Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 12, 2006
By: Steve Waldman

I was thinking about the readers who suggested that I had been unfair in claiming a liberal hostility to evangelical Christianity. Fair point, I thought. I probably should have said "many liberals" rather than caricaturing liberalism per se.

But as I was crafting the words for a correction, I came across this passage from "The Left Hand of God," the new book by Rabbi Michael Lerner, a liberal-in-good-standing if ever there was one:

"Overwhelmingly, the white activists who shaped the Left of the 1960s have remained mired in a culture of hostility toward religion and spirituality. If this were merely a historical curiosity, I'd leave this issue to the cultural historians. But since the Left's hostility to religion and spirituality has become such a major stumbling block to the chances that progressive forces will ever win enough power to actually change the socially and environmentally destructive policies of the West, it becomes important to explore the roots of this hostility."

I had been making a narrower point that many liberals carry an elitist attitude toward evangelical Christians. Lerner's indictment is far more sweeping. Is he being unfair? I think a distinction should be made between the elites and the rank and file on this. The fact is that most Democrats are religious. But secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote (more stats here) seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party's image and approach.

Steve Waldman 11:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (307)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Lerner may well be right, but the real question is different.

Why should liberals or for that any other collection of rational human beings be receptive to any other group with obscurantist views that the other group wants to impose on others?

Posted by: nut on March 12, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

Throughout all of post-medieval history, the left has been at odds with the Church.

Just sayin' that the problem is nothing new...

Posted by: Petey on March 12, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

But secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote (more stats here) seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party's image and approach.

Based on what?

From my perspective, anything other than unquestioning religiosity is seen as "hostility to religion." Maybe you guys need thicker skins. After all, show me all the atheists who hold office in this country.

That's what I thought.

Posted by: craigie on March 12, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Smeone in the comments of the 'knee-jerk liberals' Sullivan thread pointed out that there's beena lot of religion posts here of late.

If it keeps up, I suggest the name of the blog be changed to 'Religious Animal,' at which point I'm out of here for good.

C'mon. Focus, guys.

Posted by: Stranger on March 12, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Petey is right, because throughout history, religion and the mass hysteria that it can be used to whip up have been great tools of those in power who want to keep the status quo, i.e., the conservatives. Inasmuch as the left wants the power to flow to the people, it has to be by definition at odds with the religious wackos who are easily hoodwinked and co-opted by the establishment.

Posted by: lib on March 12, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with nut. This is not the liberal's problem. It a problem of right-wing Christian evangelism.

Posted by: Punditbot on March 12, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Petey,

What do you mean by "post-medieval history?"

Also define Church. The capital "C" would seem to imply the Catholic Church. Is that what you mean?

Finally, by left do you include John Lock, Abe Lincoln, Roger Williams or just folks who grew up in the era of social darwinism which can generally be dated from the end of the 19th Century forward?

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 12, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

The left has been at odds with the church because the church has been reactionary. (Mostly, there are some exceptions. These exceptions have tended to be ground into little bits by the powers that run their churches).

I would not characterize it as a "problem".

Posted by: Ba'al on March 12, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Democratic Party keeps nominating believing Christians for president, but most of them have been nice enough not to say that God told them to run for office. By contrast, Republican candidates are always babbling about their supposed religious values and making a big production of claiming God is on their side. (They never remember the parable about the hypocritical Pharisee who prays alound in public and the humble publican who prays quietly and wins greater favor from God thereby.)

As a nonbeliever, I appreciate it when my party's leaders don't rub my nose in their religiosity, but their restraint gives the Christian right the opportunity it needs to denounce Democrats as godless religion-haters. The remedy is not for believing Democrats to prate about God all the time (please, God, no!), but to point out incessantly that the Republicans lie when they claim Christian values. Their devotion to Jesus' principles of meekness, charity, and turning the other cheek is so obviously a sham that even Democrats ought to be able to make that case.

Posted by: Zeno on March 12, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a liberal- a member of the ACLU, Amnesty International, and so forth. I have great respect for individuals of faith regardless of what I think of their religious beliefs. But I don't recall growing up in the 60's that there was anything like today's unholy trinity of evangelical leaders, television, and politics. As a kid I watched Oral Roberts on television on Sunday afternoons (I'm Jewish, but my siblings and I thought he was fascinating) but I don't recall any political messages emanating from evangelicals until the late 1970's, with the rise of religious demagogues like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Somehow, I don't think that Jesus wants us to drill for oil in Alaska or give tax cuts to the rich-- but now that's part of the party platform and the right wing Christian agenda.

The lack of respect I feel isn't for the individuals who sincerely hold their beliefs; it's for the hypocrites who call for killing and assassinations in the name of Christ (i.e. Robertson calling for "taking out" the President of Venezuala) and for the politicians like Bush and Bill Frist who cloak themselves in religiosity while ordering or condoning acts which would make the Christian Jesus sick.

Posted by: James Finkelstein on March 12, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand why in the United States the people who want to treat everyone the same, regardless of religion, are seen as "hostile" to those that think that Christianity makes them superior to everyone else.

Posted by: enozinho on March 12, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh fucknuts. There's a perception because Republicans insist daily that they're God's Own Party, the media only invites bugshit crazy people like Falwell and Dobson on to represent "the religious" and people like you and Pastor Amy obsess about these mythical people or whatever the fuck WHO HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO PUBLIC VOICE WHATSOVER.

Are these anti-religious people on TV ever? On the op-ed pages? On NPR? Fuck, I doubt if they're even on Pacifica Commie Radio very often. Forget the politicians who obviously aren't towing the Secular Atheist line, where in mainstream political discourse ANYWHERE is this perspective being pushed?

Fucknuts, with allies like these.

Posted by: Mr. Bigglesworth on March 12, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, Steve, but you back up your baseless slander against liberals with another person's baseless slander? The charge against you (which we can now be handily extend to Lerner) is that you have internalized a Republican talking point. The commenters to your post demanded that you come up with some evidence to support your claim. You have failed, once again, to do so.

Which leading liberals have evinced this hostility? Name one. Maybe you're thinking of such leading liberals as Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry -- all regular churchgoers, in contrast to the leaders of the Republican Party. Perhaps it's the millions of liberals who supported those very religious leaders, maybe they have a hostility toward relgion.

Or not. Perhaps, next time you make broad, sweeping generalizations about liberals, you should come up with some facts, or even just one fact, to support your claims.

Posted by: pdp on March 12, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Am I being fair when I say that liberal pundits like Waldman and Amy Sullivan are totally lacking in any understanding of the current political dynamic when they continue to insist that as soon as the Democrats wet themselves in baptismal waters and start wearing their religion on their shirts and sleeves the evangelical Christians will flock to the Left at the election time?

Posted by: nut on March 12, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Judging by the limited posts here, I'd say there is an obvious hostility toward religious people. I know several devout catholics and evangelicas who actually work for social justice causes--something keyboard politicians only talk about--but have a hard time in liberal circles because of their faith. What's more, these people aren't interested in converting the world. It's easier for "many liberals" to lump them all into narrow minded simpletons which is grossly unfair and unproductive.

To me, fundamentalist atheists are about as open minded as evangelical extremists. Both often complain about being constantly attacked and neither want to work with moderates.

Posted by: gq on March 13, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

I imagine less than 20% of the American population has a working knowledge of the Bible. If they did, they might question capitalism a bit more critically since usury (a concept most Christians can't even define) is roundly condemned in both the new and old testaments. There are many varieties of religious experience, some of which are amazingly mean-spirited, nasty, and hypocritical. It is these experiences that liberals tend to mock. We do so not because we hate goodness or love or the cosmos but because we're probably more genuinely compassionate than the religious chauvinists who look for scriptural reasons to hate and condemn other people.

Posted by: walt on March 13, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Look, while I get just as annoyed as anyone with the derision and contempt spouted about our "sky-friend" or whatever, the fact is that the fundamentalist-- and to a certain extent, evangelical-- God is about as alien to many mainline Protestants like myself as the omnipotent-deity concept is to hardcore atheists. My God is certainly awesome (to quote Barack Obama), but He is not a) my bestest buddy, b) the author of a simple & straightforward instruction manual for getting into heaven, or c) likely to talk to me personally or to be particularly interested in the mundane acts of civil governments. I'm nearly as contemptuous of fundamentalism as many atheists, because it ultimately diminishes both Christianity and our civic principles, and I have to consciously remind myself that I'm supposed to respect their rights to believe as they do even as I fight their desire to dominate the rest of us with those beliefs. It's not easy.

Besides, nonbelievers still have a stake in society (possibly more than most, since an afterlife isn't always promised) and the Democratic Party is as good a political home as any. Maybe I'm just odd, but my principles are solid enough that I'd rather ally myself with others who agree on that score, even if they are boorish about spiritual matters, than deny those principles just so I can feel more like I'm being validated by the party that tries to destroy everything I hold dear.

Posted by: latts on March 13, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

All the definitions here are rather vague, which is a big part of the problem. I'm troubled by the Rabbi's equation of 'religion' with 'spirituality'. So much of those who call themselves religious on the right are merely tribalists, united with their co-religionists by shared hatreds rather than anything that resembles Christ's message, that's why I prefer the term religiose to describe "Christians" like Geo Bush, Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter. I believe in the message of Christ, that message influences my politics and my life. I believe we all have an obligation to feed the hungry, tend to the sick, and comfort the lonely and the hurting. I also believe firmly in the separation of Church and State. There's no damn reason I shouldn't be able to buy beer on Sunday, just to pick a ridiculously reductive but real life example.
As for my elitism, do I look down on those who believe that the planet Earth is 6,000 years old? Do I laugh at those who think dolphins are angels? Yes to both. And I have every intention of continuing to do so.

Posted by: Jim on March 13, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

I would prefer to have this conversation with Rabbi Lerner than with you. Perhaps you should have him guest blog in addition to you and Amy.

In the meantime would you please untie Kevin?

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Why don't liberal politicians just go on these evangelical talk shows and talk to the big time evangelicals on national television? What's the big deal? If there's mistrust there it's probably a mistrust that could be ameliorated with outreach and better lines of communication.

Seriously, why didn't John kerry just go on pat robertson's show, or whoever, and talk to them about all the things that are on their mind?

Posted by: mk on March 13, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Nut, Rabbi Lerner does not belong to a "group with obscurantist views that [it] wants to impose on others." Most evangelicals don't fit that descrption, either. R. Lerner's point, I think, is rather that hostility towards religious people and their faiths isn't rational, nor is boxing them in with the religious Right. Liberals who are waging a culture war against religion as such will find it that much harder to influence religious voters -- except in a rightward direction.

Posted by: Dabodius on March 13, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Nut, you're totally right. If a Democrat goes to Church, he's pandering. If a Democrat goes hunting, he's pandering. But the veep can shoot a man in the face and no one will question his manly-man, true-american bona fides.

Cardinal Mahoney could run as a Democrat and he'd still be accused of "faking" it. If Democrats fall into this trap and try to out-pray the Republicans, they will only face scorn and ridicule from those that use faith as a cover for racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc.

Posted by: enozinho on March 13, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Latts & Jim Nice posting. It's good to get something other than talking points on the go - oh yes. They happen here too.

Posted by: opit on March 13, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

There may be some fundamentalist atheists lurking somewhere under the beds of conseravtives' children (along with the gays and the blacks and the Muslims and the feminists and the tax and spend liberals--my these kids' beds must be huge) but I have never met one in person. Nor have I seen one on TV or heard on the radio complaining that Republicans are hostile to atheism.

Posted by: nut on March 13, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Simply because many Liberals have a much broader sense of spirituality, finding it in Art, books, and eachother does not mean we are hostile towards it.

Posted by: politica on March 13, 2006 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

You have to go as deep as anonymous posters on internet forusm to find any public expression of hostility to religion In the pages of liberal magazines like american prospect? No. On NPR? No. On the "communist news network" CNN? no. On Charlie Rose? No. In the pages of the New York times? no.

We're all incredibly aware of this 16% of Kerry voters who are apparently destroying the Democratic party, but fucknuts they're NO WHERE TO BE FOUND IN THE PUBLIC DISCOURSE.

Except maybe the comments threads on blogs. Quick, call Brent Bozell and Mullah Dobson.

Posted by: Mr. Bigglesworth on March 13, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

From TUNAMAN: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/3/12/104345/575

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/9178374/gods_senator?rnd=1142140225190&has-player=true&version=6.0.12.1212

Brownback seeks something far more radical: not faith-based politics but faith in place of politics. In his dream America, the one he believes both the Bible and the Constitution promise, the state will simply wither away. In its place will be a country so suffused with God and the free market that the social fabric of the last hundred years -- schools, Social Security, welfare -- will be privatized or simply done away with. There will be no abortions; sex will be confined to heterosexual marriage. Men will lead families, mothers will tend children, and big business and the church will take care of all.

Every Tuesday, before his evening meeting with his prayer brothers, Brownback chairs another small cell -- one explicitly dedicated to altering public policy. It is called the Values Action Team, and it is composed of representatives from leading organizations on the religious right. James Dobson's Focus on the Family sends an emissary, as does the Family Research Council, the Eagle Forum, the Christian Coalition, the Traditional Values Coalition, Concerned Women for America and many more.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

How come Evangelicals are never accused of "elitism," when they believe they are specially selected by God and will go on to paradise while everyone who doesn't absolutely believe in everything they sell will roast in hell forever? And when they would deny full legal rights to women and homosexuals?

Waldman's posting is obnoxious. No, I do not tolerate intolerance, and will not start doing so anytime soon.

Posted by: Thers on March 13, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

SCALIA, A THREAT TO AMERICA
Judge Scalia has demonstrated the paucity of his moral character many times in the past but until now I did not think he was deliberately against the Constitution, the one that begins "We the People of the United States.." but here he is on record:

"JUSTICE SCALIA: And when somebody goes by
8 that monument, I don't think they're studying each
9 one of the commandments. It's a symbol of the fact
10 that government comes -- derives its authority from
11 God. And that is, it seems to me, an appropriate
12 symbol to be on State grounds.

3 THOMAS VAN ORDEN, :
4 Petitioner :
5 v. : No. 03-1500
6 RICK PERRY, IN HIS OFFICIAL :
7 CAPACITY AS GOVERNOR OF :
8 TEXAS AND CHAIRMAN, STATE :
9 PRESERVATION BOARD, ET AL.

http://wid.ap.org/documents/scotus/050302perry.pdf

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

It's not about the beliefs of Evangelicals, it is about them being imposed on the rest of us.

Posted by: steve expat on March 13, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Dolphins as angels? I hadn't heard that one, but it is chuckle-worthy.

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 13, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

WHAT THE FUNDIES REALLY WANT
"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost," Kennedy says. "As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society."

- D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Ministries
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/_/id/7235393?rnd=1113034924500&has-player=true&version=6.0.12.872

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Nor have I seen one on TV or heard on the radio

The guy that went to the Supreme Court to argue that the use of the words "under God" made the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional would fit my definition of a fundamentalist atheist.

Posted by: enozinho on March 13, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

The Intelligent Design freaks also hate Western Civilization:

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hangar/2437/wedge.html

WHAT THE ID FOLKS REALLY WANT
Just in case you thought this was purely a free speech or scientific issue:

GOALS
Governing Goals
* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals
* To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
* To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
* To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Twenty Year Goals
* To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
* To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.
* To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Waldman,

As you can see, the political "evangelists" not only hate America, they also hate Western Civilization.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

The Nazi's had too political levers that they loved to pull.

The first was fear-mongering the electorate over the threat of 'Bolshevism' in order to manipulate the electorate into being hearded into the Nazi camp. Boshevism was a threat much closer to them than us, especially as Baveria declared itself a Soviet Republic for something like two weeks or so during the chaos after WWI. When a lone Dutch Communist burned down the Reichstag the Nazi's trumped it up as the first event in a wide ranging terrorist plot, sent the army out to guard roads and bridges, trumped up the propaganda and then goaded the Reichstag into the enabling acts handing Hitler dictatorial powers.

That was their foremost lever.

The second lever was the Persecuted Majority theme.

The Nazi's loved to blame the loss of World War I as a result of a stab in the back by liberals and jews, and play the German manority as the victims.

Now we have seen where Bush & co have used fearmongering over terrorism in manner that exactly parallels the Nazis in order to manipulate the electorate.

We haven't seen a terrorist warning since October 2004. Finally the Dubai Port-gate fiasco has blow the cover completely off this meme as nothing other than bogus. So fearmongering over terrorism is running out of gas for them.

Ah but there is still the persecuted majority theme: For the Nazi's it was ethnic Germans, for the Neocons its Christians. And we've seen them play that to a hilt.

This is an election year and they are going to go all out to play the persecuted majority theme, precisely because they are running out of gas and credibility on the fearmongering theme.

South Dakota is outlawing abortion. Missouri Republicans are trying to establish Christianity as the official state religion. Never mind the assurdity this portrays to the first amendment, this is a political year, and they need to set the stage for a persecuted majority.

I am sorry but Christian conservatives deserve to be blasted by liberals, especially by liberal Christians. They are trying to drive a wedge through the country using religion.

I am sorry, but this issue was solved a long time ago. We have all decided a long time ago to just live to gether. We decided a long time ago the each of us would respect the other persons freedom of conscience. We decided that well over 200 years ago when we put it in the constitution.

For the last 200 years, while the rest of the world killed each other over religion, we have lived happily at peace. Protestants and Catholics, who were at each other's throats daily in Europe, would move over hear and find themselves as good neighbors to each other.

Why would we want to throw that away? Well Republicans would, do, and are, just for the sake of getting elected.

If they had valid, good ideas, they wouldn't have to manipulate the public - like a matador waving a red cape infront of a bull.

I would remind the would be bulls, those persecuted majority Christians, what happens to the Bull courtesy of the Matador: he stabs the bull in the back with flowery knives, repeatedly, until the bull dies, to the cheer of his adoring fans.

While the Republicans throw red meat to the conservative christian masses, they are busy undermining working people and the middle classes ability to earn a respectable living.

I wasn't always a liberal, it took Bush to push me into that camp, and I see Christians getting manipulated and allowing Bush to trash our traditional culture of tolerance while he drives a wedge through our society on his way to driving America back into some medieval age. For that, I am hostile.

Posted by: Bubbles on March 13, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost...

Wonder what the Great Spirit will have to say about that?

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 13, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

But secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote (more stats here) seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party's image and approach.

I wish we had that disproportionate impact. The right-wingnuts have a disproportionate impact on making it look like we have a disproportionate impact.

Get it?

Posted by: Carole on March 13, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

On people who proclaim their faith too loudly:

Matthew 6

1 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on March 13, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

"many liberals"?

Name 2 you lying jackass.

Posted by: cdj on March 13, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

Since our countrymen high on Jesus have been tipping elections why not discuss religion, but self-criticism for atheists, no thank you.

Posted by: Lucy on March 13, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

lib writes - "Petey is right, because throughout history, religion and the mass hysteria that it can be used to whip up have been great tools of those in power who want to keep the status quo, i.e., the conservatives. Inasmuch as the left wants the power to flow to the people, it has to be by definition at odds with the religious wackos who are easily hoodwinked and co-opted by the establishment."

...you mean wackos like Martin Luther King? The Berrigan brothers? Lech Walesa?

I think you've been reading a different history than I have.

Posted by: Armed Liberal on March 13, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

You make a good point I suppose.
Although... I am not quite sure what it is.

Here is my position:

Religion is a mental disease that takes itself way too seriously.

Even worse:

Religious fundamentalists are mass murderers.

Ergo... I don't tolerate religion.

It is not allowed on my private property.

And.. I will write everything I can to chide it, slap it, and slit its throat.

Yep... I am going to poke fun at it and berate it every chance I get.

If you want to make nice with it... be my guest.

But let's be clear on one thing:

The world desperately needs people who say FUCK YOU to fundamentalists.


Posted by: koreyel on March 13, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

>

If anyone needed an example of (some) liberals skepticism of things religious, that statement it is.

The statement is so general as to be meaningless (you could say the right has been at odds with the church); at worst simply not true.

Let's see... What left social cause scored the gratest victories in America in the last century? Civil rights? Led by ... Martin Luther King? Based in ... where? Oh, the black churches, that's right...

And as I recall, liberal Protestant churches provided a giant megaphone to antiwar and antinuclear movements in the 60s and 50s, not to mention moral authority.

And where did Pope John Paul come down on Iraq, capital punishment and unbridled capitalism?

And who led the Progressive movement in the 19th and early 20th century? William Jennings Bryan?
(By the way, he opposed evolution because its bastard offspring, social darwinism, provided a pseudo-scientific excuse for the worst depredations of capitalism. A case of the throwing out the baby with the dirty bath water, but it's all beside the point.)

But all good, college- educated real leftists can forget all that; they only need remember the dictum: religion is the opiate of the masses.

Posted by: CurtisE on March 13, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

the white activists who shaped the Left of the 1960s have remained mired in a culture of hostility toward religion and spirituality

Father Drinan, the Berrigan Brothers, the Rev. Sloane Coffin - all white activists who hated religion.

Lerner is a wanker.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

I think the best part of this post is the contorted recasting - almost Andrew Sullivanesque in its deftness - of the libel from "the liberal notion that religious Christians are inherently backwards, regressive and opponents of liberty" to "liberal hostility to evangelical Christianity" - unless, in the poster's mind, the only "religious" Christians are evangelicals.

Posted by: wolfstar on March 13, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Hostile to conservative Christianity maybe, but to "spirituality"? What is he smoking? Left-wingers of the 60s generation are heavily into alternative spirituality, most notably Eastern religions. The very term "spirituality" is a cliche in these circles.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on March 13, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

You say: "I had been making a narrower point that many liberals carry an elitist attitude toward evangelical Christians."

So what? Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, along with most of those whom we think of as the intellectual founders of this country, also carried an elitist attitude toward 18th century evangelical christians. Thank goodness that they did.

It's quite depressing that in this day and age we find ourselves fighting over whether we should champion the Enlightenment ideals that this country was founded on, or embrace the more medievalist religious conceptions of government's role--a role that those (to your way of thinking) out-of-touch Founding Fathers sought to vanquish over two centuries ago.

Let's get moving again! We need to come up with new ideas about the relationship of humans to community, to thought and to whatever we define as the spiritual realm--theist or not. What profound paths we might clear if we could move foreward from this old and tired debate. And this is not just a choice we have. At this point, the state of our world demands it.

Posted by: af on March 13, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Bush does not belong to a congregation, has no regular church, and has been thrown out by the Presbyterian church he did claim.

So what the hell is yer point?

Posted by: reef the dog on March 13, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

CURTISE - And where did Pope John Paul come down on Iraq

I forgot about that one, thanx! Also, the Conference of American Bishops came out against the war

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

Also, to say the progressive are anti-spiritual is to ignore the incrteasing number of people embracing Buddhism, alternative medicines, and the all-around self-searching that is so antipathetic to fundamnnetalism of every stripe. In other words, rabbi, fuck you if you think you have a lock on what religion is and who cares about it.

Posted by: Kenji on March 13, 2006 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

wow - this blog is soooo rightwing....

This walman character is now being "fair and balanced" with evangelicalism? jackass.

one merely needs to take a look at evangelicals in America to see that they DESERVE the scorn they receive - they earned every last ounce of it.

waldman is just another example of a once-good (for the sake of argument) democrat who has been so beaten down by the republicans that he's well-internalized their talking points. he now thinks he's being a "calm voice of reason" within the party, when he's really ONLY a trojan horse sent by the republicans.

fuck him and his republican lies.

Posted by: cdj on March 13, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Digby nailed it hours ago (click here)

I wonder who all the religious candidates we've unfairly scorned in the past would be? Jimmy Carter? Bill Clinton? (and no, having affairs does not mean you are not religious, just a sinner.) Al Gore? John Kerry? They all go to church and profess to be believers. Are they just not religious enough? Now, it's true that the knee-jerk left doesn't much care for Joe Lieberman but that's not because he's a religious man. It's because he is disloyal and enables the right wing. (We knee-jerk left wingers do tend to be dismissive of right wingers, that's true.)

I recall scorning both Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and neither one of them were particularly religious. Bobby Kennedy was a youthful hero and he was as catholic as they come. In fact, I'm having a hard time coming up with any consistent views on either side toward religious politicians at all.

...

And as for hostility, let's not forget that it was back in 1988 that a future president of the United States said this:

President George H. W. Bush: I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

Who scorns who again? Perhaps some of these religious politicans could speak to the flock about giving some respect to the non-faithful. It's the Christian thing to do.

Remember that guy who kicked the moneychangers out of the temple? Such hostility!

Although, if I remember right, someone wrote a book about him.

Posted by: Al K. Duh! on March 13, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats should not let any wussies who were bullied in the seventh grade join their party.

Posted by: nut on March 13, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

you heard it here first guys: within 1 year there will be a major announcement on this blog that it's explicitly supporting republicans.

Posted by: cdj on March 13, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Based solely on the comments to this post, I'd say liberals pretty clearly have a problem with religion. A lot of these comments drip with hostility even as they protest their own innocence.

I say this as a liberal and an atheist. No squishy agnosticism for me -- I am as atheist as they come. I have no love for the religious right, nor for the many Republicans who wrap themselves in the mantle of religion at every opportunity.

But despite this, I can't quite muster the anger that seems to animate, um, nut and Mr. Bigglesworth. I can't quite muster the cynicism.

The hysterical reactions to these posts, more than anything else I've seen or read elsewhere, bear out Steve and Amy's views. We liberals have a religion problem, and we'd better deal with it if progressivism is to have any future in this country.

Posted by: crabshack on March 13, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Why don't liberal politicians just go on these evangelical talk shows and talk to the big time evangelicals on national television? What's the big deal? If there's mistrust there it's probably a mistrust that could be ameliorated with outreach and better lines of communication.

You mean like when both Clintons appeared on stage with Jerry Falwell at his Flushing Meadows (NYC) crusade, to a rousing response from the crowd and not much mention in the national media?

Ignoring the way the entire topic of "religion" has been cheapened and politicized by the GOP does nobody any good.

Posted by: Thers on March 13, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Waldman,

I'm getting really fed up with the religious people wanting to run things as if they were competent or sane. They're neither.

Fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims are ruining the world with their craziness, and religious moderates are their enablers.

Religious people should sit down, shut up and pay attention to those of us who understand objective reality. We'll show you the truth and a way to a better future.

Posted by: Balzac on March 13, 2006 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Based solely on the comments to this post, I'd say liberals pretty clearly have a problem with religion. A lot of these comments drip with hostility even as they protest their own innocence.

Based solely on your comment on this post, I'd say you like to beat up the elderly.

Please.

Posted by: Thers on March 13, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

CurtisE - The left will always get behind religious leaders that champions the rights of a minority over the tyranny of the majority.

Most of the religion-related wedge issues that get Democrats into trouble with religious conservatives involve the majority restricting the rights of a minority.

Posted by: enozinho on March 13, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Is Mr. Waldman suggesting that we follow the examplary Tom Delay or Jack Abramoff or Claude Allen in our support of evangelical Christians?

Posted by: lib on March 13, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

"...you mean wackos like Martin Luther King? The Berrigan brothers? Lech Walesa?"

Ah, yes. the magnificent Lech Walesa, who introduced anti-semitism into his final election campaign by asking why his opponent refused to answer "charges" that he was jewish. "Why are you denying it?" Lech asked. 'There's nothing wrong with jews, so you should feel free to admit it! We have nothing against jews, so admit you're jewish and we'll never bring up the issue again."

Lech Walesa: America's favorite catholic, anti-semitic love-child.

Posted by: Pastor Maker on March 13, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Has Mr. Waldman written on the sorry spectacle of the Catholic church working against John Kerry at the behest of the GWB campaign? His criticism of the Democrats on the religion front would be more credible if he did.

Posted by: nut on March 13, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

I belong to a bird club. Nobody in the club mentions religion at the meetings. There are no articles about religion in the bird club newsletter. There would be universal astonishment if a speaker at one of our meetings were to attempt to insert religion into a lecture on feather plucking in parrots.

As an atheist, I view religion as similarly irrelevant to politics and social issues, used only by those who want to claim superiority or browbeat others.

To get a feel for the atheist viewpoint, just imagine what you would think if an adult told you a fairy tale (such as Billy Goat Gruff), and after a few sentences, you realized that the person believed that s/he was telling you a true story, complete with talking animals and a troll living under a bridge. Your first thought would be, "This person is psychotic." THAT IS HOW ATHEISTS VIEW STORIES ABOUT AN INCORPOREAL BEING WHO LIVES ABOVE THE SKY, and that is the reason why we fervently wish that you confine your beliefs to your own private sphere. We can connect with you beautifully on the topics of progressive politics with its varying shades of opinion, but there is a fundamental "either/or" when it comes to religion and therefore, a gulf that cannot be breached.

Posted by: Katherine on March 13, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Right. But one should definitely not take Michael Lerner's word for it in terms of liberal attitudes towards religion. Lerner's whole career is built on being the rabbi who talks religion and spirituality to secular liberal Jews who want to get back in touch with their religion without abandoning their political convictions. He's got a vested self-marketing interest in characterizing liberals as more anti-religion than they really are.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

Based solely on the comments to this post

So, you support Brownback, Scalia, D. James Kennedy and the ID freaks?

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

You know nothing of my work.

Posted by: Rabbi Michael Lerner McLuhan on March 13, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

I heard what you were saying. You, you know nothing of my work. How you ever got to post in a blog in anything is totally amazing.

Posted by: Rabbi Michael Lerner McLuhan on March 13, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

Based solely on your comment on this post, I'd say you like to beat up the elderly.

Now THAT was funny!

Posted by: Nomad on March 13, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe hits the nail on the head. As I said, your using Rabbi Lerner's quote here is meaningless. The debate should be with Rabbi Lerner, who I suspect might be happy to be a guest blogger here.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Thought and policy based on science and reason is unfortunately always going to sound elitist to people who believe the world was created in 6 days and believe that man was created by God out of whole cloth in his present form, and believe that global warming is a faggot hoax. We are getting closer and closer to a time when we cant afford to have our political and policy apparatus held hostage by these people. We just plain won't survive. What needs to happen is for people like you to stand up bravely and tell your fellow Christians that your God doesn't necessarily want the world destroyed real soon. Instead you are saying "the left" should do what? Its not clear what you want.

Posted by: ChetBob on March 13, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Hostility to religion? Hardly. If it were a bunch of secularist assholes who want to impose their irrational value systems on my life, both private and public, I would feel exactly the same.

Thanks for playing.

Posted by: ahem on March 13, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Petey says, "Throughout all of post-medieval history, the left has been at odds with the Church.'

Amen, Petey! And we're proud of it. Liberals have ALWAYS been at odds with the misinterpreters of religion. And we always will be.

LIBERALS were the ones who opposed stoning people to death, burning people at the stake, the Crusades, the Inquisition, genocide, slavery and bigotry in all its forms, which conservative extremists justified time and again with the Bible.

The Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, European conquerors, slave-owning whites and segregationists all claimed to find support for the most unspeakable actions in the Bible. My guess is either they read it wrong or they were just lying.

You could not be more correct. LIBERALS oppsed all of this evil. And conservatives opposed us every step of the way. Liberals who practice Christianity embrace the religion OF Christ, not the religion ABOUT Christ. We try to be Christlike, which means simply doing what He said.. There are no asterisks in the Bible, no caveats in the Sermon on the Mount. 'Blessed are the PEACEKEEPERS,' said _JESUS CHRIST_. And He did not add, 'Unless you want a war with Iraq.'

While priests commit horrible acts of pedophilia and the Pope looks the other way, and while George Bush allows the execution of children and conducts an unjustified, massively destructive war, you have the nerve to accuse liberals of going against the church. It's not the church we oppose. It's the evil that men do and BLAME on the church and the Bible. Liberals will stop opposing evil as soon as the evil stops, and not a minute before.

In His name and glory,
tblue

Posted by: sunny on March 13, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Enough with this shit. Have you ever been to Berkeley or San Francisco or Seattle or any other supposed secular blue enclave? The sheer range of religio-spiritual options is overwhelming, especially when compared to Buttfuck, Alabama where the difference between the two fundamentalist protestant churches in town is that maybe you get to handle snakes in one of them. But evangelicals always have to be the victims, don't they? Many, many liberals engage in some formal spiritual practice. But they 1) don't necessarily believe their religion is the one true one and 2) don't insist on pushing it on everyone else (the very definition of evangelical). So really, who's condescending to whom?

Posted by: DCC on March 13, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Was Mr. Waldman taught how to interact with his readers by the Washington Post Online? At least the critical (and quite valid) comments remain..

Posted by: PeterB on March 13, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote (more stats here) seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party's image and approach.

Wrong again. Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, Land, Parshall, Limbaugh and Hannity have a disproportionate impact on the public's perception of liberals.


Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

Evangelicals feel put-upon because the prevailing public (i.e. commercial) culture has figured out that Sex Sells, and that there is no stopping them. Liberals feel put-upon because they feel that the prevailing political (i.e. commercial) culture has figured out they can screw everybody but the rich, and that there is no stopping them.

That having been said, the public position of evangelicals is on average more extreme. To advocate that ID be imposed as the basis of all US science is such a position, and I do not see any push on the left to a comparably doctrinaire view (e.g a Leninist state). To claim that there is symmetry between the two groups in terms of their ambitions for imposing their beliefs on their fellow citizens is absurd.

Posted by: dwm on March 13, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

the white activists who shaped the Left of the 1960s have remained mired in a culture of hostility toward religion and spirituality

Many of the white activists who shaped the Left of the 1960s still live here (on the Left Coast), and most of them have a deep yearning towards religion and/or spirituality. They just don't confuse religion and spirituality with the Roman Catholic church and its Evangelical mirrors.

Posted by: ogmb on March 13, 2006 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

There are two strains of punditocracy that are destroying the Democratic Party. Mr. Waldman and Ms. Sullivan are the examples of the first one that insists that we cow down to the extreme Christian right who stand for everything that we do not want this country to become.

The other stream of pundits are the ones who keep on telling us that we are weak on security despite all the fucks ups of the Republican President during the last five years.

Posted by: lib on March 13, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

"But secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote (more stats here) seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party's image and approach."

As it was discussed, "image" part of the statement is probably correct, but "approach"? "Party's approach" should describe, well, the approach typical for the ranking members of the party, elected officials etc. "Ultraliberal activists at dailykos" rather regularly support Sen. Reid and senatorial candidate Casey, two anti-choice politicians, not to mention a slew of pro-choice religious politicians.

So we are left with the image. Not only the party is liberal, it is "ultra-liberal", as attested by such stalwarts like Sen. Reid or Sen. Clinton, and the most representative personalities are Gitlin, Berube and Ward Churchill (the first two are the most dangerous professors in the land, and the latter is the most reviled one).

So what should be done with this "godless image"? Perhaps "secular liberals" should shut up and let more "mainstream liberals" create the party's image, without distractions offered by the seculars. We have truly comfy seats at the end of the bus.

Posted by: piotr on March 13, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

I wanted to post in disgust at this post's internalization of a talking point, failure to provide anything like evidence, and a counterpoint about what tolerance on the left is all about... but the comments here were outstanding... thoughtful, precise, funny... etc.

Then crabshack says this group has a problem with religion... I just can't stand it! Then problem is very obviously with the politicization of religion. If you are not a believer, it is very hard to live in Fox News Americs, with Christians supposedly persecuted every day, despite having every advantage one could ask for... Then being called unAmerican by H.W. Bush (infamously), and panned on a friendly blog.

Do we hate Jesse Jackson, MLK, Carter or a host of other Left-leaning icons for their religious values... of course not... TOLERANCE, baby, that's where it's at... and religious folks aren't always good at it. Some are... we dig them. But many aren't.

Can't pin the problem over here.

Posted by: eli on March 13, 2006 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Must you repeat this slander? I'm a liberal. I know lots of liberals. Neither I nor anyone I know has an "elitist" attitude towards evangelicals. As a liberal and a religious non-conformist who grew up in the Deep South and still lives there, I'm sick to death of conservative Christians whining about how they are put upon by "liberal elites." They need to look to their own house and see whose toes they've been stepping on before they complain about anyone else.

Posted by: Theron Corse on March 13, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

If there's anything evangelicals hate more than secularism, it's American Buddhism. They compete in the same market.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

You know just as I think I ought to buy back my bet with Marc Cooper on how few seats the Democrats will win on 06, because of the stunning ineptitude the Administration (those guys are supposed to be good at this politics stuff, even if some of the 'running the country' stuff appears to be beyond them...) is showing - then I pop into a thread like this and realize how disconnected the vocal netroots is from most of America - yeah, yeah, I know you're proud of it.

Just don't expect to win many elections.

And I'll toss out one of my favorite quotes, from radical rightie (not really) John Schaar - "Finally, if political education is to effective it must grow from a spirit of humility on the part of the teachers, and they must overcome the tendencies toward self-righteousness and self-pity which set the tone of youth and student politics in the 1960's. The teachers must acknowledge common origins and common burdens with the taught, stressing connection and membership, rather than distance and superiority. Only from these roots can trust and hopeful common action grow."

Poor and powerless people depend on progressives to be effective...you're letting them down.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal on March 13, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

Steve J had it right.

Perhaps Mr. Lerner would have us all commit suicide.

Posted by: Matt on March 13, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Overwhelmingly, the white activists who shaped the Left of the 1960s have remained mired in a culture of hostility toward religion and spirituality."

You could as easily have said "Overwhelmingly the white activists who shaped the Right of the 1980s have remained mired in a culture of hostility towards civil society and the life of the mind."

What was really true, however, was that white activists of the 60s were against religions that did not give women and minorities equal status, religions that supported an unjust war, and religions that focused on crossing one's "t"s and dotting ones "i"s rather than developing an authentic spiritual and ethical relationship with the planet. Conservatives, for their part, were against a government and an academia that they did not control and that they were ideologically and intellectually opposed to.

You are, at the heart of your argument, confusing opposition to institutions with opposition to concepts.

Conservatives formed their own institutions--formidable think tanks that today develop and make policy based upon their concepts.

We on the left are also in the midst, as many posts have noted, of creating our own spiritual institutions-- separate from those churches now controlled by the right.

It would be much more helpful if we could spend our time talking about the meaning of liberal or progressive ethics and spirituality here, instead of having to defend ourselves because we dare to criticise right-wing institutions for usurping many mainstream institutions of religion and spirituality.

Let's talk instead about what it means to ethically and spiritually believe in human freedom and dignity, the right of all humans to grow up in a secure world where war has been abolished, and personal choice--whether it involves reproductive rights or marriage equality.

Because, ya know what? At the end of the day, it all does come down to that.

Posted by: af on March 13, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

I have as much fear and hatred of our home grown theocrats as I do of the Taliban and those loonies.
I was raised in a staunch Catholic family that made sacrifices to send all 8 kids to parochial grade school and high school.
We studied church history and were taught that the Reformation was a direct result of corruption in the church.
How are any of these theocrats, east or west, not making the same errors?
A pox on all their houses.

Posted by: ccweasel on March 13, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

it's American Buddhism. They compete in the same market.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

What is American Buddhism? Which sacred text is it linked to?

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

If you believe that morality and religion are the same thing, then I can't help you.

Posted by: craigie on March 13, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

was raised in a staunch Catholic family that made sacrifices to send all 8 kids to parochial grade school and high school.
We studied church history and were taught that the Reformation was a direct result of corruption in the church.

Posted by: ccweasel on March 13, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

And modern american thinking would have wiped out 6 of your siblings in the womb instead of making any 'sacrifices'.

Which 6 of your siblings are an 'error'?

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

Modern American thinking would not have wiped out any siblings in the womb.

Modern American thinking would have celebrated as many children as the family wanted to have.

Posted by: af on March 13, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Because, ya know what? At the end of the day, it all does come down to that.

Posted by: af on March 13, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

Well, what do you consider human?

I say the 8 month old unborn child is at least part human.

I say the Iraqi victims starving to death, because the international community is too gutless to go beyond ineffective sanctions are also human.


Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

In fact, modern American thinking would have just asked people like you to get your grubby hands off his mother's womb. Cos you know what? It's none of your business.

Posted by: af on March 13, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

It is natural that everyone believes their religious views are right. Evegelicals believe they are right and are quite vocal about it. That is their privelge as Americans. Why should secular people be expected sure of thier views or less vocal? The real source on any perceived "elitism" towards religion is due to disgust with the religous bigotry of the Christian Right. Contempt for bigotry is nothing to appologize for.

Posted by: david1234 on March 13, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

I have heard that some Eastern religions believe that when an abortion is performed, the soul of the fetus merely travels off and finds a more hospitable womb.

Who are you to assert that your belief is superior to this?

Posted by: af on March 13, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

And here comes the parade of Fox News Democrats. Jiminy Crickets. Just tell me when Kevin gets back.

The navel-gazing stupidity of this post is mind-boggling.

I have no "attitude" toward Evangelical Christians (and what is their attitude toward me, by the way?). However, I object to their desire for theocracy. This is not complicated.

Now, let's discuss all of the other conservative talking points about liberals and wring our hands and wonder if perhaps they might be ACTUALLY true? Come, let us continue to let our opponents set the terms for our debate.

Posted by: pk on March 13, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

I am sick of the notion that deference must be paid to every cockamamie superstition that comes down the pike. I can tolerate the most inane beliefs that you can throw at me - including even Scientology. But don't expect me to "respect" such tripe just because to "disrespect" it might hurt someone's tender feelings. I am politically savvy enough to realize that the Dems aren't going to win elections by slagging religion - but I honestly don't think most Dems share my disdain for religion, either. The long and the short of it is, humankind is everywhere and for the foreseeable future in thrall to religious superstition. I'll continue to vote for progressive, generally Democratic candidates who profess a belief in god because, to paraphrase George Orwell: All religions are toxic, but some religions are less toxic than others.

Posted by: athos on March 13, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

"What is American Buddhism? Which sacred text is it linked to?"
McA, check out Gary Snyder's Smokey the Bear Sutra from 35 or more years ago.

Posted by: Dabodius on March 13, 2006 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

"I had been making a narrower point that many liberals carry an elitist attitude toward evangelical Christians."

Um- isn't it also the case that evangelical Christians hold an elitist attitude towards many liberals? Along the lines of, 'I'm going to heaven and you're going to hell'.

Who's eliting who?

Posted by: Milo Lutz on March 13, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

What is American Buddhism? Which sacred text is it linked to?

It's just an umbrella term for all the Buddhist establishments which are rooted in the US. It's not like a distinct sect or anything. It's like saying "Vietnamese Buddhism"; it encompasses a lot of different stuff. There are certain tendencies though, owing partly to the historical accident of which Buddhist influences have gained exposure in the US at different times through different people, and partly owing to which strands in Buddhism have resonated strongly with aspects of American culture. Not surprising e.g. that Zen is stronger in the US than one might expect, looking at the rest of the world, what with its strong concern with the aesthetics and ethics of randomness - a powerful issue in the American psyche. Anyway, if you're a lost soul in California or Colorado, evangelicals and Buddhists are in direct competition to help you out - though the evangelicals obviously do so more aggressively.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

You know...we do have hostility toward religious leaders and some sects. But you know why we have such a knee-jerk reaction to religion?

Because it's used as a truncheon. It's used to beat us over the head for not being pious enough, not being 'spiritual' enough, not being sufficiently expoitative of the faith in front of live national audiences.

Yes, there are a few people here who are irrationally hostile toward religion. But in many ways, I don't blame them. Because religious leaders and people who have taken faith and warped it into political ploys have ursurped the idea of faith into something that it SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN.

People have brought up MLK as an example of the left 'abandoning' it's religious roots. I'd say it was more of the religious 'roots' (if by roots we mean religiousity-based special interests like Dobson, Falwell, and his ilk) that have abandoned the work of people like MLK.

I don't think this is a problem with just liberals, and liberals aren't even the worst offenders. It's a problem with politics, and the way that it has warped how religion is seen in this country. Tell me where the Christian love is in how the supposedly oh-so-religious Right tells the poor to fend for themselves. Where is it in the warmongering? Where is it in the disregard for their God's green earth?

No, no, no, no, NO, this is not about liberal elitists. This is about the warped image of religion, and how it has forced people to take sides, with all too many liberals being forced to take what amounts to an 'anti-religious' stand to go against those who have exploited, raped, and perverted what is a wonderful, loving, PROGRESSIVE philosophy and faith.

THe hostility isn't from liberals toward Christians. It's from these so-called Christians toward Christianity, taking away the voice from true, common Christians who may or may not actually come down on their side of the issues. And Mr Waldman, you're buying into their spin, dammit.

Posted by: Kryptik on March 13, 2006 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK


"Many liberals"

The vapid, evasive weaseliness of that phrase immediately sent up a red flag.

Posted by: pk on March 13, 2006 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

I don't suppose the next time you repeat the rankest Republican slanders of liberals you could cite some, how you say, evidence, rather than quoting somebody else's meaningless generalization? Start with demonstrating that most "elite liberals" preferred the non-church-going George W. Bush to the church-going Southern Baptist Al Gore--that would seem to be an inevtibale logical conclusion of your thesis.

Posted by: Scott Lemieux on March 13, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

I'm tired of all these atheists all over the media tearing down religion, and I'm sickened by the sight of all these religious organizations getting shafted by the anti-religious liberal government. Or not.

Lerner is full of republican talking-point shit, which it seems is the only weapon that Armed Liberal and MA are carrying. Leave your backards ideas of what god is or does out of politics, and nobody will care how crazy you actually are.

Posted by: ronjazz on March 13, 2006 at 2:10 AM | PERMALINK

Hey lookie it's Marc Danziger the ooh scary armed liberal and fluffer of Roger El Simon, pajamaman.

Hey Marc Danziger, stick your arms up your ass and pull the trigger mister scary armed liberal.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Stephen Waldman,

I'm more than a little tired of this theme. Why should I have to give up my moral principals to make nice with the religious? Could you please go off and lecture the evangelicals and the religious about their hostility to liberalism?

Liberalism is the home to human values. Liberalism prizes diversity and skepticism and the human spirit. Liberalism cares about the humanity and the dignity of each person. Liberalism values knowledge and the struggle to understand.

What do liberals have to apologize for? Excessive faith in human perfectability? Caring too much about offending some people's sensibilities? Excessive tolerance?

Let's face it, the evangelicals are hostile to these things.

OK in the spirit of getting along I'll apologize for the excesses of liberalism and I repudiate them.

Now it's your turn. I'll willing to be on your side, and the side of Rabbi Lerner and Amy Sullivan, when you start repudiating the evils of religion.

Let's start with the genocide of the Chaldeans. Do all think that genocide is a bad thing? I do. I'm guessing that the three of you won't agree to condemn the Chaldean genocide since your God sponsored it and then there was the whole "Chosen People" thing. Since you don't condemn genocide in general, we aren't on the same side.

What about infanticide? Are you for or against? No, I don't mean abortion, I'm talking about the killing of adult children, like Isaac and Jesus. Are you against it? No? Then we aren't on the same side.

Ritual sacrifice? Cannibalism? I'm against these. What about you? Do you repudiate them or are you eagerly slurping gone God's bloond and choking down God's body.

The one positive thing that can be said about religion is that most of the practicioners are hypocrites. Otherwise they'd be inhuman monsters.

Posted by: Ray on March 13, 2006 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

McA: What are you doing to stop forced abortions and the "One Child, One Family" policy in China? Don't preach to us, please, until you get your own house in order.

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 13, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Hey, to you I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition." -- Woody Allen

The last presidential candidate to (sort of) attack fundamentalist right-wing Christianity was, interestingly enough, John McCain. And we all know how well that worked for him.

Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to know that someone who publicly states having my spiritual/religious beliefs (I'm an agnostic) can't get elected to high office? Don't tell me about the poor victimized religious people that can't shape the party. Everything, every message, is catered to avoid upsetting their sensibilities.

Exactly what policy change should the Democratic party make? Abandon abortion rights? Gay marriage (which virtually every Democratic presidential nominee has opposed, dodging by talking about states' rights and civil unions)? Go with abstinence only sex education that doesn't work, and leads to more abortions?

Democrats already campaign for v-chip technologies and labels on CDs and against video game violence.

Amy Sullivan wants us to support Bible infomercials in public schools. Personally, I think it's pretty cheap to turn our kids' educational curricula into a voter outreach program, but hey, if that's what it takes, I can probably live with it. And guess what? Democrats are already doing this! Hey, I can even live with stupid monuments, if push comes to shove. Just not in the judiciary, please. I'm pretty sure Buddhists are still innocent until proven guilty. And while we're at it, knock yourselves out with the Pledge of Allegiance. But I honestly don't believe any of these moves would make much of an impression.

So we can either abandon gays, women, and civil liberties, or religious people can fucking grow up, stop whining, and realize that a person doesn't have to invoke God at every opportunity (which, guess what, they already fucking do) to be a good, competent moral leader.

And maybe they can try to keep in mind what it would be like if the majority religion in the country were Judaism or Islam or Hinduism, or Adonai forbid, atheism. Separation of church and state protects us all.

Posted by: Royko on March 13, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

To be fair to Rabbi Lerner, we really don't know what he believes about all of this. We just have Waldman using his quotation to prop up Waldman's smear.

I will note (as DCC points out) that Tikkun's mailing address is wonderful Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley California. I cannot begin to tell you how many churches and spiritual organizations are in Berkeley. Probably hundreds if not thousands.

Because of the sheer numbers of these places there are probably fewer fundamentalists per capita than in other locations. Add in to the wonderful diversity of people, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. I suspect it is this fact that upsets the fundies.

But liberal I attended High Holiday services with Rabbi Lerner in the late 90s, and I also enjoyed walking past the Unitarian Church on Cedar on my way home from the synagogue.

Waldman, why don't you use your media connections to get Michael Lerner to post an essay here.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Mr. Waldman,

Fuck you. Fuck you and your religious bias. Fuck you and your kowtowing to fundamentalists.

Get the fuck out of my party.

Did I say "fuck you"?

Love...

Posted by: dave on March 13, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

if the majority religion in the country were Judaism or Islam or Hinduism, or Adonai forbid, atheism. Separation of church and state protects us all.

Posted by: Royko on March 13, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

When the ACLU can make government spend money to enforce the tearing down of existing religious monuments, and selectively target Christianity - Atheism is the de-facto state religion.

Teachers get fired for praying in schools, remember? The Scouts are ineligible for government grants, 'cos they are Christian.
Atheism is the de-facto state religion of America.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

The Scouts are ineligible for government grants, 'cos they discriminate against gays. At least in Berkeley.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

The pervasiveness of anomie in secular culture has less to do with the waning power of religion (a symptom, not a cause) than it does with the ascendency of market economics.

The neat trick here is watching "liberals" like Sullivan and Waldman attempting to get *us* to take the blame for the results of assimilating an economic system that the liberal project has been all about trying to humanize and control ...

Joe Lieberman Disease is apparently becoming an epidemic.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Waldman, when I was a kid, I had to explain to teachers and other kids that I was Jewish, and that I didn't celebrate Christmas or Easter, and I had to explain that we didn't have a Christmas Tree or a Hannukah Bush, and even though Neil was Jewish and he had a Hannukah Bush, we didn't have one. And yes, I had to put up with being called a Christ Killer. This was Los Angeles, 1969.

This made me feel really fucked, and not terribly good about myself or my Judaism.

So yeah, even though I go to Synagogue, and send my kids to Hebrew School, I want you and Amy to keep your fucking religious thoughts away from MY CHILDREN. I want them taught Evolution. I want them taught tolerance.

Over my fucking dead body you fucking christofascist.

Waldman, just how many minyans do you and Amy want me to attend? How many times each month do I need to go to services before you two fuckheads will agree that my opposition to religion in schools is not because I am a commie pinko atheist and thus you two deem that it is okay for me to mention it in progressive conversations?

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

The Scouts are ineligible for government grants, 'cos they discriminate against gays.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Parents may be tolerant as hell, but putting gay men in charge of camping boys is as stupid as putting straight males in charge of girl guides.

Just more impractical anti-christian attacks by the gay lobby.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

Market culture values strip away the transencent order of
traditionalism, tearing the individual away from the comfort of
knowing his/her place in the world.

If there's a sworn enemy of religious values out there, it wears a
three-piece blue pinstripe suit and drives a customized Lexus.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

I want you and Amy to keep your fucking religious thoughts away from MY CHILDREN. I want them taught Evolution. I want them taught tolerance.

Over my fucking dead body you fucking christofascist.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

'I want them taught tolerance', in a posting laced with obsecenities?

More proof then, that converting reformed jewish kids is for their own good.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

trancencent = transcendent

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

McAristotle:

You need a SacRete enema, dude, is what you need.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

I was thinking about the readers who suggested that I had been unfair in claiming a liberal hostility to evangelical Christianity. Fair point, I thought. I probably should have said "many liberals" rather than caricaturing liberalism per se.

Actually, you would have been more accurate to clarify the "evangelical" part of Christianity, along with "liberal intellectuals" instead of liberals. Liberal intellectuals, by and large, are dismissive (not hostile) towards evangelical Christianity. Goes with the territory.

The only way one could imply "hostile" is if rejecting these evangelical appeals to save your soul out of hand should be considered "hostile".

Posted by: Jimm on March 13, 2006 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

I have heard that some Eastern religions believe that when an abortion is performed, the soul of the fetus merely travels off and finds a more hospitable womb.

Who are you to assert that your belief is superior to this?

Posted by: af on March 13, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yup. And the Goddess Kali demands human sacrifice too (still carried out in parts of India and by black magicians in Latin America and Asia).

One of the reasons, Asian history has been so brutal and less respectful of the individual life - is because reincarnation means death is no big deal and Asia has always believed in reincarnation.

I prefer Christianity. I think a God that died for me is more credible when he says he loves me.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

McAristotle:

Free market economics promote instrumental values. How much does it sell? How much does it cost? Can I get away with selling it?

It tears the guts out of the Ten Commandments.

But you're such a stupid fuckhead that you don't see the connection between the economic system that you support and the moral code you uphold.

The free market is what fucks Christianity.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody who says that they love you more than anything and then kills themselves, leaving a suicide note to say that their death actually *proves* that love for you, would be considered mentally ill.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

'I want them taught tolerance', in a posting laced with obsecenities? More proof then, that converting reformed jewish kids is for their own good.

Um..."converting" them to what?

I think you just went somewhere you shouldna done gone.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe:

Nahh, it was just the excuse he needed for that lovely SacRete enema :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK

Overwhelmingly, the white activists who shaped the Left of the 1960s have remained mired in a culture of hostility toward religion and spirituality.

Horseshit. And about what I would expect from someone with a "religious" perspective. Most will tell you, including the dictionary, that "religion" and "spirituality" are not mutually inclusive. I would argue that they are mutually exclusive.

Posted by: GOD on March 13, 2006 at 3:14 AM | PERMALINK

The only real hostility is towards those who would use their religion as a club, forcing all the rest of us to adhere to what they say is truth--that's it. Especially when it conflicts with the actual Constitution and rights, and our own knowledge or morality and right and wrong. Those of us who are of a minority religion understand this, and don't ever try to make the rest of the country live by our rules, but obviously Lerner decided to ignore us--his own people--to bash some amorphous "hostile" group, when it's more correctly called patriotism or belief in this country and its people--in all their diversity. Taking the GOP talking points (that everything that doesn't automatically privilege Christianity is "hostile") and starting from there is always a terrible way to make a point, and his is getting lost because of it.

Posted by: amberglow on March 13, 2006 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

"Atheism is the de-facto state religion of America."

Where's their Church?

Dumbass.

Posted by: GOD on March 13, 2006 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

I just thought maybe he meant "converting" them to Orthodox Jewish kids. That would be the line approved by the judeophiles at Evangelical High Command these days I think.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

"I prefer Christianity. I think a God that died for me is more credible when he says he loves me.

Posted by: McA"

You are a superstitious idiot who doesn't even understand your own superstitions, much less anyone else's. Jesus died for your sins. Not me.


The Faith of our Founding Fathers, by Dean Worbois

No one disputes the faith of our Founding Fathers. To speak of unalienable Rights being endowed by a Creator certainly shows a sensitivity to our spiritual selves. What is surprising is when fundamentalist Christians think the Founding Fathers' faith had anything to do with the Bible. Without exception, the faith of our Founding Fathers was deist, not theist. It was best expressed earlier in the Declaration of Independence, when they spoke of "the Laws of Nature" and of "Nature's God."

In a sermon of October 1831, Episcopalian minister Bird Wilson said,

Among all of our Presidents, from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism.

The Bible? Here is what our Founding Fathers wrote about Bible-based Christianity:

Thomas Jefferson:

I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth.
SIX HISTORIC AMERICANS,
by John E. Remsburg, letter to William Short

Jefferson again:
Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on man. ...Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and importers led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teaching of Jesus.

More Jefferson:
The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves...these clergy, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ.

Jefferson's word for the Bible?
Dunghill.

John Adams:
Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?

Also Adams:
The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.

Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 states:
The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.

Here's Thomas Paine:
I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible).

Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to 'God' to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and to debauch and rape the daughters. I would not dare so dishonor my Creator's name by (attaching) it to this filthy book (the Bible).

It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible.

Accustom a people to believe that priests and clergy can forgive sins...and you will have sins in abundance.

The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretended imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty.

Finally let's hear from James Madison:

What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy.

Madison objected to state-supported chaplains in Congress and to the exemption of churches from taxation. He wrote:

Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

These founding fathers were a reflection of the American population. Having escaped from the state-established religions of Europe, only 7% of the people in the 13 colonies belonged to a church when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Among those who confuse Christianity with the founding of America, the rise of conservative Baptists is one of the more interesting developments. The Baptists believed God's authority came from the people, not the priesthood, and they had been persecuted for this belief. It was theythe Baptistswho were instrumental in securing the separation of church and state. They knew you can not have a "one-way wall" that lets religion into government but that does not let it out. They knew no religion is capable of handling political power without becoming corrupted by it. And, perhaps, they knew it was Christ himself who first proposed the separation of church and state: Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto the Lord that which is the Lord's.

In the last five years the Baptists have been taken over by a fundamentalist faction that insists authority comes from the Bible and that the individual must accept the interpretation of the Bible from a higher authority. These usurpers of the Baptist faith are those who insist they should meddle in the affairs of the government and it is they who insist the government should meddle in the beliefs of individuals.

The price of Liberty is constant vigilance. Religious fundamentalism and zealous patriotism have always been the forces which require the greatest attention.


Editor's Note: This page was first posted in 1995. Since then we've received volumes of mail from politically conservative Christians supplying us with quotes from public speeches made by the authors above. While most of these author politicians were diplomatic in their public expressions concerning religion, in their private conversations, voluminous writings and correspondences they expressed contrary beliefs.

Which beliefs are true? If a politician appears one way in public and another in private, which do you think better represents their true beliefs? How do you reconcile the inflamatory writings above with various pro-Christian statements that the same men made in public over the course of their careers? Could it be called "politics," an attempt to appease Christians while ensuring a more rational government based on the separation of church and state? It certainly seems that way.

In addition, the Editor does not recognize any religious intentions of the so-called "Founding Fathers" as relevant to discussions of political process today. As a descendent of Native Americans the editor understands that America had already been "found." The "Christian" beliefs of a handful of landed, white, male aristocracy enslaving blacks and murdering Native Americans hold little credibility and should be dumped along with the notions of slavery we so wisely dispensed with on January 1, 1863.

References: The writings of Thomas Jefferson exist in 25 volumes. The references for this article were found in the book, SIX HISTORIC AMERICANS, by John E. Remsburg (who interviewed many of Lincoln's associates). Much of his work on Jefferson came from THE MEMOIRS, CORRESPONDENCE AND MISCELLANIES FROM THE PAPERS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON, 4 volumes ed. by Thomas Jefferson Randolph (the grandson of Thomas Jefferson).

Posted by: GOD on March 13, 2006 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

Praying is a lot easier, and bears less personal risk than actually confronting the Chinese authorities, I guess.

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 13, 2006 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

Funny thing is, I could care less what Mr. Waldman writes or says. I go to church every day, I confess my sins every day. But what I really want out of life is to find some man who can take my entire arm up his ass. I want him to feel my armpit hair making his perineum raw. That is all I want from my Christian life.

Posted by: dms on March 13, 2006 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

Um..."converting" them to what?

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

Christianity.

--------------

Free market economics promote instrumental values. How much does it sell? .....

But you're such a stupid fuckhead that you don't see the connection between the economic system that you support and the moral code you uphold.

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

Nope. I am against murder, prostitution and abortion, for example - which a free market would all sell.

However, outside of moral issues, the free market is a remarkable reward system for getting human beings to work. I view it as a secular tool, like fire or engineering. Neither good or bad, just efficient in non-monopoly situations.

Christ never reinvented the free market. Although he did confront it where it opposed God's wishes..such as turning the marketplace into a temple and he did encourage the believers to care for those in need..while still discouraging idleness.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

Atheism is the de-facto state religion of America."

Where's their Church?

Dumbass.

Posted by: GOD on March 13, 2006 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

ACLU meetings. They pay dues, advance an ideology based on belief and preach at people.


Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

Of course liberalism is at odds with religious fundamentalism. They want to throw us back to the Medieval period, complete with torture, public hangings, holy wars, feudal lords, and widespread suffering for the under classes. We are against that. We like education, science, art, prosperity for all, civil rights, and justice.

I respect Christianity and the individual's right to practice their religion in the manner they see fit, but the instant they try to enshrine that practice into public policy, the gloves are off. Those who fight against peace and modernity deserve no special respect.

Posted by: s5 on March 13, 2006 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody who says that they love you more than anything and then kills themselves, leaving a suicide note to say that their death actually *proves* that love for you, would be considered mentally ill.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

Unless they are the Son of God, who gets up 3 days later and sends the Holy Spirit to follow.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 3:39 AM | PERMALINK

respect Christianity and the individual's right to practice their religion in the manner they see fit

Posted by: s5 on March 13, 2006 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

And James Dobson's point of view is that he should tell Christians to pray about moral living
and let that guide their votes to some degree.

What's wrong with that?

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

Well, as long as we have McA here saying that Jews should be converted for their own good, we at least have an example of the kind of fanatical genocidal religious mania which makes so many liberals leery of anything that even hints at religion.

It's all a matter of emphasis. I, for example, feel that McA ought to be converted to atheism for his own good. Some people, naturally broadminded and tolerant people, are able to handle religion, but McA is clearly not one of them; his religious convictions pose a danger to himself and others, because he's easily susceptible to superstition and a violent crusader mentality of utter sacred certainty, which can be used as justification for orgies of violence and slaughter (as it has in Iraq, by both Christians and Islamists).

But in general, while you still have evangelical wackos running around arguing that we need to convert the Jews for their own good, it's not surprising that you'll still have a lot of Jews who start nervously fingering their Uzis every time they hear the words "Jesus Christ" in any context other than cussing.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 4:06 AM | PERMALINK

MCA -

Dobson is a politician, not a religious person.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

Just to add: this is the first time in years that I've felt so relieved that there's a country with its own overwhelming nuclear deterrent where I can claim citizenship if the Christians ever come after me demanding that I join up "for my own good".

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 4:12 AM | PERMALINK

Judging from his quip that Jews should be "converted" to Christianity, McA is clearly an anti-Semite, which makes me wonder what other lovely prejudices he has lurking beneath his snarky exterior.

His claim that atheists run the country would also be a lot more credible if he could point to one atheist occupying a prominent position in America's government. Can't do it? That's what I thought.

Posted by: The Man on March 13, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

It's all a matter of emphasis. I, for example, feel that McA ought to be converted to atheism for his own good.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 4:06 AM | PERMALINK

Naturally. Ideas go both ways.

In fact, secular people do advance that idea in their constant stereotyping of every viewpoint but their own as held by stupid people....not effectively, in my opinion but they do try.

Posted by: mca on March 13, 2006 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

one atheist occupying a prominent position in America's government.

Posted by: The Man on March 13, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A belief that God cannot be mentioned is not very different from a belief that God does not exist.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

And the whole debate is artificial. All you can tell is that all the politicians say they aren't atheists.

I can't tell for sure what John Kerry believes. But it would take more than Church attendance during election years to convince me
he's still a Catholic.

That's like saying Bush is a manager because he went to Harvard Business School.


Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 4:38 AM | PERMALINK

Judging from his quip that Jews should be "converted" to Christianity, McA is clearly an anti-Semite

Posted by: The Man on March 13, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, I believe a person of Jewish descent called Christ was the Messiah. Jewish people should have a chance to hear what he said and did.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 4:47 AM | PERMALINK

I've felt so relieved that there's a country with its own overwhelming nuclear deterrent where I can claim citizenship if the Christians ever come after me demanding that I join up "for my own good".

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 4:12 AM | PERMALINK

But they have non-reformed Jews there and Returned Jews too.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 4:48 AM | PERMALINK

Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A belief that God cannot be mentioned is not very different from a belief that God does not exist.

You're stretching the definition by a singificantly sizable amount. The job of a Supreme Court Justice is to interpret the Constitution, not to impose his or her own personal worldview onto the country.

What's more, you demonstrate a clear lack of understanding of the Founding Fathers' intent, because a separation of church and state naturally entails that religious references cannot exist in state procedures, which the Pledge of Allegiance is. And if you bothered reading the wonderful essay GOD posted, you'll see that the Founding Fathers had a clear, shall we say, anti-religious bias.

But regardless, none of them were atheists - they were all Deists.

And the whole debate is artificial. All you can tell is that all the politicians say they aren't atheists.

I can't tell for sure what John Kerry believes. But it would take more than Church attendance during election years to convince me
he's still a Catholic.

That's like saying Bush is a manager because he went to Harvard Business School.

As far as this particular debate is concerned, what a person actually believes is irrelevant. If a self-professing atheist is unable to be elected to a high government office, as I am sure we can all agree is the case, then it is quite unrealistic indeed to say that atheism is the dominant feature of America's government. Indeed, doing so just makes you look like a paranoid conspiracy theorist - which, judging from several comments you've already made, you are.

Posted by: The Man on March 13, 2006 at 4:51 AM | PERMALINK

Which beliefs are true? If a politician appears one way in public and another in private, which do you think better represents their true beliefs? How do you reconcile the inflamatory writings above with various pro-Christian statements that the same men made in public over the course of their careers? Could it be called "politics," an attempt to appease Christians while ensuring a more rational government based on the separation of church and state? It certainly seems that way.

Posted by: GOD on March 13, 2006 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

But they were voted for on the basis of their public statements. The fact they feared to be identified as atheists shows the public believed in God.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

As far as this particular debate is concerned, what a person actually believes is irrelevant. If a self-professing atheist is unable to be elected to a high government office.

Posted by: The Man on March 13, 2006 at 4:51 AM | PERMALINK

Nope. People think self-professing atheists are stupid. He or she could be elected if he got enough votes. On your basis, any view that has not controlled the Presidency is a discriminated view e.g. Hashhashin Death Cult.

And I think Power is reflected by action. If Ms. Ginsburg's vote on the Supreme court can get a 30 year old Cross dismantled at public expense - it represents government. I haven't heard of Muslim mosques being burnt at government expense (well, domestically ).


Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 4:59 AM | PERMALINK

What is American Buddhism? Which sacred text is it linked to?

That is the most succint, though no doubt unwitting, illumination of everything that's wrong about right-wing thought on religion.

Posted by: Boronx on March 13, 2006 at 5:00 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, I believe a person of Jewish descent called Christ was the Messiah. Jewish people should have a chance to hear what he said and did.

And upon having your biases exposed for what they are, you shift your stance. Brilliant. Above you quite clearly stated:

More proof then, that converting reformed jewish kids is for their own good.

When asked what they should be converted to, you said,

Christianity.

That is quite different from "believing they should have a chance to hear what he said and did."

As for supposedly accepting the teachings of a Jew (although I would debate that, since you, like most evangelicals I've come across on the Internets and elsewhere, seem to demonstrate no concern for such teachings of his as the Sermon on the Mount), it is quite common amongst racists to follow a leader who is not, in fact, a member of their chosen race. As but one example, Adolf Hitler possessed neither blond hair nor blue eyes, yet he was nonetheless an inspiration to Aryan racists everywhere. I suspect this quality has something to do with the tendency of racistm to stem from a state of mind that in the first place is less than, shall we say, rational.

speaking of rationality, it's probably more rational of me to sign off and go to sleep than to attempt to debate with racists on the Internet, so that's exactly what I shall do.

Posted by: The Man on March 13, 2006 at 5:01 AM | PERMALINK

Today's particular McA reads more like our old friend Charlie than Researcher

Posted by: Boronx on March 13, 2006 at 5:04 AM | PERMALINK

It's very simple. Show me evangelical Christians who want to roll back the rising tide of theocracy, warmongering, and the corporate state, and I will welcome them as my brothers and sisters. There are some out there; Slacktivist comes immediately to mind as someone I respect and learn from. But what I don't want to - what a lot of us don't want to - is act as though we think a light and fluffy theocracy is actually desirable. When I say "no, you can't have your beliefs promulgated by the institutions of the state", I'm not telling evangelicals anything that I don't also tell my own fellow believers. Living in civil society means that they have to persuade rather than force, and darned few of them really want to do that.

I dream that someday we will no longer toady to the losers of the Civil War and the survivors of multiple rounds of religious hysteria. But it's not coming any day soon. In the meantime, I do insist on giving my enthusiasm and friendship only to those willing to grant me all the respect and privileges they claim for themselves.

Posted by: Bruce Baugh on March 13, 2006 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK

That is quite different from "believing they should have a chance to hear what he said and did."

Posted by: The Man on March 13, 2006 at 5:01 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree.

Conversion to Christianity is a matter of logic (with the assistance of the holy spirit) if your here what Jesus said and look at what he did.

Feel free to tell me what Moses did (that I haven't heard or read yet).

You assume a sinister aspect to the word 'conversion for their own good' or that such a decision is not a matter of free will....
And on that basis you charge racism against an alternative viewpoint as a defense against free-thinking.

Who are you to impose your beliefs on your children when they grow up? Especially when you can't defend them or define them without calling every other view, racism. There are Orthodox jews who don't consider Reformed jews, jews. Are they racist?

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 5:25 AM | PERMALINK

Living in civil society means that they have to persuade rather than force, and darned few of them really want to do that.

Posted by: Bruce Baugh on March 13, 2006 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK

So voting and political activity is a use of force?

Even if it is, the situation for Evangelicals looks like this.

1. Vote for nothing and have Gay Marriage forced on your community (if politics is force) and your Church declared a 'hate-speech' institution for not amending the Bible.

2. Vote for standards and be criticised anyway for your use of 'force'.

With that choice, everyone picks 2.

If you get mandatory secularism out of the courts, perhaps beliefs would be less likely to turn up at the ballot box.

If secularism isn't using 'force' in the form of politics, how did abortion protests get prosecuted under RICO?

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 5:33 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, I believe a person of Jewish descent called Christ was the Messiah. Jewish people should have a chance to hear what he said and did.
Posted by: McA

They can go to the library and take out a copy of the New Testament.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

MCA -

Jews can easily obtain copies of the New Testament. There is no need for them to have their noses shoved in it.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 6:00 AM | PERMALINK

MCA -

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is not an atheist.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 6:11 AM | PERMALINK

OK, so now add the tradition of Western rationalism to the long list of things we need to pitch overboard to win over the crap-minded centrists.

Posted by: matt on March 13, 2006 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK

They can go to the library and take out a copy of the New Testament.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

Free 'Speech' remember?

But if we are playing with the definition of freedom. Let's allow Gays to get married only in storybooks.

Posted by: Mca on March 13, 2006 at 6:23 AM | PERMALINK

MCA -

Yes, I remember "free speech" but you do not have the right to harass me on the street about Jeebus.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 6:25 AM | PERMALINK

MCA -

Let's allow Gays to get married. Period.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 6:26 AM | PERMALINK

THIS IS NOT about god or religious faith although it is about values - American values. We don't have conversations like this up in Canada, and I take it from my five years living in Europe that they don't have them there anymore either. This an American thing and it has absolutely nothing to to with God or spirituality, just as the European religious wars of centuries past had nothing to do with God - it was all about power, the getting of it, the losing of it, the fear of it, the uses of it.

Generations from now there will be whole academic disciplines dedicated to the pathology of religious belief in America. America never had to fight an internecine war of religion - but the way you're going it will happen: religion is the ghost in the attic of the American psyche waitng to be purged.

Posted by: saintsimon on March 13, 2006 at 6:33 AM | PERMALINK

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is not an atheist.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 6:11 AM | PERMALINK

Like I said, very few people actually say they are atheists. But if atheism wasn't in government you wouldn't get some of the anti-Christian acts so visible in government:

- Banning bible studies from schools
- But not banning the wearing of the Hijab or Skullcap by Muslims and jews?

Why is one religion different from another?
Because, the ACLU and radical liberals hate Christians.

Has anyone looked at brooksfoe's posts? I'm sorry, but that is the Judaism, I know. That is spiritual denial.

"to keep your fucking religious thoughts away from MY CHILDREN. I want them taught Evolution. I want them taught tolerance.

Over my fucking dead body you fucking christofascist."

"evangelical wackos running around arguing that we need to convert the Jews for their own good, it's not surprising that you'll still have a lot of Jews who start nervously fingering their Uzis every time they hear the words "Jesus Christ" in any context other than cussing."

Posted by: Mca on March 13, 2006 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

Conversion to Christianity is a matter of logic (with the assistance of the holy spirit) if your here what Jesus said and look at what he did.

Hm. I guess Einstein wasn't too sharp at that elementary logic stuff.

You use the word "logic" the way Maoists do: you simply attach it to a proposition as if the assertion that something is logical makes it so. "Logical" and "scientific" are used as synonyms of "correct", and since the Party or the Chairman or God or Heaven or the Emperor or whatever authority-source is by definition always correct, that means that whatever the authority-source is logical and scientific. Again, I go back to the deficiencies of East Asian educational systems: as a broad and unjust but useful generalization, they don't really teach people to think for themselves.

Fortunately, as East Asia is reforming, this is gradually improving, and at some point we may not have to deal with so many people who think and write like McA any more.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 13, 2006 at 6:39 AM | PERMALINK

Steve,

You did not say that liberals were hostile to EVANGELICAL Christians. You said that liberals are hostile to RELIGIOUS Christians. Big, big difference.

You knew this damn well when you chose to misrepresent the objections to your first post. You, sir, are a liar. Get the f**k off of this site!

Posted by: dan on March 13, 2006 at 6:42 AM | PERMALINK

McA,
what the hell are you talking about?
Are you really a fundamentalist athiest trying to make Christians look stupid?

Posted by: reason on March 13, 2006 at 6:42 AM | PERMALINK

Washington Monthly is part of the 'permanent minority party' problem in Washington by giving a platform to this self-defeating, divisive pablum.

I am done supporting this with my attention and time and energy. Hope this website and the publication that backs it wither and die.

Posted by: matt on March 13, 2006 at 6:53 AM | PERMALINK

'The guy that went to the Supreme Court to argue that the use of the words "under God" made the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional would fit my definition of a fundamentalist atheist.'

His name is Michael Newdow. He lost.

Posted by: EmCott on March 13, 2006 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

"But if atheism wasn't in government you wouldn't get some of the anti-Christian acts so visible in government:

- Banning bible studies from schools
- But not banning the wearing of the Hijab or Skullcap by Muslims and jews?"

1. Bible studies are offered at many schools. They are only banned at public schools, and only when they are used to promote religion.

2. Koran and Talmud studies are subject to similar restrictions, so there is no selective discrimination against the Christian holy book.

3. The hijab and yarmulka are items of apparel. There are no schools that ban the wearing of bibles as items of apparel.

Posted by: Joel on March 13, 2006 at 6:59 AM | PERMALINK

Like I said, very few people actually say they are atheists. But if atheism wasn't in government you wouldn't get some of the anti-Christian acts so visible in government:

- Banning bible studies from schools
- But not banning the wearing of the Hijab or Skullcap by Muslims and jews?

They also don't ban necklaces with crosses so what's your point. (I don't take the Bible studies objection as serious)


Posted by: Steven J. on March 13, 2006 at 7:01 AM | PERMALINK

MCA -

Stop playing the "poor oppressed me" card. Fundies want TOTAL control of society, as I demonstrated above (Brownback, D. Jamed Kennedy, Scalia and the ID freaks).

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 7:02 AM | PERMALINK

Lerner is talking about white liberals who shaped the 1960s. Myself, I am a white liberal who was born in the 1960s as are most of the activists I work with. Anyone under 55 was 14 years old in 1970, so Lerner limited himself by agism guite a bit

Further, Lerner is not talking about Black liberals, Hispanic liberals, Asian liberals, etc. That further limits the population he is talking about.

You used a quote talking about a fairly small subset of liberals to defend your point that most liberals feel a certain way about evangelical Christians.

And how you can say that the people who shaped the 1960s are hostile to Chritianity when the only non-pop songs people can remember are Blowing in the Wind (Ok, also a pop song) and We Shall Overcome?

We have no problem with evangelical Christians. We have a problem with ANYONE telling us that the state can order women to carry a child to term, that free trade should count for money but not for people, that we are evil because we don't believe a certain way, that we are bound for hell because we don't worship God in a certain way.

It is the arrogant, abusive nature of SOME people who call themselves evangelical Christians that we find offensive, not their faith or expression of it.

I can't wait for Kevin to come back.

Posted by: NAR on March 13, 2006 at 7:03 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone under 55 was 14 years old in 1970, so Lerner limited himself by agism guite a bit

I am 53 and I was 18 in the Fall of 1970.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

WHAT THE FUNDIES REALLY WANT
"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost," Kennedy says. "As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society."

- D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Ministries
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/_/id/7235393?rnd=1113034924500&has-player=true&version=6.0.12.872
Posted by: Steve J.


Well, that and ooodles of Federal money with no oversight whatsoever: More than $2.1B and counting. Which is pretty damned swell considering the tax exempt status of the recipients.

www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-briefs8.5mar08,1,1649046.story?coll=la-news-a_section
Homeland Security to Add Religious Center
From Times Wire Reports
March, 8 2006

President Bush has ordered the creation of a center for religious initiatives within the Homeland Security Department, part of his government-wide effort to open federal contracts to religious organizations.

Other federal departments such as Justice, Education, Labor and Health and Human Services have such centers.

Posted by: CFShep on March 13, 2006 at 7:08 AM | PERMALINK

We have a problem with ANYONE telling us that the state can order women to carry a child to term, that free trade should count for money but not for people, that we are evil because we don't believe a certain way, that we are bound for hell because we don't worship God in a certain way.

Posted by: NAR on March 13, 2006 at 7:03 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, unless your constitution can't be amended or the judges don't retire/pass, it can if enough voters think so.

Living document, remember?

And you don't have to be evil not to go to heaven.
Just sinful.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

Poor me, oh poor me, he writes. He has a point. Consider the following:

1. During the 1988 election campaign, George Bush said that Christians should not be considered patriots or real American citizens.

2. Bill Clinton steadfastly refused to give any speeches at local churches.

3. Both major political parties are dominated by anti-Christians. The Republican party, for example, gave us such hard-core atheists as Pat Buchanan, Dan Quayle, Phyllis Schlafly and Ronald Reagan. And the Democrats have given us such personalities as the Rev. Martin Luther King and the Rev. Jesse Jackson-- both noted for their vicious attacks on all forms of Christianity.

4. On Sunday mornings, nearly all major television channels broadcast pro-atheist shows; it is nearly impossible to find religious programming during that time period. Further, Madalyn Murray O'Hair has her own cable TV channel, while Pat Robertson has been unable to obtain one for himself.

5. Most major newspapers run a special weekly section devoted to atheism. There are no equivalent sections for religious news.

6. Anti-Christian shows such as the American Atheist Forum are broadcast by major national networks. Meanwhile, Billy Graham is only able to get on the air through public access TV, which is watched by few people.

7. On news programs and "reality" TV shows such as Rescue 911, nobody is ever shown giving thanks to God after surviving a disaster.

8. It is almost impossible to find a shopping mall with a Christian Armory book store, while Atheist Book Centers are featured prominently on every corner.

9. While atheists couples who marry rarely have any difficulty finding a place to do so, it is nearly impossible for Christian couples to find a church where they can marry.

10. For that matter, churches themselves are extremely rare, while atheist meeting centers can be found every few blocks.

11. Jurors must take an oath upon a copy of the Skeptical Inquirer before they can serve. There have even been court cases thrown out because one of the jury members was a Christian who insisted on swearing on a Bible.

12. Christians often find it nearly impossible to get time off work for religious holidays such as Christmas.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 13, 2006 at 7:16 AM | PERMALINK

Well, that and ooodles of Federal money with no oversight whatsoever: More than $2.1B and counting.

Claude Allen wasn't into ovesight of fundies.

From Atrios:
http://atrios.blogspot.com/2006_03_05_atrios_archive.html#114203402761947437

When a federal judge found that a federally funded Louisiana abstinence program "illegally handed out Bibles, staged anti-abortion prayer rallies outside womens clinics and had students perform Bible-based skits," Allen refused to have the program audited, while continuing his repeated audit persecutions of effective AIDS-fighting groups teaching condom use.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 7:16 AM | PERMALINK

13. Even our language reflects the radical anti-Christian bias that pervades our society. For example, when somebody sneezes, most people say "Darwin bless you". Similarly, "Voltaire dammit!" is a common cussword.

14. All of our money has the atheistic slogan "We do not trust in God" printed on it.

15. In school, our children are made to recite the pledge, "One nation, anti-God, indivisible...."

16. One cannot rent a hotel room without finding a copy of Nietzsche's The Anti-Christ in the room.

17. Organizations such as the Boy Scouts deny membership to Christians.

18. In the military, it is nearly impossible to obtain Conscientious Objector status for religious reasons, even though those with philosophical reasons can obtain C.O. status relatively easily.

19. Christian churches are forced to pay exorbitant taxes.

20. You can't drive anywhere without seeing a Darwin fish or a "Jesus Was A Fraud" bumper sticker stuck to a car.

21. Georgia recently passed a new law requiring schools to have a "moment of noise" during which children are encouraged to degrade Christianity.

22. College campuses usually have dozens of atheist organizations, but few if any for Christians.

23. Many Christians are afraid to admit their Christianity to their parents and friends, for fear their kin will consider them immoral Christian scum and want nothing to do with them.

24. At presidential inauguration ceremonies, Madalyn Murray-O'Hair (that well-known friend of several presidents) gives a short pro-atheism speech.

25. For decades, high school and college commencement ceremonies have included brief speeches at the beginning and end of the ceremony in which atheism is praised and Christians deemed irrational. Christians who object to the practice, or who ask for an opening prayer instead, are regarded as cranks at best and subversives at worst.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 13, 2006 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

What crap Lerner is selling. A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a talk he gave at Omega Institute in mid-state New York. Omega is not known for it's hostility toward religion or spirituality but as a matter of fact more the other way embracing many New Age spiritual concepts and practices and inviting many spiritual leaders and teachers, including the good Rabbi Michael Lerner. The "good" he's standing in happens to be self-serving. The hostility, if there is any, that the Left is accused of having can be better defined as hostility to the historical patriarchal beliefs and practices as I've found the Left to be more inclusive than not. To understand more of Michael Lerner's motivation read Alexander Cockburn's comments on the good Rabbi.

Posted by: der on March 13, 2006 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

MCA -

You're correct, the Constitution is a living document and was meant by the Founders to be construed that way.

Now, that means that all this bibble thumping from barbarians like Robertson is nothing more than a political maneuver. That makes the fundies "fair game," as Karl Rove would put it.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

DER - To understand more of Michael Lerner's motivation read Alexander Cockburn's comments on the good Rabbi.

Do you have a link handy?

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 7:22 AM | PERMALINK

It's not religion per se that the left is hostile to. The left is hostile to the idea of any group of human beings believing they are morally superior based on some special insight they have into the nature of God.
Personally I think all people believe in God at some level. When we claim to be atheists or agnostics, what we are saying is that we don't buy into other people's belief systems. I think the issue for liberals is one of certainty. Religious people often come across as being certain they have a special relationship with God because of their religion, whereas liberals, at least the secular ones, are certain at an intuitive level that all human beings are equally ignorant when it comes to the questions of life's meaning and purpose.

Posted by: Paul on March 13, 2006 at 7:22 AM | PERMALINK

Rats "was meant to be by the Founders"

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 7:24 AM | PERMALINK

Another facet: Where was 'the' Church when it came to the great moral issues of the twentieth century?

Was it leading the charge against the Vietnam War? How about Civil Rights? The answer is yes -- and no.

Many churches and religious leaders took leadership roles on those issues. For that, they were vilified and mocked by war-hawks in the Democratic party, and in the ensuing years mischaracterized and marginalized as 'extreme.' But their positions and politics were-values based -- and quite conservative. I'd argue more religious, and more conservative in those values, than the supposedly 'moderate' centrists controlling the Democratic Party.

Many churches split or lost members -- as did families -- when congregants wanted to discuss or take action on those issues. I'd argue that it's because of the refusal of churches to take moral stands that's hamstrung liberal politics, not vice versa.

Case in point: ONLY the United Church of Christ, to my knowledge, has taken stands on a specific gay rights issue. (specifics elude me.) They even invited Spongebob Squarepants to join as a member. So what other church manages to live up to its preaching about Christian love? There's something amiss in Hoo-ville when only one church can muster adequate faith in such obvious cases.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 13, 2006 at 7:35 AM | PERMALINK

Sombrero hits it right on the head.

Churches are mostly reactionary and have been for a long time. I say mostly. Individuals within reactionary churches can be sensitive and charitable. A few churches on occasion speak out as an insititution against obvious societal evils.

But mostly they are the "spiritual" arm of the powers with an interest in maintaining the status quo, even if it means perverting their own doctrines.

Nothin' new about any of this.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 13, 2006 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

In the end, though, nothing pisses me off more than Christians claiming they are victims because they have to tolerate the equal status legally accorded to the non-Christians in their midst those of us who do not believe their fairy tales about the Woman and the Talking Snake as the Root of All Evil.

Except for idiots like Mr. Waldman who wonder why we cannot accomodate this kind of thinking on the Left. That really pisses me off.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 13, 2006 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

Waldman & Lerner == dumb & dumber.

When does Kevin get back?

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

I too am really tired of this one-note "liberals are anti-religious" theory. It is becoming increasingly evident that the Waldmans and Sullivans of the world will continue to press this point absent any evidence or even a reasonable atempt to define the terms of their argument. What exactly qualifies as hostility to religion? How does it manifest itself? Where does it live exactly? Are secularists going around trying to restrict whether relgious people can get married? Whether they can adopt children? Whether they can hold certain jobs? Are we enjoining the resources of the public square to insist that they give up their faith? Do we ask them to swear an oath denying their beliefs every morning? Is the entire argument of Waldman or Sullivan that this problem is entirely exemplified by a few people using impolite language on a web log? Seriously, this is bullshit. Its a complete and utter sham based almost entirely upon conservative's typical distortion of the debate. It doesn't even have the ring of truth of the average urban myth. I have to hope that at some point, people like Waldman and Sullivan will begin to realize it.

The truth is that at worst, secular liberals are dismissive of religion which is almost the definition of secularism after all. Believers can take offense at that if they want but I don't really see what can be done about it after all. Can we actually start to focus on the policy and issues that actually effects the quality of all of our lives please? Is that too much to ask?

Posted by: brent on March 13, 2006 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

Elitism.

August 27, 1987

[George H. W.] Bush: No, I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 13, 2006 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Steve,
You're as bad as Amy Sullivan. Did it ever occur to you that many liberals do believe in God but actually respect the division of the church and the state? Just because someone does not shout religion from the rooftops does not mean that they are against religion. Who were Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter? Oh yes 2 men who went to church...and while they would talk spiritually about God they never condescedingly preached to the masses and actually talked with God as Mr. Bush. Bush is a pretender. His "godliness" replaced his "alchoholic-ness". Any God I know about would be disgusted by Bush's supposed faith. You and Ms. Sullivan should go write for the NRO.

Posted by: Patrick in Chicago on March 13, 2006 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

Now consider the response to the Bush Sr. quote if he had replaced the word Atheists with Jews. Or Christians. Or Muslims.

But as it is, it was no big deal, and he was elected anyway.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 13, 2006 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

After reading through the posts here, I don't see how anyone can argue that a certain portion of liberals, or whatever you want to call them, AREN'T hostile to religion. It seems pretty clear that some of the posters here would extinguish religion if possible.

The problem that the left has isn't hostility to fundamentalism but hostility to religion in general, which clearly exists on this board.

Since most Americans are Christian, the Dems have a real problem if a portion of their constituents are anti-religious. Thankfully, we've managed to keep most of those wackos hidden in the closet.

Posted by: GeorgiaHoo on March 13, 2006 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

>It seems pretty clear that some of the posters here would extinguish religion if possible.


It seems pretty clear you read NONE of the messages here.

The difference between not wanting to have another religion witnessing to you and "extinguishing religion" is something lost on the binary thinkers of the right.

We have a tradition in this country of "live and let life" It would seem those who wish to promote religious extremism will only be happy when we are a theocracy,

In the meantime, Steve Waldman, fails to understand that religious persecution is stuff like burning people at the stake....it is not rejecting the dogma of religions you don't agree with.

Between you and Amy Sullivan, why do you guys behave like telemarketers of a minority religion in this country, and why do you suggest that we should reject the "the Englightment" two hundred years after it was established.

Posted by: nano on March 13, 2006 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

GeorgiaHoo -

Did you read my posts about Brownback, D. James Kennedy, Scalia and the ID freaks?

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Which ones GeorgiaHoo? Who here do u believe would reasonably argue to actually extinguish religion? Who here believes that people should not have the right to believe whatever the hell they want? And what "certain portion" of the liberal base do you think they represent? We need to actually start defining these terms and getting more specific. When exactly have we mean secular liberals crossed the boundary from criticism and disagreement over the content of religious belief to "hostility?" I want to know becuase I bet when we actually start to define the terms of this argument, it will become clear that this all of this percieved hostility will seem pretty thin beer.

Posted by: brent on March 13, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

mmmmm, seems like you caught hell steve, and man do you deserve it.
Most "elitists" live far out of the center of evangelical thought here in the buckle of the Bible Belt. You are misinterpeting the a deserved, intuitive nervousness and fear as "hostility" I am not saying they are intrinsically bad people but Limbaugh and Dobbs can whip them into a big lather in a few seconds of drive time.

BTW what is the reference in Leviticus to "not rounding the corners of your head" refer to?

Posted by: OXYMORON on March 13, 2006 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone interested in history should try reading some books by historians. Not to fault Michael Lener, but his corpus of work concentrates on psychology and alternative medicine, with a few op/ed books about leftwing anti-semistism. For Steve Waldman, I recommend Douglas Rossinow, _The Politics of Authenticity: Liberalism, Christinity, and the new Left in America_ (New York, 1998). Evangelicalism was central to the new Left, neither peripheral nor scorned.

Posted by: ft on March 13, 2006 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Waldman, Hey Sullivan,

I cannot tell if McA is troll or sincere, but read his anti-semitic, anti-everything-but-christian-fundamentalism rantings and tell me again that you think that leftists are unnecessarily worried about religion in school and religion in politics.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Progressive liberals aim for the truth. Religion aims for delusion. They will always be at odds.

Posted by: The Fool on March 13, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Waldman, Hey Sullivan,

I cannot tell if McA is troll or sincere, but read his anti-semitic, anti-everything-but-christian-fundamentalism rantings and tell me again that you think that leftists are unnecessarily worried about religion in school and religion in politics.
Posted by: jerry

Troll, Special from Malaysia, that All-Islam All-the-Time haven of religious liberty. We keep hoping the imams will drop by for a 'little talk' with him.

Posted by: CFShep on March 13, 2006 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

It's a cheap shot to put religion and spirituality in the same basket, as Lerner does. There are plenty of spiritual people who are anti-religion, and for good reason.

Anti-religion? You bet, and religion deserves it. It took a certain percentage of us several thousand years to catch on that religion is at the base of humanity's most cruel and vile acts. Religion is like the Republican party--it talks one line, but what it actually does is something horribly different. It's just simple psychology: we hate most the uncontrollable parts of ourselves. So while the "religious" are saying one thing, they're busy with their prejudice, pillaging, and holy wars. As they say: "Jesus, please protect me from your followers."

Please notice that I didn't mention God in all this--he's been as victimized by religion as the rest of us. Spirituality still lives, but not in the hearts of the "religious".

Posted by: Michael on March 13, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

I have no problem with the Hassidic community in NYC. They live by their own crazy rules and they never try to make the rest of us live by them. THT is how religion is supposed to coexist with State.

The Evangelicals who are not fascists need to speak up. Otherwise, it is fair to paint them all with the Theocracy brush.

Posted by: lilybart on March 13, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Paul.....you summed it up very well, right out of Sam Harris. It is the certainty of religious extremists of all religions that is dangerous.

Posted by: lilybart on March 13, 2006 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

The Religious Right and the Republican Party are the Pharisees of the Bible. They make a public show of their religiosity but all they really care about is power. Drive that point home and watch those hypocrites squirm.

Posted by: Elrod on March 13, 2006 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

16 % of the Kerry vote is nearly 8% of the electoral vote. Try winning without it. We're tired of God-baiting, people like steve waldman here are a clear and present danger to our republic. they use the language of our enemies to try and obtain power withing our party. They try to split the religious among us from the non-religious. They try Exploit both halves against each-other so that they can rules us both. People like this are not interested in helping us, they are interested in power and dividing us to obtain that power. Be wary, there is no magic bullet. Democrats aren't hostile to faith, we're hostile to people who think they own the light and the truth in this world. Waldman is one of those, if we do not bow and give them their way on everything they threaten to make us second class citizens. Following people like this will leave this country shattered and broken.

Posted by: SoulLight on March 13, 2006 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Georgiahoo

I don't like religion. I freely admit it.

But I would never claim that religious people should have their citizenship revoked and that they are not patriots.

But these are things a former President of the USA said about atheists. He got a pass though. After all, he was talking about "bad people".

Stop peddling your mindless "victim" bullshit.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 13, 2006 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Georgiahoo....the reason we seem hostile to religion, and I should only speak for myself, is that the religion manifested in public life by the vocal right wing, is theocratic and absolutist.

We never hear from the rest of religious people, and I suppose it is because the media prefer the extremists since they make good sound bites.

What we SEE is religious people trying to insist this is a Christian country (all else should stay in their lower places) like in Missouri where they are trying to install an official state religion. We SEE Christians supporting a man who tortures human beings and starts pre-emptive wars against the words of Jesus. We SEE Christians trying to discredit science and keep young girls from getting a vaccine against cervical cancer because it might take some fear out of sex.

When we SEE some positive, compassionate actions that actually remind us of the Jesus we were all taught about in Sunday school, maybe some of the hostility would mellow.

Posted by: lilybart on March 13, 2006 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

All the anti-religion ranting would be a lot more credible were it not for the fact that atheism has shown itself to be just as prone to violence. Atheism was the official stance in the USSR, a nation which didn't exactly rank high on the Human Rights scale.

The fact is that any belief system is vulnerable to being twisted into a justification for evil. The problem isn't religion - it's human nature.

Posted by: moderleft on March 13, 2006 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

I know many liberals, and not one of them is hostile toward religion. Some are hostile toward theocrats, but that is really a different matter.

Posted by: Anaxamander on March 13, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Evangelicals still represent a minority of Christians in this country. And admittedly Democrats are not as good as the Republicans at pandering to religious extremists. However Christianity is a diverse religion, and MAYBE we should accept that the vast majority of Americans would prefer that religion is a personal matter.

Suggesting that hostility to religious extremism is the same as persecution is what I would expect right wing Republicans to do.

We aren't going to get more votes by playing into the hands of the theocrats.

Posted by: nano on March 13, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

>liberal hostility to evangelical Christianity

Excuse me, but how many churches have liberals burnt down? How many Christians have liberals lynched?

Thought so.

Less projection, please.

Posted by: bartkid on March 13, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Good grief, hysteria abounds. As a twice-born atheist I'm unmoved by Lerner's call to ponder my antipathy to religion. But all Sullivan & Waldman mean to suggest (I think) is that we take a fair-minded view toward our fellow citizens who are religious because we need their support and anyway, it's the decent thing to do.

Posted by: Lucy on March 13, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

the other reason I am hostile to religious people, and it is the people, not an idea that engenders hostility, is that I could maybe get elected to City Council as an Agnostic/Buddhistm, but that is as far as I could go without pretending to be some kind of Christian or Jew.

The Constitution says there should be no religious test for office, but in practice, you can't get elected to state or national office unless you profess a belief in some personal God.

Posted by: lilybart on March 13, 2006 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

I don't notice that Evangelical religion seems to be in any great danger as of late. Maybe that is because we have a tradition of religious pluralism...and maybe the wall of separation allows religion to thrive.


However, Waldman...why don't you accept that certain Christianists believe that if you don't accept their dogma, you are persecuting them. And this is a matter you should be taking up with the Christianists, rather than bashing liberals who think this stuff is a personal matter.

Posted by: nano on March 13, 2006 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Ludicrous allegation ...

The fact is that non-religious people just don't give a damn about what you believe. The hostility comes from so-called "Christians" toward other people who aren't part of their religion, not the other way around.

In fact, they are thinking of renaming Christianity to "Hostilism" for this very reason.

Posted by: bink on March 13, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

One of the persistent problems in this rather angry thread is the confusioin of the terms evangelical and fundamentalist. Many fundamentalists claim to be evangelical, but the portion of the fundamentalist philosphy that we all find repugnant, their willingness to judge others and their eagerness to impose their views on others is not part of evangelism. Evangelicals want to pursuade others of the rightness of their position. Persuasion is very different than employing the power of government to impose a point of view. Christ was big on persuasion and hostile to imposition.

As to the business about spirituality v. religiousity, it is true that many on the left are spiritual. It is equally true that many are religious. Again they are not the same thing.

Fundamentalism, be it religious fundamentalism, or secular fundamentalism is all about imposing a person's world view on others. Fundamentalism is all about power, policial power. That is why Christian fundamentalists, Muslim fundamentalists and even secular fundamentalists (yes there are even some of those writing in this very thread) feel so much a like. They all want to remake the world in their image. They all want me to pretend that I believe in their image.

I reject all of you fundamentalists be you Christians, or Muslims, or Buddiest, Secularists. My core belief is that you all want to get between me an my life and my life's meaning. That is different than saying I reject the core principles of Christianity, the Torah, the Koran, the enlightenment or the your founding teacher. For what it is worth, I find Judaism to be overly legalistic, the Muslims suffer from the same problem with a over emphasis on reward and punishment. Secularism leaves me empty. At its core Buddism is meaningless. Christianity is a little simplistic, but of the major religions, I find it most satisfying because it is about the empowerment of love. Read the Gospels and tell me where Christ tries to do more than persuade.

In the list of persuasive techniques, calling folks names or yelling "f**k you" or "f**k them" is not very persuasive. All you secular fundamentalists might want to keep that in mind. That is why you poll so poorly.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

I'll stop lumping the "liberal" evangelists and such with the fundies when they stop doing so themselves.

Posted by: NotThatMo on March 13, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and when has any church been taken to court to have science shoehorned into sermons the way Intelligent Designers have tried to push that nonsense into classrooms?

Posted by: bartkid on March 13, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Lucy,

Hear, Hear

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 13, 2006 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,

1. There is no such thing as a "secular fundamentalist." The phrase, if you understand the real meanings of the words and refuse to indulge in the relativism that rightwingers find so conveniently handy is contradictory. By use of such a phrase, you are attempting to equate a belief in separation of church and state - held by men and women of all religious faiths, including the most devout - with a non-existent religion called secularism. The closest thing in consensual reality is so-called "secular humanism," which itself is a nonsense phrase, inadvertently coined by a Supreme Court judge, adopted as a slur by cynical christianists in order to bash opponents, and mistakenly adopted by the very people who really should have known better. In truth, there is nothing inherently "secular" about humanism and indeed some of the most deeply religious people of all time are humanists.

2. Regarding your objection to the use of strong language. I've been called far worse by men and women who claim to be of God. Big deal.

Posted by: tristero on March 13, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

I only come here for the comments these days.

Posted by: Jim J on March 13, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Lucy,

If fair-mindedness was what Amy Sullivan is about, who could object? It's when she starts taking about "knee jerk leftists" opposition to religious candidates that I start to wonder what the hell she's talking about. There isn't a single candidate for major public office that doesn't profess religion.

No leftist or liberal I know objects to a candidate merely on the grounds of their religion. It's when they politicize religion, everyone - left, right, and center - should howl loudly and often.

Posted by: tristero on March 13, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Huh. A firestorm of commentary for the latest post, already 218!
Having grown up in the South, I have to say that there's nothing elitist or really even that intellectual about a distaste for evangelism. In the South, /if you are a thinking, rational person/, you think, no, *know* yourself to be surrounded by people that believe in flat earth and relative Gravity (heavier things fall faster) and literal Biblical inerrancy. Pinheads. Many Southerners are nice people, many of them are walking talking /real/ humble Christians. BUT. A greater proportion of them live an unexamined life. The classic Southern credo is: "The Bible says it, I believe it and that settles it". Facts and those that present them are often seen as credulous tools of Satan or some such.
But there is *nothing* that makes an aversion towards this or an hostility for it elitist or intellectual. We should exile all of these benighted souls to a walled compound where the reality of their illusions could build up so that the insanity of it would become apparent....oh right, they've walled themselves already...in the South and South Dakota.......isn't it wonderful how the South is a Garden of Eden of brotherly love, racial harmony, loving family life with no child going hungry or uneducated, no women is abused?
Yeah, I'm hostile to evangelism. I've seen it, I grew up with it, and it's not Christian, it's not moral and it's stump dumb and proud of it.

Posted by: Stewart Dean on March 13, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Also,

I'm just not impressed in general with ANY denomination's leadership in civic life, ESPECIALLY given our new crusade, be they churches on the left or churches on the right.

You've got openly hateful statements by Pat Robertson -- and a deafening silence on the part of all other churches -- left and right.

So what's happening is --the faith that prides itself on Christian love, on forgiveness, on practicing what you preach, on embracing your enemy, on Jesus' sacrifice and on his practice of reaching out to the lowest, the most oppressed, or the most troubled -- has done exactly ZERO to
a)correct those bizarre and hateful right-wingers who would kill in the name of Christ. Exhibits A & B are Pat Robertson and Jerry Boykin; or
b) take any sort of action in the political realm to call our "glorious leaders" to account, political OR religious terms.

Let me state this another way.

For God's sake, they're torturing Muslims, many of them innocent, and using their sacred beliefs to humiliate them as individuals and as Muslims.

For Christ's sake, they (Bush & Co) have bombed and destroyed mosques, arrested religious leaders, broken into homes at random and at will, and have very likely established death squads in Iraq.

Islam is an extraordinary religion, in its grace and its beauty and its acceptance of other faiths, including ours.

For our religious leaders, left and right and center to remain silent in the face of these policies, these actions, this cultural trend -- is nothing short of a profound moral failure. And we should forgive them for this? WE should adopt THEIR methodology?

Recall one thing, and take it to heart.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Another variant extends the comparisons to incude Catholics and Protestants:

In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me -
and by that time no one was left to speak up.


Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 13, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

the real issue here is absolutely not hostility towards religion. it is opposition to the ideal of "christian" primacy and state endorsed religion. JFK had it right-we are Americans first. someone like Santorum needs to explain to his constituents why he feels compelled to run for office as a religious whack job first and as an American second.

quit the circular firing squad BS.

Posted by: sp on March 13, 2006 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

If the clueless like Waldman and Sullivan think that by pandering to "good" evangelicals, Democrats can pick up a vote...

let's just say this as cynical as the Rovian-Atwater types who laugh at these people behind their backs, but shamelessly court their votes, while actually pursuing an agenda driven by getting tax cuts for the rich.

The fact that Waldman and Sullivan are so dismissive of the real theocratic and dominionist threat shows that they simply are as contemptuous of Evangelicals as their consultant pals on the right.


Posted by: nano on March 13, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I was born and baptized Catholic, went LDS for 3 years (moved south)then So. Baptist then back Catholic then "who cares" and now I'm "get out of my face".

None of you should feel any guilt about pushing back on the Bully Jesus crowd. Read up on American history from Cotton to Jerry.

And if you've been giving these bullies your lunch money and now you want to rationalize it with the 'that's just the way it is' routine, maybe you should go read DesCartes again before you call yourselves liberal.

Remember, the ugliest form of 'liberalism' there is, save for Stalinism and Maoism, is NeoConservatism, which uses belief in God/Religion as the Platonian litmus test for who is corruptable and who is too stupid to need corrupting.


Posted by: johnnytrumpet on March 13, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

I would be more tolerant of the jackasses that typify (largely rightwing) evangelical Christianity if they would show me the same respect, instead of glibly consigning me to Hell with the sodomites and gay lovers and relative moralists and so on simply because I live in the post-Englightenment era.

In general, this is how rational, secular liberals find themselves in America:

You yourself are blinded by Bush hatred and/or hate America if you object to it disgracing itself on the world stage and you should apologize profusely, otherwise your party does not deserve to win elections. But no one has to apologize for calling your unpatriotic and wishing you the victim of the next terrorist attack.

You yourself have to prostrate yourself before all Southerners and reassure them that you bear them no ill will for constanting rubbing our faces in their pet causes of race, religion and the violent resolution of disputes by nominating one of them to be the Presidential torch bearer for your party. You have to pretend to love NASCAR and hunting. But Southerners can piss all over your effete, Northeastern-librul, latte-sipping ways and you have to smile and take it. As for ever, ever voting for a Northern Democrat for President, are you crazy? Northerners are intolerant of Southern ways.

You yourself don't mind at all hiring and/or working alongside an evangelical Christian and will even put up with the inevitable bouts of proselytization. You vote for laws that make religiously motivated violence an enhanced crime. But you have to allow them to refuse to hire people whose personal lifestyles they object to, and you are expected to pay taxes that help promote their view that the US is a Christian nation. If you object at all, you are "hostile to [Christian] religion," and your party does not deserve to run the government.

Did I leave anything out?

Posted by: TK on March 13, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

"hostility toward religion and spirituality"
Steve,
First off there is a difference between being religious and being spiritual but that is another topic.
Secondly I can understand a hostility toward the evangelical religious because they don't seem to respect the 1st ammendment. They want to point out that our founding fathers were christian but completely ignore how they felt about the freedom of religion or the reasons that they felt that way, that the "separation of church and state" were their words and fully intended that never the twain shall meet.
Hell, they don't even seem to respect their own doctrine. They judge even though their doctrine clearly tells them not to.
All they seem to care about is what we are NOT supposed to do. Drink, smoke, smoke *grin*, cuss, chew, or hang out with those who do.
They loose sight of what we ARE supposed to do. "Do unto others as you WOULD HAVE THEM do unto you". That doesn't mean only those who believe as and act as they do. It means everybody. So I guess that means they want to be treated the same way they treat gays and lesbians.

"The Religious Right and the Republican Party are the Pharisees of the Bible. They make a public show of their religiosity but all they really care about is power"
Posted by: Elrod

Take out the crack about the republican party and include the religious Left (there is one you know) and this would be absolutly correct.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 13, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

The Left's purported "hostility to religion" is a myth perpetuated by Republicans, Pat Robertson and Vichy Democrats. Like most myths, any resemblance to reality is irrelevant.

Posted by: querido bobo on March 13, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

TK: Did I leave anything out?

Umm....yeah. Good sense. Reason.

The 25-30% of us down here who are none of those things you paint us as being.

Where were you when I was risking life and limb campaigning for George McGovern? Or working for a black candidate for DA?

I didn't see you out there shivering in the cold dawn meeting the plant workers coming off the graveyard shift....didn't notice you standing up to the Wallace for President mouthbreathers.

Take your Anti-Anyone-Born-South-of-the-Mason-Dixon-Line-
is_Reactionary-Scum ranting and prejudices and put 'em where the sun don't shine, sugar.

Posted by: CFShep on March 13, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Between Martin Luther King Jr. and Pat Robertson, who is the more truly spiritual?

How about between Gandhi and Jerry Falwell?

Get real Steve and stop shilling for the insane and inhumane. Even you ought to know the difference.

Posted by: NeoLotus on March 13, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Trackback still doesn't work for me here, so I'm posting this manually...

It's often said that atheists are such a small minority that they need to make common cause with liberal religious believers -- and that's probably true. It will never happen, however, if religious believers are anything like Sullivan and Waldman. You can't make common cause with a popinjay given to these kinds of accusations. With liberals like Amy Sullivan and Steve Waldman, who needs the Christian Right and Republicans? Full Post...

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats don't find a way to stop internalizing these Radical attack memes and beating themselves senseless before the primaries even open, I fear we are doomed to 50 years of Radical rule.

Clue: the vast majority of Democrats are churchgoers; the majority of them Christian. The majority of liberals are churchgoers; the majority of them Christian.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 13, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

tristero--

Belatedly, I agree. I don't know how much truth there is to Amy Sullivan's polemic on the knee-jerk left and religious candidates, but it didn't rankle me since I'm sympathetic to her broader argument about seeking common cause with religious liberals. And after all, she has taken a lot of bile from absolutists on this site.

Posted by: Lucy on March 13, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

In my little corner of straight-Democrat voting, liberal Brooklyn, within easy walking distance of my apartment, there are several mosques, Catholic and mainstream Protestant (Episcolian, German Lutheran, etc.) churches, storefront Protestant sects, Buddhist meditation centers and temples, Quaker meeting houses, Wicca groups, etc. etc. So where's this hostility to religion and spirituality I'm hearing so much about....?

Posted by: Stefan on March 13, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

"In truth, there is nothing inherently "secular" about humanism and indeed some of the most deeply religious people of all time are humanists."

Of course there is nothing "inherently" secular about humanism; that's why the concept of secular humanism gets the adjective "secular" placed before "humanism" instead of simply calling it "humanism." This allows us to distinguish it from Christian Humanism, Religious Humanism, Literary Humanism, Cultural Humanism, and "humanism" in general.

The phrase was not coined by any judges. You're probably thinking Torcaso v. Watkins, but it was used by Leo Pfeffer before that. Today, "secular humanism" is consistent with what was once simply labeled "secularism."

If the label "secular humanism" bothers you, I wonder what you'd prefer to call a philosophy which is explicitly and deliberately naturalistic, secular, and humanistic.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Another liberal-baiting, self-congratulating, troll's rant on the front page. Fucking precious.

Posted by: Doc on March 13, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

And you don't have to be evil not to go to heaven.
Just sinful.

See, McA, you can't even generalize about Christianity. In my church, we start the service by confessing our bondage to sin. Our salvation is a gift from God, of which we are unworthy. Justification through grace is common across all the catholic traditions: Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc.

So your beliefs are antithetical not only to atheists and people of religions other than Christianity, but to many of your fellow Christians.

What non-Christians might want to keep in mind is that the only common belief across all denominations is the divinity of Jesus Christ. Beyond that, everything is up for grabs. I know what you mean when you say "Christians are..." but some semantic clarity would still help you get your point across without needlessly alienating people who might agree with you. It's also helpful to understand that "evangelical" and "fundamentalist" are not synonyms. I only learned that recently.

Posted by: hamletta on March 13, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Tristero, I might have been a little imprecise. By secular fundamentalists, I mean the closed minded assholes who want to call everybody with any kind of spiritual belief names and want to close churches, mosques, temples, and other religious institutions. The folks who want to impose their particular vision of atheism and materialism on the rest everybody else.

By the way I don't think that the word "asshole" adds anything to the discussion but I want you to feel at home.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

All those protesting the idea that liberals are hostile to religion & faith, need look no further than the discussion about disaffected GOP evangelicals we just had recently. There's enough derisive hipster snark of religious people to leave little room for doubt.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 13, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

PZ Myers points out that he, and other atheists who genuinely do wish to see religion stomped out, voted and campaigned for Kerry. And his question about whether folks like Amy and Steve would vote for a candidate who didn't pass doctrinal muster with them pretty well answers itself.

Posted by: Bruce Baugh on March 13, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Lessee,

The south is the most religious part of the country but they supported slavery, Jim Crow and continue to hate homosexuals.

George Bush is the biggest most loudmouth Christian ever to be president and has lied us into a war, has a notorious smear artist for a best friend and has an administration that openly attacks people for the crime of getting their facts striaght.

The Sept. 11th attacks, to borrow from Penn and Teller, were a faith-based initiative.

The Catholic Church is quite evidentally addicted to altar boys.

Christianity posits that it has a kind and loving God who has a plan that we're all part of which will result in a majority of the population being tortured in the most painful, sadistic way imaginable for all eternity over a difference of opinion.

Conclusion: The problem with the liberal/left is that it's intollerant of religion.

Posted by: Hieronymus braintree on March 13, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

I think that there is good reason for ANYONE, -left or right- to be warry, if not downright hostile to organized religion (superstition). Just look around; nearly all of the conflict you see from Darfur to the USA, is based on religion. People should THIMK instead.

Posted by: M. Carey on March 13, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Criticism of right-wing political religion is not the same as "hostility to religion".

The problem isn't that secularists have been too critical, on the contrary it is progressive people of faith who need to make louder their opposition to the rightist radicals who have hijacked faith and turned it into a partisan political tool.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 13, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Rather than chasing after the votes of a shrinking number of people who will never vote for us anyway, why not go after a MUCH LARGER and GROWING group: Unmarried women?

Unmarried women don't vote much, but when they do, they vote for Democrats.

Want to get more of them into the voting booth? You sure as hell won't do it by kowtowing to anti-woman "religious leaders".

Posted by: Phoenix Woman on March 13, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

'The guy that went to the Supreme Court to argue that the use of the words "under God" made the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional would fit my definition of a fundamentalist atheist.'

How would you feel if your little Christian child was instructed to recite a pledge every morning to the effect that we are "one nation, free of religious superstition, with liberty and justice for all." Would you consider the government that promulgated a law mandating the phrase "free of religious superstition" to be considerate of your first amendment rights? Or would you feel that your right to freedom of religion was being subjected to coercive propaganda?

My point is that neither phrase has any place in a mandatory pledge. Michael Newdow was just agitating for a level playing field, not some kind of anti-Christian purge.

Many Christians seem to believe that unless they are given preferential treatment by the government they are being discriminated against. Hogwash!

Posted by: Athos on March 13, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats already chase after unmarried women, particularly of a certain age (over 30 usually). But in trying to aquire votes, parties work off of two scales, favorability (as in favorable to the party's views) and likelyhood to vote.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 13, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Really, uhh, spirited discussion here. This is what I think's going on:

There's a huge disconnect between the economic doctrine embraced by
Republicans and ideas of consensus morality. I've argued that it's
self-contradictory to embrace an unfettered marketplace and be a
Christian moralizer, but it's probably more accurate to say that
this is precisely why they're so tightly bonded together. A market
without a moral check leads to nihilism -- the reduction of all
human values to exchange value. Immoral impulses move products.

Likewise, there's an inevitable conflict between reason and
superstition. While liberalism is not at all opposed to the moral
impulse that drives religion, it is very much on point to say that
rationalism is opposed to theism -- the strain of religion that puts
an active God who intercedes in human affairs at the center of things.
Why? Because a king on a throne with a beard 'n' sandals and a three
billion channel Multiplex Prayer Receiver is a bit hard to swallow.

Here's the problem: Liberal political values are as morality-driven
as conservative values. In fact, their morality is pretty much taken
from the same sources. And it is a historical fact that liberalism
was most politically successful when it was aligned with not merely
mainstream, but also activist religious institutions. Christians
and Jews funded the civil rights movement, and their numbers marched
alongside of King out of a deep semse of moral imperative. Dorothy
Day's Catholic worker organizations not only provided alms for the
poor, but organizational support for New Deal labor reforms.

People like Lerner, Sullivan and Waldman feel a deep nostalgia
for this era. They also know -- and we seculars gloss over this
at our peril -- that the explicitly secular, dogmatically atheistic
societies of the former Second World (the Communist bloc) were no
vouchsafe against a host of corrupt behaviors that gave the lie to
Marx's noble communitarian ideals. The fear here is the same as
was felt by the classical sociologists Emile Durkheim and Max Weber,
who chronicled the stages that societies pass through which culminate
in a modern social order: Anomie (normlessness), the "iron cage"
of bureaucracy. Because societies based on instrumental values take
their cues from behavior in the marketplace, and economists have
taken the great philosophical question, "what is the good life?",
and stuck it into a black box called subjective utility. The pursuit
of happiness is different for every individual and not comparable.

What they fear is that without a center of consensus morality,
liberalism will devolve into libertarianism and libertarianism
leads to nihilistic anarchy -- the Nietsczhean Will to Power.

So Lerner goes on in the pages of Tikkun about communitarianism (as
an antedote to the radical individualism instilled by the marketplace)
and "the politics of meaning" and gets Methodist Hillary all wet 'n'
gooey, nostalgic for the times when we liberals could wield the club
of shame to push for political change as implacably as the Christian
right does. This is, to a certain extent, at least understandable.

But make no mistake -- liberal values are as steeped in a vision of
consensus morality, an unpacking of the libertarian black box of what
makes humans happy, as religions are. It's simply much more difficult
for us to articulate our vision without religious tradition behind it.

Religious tradition is the Great Shortcut.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Good idea.

Dems's should say: Republicans want to control women's uterus.

Posted by: nut on March 13, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Just look around; nearly all of the conflict you see from Darfur to the USA, is based on religion. People should THIMK instead.

See, this is just ignorant. To pose religion as mutually exclusive with thought, with science is hopelessly reductionist. Johann Kepler was a theologian and astronomer. He saw his study of God's creation as a way to draw closer to Him. Many of our country's finest, most rigorous institutions of learning were founded by Jesuits. Martin Luther risked his life to translate the bible into German so that ordinary people could read scripture themselves and not rely on the clergy to tell them what to think.

Not only do I find the fundamentalists' decision theology absurd, I see the ID crowd's anti-intellectual bent as a rejection of God's greatest gift, our minds.

Posted by: hamletta on March 13, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

hamletta:

Good posts.

The trick is to reclaim the moral imperative from *thesism*, not religion itself.

Certainly the Pope wasn't exactly thrilled when Gallileo offered him a glimpse through his telescope :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

thesism = theism

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

By all means, bring up "liberal hostility to religion" and harp on it. Start lots of intra-party tension and bickering over 16% of secular liberals, while the NSA sends transcripts of all your phone calls for Bush's corrupt buddies to cackle over.

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE. Every time the left gets a little momentum you start in with this kind of shit! Perpetuating the right's own BASELESS criticisms of the left!

Are they over there on Powerline and LGF agreeing that why yes, the anti-abortion wing of the GOP is drawing too much fire and causing problems for their candidates? Like fuck they are!

I get really fucking tired of everyone on "our side" sabotaging us again and again. Does Karl Rove whisper subliminal messages under your pillow at night?!

Posted by: WTF! on March 13, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Steve, we secular folks have a disproportionate impact because, thanks to us, Democrats don't regularly advocate that atheists be considered non-citizens (as George H.W. Bush once said).

Those of us who are nonreligious are demonized by Democrats and Republicans alike. When a father rightly objected to having his daughter coerced into declaring this to be "one nation under God", the Democrats in the House pretty much unanimously joined the Republicans in having a little demo where they screamed "UNDER GOD!!!". Meanwhile, my eight-year old daughter is similarly coerced. Given that she has Aspergers' syndrome and already has issues getting along with her classmates, I would not dream of having her protest, she has enough problems. But she is receiving religious indoctrination in a public school, against her parents' wishes. And Democrats support this. Yet you and Amy say that Democrats are not sufficiently diligent at imposing Christianity on the nation (OK, Judeo-Christianity) because of the alleged disproportionate influence of people like me.

Chile, a thoroughly Catholic country, just elected an agnostic single mother to the presidency. That is impossible in the US, partly because of attitudes like yours and Amy's. I feel like, far from being too dominant in the party, people like me are fighting to be recognized as equally valuable citizens.

Democrats disproportionately choose southern evangelical Christians as their nominee (Carter, Clinton). I'm sorry, but I have little sympathy for claims that evangelicals get insufficient respect from Democrats.

Posted by: Joe Buck on March 13, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote (more stats here) seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party's image and approach.

I guess that's why the Senate Democrats were so pleased with the Ninth Circuit's decision holding that the inclusion of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional. Oh, wait. The Senate immediately condemned the decision by a vote of 99-0, probably without any senator having bothered to read it. Never mind.

I haven't noticed a lot of non-believing or not very religious Democrats getting nominated for president or anything else. Is there a single member of Congress, or a single governor, who has publicly stated that he/she doesn't believe in God, or isn't sure that God exists? Admitting that is political suicide for virtually anyone seeking virtually any office anywhere in the United States. Gay, you can get elected some places; atheist -- forget about it.

Posted by: Frederick on March 13, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

"...many liberals carry an elitist attitude toward evangelical Christians."

Not an elitist attitude, but clear a suspicious one. What do you expect? Every time I look around, some national level evangelical is trying to write their version of scripture into law. They are trying to convert me by force of law!

And you think I should show them some deference or respect? Not bloody likely.

I am perfectly willing to let evangelicals live their lives as they see fit. Now if only they would grant me the same courtesy, I'd give their candidates a different look.

Posted by: zak822 on March 13, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

This whole "War on Christmas" lie has got me thinking.

The surreal and Orwellian notion that Christians are somehow under attack in this country could be setting the stage.

Imagine the same thing happening during the Roman Empire. Under seige for real -- at first. Time passes. Struggle against the Roman hegemony is firmly in the political and cultural realm.

Upstart Jewish leaders (followers of Christ) try the same thing: they build up this tsunami of public relations concerning the oppression of the local political and religious groups. Then arrange for a martyr -- for multiple purposes.

You get the martyr to fire up and expand your followers, both in commitment, radicalism, and numbers. Your leader (Christ) can make good his escape. You get an inexplicable miracle to further accelerate the power of your political and religious movement.

Look for it at a Coliseum near you!

(Now, now, no flaming! You won't get to proofread the screenplay!)

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 13, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

"To pose religion as mutually exclusive with thought, with science is hopelessly reductionist."

No, hamletta, the effort to reconcile religion and science is hopelessly misguided. Religion is merely a form of superstition, and science and superstition are incompatible.

Just because you can cite examples of scientists who considered themselves religious doesn't mean that therefore, presto change-o, science and religion are integrated conceptually. All it proves is that, like all human beings, these scientists are capable of entertaining two mutually exclusive concepts at the same time.

Religious superstition is used to promulgate a particular moral code or to explain certain of life's mysteries through parable and myth. But those explanations can certainly not be considered "scientific," even if they inform the spiritual life of a person engaged in scientific inquiry.

I believe that science will eventually displace religion, rendering it effectively obsolete (unless we manage to render humanity itself obsolete in the meantime.) Until that day arrives, superstitious people, scientists included, will continue in the attempt to "reconcile" their superstitions with science. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Athos on March 13, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal reaction to evangelical presence isn't elitism. We are reacting the same way we would if someone started yelling during a discussion; or if someone were spray-painting their slogans in public places. Demands to post 10 commandments, or do sect-specific prayers at football games are just another form of tagging, or marking territory. Liberals are just like other folks: we don't like rude behavior.

Posted by: Peter Tregillus on March 13, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Simply put, evangelism is rude. I've thought about these issues and made up my mind. It's not like there's anything new here, it all (allegedly) happened 2000 or so years ago. Please stop bothering me. I'd prefer not to be rude in return, but some evangelicals leave you not choice.

Posted by: dcBill on March 13, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

by "liberal in good standing," did you mean "navel-gazing opportunistic wanker"?

Posted by: Smeghead on March 13, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

What is insidious about this claim that liberals are "all" hostile to religion is that it comes from a group of people who are historically hostile to Catholics, Jews, Sikhs, and Moslems; i.e., all non-fundamentalist-Christians. It's a crock, but an enduring crock that is somehow useful to the Republiclone party.

Posted by: CT on March 13, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Digby really nailed it. The right wing uses God as a political football, which I consider sacrilegious. I don't think the solution is to play better football; at one level at least, it's to cry foul, to expose the Pharisaical nature of right-wing politics.

I don't think crying foul is enough, though. Democrats need to start playing a different game. One idea I have is that good public policy can be recast as an interfaith undertaking, the kind of thing where people of all faiths (including no faith) work to achieve goals we all think are important. There is a great deal of religious common ground in ethics and public policy that can and should be articulated.

Interfaith is about the positive side of our sense of the meaning of life, whatever that is, and what higher things it calls us all to do. It's also about neutralizing the partisan discord of one religion pitted against another, because I don't care what religion you have or don't as long as we pull together. It's a rather different vision of religion in public life than the war on Christmas and the war on abortion and the war on homosexual marriage. But where tolerance is about allowing people to be who they are as individuals and in private, interfaith is the other side of the coin: joining people to act together as a community and in public.

And no, I'm not particularly attached to the word "interfaith" if someone has a better word for what I'm talking about. "I tolerate you" means "leave me alone", not "work with me".

I don't agree with everything said by rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 12:23 PM, but I see a certain kinship with what I am saying.

Posted by: Dan Lewis on March 13, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Fair point, I thought. I probably should have said "many liberals" rather than caricaturing liberalism per se.

What a fucking cunt you are, Waldman.

Posted by: Walter Concrete on March 13, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

WTF asks a question re Steve and Amy

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.

They are stupid cunts. That's what's wrong with them.

Probably they believe that a deity is going to judge them after they die, too. That's a starting point for a lot of stupid shit that people do and say.

People like Steve and Amy. Stupid cunts.

Posted by: Walter Concrete on March 13, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hostility to religion? Sure. Why shouldn't we atheists have some hostility? Many religions tell us we're going to burn in hell, simply because we disagree on very debatable issues.

That doesn't mean we're going to try to stop you from practicing your religion; we just get a bit irritated at the insulting and dismissive way you treat us. (Not everyone, certainly: I've met some ministers who really did treat me with respect, just not many.) It certainly doesn't mean we're not spiritual.

We have an a "disproportionate impact"? We have next to *no* impact. An atheist can't get elected in this country, and that's just due to pure bigotry.

This complaint is like whining about how Jews are "anti-Christian" and have "too much power". It's like whining about how blacks are "hostile to traditional Southern culture" and have "too much power". It's ridiculous -- and it's also a pernicious form of bigotry.


Posted by: Anon on March 13, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

"By secular fundamentalists, I mean the closed minded assholes who want to call everybody with any kind of spiritual belief names and want to close churches, mosques, temples, and other religious institutions. The folks who want to impose their particular vision of atheism and materialism on the rest everybody else."


Oh. Well, there aren't any of those. They don't exist. (Good grief, even Soviet Russia left the churches open.) So you can stop worrying.


This is something like the conspiracies of Jews running the world -- never existed, doesn't exist, and used rhetorically to justify attacks on the rights of innocent people.

Posted by: anon on March 13, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

For Democrats to start hanging out with Pat Robertson's ilk and let themselves be publicly baptized in the muddy waters of the Mississippi would be a brilliant strategy. It would be another glorious Dukakis in a tank moment.
Bravo.
By the way, I don't think Rabbi Lerner counts as a liberat AT ALL. The only people I see quoting him are fucknut wingnut evangelicals.

Posted by: marky on March 13, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

I propose a small revolution:
Anyone else who is sick to death of Amy Sullivan and Waldmann using the space in Political Animal to lecture Democrats on the need to tolerate every kind of religious expression except for the kind they specifically allow us to jerk our knees at, post a comment here if you agree that Sullivan and Waldmann go, or we do.
GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

They offer nothing constructive to intra-party debates; they bring no evidence to back up their arguments; and they plainly fail to understand the fact the non-religious people in this country have virtually no political representation----there are probably more vegan lesbian bikers in this country than atheists, and for certain they are better liked than atheists.

Posted by: marky on March 13, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think I get it now: non-believers have a "disproportionate impact" when they have any impact at all.
To the stocks with the heretics and nonbelievers! Let us save the true Puritan State!

Posted by: marky on March 13, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers: At its core Buddism is meaningless.

This is true. The "core" of Buddhism is the realization of enlightenment or "nirvana" (the cessation of suffering), which is above all an experience, and which does not denote or convey or "mean" anything other than itself, and thus is truly "meaningless".

"Nothing that can be attained that is called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind. Why? Tathagata means the suchness of all things (dharmas). Someone would be mistaken to say that the Tathagata has attained the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind since there is not any highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind to be attained [...] Regarding the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind, I have not attained anything. That is why it is called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind."
-- The Buddha, The Diamond that Cuts through Illusion a.k.a. The Diamond Sutra

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 13, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

It is pretty obvious that a large group of commentators were either beaten by nuns or flogged the bishop with the local pastor.

Posted by: apostates unite on March 13, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

The Democratic Party was the party of religious activists not that long ago. Now the activists seem to be a bunch of libertarians who really just want a balance budget, low taxes and to be left alone in their private lives.

Posted by: losers on March 13, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

No successful liberal can be 'friendly' to evangelical Christians and Catholics.

Red State GOP voters below the poverty line, will nt vote Blue because they hate homosexuals. Hate is not too strong a word. They HATE homosexuals, and consider them vermin.

Hollywood has managed to divert the anti semitic RED state voter to hating only Arabs [witness the Dubai insanity]-- so there is a slimmer margin that hates Jews and Arabs equally.

And of course there are always the anti affirmative action RED STATE voters who just want to ignore blacks and latinos.

The left has the same kind of intransigent leftists...[mostly gays] who HATE Catholics, evangelicals and rural whites.

So long as these groups actively hate one another there won't be any cross over voting... and any candidate who raises his/her profile on the issue of religion, homosexuality or Race will bring out the HATERS... on either side.

Posted by: Ashley on March 13, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

apostates unite... it doesn't require a beating.

The haters of the left are usually just gay. Lots of hostility toward religious people... it's the war that's unspoken... not unlike secular jews on the left... they hate evangelicals...

HATE is the proper word... they hate each other.

I'm not much on Jews because of their propaganda against Muslims.... but that effort will come back to haunt them now that DUBAI is pissed....

there are 1.6 billion muslims... and WE WILL ENGAGE THEM AND NEGOTIATE ON BEHALF OF HAMAS AND THE PALIs.... to the chagrin of apocalyptic JEws who just want all out war on Islam.

Posted by: Ashley on March 13, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Just because you can cite examples of scientists who considered themselves religious doesn't mean that therefore, presto change-o, science and religion are integrated conceptually. All it proves is that, like all human beings, these scientists are capable of entertaining two mutually exclusive concepts at the same time.

Bullshit. I never said they were "integrated conceptually." They're parallel. They don't cross. They're not of the same realm. You can't prove the existence of God, but you can't disprove it, either. All you can do is believe or not.

Hostility to religion? Sure. Why shouldn't we atheists have some hostility? Many religions tell us we're going to burn in hell, simply because we disagree on very debatable issues.

So? If you don't believe in Hell, what do you care? I really want to know where all you constantly harassed atheists live, because I've lived in Tennessee for 25 years, during most of that time as an apathetic agnostic, and I've never had a problem with anybody shoving their religion down my throat.

I swear some of y'all have martyr complexes as bad as any Krazy Kristian. A pox on both your houses, I say.

Posted by: hamletta on March 13, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

You lib losers and pillow-biters are going straight to hell. You are abominations in the eyes of the Lord and traitors to your Republic.

Unlike most trolls, I've got my real email address listed. If you want to debate why you're an abomination - I'd love it. Don't get me wrong - I'd love it even more if I could persuade you that you are wrong and have you find the Lord and recant your evil ways.

Posted by: DR on March 13, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

"They're parallel. They don't cross."

Sometimes they do. Depends upon the claims being made by religious believers. Even then the *claims* don't cross, sometimes the *topics* being addressed do.

"You can't prove the existence of God, but you can't disprove it, either."

Depends upon how "God" is defined.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

McA sez:

Oh, I believe a person of Jewish descent called Christ was the Messiah.

Hey dumbfuck, Christ means Messiah.

Posted by: Tom Paine II on March 13, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

The only atheists worth worrying about are the fake Christians of the extreme right-wing variety. They turn Jesus on his head while they speak his name. Real Christians have to bear being confused with their hate and intolerance.

Posted by: spek on March 13, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

"The only atheists worth worrying about are the fake Christians of the extreme right-wing variety."

If they believe in any sort of god, they aren't "atheists," they are simply theists of another (perhaps hypocrtical) variety. Calling Christians you don't like or are hypocritical "atheists" when they don't actually disbelieve in gods is an expression of bigotry: it suggests that good and moral people are theists while hypocrites, hateful people, and intolerant people must not be "real" theists.

Being a theist doesn't necessarily mean being moral, loving, good, or anything positive. Theism, like atheism, is 100% compatible with hate, intolerance, hypocrisy, lying, etc.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus wept.

Posted by: Matthew, Mark and Luke on March 13, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

DR:

Pffft. Give a cogent accounting of the theodicy problem (without a transparent kludge like Original Sin) and then perhaps we can talk. If God is omnipotent -- what keeps him from being a cosmic sadist?

Ashley:

Get thee back to StormWatch and leave the rest of us alone. Trolls are supposed to be entertaining, not harbingers of the Fourth Reich.

88 and RaHoWa to you, too -- now get lost.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

If they believe in any sort of god, they aren't "atheists," they are simply theists of another (perhaps hypocrtical) variety. Calling Christians you don't like or are hypocritical "atheists" when they don't actually disbelieve in gods is an expression of bigotry: it suggests that good and moral people are theists while hypocrites, hateful people, and intolerant people must not be "real" theists.

I really don't believe they believe in any god, certainly not the one they proclaim to believe in, hence a large part of their fakery. Also, I have nothing against atheists, per se.

Posted by: spek on March 13, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ashley....gay people just want to be treated like all other law abiding, taxpaying, lawn mowing citizens.

Religious extremists on the other hand, want to take rights AWAY from gay people. And they are very active and upfront about it.

Wouldn't you hate someone who wanted you to disappear, have no rights, be arrested for loving whom you want?

The only right gay people want to take away from Christians, is their "right" to hate them and hurt them.

Posted by: lilybart on March 13, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Really, really late to the party here, but let me chime in with the few people who have been pointing out that this whole thread positively oozes hate for fundamentalists, evangelists, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and practically everyone who holds a strict religious faith. You couldn't have proved Steve Waldman's point better if someone had paid you to do it.

Posted by: waterfowl on March 13, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Waterfowl:
You couldn't have proved Steve Waldman's point better if someone had paid you to do it.

Oh, really? You mean this "point"?

But secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote ...[,] seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party's image and approach.

Which is a ridiculous lie that totally ignores (1) the broad swaths of kowtowing that Democrats have been doing to religious bigotry for years and (1) the fact that we atheists have no political power in this country (or the Democratic Party) whatsoever.

We horrible, horrible atheists are bringing down our side of the ideological spectrum by our impiety in blog comments? Get a grip.

Perhaps we're just sick and tired of being the whipping boys and girls for the Sullivan/Waldman school of atheophobic crap? Their strategies notwithstanding, selling us out isn't actually going to win any elections.

Posted by: Rieux on March 13, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

To this crowded conversation I add the following observations. When I click on the link provided at (more stats here) I come to a page that categorizes American voters into 12 "tribes" quasi-religious categories.

Any categorization such as this is necessarily going to be some kind of oversimplification. Some voters may fall in no category at all. For example, I'm not sure if someone who is Eastern Orthodox and isn't Religious Right or Religious Left would fit any of these categories.

Other voters might fit into more than one category, for example a Black Protestant might also be a Conventional Mainline Protestant.

But where I really part company with this categorization is with the term "Traditional Christians." By the first anniversary of the founding of any religion, whether as ancient as Judaism or Catholicism or as new as Christian Science or Mormonsim, there are traditions. In 2006, it makes no sense to think of Catholics or Lutherans or Methodists or any other type of Christians as anything but "traditional."

(I bring this point up because the word "traditional" is often used by unthinking people who assume that their traditions are shared by all. For example, there is no such thing as "The traditional American Thanksgiving dinner" — America has millions of families and millions of traditions.)

Oddly, if you click on the link at the bottom of that page where it says "Who are the Twelve Tribes of American Politics? Read more about them here," you come to a page that has a different set of categories! For example, in place of Traditional Christians is Heartland Culture Warriors.

Mr. Waldman should at least make his website self-consistent before he advertises it on other websites.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on March 13, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Waldman says: "I had been making a narrower point that many liberals carry an elitist attitude toward evangelical Christians."

I'm an atheist and a democrat. I've voted for christians--john kerry, bill clinton, and al gore.

Have you ever voted for an atheist?

No? Then shut it.

Posted by: steve on March 13, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hostility to religion? Sure. Why shouldn't we atheists have some hostility? Many religions tell us we're going to burn in hell, simply because we disagree on very debatable issues.

Since you don't believe in hell why would you have even a shred of hostility?

Posted by: rdw on March 13, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an atheist and a democrat. I've voted for christians--john kerry, bill clinton, and al gore.

None of whom are evangelicals. No one has voted for an athiest candidate in Presidential elections because none have been nominated.

Waldman has it exactly right. You fools have made permanent enemies of evangelicals. In a democracy making enemies of a larger group holding opposite opinions is about as stupid as it gets. Sneer away twits!!

Posted by: rdw on March 13, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

The great foolishness of the Western idea is that we believe there are two sides to every questionand only two. The hemisphere that makes a virtue of individualism and competition thinks one must choose a side, believe it is the only side any worthwhile human being would land on, and then fight tooth and nail to defend it.

Which brings us to religion vs. Irreligion. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a better way.

Rather than being a hidebound religionist, be a spiritual seeker. Jung said religion is a defence against religious experience. Amen to that. Go inside in meditation and you will discover a greatness you hardly imagined existedand you have just begun.

Instead of being a stuck-in-place atheist, be a seeker of truth, prepared to go wherever that journey may take you. Be open to the idea that ultimate reality could be a great consciousness, it could be a mathematical law of everything. Whatever, it is certainly beyond the ability of our puny minds to imagine at this stage of our evolution. Most readers of this blog would admit they have even a hint of what ultimate reality may be. How can any be so certain of what it is not?

Posted by: James of DC on March 13, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Lyra of His Dark Materials--"If they think it's bad, it must be good."

And if there is a Christian God as the Bible describes Him through the words and acts of Jesus, one of the first items on His agenda would be to smite the Christianist Pharisees who are now our overlords. Ergo, there is no (Christian) God.

Sorry. But there it is.

Posted by: lambert strether on March 13, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Rieux,

We horrible, horrible atheists are bringing down our side of the ideological spectrum by our impiety in blog comments? Get a grip.

As soon as you get one yourself. Look at what has been posted here in the last couple days, and tell me whether you think it speaks to most Americans. I mean, I'm sitting here in a vague "I think there is a God but I don't know either where or who He is" mode, and even I am pissed off. Are you folks really determined to piss off half the country, or can you just not help it?

Posted by: waterfowl on March 13, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Hamletta,

Your logic is eminently assailable. In accusing us atheists of being thin-skinned about the threat of eternal fire and brimstone, you say: "So? If you don't believe in Hell, what do you care?"

Hostility isn't dependent on whether or not one agrees with her attacker. If I were to call you a fucking retard, for example, I would still be exhibiting hostility toward you even if you don't believe that you are, indeed, a fucking retard.

You also said in an earlier post: "To pose religion as mutually exclusive with thought, with science is hopelessly reductionist." Then, in response to a dissenting view from yours truly you write of religion and science: "I never said they were "integrated conceptually." They're parallel. They don't cross. They're not of the same realm."

So, as I read it, you believe that A.religion and science are not mutually exclusive, but that B. religion and science are mutually exclusive.
I remain puzzled, but bemused, by your thesis.

Posted by: athos on March 13, 2006 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Since you don't believe in hell why would you have even a shred of hostility?"

Like an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of keyboards, rdw actually makes a good point.

I have only pity, tinged with humor, for those who hurl the threat of hell at me. It is they who are deluded. There is no hell. None.

I do have hostility to those who take it upon themselves to visit hell on others: those who torment or execute gays, those who would incarcerate or execute women who have abortions, etc. I'll gladly join the battle against them.

Posted by: Joel on March 13, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

None of whom are evangelicals. No one has voted for an athiest candidate in Presidential elections because none have been nominated.

You have heard of Jimmy Carter, right? He was President for a while, so I guess he must have run for office, which, I think means he must have been nominated. And, oh, I voted for him.

Waldman has it exactly right. You fools have made permanent enemies of evangelicals. In a democracy making enemies of a larger group holding opposite opinions is about as stupid as it gets. Sneer away twits!!
Posted by: rdw on March 13, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Not to worry, the evangelicals are all going to be swept up in the rapture, once that get World War III going in the Middle East. They've already got the Antichrist sitting on the throne in Washington, so it should be any day now.

Turning off the snark, how is it possible not to make enemies of the evangelicals. They hate me, my family, and all the things in the world that I care most about. Why shouldn't I hate them back?

Besides me, the evangelicals also hate the Catholics, the Mormons, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Shito, the Jain, the Buddists, the Confucianist, the secular, the Scientologists, the Christian Scientists, .... You get the point, they hate everyone.

Oh, and by the way, they hate Steven Waldman and Amy Sullivan. Just thought they'd like to know.

Posted by: Ray on March 14, 2006 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

You can be a secular liberal and be tolerant of religion. You can't be a a secular liberal and be tolerant of extremist religious practitioners who are homophobic, tacitly racist, misogynist and who advocate violence to advance their causes. But you can be a fundamentalist Christian and be all those things. In fact, you can be a leader of fundamentalist Christians.

Work on that for a while, Steve.

Posted by: secularhuman on March 14, 2006 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

Really, Mr. Waldman, you are an embarrassment. Please accept any invitation the GOP extends to you to join their party. They don't think too much or too deeply or too clearly, so you'll fit right in.

Posted by: secularhuman on March 14, 2006 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

"I really don't believe they believe in any god, certainly not the one they proclaim to believe in, hence a large part of their fakery."

What *evidence* do you have that they "don't believe in any god" except that they behave in a nasty and hypocritical manner? That's the only thing you cite, but if that's your "evidence," that's bigotry towards atheists. It's like thinking "He's pretty greedy, so he must be a Jew instead of a Christian."

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 14, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

"Look at what has been posted here in the last couple days, and tell me whether you think it speaks to most Americans."

Why do comments in a blog have to "speak to most Americans"? Why should atheists be expected to say things that "speak to most Americans"? Do you expect this of Muslims or Buddhists?

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 14, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

"Rather than being a hidebound religionist, be a spiritual seeker."

Lots of people imagine that "spirituality" is something different, higher, and better than "religion," but that's mostly an ideological prejudice against religion. There's nothing about spirituality that can't be found in traditional organized religions and there's nothing in traditional organized religions that can't be found in "spirituality."

It's just that organized religion comes with a lot of negative baggage for the highly individualistic American culture, so throughout history Americans have been trying to find ways to have religion without the bad parts. They have never succeeded except to come up with new terms for it - with "spirituality" being the latest attempt.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 14, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

We evangelicals view the secular left as being not only rude and dismissive to us at every opportunity, but not willing to leave our children and grandchildren alone without force-feeding them the left's cultural and intellectual rot.

Case in point, the "best song" at the academy awards last week. Something about the life of a pimp, done apologetically.

Case #2, when you really get down to it, the whole intelligent design debate was our attempt to compromise with the secular left. Most of us are willing to concede that the universe is 14 billion years old, that life began simply and changes gradually, even that humans and chimps are closely related. What we don't accept is that science has somehow "proven" that every element of this life-friendly universe (and every step of the enormously complex bio-chemical reactions that make life) happened by mindless accident.

Not only science can't "prove" that, many scientists are increasingly skeptical of the random accident explanation of life themselves. The intelligent design debate is going to go on forever and get a lot more bitter because the "natural selection" wand that secular science waves over everything can't deal with the reality that lifeforms exhibit irreducible complexity and cooperation, not competition, between certain genes in order to progress to the next level.

In short, this universe has so many special conditions necessary to support life that the only logical explanation is that it was intended to support life. Similarly, life not only is not an accident, it had no choice but evolve as it has, particularly to produce us.

We may not even be the end product. Humans are still evolving, but none of it is an accident and our end state will be no fluke. Even Marx with his dialectical materialism assumed as much. The modern secular leftist wants to take all our tax dollars and teach in the public schools that there are no absolutes and that "science" has proven it.

Science hasn't proven diddly crap in that deeply philosophical regard.

So who is in who's face? I say it is best to always teach our own children that monogamous heterosexuality is the pattern to aim your life at, not because it comes "naturally" to anybody, but because that is the higher calling for humans. I also want to teach the children of my traditional heritage that the ten commandments are good, and that our heritage itself is in all ways and in all respects as it was meant to be, maybe not perfect, but as it was meant to be.

The secular left is out to teach its own dogma to every child in the public schools, using tax dollars. We on the right will not be a timid one-armed man in a political slap down contest.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 14, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Case in point, the "best song" at the academy awards last week. Something about the life of a pimp, done apologetically."

What does this have to do with "the secular left"?

"What we don't accept is that science has somehow "proven" that every element of this life-friendly universe (and every step of the enormously complex bio-chemical reactions that make life) happened by mindless accident."

This isn't a philosophical idea taught as part of any science courses on evolution, so you are attempting to "compromise" with a straw man.

"The secular left is out to teach its own dogma to every child in the public schools, using tax dollars."

You are complaining about teaching basic science when you don't think that it can be harmonized with your religious beliefs. Your problem isn't with "the secular left," because non-secular, non-leftist people don't have a problem with this.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 14, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Austin, I'm saying that what you call "basic science" is objectively and absolutely misleading, and therefore becomes an obstacle in the long run to understanding and dealing with the program of life. For instance, we were all told quite enthusiastically that when the human genome is mapped a lot of miracle cures would be possible.

That isn't happening. The simplistic, mechanistic view of biology has hit a major snag.
Genes code for proteins, but proteins can do too darn many things, depending on where they are and "when" they are. Moreover, a living organism seems to be able to summon up genes or gene sequences in ways we don't understand for purposes we don't understand. I am saying that pre-supposing that the bio-chemical events of natural selection must conform to random, meaningless interactions that just happen to work out is an intellectual pre-supposition that is increasingly a dead end.

As for the rotten, stupid popular culture, if secular leftists aren't too blame for it, who is?

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 15, 2006 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly