Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 16, 2006
By: Amy Sullivan

KNEE-JERK REACTIONS....I'm on deadline, so don't have time to respond in full to the feverish debate that has been taking place over the past few weeks about religion and politics. But since my name has been invoked/cursed in many of those conversations, I do want to address the reaction to an offhand comment I made about "the knee-jerk left." Like Ed Kilgore, I have the most respect for those who can admit when they are wrong and re-engage in the debate having learned from their mistakes. So I'm here to say that I used that phrase intemperately and inaccurately. I knew as I typed it that I was reacting out of anger (and here I hear Bill Murray's voice in my head: "Don't blog angry, don't blog angry"...). But having spent most of the previous week on the receiving side of dozens of emails that all went something like, "Fuck you, stupid little girl--you're just a religious nut trying to push your backward superstitious shit on us," maybe you'll understand if I momentarily forgot that those views are just a small minority on the left.

That said, I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize conservative politicians on the basis of their religious views. Now, don't misunderstand me. I am not defending conservative politicians, nor do I think it's inappropriate to criticize religious beliefs, especially when they're brought into political debate and certainly when they're extreme. But when it's done with broad brushstrokes--and here I'm thinking of the charge that Bush is trying to turn the country into a theocracy (see: Kevin Phillips, Bill Moyers, and other very smart people)--it can have the effect of sounding anti-religion when that's not what I think it is. There are a lot of reasons to criticize George W. Bush, many of them related to his use and mis-use of religion. But theocracy isn't one of them. Sam Brownback, on the other hand, does actually want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy and should be roundly criticized on that point.

Why does it matter? Not because I think Democrats are hostile to religion, because I don't. It matters because the percentage of American voters who think the Democratic party is friendly to religion has dropped sharply in the past few years, and the change hasn't come from Republican voters but from independents. The perception is unfair and inaccurate, but complaining about that doesn't do any good. It's not mouthing RNC talking points to say that Democrats are at a disadvantage when it comes to how voters perceive their approach to religion. You can say that doesn't matter--and that's a perfectly fair position to take. But if you think it does matter, and it certainly doesn't help the party, the question becomes what to do about it.

More on that later. But here's a sneak preview: It doesn't mean, nor have I ever said, that we all engage in God-talk. That would be unnecessary, inappropriate, and wouldn't work anyway.

Amy Sullivan 2:23 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (361)

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Comments

We're just glad to have you, Amy, so phrases like "knee-jerk" can further permeate society's perception of Democrats! Thanks so much!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 16, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

That said, I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views.

Bzzzt!! You lost me right there.

Find me those on the left that were criticizing Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton for their religious views, and I'll read the rest of your post.

Meanwhile, try and absorb this: you won. There are zero - zip, nada, none - atheists in politics in this country at the national level, and probably state level too. The fact that I don't share your beliefs doesn't give me any power at the polls. I have to vote for a religious person. You won. Get over it.

Please make her stop.

Posted by: craigie on March 16, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Mary One-Note.

You've danced all around this subject -- what we can and can not say, who we can and can not address in what certain way or not. For all that's holy, stop. Just stop.


Posted by: n.o.t.l.f. on March 16, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's important to understand that neither Bush nor Brownback have a sincere desire to turn America into a theocracy; anyone who thinks those guys are sincere and devout Christians doesn't have a clue about what the big game is. The economic elites are running the show, and they need the fundies and the gun nuts and the abortion zealots and the flat-earthers to come under the big GOP tent and provide enough money and voting horsepower to advance the agenda of the rich and powerful. The Republican party is religion-friendly only to the extent that it helps them to maintain entrenched economic power.

Posted by: islander on March 16, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

"I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views."

Excellent! Thank God you don't phrase it in terms of forcing personal religious values on others / separation of Church and state. It is all about Dems criticizing valid religious beliefs of we Godly folk!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 16, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Simple question: is the separation of church and State part of the Constition, or not?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 16, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
Put the word "conservative" before "religious" and I'll agree with you. But, just as in the poll you link to, to ask the question is to preordain the answer. The respondents were asked about religious conservatives -- and then asked about "protecting religious values".

If we follow the media's parroting of RNC talking points -- i.e., equating "religious" with conservative, evangelical "Christians" who mainly preach hatred and intolerance -- then we will NEVER will. We have to stand up and object, RIGHT NOW, and MAKE THE OBJECTION that "religious" does not equal "conservative". I'm with craigie.

Posted by: dan on March 16, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

My God Amy. How much proof do you need?

Bush may not be deliberately planning to turn America into a theocracy, but the effect of his actions certainly appear to lead us into that direction.

I don't know what the dictionary definition of theocracy is, but you would be hard pressed not to call a country a theocracy if its leader and his cohorts continually make policy decisions that are almost always based upon arguments that trump rationality in favor of religion.

Posted by: lib on March 16, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I agreed with Ms. Sullivan then, and I agree with Ms. Sullivan now. I've been a blogger long enough to know that most of the leftblogosphere is perfectly tolerant of religion and supportive of politicians like President Carter who embrace a true Christian faith. But there always seems to be a couple of commenters who - apparently God didn't hug them enough when they were children - seem to have a reflexive pathological desire to push their atheism on the rest of us.

Clearly, these folks are a minority - and a minority among secularis folk, the vast majority of those whom I know are good people. But really, it's useless to deny that such people - a tiny minority they be - exist. And I think that's what Ms. Sullivan has been trying to say all along.

Posted by: Jim D on March 16, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

An interesting question- has the percentage of American voters who think the Dem party is friendly to religion dropped sharply in the past few years because the Dem party is in fact not friendly to religion or because the Repub party (and some religious Dem bloggers) keep on saying the Dem party is not friendly to religion. How could we answer that question? Can we answer that question? Maybe we could just say that since the Dem party is the party that would appear to care about poor people and appears to be the more peaceful party that they are the party more closely adhering to the Prince of Peace's teachings and that the answer to my question above is that people think we're not friendly to religion because Repubs (and some religious Dem bloggers) keep on saying Dems are not friendly to religion. I apologize Amy, but you really do need to take this to heart: quit repeating Republican talking points- you're not helping.

Posted by: Doug on March 16, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Phillips is a liberal, and a "knee-jerk" one at that? When did that happen? Does one become a liberal merely because they are critical of Bush?

Posted by: Gary on March 16, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, Amy, you couldn't just leave it alone, could you?

This line:

I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views.

is just as bad a using the term 'knee-jerk liberals' - your qualifiers notwithstanding.

Posted by: Stranger on March 16, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

While he might personally care less whether the US becomes a theo-fascist state, under George W. Bush, those who do want it that way aren't being reined-in, so the result is the same.

Posted by: alessandro on March 16, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Amy, I wish that you would address Steve Gillard's criticism: you speak only of appeasing white conservative Christians. If the issue really is, as you say, lack of respect for religion by the Democratic party, why do highly religious blacks vote for Democrats in large numbers? Why aren't they impressed by Republican piety? (Oh, and by the way, you can ignore the small number of high-priority black preachers who align themselves with Republicans, since they apparently have no pull with their congregations).

The answer that Steve gives is that in too many cases, the piety is just a cover for bigotry. The bigotry against gays is obvious, but there's also bigotry against blacks. Democrats are not going to get these votes, and Democratic efforts to pursue those votes are just going to turn off other Democratic constituencies.

Posted by: Joe Buck on March 16, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

> seem to have a reflexive pathological desire
> to push their atheism on the rest of us.

As opposed to the religious who continually push their faith on others? Are you seriously arguing that a goodly percentage of the religious DON'T do that? The legislature in the state next door is currently making enforced Christian religion the LAW for Chri... for gosh sakes.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 16, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Christian religiosity is the US polity's true third rail.

As has been noted, there are no "out" atheists in political office. Not virtually none -- zero. Even the areligious (Nixon, say) need a beard (in his case, Quakerism) to be elected.

In this environment, I simply can't see your point.

What I can see is that one party, in this environment, has managed to cloak itself as the "religion" party despite *both* parties toeing the line on faith.

However, in the event your advice boils down to, "let's be copycats," which advice I see as neither practical or desirable. You'd have both parties return to a pre-1950s America where even Catholicism was regarded with sufficient suspicion that Kennedy's was an issue in his 1960 campaign.

How is that good for anyone?

Posted by: wcw on March 16, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

"That said, I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views."

Damn skippy there is. And there's a good reason for that. Not all religious views are good, desirable, or even moral. In fact, some are just plain EVIL.

In fact, not all "values" are a good thing. Values do not mean moral, good or things that should be persued. It just means things you believe in on a deep basis. To some people, racisim is a family value. (Actually I suspect to a lot of people, but I digress).

People who attack Evil Christianity are not attacking Good Christianity by default. Now, if you're getting into a discussion about the validity of a particular religion. Yeah. You might feel offended. So you don't like it, stay out of such discussions. Period.

But what you want, is for religious people, of ALL stripes, to get special dispensation for what they're saying, without ever having to explain really why in a secular framework. Sorry. Doesn't work like that.

And what we need to do to win elections, is be strong, act like leaders and point out evil religion when we see it, let people know that it's not trustworthy, and it's already coming after THEM, when it comes to denying them health care and treating them like second-class citizens. That's what we need to do.

Posted by: Karmakin on March 16, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

You have GOT to be kidding! Have you taken a look at the size and substance of Bush's "faith-based" initiatives, promoting things like "absistence-only" sex ed programs that are full of lies? They are HUGE! The Federal governement is now saturated in this garbarge!

Posted by: Doug on March 16, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

That said, I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views.

Amy, can you cite an example for me, please, of someone on the left criticizing "politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views"? Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK
That said, I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views. Now, don't misunderstand me. I am not defending conservative politicians, nor do I think it's inappropriate to criticize religious beliefs, especially when they're brought into political belief and certainly when they're extreme. But when it's done with broad brushstrokes--and here I'm thinking of the charge that Bush is trying to turn the country into a theocracy (see: Kevin Phillips, Bill Moyers, and other very smart people)--it can have the effect of sounding anti-religion when that's not what I think it is.

Um, charging that Bush (a specific politician) is attempting to turn the country into a theocracy (a specific goal) isn't, in any reasonable sense, painting with broad brush strokes. It is a specific charge, which when made is often supported by specific actions of the Administration cited as illustrations of a campaign to entangle the US government with religion -- not values that happened to be shared with religious groups, but with actual religious institutions, particularly conservative Christian ones, even when the policies are, at first glance, neutral to the type of institution that might benefit.

There are a lot of reasons to criticize George W. Bush, many of them related to his use and mis-use of religion. But theocracy isn't one of them.

This bland assurance could use some support.

Sam Brownback, on the other hand, does actually want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy and should be roundly criticized on that point.

That Sam Brownback wishes to turn the US into a theocracy is no evidence at all that George W. Bush does not.

Why does it matter? Not because I think Democrats are hostile to religion, because I don't. It matters because the percentage of American voters who think the Democratic party is friendly to religion has dropped sharply in the past few years, and the change hasn't come from Republican voters but from independents.

No doubt that's a real problem. And no doubt Democrats painting, without any support for the charge, legitimate, specific, and supported complaints from other Democrats, as "broad brush" attacks that appear anti-religious and lack support does nothing but reinforce that impression.

The perception is unfair and inaccurate, but complaining about that doesn't do any good.

Neither does reinforcing it by attacking legitimate Democratic complaints as illegitimate.

It's not mouthing RNC talking points to say that Democrats are at a disadvantage when it comes to how voters perceive their approach to religion.

It is supporting, if not quite mouthing, RNC talking points to simply brush off the charges of advancing theocracy based on the various attempts of the present Administration to reinforce the institutional position of Bush-friendly religious institutions on the public dime.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

PUSHING ATHEISM?

Oh my Christ. No one, and I mean no one does this. Atheists might not want the 10 commandments planted at their courthouse -- but then neither does the Constitution. They might get offended about the Red-Scare era 'under God' addition to the Pledge, but left unaswered is why Christians feel so threatened about their creation and/or God-given nation that they need it in there.

Some atheists are surely shrill when it comes to religion and their antipathy for it, but we just want it out of our faces and we're not looking to purge it from your tender soul.

Posted by: n.o.t.l.f. on March 16, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views.

What kind of statement is that?

If this is acceptable, I can also say that I do think that there is a tendency among some of the self described liberal pundits to criticize Democrats on the basis of scant evidence that is less than convincing while at the same time to overlook some Republicans' outrageous authoritarian, dictatorial, and anti-democratic stand on some issues that undermines our freedom.

Posted by: nut on March 16, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

Didn't she already reference Kevin Phillips. His new book is called "American Theocracy," I think. Isn't that one example?

Posted by: barney on March 16, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Does one become a liberal merely because they are critical of Bush?

Glenn Greenwald has identified exactly that phenomenon among Bush's apologists.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Amy Sullivan: Have you ever stuck a carrot peeler up your nose then just spun it around and around until there's no more pulp in there? Yeah... I hate it when that happens.

Posted by: jerry on March 16, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Define theocracy.

If by theocracy you mean having a Mullah run the Supreme Council, no, we probably won't get there. And Bush wants a police state, not a theocracy. Values don't enter into it, for him.

But having Supreme Court appointments vetted by Dobson, the special efforts made to "save" Terry Schiavo, blocking stem cell research, supporting legal restrictions on abortion and access to birth control pills, & promoting creationism in science classrooms are actions that suggest that Bush sees that he can keep his power by keeping the religious base happy.

Define theocracy? "A government ruled by or subject to religious authority."

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 16, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, enough with religion. We've got a lot more important things to be concerned with than people with stunted intellects arguing about whose imaginary friend is best.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 16, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, enough with religion. We've got a lot more important things to be concerned with than people with stunted intellects arguing about whose imaginary friend is best.

Oh yeah, there's no hostility to religion. None at all. Total respect over here on the left...

Posted by: religious lib on March 16, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

It's not mouthing RNC talking points to say that Democrats are at a disadvantage when it comes to how voters perceive their approach to religion.

You must mean voters like yourself. Myself as a voter, I have very little problem with the approach of Democrats to religion: all are welcome, but none will be favored or financed by the state in any form. Period. What's so hard or unpopular about that position? Sounds pretty American to me.

You aren't being honest about how much the GOP is cultivating and exploiting a strategy of Christian supremacy. Now, that's their political choice and it has been effective because there are, in fact, many votes there. But let's cut the BS and rhetoric: you are either comfortable with religion aligning with state power or you are not. Which is it Ms. Sullivan?

Posted by: Tim B. on March 16, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and the whole "Bush isn't pushing theocracy" thing:

His science policy is about as faith-based as his military policy and aggressively contemptuous of scientific opinion. If that's not theocracy, I fucking beg you to come up with another word to use.

Posted by: n.o.t.l.f. on March 16, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK
His science policy is about as faith-based as his military policy and aggressively contemptuous of scientific opinion. If that's not theocracy, I fucking beg you to come up with another word to use.

"Idiocy"?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't she already reference Kevin Phillips. His new book is called "American Theocracy," I think. Isn't that one example?

Well, for starters, as was pointed out above, if Kevin Phillips is a liberal, that's news to me, and, I suspect, to him.

Furthermore, as cmdicely pointed out, idendifying specific policies and agendas that appear to be at odds with the tradition of separation of church and state is not "criticizing some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views." It's criticizing them on the basis of their attempts to hijack the levers of government in order to impose their religious views on others.

So no, that isn't one example at all. I wonder if Amy could provide one. We get enough straw man arguments around here from tbrosz, conspiracy nut and that crowd.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Amy Sullivan writes: ... the feverish debate that has been taking place over the past few weeks about religion and politics.

Note the use of passive voice -- "has been taking place" -- which is a classic rhetorical gambit by people who want to avoid responsibility for their own actions.

How about, "the feverish debate about religion and politics that I do my best to incite whenever I get a chance to post a guest comment on the Political Animal site".

And instead of characterizing it as "feverish" I would characterize it as repetitive and pointless.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 16, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

For those too young to know, Kevin Phillips was a prominent Republican in the seventies. He has written a number of books quite critical of Republicans, but I don't think he ever threw away his membership in the GOP.

Posted by: lib on March 16, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the timely clarification, lib.

Those Bush apologists who imagine voters perceive a "Bush boom" would do well to read Phillips' Boiling Point.

I consider Phillips one of that rare breed, an honest conservative. I miss his appearances on NPR.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Independents now think Democrats are less religion friendly precisely because they have been bombarded with thet spin point from the Republicans over the years....with the help of dingbats who take the spin point to heart, and then repeat it like an echochamber in the media.

Dingbats like you.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on March 16, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ms. Sullivan, I think your mistake is trying to help the Democratic Party and its apparatchiks, like Ed Kilgore, obtain political power by appealing to the electorate's religiousity. Even if it is true that polled independents think Democrats are not friendly to religion, make that Christian religion, it is not what informs them to vote for a particular candidate. What informs voters is a candidate's ability to communicate what she/he stands for. Kerry and Gore both did a very poor job of communicating what they stood for that was not a response to Republican attacks. Democrats inability to oppose Bush and conservative rhetoric is what makes them losers, and the recent inability to support Sen. Feingold's censure of the president is just another indication of their impotence. The electorate is ready for a liberal candidate, but one who can articulate a strong purposeful message without disparaging too many American platitudes.

Posted by: Hostile on March 16, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I'd go for "idiocy", but the problem is that his science policy is explicitly a religious one. Let's take the human papilloma vaccine that has been developed and is languishing at the FDA.

It works, has no side effects and could help prevent 5,000 deaths a year -- not to mention cervical cancer in women. The Administration has put the kibosh on it. Why? Religous reasons. It defies basic humanity and medical science, but whatever, Bush lets women die because of his "God". Why is this not theocratic?

Or take, for instance, sex education. To work effectively, it has to offer contraception as a choice. Abstinence alone isn't nearly as effective in curbing unwanted pregencies and the spread of STD. It's simple human nature. Yet, not only does his administration predictably oppose this in the U.S., but won't even fund global efforts against AIDS if they even mention the effectiveness of condoms. All because it's against their religious beliefs, not because of any other reason. In effect, it's a theocratic decision.

This from a man who thinks God put him in the position to rid the world of Saddam.

Yes, it's idiotic, but until you can separate ordinary idiocy with his stated beliefs, it's religious.

Posted by: n.o.t.l.f. on March 16, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sam Brownback, on the other hand, does actually want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy and should be roundly criticized on that point.

That Sam Brownback wishes to turn the US into a theocracy is no evidence at all that George W. Bush does not. Posted by: cmdicely

I've never considered Bush religious in the least. The Bush family practices, like every president save Carter in the last century or so, "official religion."

Like the equally non-religious Reagan, Shrub uses the religious right for his purposes, but has never really pushed anything that is truly divisive to conclusion. He makes the right noises about abortion. However, has he or anyone made a serious attempt, even with the Rethugs in control of the government, to overturn Roe? Same with stem-cells. He banned the procurement of new lines, but hasn't outlawed research all together as the religious right wants. Nor has there been any serious effort to ban the teaching of evolution. What about banning gay marriage? Where's his legilative push for that?

These are all major issues for the religious right. If Bush was really one of them, he'd have pushed harder on these issues. As it is, they just get trotted out at election time or to periodically tweak "the base."

Posted by: Jeff II on March 16, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

As an atheist, I have lots of religious friends and we're quite comfortable being "different" on the subject of religion. Part of this stems from the inability most people have of logically constructing arguments for OR AGAINST the idea of God. It's a feeling most people have and some people don't.

The entire "knee-jerk left, anti-religious left" argument is offensive because virtually every leftist I know lives by the values of the Gospels much more closely than any Bible-thumper. Yes, lefties probably get some things wrong. But where it's important, you'll find their humanitarian politics more genuinely Christ-like than anything coming from the Dobsons, Brownbacks, or Falwells of this world.

Posted by: walt on March 16, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Amy,

I can't figure out what it is that you want from us.

Do liberals object to the personal spiritual beliefs of others?
Do we try to denigrate the fact that people hold spiritual beliefs and find them to be a foundation upon which they life their life?
No, we don't.
Do you know why?
Because we are liberals.
It's what we do.

Now, do we object when religious folks try to use the instrument of government to subjugate us and our children to their spiritual dogma.
Yes, of course.
Do you know why?
Because we are liberals.
It's what we do.

That's just the way it is.
That's the way it will always be.
We are liberals and we stand up for our freedoms and the freedoms of others.
If that aspect of our character offends those that believe they have received the gift of divine revelation, well...in two words...tough shit.

Posted by: David Helms on March 16, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Fucking Christ.

Amy: Just shut up. Go and join Mullah Dobson.

Yeah, I'm being mean and censurious but I'm tired of Sullivan's whining and self-justifications.


.

Posted by: spork_incident on March 16, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ms. Sullivan thinks religion informs voters. Religion does not inform nor motivate a majority of the electorate.

Posted by: Hostile on March 16, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

What day are we up to in the dual "Amy Sullivan Provides An Example Rather Than Mouthing Bland Platitudes" and "Amy Sullivan Actually Takes a Policy Stand" watches?

Posted by: norbizness on March 16, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

I have an idea: let's ignore the substantive point of Amy's post -- "the percentage of American voters who think the Democratic party is friendly to religion has dropped sharply in the past few years," which would seem to be a legitimate issue for those who seek to advance the Democratic party -- and instead engage in spittle-flecked rants that prove that we atheists are in fact the reasonable ones, not all those religious nutballs.

Go on, craigie! Pitch in, Freedom Phukher! Show Amy how righteous you are! That will teach those fundies a thing or two!

I'm a liberal. I'm an atheist. And I'm about as fed up with the self-serving whinging from atheists on this matter as I am with Sam Brownback. Amy, please stop posting on this topic. I can't stand the to hear craigie complain anymore.

Posted by: T-bone on March 16, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Jim D.

Please provide examples of anyone, especially any Democrat who holds or aspires to hold public office, who actually exhibits "a reflexive pathological desire to push their atheism on the rest of us."

If you are honest with yourself, I think you'll find that this is a problem of perception shared by you and your ilk. Any criticism of religion, or of the establishment of religion by our government(i.e. under god, the ten commandments, etc.) is inevitably characterized by some people as an attempt to trample religious freedom. Any attempt to legislate or enforce governmental neutrality with regard to religion is characterized (disingenuously) as an attempt to cram atheism down the throats of the faithful.

I'm calling you, and Amy too, on this kind of disingenuous and divisive bullshit. We atheists are hardly in a position to force our views on you, even if we wanted to. And we don't.

Posted by: athos on March 16, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

T-Bone sez:

I'm a liberal. I'm an atheist. And I'm about as fed up with the self-serving whinging from atheists on this matter as I am with Sam Brownback.

Yes, Christians are such a persecuted minority in the United States of America. The airwaves are filled with nothing but atheists. Damn them.

The point remains: Amy Sullivan works against progressives.


.

Posted by: spork_incident on March 16, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think the perception that Democrats are hostile to religion is fueled, not by anything Democrats do or say, but by what Rush Limbaugh and his allies in the right-wing echo chamber say about liberals and what we think.

Posted by: AnnieCat on March 16, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Amy - I give you credit for trying. I think it is smart for the Democratic party to make an effort to reach out to religious people. It's also the honorable thing to do.

But from looking at some of the posts in here, the Democratic party is not ready to drop it's animus toward religious people.

Posted by: MountainDan on March 16, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I view this whole debate as yet another example of the way liberals and Democrats continue to internalize the smears of the Republican Noise Machine..

Posted by: Mr. Bill on March 16, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm a liberal. I'm an atheist. And I'm about as fed up with the self-serving whinging from atheists on this matter"

I am not a liberal. I am an atheist. I think it's funny how the left does indeed have a knee jerk reaction when it comes to attacking Christianity. Even when the topic is on how Moslems massacre a school full of children, lefties have this need to attack Christians as if to excuse the Jihadis' barbaric behaviour.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 16, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

The entire "knee-jerk left, anti-religious left" argument is offensive because virtually every leftist I know lives by the values of the Gospels much more closely than any Bible-thumper. Yes, lefties probably get some things wrong. But where it's important, you'll find their humanitarian politics more genuinely Christ-like than anything coming from the Dobsons, Brownbacks, or Falwells of this world.

Word.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Dan,

Let's say this slowly.

Liberals do not have an animus toward religious people.

We do have an animus towards people who keep repeating that we have an animus toward religious people.

Posted by: David Helms on March 16, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I have an idea: let's ignore the substantive point of Amy's post -- "the percentage of American voters who think the Democratic party is friendly to religion has dropped sharply in the past few years," which would seem to be a legitimate issue for those who seek to advance the Democratic party -- and instead engage in spittle-flecked rants that prove that we atheists are in fact the reasonable ones, not all those religious nutballs.

Well, first of all, anyone who engages in the kind of straw man argumentation that many of the posters here have noted doesn't really deserve to have her assertions taken seriously, or if so to have her analysis accepted without extremely rigorous scrutiny. I myself subscribe to the concept that Democrats as a whole are not hostile to religion or belief, but that the perception comes from milqetoast Democrats who are afraid to assert what they believe. The fact is that, far from ignoring it, I disagree with the "substantive point" of Amy's post and the fallacious argumentation used to support it.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

When one is going to admit a mistake, the worst thing to do is to admit it, and then blame it on other people.

If you regret what you said, that's fine, but don't say I regret what I said, but its really not my fault, its the fault of all the mean comments I get which made me respond the way I did.

That being said, its the policy of the religous conservatives we are opposed to, not the beliefs. They have the freedom to believe whatever they want, and practice that faith however they want, provided they don't make me conform to their religous beliefs and allow me the same freedom.

That's the problem we have with religous conservatives. Their policies force their belief structure on others. The Dobsons, Brownbacks, Bush's of the world are not happy making their own moral choices, they want to be in charge of everyone else's moral decisions as well. That is what I oppose.

Posted by: exhuming mccarthy on March 16, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Well, as near as I can tell, the question posed in the actual post was "what should the Democratic party do as a party to show that it is, in fact "friendly" to religion?"

No wonder some of the posters are getting a bit, shall we say, riled up.

Here we have a an example of a masterpiece Republican meme, consisting of, first, the ridiculous proposition that a political party can be "friendly" to religion, and, second, the even more ridiculous proposition that, whatever the hell it means to be "friendly," the Democratic party is, in fact, not friendly.

I could go on about how what is really going on is that of course, a certain segment of the electorate wants to be as "un-friendly" as possible (I take it it is not a really debatable point that criminalizing non-religious conduct = being un-friendly to tha conduct, yes?) to anyone who does not share thier religious views.

In a typical political ju-jitsu move, the Republicans pander to this segement of the electorate by lableing Democrats as un friendly to religion.

Now, we are asked what to do about this?

How about taking a strong stand in favor of the separation of church and state?

Posted by: hank on March 16, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I have used this example before: during the second 2004 presidential debate a shill asked Kerry how she could stop her tax dollars from being used to fund abortions for the poor. Kerry practically bent over backwards to not insult this woman's position, saying he empathized with her sentiment. That was wrong, but it was the response Ms. Sullivan prefers because of her religious sensibility. Kerry should have stood up to that woman and accused her of wanting to use the authority of the state to enforce her beliefs on others who do not share them in the strongest language possible. Kerry would not win any anti-choice votes with this response, but he would have energized the pro-choice electorate. Instead, Kerry lost support from the pro-choice faction and the factions that are ambivalent about abortion because he demonstrated his inability to stand up for what is right. Kowtowing to your opposition is not a winning strategy for any politician.

Posted by: Hostile on March 16, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Congratulations. If your worst enemy had been given the task to deliberately create a post designed to demonstrate that all the harshest criticisms of your detractors were correct, they wouldn't have done a better job.

Quite impressive.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

I am not a liberal. I am an atheist. I think it's funny how the left does indeed have a knee jerk reaction when it comes to attacking Christianity

Are you stupid or just ignorant?

It's a fair question.


.

Posted by: spork_incident on March 16, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

T-bone, I'm fed up too! I thought that was clear! Until women are finally, totally subjected to God's law -- no contraception, no abortions, no HPV vaccine, and, finally, no eduction, I won't stop fighting for The One True God!

So stuff it, all you God-hating whining atheists!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 16, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad you are trying to engage us kneww jerks in a debate, but unfortunately your arguments are still (deliberately or not) the stuff of Republican talking points. Despite the afforts of many of us , you still seem to see no distinction between criticizing religious beliefs per se and criticizing the attempt to foist those beliefs on the rest of us. And even assuming that Bush does not want to turn us into a theocracy, if you do not think that he is enabling those who do--and are succeeding at a frighteningly fast pace, you are less than a keen political observer or, more likely, an extremely biased one. Frankly, after reading your work for some time, you are a one trick pony who cannot see any issue outside a religious prism and, despite your protests, are intent on forcing that prism on all of us. If that makes you mad, I might suggest that you and your thin skin adopt a more private vocation (it would make many of us knee jerks happy also).

Posted by: Marlowe on March 16, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever, can we invite David Alston back to the Democratic National Convention? Because he rocked.

Posted by: Lucy on March 16, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

"They have the freedom to believe whatever they want, and practice that faith however they want, provided they don't make me conform to their religous beliefs and allow me the same freedom."

That's nice. But how come liberals make others conform to the dogma of political correctness?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 16, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Dan,

Let's say this slowly.

Liberals do not have an animus toward religious people.

We do have an animus towards people who keep repeating that we have an animus toward religious people. Posted by: David Helms

Dan, leave this liberal out of your little club. Lots of liberals have an enormous amount of animus towards the religious. But we save, as should all truly intelligent people, our greatest wrath for the fundies that the likes of Amy keep telling us we must come to terms with. I have come to terms with the fundies. The term is fucking idiots.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 16, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

It is possible to want people like you, Amy, to keep your religion to yourself, without being anti-religion. In fact, Jesus recommended you do just that in Matthew:

6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites
[are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in
the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.
Verily, I say to you, they have their reward.
6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when
thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret,
and thy Father who seeth in secret, will reward thee openly.

I happen to think the founding fathers got it right when they separated church and state. That's the best way for both to thrive.

I am sick and tired of religion being dragged into the public square. It is harmful to both religion and the republic.

Posted by: Newton Minnow on March 16, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

"It matters because the percentage of American voters who think the Democratic party is friendly to religion has dropped sharply in the past few years, and the change hasn't come from Republican voters but from independents. The perception is unfair and inaccurate, but complaining about that doesn't do any good. "

Chose one:
"Democrats are hostile religion. they need to change"
or
"People think democrats are hostile religion, but they are not. They should never-the-less cater more to religion because it will weaken the perception they are hostile to religion"
or
"People think democrats are hostile to religion, but they are not. The problem is that they have been demonized by the right wing and by people all to willing to repeat their talking points. Religious democrats need to step forward and be more vocal about how their religion leads them to democratic politics."

Seriously, Amy, you are all over the map on this. And most of the time, where you are is wrong. You have made so many posts bitching about how dem's don't cater to the religious enough, in spite of the fact that nearly every elected democrat is religious, and more so than their rethuglican counterparts. You admit the right wing cynically uses the religious evangelicals for votes, but then your solution is that we should pander just as much - as if we could ever pander so much without giving up all democratic ideals.

So, think about what in the hell you really want, and build your thoughts around that. I don't think you have any core ideals right now, just a general resentment at the world that too many equate your left leaning tendencies with not being a good christian, and a greater resentment at the rest of us who are equally victimized by the right wing slander.

You know the bible never equated fetuses with people, even in the much nastier Old Testament.
You know Jesus was all about forgiveness, compassion, and especially helping those less fortunate.
You know Jesus was was against the pursuit of wealth.
So you know Jesus was a liberal.

Get that securely into your heart, and work that message, instead of bitching at the rest of us that don't care what the right wing says about us, and know the right wing is full of hypocrits cynically manipulating religion.

Until then, stick to hoops-blogging, or just seeth quietly to yourself, because your words aren't reaching us. Its not because we are unenlightened boobs, its because we are way more secure with our religious choices, and recognize your resentment as just another facet of internalizing GOP talking points.

Posted by: Mysticdog on March 16, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

LIBERALS WANT TO KILL CHRISTIANS!

Pass it on.

(You'll make Amy smile.)


.

Posted by: spork_incident on March 16, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

What did I see Jim Henley say? Something like "'I'm sorry' is just a phrase that precedes 'but'."

I especially like the explanatory "all those mean people were mean to me and used foul language" Deborah Howell moment.

Posted by: david on March 16, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

T-bone,

as an atheist and a liberal (self-described), where do you stand on A. the insertion of "under god" into the Pledge of Allegiance, B. federal funding of overtly religious charities, C. the inclusion of I.D. alongside the theory of evolution in biology texts, D. roadblocks to stem-cell research predicated on religious belief, E. proposed legislation that would ban state support for birth-control counseling at county hospitals in Missouri?

Now please point me to a similar list of proposals and legislation designed to establish the primacy of atheist fundamentalism (whatever that is).

Finally, explain again to me exactly why you accuse those of us who defend the separation of church and state are self-serving whiners. Oh, and wipe your face - I fear some of my spittle may have flecked your pompous visage...

Posted by: athos on March 16, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I used to be tolerant of rligious people but must say i am less so now. It is because these people want to impose their religious morality upon me. If they want to pray, they should go to their room and do it in private or in their church or silently in public. If they believe abortion is wrong, don't do it, don't force other women to live by your believes. I don't care what Bush believes, he should keep it private. South Dakota is imposing religious believes upon everyone in S.D. The constitution tells us to have a separation of church and state. History teaches us why it should be, see the criminal history of christianity, no place to talk about the muslim religion.

To remember the age of reason maybe we should read Voltaire again. We should remember that religion and reason don't mix.

The republicans have never distanced themselves from all the religious creeps like Falwell, Dobson,Roberts and others. They did put the question of gay marriage on ballots when it is strictly a religious issue, they are pushing religious judges for the supreme court. There have been hints that Alito is a member of Opus Dei. If so, that is a very extreme conservative catholic order. So I would say, quit whining and take religion out of politics, it does not belong there.

I know I have become less tolerant, I am reacting.

Posted by: Renate on March 16, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"It matters because the percentage of American voters who think the Democratic party is friendly to religion has dropped sharply in the past few years"

It seems the liberals are only hostile to Christianity, but not at all hostile to Islam.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 16, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Amy = Energizer Bunny (without the cute furry ears)

Posted by: Keith G on March 16, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

"It seems the liberals are only hostile to Christianity, but not at all hostile to Islam."

Oh, of course. It's all part of our conspiracy to place control of the entire world in the hand of extremist mullahs. Now that you know of our little plot, please remain where you are so that the black helicopters can come for you. Shouldn't be long now...

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

It seems the liberals are only hostile to Christianity, but not at all hostile to Islam.

I give up: Just how stupid are you?


.

Posted by: spork_incident on March 16, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

A tendency "on the part of some"?

Name TWO you damn kyra phillips talking head. Name names like a responsible person with dignity. Don't use "some" in the present-day resposibility-shirking manner.

Sheesh. Go back to basketball. At least there you just sound like an idiot, rather than a dishonest idiot.

Posted by: The Past, Nov 10, 2004 on March 16, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Spork, chill-pill, it was sarcasm.

Posted by: David Helms on March 16, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

It seems the liberals are only hostile to Christianity, but not at all hostile to Islam.
Posted by: Freedom Fighter

Hardly, asshole. I have as much intolerance for Islam as I do for conservative Christianity, Hasidism, or any other "orthodox" religion your care to name. I'm an equal-opportunity hater. I hate "believers" of all stripe.

Marx said it best, religion is the opiate of the masses.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 16, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

I keep reading some of you stating that the Constitution "tells us to have a separation of Church and State." No it doesn't. There are no such words in the Constitution, but you keep saying that if it makes you feel good.

Posted by: Billy Bob Shranzburg on March 16, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

"The president believes that we must remember the clearest lesson of September 11 -- that the United States of America must confront threats before they fully materialize," national security adviser Stephen Hadley said.

The president has just provided our enemies with the perfect justification for the 9/11 attacks, as well as affirmed the justness of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Why does Bush hate America so much that he would establish a principle that justifies such attacks?

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 16, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK
I keep reading some of you stating that the Constitution "tells us to have a separation of Church and State." No it doesn't.

Yes, it does.


There are no such words in the Constitution,

That's correct, which is why it would be inaccurato to say, "The Constitution mandates 'a separation of Church and State.'"

However, it is not inaccurate to say, "The Constitution mandates a separation of Church and State."

The difference is between quoting and describing.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the tolerance, the love. Man, it just oozes out of you lefties.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 16, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

neither Bush nor Brownback have a sincere desire to turn America into a theocracy; anyone who thinks those guys are sincere and devout Christians doesn't have a clue about what the big game is.

This is a contradiction. 'Turning a country into a theocracy' is precisely the means to the end you're saying is their 'real' goal. As has been noted, this is about - and ONLY about - the separation of church and state. It has nothing to do with 'sincerity'. I'm not religious, and I do have worries about the sometimes-destructive power of religion; I also know and love lots of people of faith and think absolutely no less of them for their belief. It's their business. The point is, America is not free if I don't get that same courtesy. And I would bet a majority of religious people in the country would extend me that courtesy. This problem is sort of an 'elective' one, like so many others in recent years.

The Religious Right has basically lost what they themselves define as a culture war, which is why they're picking fights, striking out (it's also fantastically profitable for them, both in money and power). Politics degrades religion, and I think some followers might have actually considered this, but feel frenzied and desperate, or are made to feel that way.

It is the religious right which has framed this question in a fake and very dangerous way: for or against religion. It's existentially dangerous to the soul of religion itself, not to mention bad for everybody. But it's the same 'offer you can't refuse', high-stakes framing the whole GOP has used (eg against the war or patriotic?).

So, I think it is surely a mistake to worry too much about how our candidates deal with their religion in a tactical sense. For example, John Kerry didn't lose the catholic vote because he didn't 'talk about religion enough'; he lost it because they didn't believe he was sincere in general - the religious issue just presented a peg to hang the latter belief onto. And people who aren';t particularly religous or are nominally so felt the same way. Most people will vote for candidates who are or seem to be genuine.

The reason this stuff is so dangerous and high-stakes is that the looming reality behind it is hard to come to terms with: Robertson, Dobson, Ralph Reed et. al. are the enemies of religion (the devil as it were); George W. has made the country weaker and less secure. It's scary.

Posted by: jonnybutter on March 16, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Billy Bob,

Oh, man you got us there: game, set and match.

But, begging your indulgence, here is what the 1st amendment actually says...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

And here is how Jefferson explained the language...

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

Of course, you would know better than TJ.

Posted by: David Helms on March 16, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ms. Sullivan, respectfully you are wrong. When people accuse Bush of wanting to create a theocracy, the people we are concerned about reaching yawn. The Republicans, who are lost causes, scream for blood. We waste our valuable time on self-accusatory arguments like this.

Posted by: Rob W on March 16, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Ms. Sullivan, but are you not in fact Danielle Pletka of the AEI?

Posted by: Hostile on March 16, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

"I keep reading some of you stating that the Constitution "tells us to have a separation of Church and State." No it doesn't. There are no such words in the Constitution..."

They appear right near "right to a fair trial" and "separation of powers." If you look closely, you'll see them.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Sam Harris - The End of Faith

forgive me father, for i have sinned -

Posted by: christAlmighty on March 16, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK
I've never considered Bush religious in the least.

Neither have I. Then again, I don't think you have to be religious to seek to impose theocracy; seeking to control society through religious institutions conjoined to the apparatus of the state doesn't require any substantial personal religious fervor. It can come about that way, or theocracy can be simply an instrument to secure the powerbase of a group.

Marx called religion the opiate of the masses, and no doubt religious institutions, especially when conjoined with the state or other secular power sources, have often functioned that way. Certainly those who seek to benefit from that capacity are no more religious than those who oppose religion because it can be abused in that way.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

I appreciate Amy's attempt to take back her "knee-jerk" comment. But I think that she does not entirely deserve credit because she goes on to criticize "some on the left," who are never named, for their criticism of conservative politicians "based on their religious views." Let us examine why.

First of all, that "some on the left." It might as well say, "Those knee-jerk radicals on the left." It's a locution Bush and his minions use all the time as an ad hominem attack -- "some say [supply outrageous position that no Democrat actually holds], but they are mistaken." Kindly be specific if you are complaining about some particular person on the "left" and specifically about what they said. And make the person on the left someone in a position of actual influence -- not obscure bloggers or commentators. They do not speak for the "left."

Second, and more importantly, the assertion is that politicians are criticized based on their religious views. I think Amy, if she gave actual examples, would find that these politicians are criticized based on their views that are fundamentally political, not religious. For example, the kinds of things religious politicians get criticized for: Tom Coburn's warning of "rampant lesbianism" in Oklahoma schools; Kansas Attorney Phil Kline's seeking to subpoena the complete medical records of women who were known to have done no more than have an abortion; or let's take Sam Brownback, as described by Rolling Stone:

Now, 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.

So what is a poor member of the "left," or even the "middle," to do, Amy? Refrain from criticizing such abominable social policy because it is born of religion? Refrain from critizing it even though it is sheer idiocy? Refrain because people like you will lump us with "some in the left" who are anti-religious?

I think the "left" and even the "middle" criticizes these people for good, sound reasons. But I see little evidence that they criticize them solely for their "religious views." They criticize them because they are trying to force their religious views on the majority of citizens who do not share them and because the policies that they think are compelled by their views are appalling.

I think what I, and many others on this thread, want you to answer is: What is to be done about the Coburns, Klines, and Brownbacks? What is to be done about their political brethren like the Falwells and Dobsons, who go about advocating the assassination of foreign leaders? Or their brethren like Ralph Reed who are simply corrupt.

And I think you should answer this question.

Posted by: David in NY on March 16, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm an equal-opportunity hater. I hate "believers" of all stripe."

It's nice to know lefties are so full of tolerance, compassion, and understanding.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 16, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Ms. Sullivan, but are you not in fact Danielle Pletka of the AEI?

OK, I resign.

There's no way I can be funnier than this.


.

Posted by: spork_incident on March 16, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Spork,

My apologies, you were right after all.
FF is a nutjob.

Posted by: David Helms on March 16, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

OK--for everyone who think Bush is converting America into a theocracy--one simple question: was America in 1960 a theocracy?

Posted by: SamChevre on March 16, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK
OK--for everyone who think Bush is converting America into a theocracy--one simple question: was America in 1960 a theocracy?

This presumes that what Bush is trying to turn America into is "America in 1960". As there is no reason to believe this, the question has no relevance.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Ah, the tolerance, the love. Man, it just oozes out of you lefties.

Just can't match the love given to innocent people by conservatives at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

One of conservatives' mottos: Torture is love.

Right up there with: War is peace.

And how 'bout that love shown by conservatives to the Kurds gassed by Saddam with assistance from Bush 41?

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 16, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK
Second, and more importantly, the assertion is that politicians are criticized based on their religious views. I think Amy, if she gave actual examples, would find that these politicians are criticized based on their views that are fundamentally political, not religious.

Well, certainly, plenty of lefties -- including, and perhaps especially, religious lefties -- have criticized the some of the religious doctrines frequently held by members of the Christian Right including, inter alia, conservative politicians, so its not at all untrue that there are those on the left who have criticized conservative politicians for their religious views.

On the other hand, I can't see any likely cause-and-effect relationship between critique of, e.g., Dominionism as bad theology which leads to bad politics and the perception that the left is anti-religious.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Great title. Gotta love all these accusations of "repeating Republican talking points" from people who live them.

I'm not religious, but all these whining unholier-than-thou athiests have got to grow some thicker skins.

Posted by: Mo MacArbie on March 16, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK
So, I think it is surely a mistake to worry too much about how our candidates deal with their religion in a tactical sense. For example, John Kerry didn't lose the catholic vote because he didn't 'talk about religion enough'; he lost it because they didn't believe he was sincere in general - the religious issue just presented a peg to hang the latter belief onto.

I don't think it was merely a peg; I think the strained circumlocution to rationalize his supposed personal belief versus his political agenda on the issue of abortion is not a small part of why he was perceived as insincere.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

What Joe Buck said.

All this talk about "religious tolerance" on the left is just sickening. It is as if the only Christians whose opinion counts are white Evangelical Christians. I keep wondering why my black, mostly Baptist, extended family has no problem with the alleged lack of religious tolerance on the Left. Or why my Italian Catholic in-laws seems to be just fine with Democratic politics. All "every-Sunday" church goers. All lifelong Democrats.


Posted by: David on March 16, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Just can't match the love given to innocent people by conservatives at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib."

One of the major differences between conservatives and liberals is where their sympathies go. Conservative sympathies goto children massacred going to school, teenagers blown up in nightclubs, elderly taking a ride on the bus, or some poor working folks trying to make a few bucks to support their families. Liberals, on the other have their sympathies with Jihadis, dictators, and of course Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Tookie Williams.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 16, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

You all have a lot of nerve talking about knee jerk reactions. The second you saw Sullivan's post you flipped out without really looking at the substance of her post. No matter how much YOU whine that lefties are not against religion and it's just the Republicans portraying us that way, the fact is that many voters feel democrats are unfriendly to religion. Plain and simple. The only issue here is how do we address this??
Instead of cursing at Sullivan for bringing this up, and making self-rightous comments about how tolerant you are, why not try to actually address this issue and help us win some elections?

Posted by: cecelia on March 16, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, it looks like Amy-bashing is a much more popular sport around here than Fun with Fundraising! I can't believe Amy got so bent out of shape just because she got email telling her to go fuck herself. Not to brag, but hate mail never makes me lose my cool. And what's up with the apology? Is she ASKING to get bitchslapped?

Anyway, who cares if the public increasingly perceives that liberals are unfriendly to religion? They're just dupes of the Republican propaganda machine, and it's not fair. So fuck them.

Posted by: Lucy on March 16, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely -- specifics please. What criticisms are you talking about? Google is at your disposal. Otherwise, I stand by my view that criticisms of these politicians by responsible leaders of the "left" are invariably criticisms of their politics.

I think it is appalling that Amy gave not examples. You have not come up with any either.

Posted by: David in NY on March 16, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

"The perception is unfair and inaccurate, but complaining about that doesn't do any good."

Amy, you're on crack. The perception is exactly right. Democrats are hostile to religion. The people on this board are even more hostile. Those are facts, you stupid little girl. :)

Posted by: Chad on March 16, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm not religious, but all these whining unholier-than-thou athiests have got to grow some thicker skins."

I don't need a thicker skin - all the hate mail and death threats over the years has made it quite thick enough, thank you very much. It's not "whining" to object to the falsehoods and bigotry spread about atheism.

If you disagree with atheists' objections, feel free to raise a substantive objection to them. If all you can do is whine about them, though, then you're doing exactly what you accuse others of.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

"...bad theology..."

Since there are no rules in theology, there's no such thing as bad theology. Or good theology. If all else fails, a theologian will just appeal to God's mysterious ways...

Posted by: Frink on March 16, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

"The only issue here is how do we address this??"

Try: not by repeating the same talking points and acting like they are true. People didn't curse Sullivan for raising the issue, but for how she raised it and the ridiculous claims she makes.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

How about tolerance for religion and it's expression, but insist that all government policies and laws be justifiable in rationalistic practical/ethical terms.

Posted by: Neil' on March 16, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

OK--for everyone who think Bush is converting America into a theocracy--one simple question: was America in 1960 a theocracy?

I need to think about this.

It's a good question.

But Amy still sucks.


.

Posted by: spork_incident on March 16, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

"It is because these people want to impose their religious morality upon me."

Forcing me to pay taxes for welfare programs on the grounds that Jesus teaches us we should help the poor is just as much an imposition of religious morality on me as anything the fundamentalists are trying to do.

I don't care whether you're liberal or conservative, keep your freakin' religious beliefs out of the law.

Posted by: Frink on March 16, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely -- specifics please. What criticisms are you talking about? Google is at your disposal. Otherwise, I stand by my view that criticisms of these politicians by responsible leaders of the "left" are invariably criticisms of their politics.

Amy didn't attribute the attacks on conservative religious views to "responsible leaders of the left", and, given that a popular image can be created and reinforced by the actions of members of a group who are not "responsible leaders", it is a rather radical change of topic to limit the claim to that group.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that the right get a free pass when people like Pat Robinson says that God was punishing Ariel Sharon by giving him a stroke and that Hugo Chavez should be assassinated or when Fred Phelps pickets outside military funerals. When someone on the right calls for the assassination of doctors who provide legal abortions everyone just calls them wackos.
When someone on the left says something equally wacky, that individual suddenly become the spokesperson of the entire left wing.
Amy, instead of scolding the left wing why don't you call the right out on this game.
And you are helping with statements like this:
"Finally, a religious candidate who actually deserves the scorn of the knee-jerk left." I thought you would have learned in college, I learned it in high school. Sweeping general statements like that do nothing to further your arguement or support your position.

We deride religion when it is used as a magic wand to wave away reality or when religion is forced on us as "family values". What because I don't practice what they do my family has no values? That is not a knee jerk reaction, it is a real response to continually having to justify my social beliefs. The religious right is guilty of the sin of continual judgement. They sit in judgement of my life and my beliefs. The religious right uses outright lies to justify their sense of continual persecution. Christ was persecuted - not the religious right. I would never attack someone because of their religious beliefs. I refuse, however, to bow down to what many of them are continually using to simply excuse their hatred of anyone or any belief system different then theirs. Just ask the Islamic community. The religious right in this country just wants to protect their religion. Too hell (literally) with everyone else's. And to criticize me for calling them on their hypocrisy is just as hypocritical.

Posted by: Footie on March 16, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that the right get a free pass when people like Pat Robinson says that God was punishing Ariel Sharon by giving him a stroke and that Hugo Chavez should be assassinated or when Fred Phelps pickets outside military funerals. When someone on the right calls for the assassination of doctors who provide legal abortions everyone just calls them wackos.
When someone on the left says something equally wacky, that individual suddenly become the spokesperson of the entire left wing.
Amy, instead of scolding the left wing why don't you call the right out on this game.
And you are helping with statements like this:
"Finally, a religious candidate who actually deserves the scorn of the knee-jerk left." I thought you would have learned in college, I learned it in high school. Sweeping general statements like that do nothing to further your arguement or support your position.

We deride religion when it is used as a magic wand to wave away reality or when religion is forced on us as "family values". What because I don't practice what they do my family has no values? That is not a knee jerk reaction, it is a real response to continually having to justify my social beliefs. The religious right is guilty of the sin of continual judgement. They sit in judgement of my life and my beliefs. The religious right uses outright lies to justify their sense of continual persecution. Christ was persecuted - not the religious right. I would never attack someone because of their religious beliefs. I refuse, however, to bow down to what many of them are continually using to simply excuse their hatred of anyone or any belief system different then theirs. Just ask the Islamic community. The religious right in this country just wants to protect their religion. Too hell (literally) with everyone else's. And to criticize me for calling them on their hypocrisy is just as hypocritical.

Posted by: Footie on March 16, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone else pick up on this interesting article in today's Times? Great antidode to polarized discussions about religion


Math Professor Wins a Coveted Religion Award

By DENNIS OVERBYE
Published: March 16, 2006
Continuing a recent trend in which the world's richest religion prize has gone to scientists, John D. Barrow, a British cosmologist whose work has explored the relationship between life and the laws of physics, was named the winner yesterday of the 2006 Templeton Prize for progress or research in spiritual matters.

Skip to next paragraph

David Karp/Associated Press
John D. Barrow
Dr. Barrow will receive the $1.4 million prize during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on May 3. The prize was created in 1972 by the philanthropist Sir John Marks Templeton, who specified that its monetary value always exceed that of the Nobel Prize. Five of the last six winners have been scientists. Asked about this, Dr. Barrow said, "Maybe they ask the most interesting questions."

Dr. Barrow, 53, a mathematical sciences professor at the University of Cambridge, is best known for his work on the anthropic principle, which has been the subject of debate in physics circles in recent years. Life as we know it would be impossible, he and others have pointed out, if certain constants of nature numbers denoting the relative strengths of fundamental forces and masses of elementary particles had values much different from the ones they have, leading to the appearance that the universe was "well tuned for life," as Dr. Barrow put it.

In a news release, the prize organizers said of Dr. Barrow's work: "It has also given theologians and philosophers inescapable questions to consider when examining the very essence of belief, the nature of the universe, and humanity's place in it."

Dr. Barrow is the co-author of "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle," a primer on the subject, as well as 16 other books, more than 400 scientific papers, and a prizewinning play, "Infinities."

Asked about his religious beliefs, Dr. Barrow said he and his family were members of the United Reformed Church in Cambridge, which teaches "a traditional deistic picture of the universe," he said.

Noting that Charles Darwin is buried in Westminster Abbey, Dr. Barrow said that in contrast with the so-called culture wars in America, science and religion had long coexisted peaceably in England. "The concept of a lawful universe with order that can be understood and relied upon emerged largely out of religious beliefs about the nature of God," he said.

Posted by: Aidan on March 16, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK
One of the major differences between conservatives and liberals is where their sympathies go. Conservative sympathies goto children massacred going to school, teenagers blown up in nightclubs, elderly taking a ride on the bus, or some poor working folks trying to make a few bucks to support their families.

Except, of course, when those people are foreigners, and the conservatives are the ones directing the policies which blow them up and massacre them; or when they are Americans, and the conservatives are the ones makign it harder for them to make a few bucks to support their families, by instituting tax policies that tilt the tax system more and more in favor of capital, and more and more against labor.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that the right get a free pass when people like Pat Robinson says that God was punishing Ariel Sharon by giving him a stroke and that Hugo Chavez should be assassinated or when Fred Phelps pickets outside military funerals. When someone on the right calls for the assassination of doctors who provide legal abortions everyone just calls them wackos.
When someone on the left says something equally wacky, that individual suddenly become the spokesperson of the entire left wing.
Amy, instead of scolding the left wing why don't you call the right out on this game.
And you are helping with statements like this:
"Finally, a religious candidate who actually deserves the scorn of the knee-jerk left." I thought you would have learned in college, I learned it in high school. Sweeping general statements like that do nothing to further your arguement or support your position.

We deride religion when it is used as a magic wand to wave away reality or when religion is forced on us as "family values". What because I don't practice what they do my family has no values? That is not a knee jerk reaction, it is a real response to continually having to justify my social beliefs. The religious right is guilty of the sin of continual judgement. They sit in judgement of my life and my beliefs. The religious right uses outright lies to justify their sense of continual persecution. Christ was persecuted - not the religious right. I would never attack someone because of their religious beliefs. I refuse, however, to bow down to what many of them are continually using to simply excuse their hatred of anyone or any belief system different then theirs. Just ask the Islamic community. The religious right in this country just wants to protect their religion. Too hell (literally) with everyone else's. And to criticize me for calling them on their hypocrisy is just as hypocritical.

Posted by: Footie on March 16, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Amy Sullivan,
the Missourie legislature voted against funding birth control, it would promote promiscuity.

This is precisely the religious dictate I am against.
Keep your religion to yourself, I don't want to live by your norms, I don't demand you to live by mine.
I am an adult, I am as moral or even more so than any so=called christians. I find many christian people are hateful people.

There are good christian people but the Cal Thomas' and Falwells stand out.

Posted by: Renate on March 16, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

>I have used this example before: during the second 2004 presidential debate a shill asked Kerry how she could stop her tax dollars from being used to fund abortions for the poor. Kerry practically bent over backwards to not insult this woman's position, saying he empathized with her sentiment. That was wrong, but it was the response Ms. Sullivan prefers because of her religious sensibility. Kerry should have stood up to that woman and accused her of wanting to use the authority of the state to enforce her beliefs on others who do not share them in the strongest language possible. Kerry would not win any anti-choice votes with this response, but he would have energized the pro-choice electorate. Instead, Kerry lost support from the pro-choice faction and the factions that are ambivalent about abortion because he demonstrated his inability to stand up for what is right.

Oh yeah, I remember that exchange Hostile, but I was unaware about its impact on the vote. Care to back this up?

Posted by: Lucy on March 16, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: Liberals, on the other have their sympathies with Jihadis, dictators, and of course Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Tookie Williams.

Clearly, you are lying, since the reference was to "innocent" people incarcerated at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.

That innocent people have been incarcerated is beyond dispute.

Even the government acknowledges this.

Only freedom f*cking liars like you dispute it.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 16, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin and Amy,

Your commenters have "jumped the shark" - it is time to shut these clowns up. I really noticed the change last week when they were about as uncivil as possible to your guest bloggers. Now even craigie sounds like a jerk.

Posted by: Matt on March 16, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

This is Ben Stein, apparently a friend of Amy's, as quoted by Norman Horowitz at the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norman-horowitz/ben-stein-god-and-me_b_17388.html). It's a scary thing what happens in the minds of the religious. Paranoid, all of them, thinking they're being persecuted by those dastardly atheists who, quite obviously, hold all the power in this country.

"I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period."

"I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?"

"When Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show, Jane Clayson asked her (Regarding Katrina), 'How could God let something like this Happen?' Anne Graham said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?'

"In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK. Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves."

"Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says."

Posted by: An Ohio Democrat on March 16, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

"How about tolerance for religion and it's expression, but insist that all government policies and laws be justifiable in rationalistic practical/ethical terms."

Insofar as "tolerance" means "don't try to use the law to ban it," I agree. As soon as tolerance means something more, like "don't criticize or mock religious beliefs," I can't agree. Justifiable demands for tolerance can't start slipping into unjustifiable demands for deference. As soon as religion is "expressed" in public, it's got to deal with all the same things that every other belief or idea has to contend with. It's not always pretty or polite, but that's life.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Forcing me to pay taxes for welfare programs on the grounds that Jesus teaches us we should help the poor is just as much an imposition of religious morality on me as anything the fundamentalists are trying to do.

Fortunately, those are not at all the grounds on which the government forces you to pay taxes, or uses those taxes to pay for anything, from welfare programs or nuclear bombs.

Now, it is a point that the selfishness of many conservatives can be rightly mocked by quoting the Scriptures they claim to revere at them, but pointing out their hypocricy is hardly the equivalents of the grounds for a fundamental task of government.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

What's really offensive about this is that it isn't just Amy making this complaint. Alot of progressives who take their religion seriously have been complaining about an antipathy toward religion in the progressive ranks. Yet Amy's would be antangonists here, would argue that every single person who seems to notice that, surprise surprise, large swathes of the statistically unobservant/secular left don't exactly have a high opinion of the devout is mistaken, lying, or has been secretly duped by the GOP noise machine into thinking what they do.

Not that any argument ic nessessary. This thread alone demonstrates just how close to the mark Amy is.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 16, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Amy:

...offhand comment I made about "the knee-jerk left."

...maybe you'll understand if I momentarily forgot that those views are just a small minority on the left.

It's not mouthing RNC talking points to say that Democrats are at a disadvantage when it comes to how voters perceive their approach to religion.

Am, then why did you use words in print, even in anger, that DO MOUTH RNC talking points?

Vinegar doesn't taste so good, even when motivated by unstated, and perhaps justified, anger.

You should be aware that your web voice is heard by people who need to support this site and The Washington Monthly if they are to be effective.

I sure wouldn't purchase TWM if it harbors writers who characterize secular people or religious people who strongly believe in separation of church and state, as 'knee-jerk liberals'.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR on March 16, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: Liberals, on the other have their sympathies with Jihadis, dictators, and of course Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Tookie Williams.

One might also point out that it was conservatives whose sympathies were with . . .

Saddam Hussein when he was gassing the Kurdish men, women, and children . . .

Noriega when he was murdering political opponents . . .

Pinochet when he was murdering political opponents . . .

And a host of other dictators that ordered or tolerated the murder, torture, and rape of political opponents, including Catholic nuns.

Finally, conservatives were perfectly happy arming the Taliban jihadists when it served their partisan political purposes, not to mention their support of Israeli religious fanatics (thankfully not the bulk of the Israeli population) who have murdered many Palestinians or stolen their property.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 16, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

This thread alone demonstrates just how close to the mark Amy is.

With respect, Dustin, if Amy were close to the mark, I'd expect her to avoid unsupported straw-man generalizations like "there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views."

I'm still waiting for, you know, an actual example of one of those.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

It has been said before, but needs to be reiterated, that when asking others, specifically liberals, not to be hostile to the religious right, what Amy and other such liberal pundits actually mean is that the left should roll over and play dead, and let the religious zealots impose the evangelist Sharia law in the United States.

It can not mean anyting else, for all the evidence points to the essential correctness of the proposition that evangelic Christians on the right are more uncivil to the left than vice versa.

Posted by: nut on March 16, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Fortunately, those are not at all the grounds on which the government forces you to pay taxes,"

So liberal Christians never vote on the basis of their religious beliefs? Only the evil "fundamentalists" do that? Is that your claim?

What are you smoking?

Posted by: Frink on March 16, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

So in a comment thread that is populated by at least as many non believers as believers, a believer can post this apparently without blinking an eye:

Actually, I agreed with Ms. Sullivan then, and I agree with Ms. Sullivan now. I've been a blogger long enough to know that most of the leftblogosphere is perfectly tolerant of religion and supportive of politicians like President Carter who embrace a true Christian faith. But there always seems to be a couple of commenters who - apparently God didn't hug them enough when they were children - seem to. have a reflexive pathological desire to push their atheism on the rest of us.

And the idiot apparently doesnt get why non believers would be hostile to religion, or to have a reflexive pathological desire to push their atheism on the rest of us. Buddy, you just pushed religion on us with your explanation. Dont get all huffy when it gets pushed back.

Tell me, would you go into a discussion about how the Democratic Party needs to reach out to, for example, the Jewish community better - knowing that a good portion of the readers were Jewish - with the following in your post? But there always seems to be a couple of commenters who - apparently Jesus didn't hug them enough when they were children - Would the thought even enter your head, or would you think it but not post it because you know it would be offensive?

Posted by: NoMorals on March 16, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

So the Dems are the party that cares about the poor and is the party of peace? (earlier post here)

Tally up the wars started by Dems and those started by Repubs and you'll find the Dems outweigh the Repubs. Including Vietnam.

And caring about the poor largely depends on HOW you care, not whether you do or not. The Dems care about the poor in a way that gives meager sustenance to them through welfare but doesn't help them get out of their morass. The Repubs offer tough love of working your way out of the morass. Both care about the poor. It is arguable that only one cares to solve the problem (R), while one seeks to keep the poor on the plantation (D).

Posted by: Erjazz on March 16, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

to the management of Washington Monthly:
Kevin Drum is far and way liebermanesque enough, we really don't need the self-righteous self-pity of Amy Sullivan when he's gone. Please spare us her self-agrandizing and dishonest act of setting up strawmen to knock them down with her misguided condescension. If she gets mad and quits, I'm sure the DLC or the Lieberman campaign would be only too happy to take her on.

It's not a question of substance. I'm all for discussing the role of religion in politics. Even moreso for discussing the true meaning of Christianity that I think has been grotesquely perverted by American protestantism. I think Steve Waldman addresses the topic in a good and interesting fashion, perhaps precisely because he avoids the unique combination of whining and arrogance that Ms Sullivan brings, that Ms Sullivan insists on bringing, to her every post on the subject.

Posted by: Jim on March 16, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yada yada yada.

So this preist, minister and Rabbi are going to the funeral of a rich man who has endeared each of the holy men with a task. The preist was to leave a bag of the deceased valuables in the coffin, making sure it was buried. The minister and rabbi each assigned a similiar task.

The three took a cab home from the funeral and the confessions began. The minister admitted to taking a few valuables for the church pews, much in ill-repair. The priest naturally took some back for the poor box. The Rabbi was astonished at the deceit, for he had left a check for the full amount.

Posted by: Matt on March 16, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

David Helm - Your interpretation of the Constitution is spot on in regards to the actions of the state. Even the majority of Fundamentalist agree with this. What is missing is the implied second half of the statement. The implication is that an idea, which is religious in origin, can not be enacted into law. This restriction does not seem to be backed by the text of the first amendment.

It is always humorous to see people complain about the use of the power of the state to enforce religious beliefs on non-believers. In general, law is the use of the power of the state to enforce the beliefs of one group on another. The initial source of the belief is immaterial in a republic.

Posted by: james on March 16, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Erjazz: "The Repubs offer tough love of working your way out of the morass"

Yeah, just what Jesus said: If someone needs help, tell 'em to go get a job. Bit don't give them any sustenance!

I'll bet you this Erjazz guy is as religious as they get. These are the guys Amy should be going after.

Posted by: An Ohio Democrat on March 16, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

That said, I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize conservative politicians on the basis of their religious views.

I don't. I don't even recall any lefty who has done this. What I do hear is a lot of REPUBLICANS saying lefties are godless and disrespect those who are religious. This doesn't mean it's true. It means you've bought their spin.

Posted by: ExBrit on March 16, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

One of my complaints about Amy's posts over the past week is that she hasn't stayed around to support them in comments, or in future posts. I guess she thinks this is support. I'm not impressed.

She really isn't a very precise writer and apparently she doesn't have time to write clearly or understand the subjects she is writing about.

In the current case, she has withdrawn her ill considered use of the phrase "knee jerk" but then she replaces it with "broad brushstrokes" in a sentence that I can't really understand, at least in part because a direct reading of the sentence implies that Kevin Phillips is a liberal which doesn't make any sense.

Overall, I don't see what could possibly be wrong about, criticizing "conservative politicians on the basis of their religious views." Are religious views somehow priviledged over other types of view?

Aren't some religous view morally repugnant? Aren't some religious beliefs bad or wrong? Isn't active hostility to some of these views are requirement to be an American, not to mention a liberal.

If I can't say that Fred Phelps worships a sick and twisted God that he has made in his own image what is the advantage to my freedom of speech? If I can't say that Rick Santorum's God thinks just a little bit too much about sex with animals where is my freedom to exercise my religious beliefs?

Osama bin Laden believes that Allah is going to rewarding him with 70 virgins. Aren't I allowed to challenge that view of the divine?

Personally I think religions are used my most of their adherents to justify their existing biases. Whether they love gays or hate gays, think that genocide is a sign of being chosen by God or is abhorrent to the Lord, think the poor are lazy and immoral, or meek and humble, think Allah is going to reward them with 70 virgins or God is going to send them to the 10th circle of hell, all religions are justifying more or less what the adherents already believed.

Myself, I'm not a liberal, so I don't have to tolerate the religious. I just have to work to keep their noses out of my life.

Amy might be right about one thing. It might be the more politically expedient if I were to lie about my religious convictions, the better to suck up to the god botherers and advance my political agenda.

It is a proven strategy with the Rove (tm) seal of approval.

Posted by: Ray on March 16, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, who cares if the public increasingly perceives that liberals are unfriendly to religion? They're just dupes of the Republican propaganda machine, and it's not fair. So fuck them.

Lucy

I love Lucy.

She seems like a blogger. Kevin please note. May be she can be an anti-dote to Amy's two-track mind.

Posted by: lib on March 16, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

"" "I keep reading some of you stating that the Constitution "tells us to have a separation of Church and State." No it doesn't. There are no such words in the Constitution..."

They appear right near "right to a fair trial" and "separation of powers." If you look closely, you'll see them. ""

Actually, you're incorrect, Austin. Those two phrases never appear in the Constitution, let alone appear near each other. The Sixth Amendment is the only place where rights to a fair trial are alluded to, and the phrase is "impartial jury of the State", meaning a jury of peers that are objective and have no previous bias towards the defendent, the prosecutor, or the nature of the crime.

Thomas Jefferson wrote extensively on the idea of separation of Church and State as a tenent of a free democratic society. He coined the phrase, and he wrote on it publicly after the Constitution was ratified, as it was a hot issue among the Founders. (Hence the reason for the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...). It was such a hot issue that it was the FIRST item mentioned in the Amendment. But even the Amendment doesn't say that the government is mandated to be completely secular, just that it cannot endorse one religion over another (ie, no United Church of American Colonies.) Separation of Church and State as an item in the Constitution is a modern invention, and a well-spun lie at best.

Posted by: Renee on March 16, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Question:

Is everybody here who's sticking comments to this post actually disagreeing with Amy or just trying to make her point for her?

I'm a newbie here, so I can't tell.

Posted by: WAL on March 16, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Erjazz: Tally up the wars started by Dems and those started by Repubs and you'll find the Dems outweigh the Repubs. Including Vietnam.

Wrong, at least with respect to Vietnam.

Eisenhower committed the US to Vietnam.

The first American military deaths occurred in Vietnam while Eisenhower was president.

Once American military personnel died, we were in a war.

Thus, Vietnam was started by a Republican president.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 16, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

James,

To be constitutional, a law must serve a valid secular purpose. A law that serves a valid secular purpose may also happen to serve a religious purpose, but that is just incidental. The religious purpose cannot justify the law.

Posted by: e1 on March 16, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

So liberal Christians never vote on the basis of their religious beliefs?

Whether liberal Christians vote on the basis of their religious beliefs, or, if you like, whether they regard paying taxes as their religious as well as secular duty, is irrelevant to the fact that the grounds on which government collects taxes and disburses spending -- whether on welfare or nuclear weapons -- are not at all religious, period, full stop.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

For those too young to know, Kevin Phillips was a prominent Republican in the seventies. He has written a number of books quite critical of Republicans, but I don't think he ever threw away his membership in the GOP.

Posted by: lib on March 16, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not be coy here. Phillips was the inventor of the dreaded "Southern Strategy" of the Nixon era. What was the "Southern Strategy"? Simply put it was "win the South at any cost and screw the Northeast" Sound familiar? Seen the electoral maps from the last two elections? How do you go after the southern vote? Wedge issues of course. In 1968 the wedge issue was "civil rights" and the Republican strategy was to use coded appeals to the white southern electorate, usually couched in "States' Rights" language. Racism isn't the winner it once was, but there are other wedge issues out there and the Republicans channel them the way a Jedi Master channels the Force. And that is what the whole religious debate is about, really. Republicans have manipulated the debate so that Democrats are constantly answering the question, "So, when, exactly, did you stop hating religion and denying the existence of God?" So long as that is the level of debate the Democrats will continue to lose.

But the real losers in all this are the scape goats that the Republicans have used to drive their wedge deep. Secular Humanists, Atheists, Gays, what-have-you. They are not evil, and they have no unified agenda to persecute Christians, any more than European Jews were evil and plotted to destroy European civilization.

Posted by: Majun on March 16, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Actually, you're incorrect, Austin. Those two phrases never appear in the Constitution, let alone appear near each other."

It's called "sarcasm," a form of expression that tends to go over the heads of those unable or unwilling to comprehend anything but the most literal meaning of a text in front of them - you know, like people who imagine that the absence of phrases like "separation of church and state," "fair trial," or "separation of powers" means that those concepts are also absent.

Thank you for helping me to make that point.

"But even the Amendment doesn't say that the government is mandated to be completely secular, just that it cannot endorse one religion over another..."

It's not possible to favor "religion generally," therefore any favoring of religion is necessarily the favoring of one religion over others. A secular government is, by definition, one that is not religious and hence does not favor one religion of others. A secular government is the only sort of government which can strictly avoid favoring any religion.

Opposition to secular government is a defense of religious government.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, Erjazz, why don't you list the wars "started" by Democratic presidents, since by my count it is zero in the past century.

Indeed, the only war started by the US in the last century would appear to be the current war in Iraq.

In all other instances, either the US or an ally was attacked first or ongoing genocide, which permits military intervention under international law, was occurring and the US merely responded, which is not "starting" a war.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 16, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

when did deborah howell become ombudsman of this blog?

Posted by: nova silverpill on March 16, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Is everybody here who's sticking comments to this post actually disagreeing with Amy or just trying to make her point for her?

Amy is taking a lot of heat, and justly so, not for her religious beliefs, but for her evident internalization of a GOP talking point and her poor argumentation in support of that thesis, including the straw man statement I pointed out earlier.

Neither of those matters is dependent on religion in any way. In short, Amy may be religious, and she has said things that provoke a hostile response, but it does not follow that the hostility to Amy is because she is religious. Dig?

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, I remember that exchange Hostile, but I was unaware about its impact on the vote. Care to back this up?

Lucy, Kerry lost. The youth turnout was very weak. The youth turnout was as weak as Kerry's response to that woman at the debate. I have not done a detailed statistical analysis of the voter turnout of the 2004 election, but my gut feeling was that Kerry was uninspiring.

From the Pew Research Center:

...significantly more of Bush's supporters mentioned leadership (29%) and a clear stance on the issues (27%) as the candidate qualities that mattered most.

For Kerry supporters, by contrast, the desire for change trumped all other candidate qualities.

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

Embolds are mine. Voters want to see a candidate with a clear stance on the issues, not a milquetoast who empathizes with his opposition's positions, which my example of Kerry's performance during the second debate emphasized. Kerry only polled 7% on Clear Stand on Issues. The reason I brought it up is that Ms. Sullivan and Mr. Drum communicate liberals should be more like Kerry rather than more like Sen. Feingold or Gov. Dean. I think the timidity of moderates is why Bush was elected and reelected.

If Democrats are going to use religion to gain votes they have to use it like the Republicans: like a hammer to pound home the idea their opponents do not have appropriate American values. Ms. Sullivan is not urging Democrats to use religion to paint Republicans as unrepentant sinners, but to appeal to a segment of the electorate that will never vote for a liberal anyway. That is a losing proposition.

Posted by: Hostile on March 16, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Lol. Jonah Goldberg links here? Glad to see that he'll actually acknowledge the existence of intelligent Democratic debate... only when it suits his desire to claim we're all idiots, of course.

Posted by: plunge on March 16, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Is everybody here who's sticking comments to this post actually disagreeing with Amy or just trying to make her point for her?

I don't know. What exactly is Amy's point? It seems more finely nuanced and rapidly changing than the administrations justifications for going to war.

I'm a newbie here, so I can't tell.

Welcome. Amy's posts are actually written in code. We haven't worked it out just yet, something like, take 1st letter of the 1st word, the 2nd letter of the second word, and continue until you read either liberals or God, at which point you reverse the order of the letters.

I think that this only works if you sacrifice a sheep and _really_ believe.

Posted by: Ray on March 16, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

But even the Amendment doesn't say that the government is mandated to be completely secular, just that it cannot endorse one religion over another

The First Amendment doesnt say that the government "cannot endorse one religion over another," it says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

"Establishment of religion," not "establishment of a religion. The government's relationshp to religion is indeed supposed to be neutral.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK
It was such a hot issue that it was the FIRST item mentioned in the Amendment. But even the Amendment doesn't say that the government is mandated to be completely secular, just that it cannot endorse one religion over another (ie, no United Church of American Colonies.

Wrong. Endorsement of a particular religious institution is, of course, prohibited by the establishment clause, but that is hardly all that the establishment and free exercise clauses prohibit.

Separation of Church and State as an item in the Constitution is a modern invention, and a well-spun lie at best.

Its clearly not a "modern invention" except in the sense that the Constitution itself is; as you yourself (and the quote upthread) note, Jefferson wrote that that was the import of the First Amendment's religion clauses very shortly after the Amendment was adopted, it wasn't an idea which appeared ex nihilo sometime recently.

And the phrase is an apt description of part of the impact of the various protections of religious freedom in the Constitution, particularly the establishment clause; it does not, as you note, mandate that the government be "completely secular", nor does "separation between Church and State" imply that. Personal religious values and beliefs certainly will influence how particular officers and voters act, and influence policy, without violating this separation or the Constitution. "Church" is not the same thing as "religion".

The wall protects religious institutions from the power of the state, and protects society from the harms of entangling religious institutions with the power of the state.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory opines,

"Whether liberal Christians vote on the basis of their religious beliefs, or, if you like, whether they regard paying taxes as their religious as well as secular duty, is irrelevant to the fact that the grounds on which government collects taxes and disburses spending -- whether on welfare or nuclear weapons -- are not at all religious, period, full stop."

Utter nonsense. The grounds on which the government collects and spends tax dollars are the grounds the voters give it. If those grounds are the voters' religious beliefs, then the law is an imposition of those religious beliefs.

Posted by: Frink on March 16, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

You guys are arguing in a vacuum. It doesn't MATTER what strategy or message liberals use to try to appeal to independnt religious folk. Conservative religious people are going to outnumber, and hence, outvote, liberal secularists anyway. A recent USA Today articles painfully spells it out:

link here: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2006-03-13-babybust_x.htm

THE LIBERAL BABY BUST:

"Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among progressive secularists. As a consequence, an increasing share of all children born into the world are descended from a share of the population whose conservative values have led them to raise large families.

Today, fertility correlates strongly with a wide range of political, cultural and religious attitudes. In the USA, for example, 47% of people who attend church weekly say their ideal family size is three or more children. By contrast, 27% of those who seldom attend church want that many kids....

This correlation between secularism, individualism and low fertility portends a vast change in modern societies. In the USA, for example, nearly 20% of women born in the late 1950s are reaching the end of their reproductive lives without having children. The greatly expanded childless segment of contemporary society, whose members are drawn disproportionately from the feminist and countercultural movements of the 1960s and '70s, will leave no genetic legacy. Nor will their emotional or psychological influence on the next generation compare with that of people who did raise children.

Meanwhile, single-child families are prone to extinction. A single child replaces one of his or her parents, but not both. Consequently, a segment of society in which single-child families are the norm will decline in population by at least 50% per generation and quite quickly disappear. In the USA, the 17.4% of baby boomer women who had one child account for a mere 9.2% of kids produced by their generation. But among children of the baby boom, nearly a quarter descend from the mere 10% of baby boomer women who had four or more kids.

This dynamic helps explain the gradual drift of American culture toward religious fundamentalism and social conservatism. Among states that voted for President Bush in 2004, the average fertility rate is more than 11% higher than the rate of states for Sen. John Kerry."

All your strategizing won't make a darn bit of difference in the face of this demographic onslaught. Simply put: there won't be enough secular progressives (or even liberal Christians, if they adhere to contraception, abortion, and as a result have small families) around to encact your favored policies. The conservatives will out-breed you.

Such is life. Too bad.

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK
It has been said before, but needs to be reiterated, that when asking others, specifically liberals, not to be hostile to the religious right, what Amy and other such liberal pundits actually mean is that the left should roll over and play dead, and let the religious zealots impose the evangelist Sharia law in the United States.

Where, precisely, has Amy Sullivan ever suggested that the liberals should not be hostile to the religious right?

I've seen her argue that the left should not appear as hostile to religion; and I've seen her specifically suggest appealing to those views held by some evangelicals that are arguably liberal.

I've never seen her specifically argue for less hostility toward the political right, whether its religious or secular members.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

"The wall protects religious institutions from the power of the state, and protects society from the harms of entangling religious institutions with the power of the state."

I think that you touching upon something very important: *power*. Separating church and state protects religious institutions from the power of the state, but also protects the state from the power of religious institutions.

To put it another way, separating church and state is like separating the branches of government: it's dividing power into various branches and spheres of authority to prevent too much power, and too many kinds of power (religious & secular, executive & judicial) into too few hands. Limiting how much power any one person or group could have was obviously and undeniably a very important concern of the Founders.

Enforcing religious dogmas by the laws combines the powers of religion with the powers of the state. It gives political power to religious authorities who can now influence the boundaries of legal behavior. It gives religious power to civil authorities who now can influence the boundaries of religious dogmas, not to mention promote one religion's dogmas over all others.

The impulse to concentrate religious and secular power into fewer hands is not unlike the impulse to concentrate legislative, judicial, and executive power into fewer hands. Is it really a surprise that these impulses keep coming from the same people?

For these reasons, I find it helpful to describe the separation of church and state as the separation of religious and political authority. If someone is trying to invest political institutions with authority over something that is obviously religious (like where, when, or how to pray), it's wrong. If someone is trying to invest religious institutions with authority over something that is obviously political/civil (like zoning decisions), it's wrong.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK
You guys are arguing in a vacuum. It doesn't MATTER what strategy or message liberals use to try to appeal to independnt religious folk. Conservative religious people are going to outnumber, and hence, outvote, liberal secularists anyway.

Well, at least, they would if spreading genes was the same thing as spreading memes; despite the (invalid, of course) attempt to argue from two-stage correlations, the "religious people are having more children, so the religious will dominate" argument doesn't work -- the number of religious is shrinking, the number of secularists growing, despite the religious having more children.

Similarly, there is little to tie the timing or pace of the conservative surge in America to a population explosion a generation back among right-wing parents.

But its one of those arguments to inevitability that, though largely empty-headed, is attractive both to the triumphalists among the camp it claims is fated to win because of it, and to the doom-and-gloomers among the other camp, so its got quite a few people who will willingly overlook its giant gaping logic holes to proclaim it inevitable.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Conservative religious people are going to outnumber, and hence, outvote, liberal secularists anyway."

Because as everyone knows, birth is always destiny: conservative parents always raise all conservative kids and liberal parents always raise all liberal kids. Doesn't everyone know this?

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

"But even the Amendment doesn't say that the government is mandated to be completely secular, just that it cannot endorse one religion over another (ie, no United Church of American Colonies.)"

Really? So how religious may the government be, and still be consistent with the First Amendment? Just a teeny bit religious? Moderately religious? Very religious? Where do you draw the line, and on what basis?

Also, how can the government be religious at all without favoring one religion over another? Even just, say, endorsing the idea of God would constitute endorsement of theistic religions over non-theistic ones. What does it mean to be religious in a way that is neutral with respect to all actual religions?

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK
I think that you touching upon something very important: *power*. Separating church and state protects religious institutions from the power of the state, but also protects the state from the power of religious institutions.

I don't think the First Amendment is to protect the state from anything; I do think it exists to protect society from the harms of entangling religious authority with the state, but that's not the same thing.

The bill of rights was designed to protect the people, individually and in their collective associations, from the power of government, not the other way around.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't think the First Amendment is to protect the state from anything; I do think it exists to protect society from the harms of entangling religious authority with the state, but that's not the same thing."

The state is the means by which the people in society govern themselves; as such, the state does need to be protected from improper combination with other sorts of power - like religion. I think that the 1st Amendment does indeed protect this mechanism of self-government from religious power.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely & Austin, you should've read the linked article. Your comments are anticipated. In the interest of making my remarks brief, I didn't address it. But since you ask:

"Why couldn't tomorrow's Americans and Europeans, even if they are disproportionately raised in patriarchal, religiously minded households, turn out to be another generation of '68? The key difference is that during the post-World War II era, nearly all segments of society married and had children. Some had more than others, but there was much more conformity in family size between the religious and the secular. Meanwhile, thanks mostly to improvements in social conditions, there is no longer much difference in survival rates for children born into large families and those who have few if any siblings.

Tomorrow's children, therefore, unlike members of the postwar baby boom generation, will be for the most part descendants of a comparatively narrow and culturally conservative segment of society. To be sure, some members of the rising generation may reject their parents' values, as often happens. But when they look for fellow secularists with whom to make common cause, they will find that most of their would-be fellow travelers were quite literally never born."

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among progressive secularists. As a consequence, an increasing share of all children born into the world are descended from a share of the population whose conservative values have led them to raise large families.

Sydney, were you born a dumb ass who can't read or did you not study?

While this may be true. The fact of the matter is most American are not all that religious (very few of us attend church regularly, and most of us not at all), and those people with "conservative values" comprise a small minority of Americans. The "statistics" of the survey don't even fit Sydney's conclusion.

47% of people who attend church weekly say their ideal family size is three or more children. By contrast, 27% of those who seldom attend church want that many kids....

Therefore, not even the majority of the small number of Americans who attend church regularly believe in "large families."

So, even if these sages are looking a five or six generations into the future, their conclusions are questionable. And we all know that no one should be in the predicting-the-future-business much beyond what the weather will be like for the weekend.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 16, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm sorry but I'm not sorry."

And round and round we go....

Posted by: Diamond Joe Quimby on March 16, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK
cmdicely & Austin, you should've read the linked article. Your comments are anticipated. In the interest of making my remarks brief, I didn't address it.

The argument presented there relies on fallaciously attempting to jump through two-stage of loose, unquantified correlation: parents values have some correlation, on average, to childrens values, and parents values, on average, have some correlation to whether and how many children they have -- to conclude that relative fertility among different ideologies will be decisive across generations.

This conclusion is invalid. Its certainly not something that it is entirely inappropriate to speculate might be the case, but to argue as some kind of well-supported or, even worse, inevitable conclusion is laughable.

Spreading genes isn't the same thing as spreading memes.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Sydney Carton

Your argument is horsepucky. Human beings are not automatons that mindlessly inherit the beliefs and politics of their parents. Parental influence is obviously a factor in shaping a person's views, but it's just one factor. If people reliably grew up to inherit their parents beliefs, then the social conservatism of the 1950s would have been preserved to the present day. It hasn't.

Posted by: e1 on March 16, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals should use religion to demonstrate their convervative opponents are unrepentant sinners who do not represent American values.

Ms. Sullivan should advocate this type of political use of religion by Democrats rather than advocating Democrats use religion to reach out to conservative unrepentant sinners who use religion to impose their authoritarian beliefs.

Posted by: Hostile on March 16, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Quote "I think it's important to understand that neither Bush nor Brownback have a sincere desire to turn America into a theocracy; anyone who thinks those guys are sincere and devout Christians doesn't have a clue about what the big game is. The economic elites are running the show, and they need the fundies and the gun nuts and the abortion zealots and the flat-earthers to come under the big GOP tent and provide enough money and voting horsepower to advance the agenda of the rich and powerful. The Republican party is religion-friendly only to the extent that it helps them to maintain entrenched economic power.

Posted by: islander on March 16, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK "

**********************************************
I think islander's post is the most intelligent assessment of how our political process has been manipulated to bribe us with our own money and values to gain and maintain power I have ever heard. I agree the economic interest are buying our votes with divide and concur politics and they are reaping the economic rewards accordingly. What a wonderfully effective way to stack a deck.

Posted by: dave on March 16, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

"cmdicely & Austin, you should've read the linked article."

I did, long before you posted it. My comments were not anticipated by your cut&paste response; I question whether you understood my comments.
mostly to improvements in social conditions, there is no longer much difference in survival rates for children born into large families and those who have few if any siblings.

"To be sure, some members of the rising generation may reject their parents' values, as often happens. But when they look for fellow secularists with whom to make common cause..."

They will find each other - people who, as the quoted text admits, have rejected their parents' values. They will be progressives and liberals, born in more conservative homes. Happens all the time - just like people born in liberal homes grow up to be conservative.

The conclusion of the article relies upon the assumption that children born in conservative homes will grow up to be predominantly conservative themselves and children born in liberal homes will grow up to be predominantly liberal themselves. Cmdicely puts it correctly in describing it as an assumed correlation between parents' politics and children's politics.

The article doesn't demonstrate that such a correlation exists, though. Maybe it does and I'm just not aware of it - but since that correlation is necessary to make this argument in the first place, the absence of even an attempt to provide the relevant data indicates that either the authors don't understand what they are talking about or are deliberately trying to mislead readers.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Amy Sullivan said:
"I'm thinking of the charge that Bush is trying to turn the country into a theocracy (see: Kevin Phillips, Bill Moyers, and other very smart people)--it can have the effect of sounding anti-religion when that's not what I think it is. There are a lot of reasons to criticize George W. Bush, many of them related to his use and mis-use of religion. But theocracy isn't one of them."

Why do you think that Bush isn't trying to turn the country into a theocracy? What evidence do you have for your opinion?

Posted by: David on March 16, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Amy:
To quote you: "...fuck you, little girl...." Well said.

Posted by: coldH2O on March 16, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Of course humans aren't automatons that mindlessly inherit the beliefs of their parents. But parents influence children more than anyone else, and it's no mistake that political beliefs of parents strongly correlate with political beliefs of their children. I suppose I should say the obvious: children will not be genetically pre-disposed to conservative values, obviously. But the fact that there will be more children under the influence of conservatives means that those children will adopt their parents values. Doesn't that give ANY of you pause?

The USA today article is a shorter excerpt from a longer article written in Foreign Policy magazine, linked here: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3376&page=0

You should read the article before criticizing any further. This is a worldwide thing, not something limited to America (although, in Europe, the "conservative" people are Muslims, who are out-breeding Europeans in droves).

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

cm dicely probably knows this, but the "separation of Church and State is not actually in the Constitution" argument is not really an argument, but sort of a bizarre code-meme which is really popular in some quarters.

Sort of like the "Left Behind" series.

I don't know what their alternative reading of the establishment clause is, but its right along side the crowd who argue that the Federal income tax is unconstitutional because of some sort of technical problem with the ratification of the 16th amendment.

In any event its not worth your while.

Posted by: hank on March 16, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

The grounds on which the government collects and spends tax dollars are the grounds the voters give it.

The grounds the voters give it is that they elect representatives to do the job of governance for them. It does not necessarily follow that the representatives agree with all, some, or none of the voter's motivations for voting, that they act to implement those motivations or, of course, that those individuals even constitute a majority contituency.

If those grounds are the voters' religious beliefs, then the law is an imposition of those religious beliefs.

That's a big "if," of course. Again, the fact that some voters may approve of, say, welfare laws according to their religious beliefs is not at all equivalent to the government enacting those beliefs into legislation. Welfare laws, just to take one example, are justified on entirely non-religious grounds, and it is under those grounds that the laws are enacted. Other laws (prohibitions against gays adopting, for example), of course, not necessarily so much.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Austin: "The article doesn't demonstrate that such a correlation exists, though. Maybe it does and I'm just not aware of it - but since that correlation is necessary to make this argument in the first place..."

I see. Well, take PolySci 101. The political attitudes of one's parents is strongly correlated to the political attitudes of children. This is so basic it's practically assumed. Whether the correlation is Nature or Nurture is another debate entirely. (this article says it's genetic: http://www.explore.rice.edu/explore/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=7165&SnID=4900828 ) I don't think it's genetic, I think it's based on social conditioning. But anyway, there's no question that the correlation exists.

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

"You should read the article before criticizing any further."

Don't be so arrogant as to assume that those who disagree with you haven't read it. The criticism remains and I'll repeat it once again: the conclusions of the article require a strong correlation between the beliefs of the parents and the beliefs of the children - a correlation strong enough to ensure that one group can "out breed" the other.

"But the fact that there will be more children under the influence of conservatives means that those children will adopt their parents values."

Will they? Do they always, or at least most of the time? Do you have EVIDENCE of this, or are you just guessing?

Now, such a correlation *may* exist - but it's *not* discussed in the article. The only thing discussed is the larger birth rate of one group, and that's only one piece of what is needed for their conclusions to be correct.

The absence of any discussion of the correlation completely undermines the author's point. If he doesn't realize that he needs this data to make his point, then he's a bad researcher. If he does know but chose not to deal with it, then he's not a trustworthy researcher. Under no circumstances is the truth of this correlation something that one can simply assume without study or evidence.

You've responded twice now to people disagreeing with you and in neither of your responses have you tried to address this point; instead, you've just accused those who disagree of not having read the original article. Please, don't make that mistake a third time.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

"The political attitudes of one's parents is strongly correlated to the political attitudes of children."

How strongly? What's your data? What are differences between income, religion, birth order, and nationality? What about changes in political views over one' life, how is that factored in?

"But anyway, there's no question that the correlation exists."

It would be implausible if *no* correlation existed. Of course we shouldn't question the existence of some sort of correlation. What's needed is a correlation that is *strong enough*.

If liberal couples all have one kid who is always liberal and conservative couples all have three kids, only two of which are always conservative, the numbers balance out perfectly. That's still an awfully strong correlation, but it's not strong enough to justify the conclusions of the article in question.

So: how strong is the correlation, and is it strong enough to lead to the conclusion you are arguing for? If you don't have the data for this, then you don't have an argument - you just have an assertion.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Sydney Carton,

I think there most likely is a correlation between the social and political beliefs of parents and children, but I also think the correlation is most likely a fairly weak one. Other members of the community in which a person grows up--teachers, friends, other family members, etc.--also help shape a person's beliefs, as do other environmental influences. In any case, the parent-child correlation is an empirical question, and you have offered no evidence to establish how strong it is.

But as I said, the fact that society has liberalized dramatically on a range of social issues, especially those relating to sex, marriage, reproduction and family life, over the past 50 years or so gives the lie to your argument. If conservatives are out-reproducing liberals, it means at most that conservatives have the upper hand in parental influence, but other and larger forces that shape people's views are clearly also at work, and those forces tend to make people more socially liberal.

Posted by: e1 on March 16, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

You're not listening. If you, or any other liberal voter, votes for a law (either directly via a ballot proposition or indirectly through an elected representative) for a religious reason ("I support more welfare because Jesus says we should help the poor"), then you are trying to impose your religion on other people just as surely as a fundamentalist who votes to ban sodomy because the Bible forbids it is trying to impose his religion on other people. You're two sides of the same coin. You should both keep your Bibles out of the ballot box.

Posted by: Frink on March 16, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK
cm dicely probably knows this, but the "separation of Church and State is not actually in the Constitution" argument is not really an argument, but sort of a bizarre code-meme which is really popular in some quarters.

I try to assume when I run into individuals making that argument that they are making it seriously, either because they've been taking in by the code talkers mistaking them for serious arguers, or for some other reasons (like, perhaps, they just read the Constitution for the first time, realized the words weren't there, and haven't seriously thought about what the words -- both those in the Constitution and those used to describe it -- mean.)

But, yeah, I realize its just code for "ignore the establishment clause, and apply the free exercise clause only with regard to Christianity" most of the time.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

I've decided Amy has the right question, but the wrong answer. Liberals need to be more hostile to religion. In particular their hostility needs to be more precisely targeted.

Liberals (Kerry for instance) are seen as weak and vacillating. Who knew what Kerry really stood for, other than getting elected and I'm not that other guy. They need to overcome this by pointing out precisely what they believe and confronting exactly what their opponents do believe.

Here are two talking points for the last election:

"I believe that the Reverends Robertson and Falwell's images of God are morally repugnant. I don't want the votes of bigots, so I am not going to trim my message to appeal to them."

"I believe that it is possible for people of all faiths to enter heaven and I would like to know whether President Bush believes that it is possible for a Catholic, or a Mormon, to enter heaven."

And here are two for today:

"I believe that if Muslim can not accept their fellow citizens publishing cartoons depicting their Prophet without violence, then they are not prepared to be Unitied States citizens."

"The genius of our founding fathers was to establish the rule of law over all citizens, including the President."

Stand for something besides getting elected. Maybe you will offend some people, including perhaps the religious, and you will lose some votes because of it. Who cares. It is your right and your duty to stand by your values.

There is no philosophical difference between morally objecting to the religion of bin Laden and objecting to the religion of Pat Robertson. They are just different in degree.

Posted by: Ray on March 16, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

"cm dicely probably knows this, but the "separation of Church and State is not actually in the Constitution" argument is not really an argument, but sort of a bizarre code-meme which is really popular in some quarters."

Much like the "abortion isn't in the Constitution" code-meme.

Posted by: sushi lover on March 16, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's important to understand that neither Bush nor Brownback have a sincere desire to turn America into a theocracy; anyone who thinks those guys are sincere and devout Christians doesn't have a clue about what the big game is. The economic elites are running the show, and they need the fundies and the gun nuts and the abortion zealots and the flat-earthers to come under the big GOP tent and provide enough money and voting horsepower to advance the agenda of the rich and powerful. The Republican party is religion-friendly only to the extent that it helps them to maintain entrenched economic power.

Posted by: islander on March 16, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

To a great degree, I agree with you. With this addendum:

The Republican party is religion-friendly to all of the religious right's agenda because the elites like Bush and Brownback don't have to live by the laws that they have wrought upon the rest of us.

The Bush twins will always be able to get abortions. Cheney's lesbian daughter can partner with whomever she wants, for life, and not need to depend on the economic benefits that come with government-sanctioned marriages in our country. She will always be able to have children, biologically or adopted, because with money go the opportunities.

I do think that Bush's religiosity is a scam. I think politics and the lives of our leaders, at that level, is completely staged. Once politicians get to Washington, their lives become artificial, entwined with D.C. life, culture and other politicians' lives. They all go to the same churches, they all eat at the same restaurants, they all share a similar lifestyle that revolves around the political game.

Once they go Washington, even if they get voted out of office, they rarely move back to their home district. From what I've seen, it's only the honest ones who go home. The rest of them live in D.C. and look for work in some political capacity. Law firms, public relations, as lobbyists. It's a sick culture.

But what Amy speaks about this subject, religion and democrats, she sounds defensive about her faith. Your faith is your faith, whether you believe that there is a Frog God or one that looks like George Burns. Amy's religiosity has no effect on my atheism, and I don't care to convert Amy or anybody else to my beliefs. She's free to believe anything she wants.

What the Constitution makes clear is that when it comes to "things governmental", religion has no place. Makes sense to me. I think liberals have been more than accommodating to Christians when it came to the public/government square in the past, and it's now biting our asses. You give these fanatics an inch and they never stop until there is no more separation between church and state. Christmas decorations. A Christmas tree on public property. Never should have happened. But those of us with less foresight, with less backbone, said "What can it hurt? It's pretty, the kids like it."

That's how we got here.

If American voters think that Democrats are hostile to religion, those voters are ignorant and in need of education. If those voters believe that religion should be paid for and supported by the American taxpayer, promoted in public schools and government buildings, those voters need education desperately! Even if it's a majority of Americans who believe it, the Constitution exists to protect the minority in such instances.

Why is that so difficult for Amy and the religious right to understand?

Some put forth the false idea that the U.S. was founded on Christianity. Not only isn't it true, it is almost impossible to shake people of the notion.

Face it, the average American voter is not all that bright, not well educated, and it's getting worse every Republican majority year.

Posted by: Jack on March 16, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Austin,

If you're more interested, I suggest reading "Generations and Politics," published by Princeton University Press. (amazon link here: The data is volumnous: it's over 428 pages, with numerous charts and demographic data. It is perhaps the most famous multi-generational long-term study of political attitudes. Most of your questions about factors like income, nationality, religion, siblings, etc, are addressed therein. In fact, the data is so large that for me to address it here would insult the study itself.

I studied the book when I was in college. Excerpts of it are standard fare for most political science majors.

It would be impossible for anyone to say that children's attitides correlate to their parents by X%. But the data showing the relationship is very strong.

Whether there are other forces that can counteract this influence remain to be seen. But those forces, inasmuch as they are represented by liberal people, are dwindling. So unless there is some unforeseen "force" out there directing people towards liberalsm (a liberal God, perhaps), then the future will be claimed by those who inhabit it: conservatives.

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

for some reason, the amazon link was dropped from my prior post:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0691022011/104-0841951-1459908?v=glance&n=283155

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

"It would be impossible for anyone to say that children's attitides correlate to their parents by X%. But the data showing the relationship is very strong."

OK, it's very strong. But is it strong *enough* to support the article's conclusions? My very simplistic example showed a very strong correlation that isn't strong enough, so obviously we can have "strong" that isn't "strong enough."

Unless that can be demonstrated, the conclusion is just an assertion unsupported by hard data. The fact that the author didn't even try to bring this data into his argument undermines his credibility. It's an obvious question that he should have seen coming and accounted for.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK
The USA today article is a shorter excerpt from a longer article written in Foreign Policy magazine, linked here: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3376&page=0

The longer article is even a more ludicrous example of asserting correlations without citing evidence, drawing invalid conclusions from multiple stages of correlation.

It doesn't really add anything to support what is in the USA Today excerpt, its just adds a lot more of the same kind of speculation presented as certain fact.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK
It would be impossible for anyone to say that children's attitides correlate to their parents by X%.

Whether or not that data actually exists is not the issue.

What is the issue is that the conclusions being offered are invalid as anything more than speculation without data on how much of the variation in children's views is explained by their parent's views, and fairly strong explanations of the rest of variation in children's attitudes. Without that you can't make valid conclusions relying on two-stage correlations, e.g., you can't claim that since (a) parental values correlate with number of children, and (b) parental values also correlate with children's values, and (c) more conservatives are having children, then it is clear that (d) the next generation will be more conservative.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

"But is it strong *enough* to support the article's conclusions?"

That requires your own judgment, and the future will show who is right. It doesn't help, though, that Mormons are out-breeding liberals at a rate of nearly 2:1, for example. I have difficulty believing that NONE of that troubles anyone here. But as I said, we'll see who's right.

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Renate,

You say "I don't want to live by your norms, I don't demand you to live by mine." That sounds reasonable.

As an example you use state funding of birth control. You are asking the government to require people to fund birth control even when that is in opposition to their "norms".

No one is asking that birth control be made illegal. Those whose "norms" include birth control (like me) are free to choose. You want the state to require people to fund something they view as immoral purely because it fits within the definition of your "norms". That is, very specifically, demanding that everyone accept your "norms".

You find many Christians hateful then cite Cal Thomas as an example. A political commentator whose views you disagree with is described as hateful? I obviously don't share your political views but I am open to listen differing views without branding them "hateful". You should try it, maybe a lot people aren't as horrible as you think. Maybe they just disagree with you.

Posted by: pepster on March 16, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

"That requires your own judgment, and the future will show who is right."

No, it requires data. Maybe the data supports the conclusions you are pushing, maybe it doesn't. Consider the value of only believing and promoting claims for which there is clear data to back them up.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

"You want the state to require people to fund something they view as immoral purely because it fits within the definition of your "norms". That is, very specifically, demanding that everyone accept your "norms"."

No, it's not. Everyone can find something in government budgets they don't agree with. Pacifists pay taxes that fund the military, but this doesn't require that they accept non-pacifists norms as their own. Racists pay taxes that fund desegregation and the education of blacks, but this doesn't require that they personally accept the equality of blacks as a norm of their own.

People who don't believe in contraception pay taxes that might be used to fund contraceptives for others, but this doesn't mean that they must accept contraception as a "norm" for themselves.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Whether there are other forces that can counteract this influence remain to be seen."

No, we know there are other forces that can counteract parental influence. If there weren't, everyone would grow up to hold the same views as his parents. People born in the 1950s would have grown up to hold the same views as their parents on homosexuality, abortion, divorce, pre-marital sex, race and so on. Obviously, that didn't happen. Overall, society has clearly become more liberal on those issues. Even the "conservative" position today on, say, homosexuality is much more liberal, much more tolerant, much more accepting, than the "conservative" position of the 1950s--a time when homosexuality really was the "love that dare not speak its name."

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Democrat = Liberal = Leftist = Atheist = person who looks down their nose at Religious parishioners.

Whats so hard to figure out?
This is the math most people are doing.
Have I left something out?

Posted by: Fitz on March 16, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz:

Yes.

You forgot = heretic = should be shunned by all right-thinking Christians = should be flogged in the public square.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 16, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

"I've decided Amy has the right question, but the wrong answer. Liberals need to be more hostile to religion."

I think that as long as religious people keep their superstitions private, we should basically just ignore it. But if they start up with the God-and-Jesus talk in a public forum, especially a political one, they're fair game and we should let them have it. Pat Robertson is fair game. Joe Lieberman is fair game.

Posted by: Radice on March 16, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

I've been a blogger long enough to know that most of the leftblogosphere is perfectly tolerant of religion and supportive of politicians like President Carter who embrace a true Christian faith. But there always seems to be a couple of commenters who - apparently God didn't hug them enough when they were children - seem to have a reflexive pathological desire to push their atheism on the rest of us.

Posted by: Jim D on March 16, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

What's a "true Christian" faith? I'm sure that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and even Billy Graham would claim that theirs is the "true" faith. But why is that any part of the national dialogue? Why isn't that debate relegated to the church grounds and religious communities of the faithful? Why has it spilled over onto the general political landscape of our country?

Because political opportunists, conservatives, who couldn't win a majority for their way of thinking, infiltrated the churches for their voting block. It's no secret.

Church-goers who weren't inclined to vote were targeted by conservative organizations. These aren't generally well-educated, informed, and civic-minded people in the first place. I'm not talking about all church-goers. I'm talking about a particular faction of the religious community that is attracted to authoritarian, punitive and rigid dogma. "God fearing" Christians, as opposed to "God loving" Christians. Who lack communication and negotiating skills necessary to get along in a world where there is much diversity and disparity. Those who are used to "trusting authority," when there's been no proof that "authority" can be trusted.

I am an atheist. That's probably the 3rd time in my 61 years that I've said it. I don't care what other people believe, except when it has a direct impact and influence on laws that affect me and my family and friends.

Nothing that I do or support as a liberal prevents Christian fundamentalists from living their lives as they choose.

If they don't want to have abortions, they don't have to.

If the gay among them don't want to marry another gay person of the same gender, they don't have to.

If they don't want medical treatments developed from the use of stem cells, they are free to reject them.

If they want to pray anywhere, anytime, no liberal that I know has any objection. What they do not get to have, however, is the state sanctioning and promoting their religious beliefs. Having the government employees, teachers and administration, leading students in prayer is the problem.

We have a President who is big on the "trust me" talk, and who classifies everything in his administration and the other administrations previous to this one. He doesn't trust anybody! This is a man with a lousy past record of being unable to run his own life, and Christian fundies gave him the keys to the world.

Without being straight with us, this President told us lies and drove us into a war with a country that had no connection to 9/11. At breakneck speed. Any who questioned this administration's intentions and plans for war were branded as "traitors" and "unpatriotic." To be shunned, mocked and ignored.

Americans are getting killed in Iraq because they "trusted" this President. Americans are going broke, for generations to come, because they "trusted" this President. Safety nets for Americans, retirement, health care, homes, all being destroyed, because they "trusted" this President. This President, whom we have because of a faction of Christian church-goers who "trusted" that they knew enough to "trust" this man and the Republican Party.

Pardon me if I want Christian bloc voters out of the public square, as well as the craven opportunistic power-mad political hacks like Karl Rove and Ralph Reed who prey upon them.

Do you understand the situation any better?

Posted by: rick on March 16, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

"I believe that if Muslim can not accept their fellow citizens publishing cartoons depicting their Prophet without violence, then they are not prepared to be Unitied States citizens."

This is Islamophobic bigotry! Islam is a religion of peace, and anyone who says otherwise should be killed! Islam is a religion of tolerance, but anyone who slanders the Prophet(pbuh) must be decapitated! Sharia is a law higher than your mere manmade Constitution, and it is here to dominate, not be dominated!

Peace be unto all of you, except the dirty Jews who are descended from apes and pigs and must be exterminated as a part of any Peace process in the Middle East! Allah be praised, Hamas has won!

Posted by: Mullah Moola on March 16, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Austin,

As I said, there is data out there that plainly shows a correlation between children's political attitudes and their parents. Whether YOU think it's strong enough is another story entirely. Some people may never be satisfied. I think, IMHO, the data bears it out, having looked at it myself.

In any event, why not just cut to the chase: please tell me if the fact that Mormons are out-breeding liberals does or does not trouble you.

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK
Why has it spilled over onto the general political landscape of our country?

It hasn't "spilled over"; its always been a part of the debate because the understanding of moral right and wrong, which is intimately tied up with religion for a large portion of the population, and always has been, is the underpinning of all policy debate.

As long as there is a substantial religious population, it will be part of the political debate.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

"What's a "true Christian" faith?"

That's easy. Christians who agree with his "interpretation" of the Bible (like Jimmy Carter) are true Christians, and the rest (like Pat Robertson) are false ones.

We know this because Jim D has a direct line to God, who has assured him his interpretation is the correct one.

Posted by: Avatar on March 16, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

""The genius of our founding fathers was to establish the rule of law over all citizens, including the President."

It would have been nice if you guys could have applied that to your boy Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Dead Davidian on March 16, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Although I do personally feel that anyone who thinks there is a big, invisible Daddy in the Sky looking down on them and moving His Invisible Hand to give them a victory in the Big Game IS INDEED a fool, to say "I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize some politicians--particularly conservative politicians--on the basis of their religious views" reveals a different kind of mushy thinking.

I don't criticize people based on their views, I criticize them based on their actions. Appointing Supreme Court Justices. Banning stem-cell research. Cutting family planning funds. Putting so-called "intelligent" design into public schoolbooks. And on and on ad nauseum.

Believe what you want to. Just don't push it onto me, gosh darn it.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 16, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: craigie on March 16, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK
As I said, there is data out there that plainly shows a correlation between children's political attitudes and their parents. Whether YOU think it's strong enough is another story entirely.

Its not even just a matter of its strength; when its used in conjunction with another correlation to suggest a conclusion, you have to also have an idea what effects determine the rest of the variation that the first correlation explains part of. Because they could quite easily be opposed by something relevant to, and thus invalidating the conjunction with, the second correlation.

Mostly, that's why a multi-correlation leap is a basis for a speculative hypothesis to be tested directly, not any kind of firm conclusion; usually, you can't explain enough of the variation in each correlation to rule out the possibility that the conjunction is invalid.

(A usually implies B) and (B usually implies C) does not imply (A usually implies C).

In any event, why not just cut to the chase: please tell me if the fact that Mormons are out-breeding liberals does or does not trouble you.

No.

First, because its possible to be liberal and Mormon, even if rare -- the two are not fundamentally opposed groups.

Second, because the share of the population that is Mormon is pretty flat at around 1.4%, despite the rapid breeding, which suggests Mormonism doesn't "stick" all that well. So, even if it was worrisome, all that more-rapid-than-average-breeding isn't translating into more-rapid-than-average-growth. Because, again, spreading genes isn't the same thing as spreading memes.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Austin Cline:

You say,

"No, it's not. Everyone can find something in government budgets they don't agree with. Pacifists pay taxes that fund the military, but this doesn't require that they accept non-pacifists norms as their own. Racists pay taxes that fund desegregation and the education of blacks, but this doesn't require that they personally accept the equality of blacks as a norm of their own."

The constitution specifically requires the government to fund a military. The constitution also specifically states all citizens require equal protection under the law. Because of this all citizens are required to pay taxes even if they disagree with the use of military force for example. They are also free to elect pacifist politicians if there are enough like minded voters.

Passing a law that specifically forbids state funding of birth control in no way forces beliefs on someone. The Supreme Court has upheld this concept when it comes to abortion. Are you suggesting there is a contstitutional right to state funded birth control?

Renate makes the argument that the fact that people are bringing this to a vote is wrong. I disagree, people should be free to vote. To argue that this is not an issue to be voted on is, in fact, an argument for forcing ones "norms" upon others by taking away their ability to express their views in the most American way possible, by voting.

Posted by: pepster on March 16, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

"It hasn't "spilled over"; its always been a part of the debate because the understanding of moral right and wrong, which is intimately tied up with religion for a large portion of the population, and always has been, is the underpinning of all policy debate. As long as there is a substantial religious population, it will be part of the political debate."

Unfortunately, yes.

In Europe, where the understanding of right and wrong is far less intimately tied to religion, public debate and policy on issues like abortion and homosexuality tends to be much more civil, rational and humane.

Posted by: Avatar on March 16, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

"As I said, there is data out there that plainly shows a correlation between children's political attitudes and their parents."

As I said, that has never been disputed.

"Whether YOU think it's strong enough is another story entirely. ... I think, IMHO, the data bears it out, having looked at it myself."

Whether I "think" it's strong enough is immaterial. Either there is hard data that demonstrates this or there isn't. Which is the case? If you think that the data indicates that the correlation is strong enough, provide it. Back up your claim or stop pretending that it's been proven true.

When relevant data exists, and you can't or won't present the data that would support your claims, then you quite simply have nothing to offer to the discussion.

"In any event, why not just cut to the chase: please tell me if the fact that Mormons are out-breeding liberals does or does not trouble you."

That's not "the chase," it's a change in topic. The topic is your claim that, in effect, conservatives will out-breed liberals. You haven't presented all the data necessary to support this conclusion, but you havent stopped making it. That is intellectually dishonest.

To answer the question though: it's not something I think about because there is no evidence that, over the long term, the growth rate of Mormons will pose any political problems. Like CM said, the Mormon percentage of the population is relatively flat. Why would that trouble me?

Try something new and provide some hard data on something worth worrying about and I'll tell you if I'm worried. Don't waste my time with unsupported speculations.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Renate,
You say "I don't want to live by your norms, I don't demand you to live by mine." That sounds reasonable.
As an example you use state funding of birth control. You are asking the government to require people to fund birth control even when that is in opposition to their "norms".
No one is asking that birth control be made illegal. Those whose "norms" include birth control (like me) are free to choose. You want the state to require people to fund something they view as immoral purely because it fits within the definition of your "norms". That is, very specifically, demanding that everyone accept your "norms".

Posted by: pepster on March 16, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

How is the government funding birth control? I only wish it were so that the government funded, dispensed and educated people on birth control on every street corner of this country.

A secular government's role is to identify solutions to problems that face the continued well-being of the people. Planned and wanted parenthood has been the greatest, GREATEST factor of a person's success and quality of life, bar none. It really does all begin there. Unwanted and unplanned pregnancies have an impact on the nation in many areas.

If your religious beliefs prevent you from taking advantage of the available science and products, you are free to decline. But how do you figure that you can impose your shortsightedness on the rest of us.

In an instance like this, I do believe that religion blinds its' followers and keeps them ignorant of the facts of governance of large societies. I'd advise such people to take their heads out of the sand, take a look at Google Earth sometime and look at the number of people we have living in close proximity to each other, competing for dwindling resources. I defy the most devout among them to explain how God didn't provide these abilities to control our own destinies with knowledge and understanding of science.

Posted by: Merry Widow on March 16, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

lib:

Sorry to disappoint you, but I was being sarcastic.

Thanks anyway.

Posted by: Lucy on March 16, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

In any event, why not just cut to the chase: please tell me if the fact that Mormons are out-breeding liberals does or does not trouble you.

No.

First, because its possible to be liberal and Mormon, even if rare -- the two are not fundamentally opposed groups.

Second, because the share of the population that is Mormon is pretty flat at around 1.4%, despite the rapid breeding, which suggests Mormonism doesn't "stick" all that well. So, even if it was worrisome, all that more-rapid-than-average-breeding isn't translating into more-rapid-than-average-growth. Because, again, spreading genes isn't the same thing as spreading memes. Posted by: cmdicely

As I posted in one of the countless religion threads yesterday or the day before, the Mormons won't even be the majority in Utah in a couple of decades, and the church is actually in decline. Fewer children = fewer missions. Furthermore, their "success rate" abroad has been abysmal.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 16, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Amy Sullivan:It's not mouthing RNC talking points to say that Democrats are at a disadvantage when it comes to how voters perceive their approach to religion.

Tim B.: You must mean voters like yourself.

No, Tim B., she means millions of evangelical and Catholic voters we need to stop voting Republican if we are to turn the country around. We shouldn't compromise our principles, say on reproductive or gay rights or church-state separation, to win them over; that is hard enough without people on our side who seem to think that atheist advocacy is indispensable to progressive politics. The demagogic wedge issues that the Right has used to manipulate religious voters and divide them from other poor, working, and middle class people will go on working for GOP, strong as ever, so long as those voters can picture liberals as hostile to their religion and associate the left with disdain for their identity. If our bold. free-thinking infidels are fired with missionary zeal and can't help but try to save religious people from their "superstitions," they should take their liberal-progressive hats off first.

Posted by: Dabodius on March 16, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Passing a law that specifically forbids state funding of birth control in no way forces beliefs on someone."

Depends upon why the law is passed. I'm not aware of any secular arguments for it, are you?

"Are you suggesting there is a contstitutional right to state funded birth control?"

As much as there is a right to any other state funded medical care. As you say, the Constitution requires equal protection of the laws and singling out an aspect of women's health care for defunding arguably violates this.

Oh, you do realize don't you that not everyone uses contraceptives in order to avoid pregnancy? Someone women really need oral contraceptives in order to regulate their hormones. Others can't be allowed to take certain medications (like accutane) unless they are on contraceptives. For these women, if no others, banning the funding of contraceptives is a ban on basic, necessary medical care. If the state funds medical care for men, but makes it impossible for women to receive the same or equivalent medical care, the equal protection requirement is violated.

"To argue that this is not an issue to be voted on is, in fact, an argument for forcing ones "norms" upon others by taking away their ability to express their views in the most American way possible, by voting."

This assumes that every issue should be one which people can vote on, but our system specifically takes the ability to run simple majority votes on some issues away from people. If people can't vote to take rights away from blacks, this doesn't mean that a "norm" of racial equality is being forced on them. If people can't vote to eliminate only funding for contraception, and not medical care generally, this doesn't force a pro-contraception "norm" on them.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

"that is hard enough without people on our side who seem to think that atheist advocacy is indispensable to progressive politics."

What atheist advocacy? I haven't seen the Democratic Party *ever* advocate for atheists in the political sphere.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

"How is the government funding birth control?"

In many or most states, low income women can get state-funded access to basic birth control. This is being widely challenged and de-funded, though, as evangelicals begin to attack contraception just as they have attacked abortion in the past. Their goal is to eliminate both, if possible.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK


"In Europe, where the understanding of right and wrong is far less intimately tied to religion, public debate and policy on issues like abortion and homosexuality tends to be much more civil, rational and humane."

In Europe, the understanding of right and wrong is increasingly tied directly to the Koran. Public debate and policy on issues like abortion and homosexuality will change rather dramatically over the next 20 years or so, thanks to demographic changes in the population. Don't believe me? Ask Theo van Gogh.

Posted by: Dem O. Graphics on March 16, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

"that is hard enough without people on our side who seem to think that atheist advocacy is indispensable to progressive politics"

Any such people that may exist are drowned out by the chorus of people who seem to think that their Christianity is indispenable to their progressive politics, and who won't shut up about it. As long as those people keep promoting their superstitions (yes, superstitions) in the political arena, they can expect to be criticized for it.

Posted by: Frink on March 16, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

"If you think that the data indicates that the correlation is strong enough, provide it."

I'd love to, but posting nearly 400+ pages of long-term generational studies might clog the blog. And your insistence upon this information when I've told you where it is suggests massive stonewalling.

"The topic is your claim that, in effect, conservatives will out-breed liberals. You haven't presented all the data necessary to support this conclusion, but you havent stopped making it."

I didn't realize this was a peer-reviewed blog. But in any event, as I said, it's clear that conservatives are outbreeding liberals. That is just a matter of census data. Heck, the electoral results have already borne that out: census data from 2000 shifted electoral votes to the "red" states in time for the 2004 elections.

The question I thought you wanted to know is, whether their conservativism would be contributed to their children, which I think is also plain. If you dispute the second factor, that's your perogative. But are you now saying you dispute that conservatives are even having more children than liberals?

"Like CM said, the Mormon percentage of the population is relatively flat. Why would that trouble me?"

If they're GROWING, their population will not remain flat. Sheesh.

Jeff II: "Fewer children = fewer missions." Are you suggesting that Mormons are not, in fact, reproducing at a rate of nearly 2:1 of the liberal population?

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

"I'd love to, but posting nearly 400+ pages of long-term generational studies might clog the blog. And your insistence upon this information when I've told you where it is suggests massive stonewalling."

It's not my job to go out and find evidence supporting your claims; moreover, I doubt that all 400 pages are necessary to support your claims.

"The question I thought you wanted to know is, whether their conservativism would be contributed to their children, which I think is also plain."

No, I never questioned that this happens - the question is whether it happens *enough*. I've repeated the "enough" qualification... well... more than enough to expect that you've noticed and should be able to respond to it rather than a straw man.

"But are you now saying you dispute that conservatives are even having more children than liberals?"

No, but thanks for asking: it demonstrates that you really don't understand that for conservatives to outbreed liberals, it isn't enough for conservatives to simply have more kids and that in addition they must also transmit life-long conservatism to kids at a high enough rate. Your failure to understand this simple point helps me understand your failure to address the issue, despite the many posts where you've had the opportunity. You don't support your claim because you simply don't understand what would qualify as support for your claim.

"If they're GROWING, their population will not remain flat."

Don't misrepresent my words: I didn't say that the population would remain flat, I said that the *percentage of* the population is relatively flat. This can easily happen if the rest of the population grows at the same rate as the sub-group: more people, but same percentage of the population. Sheesh, indeed.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

I am a Catholic who usually votes republican. I perceive great animus toward Christianity from the left. Why?
1) The paranoia among liberals about the impending Christian "theocracy."
2) The use of terms like "fundies" to describe evangelical Christians.
3) The obsessive hand wringing over giving money to churches to run schools.
4) The "Jesusland" map.
5) The patronizing argument that goes something like: "Jesus preached almsgiving, therefore, conservatives cannot be real Christians."
6) The hilarious ignorance among liberals about virtually all things Christian. (I live in Venice, CA. If I had a dime for every liberal who doesn'+t know the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant I would be a rich man).
7) The countless blog entries, blog comments, remarks over dinner, etc. in which liberals mock, deride, condescend to, and otherwise bad mouth Christians.

In short, if you guys really think that liberals are open to Christians, you must not know many liberals.

Posted by: Bernard on March 16, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK


If all the comments I've read so far about Christians and other religious people in general were changed just a little bit, to be about black people, this thread would look like a Klan meeting.

Pre-judging people on the basis of their religion, skin color, and stuff like that is ugly, no matter who does it. I remember when liberals used to be a little more self-critical, and a lot less self-righteous. Guess I'm getting old.

Posted by: 60's leftover on March 16, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Austine Cline:

"As much as there is a right to any other state funded medical care."

Thats my point exactly, there is no constitutional right to statefunded medical care. If you think there should be one you should elect official who will amend the constitution.

"As you say, the Constitution requires equal protection of the laws and singling out an aspect of women's health care for defunding arguably violates this."

The Supreme Court does not agree with you when it comes to abortion see Harris vs. McRae 1980. There is no constitutional right to state funded birth control. This is not an issue that serious legal scholars debate.

"This assumes that every issue should be one which people can vote on, but our system specifically takes the ability to run simple majority votes on some issues away from people."

Yes, it does and this is very clearly not one of those cases. The supreme court agrees. Yet you still make the case that I should not have the right to vot on this. Your make my case for me, I shouldn't be able to vote on this issue because you say so even if the constitution and the supreme court say no. That is the very definition of enforcing your "norms" upon me. I don't see how that is any less egregious because your norms are "secular."


Posted by: Pepster on March 16, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

"In short, if you guys really think that liberals are open to Christians, you must not know many liberals."

Your comment suggests that you don't recognize liberals as "real" Christians, the exact analogue of your complains #5 (does this make you a hypocrite?).

Given the fact that most liberals are Christians (they can't be otherwise, given the low numbers of non-Christians in America), it's not a question of whether liberals are "open" to Christians. Instead, it's perhaps more a question of whether liberal Christians are "open" to your brand of Christianity. Maybe they are. Maybe they aren't.

If they aren't, though, it's arrogant and self-righteous to portray that as not being open to Christainity or even religion generally. Be honest and admit that their vision of Christianity and religion differs from your vision so much that you seem politically incompatible.

"If I had a dime for every liberal who doesn'+t know the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant I would be a rich man."

That's not animus, that's just plain ignorance. Including that undermines your credibility as a fair and accurate observer of the rest - for example, the real prevalence and intentions behind #7.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK


If religion has no place in the public square, does that mean that modern "liberals" no longer have any use for a religious leader preaching for civil rights in that same square? How about leading a march on Washington?

Posted by: I Remember Martin on March 16, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Dem O. Graphics says,

"In Europe, the understanding of right and wrong is increasingly tied directly to the Koran. Public debate and policy on issues like abortion and homosexuality will change rather dramatically over the next 20 years or so, thanks to demographic changes in the population."

This seems highly unlikely, given the increasing hostility in Europe to immigrants who refuse to assimilate and accept liberal democratic values. You seem to be under the bizarre impression that Europeans are just going to throw up their hands and do nothing while hordes of Koran-toting Islamists take over their political institutions.

It's ironic that you should mention Theo van Gogh. Just today, my local paper carried a story about some of the changes in Dutch immigration policy following his murder, changes that have already reduced immigration by at least a third. And as of today, all prospective immigrants to the Netherlands will be required to take a "civic integration examination," which requires them demonstrate a readiness to participate in Dutch liberal culture. As part of the test, they are required to view a video showing things like gay men kissing in a park and a topless woman walking on a beach. The clear message to prospective immigrants is that they are not welcome if they are unwilling to accept Netherlands' values and culture. You can expect similar initiatives in other European countries that have been having trouble assimilating recent immigrants.

Posted by: Real Dem O. Graphics on March 16, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Thats my point exactly, there is no constitutional right to statefunded medical care."

The people in question aren't seeking to eliminate it all. If they were, it would raise different questions.

"The Supreme Court does not agree with you when it comes to abortion..."

We aren't talking about abortion, though. We're talking about contraceptives.

"Yet you still make the case that I should not have the right to vot on this. "

I did, where? Where? Oh, I see now - you're just making stuff up. Free clue: address what I actually write, not made up stuff that you imagine I've said or think.

Just for the record: You have a right to vote on this. You even have a right to vote to bring back slavery. That doesn't mean that any policies or laws based on such votes won't be struck down as unconstitutional. In the latter case, that's definite. In the former case, I think there are good arguments that equal protection provisions would be violated - if not in the medical care laws themselves, then in the Constitution. The state won't be able to easily defend providing medications like accutane to men while making it impossible for women to get the same medication on the same basis. The state won't be able to easily defend giving men medication to regulate their bodily functions, but not some bodily functions for women. Finally, the state won't be able to easily defend giving men Viagra but not contraceptives to women.

Perhaps there are good secular arguments for all that, but it's worth noting that I specifically asked you for secular arguments on behalf of singling out contraception and you didn't answer.

"That is the very definition of enforcing your "norms" upon me."

No, enforcing my norms on you would involve forcing to use contraceptives, forcing you not to use them, making it very difficult for you to use them, or making it very difficult for you not to use them. Merely not being able to have a simple-majority vote on an issue, whatever it is, does not automatically force one to adopt a new norm in place of their old one. I've given several examples of how this is so.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

"If religion has no place in the public square, does that mean that modern "liberals" no longer have any use for a religious leader preaching for civil rights in that same square? How about leading a march on Washington?"

He's welcome as long as he "preaches" the secular liberal values of liberty and equality and justice. He's not welcome if he pulls a Joe Lieberman and starts going on and on about God.

Martin Luther King's overtly religious oratory may have been necessary in his day, if only because the churches were at that time the only real way of organizing black people politically, but it wouldn't fly today.

Posted by: Radice on March 16, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

A name like " Freedom Phukher" gives everyone all the perception they need anyway.

How glad they must be to have you.........

Posted by: War Junkie on March 16, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

I am a Catholic who usually votes republican. I perceive great animus toward Christianity from the left. Why?

Because you're deluded. That's why you vote Republican.

I'm a Catholic progressive. My faith is not so shaky as to be wounded by criticism of abuse of power by religious authorities, attacked by the different choices agnostics and non-believers are allowed to make, or treatened by maintaining the separation of Church and State. Yet, those simple principles cause the religious Right to claim "persecution."

It's a crisis in your own faith, no one else's. Liberals and progressives can't do anything other than to keep on insisting that you are mistaken.

Posted by: Liberal on March 16, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

"If religion has no place in the public square..."

Funny, but I don't remember anyone claiming this. Religion has no privileged place in the public square, but that's as it should be.

Martin Luther King Jr., by the way, made his case on the basis of both religious and secular political values. He used both the Bible and the Constitution. If he had only used the Bible, he wouldn't have been able to make as strong of a political case for his goals.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

I live in an urban, educated, liberal community in California. My wife doesn'+t tell our friends that I go to Church every Sunday because we both know--definitively--that I would be mocked and in some way despised for doing so. That is a fact of my life. There may very well be hordes of liberal Christians running around. If there are, their voices are not being heard. I think that is the point of the blog post.

Let me give you another great example of Christian distrust of liberal "Christanity." In a Democratic primary debate, Howard Dean (I think it was Dean) said that his favorite book of the Bible was Job; an Old Testament story of a man who has lost his faith. This is exactly the sort of thing that makes many Christians roll their eyes and sigh. At the moment he said that I could hear millions of Christians muttering, "Oh, please."

Here is what Christians believe. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only son of God and that he sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven and that he will come again to judge the living and the dead. We really believe that. We don'+t merely do our best to "live by the Gospels." We also worship Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. I KNOW that saying that is making many posters on this blog giggle. Why are they giggling? Because they have contempt for "Jesusland."

Posted by: Bernard on March 16, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Pre-judging people on the basis of their religion, skin color, and stuff like that"

As far as I know, you can't change your skin color (tho Michael Jackson may have found a way), but you can be enlightened from the supersititions of flat earth, pie in the sky, and Big-Daddy-in-the-Sky "religion."

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 16, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Your failure to understand this simple point helps me understand your failure to address the issue, despite the many posts where you've had the opportunity."

Actually, I thought you were backpeddling. Of course both having children, and transmitting politics to the next generation, are 2 necessary steps to say that conservatives are outbreeding liberals. In the short run, though, merely having more children than liberals is beneficial to conservatives: for it allows them to skew census data in their favor before those children can vote, and thus more political representatives (and electoral votes in presidential elections). So in the short term, merely having more children than liberals increases their political power already.

"No, I never questioned that this happens - the question is whether it happens *enough*."

I always thought that whether something is "enough" for a person depends on their own personal judgment call. But since you think otherwise, then fine. The answer is yes.

"It's not my job to go out and find evidence supporting your claims."

Then don't let it trouble you, Mr. I Must Be Told What's Enough. I for one would be worried if these trends continue. That the 2004 election alone was impacted to a large degree by these demographics suggests that things will only get worse for liberals in time.

Posted by: Sydney Carton on March 16, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal:

Sorry. I thought this was a thoughtful debate. I guess I should just accept my role a "dhimmi" of the progressive movement and its self-righteous tsk-tsking.

I think you just eloquently proved Amy Sullivan'+s argument.

Posted by: Bernard on March 16, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

leftover,

"I am a Catholic who usually votes republican. I perceive great animus toward Christianity from the left. Why?"

Because it's dangerous nonsense. And when it's introduced into civil government it's even more dangerous.

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

I just thought I would try something interesting....

I am a Catholic who usually votes democrat. I perceive great animus toward Christianity from the right. Why?

1) The paranoia among conservatives about the impending Secular Humanist "dictatorship."
2) The use of terms like "commies" to describe liberals.
3) The obsessive hand wringing over giving money to the U.N.
4) The "Christian Exodus" map attempting to turn South Carolina into a Christian State.
5) The patronizing argument that goes something like: "Paul preached sexual purity, therefore, liberals cannot be real Christians."
6) The hilarious ignorance among conservatives about virtually all things Christian. (I live in XXX. If I had a dime for every conservative who doesn'+t know the difference between the veneration of Mary and the worship of God I would be a rich man).
7) The countless blog entries, blog comments, remarks over dinner, etc. in which conservatives mock, deride, condescend to, and otherwise bad mouth liberals as traitors, socialists, communists, etc.

In short, if you guys really think that conservatives are open to Christians, you must not know many conservatives.


===
Not bad for an off-the-cuff attempt.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Why are they giggling? Because they have contempt for "Jesusland."

No, you really don't get it. I don't have contempt for "Jesusland." I have contempt for superstition, of whatever sort.

And it's not because I'm "liberal." It's because I'm educated and thoughtful and spent hours and hours in church as a young person listening to the contradictions, the misogyny, and the out-and-out unbelievable stuff the Bible "teaches."

YOU maybe truly believe Jesus walked on water, or turned water into wine, or raised a dead man, or rose from death himself, or will come back in person to take believers with him bodily into Heaven at the End of Times, but I just don't see how real world physics allows it to happen. And I BELIEVE in physics.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 16, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

[Y]ou can be enlightened from the supersititions of flat earth, pie in the sky, and Big-Daddy-in-the-Sky "religion."

Uh, can we agree that Ms. Sullivan has a point on that note?

Posted by: Bernard on March 16, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

"I think you just eloquently proved Amy Sullivan'+s argument."

Then you don't understand her argument. She, like you, has claimed that the Democratic Party isn't friendly enough to religion and Christianity. The person you responded to *is a Christian*. Catholic, too, in fact. You just proved *my* argument: it's not a lack of receptivity to religion/Christianity, but to certain forms of religion/Christianity.

Given the fact that the Republican Party *also* lacks receptivity to certain forms of religion/Christianity (just different ones), I fail to see the problem - or at least any problem that is particular to Democrats.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Here is what Christians believe. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only son of God and that he sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven and that he will come again to judge the living and the dead. We really believe that. We don'+t merely do our best to "live by the Gospels." We also worship Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world."

Me, I used to worship Jesus, but that got soooo boring, so now I worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Ms. Sullivan has a point on that note." I'm not sure what you mean, but I don't think she would agree to be enlightened from superstition, from what I've read of her work on this blog.

But I'll agree that secularists (not liberals) criticize government action taken on the basis of religious views. As we should. As should anyone who believes in the Constitution, which is and was drafted as an Enlightened document.

BTW, not all secularists are liberal, just like not all religionists are conservative.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 16, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

craigie on March 16, 2006 at 8:03 PM wrote:


I agree, and that's a good point...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 16, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

"I always thought that whether something is "enough" for a person depends on their own personal judgment call."

It was never a question of "enough for me," but "enough" statistically. You haven't shown that this is the case. Either conservatives transfer life-long conservatism to their kids at a high enough rate for their higher fecundity to matter in the long run, or they don't. That's a question which must be answered by hard data, not speculation or gut feelings.

If the latter is all you have, then you don't have anything of value to offer. No one is going to start being worried about the future because you have a gut feeling about the relevant data.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Example of liberal openess to Christian voters:

"Because it's dangerous nonsense."

"I used to worship Jesus, but that got soooo boring, so now I worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster."

"YOU maybe truly believe Jesus walked on water, or turned water into wine, or raised a dead man, or rose from death himself, or will come back in person to take believers with him bodily into Heaven at the End of Times, but I just don't see how real world physics allows it to happen. And I BELIEVE in physics.

Posted by: Bernard on March 16, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Example of liberal openess to Christian voters."

What you cite are dismissals of Christianity, not of Christian voters. I've never denied that there are liberals who are hostile to religion generally or Christianity in particular; quite the contrary, in fact. You are overlooking the existence of so many liberals who are Christian - the existence of liberals who are hostile to Christianity doesn't eliminate the existence of liberals who are Christian.

It's dishonest to cherry-pick a few of one group and pretend that they are more representative of the whole than another group.

You are far too weak in your religious beliefs if the existence of liberals who are hostile to Christianity prevents you from voting for the same politicians as them. If you can't join *political* forces with people who vehemently disagree with your *religious* beliefs, then the problem is *yours*, not theirs.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Bernard,

I'm not sure what "openess to Christian voters" is supposed to mean exactly. Are you asking me to pretend to respect beliefs I consider foolish and nonsensical?

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm not sure what "openess to Christian voters" is supposed to mean exactly. Are you asking me to pretend to respect beliefs I consider foolish and nonsensical?"

Part of the problem may be that "Christian" is a religious category while "voter" is a political one. Blending them together is a recipe for confusion and problems. Being open to a "voter" who happens to be "Christian" is very different from being open to "Christianity," being open to "the truth of Christianity," or any other religious category.

It's the religious categories that some liberals are not open to, obviously, but this isn't supposed to be a discussion about being open to religion, but of being open to political alliances with people. For some strange reason, people keep citing examples of the former as if they qualified as examples of the latter. I don't think I've seen a single example of any liberal Democrat refusing to work with someone who wanted to work with/in the Democratic party because they were Christian.

I'm pretty sure that someone can come up with examples of exactly that occurring in the Republican Party, though. Haven't there been instances where Christian Right leaders have refused to work with a conservative Republican because he was insufficiently religious (as they defined the concept)? Perhaps I'm wrong about that, though, in which case I apologize and withdraw the suggestion.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Austin . . . dude . . .I am commenting on why I think Christians percieve hostility from the Left. The key word is perceive. I am not arguing that all liberals are hostile to Christians. I am also not saying that I vote Republican because of that hostility--that is one of many reasons. The crux of the blog post was that there must be valid resons beyond the irrationality of Christians for why Americans perceive hostility toward religion from the Left. I listed a few factors that I think have led to my perception of hostility. You and others then posted a series of non-sequiters, most of them hostile to Christianity. There is a sort of "Clockwork Orange" vibe to this comment thread.

Posted by: Bernard on March 16, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Bernard,

"You and others then posted a series of non-sequiters"

Huh? You asked why I am hostile to Christianity and I told you. I'm sorry you didn't like my answer, but it wasn't a non-sequitur.

Still waiting to hear whether you want me to pretend to believe that your religious beliefs have merit.

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

"I am commenting on why I think Christians percieve hostility from the Left."

Correction: some Christians perceive hostility from the Left. Others don't and your failure to acknowledge that they are every bit as Christian as you is precisely part of your problem.

"The crux of the blog post was that there must be valid resons beyond the irrationality of Christians for why Americans perceive hostility toward religion from the Left."

What, it's not possible that the perception could rest on invalid reasons? That doesn't strike me as plausible.

I'm not denying that you can find hostility towards religion from liberals; at the same time, though, you can also find hostility towards religion from conservatives. It's just that they are hostile to different sorts of religion.

So what? Why is it a bad thing if someone is hostile to religion?

"You and others then posted a series of non-sequiters, most of them hostile to Christianity."

If you are going to say that my responses to you have evinced hostility to Christianity, then you basically prove my point that the perception of hostility may be based on invalid reasons.

Moreover, that doesn't address the fact that hostility towards Christianity isn't the same as hostility towards working with Christians politically - i.e., towards the Christian voter. Like I said, your faith must be really weak if you can't work political with people who don't agree with your religion.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 16, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky asked;

"Simple question: is the separation of church and State part of the Constition, or not?"

No. This concept exists nowhere in the Constitution. I believe that Jefferson used the phrase in some of his private papers.

The Constitution prohibits the establishment of a state religion by the Congress. That is, Congress cannot make a law saying that the President, for example, is the titular head of the Church of America, in the way that Prince Charles is "Defender of the Faith" for the Church of England.

Posted by: flenser on March 16, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh, Bernard.

I see no reason how we can oppose demagogues who dupe people like Bernard other than saying that people like Bernard are dupes. The idea that you are going to take a few comments on a liberal website to reflect hostility when the ENTIRE DEMOCRATIC PARTY is domminated by religious people just means you have a persecution complex.


By the way, why are you objecting to Dean selecting Job?

Are you saying he inaccurately described Job as a book where he lost his faith?

Or are you inaccurately describing Job as a book where Job lost his faith? I mean, if you--Mister Religious--didn't know what was in the book of Job, that'd be pretty embarassing.

I mean, you have read the Bible yes?

Posted by: Patrick on March 16, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

What a fascinating thread. Half of the commenters are spitting blood at the very suggestion that the Democratic party is hostile to religion. What kind of nut could even suggest such a thing?

The other half are openly contemptuous of religious views in general and Christianity in particular, which they consider "foolish and nonsensical", for example.

Do you people read each others comments?

Posted by: flenser on March 16, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Any such people that may exist are drowned out by the chorus of people who seem to think that their Christianity is indispenable to their progressive politics, and who won't shut up about it. As long as those people keep promoting their superstitions (yes, superstitions) in the political arena, they can expect to be criticized for it.

Boy, I sure missed THAT up thread. The kind of ethical libertarianism that seems to be the common lot of those who claim a secularist philosophy... well THAT is certainly the stuff to build a just society.

As a matter of practical politics, the rhetoric of so many of the secular left does indeed drive a wedge, better, a wall between it and the convictions of many of their neighbors. All the ranting in the world will not stop legislation, only the electing of individuals can.

And to win elections means that we will have to build coalitions. The notion that all we have to do is shout our position louder, rant more, etc. and then we will win... who's kidding whom? The preferred position of some apparently is that of refusing to reach out to the religious community, as if we can build a real governing party without them. I simply know of no piece of data that suggests this is possible; I know of no philosophy that considers this wise, either.

The conversation above, is not a little like that of singing in the shower -- as along as we do so by ourselves, it sounds perfectly fine. However the moment we try to sing the same way in public, our spouse quickly reminds us that we are dreadfully off key.

So too our wonderful atheist responders. Amy's point stands proved.

Posted by: Harris on March 16, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Austine Cline:

This thread started when I disagreed with Renate's opposition to the Missouri State legislature funding abortion. Renate Felt that that was a religious dictate. I disagree, I feel if the people want to elect officials who pass such laws (or vote on said laws directly via referendum) that is a proper and constitutional use of the process. She (or he) feels that this shouldn't be open for legislation. I think I should have a right to vote on such matters. This is where the discussion started.

As you stated in an earlier post states have been passing similar laws for some time now. Based upon the precedent I mentioned and others, these laws have been found to be constitutional across the board. This is settled constitutional law.

You asked for a secular reason for the law. There could be many but one that comes to mind right away is a libertarian argument that the state should not be involved in personal matters such as contraception at all.

Are you arguing that one must have a secular rational for supporting a law? If so, I reject that notion. If a law is constitutional it is valid, in my opinion, to support it for religious and/or secular reasons.

I am glad that you concede my right to vote on such a law, very generous. My point is that these laws are constitutional. This is not analgous to passing a law reinstationg slavery. This is a straightforward legitimate use of the legislative process. Challenges to these laws have repeatedly been rejected (and yes, Harris vs Mcrae is one of the underlying precedents).

My argument to Renate stands. If you try to forbid this type of legislation from the legislative arena then it is you, not I who is inflicting his/her moral code upon others.

Trying to eliminate the constitutional right to a simple majority vote on such an issue would be, in fact, a clear instance of imposing one groups values upon another. In this instance, it would not only be wrong, it would be clearly illegal.

Posted by: pepster on March 16, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

"The kind of ethical libertarianism that seems to be the common lot of those who claim a secularist philosophy... well THAT is certainly the stuff to build a just society."

I don't know what "ethical libertarianism" is supposed to be, but, yes, a "secularist philosophy," the philosophy of the Enlightenment, really does seem to be the stuff to build a just society.

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick:

I am suggesting that Dean selected Job because he thought it would be palatable to people like "anon" who find religion irrational and superstitious. He realized that by picking one of the Gospels or one of Paul'+s epistles he might come off as someone who actually believes what Christians believe. Therefore he made a foolish and transparent political decision to pick the Book of Job, a controversial and somewhat ambiguous Bible story. If I could find a line in Vegas, I would bet my house that Dean is agnostic on matters of Christian faith--not that there is anything wrong with that. Just don'+t piss on my leg and tell me its raining.

Posted by: Bernard on March 16, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

pepster,

"Are you arguing that one must have a secular rational for supporting a law? "

I don't know if he is, but I certainly am. All laws must have a secular purpose to be constitutional. (And the secular purpose must be a valid one, not just some pretext for a law whose true purpose is religious). The law may also happen to serve a religious purpose, but that is just incidental; the law is constitutional only by virtue of having a secular purpose, not a religious one. This is established constitutional law.

Take a law against murder, for example. Such a law has the valid secular purpose of protecting the right to life. It may also happen to serve a religious purpose or purposes (one of the Ten Commandments of Christianity, for example), but any religious purposes the law may serve are incidental and do not justify it.


Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

I admit I read what Amy wrote and heaved a great sigh because I think this is virtually a non-issue. It's okay to declare one's skepticism and distance from religion. It really is.

Stats show that a growing number of Americans are... no, not increasingly religious but increasingly secular. It goes against what everyone saying, but take a look at polls.

This is a time when Dems are incredibly (and admittedly with some justification) s-e-n-s-i-t-i-v-e and d-e-f-e-n-s-i-ve. Maybe all the left needs to do is be clear and decisive about we are and what we're proud of -- and what we're going to do with government once the nutcases are finally removed from the White House by men in white coats. Not "oh gee, how are we going to be friendlier about religion in order to placate the angry, derisive and (as it happens now) increasingly weakened and psychotic right." I don't think "get religion" is the answer.

Not do I think we should put up with saccharine, insincere speeches about the importance a Supreme Being in decisions we make about the future of our nation even as we sharpen our swords and cross oceans to rape and pillage. I think "get religion out of politics" is indeed the answer and that's what the left should be saying loudly and clearly.

Posted by: PW on March 16, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Anon,

I take your point although I think you missed mine. Austin Cline seemed to be saying that it was not legitimate to vote for a law based on religious reasons (I may be mistating
Austin Cline's position, that is why I asked the question). My point that if a law is constitutional one's reason for voting is valid whether that reason be secular or religious. One can apply reasoning against, say polygamy, that is not religious yet best on morality. One could argue it is just plain bad for society. One could believe it wrong based on religious beliefs. One is free to vote based on personal convictions however they are derived.

Posted by: pepster on March 16, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

As an atheist, it sure seems to me like a lot of people, a LOT of people, are trying to turn the US into a theocracy.

I'm waiting for the Christian handwringers to address the way their atheist brothers and sisters are treated.

Whatsoever you do

Posted by: lettuce on March 16, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

pepster:

As I said, the key First Amendment question concerns the law's purpose. I'm not sure how you think you think religious "reasons" can support a secular purpose. If you think the law serves a secular purpose then you have a secular reason for voting for it, and any additional religious reasons you may have for supporting it are incidental.

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

can anybody tell me what family values are? I don't go to church but have been married for 25 years. Do I have family values? I have 4 children who have not been raised in the church yet I have one child that fought for our country in Afganistan and the ill gotten war in Iraq. Is that family vaules or just good old christen values. He wasn't raised in the church either(and for those who say he volunterd, yes but it was 2000, no war.) I have one who is a firefighter protecting your life and home. Is that family values? The other two are a little iffy ( collection agency for student loans and meter reader for your electric company) but at least they are all working.Again I ask are those family values or do they not count because they were not raised in the church. I give to the food bank to help the less fortunet but don't go to church. Are those family values.

One more point. Someone, I don't remember who up thread, made the comment about Kerry and his religious beliefs. If I remember correctly he was slammed on his pro choice beliefs even though the cathelic church is pro life but nobody bithched about the politecians who are pro death penalty and pro war which the cathelic church is also against. Where are the values in that?

Posted by: caren on March 16, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the...

So weak!. A sentence so weak, it should be embarrassing. You'd think a politician said it, rather than a "writer" aiming for clarity and precision.

I've seen Amy on television talking this line, so I guess it's her gig. Machines need a cogs, after all.

Posted by: luci on March 16, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

remember this small fact amy when one points a finger in their palm three point back.

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 16, 2006 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

I wrote:
"In Europe, the understanding of right and wrong is increasingly tied directly to the Koran. Public debate and policy on issues like abortion and homosexuality will change rather dramatically over the next 20 years or so, thanks to demographic changes in the population."

Someone replied:
"This seems highly unlikely, given the increasing hostility in Europe to immigrants who refuse to assimilate and accept liberal democratic values."

Politicians and other people mouthing words don't matter. Minor changes in Danish law merely moved some number of Moslems out of Copenhagen and into Malmo, Sweden, where they will outnumber native Swedes in less than 10 years. Minor changes to Dutch law won't change the fact that the most common name for a newborn boy in Amsterdam is "Mohammed". Various gestures by French politicians won't change the facts on the ground in the banliues that circle every major French city and many minor ones, the "no-go" zones for French police that now number in the hundreds. Yes, there are still cars burning every night, it is just not seen upon the TV.

Someone "debated" with this comment:
"You seem to be under the bizarre impression that Europeans are just going to throw up their hands and do nothing while hordes of Koran-toting Islamists take over their political institutions."

Someone is confused. The Islamists do not need to take over political institutions to force their own cultural prejudices into the common culture. Those who doubt this need to explain why no one besides Hirsi Ali has made any films criticizing Islam in any way since the death of van Gogh, for example, or why no other cartoonists have stepped up to emulate the Danes. Sharia is the common law in part of every major city in Europe now, without any debate, without any voting. How could it be otherwise, given the conditions of the Euro-Arab dialog, wherein it was determined that no effort to assimilate Moslem immigrants was to be made?

I'm familiar with many of the facts on the ground in Europe, are you? Can you tell me how many European countries now serve only halal meat in jails and schools? Can you tell me how many European countries have de facto accepted Moslem polygamy as an alternate form of marriage? Do you understand that Islamists need not control the political institutions to have a profound effect upon European society; have you read Bruce Bawer's recent book, recounting both his experience as a gay man in increasingly hostile Europe, and the statistics that explain what has happened? Have you been to any part of Moslem Europe, and seen women covered from head to toe, as if they were in Afghanistan, and the other effects of Sharia?

Someone smirked:
"It's ironic that you should mention Theo van Gogh."

No, it is not. The man who murdered van Gogh was a 2nd generation Moslem who grew up in Netherlands. He drank beer and generally fraternized with other Dutch natives, until his mother died. Then he "got religion", read the Koran, may have gone to a radical mosque, and wound up murdering van Gogh in a particularly gruesome fashion. Can you explain why he committed that crime, and in that manner? Do you know what he said during his trial, and at his sentencing? Again I note that van Gogh's murderer was born in the Netherlands; even if all immigration as stopped, which is politically impossible, home-grown radical Islamists will still exist and their number will increase. If only one of one hundred Moslems is an Islamist, he can and will intimidate most of the others, as can be seen in too many Moslem countries today.

Someone whistled past the graveyard:
"Just today, my local paper carried a story about some of the changes in Dutch immigration policy following his murder, changes that have already reduced immigration by at least a third. And as of today, all prospective immigrants to the Netherlands will be required to take a "civic integration examination," which requires them demonstrate a readiness to participate in Dutch liberal culture. As part of the test, they are required to view a video showing things like gay men kissing in a park and a topless woman walking on a beach."

Rearranging the deck chairs won't change what is happening to the ship. Even if the Dutch stopped all immigration cold, the birth rates guarantee that Sharia law will spread slowly but surely through Rotterdam and Amsterdam, then into other cities.

Someone whistled further:
"The clear message to prospective immigrants is that they are not welcome if they are unwilling to accept Netherlands' values and culture."

That is one way to explain it. Another way to explain it is that the infidels of Netherlands have decided to advertise their unbelief in Allah world wide, thereby inviting the believers to come there and engage in Jihad. "War is deceit", Mohammed said more than once, and lying to unbelievers is specifically allowed in the Koran, in pursuit of a larger goal such as increasing the size of the Ummah. I do not doubt that there will be immigrants from Morocco, Algeria, Syria, who will view this video with disgust, and then deliberately choose to go to Netherlands in order to change that society to be more in harmony with the will of Allah. They will regard it as their duty to do so!

Someone blathered on:
" You can expect similar initiatives in other European countries that have been having trouble assimilating recent immigrants."

The Danes changed their immigration law, and the effect was to reduce the Islamic population of Copenhagen by a slight amount, and increase the Islamic population of Malmo, Sweden by a huge amount. Malmo will be majority-Moslem in less than 10 years, and already there are areas of that Swedish city where Swedes do not go. Not the ordinary citizens, nor the emergency services, nor even the police. Do you think that Bawer or any other gay man would find it convivial to live in Malmo? Are the decisions being made every day on the streets of Malmo about the appropriateness of homosexuality coming from Swedish law, or from the Koran? And what is true of Malmo is also true of several arrondisement of Paris, of parts of Lyon and Marseilles and Strasbourg. It is true of parts of London, Antwerp and Oslo, and every other major European city. Every single one, without exception.

Ignorant Americans whine that Bush is creating a theocracy. They should go to Saudi Arabia and learn what a real theocracy looks like. Then they should think deeply about what it means that many, possibly a majority, of mosques in Europe and, yes, even in North America are funded in part, or in toto, by Saudi money and run by Saudi-trained imams. There may well come to be theocratic government in Europe in this century, but it will be Moslem, and it will make anything that Falwell or Dobson or other Americans can imagine look like Voltaire's paradis by comparison.

The reality is ugly, yes. Reality may not be a fun place to live, but ultimately is is where we all reside.

Posted by: Dem O. Graphics on March 16, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

Anon:

If a law is deemed constitutional, (as the laws restricting state funding of birth control have been found to be)then I have a have a right to vote my conscience however I come to that judgement. Are you seriously saying religious voters cannot legitimately vote for a law for religious reasons? How are you planning on enforcing that? You may not pass a law requiring me to go to the Presbyterian Church on Sunday because that is clearly unconstitutional. But why I vote for a particular (constitutional) law is beyond the government's (or your) reach.

Posted by: pepster on March 16, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

#The fundamental change in U.S. policy, however, came several years later, in 1950, with the policy paper produced by Paul Nitze for the White House National Security Council, entitled NSC-68.[6]

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 16, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

do i needah come to yewr hous n' slapp u upsite da hedd or whut?

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 16, 2006 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Half of the commenters are spitting blood at the very suggestion that the Democratic party is hostile to religion. What kind of nut could even suggest such a thing?

The other half are openly contemptuous of religious views in general and Christianity in particular, which they consider "foolish and nonsensical", for example.

Do you people read each others comments?"

Zing!

I can almost hear Jon Stewart..

"liberal blog readers protest being accused of being antipathic & hostile to christians & christianity by expressing antipathy & hostility towards christians & christianity.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 16, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

pepster,

"Are you seriously saying religious voters cannot legitimately vote for a law for religious reasons?"

For about the third time, I'm saying that, as a matter of established constitutional law, every statute must have a secular purpose to be constitutional. If a law has only a religious purpose or purposes, and no valid secular purpose, then it is unconstitutional.

Take Stone v. Graham, for example. The case concerned a Kentucky law requiring the posting of the Ten Commandments in each public school classroom in the state. The Supreme Court struck the law down on Establishment Clause grounds, finding that the law had no "secular legislative purpose" and that "the pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature." The court made this finding despite the Kentucky legislature's feeble attempt to immunize the law against the secular purpose test by printing a phony statement of secular purpose at the bottom of each poster.

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK


The issue with Howard Dean and the Book of Job is simple: Dean claims to be a Christian, or to have attended church at least, and was asked to name his favorite book of the New Testament. He selected Job, a book of the Old Testament.

Not only did this make it obvious he didn't have a clue what the Bible says, it also made it clear that he was just pandering to Christian voters in a demeaning way. Suppose that some black person had asked him to name his favorite black football player, and he replied "Magic Johnson", it would be pretty obvious what was going on.

It's also pretty obvious that if Martin Luther King were alive today, he'd be welcomed into the Progressive side of politics only so long as he kept his mouth shut and rode in the back of the campaign bus.

Posted by: Nobody on March 16, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Dammit. Quit talking about me.

Posted by: God on March 16, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

God, quit your bitching.

Posted by: Satan on March 16, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Christ. Here we go again. Amy posts some intellectually lazy shit about hostility to religion. (As opposed to some intellectually lazy shit about basketball.) People rebut her. Some idiot thinking they are incredibly clever points to rebuttal post as proof of aforementioned hostility to religion. Okay? Do we see the pattern? Can we fucking stop now?

Posted by: Pat on March 16, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

God, quit your bitching.

Posted by: Satan on March 16, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Me-dammit. I have never regretted pitching your evil ass out of here. Asshole.

Posted by: God on March 16, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm starting to think that Amy would be wise to stop posting on this subject. Not because she's wrong, but because the comments demonstrate in vivid screeching color how right she is. All any Republican needs to do to prove that the hostility she speaks of really exists is point people to these comments.

Depressing. Or maybe the supposedly liberal posters here are shills for the RNC? Seems unlikely.

(No, don't stop posting. As awful as this is, it's a subject that probably needs vivid screeching color followed by some dose of self-reflection. Not that I expect Phase II to happen this decade, but...)

Posted by: Simon on March 16, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Anon,

Once again, I take your point. You are absolutely correct. The only problem is that I never argued to the contrary. My question to Austin Cline was,

"Are you arguing that one must have a secular rational for supporting a law? "

That appeared to be his argument, that an individual must have a secular reasoning for voting his conscience. Now I am not certain that was Austin Cline's argument and that is why I asked the question. Your reponse was to that question.

Why would I argue with you on an issue that is decided constitutional law? I am trying to figure out why AC (along with the original poster) feel that a law prohibiting state sponsorship of Birth Control isn't decided constitutional law. I haven't been able to discern a rational argument for that position. They say it is a religious argument and therefore should not be a legislative issue. I disagree, and the supreme court is on my side. I have yet to figure out his argument for that and now you and I are getting sidetracked on a point where we agree.

Posted by: pepster on March 16, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

See Simon at 11:57 for demonstration of phenomenon just noted.

Posted by: Pat on March 17, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

"The reason organized religion merits outright hostility is that, unlike belief in Russell's teapot, religion is powerful, influential, tax-exempt and systematically passed on to children too young to defend themselves."
--Richard Dawkins

Posted by: anon on March 17, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

See, I can do it too:

Person A: Liberals just won't admit that the sky is green.

Liberal B: Don't be rediculous. The sky is obviously blue.

Person A: See? They just can't admit it.

Can I be an Editor at Washington Monthly now?

Posted by: Pat on March 17, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Pat:

I was going to give up, but you've said exactly what I was thinking. The accusation is made. And then:

- I defend myself. Well, that's proof right there! You wouldn't be protesting so much if it weren't true!

- I don't defend myself. Well, then I guess you just concede the point!

So, so maddening...

Posted by: craigie on March 17, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

Amy - Please ignore the loud crowd. We occasionally need your words of wisdom.

PS - Speaking of religious wars, the Zags beat Xavier 79-75. Morrison came thru after settling down - like we all should.

http://sports-att.espn.go.com/ncb/recap?gameId=264000009

jim

Posted by: jim58 on March 17, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

That said, I do think there is a tendency on the part of some on the left to criticize conservative politicians on the basis of their religious views.

Conservative politicians use their religion as a basis to attack their opposition; to justify disastrous public policies of all types, from war, to contraception, to tax policy; and to marginalize and dehumanize large sections of our population. Since they use their religion to do this, and since they constantly bring it up in public debates -- such as the debate on what to teach in science classes -- they FUCKING WELL DESERVE TO HAVE THEIR RELIGION CRITICIZED!!!!!

That plus the fact that they are out of their minds.

Amy, you seem like a nice person. The religion of James Dobson may share the name of your religion (Christianity) but based on the other stuff I sometimes see you write, it is not the same animal. His is a hateful ugly thing.

You really have to be dense or God-besotted to not see this. It is obvious to those of us who grew up outside of the dominant relgions in this country. I hate these sanctimonious windbags.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 17, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

What a fascinating thread. Half of the commenters are spitting blood at the very suggestion that the Democratic party is hostile to religion. What kind of nut could even suggest such a thing?

The other half are openly contemptuous of religious views in general and Christianity in particular, which they consider "foolish and nonsensical", for example.

Do you people read each others comments?

1. The fact that there are some people in here who are both liberal and hostile to religion, does not mean that the Democratic party is hostile to religion. To understand this distinction, consider the fact that there are undoubtedly some conservatives who would like to nuke the entire Middle East, and just be done with it. Does that mean that this is the official, or unofficial, policy of the Republican party?

2. In order for the Democratic party to be hostile to religion, I would expect the leaders or well-known representatives of this party to be openly hostile to religion. Where is the evidence for this? Who was/is the more overtly religious public figure, Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan? Bill Clinton actually went to church while he was president, on a regular basis. George W Bush does not do so. Double standard, anyone?

Was that temperate enough, or am I still flecking spittle with these rants?

Posted by: craigie on March 17, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Most of us on the secular left are not actively hostile to other people's religions except when it is used as a justification for immoral, dehumanizing, racist, or painfully bad public policy. Such as we have seen since 2000 in nearly every area.

Most Democrats are hostile to religious people of that sort -- but Democrats are also hostile to non-religious people who advocate those same policies. Democrats do not typically raise religion in public debates at all (except to the extent that they are forced to seem "religious" because society demands this of our politicians, which is to say they are forced to go to a Church from time to time, and it had better be Christian, those are just the facts).

Right wing nutcases raise religion all the time. Constantly.

Democrats are therefore said to be hostile to religion.

If you believe this "conventional wisdom", you are a moron.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 17, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Dear God,

Please, save us from the people who invoke your name to dominate or manipulate others.

Please, remove religious bias for one religion over another religion from our government.

Please, let the secular liberals run the show because they can be trusted NOT to favor one religion over another religion since their "faith" is in the Constitution exclusively as our "savior", ergo, guaranteeing freedom of religion equally for all of us.

OMG, please! If Your Will is for one religious group to have influence over our government more than another, please, please, please, favor the Quakers, the Unitarians, or the Buddhists. Thank you.

One more thing, God,

Please, teach Amy how to fact-check her arguments. Thanks.

Amen.

P.S. Thank you, God, for making me gay! : )

--TGM
"I' love Barbara Boxer! Now, she's got a spine and cojones."

Posted by: The Gay Millionaire on March 17, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what I think all of us moderate, centrist Democrats (like Bill Moyers) and Republicans (like Kevin Phillips, if I'm not mistaken) would like you to do for us: Get off our backs and do something constructive.
Quit preaching to the morals-based secular liberals who want decent, morals-based leadership from our government in the first place.
Start preaching to the moderate, church-going, independent swing voters. Use your status as a religious, liberal Democrat to convince those people that they have placed their faith in Republican hypocrites and given them their votes for too long.
Tell them that Democrats, secular or of faith, are emphatically not a threat to anyone's religious freedom; we embrace all the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution; tell them the Republican Party is threatening those freedoms.
You have tremendous access. You have it in print and on television. You waste it, shamefully. You lecture and wring your hands over the bad language of a few people frustrated to apoplexy by the abuses of the Bush administration. You should be using your access, your platform, to excoriate the ugly, immoral, unChristian behavior of the GOP's leaders.
Get over your hurt feelings and get to work.

Posted by: secularhuman on March 17, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Conservative politicians use their religion as a basis to attack their opposition; to justify disastrous public policies of all types, from war, to contraception, to tax policy; and to marginalize and dehumanize large sections of our population. Since they use their religion to do this, and since they constantly bring it up in public debates -- such as the debate on what to teach in science classes -- they FUCKING WELL DESERVE TO HAVE THEIR RELIGION CRITICIZED!!!!!"

They'd just say they disagree with your characterization of their policies and that they are acting in accordance with their understanding of God's will and the teachings of their sacred scriptures. The same thing liberal Christians say to their conservative critics. Once you go along with their premises that there is a God, that he cares about human affairs, and that we may discover his will through faith or prayer or Bible study or whatever, it all comes down to duelling citations of scripture, duelling claims of faith, and the like. You can't win that kind of argument. The questions are unanswerable.

The problem isn't that their interpretation of the Bible is wrong, or that they have the wrong kind of faith, it's that they think the Bible and faith are a legitimate source of morals and laws in the first place.

Posted by: anon on March 17, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

``The problem isn't that their interpretation of the Bible is wrong, or that they have the wrong kind of faith, it's that they think the Bible and faith are a legitimate source of morals and laws in the first place.''

I don't agree. There are plenty of moral lessons to be drawn from the Bible and the Judeo-Christian traditions.
The problem is with Amy, and the other guy the other day, Waldman, failing to take the fight to the religious right. They need to have the guts to stand up to the hypocritical pieties of the right with their liberal theologies. They need to quit trying to find common ground with the zealots and attack the ugly, un-Christian results of their zealotry. They need to stop arguing with liberals and start arguing with knee-jerk right-wingers.

Posted by: secularhuman on March 17, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Amy

Since so much has been written on the subject on this site, and the people still seem to be talking past each other, I think that the next time you bring up this issue it will be wise to define the terms of the debate.

1. What do you mean by hostility to religion? For example if a liberal says that he/she does not support the comingling of the state and the church and blurring of the boundaries between the two, is he being hostile to religion?

2. Who are these conservative politicians who are being criticized for their religious views?

3. Are you more mainly concerned with the perception that liberals are hostile to religion or do you think that there is real hostility there?

There are many other terms that need precise definition before this dicussion can move forward, but this will be a good start. Otherwise you will see essentially the same posts repeated over and over again.

Posted by: nut on March 17, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

Analysis of upthread comments:

"Amy: Just shut up. Go and join Mullah Dobson."

Translation: How dare you try to start a discussion about how to help Democrats win elections? I'd rather lose than have people like you in my party!


"I'm an equal-opportunity hater. I hate 'believers' of all stripe."

Translation: I'm a knee-jerk bigot who hates religious people! How dare Amy recycle the spin that we're knee-jerk leftists who hate religious people!

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

You know, I never really understood why right-wingers dislike liberals so much until I started reading the comments at liberal blogs.

I also can't believe the level of sexist comments that have been thrown at Amy in various threads by ostensibly progressive men.

There is a real problem here. A real problem in the way secular liberals... including myself... present our viewpoints to the rest of the country. It's true that we have virtually zero political power, but there's a reason for this. We have a pretty sizeable representation in the public face of liberalism in the media and on the web, and it's not a pretty face. Insulting moderate Christians and fighting tooth and nail for absolute separation of church and state is a one-way ticket to permanent minority status. And I'm fucking sick of it.

Amy is right. The knee-jerk left is alive and well. Thanks for doing your small but important part to drive moderate voters into the arms of Karl Rove. Assholes.

Posted by: Violet on March 17, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

I would be curious to know what Sullivan thinks the Democrats have done differently last few years to have less people think they are friendly to religion. If anything, Democrats have tried harder in recent years to appear friendly to relgion than in times past.
My guess from followning the link in the artical is that most people interperet being friendly to religion as being open to teaching Creationsism or Intelligent Design is schools. It is probably the upsurge of interest and battles over Intelligent Design that are the cause of the poll's results.

Posted by: david1234 on March 17, 2006 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

I'm on deadline, so don't have time to respond in full to the feverish debate that has been taking place over the past few weeks about religion and politics.

TRANSLATION: I'm a halfwit who got caught halfwitting and I can't think of a way to blame it on Clinton (Bill or Hilary).

Posted by: Steve J. on March 17, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Violet,

As a certified, bona-fide asshole, you are eminently qualified to identify other such assholes. Unfortunately, your assholeness is of such a maginitude that you are unable to see beynond the anal perimiter, and are instead reacting to the reflected image of your own assholeness. My condolences on the anal cyst, by the way.

Posted by: athos on March 17, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

What a thoroughly demoralizing thread.

Violet, nobody looks good wearing either brown lipstick or a Joe Lieberman mask.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 17, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Violet,

As a certified, bona-fide asshole, you are eminently qualified to identify other such assholes. Unfortunately, your assholeness is of such a maginitude that you are unable to see beynond the anal perimiter, and are instead reacting to the reflected image of your own assholeness. My condolences on the anal cyst, by the way.

Posted by: athos on March 17, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

Can we at least all agree that "separation of church and state" is not actually *in* the Constitution? You may want it to be there, Jefferson may have written to a bunch of Baptists that that's what he was thinking, it may have been interpreted that way by courts beginning in the late 1800s, every single person in the whole freaking world may think it's in there...

But it's not... actually... in... the Constitution, any more than "separate but equal" is.

Fatuous twits.

Posted by: Mark Hammitt on March 17, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

Mark Hammitt:

The Establishment Clause is.

And for all practical purpose that erects the wall of which we speak.

As does the Free Exercise clause. The state's not supposed to be involved in religion -- because if it is, it inevitably plays favorites.

No institution can sponsor all religions with complete evenhandedness. Faiths are by nature exclusivist.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 17, 2006 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

This is why I'm hating on Amy Sullivan atm and probably will remain prejudiced against anything she writes from this moment on to (heh) eternity:

This blog isn't a reasonable cross-section of Democratic voters. This blog, like most lefty blogs, is a group of well-educated political junkies. Most of the PA regulars -- I'd say a good 85% of them at least -- are pretty strongly secular; atheist, agnostic or of a very liberal, non-exclusive religious faith.

The self-identified "people of faith" who come here to post on these threads do so AS TROLLS. They're going nyah nyah, look Amy's right, look at all this secular scorn for religion. They're not doing it out of love for their secular brethren -- they're doing it in a spirit of snark and self-righteousness. They do not represent the modal opinion here. We seculars do. They're crashing *our* party.

Craigie hit it on the button -- this is totally maddening.

So I'd like to thank Amy "troll bait" Sullivan for fucking hard with the ecology of this blog and setting up an atmosphere which was pre- (heh) ordained to set a smug minority against the majority and make the majority *on this blog* feel annoyed and put-upon as fuck.

Once again, Ms. The Left Isn't Sensitive to People of Faith -- name us * ONE * out-of-the-closet atheist or agnostic politician.

You can't.

So kindly SHUT THE FUCK UP about religion.

Thank you very much.

Bob (representing well over 50% of PA regulars)

Posted by: rmck1 on March 17, 2006 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

Amy Sullivan:

Okay, let me try to respond to your post with more equinimity. I'm writing this online (and my dialup connection may futz at any second), but if it turns out well, I may email it to you. I certainly wish you or this blog no ill will.

I re-read your post and thought about it. I think I see the problem, why this topic is so endlessly exasperating to so many regulars here.

First off, as I said in my previous post, this issue is uncomfortable because a good 85% of us are are secular -- mostly atheist and agnostic, but even the Christians among the regulars here are of the exceedingly liberal, ecumenical variety and are not the types to claim Jesus Christ as the sole route to salvation. This is not orthodox belief.

Now ... one thing that liberals and seculars share fervently is a belief that religion is a private matter. We get along with our religious family members, bosses, co-workers. We vote for religious political candidates (as every politician appears to be "religious"). It doesn't mean we don't like to talk about the *morality* behind our political views. Of course we do; liberal values are just as morality-based as conservative values. We may even cite the Constitution or the Golden Rule -- and a few of us might even cite a scripture or two. But the one thing that all of us -- from craigie to Don P. -- have in common is that we do *not* like to wear our fundamental beliefs on our sleeves when we talk politics.

The problem that you cite -- that an increasing number of voters feel that the Democrats are "unfriendly" to religion -- puts us, as seculars, into a truly horrible position. First, because we have no way of being ambassadors to stronger flavors of faith we feel we have no affinity for -- when the salient issues we'd be more than happy to find common ground with these people on are political, not religious. Secondly, because we PA regulars hardly represent or have influence over the Democratic Party. Finally -- and mainly -- since we view religion as a private matter, we find it positively excrutiating to watch politicians of a liberal religious faith attempt to talk about it on the stump. John Kerry and Howard Dean come wincingly to mind. Not because these men are insincere in their faiths -- but their New England faith traditions are private, and talking about faith publicly was so obviously a recommendation by their advisors, not a heartfelt impulse.

And that insincerity hurts us, not helps us.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 17, 2006 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

I am suggesting that Dean selected Job because he thought it would be palatable to people like "anon" who find religion irrational and superstitious.

Oh, bullshit. Who died and made you the Amazing Kreskin?

Therefore he made a foolish and transparent political decision to pick the Book of Job, a controversial and somewhat ambiguous Bible story.

I thought you were sure it was all about how Job lost his faith, and that's why Dean picked it. You can't even keep your lame-ass argument straight. Fact is, there are as many exegeses of Job as there are theologians. Nobody knows what it really means.

And anyway, IIRC, Dean was being facetious, as he was asked this question when he was the front-runner and was getting beat on by damn near everybody.

If I could find a line in Vegas, I would bet my house that Dean is agnostic on matters of Christian faith--not that there is anything wrong with that

You'd lose. Howard Dean is a Congregationalist, same as many of our founding fathers.

______________________

What I find annoying about these pissing contests is the jillion posts by atheists writing off religion as some childish silliness, when they're the ones with a child's eye view of religion. Theology is not simple, y'all. And it's not the province of the hard-of-thinking. Unless you're trying to tell me Sren Kierkegaard and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were dumb guys.

Posted by: hamletta on March 17, 2006 at 4:18 AM | PERMALINK

Amy is right. The knee-jerk left is alive and well.

Well, yes and no. She was right to correct her erroneous usage of "knee-jerk left." And yes, it is alive and wellon blog comments. In real life, not so much.

And really, anybody who squeals about the crap dished out by the loudmouth atheists is a wuss. I'm religioushell, it was the post-election "God Wars" at dKos that drove me back into the meaty arms of Brother Martyand it doesn't hurt me. My faith is my faith. Some clownhole posting ignorant crap doesn't affect it. I just sigh and say, "What a maroon!"

And Bob, you're right. It's as much about regional culture as anything. And there's also the religion itself. I'm Lutheran, and prating on about it is dangerously close to works-righteousness, a big no-no.

Posted by: hamletta on March 17, 2006 at 4:44 AM | PERMALINK

"Clownhole" -- there's that word again :)

If there's one thing worse than works-righteousness, it's grace-righteousness.

"I'm not perfect -- just forgiven." Which, if you push it, you get Dominionist antinomianism ...

Ahhh, Calvinism. The single most morally grotesque and nihilism-enabling system of thought this side of Vladimir Illych Lenin.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 17, 2006 at 5:38 AM | PERMALINK

I am astonished by the near illiteracy and the apparent inability to think carefully of most of you. Don't any of you people at least have spell-checkers? Or dictionaries? Or tranquilizers?

Posted by: Robert Thornton on March 17, 2006 at 6:55 AM | PERMALINK

Heh.

I feel a little schadenfreude at watching liberals at each others' throats (again) seeing self-described "educated elite" Dems inexplicably proud of the fact that they have absolutely nothing in common with the rest (non-"elite"?) of their party.

On the other hand, poor Amy, you're never gonna convince these stubborn clowns. There's always room for you on the right side of the aisle... :)

Posted by: Citizen Grim on March 17, 2006 at 7:01 AM | PERMALINK

I am astonished by the near illiteracy and the apparent inability to think carefully of most of you. Don't any of you people at least have spell-checkers? Or dictionaries? Or tranquilizers?

Posted by: Robert Thornton on March 17, 2006 at 7:10 AM | PERMALINK

I regret the previous double-post, which was the result of a computer error.

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

Hamletta, do you think that because Dr. Dean is a Congregationalist that he therefore must not be also an agnostic?

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

Too much of the f-word in this forum. I'm just glad that it's mostly my ideological enemies who seem unable to express themselves without it.

Posted by: Robert Thornton on March 17, 2006 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

Citizen grim and other wingnut trolls

If you think that Dick Deadeye Cheney and Donald Strangelove Rumsfeld and Karl Rove would hesitate for a second to blow up a Christian church if it got in the way of their making a bit of money on a side deal than you have been smoking crack longer than would initially appear from your posts. So don't talk to me about a religious divide in the Democratic party.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 17, 2006 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Robert Thornton

Wingnut who doesn't like naughty language or a mispelled word. He finds it astonishing.

A man of God who walks among his ideological enemies.

I call it Reaganesque. I am sure the Gipper is smiling at you from heaven.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 17, 2006 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, does anybody besides me remember when Jimmy Carter was excoriated from the Right for his "lust in my heart" comment? Straight out of the New Testament.

Also, does anybody else remember that Reagan was viewed by the Right as "religious"? The man whose personal beliefs were more "secular" than any post-war President?

This happens because there is a narrative that is really easy to write if you don't want to do any work finding out that life is not black and white. Republican = religious = fundamentalist Christian. Democrat = non religious = someone who doesn't speak in tongues.

The thing about reaching out to moderate Christians? It is not necessary to use religious terms to do this. Policy should be quite sufficient. Destroying everything you touch is not good policy. Bush's mid 30s approval seems to suggest that people understand this and don't need to go to their Bibles to figure it out.

Posted by: Ba'al on March 17, 2006 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

One las thing and then I am gone. Here is the kind of Christian that lives in the GOP. This is why religious discourse in politics is historically led to unhappy results. Via Media Matters April 2005:

Don Wildmon's American Family Association Journal linked Judaism to criminality, hostility toward Christianity

In the March issue of American Family Association Journal, a publication of Donald E. Wildmon's right-wing evangelical activist group, the American Family Association (AFA), author Randall Murphree suggested that a Jewish upbringing leads to hatred of Christians, and by extension, a criminal lifestyle. Describing the background of a man who has a "ministry to the homeless," Murphree wrote in his article, "Homeless by Choice":

The Athens, Ohio, man grew up in a Jewish home and developed a hostile attitude toward Christ. As a teenager, he used drugs, sold drugs and accumulated quite a juvenile crime record. But after a high school friend persistently witnessed to him, Keith accepted Christ during his junior year in high school.

Murphree offered no explanation for the man's "hostile attitude toward Christ" other than his Jewish upbringing. Nor did he explain the man's drug use, drug dealing, and law-breaking in any way except in the context of his hostility toward Christ. Thus, Murphree linked Judaism to criminality.

The AFA Journal has long served as a platform for anti-Semitic theories and innuendo. For instance, Wildmon warned of Jewish control over popular culture, an old anti-Semitic canard, in a January 1989 article, "What Hollywood Believes and Wants." "The television elite are highly secular," Wildmon wrote. "The majority (59 percent) in the Jewish faith." In a separate article in the same issue, titled "Anti-Semitism Called a Serious Problem," Wildmon, a longtime opponent of gay rights, pointedly remarked that "Jews favor homosexual rights more than other Americans."

Posted by: Ba'al on March 17, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

See Pat at midnight for demonstration of phenomenon noted in my 11:57 post.

I think we may be stuck in one of those situations where conversation about a subject just makes it more obvious that there is no conversation to be had.

It's St.Patrick's Day. Lots to think about in that, even about religion and politics.

Posted by: Simon on March 17, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK


When Progressives start citing Marx, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Surely no educated person can be ignorant of what the followers of Marx such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, have done. A Progressive resorting to Marx leaves me feeling pretty much the same as I do when I read some Stormfront thug using the word "Holohoax"; angry and desiring to do physical violence.

Marxism/Leninism/Stalinism/Maoism isn't progressive anything, it's totalitarian crap. You like that stuff? Go join one of the little splinter Commie groups and take your bigoted crap with you. The rest of us have humane goals, not "Scientific Socialism" or "Great Leaps Forward", ok?

Posted by: Nobody on March 17, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

We are witnessing the latest version of a syndrome which has been driving the world for thousands of years. I thought the evolution of consciousness had at last gotten rid of it, but then Bushism, reared its ugly head. I still believe Bushism is the syndromes last or next-to-last gasp.

The syndrome states that the wealthy and powerful will use religion and patriotism to enlist the people in a crusade to bring them even more wealth and power. This has been said several times above, but I would add that the leaders are not as cynical and calculating as most of the posters think.

None of us really understand the impulses that drive us. We have a tendency to take our ignoble lusts and add enough fancy clothing for us see the package as a noble cause. Adherents of Bushism actually believe they are advancing the cause of God and country and, oh yes, it just happens to make them richer and more powerful. What a lovely coincidence.

This is what makes them so effective. Those who believe they serve the Higher Power are always the ones who fight the hardest. Every divinely ordained King is in this category. Napoleon and Hitler also saw themselves as the latest versions of the Holy Roman Emperors. (Even if Nazism was a recently made-up religion.) Now we have George Bush, a later and milder manifestation of the syndrome, threatening world peace like all the rest.

The way to defeat them? Make the liberal cause into a crusade for Truth. That will give it the single-mindedness and focus necessary to win. Only problem is, what is our truth? We used to all agree on rightsworkers, minorities, genderand we have had much success in those areas. But what is our truth now?

I would use compassion as our new truth. Health care, workers rights, concern for the environment, a regard for the whole world can be included in that idea. The various religions can fit easily, also. Of course Bushs marketing people have trademarked that word, but the wimps who head the Dem party wouldnt use it anyhow, because it would make us seem less than tough as toenails. I guess well wander in the wilderness for a while longer.

Posted by: James of DC on March 17, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

"Insulting moderate Christians and fighting tooth and nail for absolute separation of church and state is a one-way ticket to permanent minority status. And I'm fucking sick of it."

I don't see why you equate these two ideas, Violet.
Why does a 'moderate' Christian need to violate the principle of separataion of church and state?

What's happening in the US these days is, well, bizarre. We have an allegedly spendthrift President who just cannot help but decide that any religious intrusion into a traditionally secular government duty is a Good Idea(TM). He's unilaterally, extralegally, and unconstitutionally created an office to funnel our tax dollars to support religions.

This is not a good idea. It's unconstitutional. But the sad reality is that anybody who puts on a collar and pretends to be a priest is given enormous latitude in the amount of bullshit allowed by the American society.

And no, I'm not talking about _religious beliefs_. Even though I think that many of them are nonsensical. What I'm talking about is how the people feel the need to interfere with my freedom and use my tax dollars for ideas and programs that have nothing more to say for them than religious prejudice.

Picture a country where a pharmaceutical company develops a vaccine for a certain type of cancer, but it's opposed by one of these 'Christian family' groups because actual success in fighting cancer would remove a disincentive for sexual behavior. That's what the US is today, and it's nutty.

Between 20-30% of the US is non-praciticing when it comes to religion, and the figure has been rising. How many of the 535 representatives on Capitol Hill are non-religious? How many in the White House or at the Supreme Court are non-religious?

And the worst thing about all of it is the notion that Bush somehow represents a 'Good Christian'. Anybody who was serious about Christian theology would see how horribly the Bush doctrine diverges from Christian theology. And we're supposed to remain mum as he struts and postures and uses religion as a political weapon?

Fuck that.

Bush doctrine = strike first
Christian doctrine = turn the other cheek

Posted by: RickD on March 17, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Simon on March 17, 2006 at 10:09 AM:

It's St.Patrick's Day. Lots to think about in that, even about religion and politics.

National 'Skip work and drink green beer day'? I think I'll have some corned beef and cabbage...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 17, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Athos-

That may be the most creative rendition of "I'm rubber, you're glue" that I've ever witnessed. My congratulations on this dubious achievement in rhetoric.

Freepers of the Left, Unite.

Oh, and Bob, considering you just announced that discussing religion at a liberal blog is tantamount to trolling, can you at least muster sufficient frontal lobe functionality to comprehend that this proves Amy's point?

Posted by: Violet on March 17, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

"There are plenty of moral lessons to be drawn from the Bible and the Judeo-Christian traditions."

Yeah, lessons like murder heretics, persecute Jews, oppress homosexuals. That kind of moral lesson. The Bible and the Christian tradition are full of them.

Posted by: anon on March 17, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

"Christian doctrine = turn the other cheek"

Thank God we ignored Christian doctrine when we were confronted with Hitler, then.

Posted by: sushi lover on March 17, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry for the late reply to Frink:

You're not listening.

No, simply because I dispute your assertion doesn't mean I'm not listening.

If you, or any other liberal voter, votes for a law (either directly via a ballot proposition or indirectly through an elected representative)

I reject your inclusion of "elected representatives" here. For one thing, a representative is not necessarily even aware of what motivates each individual voters. For another, a representative is not bound to take each individual voter's moral position into account. For yet another, the fact that a voter's moral background leads him or her to agree with a law that serves a secular purpose does not eliminate the secular grounds -- and only secular grounds -- on which the law is passed.

No, no -- in a representatvie democracy, voters do not vote directly for laws, period. Your attempt to include representatives simply won't do.

And, need I add, you can hardly claim to know what motivates myself or any other liberal voter.

for a religious reason ("I support more welfare because Jesus says we should help the poor"),

Frankly, I think this hypothetical voter of yours is a straw man.

then you are trying to impose your religion on other people just as surely as a fundamentalist who votes to ban sodomy because the Bible forbids it is trying to impose his religion on other people.

There's a huge difference between having one's politics informed by one's morality, religious or otherwise, and crafting laws designed to force people to abide by your religious faith. So no, one is not attempting to impose one's religion by voting according to his or her faith, only by voting for laws that actually impose the strictures of that religion and serve no secular purpose. Even if laws against murder mirror religious scrictures against murder, it doesn't follow that laws against murder serve a religious, not a secular, purpose.

You're two sides of the same coin. You should both keep your Bibles out of the ballot box.

Again, regardless of the intentions of individual voters -- who, of course, may or may not comprise the majority of a Congresscritter's constituency -- law either has a valid secular purpose, as welfare does, or it does not, as laws that attempt to regulate private consensual sexual activity. Therefore, I simply reject the analogy you want to draw.

Posted by: Gregory on March 17, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

RickD--

I believe strongly in the separation of church and state. I also believe that court cases on trivial matters are causing a great deal of trouble.

Keeping mandatory prayer and proselytizing out of government offices and public schools is worth fighting for. Keeping "intelligent design" out of science classes is worth fighting for. How many here really think that the secular purity of the Pledge of Allegiance is worth taking a stand that will alienate swing voters?

It's cliche, but nonetheless true: the perfect is the enemy of the good. There's a fine line between striving admirably to maintain the separation of church and state, and actively encouraging people to view liberals as hostile to religion.

Of course the right-wing manipulates Christians into supporting policies that benefit only the wealthy elite. Of course secular candidates shouldn't try to fake the Jesus love to get elected. Neither Waldman nor Sullivan nor anyone else here other than right-wing trolls would dispute those notions. That isn't what this discussion is about. Hell, I'm not religious, and it makes me just as mad as it makes you that this essentially disqualifies me from public office. But come on. Deal with it, people.

Every time Sullivan pops up here, she makes the case that many people vote against Democrats for exactly one reaon-- the misperception that we're hostile to faith-- and says we need to change those perceptions. And every time, a half dozen people pop up on this board, call her names, and accuse her of being a stooge of Karl Rove or some such.

I disagree with Amy on a lot of things, and I'm not sure I agree with her about the solution to this problem. But she's right that it's a problem.

Posted by: Violet on March 17, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

"There's a huge difference between having one's politics informed by one's morality, religious or otherwise, and crafting laws designed to force people to abide by your religious faith."

What's the difference, then? If voting to ban sodomy because the Bible forbids it is an imposition of religion, why isn't voting for welfare because Jesus teaches us to care for the poor also an imposition of religion? You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Frink on March 17, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Voting for welfare is because it benefits cociety as a whole, sodomy belongs in your little chamberle, it is your private affair and effects only you and your partner or partners or whatever. I for one don't even want to know.

Posted by: Renate on March 17, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sick of hearing Amy Sullivan crying about people not respecting her religiosity. People who spend a lot of time talking about their religion are sick. They are using religion as a crutch to cover over their lack of a real life.

Posted by: beb on March 17, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Every time Sullivan pops up here, she makes the case that many people vote against Democrats for exactly one rea(s)on

Dear violet. A couple of things.

1. The evidence for Amy's claim is weak, circumstantial, and anecdotal.

2. Even if her claim is true, there is little we can do to overcome this perception. The right can make great hay out of the "war on christmas", but we get no traction on the "war on the poor and middle class". Is this our fault? I would argue no.

3. Times change. Discuss religious belief in the context of the abolitionist movement circa 1845 and those who opposed their viewpoint.

4. The problem is that many independents have internalized the gop world view of "free markets", "no taxes", and "strong" national defense. The confluence of these positions with some politically active conservative christians is transitory.

In summary: We SHALL overcome.

Posted by: kaptain kapital on March 17, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Renate,

The issue isn't whether there is a secular justification for either law. The issue is why it's okay to support one law for religious purposes but not the other.

Posted by: Frink on March 17, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals need to use religion the same way conservatives do: as a tool to punish opponents.

When Bush says Jesus is his favorite philosopher he needs to be called a liar, not respected for his simple mindedness. GE's and Haliburton's financial reports are his religious documents and he should be accused of turnng his back on Jesus' teachings.

Robertson, Hagee, Haggard, Parsley, et al, worship an angry vengeful selfish God who seeks to punish.

Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Carter, et al, worship a loving God who seeks compassion for all.

Conservatives love war and killing.

Liberals love peace and reconcilliation.

Conservatives want to make suffer those they disagree with.

Liberals want to love and welcome everyone into the family of humanity.

Conservatives use religious organizations like crime mobsters.

Liberals use religion to help the unfortunate.

Conservatives want to impose religious authority.

Liberals want to reach out and allow individuals to choose.

That was easy. Ms.Sullivan should try it.

Posted by: Hostile on March 17, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Frink, please name one law that is ok to support for religious purposes. Our laws are to benefit the nation as a whole, never to enforce anyones religious believes.

Reading the posts one gets the impression that the only morals are christian morals. There are teachings of Confucius, secular humanism, other asien religious teachings.

In the end it is about living together in the best way possible.

To respect the privacy of each other is most important.

Posted by: Renate on March 17, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

What's the difference, then?

Since I've explained it already, it seems like you're the one not listening, Frink.

If voting to ban sodomy because the Bible forbids it is an imposition of religion, why isn't voting for welfare because Jesus teaches us to care for the poor also an imposition of religion?

Because, a), imposing religious values on the private sexual practices of consenting adults has no credible secular benefit, whereas social programs like welfare do, regardless of the moral justification some people may attach to them, and b), you haven't established that nay representatives vote for welfare solely -- or, indeed, at all -- because Jesus teaches us to care for the poor.

You can't have it both ways.

By continuing to insist on your false equivalence, Frink, it's you who are trying to have it both ways.

Again, and for the last time: Whether public policy -- from welfare spending to the construction of nuclear weapons -- is informed by moral values or not, it is irrelevant to the secular purpose of these programs. That is the difference between some programs and those, like teaching so-called "Intelligent Design" in public school science class or criminalizing consensual sexual practices among consenting adults -- are an attempt to codify religious values into law regardless of their secular purpose.

Are we clear, now?

Posted by: Gregory on March 17, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

The issue isn't whether there is a secular justification for either law.

Au contraire, Frink, it's the absence of a secular justification that makes a law an imposition of religious values, while the secular justification for another law makes the moral basis for the law, at best, irrelevant.

The issue is why it's okay to support one law for religious purposes but not the other.

No, the issue is why some laws are an impositon of religion and others are not. Regardless of whether some voters support a law based on their religious beliefs -- an assertion which, by the way, you have failed to support (the fact that opposition to welfare among so-called Christians is rightly mocked by quoting Christ's words at them hardly means that supporters do so on religious grounds -- after all, an atheist could just as easily point out that hypocrisy) -- if it is enacted by their representatives for a secular purpose, it is not an imposition of religion, and if a religious value is imposed with no good secular purpose, it is.

Supporting a secular law because of one's religious beliefs is not imposing those beliefs on others. Writing one's religious beliefs into law is.

Are we clear?

Posted by: Gregory on March 17, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm one of those who above criticized certain Christian "beliefs" as superstition, and some Amy-defenders have seized on my comments as proof that liberals don't like Christians.

First, I'm not liberal. I'm a knee-jerk moderate.

Second, I used Christian examples of the supersition of religion because (A) that's the religion everyone's talking about (nobobdy thinks the "lefties" are dissing Judaism or Buddhism), and (B) having been dragged to church every week for 18 years, that's the religion I'm most familiar with.

But, I also think it is very silly indeed to think Big Daddy in the Sky squeezed the Prophet until the Quran came out, or that BDIS used a thunderbolt to etch 10 laws into a couple of slabs of rock, or that BDIS dropped a golden book and some special glasses to read it into the lap of an American teenager. I also think it's silly to think a big raven dropped the world out of his mouth.

So, yes, I am hostile to religion.

No, I'm not liberal.

No, I don't think that's a problem. Religious people need to start to use their brains to figure out which political party in this country lied us into war, which political party wants to pollute our water and air, which political party wants to bleed wage workers dry to make the fat cats fatter.

And to have such mainstream, good for most of us attitudes described as "liberal" just makes me even angrier. These should be hard-core all-Amerian values. And if "religious" politicians are using gay marriage to make "religious" voters ignore the true ills of this country, then those "religious" voters deserve to be slapped upside the head.

Sorry, but that's what gives "religion" a bad name. That it turns people's head from issues that should truly matter to all of us so they can obsess over "sins" as defined by their "priests" that do not harm the body politic.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 17, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Amy, in the future it would be wsie not to discuss this issue. Any time you do, the responses you will garner, reinforce republican talking points about godless liberals hostile to religion & that hurts the party.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 17, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Just a few points,

lots of christians vote democratic.


Former President Carter is a true Christian if there are any, and he is a Democrat.

To be liberal is just using commn sense.

Posted by: Renate on March 17, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Violet,

You decry the so-called hostility of secular humanists toward relgion, and conclude by calling us assholes. Oh, the delicious irony. I merely felt your pithy epithet could have done with a bit of literary elaboration, which I willingly provided. Glad you appreciated the literary, if not the ironic, qualities of my riposte.

And as to your query about the Pledge of Allegiance, hell yes it's a battle worth fighting. The daily conflation of religion and patriotism, inflicted on young and impressionable minds in the form of an essentially mandatory ritualistic recitation: here you have the very definition of the establishment of religion. The Ninth Circuit agreed, and ruled for Michael Newdow. Craven politicians of both parties scurried to the steps of the Capitol with their hands over their hypocritcal hearts to recite the pledge in its unconstitutionally altered form.

Yes, those liberal Democrats are certainly hostile to religion, aren't they? So hostile that they'll sell out the Constitution and undermine the courts to cowtow to the religious right. Give me a break.

Posted by: athos on March 17, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Ms. Sullivan, I want to thank you for bringing up this subject. I think you are wrong to want to reach out to the overtly religious with liberal values because they are antithetical to those values and will not compromise them. What I think is important about the subject is that liberals need to learn how to use religion to expose its opponents' lack of Christian and American values. If liberal politicians would communicate the irreligous values of people like Bush and DeLay, and call their opponenents demagogues who use religion as a propaganda tool, then I think they could win the public debate. When liberals shy away from the religious values debate, for whatever reasons, they appear to acquiesce to the anti-Christian values the conservatives want to impose.

Posted by: Hostile on March 17, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Hamletta,

Of course theology is not simple. That is because it is a centuries-old accretion of tortured logic, obscurantist language and contradictory arguments all proceeding from naive superstition and magical thinking.

Let me know when they've finally decided how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Posted by: athos on March 17, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

"nobobdy thinks the "lefties" are dissing Judaism"

That's my cue. Increasingly I see tacit support for anti-Semitism on the Left. Not the "any criticism of any policy of Israel is anti-Semitic" kind, either. Sympathy for the Palestinians continues to morph into something more and more like outright support for Fatah, Hamas and other organizations dedicated to killing as many Jews as possible in the Middle East.

Some on the Left dismiss all religious people as fools, you can see them in this thread if you bother to read all the postings; the suggestion that bigotry against people based on skin color or religion is met with the sophomoric suggestion that "you can just change your religion". Ok, so if a Jewish family is under attack by skinheads, they're supposed to renounce Judaism in order to make the whitepower-rangers go away?

There's a word for that, but it isn't "liberal".

Posted by: Another nobody on March 17, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Increasingly I see tacit support for anti-Arabism on the Right. Not the "any criticism of any policy of Palestine is anti-Arabic" kind, either. Sympathy for the Israelis continues to morph into something more and more like outright support for Likkud, Irgun, the Stern Gang and other organizations dedicated to killing as many Arabs as possible in the Middle East.

Some on the Right dismiss all liberal people as fools, you can see them in this thread if you bother to read all the postings; the suggestion that bigotry against people based on skin color or religion is met with the sophomoric suggestion that "you can just change your religion". Ok, so if an Islamic family is under attack by militant Zionists, they're supposed to renounce Islam in order to make the God's chosen-rangers go away?

There's a word for that, but it isn't "conservative".

Posted by: Another everybody on March 17, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Skinheads attacking Jews is an example of the problems caused by religion, not the problems caused by secularism. The skinheads are not being secularist, their attacking another's religion because it isn't their religion.

Point out a secularist who is an anti-semite, i.e. who hates Jews above all other groups.

We secularits think everyone should stop with this religious mumbo-jumbo. Jews weren't chosen by God any more than Mormons were. Nobody was chosen by God. God is a creation of the mind of man, not the other way around.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 17, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Ba'al, that was a lovely compliment. It's not so much the naughtiness of the language I find disagreeable. Rather, it's the vulgarity and mindlessness of it. As for walking among our ideological enemiesI ought to have said opponentswe should all do more of it. Life is not, as you note, always black and white.

I know quite a few Evangelicals and some fundamentalists. They generally do not have a problem with allowing their political beliefs to be influenced by their moral beliefsthe same might be said of non-religious persons, tooand those moral beliefs are, of course influenced by their religious faith, but they are mostly very wary of mixing politics and religion more directly. Of course there are noisy exceptions, and they probably don't use spell checkers, either.

Posted by: Robert Thornton on March 17, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Violet:

> Oh, and Bob, considering you just announced that discussing
> religion at a liberal blog is tantamount to trolling, can
> you at least muster sufficient frontal lobe functionality
> to comprehend that this proves Amy's point?

No, Violet. Thank *you* for proving *my* point.

This has gone too far. I'm about to email Amy and literally beg
her not to post on this topic anymore. It's tearing us apart.
I used to agree with your posts, Violet. Your posting in this
thread has proven you have an insufferable superiority complex.

I already emailed Amy my second post -- you know, the long, thoughtful
one that you chose to ignore in favor of my troll remark? (Hamletta,
a Lutheran, responded in agreement.) The *only* thing I'm hearing
from people on all sides of this "debate" is I'm-better-than-you.

You're the one who started calling people assholes, Violet.

Given all your good comments elswhere, it's obvious
that you're not a troll. So quit acting like one.

Thanks,

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 17, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Increasingly I see tacit support for anti-Arabism on the Right. Not the "any criticism of any policy of Palestine is anti-Arabic" kind, either. Sympathy for the Israelis continues to morph into something more and more like outright support for Likkud, Irgun, the Stern Gang and other organizations dedicated to killing as many Arabs as possible in the Middle East.

I'm not sure how one could have support for the Stern Gang or Irgun, since they don't exist any more. It's true that rightwingers give a blank check to Israeli governments, especially to the Sharon one, but so what? Does the existence of prejudice and bigotry on the right somehow make anti-Semitism on the Left acceptable?

Some on the Right dismiss all liberal people as fools, you can see them in this thread if you bother to read all the postings;

Who expects the Right to do any less? But aren't liberals supposed to be more tolerant of differences, and inclusive to people?

the suggestion that bigotry against people based on skin color or religion is met with the sophomoric suggestion that "you can just change your religion". Ok, so if an Islamic family is under attack by militant Zionists, they're supposed to renounce Islam in order to make the God's chosen-rangers go away?

No, of course not, I didn't say such a thing, you are making things up.

So now anti-Semitism is ok, because some people are anti-Islamic bigots? Is that what you are trying to say?

There's a word for that, but it isn't "conservative"

So what? Who cares what mistakes the conservatives make? I'll make it very simple for you: are anti-Semitic bigots welcome in your version of liberalism, or not? Can you answer that question?

Posted by: Another nobody on March 17, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Skinheads attacking Jews is an example of the problems caused by religion, not the problems caused by secularism. The skinheads are not being secularist, their attacking another's religion because it isn't their religion.

Skinheads attacking Jewish people is an example of anti-Semitic hatred. I don't care what religion a skinhead is, many of them seem to be nihilists. Demanding that people change their religion to make their enemies happy isn't a very liberal way of thinking, is it? Would you give up being a secularist to make some Islamist radical stop attacking you? Of course not. I assume you are a feminist, would you give up that philosophical position to make some male chauvanist stop attacking you? Of course not. So why are religious people supposed to give up their beliefs to please others? Can you explain that?

Point out a secularist who is an anti-semite, i.e. who hates Jews above all other groups.

I don't know who's secular and who's not, and I don't care. I see more and more anti-Jewish sentiment at A.N.S.W.E.R. rallies, for example. Not anti-Zionist, although that's there and it isn't anti-Semitic, but anti-Jewish. It isn't just calls to close the settlements, it's demands that Israel cease to exist at all!

On this very thread I've seen Joe Liebermann attacked for being public about his Judaism. Not for his political positions, not for his policies, but for his religion. That's not liberal, is it? It's something else, shall I name it?

We secularits think everyone should stop with this religious mumbo-jumbo. Jews weren't chosen by God any more than Mormons were. Nobody was chosen by God. God is a creation of the mind of man, not the other way around.

You believe anything you want to, that's fine with me, but why do you demand I have to believe like you? That's not liberal! That's not inclusive!

Posted by: Another Nobody on March 17, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Well, getting towards 350 posts here, the majority of them telling Amy Sullivan to stop talking about a subject that they themselves are evidently rather eager to talk about. If they were serious about the subject being tired and boring and beaten to death ten times already, there'd be maybe ten posts here.

Posted by: waterfowl on March 17, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

You know, if we could help to make one or two liberal ministers famous, so that they could represent liberal religious people on talk shows and so that our liberal politicians could be seen with them --- well, I think we could change a lot of perceptions.

Posted by: catherineD on March 17, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

catherineD,

Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Barry Lynn all seem to be making the talk show rounds on a regular basis. I don't think they are changing any perceptions, though.

Posted by: pepster on March 17, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"why do you demand I have to believe like you?"

Just where did I demand that? You can believe any darned stupid thing you want to believe. I don't really care. Just stop saying I have to respect your for it. Or "include" you in a rational discussion of public policy.

What I would like to see is public policy made on the basis of demonstrable cause and effect, not on the basis of "truth" handed down from an invisible being, no matter whether than invisible being is Krishna, God, Yahweh or Allah.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 17, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I read last week that some astronomical amount of billions of dollars of "worker productivity" would be lost to the NCCA tournament. So we're going to have to figure out a way to tell the statsmongers that at much of the lost worker productivity was due to this thread, instead.

It's kind of like the surge in Sirius subscriptions over Christmas being attributed to Howard Stern. I'm still trying to figure out how to let everybody know, yeah, I got Sirius, but it wasn't so I could listen to Howard Stern.

I use it to listen to the NCCA tournament while at work. And reading this stuff. Man, I just got a double double . . . .

Posted by: Random on March 17, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Yahweh?

NO WAY!

Posted by: Powerpuff on March 17, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

"What I would like to see is public policy made on the basis of demonstrable cause and effect"

Yeah right. At least someone on this thread has a sense of humor.

Posted by: pepster on March 17, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hamletta, do you think that because Dr. Dean is a Congregationalist that he therefore must not be also an agnostic?

Yes, my ill-informed friend. From the NACCC Web site:

The Congregational Way is a way of following Christ. People of a Congregational Church do not seek to be led by a creed, but by the Spirit. Ours is the tradition of a free church, gathered under the headship of Christ and bound to others by love, not law.

You may have confused Congregationalists with Unitarian-Universalists. The former are explicitly Christian, the latter not necessarily.

Of course theology is not simple. That is because it is a centuries-old accretion of tortured logic, obscurantist language and contradictory arguments all proceeding from naive superstition and magical thinking.

Oh, really? Please give me the list of theological works you've studied, that I might feel the scales falling from my eyes, O wise one!

Look: I really don't care what you think. My faith is my faith. I'm not going to walk away from it on the opinion of some bobohead on the internets. I draw comfort from its rituals, its teachings help to hone my sense of ethics, its lesson that we are all beggars at the foot of the cross reminds me that I'm no better than anyone elsenot even boboheads on the internets.

But that's just me. It obviously doesn't work for you, and that's fine. I don't think not believing in God makes you a bad person any more than believing in God makes you a good person. There are plenty of beautiful ethical/philosophical frameworks that don't involve a supreme being. Hell, I was an apathetic agnostic for years, and my thinking didn't change much when I joined the church.

So flippant dismissals don't really accomplish much, except to highlight your ignorance on the matter. From where I stand, they're not arguments so much as schoolyard taunts.

Posted by: hamletta on March 17, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

hamletta:

Your non-exclusivist brand of faith is an inspiration. Were more religious people inclined to offer that much respect to other views, I daresay we wouldn't be in the mess we're in ...

And that goes equally for my atheist friends.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 17, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hamletta,

My ignorance, as you choose to style it, is based on a degree in Renaissance and Reformation European History. I have read enough theology and enough glosses on theology to stand by my characterization of it. Not that I need to justify my credentials to you, any more than you need to justify your faith to me.

It's your faith and you are welcome to it. It is my considered opinion that, founded in error though it may be, if your faith gives you solace and makes you a better person then I'm all for it. But if it leads you into temptation, and prompts you to call those with whom you disagree "ignorant boboheads," well, then that's a horse of a different color!

I do, you see, try to love the theologian and hate the theology...

Posted by: athos on March 17, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

"why do you demand I have to believe like you?"

Just where did I demand that?

Well, when you stated that skinhead attacks on Jews are caused by the fact that the targets are Jewish, of course, and stated flatly that you want people to stop believing in "mumbo-jumbo". It looks to me that you are saying "If Jews want to be safe from skinheads, all they have to do is become atheists like me". Is that not what you meant to say?

You can believe any darned stupid thing you want to believe. I don't really care. Just stop saying I have to respect your for it. Or "include" you in a rational discussion of public policy.

So you don't feel obliged to respect people that are different from you? Is that your idea of liberal thinking?

What I would like to see is public policy made on the basis of demonstrable cause and effect, not on the basis of "truth" handed down from an invisible being, no matter whether than invisible being is Krishna, God, Yahweh or Allah.

I don't see any public policy being made on the basis of the Jewish religion. Could you be specific?

Do Jewish people have a place in the Democrat party as you see it?

Posted by: Another Nobody on March 17, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

"No, the issue is why some laws are an impositon of religion and others are not."

No, the issue is why a law banning sodomy on religious grounds is an imposition of religion, while a law providing tax-funded welfare to poor people on religious grounds is not an imposition of religion.

If you agree that your beliefs about what Jesus taught, and any other religious beliefs you may have, do not justify laws that provide welfare to the poor, that your religious beliefs are utterly irrelevant to whether a law is justified or not, just say so.

"Supporting a secular law because of one's religious beliefs is not imposing those beliefs on others. Writing one's religious beliefs into law is."

Incomprehensible. What's a "secular law?" Do you mean any civil law? Or only civil laws that have a secular purpose? Or what? And what does it mean to "support a secular law because of one's religious beliefs?" What's the difference between that, and "writing one's religious beliefs into law?"


Posted by: Frink on March 17, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

OK, I'm late to the party. But I've just got to say, when you're trying to make a point about extremist liberal Democrats sounding anti-religion and your two exemplars at Kevin Phillips, a conservative Republican, and Bill Moyers, an ordained Southern Baptist minister whose center-left politics come directly from his religion, -- well, my mind just absolutely boggles. I just keep hearing a mechanical voice in my head saying "This does not compute!"

Posted by: cailte on March 19, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm glad to see that the vituperation heaped on the right apparently comes from the same people who resist reason regardless of the source.

Posted by: A Cornerite on March 19, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

cailteL"I just keep hearing a mechanical voice in my head saying "This does not compute!""

That's what the kool-ade'sfor - it silences those little voices . . . though ignorance and a heavy helping of right-wing media helps too, I guess. . .

Another Nobody: "Do Jewish people have a place in the Democrat party as you see it?"
I sure he would think they do. What he - and I, as a Jewish person - surely would both agree is that laws banning the consumption of pork or requiring blessings before, say, eating. Even if some group ran around yelling 'trichinosis! trichinosis!' it would be obvious what was going on.

"No, the issue is why a law banning sodomy on religious grounds is an imposition of religion, while a law providing tax-funded welfare to poor people on religious grounds is not an imposition of religion."

There is, of course, no such law as the latter.

This whole thing is silly. The Pew Poll Amy cites shows a drop - a fairly big drop, too - in 2005. What did Democrats do? Nothing. (Except be accused of fighting a war against Christmas.) It's branding, narrative, etc. The same poll shows 30% of Republicans and 45% of people overall think that the Republican Party "is too influenced by religious conservatives" - and almost mirror images on the orther side for non-religious liberals and their influence over Dems. Also, "Independents are more likely to describe the Republican Party as controlled by religious conservatives (54%) than to describe the Democratic Party as controlled by secular liberals (43%)"

47% of moderate/liberal Republicans think conservative Christains have gone too far in trying to impose their religious values on the country - so do 47% of mainline protestants and 21% of evangelicals.

Most importantly, while 51% think the Rs are more concerned with protecting religious values (vs. 28 Ds), 52% of folks think Ds are more concerned with protecting personal freedoms. If we want to get our message out, we have to explain how protecting personal freedoms is our way of protecting religious values (among other things). Separation of church and state isn't about us hatin' on religion, it's about insisting that the government bend over backwards so as to not even risk stepping on people's religious values. It's so important, we're not going to touch it, but ensure that it's left to those hands and places - parents, homes, churches, clergy - who will be the most careful with it.

Posted by: Dan S. on March 19, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

I meant to end those italics after 'way', but hey, it kinda works . . .

and also, that me and whoever " both agree is that laws banning the consumption of pork or requiring blessings before, say, eating." are unconstitutional, etc. Don't know where my brain is today - oh, I forgot to put it in this morning, that explains it . .

Posted by: Dan S. on March 19, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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