Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 17, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

JOHN McCAIN, SEMI-BAPTIST....The latest weirdness from the traveling carnival that is the Republican presidential campaign is John McCain's sudden assertion that he's not an Episcopalian, as he's always identified himself before, but a Baptist. In fact, he's been attending a Baptist church for 15 years. Only one problem: he's never been, um, baptized. "I didn't find it necessary to do so for my spiritual needs," he told McClatchy a couple of months ago. Georgia cracker Ed Kilgore comments:

Well, you'd think anyone who's been attending a Baptist Church for 15 years might have caught wind of the fact that the denomination, as its name suggests, believes rather adamantly that baptism is necessary for salvation, a reasonably important "spiritual need" by most measurements.

And no, it wouldn't cut any ice with his fellow-Baptists if it turns out that McCain, like most Episcopalians, was baptized via sprinkling as an infant. Any kind of Baptist I've ever heard of holds that only a "believer's baptism" (i.e., at an age of consent) through full bodily immersion is valid. That's why their theological ancestors in Europe were contemptuously dubbed "Re-baptizers," or "Anabaptists."

I don't know why McCain has chosen to wander into this particular thicket. But the only way out I can imagine is if he asks Huckabee to baptize him during the next candidate debate.

The June McClatchy story is here:

McCain still calls himself an Episcopalian, but he said he began attending North Phoenix Baptist because he found "the message and fundamental nature more fulfilling than I did in the Episcopal church. ... They're great believers in redemption, and so am I."

I dunno. McCain may be a Baptist, but he sure doesn't sound especially convinced about it. Still, it'd be a shame to waste all that pandering he did to Jerry Falwell last year. Baptist it is!

UPDATE: Several commenters and emailers have written to correct Ed's theology. For example, gemini in comments:

I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church and can tell you that Baptists — at least Southern Baptists — do not believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. Rather, they consider baptism an outward sign of an inward conversion. They baptize — and yes, only by immersion — anyone who "accepts Christ." But that acceptance is the only thing necessary for salvation.

And this via email:

Southern Baptists, the largest and most representative strain of evangelical Baptist denominations, believe that baptism is the second ordinance of the church (communion being the other), but while both are essential parts of the Christian's life after conversion, they do not save. Rather they are sanctifying activities that perfect the saint's redemption. Instead of asking if McCain has been baptized, most Baptists and/or evangelicals watching McCain in all this are going to ask: has he been saved? That is, has he had a personal experience with the Lord Jesus Christ, during which he prayed a sinner's prayer, asked forgiveness for his sin(s), and invited Christ into his heart for eternity?

Right. Faith, not works. Faith, not works. Faith.....

Kevin Drum 8:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (80)

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Comments

Since McCain is a graduate of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA, I wonder if he'll be asked to return his diploma?

Posted by: Cash on September 17, 2007 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

I hear Larry Craig, Lindsay Graham and Newt Gingrich are Analbaptists.

Posted by: Mitt Romnie on September 17, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church and can tell you that Baptists - at least Southern Baptists - do not believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. Rather, they consider baptism an outward sign of an inward conversion. They baptize - and yes, only by immersion - anyone who "accepts Christ." But that acceptance is the only thing necessary for salvation.

This has been your mini theology lesson for today.

BTW, the McCain thing - it's just weird.

Posted by: gemini on September 17, 2007 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Holy Shit!

I wonder if he's gotten so senile that the cognitive dissonance of his current flailings don't keep him up at night.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 17, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Not to sound like a McCain defender, but I do remember reading something about McCain's dual denominationalhood in TIME during his 2000 primary race--when he was hardly concerned about pandering to Falwell. If I didn't have a job, I would look it up.

Posted by: Alex Parker on September 17, 2007 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Baptists (despite the name) do not believe that baptism is required for salvation. Baptism is needed for membership in the church. A public profession of faith in Jesus as Savior is what Baptist believe is required for salvation.

Posted by: arkie on September 17, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

In religion as in politics McCain is relentlessly confused.

Posted by: Ross Best on September 17, 2007 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

So McCain is going to make a run at Romney’s solid hold on the Most Disingenuous Whore prize. Good for McCain. I just hope he can hear the difference between snickers and clapping.

Posted by: Larry, Darell and Darell on September 17, 2007 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Who am I kidding? I don't have anything remotely resembling a life.

Here's the Time Mag story from 2000:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,996351,00.html

The only difference is in 2000 he still identified as Episcopalian while going to a Baptist church, whereas now he identifies as Baptist.

Seriously, this one does not pass the "Imagine if my guy was doing this" test.

Posted by: Alex Parker on September 17, 2007 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

**

Posted by: mhr on September 17, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

I hear he's heading to New York tomorrow to be circumcized.

Ahh, where's pander bear when you need him.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on September 17, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

So McCain considers himself a Baptist, but the church doesn't consider him one.

no joke. not feeling clever now. :(

Posted by: absent observer on September 17, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

If you listen to John McCain lately you get the idea he has just about lost it. He can't remember what he said or heard just last week. He argues with video tape the way an old man argues with the television. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't start wearing goofy clothes soon.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 17, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: no slander of edwards?

we expect more from you....

Posted by: ben on September 17, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is 'John the Half-Baptist'.

Posted by: Jim on September 17, 2007 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Babel, Bibel, Balal.

He just has the gates confused... yeh, thats what happened..yeh, thats the ticket to Nimrod.

Posted by: Ya Know... on September 17, 2007 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican contenders for the 2008 presidential nomination - The Gang That Could Dissemble Straight.

Posted by: JeffII on September 17, 2007 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

This is all a hopeful and stagey trick to be on the side of "Jesus' true teachings" when the Iraq occupation buzzes into The Crapper next year. It is all going to be a carefully thought out rationalization: "Why we are leaving there so quickly, because Jesus would think it would be best."

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 17, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

McCain? Name kinda rings a bell. Didn't he run for President a while back? I forget, what ever happened to him?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 17, 2007 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if he goes to church like he visits the market in Baghdad? It's a Shura thing McCain won't be the nominee, he's putting down a big carbon footprint for nothing.

An interesting post, more interesting to me anyway, is what's up with McCain and Jon Stewart?

Posted by: TJM on September 17, 2007 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

My rebuttals to mhr *,**,*** and for one he hasn't made yet ****.

Posted by: R.L. on September 17, 2007 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

If McCain is a Baptist, does he openly drink alcohol ("wet") or does he do it in secret ("dry")?

If the latter, it would not be prudent to take him fishing unless there is another "dry" baptist on board, otherwise he would drink all my beer.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on September 17, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Jim: McCain is 'John the Half-Baptist'.

ROTFLMAO!

Posted by: alex on September 17, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

McCain like most "religious" people have very little understanding of their "faith" and what sets their sect apart from others.

Episcopalian vs. Baptist? Doesn't make much difference. And anyway it is the women folk who tell a man what religion he has and they go along to humor them. GWB? Raised Episcopalian but Laura has told him to be a Methodist.

Men are such pussies when it comes to religious conviction.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on September 17, 2007 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

It's Fred Thompson who believes that baptism is necessary for salvation, if we can believe the stories that he's a member of the Church of Christ. Baptist theology just can't be relied upon.

Posted by: FS on September 17, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

And anyway it is the women folk who tell a man what religion he has and they go along to humor them.

Perhaps in many relationships, but I don't think I could have pulled off that switch. It would have involved convincing a man who was raised Catholic that he was now a Reform Jew.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 17, 2007 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

McCain has long passed that moment where the grandkids are quietly told to keep the remote away from grandpapa--he is a tired, sad old man whose time has passed. He is Bob Dole, circa 1996, falling off stages and looking dazed and confused.

I love how the Republican Party campaigns--say fuck you to everyone of color, tell every kid they meet that they're a jerk, and relentlessly call for the US to become embroiled in ever more foreign entanglements.

They are going to spend a long time in the wilderness, that's for sure...

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 17, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

"...organized religion is for people who are afraid of hell. Spirituality is for people who've already been to hell." - Oliver Stone

"Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines." - Bertrand Russell

Posted by: daCasacadian on September 17, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

McCain lost it long ago.

The majority of religionists decide their choice at birth. Hardly an amazing fact. Personally I can't see any reason to favor one over the other, but some people change theirs for marriage or other reasons of preference or enlightenment. Convenience, perceived political advantage or complete stupidity seem no less reasonable.

Perhaps we should all change religion every 10 years. Would that lead to less fundamentalism? I'm not sure it would.

Posted by: notthere on September 18, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Now the Church of Christ (not to be confused with the largely Northern and very liberal United Church of Christ) does believe that salvation is necessary for salvation. But any good Baptist I knew -- and I grew up hard-core, just this side of foot-washing Baptist -- would have said that requiring baptism for salvation is heresy.

Posted by: Jeff on September 18, 2007 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

daCasacadian,

That reminds me of some other famous quotes.

"God is dead." -- Nietzsche

"Nietzsche is dead." -- God

Posted by: alex on September 18, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

I would countenance McCain's aquaphobic squeamishness (or hydrophobia which also causes his occasional foaming at the mouth) for the "full" Baptist ritual if he were not such a fan of water-boarding.

I hope that once he embraces the full tenants of the church, including no dancing, women wearing only long dresses, and foregoing the movin' picture show, the voices inside his head will start making sense again. Otherwise, he is a witch I think. And you can't dunk one of those. Qed.

Posted by: Sparko on September 18, 2007 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) quoting me says:

"And anyway it is the women folk who tell a man what religion he has and they go along to humor them."

Perhaps in many relationships, but I don't think I could have pulled off that switch. It would have involved convincing a man who was raised Catholic that he was now a Reform Jew.
Aw come on, it is easy. Reformed Jews are the least religious of the 3 official sects and are far away from the under sects of rabid fundamentalists. As far as I can tell most Reformed Jews just like to observe ceremonial meals to remind them that they are Jewish. As an atheist I have been at many and I actually had a staring role in a bris.

Into such a mild religiosity even a lapsed Catholic can participate and might be able to be called a Reformed Jew.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on September 18, 2007 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is just the latest victim of the Republicans' "God Trap."

That is, running as "men of faith" to lead what many of its own members call "God's Own Party," now McCain like Romney and Giuliani are being called on it.

For the details, see:
"The Republicans' God Trap."

Posted by: Furious on September 18, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

This is an easy one. Its simple math. There are many more Baptist republican primary voters than any other group - certainly way more than episcopals. Through those fuckers under the bus and hope the Baptists clap, is McCain's theory.

Posted by: mysticdog on September 18, 2007 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

When I was 18 I was pressured into being baptized. It was an experience very much like waterboarding.

Perhaps therein lies McCain's reluctance?

Posted by: KathyF on September 18, 2007 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

By my lights, you aren't even a true Christian, if you haven't been baptized. In McCain's case, I look to the words of Jesus, who said "By their actions ye shall know them".

McCain is not a Christian, but then, neither is George W. Bush.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 18, 2007 at 5:55 AM | PERMALINK

As the husband of an Episcopal priest I want to know why McCain thinks the Episcopal church doesn't represent his theology?

Is it because we ordain women and homosexuals? Don't you think that would be a question the media would love to ask him? It would allow him to REALLY pander to the right and it sure would make the evening news.

Posted by: Jesse Weiher on September 18, 2007 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

MonkeyBoy: "Episcopalian vs. Baptist? Doesn't make much difference."
Jesse Weiher: "Is it because we ordain women and homosexuals"

Right. In what will be a historic and possibly suicidal act, the Episcopal church of America is about to schism from the 77-million members of the worldwide Anglican Communion because the ECUSA chooses to ordain homosexuals, has installed one openly gay bishop and has another up for consideration and are threatening to approve same-sex marriages. We've got conservative parishes sucking up to homophobic Bishops in Nigeria, for heaven's sake. Those slamming doors you've been hearing? Those are Republicans walking out of Episcopal parishes across the USA.

Once upon a time, Episcopalians were Republicans at prayer, but that day is long past. Nowadays being an Episcopalian would be a liability for a conservative politician. The base knows exactly what McCain means when he says that he finds the Baptist "message and fundamental nature more fulfilling" than that of the "Episcopal church." It's code, people.

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 18, 2007 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

> I've ever heard of holds that only a "believer's baptism" (i.e., at an age of consent) through full bodily immersion is valid.

AS a refugee from the Baptist curch, I was raised to believe only the age of consent part of this. However, there are many, many sects and factions of Baptists, most of them fairly small. The Southern Baptists are the largest organized denomination. As most people know, the SBC is the largest US Protestant denomination.

Posted by: Laney on September 18, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, indeed, it is code.

However, fifteen years of listening to "Almost Persuaded" without "going forward" is remarkable. Grew up in a Baptist setting - At one point, the Southern types created a schism against the Northern pastor, walked out, and obtained a court order, thereby having the Sheriff locking the doors. Curses abounded. Fine Christians all.

Went through the dunking process, myself and remember well the old joke about the fellow who was thrice dunked without saying "I believe", until he finally said, "Yes, I believe you're trying to drown me".

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 18, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Poor bastard doesn't know if he's coming or going, just that he needs to pander pander pander if he's going to get any votes at all.

That said, what a jackass!

We need to coin a term for what he does every so often.

Is it the 'Pander Cha-Cha'? The 'Waffling Shuffle'?

Posted by: sara on September 18, 2007 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Now the Church of Christ (not to be confused with the largely Northern and very liberal United Church of Christ) does believe that salvation is necessary for salvation. But any good Baptist I knew -- and I grew up hard-core, just this side of foot-washing Baptist -- would have said that requiring baptism for salvation is heresy. Posted by: Jeff

Oh who cares? It's all superstitious nonsense. Pandering to religion or, worse yet, actually believing, is why we, meaning America, and the ME have so many problems.

Posted by: JeffII on September 18, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

As far as I can tell most Reformed Jews just like to observe ceremonial meals to remind them that they are Jewish.

Without the religion explain how someone is a Jew? It's not a nationality or "racial" group. Historically, Jews are no different than many of the Semitic peoples of the ME.

As an atheist I have been at many and I actually had a staring role in a bris. Posted by: MonkeyBoy

I think you are confusing jail house tattoos with circumcision.

Posted by: JeffII on September 18, 2007 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Went through the dunking process, myself and remember well the old joke about the fellow who was thrice dunked without saying "I believe", until he finally said, "Yes, I believe you're trying to drown me"."

That's a good one.
My understanding is that baptism is an outward expression of the salvation that has occurred within. It's basically a picture of death and resurrection, which is why Baptists usually prefer "immersion" to "sprinkling." The idea is that Christ died, and resurrected, and then when you are "regenerated" (i.e. born again) you are joined to Christ's death and resurrection. You are "baptized into His death," and "raised to walk in newness of life."
End of Bible lesson.
I don't have any idea how much of this, if any, McCain himself believes.

Posted by: further explanation on September 18, 2007 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

I don't have any idea how much of this, if any, McCain himself believes.

He'll "believe" whatever it takes to get elected. Too bad for him, he's gonna need to believe in (and use) magic if he's to be elected. Or perhaps hypnosis.

Posted by: ckelly on September 18, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

McCain was politically baptized by full immersion in bullshit. When he hugged W and tried to suck his way into the Republican nomination he was born again as a traitor to principle. Prior to his conversion he had always been the opposite.

Posted by: chance on September 18, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK
Without the religion explain how someone is a Jew? It's not a nationality or "racial" group.

Yeah, actually, it is an ethnic group as much as any other ethnic group is.

Historically, Jews are no different than many of the Semitic peoples of the ME.

Yes, and Arabs are also an ethnic group, despite the fact that that same statement is equally true with "Arab" in the place of "Jew". Ethnicity is a social construct, not something that exists objectively in nature. That enough people (religious and secular Jews included) believe that Jews form an ethnic group as well as a religion makes it true (inasmuch as any ethnic identity can be "true").


Posted by: cmdicely on September 18, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

PTate,

If you are so concerned about homosexuals, you should only support those politicians and religious leaders who publicly vew homosexuality as a threat to our society.

Like Rev. Ted Haddard or Rev. Paul Crouch, or Rev. Paul Barnes, or U.S. Sen. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig or Florida State legislator Bob Allen (John McCain's Florida chairman).

Heck, if your British, you could even vote for Secretary Ron Davies.

You conservatives do such a wonderful job of keeping out the homosexuals out of your churches and public offices ;-)

Ted Haggard
http://english.pravda.ru/news/world/10-11-2006/85454-pastor-0

Paul Crouch
http://www.ctlibrary.com/11928

Paul Barnes
http://www.evangelicalright.com/2006/12/second_megachurch_pastor_resig.html

Bob Allen
http://www.topix.com/news/gay/2007/07/fl-republican-state-rep-in-bathroom-sex-scandal

Ron Davies
http://www.iht.com/articles/1998/10/29/wales.t.php

We all know about the wide stance

Posted by: Jesse Weiher on September 18, 2007 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, and Arabs are also an ethnic group, despite the fact that that same statement is equally true with "Arab" in the place of "Jew". Ethnicity is a social construct, not something that exists objectively in nature. That enough people (religious and secular Jews included) believe that Jews form an ethnic group as well as a religion makes it true (inasmuch as any ethnic identity can be "true"). Posted by: cmdicely

The difference being is that for Jews and most Arabs, their ethnic cohesion comes primarily from a religious text. Dump the book and only then it is a more garden variety shared set of traditions shorn of the claims to divinity, chosen-ness and all other nonsense. A secular Jew is an oxymoron. Either you are secular or you profess the Jewish faith. You can't have it both ways. Otherwise it's just a collection of weird dietary "laws." If you want to embrace Kosher or Halal, you might as well be a Rastafarian. Then at least you get to smoke dope and listen to good music.

Posted by: JeffII on September 18, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is still stinging from the 2000 loss.

After John's New Hampshire primary win, Karl Rove ran a ruthless, shameless and highly successful slime campaign that united southern conservatives against him.

However much the landscape may have changed since then, McCain still has a bit of tunnel vision on this matter. The scars run that deep.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 18, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

My spouse grew up in a small town in Oregon. It turns out many of the Baptist churches in rural Oregon actually split off from the Mennonites early in the Twentieth Century. The big points of contention that drove the schism? Service in the military and baptism by full emersion. Who would have thought being sprinkled or dunked would make that big a difference?

Posted by: fafner1 on September 18, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Who would have thought being sprinkled or dunked would make that big a difference? Posted by: fafner1

Are you kidding? We're talking about religion here.

Posted by: JeffII on September 18, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK
The difference being is that for Jews and most Arabs, their ethnic cohesion comes primarily from a religious text.

Religion as a source of shared identity figures pretty high in most definitions of ethnicity I've seen. For instance, American Heritage gives this as definition 1(a) of "ethnic":

Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sizable group of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage.

That being said, the identity of ethnic Jews (and Arabs) while shaped by a dominant religion in the group is not exclusively religious, and its not at all uncommon for people in either ethnic group to recognize others being in the group without being members of the religion, or to view themselves as within the ethnicity without being members of the religion.


Dump the book and only then it is a more garden variety shared set of traditions shorn of the claims to divinity, chosen-ness and all other nonsense.

A "garden variety shared set of traditions" is exactly what usually defines an ethnic group, with or without religious components. So I'm not sure how this advances your claim that "Jewish" as an ethnic group is somehow less "real" than other ethnic groups.

A secular Jew is an oxymoron.

Both secular and religious Jews and non-Jews seem to largely disagree. Given that such an identity is inherently a social construct, the fact that people, both who label themselves with the label and who recognize the identity from the outside, recognize the construct and its meaning make it "real". That it (apparently) differs from your view of how people should view their identity really doesn't matter.

Either you are secular or you profess the Jewish faith. You can't have it both ways.

Secular Jews do not profess the Jewish faith, they nevertheless may be part of the Jewish ethnic group. Its somewhat odd (and related to the fact that the Jewish religion itself has historically been linked to a national -- though often stateless -- identity) that the two overlapping groups share the same name such that it is necessary to distinguish the sense in which "Jewish" is being used in contexts where it might be ambiguous, but that doesn't mean that either of the two identities is any less "real".


Posted by: cmdicely on September 18, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Jesse Weiher: "If you are so concerned about homosexuals, you should only support those politicians and religious leaders who publicly vew homosexuality as a threat to our society."

Dear heart, I'm an Episcopalian, not a Republican! Why would I consider homosexuality a threat to our society or support people who do?

Anti-semitism, though, appalls me. How is it that a thread on Baptists versus Epicopalians turns into a conversation about Judaism?

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 18, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

PTate,

Sorry for misunderstanding. Your statment seemed to endorse the "code" that McCain was speaking in. Still, I think my point about conservative hypocrisy on all things gay is valid.

As for the Judaism talk. I have to agree that there seems to be a hint of anti-semitism.

cmdicely - you are affronted at the term "secular jew." In the christian faith we call similar people "C&E christians" (Christmas and Easter Christians only).

The number of people who profess to be Christian far eclipses the number of people who show up on any given sunday. Who am I then, as a Christian, to question the term "secular Jew?"

If someone wants to call themselves a "secular jew," where's the skin off your back?

Posted by: Jesse Weiher on September 18, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

On the "Arabs as an ethnic group or religious group issue"

Some people need a lesson in geography and a dictionary. An "Arab" is someone from the Arabian Peninsula. A "Muslim" is someone who practices the religion of Islam. There are Christian and Jewish Arabs and there are Muslim Persians, South-east Asians, Americans, etc. etc.,

So, Yes, "Arabs" are an ethnicity tied to a region. No, "Arabs" are not tied to a religion.

Pretty simple really

Posted by: jesse weiher on September 18, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

As someone raised Episcopalian ("All of the Ceremony. None of the Guilt"), I truely resent McCain's so-called conversion.

I think it's all about the horrible fight in the Anglican community over the humanity of homosexual individuals. The Episcopalian Church is all for that humanity; much of the rest of the Anglican Communion is so homophobic it's scary. I like the Episcopalian liberality on social issues so much I have actually contemplated going back to church even though I don't believe in God. I just think it's important for SOME church to stand up to the demigogues.

Stick to your guns, Episcopalians. Tell McCain not to let the door hit him in his ass on the way out.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 18, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Although I am now a long-time atheist, a certain bible verse comes to mind:

"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he that does not believe shall be condemned." (the J-man himself speaking, in Mark 16:16)

One must note, I suppose, that Jesus was a little sloppy in this instruction, as he leaves out what is to become of folks who believe but are not baptized, and I'm sure the existence and ramifications of this particular logical pigeonhole have resulted in the spilling of much ink, if not blood.

But the first part, at least, seems pretty clear, and being in the new testament is somewhat more difficult to argue past than, say, the old testament prohibition against the abomination of eating shellfish (mmmm, lobster!) So to have all these baptists (!) come out and say, no, where it comes to salvation, baptism is entirely optional is a little hard to swallow.

Posted by: pdq on September 18, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

cal gal,

Couldn't agree with you more. McCain has chosen, like all republican nominees (excepting Giuliani on some issues) to pander to the religious right as much as he possibly can.

In '00 he was the maverick who wouldn't be the pawn of the religious right. So he was Episcopalian. In '08 he speaks at Liberty University, so he's a Baptist. A conversion worthy of Mitt Romney.

Posted by: jesse weiher on September 18, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

An "Arab" is someone from the Arabian Peninsula. Posted by: jesse weiher

Better tell that to the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, etc., etc. Last time I checked, they were all considered a Arabic peoples. Or maybe they just all these and other countries joined the Arab League just for the free travel mug?

Posted by: JeffII on September 18, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

Well, "dunking" could well be moved from 1st Ave to the Heartland, perhaps Oklahoma City.

Interesting about the Baptist churches being formed from the Mennonites in Oregon over military service. In Kansas many Mennonites ended up in prison during WW1 - They had originally been in Germany, but refused to fight during the 1870 war - Went to Russia, under promises by the Czarina, that they would not have to serve, as long as they grew crops - When she died, the Czar renigned on the deal - Land agents from the Union Pacific, told them if they moved to Kansas and planted wheat, they would not have to serve - US Government during WW1, refused to agree.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 18, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Now the Church of Christ (not to be confused with the largely Northern and very liberal United Church of Christ) does believe that salvation is necessary for salvation. But any good Baptist I knew -- and I grew up hard-core, just this side of foot-washing Baptist -- would have said that requiring baptism for salvation is heresy."

Several verses in the Bible that discuss salvation don't mention baptism as being necessary for salvation. A person can view this as an abbreviation of the full requirements or as overriding what the Bible states elsewhere.

The Bible also states that we can't earn salvation through our own actions. I presume this is why the Baptists think that baptism for salvation is heresy. But it's clear that being baptised is not an "act" in the sense that the Bible is stating. Also, the book of Romans makes it clear that baptism is essential for salvation because it's the way that a person's sins are cleansed.

When it comes to heresy, a good place to start is the "once saved, always saved" theology of the Baptists. There's also the whole pre-millenialist nonsense that perverts the meaning of the New Testament.

Posted by: FS on September 18, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

About the most simple minded argument someone could possibly make to my post.

From
http://www.hejleh.com/countries/
"Arabs, name originally applied to the Semitic peoples of the Arabian peninsula; now used also for populations of countries whose primary language is Arabic, e.g., Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, and Yemen."

Arabs migrated, it happens. Get over it.

Doesn't address my actual point which is that assuming "Arab" and "Muslim" are synonyms is stupid and, frankly, bigoted. It's like calling all asians "Chinese" or all hispanics "Mexicans."

Posted by: jesse weiher on September 18, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

Most of the Iraqi's don't consider themselves "Arabs," as you claim. A majority of Iraqis consider themselve Persian, which is one reason that they are Shiite and not Sunni and why they are aligned with Iran and against Syria and Saudi Arabia. Also, the Kurds do not consider themselves "Arabs" - they consider themselves "Kurds"

Your ignorance kind of points out the immense level of ignorance the entire west has when it concerns the rest of the world.

Posted by: jesse weiher on September 18, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the Iraqi's don't consider themselves "Arabs," as you claim. A majority of Iraqis consider themselve Persian, Posted by: jesse weiher

Oh! You're a historian!

The Persians are the people across the border in this other country, you might have heard of it, called Iran, where they speak a language called Persian. Iraqis speak Arabic. While there are some shared culture traits across the ME (abusing women, professing a really backward "faith," no Red Lobster restaurants), the Iraqi Arabs have not had Persian overlords for about 300 years.

Next you'll be telling us that the Bosnians are all really Turks.

Posted by: JeffII on September 18, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK
cmdicely - you are affronted at the term "secular jew."

No, that's JeffII that's affronted by the term secular Jew.

In the christian faith we call similar people "C&E christians" (Christmas and Easter Christians only).

Not really sure that the two things are precisely parallel; many Christmas and Easter types are only mildly religious, to be sure, but some are, but for Church attendance, just as religious as those who go to church regularly. But, yeah, definitely the same thing exists within Christianity, to an extent, that there is a much weaker uniting non-religious identity (with a few exceptions.) Usually, instead, you'll see an ethnic/national identity that predominates, though I've heard talk of, e.g., "cultural Catholics". But usually its people who were raised in the faith and have fallen away but with some feeling of attachment; you don't tend, IME, to see children of "cultural Catholics" sharing the identity unless they've, at least for some part of their life, been religious Catholics, while that seems to be more common with secular Jews, because "Jewish" serves in the role of an ethnic identity as well as a religious one.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 18, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK
"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he that does not believe shall be condemned." (the J-man himself speaking, in Mark 16:16)

One must note, I suppose, that Jesus was a little sloppy in this instruction, as he leaves out what is to become of folks who believe but are not baptized, and I'm sure the existence and ramifications of this particular logical pigeonhole have resulted in the spilling of much ink, if not blood.

IIRC, at least some Christian groups (possibly including Baptists) read the essential baptism as baptism in the spirit, which is distinct from baptism with water. Other Christian groups hold that they are the same.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 18, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Faith, not works is the downfall of western civilization.

You get all the downside of irrationality with none of the upside of actually requiring good behavior -- cost-free idiocy providing built in excuses for hypocrites.

Reason AND works, reason AND works...

Posted by: The Fool on September 18, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

IIRC, at least some Christian groups (possibly including Baptists) read the essential baptism as baptism in the spirit, which is distinct from baptism with water. Other Christian groups hold that they are the same. Posted by: cmdicely

And the rest of us just think you're all wet. (Slaps knee. Chokes on laughter. Falls down. Wets himself, again.)

Posted by: JeffII on September 18, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't read all the comments yet (although I will as soon as I finish this post), so my comment may have been posted already, probably in better words. Still, my experience with Christians of many, many stripes indicates that almost all denominations will accept infant baptism as sufficient in cases of later-life conversion, and not require a second baptism. (If the new congregant expresses a desire for a second baptism, however, most will accommodate him or her.)

The reason is, as some have pointed out, that faith, even when found later in life, is sufficient to consecrate an unwitting baptism earlier in life. Further, all Christian faiths (even Roman Catholicism) countenance lay baptism via sprinkling in cases of extremis--for example, when a believer fears imminent death, and no priest--or dunking tub--is at hand. In my youth, I strayed from the Episcopal Church and received a second baptism--at my own request--via immersion, but the pastors assured me that it was largely a symbolic act, for my own comfort. Even these ultra-fundie evangelicals were unwilling to call my infant baptism "invalid." As it happens, I only lasted about two years before I recommitted to the Episcopal church, and there I remain to this day. Suffice it to say that, with a sacrament (aka mystery) as foundational as baptism, very few denominations are willing to prefer form over substance. Just my two cents!

Posted by: AuntieSlats on September 18, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

I am very thankful for the Faith/Good works distinction. That means that I can follow my own conscience and do what I think is right without having to worry about spending eternity with the faithful. I'd rather spend eternity with the virtuous pagans.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on September 18, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, despite my suggestion that McCain could very well identify Baptist without undergoing a second baptism, I, too, believe he's pandering. I just can't believe that a serious believer of any denomination would be so off-handed: By the way, I'm actually a Baptist because ". . . They're great believers in redemption, and so am I." What, Episcopaleans are only half-hearted believers in redemption?

He's aligning Baptist because of the aforementioned (by other posters) problem of homosexual priests and bishops. Oh, and let's not forget keeping women in their place! That's a big one with the Republican base.

Sheesh. McCain is flailing like a man drowning in his own font.

Posted by: AuntieSlats on September 18, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Aren't Episcopals the ones who let fags believe in God?

/snark

Posted by: absent observer on September 18, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII

I am not a historian as you so sarcastically, write. I simply have an above-GED education.

In regards to whether Iraqis are or are Persian: The borders of Persia did not stop at the modern day border between Iran and Iraq. Most of Iraq was part of Persia. Modern day Iraq has Arab as its lanquage because minority Arabs conquered the land and forced the Arab language on the Persion peoples. That does not change the fact that the majority of modern day Iraqis trace their roots back to Persia and the Persian language. It's like saying the American Indians are engliah because that's the language they speak today. Ignorant and rather bigoted.

Also, Iran hosts the second largest jewish population in the Middle East. It is also houses the largest Zoroastrian population (followers of the anciant persian prophet Zarathustra). There are _millions_ of christians in Iran and throughout the Middle East (in case you need reminding the entire biblical narrative takes place there). The Middle East is also the center of Suphism.

So to say, as you so blithely put it, that the 'backward' faith of Islam is a shared Middle-Eastern trait is ignorant ang Bigoted. Even the majority Muslim population has been conflicted over idealogy for centuries.

Posted by: jesse weiher on September 18, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

A quick clarification from a Mennonite: Baptists and Anabaptists are quite different. Anabaptists derive from the Reformation and teach nonviolence and the separation of church and state. Baptists, though also Protestants, are more closely tied to English Separtism and evangelicalism.

Posted by: Vic on September 19, 2007 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

BTW. Iranians do not speak "Persian" as you claim. They speak Farsi. Again, your ignorance is astounding.

Posted by: jesse weiehr on September 19, 2007 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

BTW. Iranians do not speak "Persian" as you claim. They speak Farsi. Again, your ignorance is astounding. Posted by: jesse weiehr

Persian is the "old-fashioned" name for Farsi, just as Persia is the "old-fashioned" name (Western actually) for present-day Iran, your designation, not mine. That was done in keeping with your retarded "historical" post about Iraq's Arabs supposedly being Persian.

The only significant commonality today between the eastern edge of Iraq and Iran is that the majority of Iraqis are Shia. Beyond that . . .

And whether there are five Christians and five Jew in the ME outside the Levant or five million, it matters not a wit as they have no political voice or social significance in their societies.

And who could forget the Zoroastrians! I've always love Bob Marley, especially that great tune he did for the 2001: A Space Odyssey! soundtrack.

Posted by: JeffII on September 19, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

1 Peter 3:21:

"BAPTISM...NOW SAVES YOU"

It can't get any clearer.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit (i.e. baptized), he cannot enter the kingdom of God

Posted by: Crumchy on September 19, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

In Kennebunk, land of the Bushes,
The men of the cloth all wore tweed
And one didn't meet any Christians
Like Robertson, Falwell, and Reed.

But politics calls for adjustments.
If right is the wing that you need,
You praise God and shout hallelujah
With Robertson, Falwell, and Reed.

- Calvin Trillin


Posted by: Wally Ballou on September 19, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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