? Even if "gay marriage" is made legal?
 
Written By: Pete Jensen
URL: http://
McQ- In your murder analogy, a law allowing murder does not turn Christians into murderers;
Never suggested it did. What I’m pointing out is it turns the society into one which condones murder and that, per the dissenter’s value set, is immoral and "evil" based on their religious beliefs and traditions.

The bottom line is, if those who find such a value set to be "good" and condone the way/method by which that value set was forced upon those that consider it evil, then they have no valid complaint when the offended group does the same thing in reverse by the same process. And that is exactly the dynamic at play here (the fears of the "religious right" and "Christian Taliban" expressed by many on the left).
I would not advocate such a law, obviously, because there are plenty of good solid secular reasons for murder to be illegal, however - government enforcement of morality is equivalent to oppression of dissent. Freedom to choose is not an endorsement.
Government always enforces a form of morality (morality being defined in simple terms as right and wrong). And the oppression of dissent is precisely the point that Stephen Carter discusses in his book that I cited. That is what many religious people feel they are subject to in the secular world.

I’m not clear on your point about the "freedom to choose." It’s not an endorsement of what?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Freedom to choose whether or not to murder is not an endorsement of murder.
Freedom to choose whether or not to have an abortion is not an endorsement of abortion.
Freedom to choose going to church or not is not an endorsement of atheism.

I’m sorry, but this argument "we are being repressed because we can’t force non-christians to adhere to christian values" is a logical disconnect.
 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
Of course, whether legislated morality is a good thing for society is a broader topic, which I have no specific position on...
Beautiful.

No better example of what McQ was talking about... and why the left is so clueless regarding not only another’s religious faith, but their own secular faith. Criminal law is nothing but legislated morality – most of tort law is as well. For example, the west believes it’s a crime to beat one’s female family members, yet for some other cultures, it is not only permissible, but sometimes a moral imperative. That you and I agree that in our society it is, and should continue to be, criminal, does not in any means lessen the fact that it is legislated morality.

And it is precisely here where the left loses those of religious faith. The left is incapable of recognizing their own causes as legislated morality, yet arrogantly champions them with same certitude they so despise from the right.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I’m sorry, but this argument "we are being repressed because we can’t force non-christians to adhere to christian values" is a logical disconnect.
This is a discussion of values. Personal values which individuals believe the society in which they live should reflect (based in tradition, religion or whatever).

That is the battle.

People dissent when their values (based on their beliefs) aren’t represented within their society, and they especially do so when society arbitrarily changes its values away from theirs (by whatever means). And that’s even further exacerbated when society attempts to force those values on the dissenter.

They have various ways to redress those grievances. They can appeal directly to members of that society through various means and venues (and hope they’ll see it their way and change), they can do so legally through courts (who will mandate change), they can appeal to legislators (through whom they hope to see the laws changed), but by whatever means they choose, they are simply doing what has been done to them based on their beliefs (and that was one of the points of the post).

So to your example: "Freedom to choose whether or not to murder is not an endorsement of murder".

The fact that there is a choice involved implicitly endorses the action in question (is there really a moral question as to whether murder should ever be a valid choice, and if yes, how is that not then an endorsement of murder as valid and acceptable act within that society?).

It is the action (murder (or whatever)) they find incompatible with their values, just as they find unacceptable the society which endorses (and condones) it by giving validity (value) to the choice.

If they are an acknowledged member of that society, there is no logical disconnect at all in stating that their values and the values of society (however enforced) are in conflict and that, as society states its values, it implicitly endorses practices (valid legal choices of that society) that are unacceptable to that individual and incompatible with that individual’s values.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Freedom to choose whether or not to murder is not an endorsement of murder.
Freedom to choose whether or not to have an abortion is not an endorsement of abortion.
Freedom to choose going to church or not is not an endorsement of atheism.
This is sophistry. Add the following line:

"Freedom to choose whether or not to own slaves is not an endorsement of slavery"

and it all falls apart.

 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
Fair enough.

So the question was: Is imposing your concept of sin on people who do not share your beliefs right or wrong?

 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
Is imposing your concept of sin on people who do not share your beliefs right or wrong?
What do you mean by imposing? Physical force? Verbal condemnation? Unilateral imposition or societal? Are we talking about peer pressure or gunpoint persuasion?

What concept of sin? Some people don’t think murder is wrong. Some people don’t think molesting children is wrong. Some people don’t think drug use is wrong. Some people don’t think failing to wear a motorcycle helmet is wrong.

You’re asking an absolute question that doesn’t have an absolute answer. It depends.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Steverino gets it right.
This is sophistry. Add the following line:

"Freedom to choose whether or not to own slaves is not an endorsement of slavery"

and it all falls apart.
Exactly so.

As I’ve said previously:
Society can, and indeed it is morally imperative that it does, legislate morality—if what you mean by legistlate morelaity is meant that the law proscribes certain immoral behavior. In fact, that’s what our entire system of criminal law is—the codification of societal restrictions on human behavior that is accepted as being immoral. That, in fact, was the entire purpose of government in its original implementation: As a reinforcement for the values of the culture that erected said government.

That such purpose has gotten twisted, over time, is an unarguable. But where has it gotten twisted? In those areas where government has been used in an effort to change the culture from its existing state, rather than its original purpose which was to reinforce the existing culture and its values.

It is now down to a question of whose morality... or perhaps more correctly.. immorality are we now using government to support?

That, I think, is the relationship that the democrats do not understand which is why this effort to court the religious are doomed to failure. What they are seeking is the sign off of the religious on their agenda... unless someone is able to show me that the Democrats are willing to change their agenda to accommodate the religious...

Anyone care to take me up on that challange?

And McQ;
The fact that there is a choice involved implicitly endorses the action in question
If you’re talking about the existence of a choice within the law, you’re quite right. It is an endorsement. That, in fact, is the purpose of the change in the law. Wherein lies the rub. At the same time, let’s not over- emphasize the effect of the law on the action.

There is always the choice to behave immorally available to us, the law not withstanding. The laws which the culture adds, do not remove that choice.(Else, Murder, for example, would have ceased to exist!) They merely add an additional set of possible consequences for the action.

What I’m suggesting here, is, that the only place that the change in the law is going to be any kind of effect whatever is not on the actions of individuals, particularly those who do not feel bound by the law , but on the culture. Here, again, we come back down to using government to change the culture rather than reinforce it.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Again and again in my travels, I run into people who complain that the deck is stacked against a family trying to teach what they often call "traditional values" or "family values". Many of these traditional values, of course, deal with sexual behavior, which is unsurprising, because of the cabining of sexuality has long been of vital concern to the Judeo-Christian tradition. But of course these traditional values may also include everything from an obligation to feed the hungry to the importance of discipline and persistence. . My point is that there is a widely shared perception that the institutions of the government, far from reinforcing the values many people want their children to learn, actively frustrate them.
In the vanguard of those engaged in "actively frustrating" those values are secular liberal Democrats. Right or wrong (and I think they’re mostly right), these people see the secular liberal as the enemy of their "traditional values".
It’s mind-numbingly obvious to me that what really frustrates Christian fundamentalists is what their children consume via media. You know,… boobies on TV.

Therefore, it’s hard for me to understand what secular liberal Democrats have anything to do with boobies on television. Other than to allow it, of course.
Okay, then.

However, the receipts have been counted and the conclusion is solid. The markets likey the boobies… no, wait… the markets love the boobies. You guys remember free markets, right? That whole liberty minded thingie that gets an occasional mention, right?
And so these secular liberal Democrats are allowing the markets to be free. And to allow those markets to be free is a good thing, right?

Okay, then.
QandO – Free Markets, Free People
It’s good to see McQ giving props to Democrats every now and then, isn’t it?

Cheers.






 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://ceilidhcowboy.typepad.com/
It’s mind-numbingly obvious to me that what really frustrates Christian fundamentalists is what their children consume via media. You know,. boobies on TV.
I do enjoy it when you and Haybale McStrawman show up and strut your stuff, Pogue.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
So the question was: Is imposing your concept of sin on people who do not share your beliefs right or wrong?
Bithead nailed this one. We have elections to decide which morality to impose all the time. Some people find it immoral that others don’t give money to the poor...so they elect representatives to pass laws to force every taxpayer to give money to the poor.

It’s not just conservatives imposing a moral code on society.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
Is imposing your concept of sin on people who do not share your beliefs right or wrong?
Why don’t we rephrase that to be inclusive of the argument:

Is imposing your concept of sin or changing the concept of what is a sin and imposing that value on people who do not share your beliefs right or wrong?

To extend Steverino’s point:

Slavery is not a sin.

Answer your own question.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
It is the acceptance, societally, of the unacceptable. And analog to those who are against abortion would be making murder legal. The value they reject is being forced by the law to be recognized as a ’good’ societal value when, in fact, their system of values, driven by their beliefs, see it as an ’evil’.

This doesn’t logically hold up. They are not, in actual fact, forced by the law to recognize anything. They can see it as evil a thing as they want to.

What they want is for society to recognize something as bad that they believe is bad, by making that behavior illegal. In this aspect, therefore, they want to control society - want to deprive others of liberty to perform private behavior, in exchange for a vision of society that involves other people doing things that they do not like to be present in their society.
But they are not being deprived of liberty.


Pablo: I am in fact aware of the general prevalence of legislated morality. That’s why I have no position on it in the overall sense. Democratic societies have the freedom to legislate morality however their systems/citizen majorities decide. When they do so, it is inherently anti-liberty, however.
Whether an individual case of morality legislation is good or bad depends on the values of those judging. I rarely meet anyone who consistently dislikes all forms of legislated morality. However, some libertarians manage to be consistent around the test of "does this act cause direct, quantifiable harm - not psychic discomfort - to other people"?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
This doesn’t logically hold up. They are not, in actual fact, forced by the law to recognize anything. They can see it as evil a thing as they want to.
It doesn’t matter. Their society doesn’t reflect their values and they dissent from that society because the values have been changed through government. Consequently, they’re not likely to vote for those in the forefront of causing those value changes of which they disapprove (whether they are ever ’forced’ to recognize anything or not).

Jesus (literally, figuratively and ironically)! ... that’s the point of the post. And you continue to demonstrate precisely why Democrats can’t relate to that point and are thus unsuccessful in attracting those voters.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
we’d be hard pressed to make the case that traditional values are being passed well from generation to generation at the moment
I’ll argue this assertion if you won’t. Other than a crotchety old manish "kids these days" there’s not a lot of data to back you up here. On the other hand church attendance is pretty much flat over the past thirty years. Also teen pregnancy rates are at their lowest in thirty years, and teen abortion rates are down since 1988 as well. (Both per Guttmacher) I’m not sure these relate to the "traditional values" you mention, but it wasn’t that hard at all. The kids are alright.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
It doesn’t matter. Their society doesn’t reflect their values and they dissent from that society because the values have been changed through government. Consequently, they’re not likely to vote for those in the forefront of causing those value changes of which they disapprove (whether they are ever ’forced’ to recognize anything or not).

Well, hey, I agree with this. Now we’re just describing cause-and-effect mechanisms.
If people didn’t have contrasting values, we wouldn’t need to vote. If elections weren’t here to settle the issues, we’d be fighting in the streets. Cheerfully, we’re not. Hoorah, democracy!

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
It’s not just conservatives imposing a moral code on society.

Yep.

Of course, non-self-contradictory, libertarians are against all forms of imposed moral codes, or, failing that, as many as humanely possible.

I’m not a libertarian, of course.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
This is a discussion of values. Personal values which individuals believe the society in which they live should reflect (based in tradition, religion or whatever).

That is the battle.

People dissent when their values (based on their beliefs) aren’t represented within their society, and they especially do so when society arbitrarily changes its values away from theirs (by whatever means). And that’s even further exacerbated when society attempts to force those values on the dissenter.

They have various ways to redress those grievances. They can appeal directly to members of that society through various means and venues (and hope they’ll see it their way and change), they can do so legally through courts (who will mandate change), they can appeal to legislators (through whom they hope to see the laws changed), but by whatever means they choose, they are simply doing what has been done to them based on their beliefs (and that was one of the points of the post).

So to your example: "Freedom to choose whether or not to murder is not an endorsement of murder".

The fact that there is a choice involved implicitly endorses the action in question (is there really a moral question as to whether murder should ever be a valid choice, and if yes, how is that not then an endorsement of murder as valid and acceptable act within that society?).

It is the action (murder (or whatever)) they find incompatible with their values, just as they find unacceptable the society which endorses (and condones) it by giving validity (value) to the choice.

If they are an acknowledged member of that society, there is no logical disconnect at all in stating that their values and the values of society (however enforced) are in conflict and that, as society states its values, it implicitly endorses practices (valid legal choices of that society) that are unacceptable to that individual and incompatible with that individual’s values.
This is good analytical stuff. Look, I won’t even ruin the compliment with
something politically partisan and patronizing at the end.

THE MORAL SUPERIORITY OF LIBERALISM WILL WIN THE BATTLE HA HA HA HA HA HAAA

cr*p. How’d that get in there?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I’ll argue this assertion if you won’t. Other than a crotchety old manish "kids these days" there’s not a lot of data to back you up here.
Really?

Well most I know start with the divorce rate. They then cite the number of abortions, teen pregnancies, out-of-wedlock births, high school drop out rates, and an average evening on MTV.

Then they get serious.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
THE MORAL SUPERIORITY OF LIBERALISM WILL WIN THE BATTLE HA HA HA HA HA HAAA
You have to ask? Heh ...

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well, hey, I agree with this. Now we’re just describing cause-and-effect mechanisms.
No kidding. Glad you finally caught on. Jeez. It’s little wonder the Dems can’t figure this out if this discussion is any indication.

Consider this line from the post:
As Carter points out, whether right or wrong and regardless of your belief, that is the belief held by many religious people. For them perception is reality. And reality, given the problems we face today, seems to justify their belief.
Anything just jump out at you?

That point (see bains) has only been made for you three (now four) times in the post and comment thread.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Democratic societies have the freedom to legislate morality however their systems/citizen majorities decide. When they do so, it is inherently anti-liberty, however.
Not particularly, no.

You missed this at the outset; The very concept of freedom itself is a cultural construct and nigh on meaningless outside of that cultural context.

When one says "freedom", one is obliged to answer the question "freedom from what?"... Any answers to that question are invariably culturally driven.



What happens , then, to the freedoms provided by the culture and its values, when those values are forced to change at the hand of government? I submit to you that that’s precisely what the American left as been doing for the last 60 years, changing that context. They’ve been doing so by forcing change onto the culture, by means of legislation... the power of government.

And before you ask, What’s all this about culture when we’re talking about religion... the culture is influenced by many things, religion among them. Removing that religious influence, is not a guarantee of the betterment of the culture . Merely, that it will change.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Like I said, the data doesn’t support it.
And like I said to glasnost, you still don’t get it, do you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
What happens , then, to the freedoms provided by the culture and its values, when those values are forced to change at the hand of government? I submit to you that that’s precisely what the American left as been doing for the last 60 years, changing that context.
Well, you could submit that. I’d submit that the role of government in legislating morality is - this is derived from the observation that all sides of the political spectrum seem very uninhibited about using the government for this purpose - rarely seriously questioned or held as immoral, except selectively by those who then go on to get into power and plunge full ahead with legislating morality.
Therefore, observing that the legislation of morality is basically a pan-idelogical constant, it is likely to be, logically, a neccesary societal function.

Of course, when values are "forced to change at the hands of the government", sometimes you will see a backlash. Then again, sometimes not. Also, sometimes the value change is irreversible despite whatever electoral or other backlash consequences occur. LBJ’s civil rights legislation created a large backlash in the electoral south, and yet civil rights are sticking around.

However, all of this is beside the point - which is to rebut your statement:

Not particularly, no.
You missed this at the outset; The very concept of freedom itself is a cultural construct and nigh on meaningless outside of that cultural context.


I’m not trying to be insulting, just clear, when I say that this is both incorrect and seriously, if inadvertently, misleading.

Freedom is an empirical, observable, quantifiable thing. Now, what the word "freedom" stands for in any one society is related to cultural constructs, but in any given situation, the most pro-liberty outcome can be empirically and logically evaluated.

When the government legislates morality, it inhibits freedom. Whether this is a good or a bad thing can and is debated. But I’d be surprised if you can come up with an example where the above is not true.




 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
No kidding. Glad you finally caught on. Jeez
I think that this is just the part of the idea I agree with, in contrast to the other parts of the idea that I don’t, or the phrasing that suggested ideas to me I don’t agree with, etc, etc, but...

....

No, I can’t go on! here, look, I take it all back. Boy, I was slow. Go ahead, have the last word. Really. I’ve been terribly rude. Look, I’m sniffling into my creme brulee. And into my beret. All over my Monet. Tears plink off the end of my thin moustache and stain the fabric of my vertically striped, secular-French-type pants. PogueMahone, if you’re here, find someone to play a stringed viola.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Divorece Rates have been declining since 1985
While that’s true, I’ll point out that only because the nuknber of people not getting married has increased.
Freedom is an empirical, observable, quantifiable thing. Now, what the word "freedom" stands for in any one society is related to cultural constructs, but in any given situation, the most pro-liberty outcome can be empirically and logically evaluated.
It is only quantifiable within the cultural context. Without that context, you have no basis of comparison, for openers.
When the government legislates morality, it inhibits freedom
Hmm. Wasn’t it you who brought up murder?

 
Written By: bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Go ahead, have the last word.
I had that 4 iterations ago.
Look, I’m sniffling into my creme brulee. And into my beret. All over my Monet. Tears plink off the end of my thin moustache and stain the fabric of my vertically striped, secular-French-type pants.
It’s that little gravy spotted cravat that really looks silly.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
You missed this at the outset; The very concept of freedom itself is a cultural construct and nigh on meaningless outside of that cultural context.
It is? Wow, you could have fooled me.

So without a cultural construct what would I be excercising outside it’s "context"?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Declension narratives are as old as America itself. One reason for the 1692 Witch Trials in Salem was the fear that the old-line Puritans had lost moral authority in a Massachusetts society increasingly driven by secular and material concerns. The same went for the Great Awakening in the 1730s and 1740s. And every other moment of religious revival in American history. There is some sort of cultural or social sense among a sizable segment of the population that things have gone downhill in general. I don’t mean this in a Marxian sense where declining economic status inexorably leads to religious revival (though that certainly does happen too). I mean it in a larger cultural sense.

The modern religious revival in America traces its roots to reaction to the general changes since the 1960s. Whether American culture has, objectively, "declined" is irrelevant. For a sizable segment of America, they believe it has. And they want desperately to reverse that decline.

It was 1976, after all, that Time magazine dubbed "The Year of the Evangelical" in their own pop-culturesque way of capturing the religious changes affecting the American landscape in the 1970s. The growth of evangelical Christianity and an explicitly conservative Christian critique of American popular culture resembled the first Fundamentalist movement of the 1920s, though without some of the more anti-Catholic elements of the past. This movement continued to gather steam in the 1980s and 1990s, especially in the South and the outer suburbs of cities across the country.

But to what avail? Conservative Christian protest is heartfelt and genuinely driven by faith. In many ways conservative fears of cultural change actually drive people to revive their own faith in the first place. But the net effect is usually no more than protest itself. Will America ever rediscover the mythical 1950s? No - at least not in the context of gender and sexuality. Gay marriage, for example, registers much greater support now than it did only two years ago. Ironically, one exception may be abortion. But the reason support for total abortion rights has slipped a bit may have more to do with the increased use of Ultrasound technology than any kind of moral awakening - people can now "see" and "hear" the human life potentially sucked out in abortion. I know it had that effect for me - and I’m not religious in the least.

But what of Democrats? I actually think Bell is dead right. For those voters whose political identity is driven, primarily, by cultural fears of "secularism" and oversexualization, the Democratic Party is a lost cause. Fortunately for Democrats, I don’t think this groups is as large as some people here suggest. I’m not speaking of people who generally dislike gay marriage and abortion, but who loathe Bush’s Iraq war policy and support a strong welfare state. These folks, many of whom are religious, are going to vote Democratic because their own way of weaving religious faith and political values tends to make them more supportive of the Democratic agenda. They just don’t buy the whole "Democratic War on Faith." I personally know dozens of people who pray before meals, go to Church most Sundays, and earnestly believe in God, but who find that their own faith leads them toward a support of the Democratic Party. On the other hand, the people whose faith is centrally connected to conservative cultural protest will always privilege concerns about "moral issues" over all others. They are lost to Democrats forever. These are people like my father-in-law, who is obsessed with the general cultural depravity of American cities (though he seems to have moderated a tad in recent years as he’s discovered that most cities are not cesspools of sin anymore a la Taxi Driver-era NYC.) He will always vote Republican.

The vast middle, however, is not where Stephen Carter claims. Most Americans in the center, who vaguely ascribe to some version of Protestant Christianity, had no problem pulling the lever for Bill Clinton twice. Nobody whose politics was fundamentally defined by moral outrage at post-1960s cultural decline would vote for Bill Clinton. In many ways, Clinton personified the decline in traditional values among Baby Boomers. Yet, Clinton won nearly every county in Louisiana, Arkansas, western Tennessee, northern Missouri, Iowa, western Kentucky, and even many parts of Alabama and Georgia - all highly evangelical regions of America. Perhaps Clinton’s religiosity innoculated him against charges of secularism run amok. It’s why Obama or Warner could win a national election, but Hillary and John Kerry can’t. It’s not that Kerry et al are "hostile" to people of faith. It’s just that their worldviews are so utterly disconnected from the world of faith that they can’t even connect in the right language. In politics, language and perceptions of authenticity matter a lot. Just ask George W. Bush.

 
Written By: Elrod
URL: http://
So without a cultural construct what would I be excercising outside it’s "context"?
If you can locate a place on this earth that operates outside some kind of a cultural context, you’ll have a point. Until that comes along, it seems wise to assume you’re in theoretical territory, with little or no real world application ....
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
If you can locate a place on this earth that operates outside some kind of a cultural context, you’ll have a point. Until that comes along, it seems wise to assume you’re in theoretical territory, with little or no real world application ....
That’s not what I asked. Do you mind answering the question?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Get what? That parents of faith can feel alone and embattled in their efforts to bring up moral children regardless of data that says their generally doing a good job, certainly a much better job then partents who had kids between 1950 and 1970 did? Because I get that just fine. Surely every parent feels some of it. My daughter just switched what she wants to be when she grows up from ballerina to "pop star"; I feel it brother. But I don’t freak out about it.
And I don’t let that angst lead me to support random republican prescriptions.

Sure, perception is reality and people can feel besieged whether the data show they’re doing a good job or not, but that’s not what you asserted. In any case while many versions of Christianity have some of that us-against-the-World feel built into many of their beliefs, it might be less if politicians and others to whom their angst was useful weren’t constantly telling them that their children are in danger and to get out the pitch-forks. It is, in fact, absurdly easy to make the case that traditional values are being passed well from generation to generation at the moment (with data about kids’ actual choices) but that wouldn’t be useful to those who benefit from this fear.

A more interesting question than whether Republicans will always be successful in taking this anxiety and demonizing thier opponents with it, might be why at the moment when passing our values to our youth seems so much harder, the results are so much better than they were for the generation that grew up in the suposedly easier fifties.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
That’s not what I asked. Do you mind answering the question?
To the contrary, that’s precisely what you asked me. You posed a hypothetical. You’re asking a question of pure theory, without any practical application whatever. I’m asking you to bring it back to the real world; Can you give us an example of a group of people, or even an individual, devoid of a cultural context, much less such a person or people operating in the manner you say they would?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Nice dodge.

Well, not really. Pretty lame in reality.

I didn’t think you’d answer.

And yeah, I think your point is a load of crap. But since you’re going to play games, we’re done.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Who said anything about playing games?

Oh, I SEE.

You CAN’T come up with anywhere on the planet where people operate outside a cultural context.

And THAT, Bruce IS the point, in case you’ve missed it.
If your point is that one alone, an individual can act in freedom, why U.S. I suppose you could say that. But there aren’t many people who operate in that fashion. (I note, for example, thankfully, that you are not posting from an address in some uninhabited self pole location.... therefore, you also are subject to tehse forces, as are we all.) As soon as that person reenters the real world, where there are other people, he is subject to the culture that inserts himself into.

What is morality, after all, but a proscribed set of conditions for human interaction? Anywhere you have more than one person, there you’ll also have a morality... a way of dealing with human interaction that is reflective of the values of the people involved.

Hmmm?


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
And by the way, it’s interesting to note that we’ve already covered some of this stuff back when the left was accusing REPUBLICANS of


The fact is that our founders did not give us a nation frightened by the apparition of the Deity lurking about in our most central places. On Sept. 25, 1789, the text of what was later adopted as the First Amendment was passed by both houses of Congress, and subsequently sent to the states for ratification. On that same day , the gentlemen in the House who had acted to give us that invaluable text took another action: They passed a resolution asking President George Washington to declare a national day of thanksgiving to no less a perceived eminence than almighty God.

That’s precident , that’s national, that’s official and, alas, my doubting hearties, it’s God... all wrapped up in a federal action by those who knew what they meant by the non-establishment clause and saw their request as standing at not the slightest variance from it.
While other religions (Or for that matter, atheists, which I will include as a faith unto itself) are accepted by both law and the tradition of western culture, they are never more than a minority influence in our culture. And that seems to be to be the most troubling to Hitches of the world and to the Randians as well.

The fact is, that the Republicans did not win, and theire not in power now, because they’re part of the Religious ANYTHING. In fact, to become overtly religious, and religiously driven in their governmental activity, will be the death knell of the Republican party... or ANY party so consumed and so deployed... (and properly so!) Rather, they have been winning of late because they are aware of and are respectful of the culture that gave the government life... and the people... the voters... are responding to this.

They each understand and respect, as the founders did... the relationship between government and the culture. The majority of Americans... the largest part of the culture.... which, not suprisingly, is made up of Christians and cultural conservatives... see the Republicans as being the better reflector of their cultural values. Thus, the current Republican majority. It’s really that simple.

And, so the Democrats have managed to work themselves into a proverbial corner; Every one of their big electoral issues is wrapped around radical cultural changes... changes which run directly afoul of the culture. Until either the Democrats change their tack, or the culture itself changes, the Democrats will continue to lose.And so now we come to this. The Democrats finally picked up on that idea, and it is precisely as I said it was :
What they are seeking is the sign off of the religious on their agenda... unless someone is able to show me that the Democrats are willing to change their agenda to accommodate the religious...

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Who said anything about playing games?
Answer my question, bithead.

Tell me what Jeremiah Johnson was "exercising" when alone for many months without seeing a soul in the Rocky Mountains.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
So, you point to fictional story... a movie, for your example of real world freedom?

I must assume you’re joking.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://

 
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