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Tilting at Windmills

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May 13, 2009

TORTURE AND THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT.... We haven't heard too much from the religious right on the debate over Bush's torture policies, which is something of a surprise since the movement is trying to reassert its relevance in Republican politics. How do the self-appointed arbiters of morality view torture?

Well, it's a mixed bag. The Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land, to his credit, is on the side of angels on this issue. Christianity Today reported, "Land explained that while he supports capital punishment for convicted killers, he denounces torture in all cases because he's compelled to honor the image of God as reflected in all human beings." Land added that he rejects the notion that the ends justify the means, adding, "[T]hat is a very slippery slope that leads to dark and dangerous places."

And on the flip-side, there's Gary Bauer.

Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate affiliated with several Christian right groups over the years, said the discussion should not come down to "Would Jesus torture?"

"There are a lot of things Jesus wouldn't do because he's the son of God," he said. "I can't imagine Jesus being a Marine or a policeman or a bank president, for that matter. The more appropriate question is, 'What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?'"

Bauer said the answer is "it depends" -- but the moral equation changes when the suspect is not a soldier captured on a battlefield but a terrorist who may have knowledge of an impending attack. He said he does not consider water-boarding -- a form of interrogation that simulates drowning -- to be torture.

"I think if we believe the person we have can give us information to stop thousands of Americans from being killed, it would be morally suspect to not use harsh tactics to get that information," Bauer said.

Got that? It would be morally suspect not to think the ends justify the means, according to this prominent Christian conservative leader.

Something to keep in mind the next time the religious right is lecturing the rest of us about our moral depravity.

Steve Benen 2:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (77)

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Comments

So the Christian Right finally acknowledges moral relativism.

This is a big day.

Posted by: Stranger on May 13, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Question for Bauer: If you have an enemy of the state and he knows where the rest of his disciples are hiding, but won't tell you, is it OK to, oh, let's say, nail him to a cross?

Posted by: Danp on May 13, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

far better to have torture than same-sex marriage. where have our morals led us?

/snark.

Posted by: just bill on May 13, 2009 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

As noted in my comment on the previous post, Obama has excused and continued some of the prior administration's torture policies. So to be fair, you'd have to say the religious (or secular) left shares in the hypocrisy in the torture debate.

Posted by: Torture Fan on May 13, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone on the Christian Right care what Gary Bauer thinks on religious issues? Hasn't he been formally exposed as a greedy lobbying dirtbag? Not that would make a difference, necessarily...

Posted by: inkadu on May 13, 2009 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, if crucifixion was good enough for Jesus, waterboarding is probably good enough for us.
:)

Posted by: N.Wells on May 13, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

There's no truth to the rumor that Gary Bauer's going to be changing his name to Jack, is there?

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on May 13, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

To follow up to just bill, when someone's definition of manhood involves torturing and killing another man instead of loving him, that person might want to rethink his criteria. The only thing more morally bankrupt than that is protecting child molesters and batterers. Oh, wait, the Religious Wrong does that, too!

Posted by: Keori on May 13, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Something to keep in mind the next time the religious right is lecturing the rest of us about our moral depravity."

Seems to be a two-way street, Steve, otherwise you wouldn't be on the ass-end/time stamp of (most of) the hectoring secular left posts here.

Unless, of course, thou art without sin.

Posted by: tao9 on May 13, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Gary, I think Jesus would make a kick-ass marine (he walked on water) or bank president (he threw the moneylenders out of the temple). Why do you hate Jesus?

Posted by: gradysu on May 13, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Torture Fan, oddly enough, I have noticed it's only professional christians like Bush and Obama endorsing torture. Secular humanists have been the loudest voices denouncing it. You do the math.

Posted by: Keori on May 13, 2009 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Well of course aborted fetuses excuse torture.

That's called moral relativism, asshat.

Posted by: Personal Failure on May 13, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus wouldn't have been a marine because he didn't believe in using violence (oh, an occasional clearing of the Temple, perhaps...); he did Ok bankers;"Render to Caesar..."; a policeperson? (Shepard of the flock protecting the sheep...).

Jesus would not have tortured. His dad however...The Old Testament Guy was a bit vengeful and not beyond putting His subjects to tasks calling for violence.

The point isn't whether Christ would torture. He wouldn't. Perhaps the spin should be: Would Christ OK torture if it were ileagal? Would he torture and then make it legal? Would he brag about it afterwards?

I think these right wingers have the wrong person altogether. I think they should be asking is: Would the devil torture?

Posted by: stevio on May 13, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Something to keep in mind the next time the religious right is lecturing the rest of us about our moral depravity.

Uh, the religious right lectures us on our moral depravity to distract from their moral depravity. How many more scandals do we need?

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

The more appropriate question is, 'What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?'"

According to whom, Gary? You? Are you claiming to have a back-channel into the Almighty's thinking?

Read your Bible, Gary. I think he's pretty clear that the standards he set for Jesus are pretty much the ones he'd like for all of us to TRY and follow.

Don't remember any mention of exceptions for Republican presidents in there . . .

Posted by: afguy on May 13, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Number of babies aborted: millions

... or maybe just because they're too stupid to tell the difference between a fetus and a human being.

That might be a better explanation of their degenerate superstitions.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

The point isn't whether Christ would torture. He wouldn't. Perhaps the spin should be: Would Christ OK torture if it were ileagal?

Now that you mention it, doesn't Christianity owe its very existence to torture? Looks like they are showing it some gratitude.

Posted by: inkadu on May 13, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

What's interesting to me is that, after he says "it depends," everything else he says has nothing to do with Christianity. Presumably the people asking him the question wanted to get an answer from the perspective of Christianity, but there's nothing uniquely Christian about his answer. It's just standard talking points.

Posted by: Jurgan on May 13, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

The more appropriate question is, 'What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?'

But WIAFOJPTD is too long to fit on my wristband!

Posted by: RSA on May 13, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

How about paying ransom to terrorists?

Would Bauer ever say,

"I think if we believe the person we have can give us information to stop thousands of Americans from being killed, it would be morally suspect to not pay a ransom of a hundred million dollars to get that information."
Of course, the utilitarian arguments against ransom are that (1) it's unreliable and might not work anyway and (2) it increase the likelihood of future bad acts. The utilitarian arguments against torture (besides it's being immoral and illegal) are similar, so the utilitarian argument really falls apart when you poke at it, and what you're left with is then that the only reason to oppose ransom and support torture is because you just plain LIKE torture.

Posted by: Bob on May 13, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't we torture Gary Bauer and see if he calls out for Jesus Christ. That should tell us right there.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on May 13, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I would also note that a cursory look @ western history will reveal that professing Christians have been, far and away, the greatest practitioners of torture. Spanish Inquisition? Salem Witch Trials? And don't try to explain away such history by saying "well, they weren't *really* Christians," because Torquemada and any of the New England Puritans (sounds like a football team, doesn't it?) would insist loudly that they were, indeed, very Christian.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on May 13, 2009 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Land explained that while he supports capital punishment for convicted killers, he denounces torture in all cases because he's compelled to honor the image of God as reflected in all human beings."

I have absolutely no idea how you reconcile the dependent clause with the independent clause.

Posted by: junebug on May 13, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Gary Bauer,

Any relation to Jack?

Posted by: ckelly on May 13, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

When we torture others, we are not seeking the divine in them.

When we truly act as X'tians we see the divine in

everyone and err on the side of mercy.

Some Christians might have "crusaded", but that doesn't equate to what Christiuanity is at it's core.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on May 13, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think it was trotsky who said: "If the end doesn't justify the means, what does?"

Posted by: CJColucci on May 13, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber,
Where is the pixie dust when the egg and sperm collide that cause it to be a baby?

The bible makes no mention of it being wrong to kill a fetus. I looked it up.

Posted by: DR on May 13, 2009 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

I have to admit, I skipped my biology class (state-school, was easy to walk out and go torture a freshman) when we learned when a fetus becomes a human.

That would explain it.

Blastocyst. Embryo. Fetus. Baby. These are not the same things.

Now you know.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Bauer said: "There are a lot of things Jesus wouldn't do because he's the son of God ... The more appropriate question is, 'What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?'"

This really highlights one of the things I like about Buddhism.

The Indian monk Siddhartha Gautama who became known as the Buddha did not claim to be a god or the son of a god. He was an ordinary human being who attained enlightenment, and liberation from birth, suffering and death, through his own efforts.

According to the Buddha, each and every one of us has "the Buddha nature" and the capacity to become a fully enlightened, liberated being just as he did.

Nor is there a question as to "what a follower of the Buddha is permitted to do".

Rather, the Buddha taught that certain practices lead to the attainment of enlightenment and liberation, and other practices lead to suffering and enslavement to the endless cycle of birth and death. It is up to each of us whether to follow his teachings and the path that leads to liberation, or not.

There is no concept of "sin" in Buddhism. Instead there is the concept of "karma" -- the understanding that our actions create the reality that we, and others, will experience. We can create a reality of peace, joy and liberation, or we can create a reality of hellish suffering, as we choose.

I think it is rather self-evident what sort of reality is being created by those who embrace torture.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 13, 2009 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber, if a fetus is an unborn baby, then you are an undead corpse.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 13, 2009 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber, if a fetus is an unborn baby, then you are an undead corpse.

Superstition kills a healthy brain.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

i luv the fact that jack, er gary slips right past that whole pesky "wwjd" thang....

Posted by: dj spellchecka on May 13, 2009 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, why are you continuing to report every minutia regarding tortured wingnut torture arguments while remaining silent about Obama breaking his promise and deciding to suppress the torture photos for "national security" reasons?

Posted by: Disputo on May 13, 2009 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

The more appropriate question is, 'What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?'"

Let's see now: How about judge not lest ye be judged? Or maybe, you who are without sin may cast the first stone? Or perhaps, why worry about the sliver in someone else's eye when you've got a log in your own?

Whenever someone attempts to reconcile torture with their Christianity, get them to cite chapter and verse in the four gospels (no where else, because all of Jesus' teachings are there) and see how that works out. And if they try to weasel out and use the old testament, ask them if they are a Christian or a Jew?

Posted by: JCtx on May 13, 2009 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

And if all you have is wordsmithing to defend your practice

No, I'm just not an idiot. A fetus is functionally and morphologically different from me, even more so when it's not yet viable ex-utero. Saying they're the same just helps to identify you as a moron. To say that abortion is killing babies, or that babies are being aborted, are also pretty stupid.

This is why all the anti-abortion movement has to work with are gory pictures. They don't have an argument, just sloppy thinking. I think I'll counterprotest at the next gorefest by the fetus cult with gory pictures of open-heart surgery. That's icky, too.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

The bible makes no mention of it being wrong to kill a fetus. I looked it up.

In fact, the bible approves of abortion in case of infidelity -- just don't tell the knuckle-draggers or their brains might explode.

Posted by: Disputo on May 13, 2009 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

The bible also celebrates mass murder and ethnic cleansing.

Shellfish, however, are bad.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Because he's actually read the Bible.

This may be the most singularly idiotic response I've ever seen on this thread. And that's no mean feat. Congratulations.

Posted by: junebug on May 13, 2009 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/12/pelosi.waterboarding/

That's funny. I thought she was supposed to know in 2002, but the CIA says they're not sure.

Not that it changes anything, just the subject.

Run away! Run away!

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK
Steve, why are you continuing to report every minutia regarding tortured wingnut torture arguments while remaining silent about Obama breaking his promise and deciding to suppress the torture photos for "national security" reasons?

--disputo

I'm with disputo on this one: the decision to keep the pics under wraps is pathetic. It's not like the photos of torture are worse than the actual torture, and the whole "it'd be sensationalistic" excuse ain't flying. Not with me, at least.

Many people still don't understand what was done in America's name, and the pictures will drive the point home. Maybe they'll also propel the Justice Dept. to actually do something with people who, you know, broke the goddamn law.

Another "WTF?" moment from Obama.

Posted by: Mark D on May 13, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with disputo on this one: the decision to keep the pics under wraps is pathetic.

It's also irrelevant, since the govt.'s argument has been rejected before.

Let the court force them to do it. That will make it impossible for the right to say that the release is an Obama administration act, or that it's being done to shame the Bush administration.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

For those interested in anti-choice idiocy based on "christian" principles, the Bible makes ONE mention of abortion. Just one. Per Exodus 21:22, it's considered a property crime, not murder. If men fight with each other and strike a woman with child and injure her so that she loses her child, and no other injury is done, then the woman's husband can levy a fine against the other man, and he will be obligated to pay it. Doesn't seem to be a capital crime that justifies bombing clinics.

According to Jewish law, abortion before "quickening" (viability for those of us with a literacy level about 6th grade) was perfectly legal. Civilly, this is reflected in old English common law, which was derived from church canon law post-fall of Rome, which was derived from Jewish law and correlated with Aristotelian thought. It also jives with Aguinas's definition of when the soul enters the body. And we all know how them early churchmen loved them some Aquinas! As we see in William Blackstone's 1765 publication "Commentaries on the Laws of England," abortion pre-viability had never been considered murder by anyone up until that point. Sadly, Blackstone didn't live to see the rise of the tragically stupid in American Evangelical christianity.

This whole "abortion is MURDER!!" schtick was a uniquely American response to the overthrow of the Comstock laws which granted married couples the right to have sex using whatever birth control they pleased. Men who didn't like those uppity bitches controlling their own reproduction started twisting Jeremiah 1:5 "Before you were formed in the womb I knew you," despite the fact that NOTHING in their bible treats pre-viability abortion as anything other than a property crime against the man who owned- er, was married to, the pregnant woman.

Too bad evangelicals don't really understand the Jewish laws concerning sex they keep citing as a reason to hate gays. If they did, they might realize that sexually satisfying their wives is a contractual requirement in marriage, and sexual dissatisfaction is grounds for a woman to file for divorce.

I'm sorry if I used too much logic and too many big words, McGruber. No offense if I made you feel small and emasculated. Maybe if you go torture some brown people you'll feel better.

Posted by: Keori on May 13, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

When it's "viable" outside the fetus?

Outside the ... wha? You missed more than one day of biology, I'll warrant.

if the baby in the womb isn't human, then what the hell is it?

Ah, but I have answered. It's not a baby. We have different words for reasons. How many times do I have to answer the same question? You say I "simply can't answer" because you're mentally defective.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

All right, 'fess up -- Wingnut Bingo McGruber is former WaMo troll "Charlie," turned all sour and cranky from the collapse of movement conservatism, right?

Posted by: Gregory on May 13, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

It's worse than that, Keori. More recent translations of the bible change "miscarry" in Exodus into "premature delivery," even though we have centuries of Jewish law supporting the original meaning and nothing to justify the new one.

When it came to a choice between their scripture and their novel superstitions, the fetus cult decided they would just mutilate the bible.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

All right, 'fess up -- Wingnut Bingo McGruber is former WaMo troll "Charlie," turned all sour and cranky from the collapse of movement conservatism, right?

Close. It's the same guy who did Norman Rogers, now with no sense of humor but even more obsessiveness. Yeah, it's sick.

Posted by: shortstop on May 13, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, it's all good, JM. Anything to make their dicks feel bigger and keep teh wimminz in the house where they belong, amirite?

During our recent Civil Unions battle in Hawaii, I had the privilege to work with Rabbi Peter Schaktman of Temple Emanu-El (Reformed). He had a fantastic response to those who try to claim scriptural basis as their reasons for hating gays, and I think it applies to the abortion "debate" as well: "I know something about Holy Scripture. I'm probably the only person in this room who has read it in the original language in which it was written, with an understanding of the times in which it was written."

Posted by: Keori on May 13, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber: C'mon you stinkin' terrorist, TALK!! TALK!! You agree with abortion DON'T YOU, DON'T YOU!!!

McGruber breaks another finger.

Terrorist: You can only stop the attack if you stop talking about abortion for five seconds!

McGruber: Oh my god, ...you fucking baby killer!!!

WHAM!!! Another American city destroyed by a torturer's lack of self control.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on May 13, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon my lack of wordsmithing.

It's ok. Once you're viable "outside the fetus," it'll come naturally.

It's been forty minutes since I answered your question. And I know that you know that I answered your questions because you started quibbling with what "viable" means.

Heh.

You can't pretend I didn't answer your question if you're already arguing with my answer, you know.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Terrorist: You can only stop the attack if you stop talking about abortion for five seconds!

McGruber: Oh my god, ...you fucking baby killer!!!

WHAM!!! Another American city destroyed by a torturer's lack of self control.

On the other hand, other people are still quite funny.

Posted by: shortstop on May 13, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

The mind reels at the magnitude of right-wing cognitive dissonance.

I'd venture a guess that thousands of fetuses have been blown to bits by US bombs in Iraq/Afghanistan/Viet Nam/Palestine... or killed by starvation through US sanctions.

No worries about that bit of relativism? I assume you conservatives are out in the streets with anti-war protest signs?

Hmmm... oh yeah, that's different.

Ok so how about killing babies that have been born? I understand you believe they pick up guilt going through a sin-laden vagina so they aren't really innocent anymore.

So are sinners... and killing 'em is morally ok.

Hmmm...oh yeah, that's different.

In your bible, Jesus healed the Roman soldier who's ear had been cut off by one of his followers... his admonishment was to turn the other cheek when an enemy strikes you.

Is there some part of that that right-wing christians don't understand?

Hmmm...oh yeah, that's different.

Posted by: Buford on May 13, 2009 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Catholic doctrine against abortion is part of their doctrine on contraception (in the 17th century, if memory serves).

In Islam, abortion is only a crime after 120 days.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

sin-laden vagina

I suspect this would be too much for a t-shirt, but as a band name, it has potential.

Posted by: shortstop on May 13, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, where'd the ignorant fetus-hugger go?

We were just starting to have fun!

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber, as I've already stated, the early church had no issues with pre-viability abortion. See Aquinas. The Catholic Church didn't come out with an unequivocal statement against birth control, and abortion as we now know it, until Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, and that was considered to be a political rebellion against the Reformation and Protestant acceptance of condoms more than an issue of doctrinal purity. (Going to a Catholic college did have its advantages; we learn things like this.)

But then, the Catholic Church is a foreign state run by a Nazi, which shelters pedophiles, tortured and murdered innocent people during the Inquisition, and to this day keeps agents in other nations worldwide to lobby for the Vatican's agenda. Bernard Law was about to apply for diplomatic immunity before El Vaticano whisked him off to safety. Don't try to bring the Roman Catholic Church into this; they least of all can claim moral superiority on any issue involving women, sex, and torture.

You want to ignore the basis of the laws you twist in order to suppress women, you, yourself, get to step up and own it.

Posted by: Keori on May 13, 2009 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_hist_c.htm

For those who really want a Catholic history on abortion doctrine. Some information does not quite jive with my own, particularly Aquinas. My apologies. Since it's been years since my last Catholic doctrine class, I concede to the good researchers at Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance.

Posted by: Keori on May 13, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I find it funny we are a talking about the "Christian right" when large aspects of this issue of prisoner abuse by our troops comes directly from the "Jewish right."

The particular methods used were developed in Israel and are culturally tuned to humiliating Arab males.

Posted by: Nathan on May 13, 2009 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, no. I don't have nearly as much money as Dan Brown does by now, and his words are fiction.

Posted by: Keori on May 13, 2009 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

the Bible makes ONE mention of abortion. Just one. Per Exodus 21:22

Well, there's also Numbers 5 which describes in lurid detail how a cuckholded husband can take his wife to the priest to be administered an abortificant.

Posted by: Disputo on May 13, 2009 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Holy crap ... Keori just pwned McGruber in a way I've seen very, very people pwend before.

**standing ovation**

And "sin-laden vagina" ... ? "Fetus hugger" ... ?

Water >>>> Monitor

Posted by: Mark D on May 13, 2009 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Trollykins is flailing now! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Compare this to JM, who's down with killing unborn babies until they actually come out of the vagina. But those terrorists? They should be afforded every protection in the world.

"Unborn babies"? WTF does that even mean? Are they "viable outside the fetus," like you wrote?

And, after I bring up viable ex utero, the stupid fetus hugger is still claiming I support abortion up to the moment of delivery. Now that's some extra crunchy stupid!

Finally, when have I ever said anything about protecting terrorists?

Seriously. McGruber is damaged goods. Seriously defective.

Should the guy be charged or just get a ticket?

The bible says the latter. If you were a Christian, you'd know that.

Posted by: JM on May 13, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber, a woman makes a baby.
She has every right, until she is done, to stop what she is doing and return the soul to God.

When she is done, a child is viable on its own. there is an 'able' in the word viable. We are all dependent on nourishment, water, air, protection from predators. A baby is as well. But a fetuss is dependent on one and only one being--the mother no one else can take that place. Shifting dependencies is as good a definition of social existence.

Let me also clarify the liberal position on abortion: we do NOT believe it is OK to kill fetuses (or embryos.) We believe it is only--ONLY--OK for the MOTHER to kill her embryo. Nobody else without her expressed consent.

You probably don't see the difference.

Posted by: pbg on May 13, 2009 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Hating gays doesn't not come from the "scripture" but the idea that it doesn't come from Judaism is demonstrably false. It is a response to the attraction of Hellenism in the Near East especially with the religious and lifestyle tolerance introduced with the Polis systerm. Judaism was threatened and subsequently developed a rigid polemic against all things Greek, and choosing a couple of elements like Greek tolerance of homosexuality and elevating and characterizing that tolerance into an anathema.

Yes the Tanakh (Old Testiment) is limited in its homophobia and discussion against abortion, but the the Midrash, Talmudic commentary, and Halakhik and major codes of law an customer are absolutely and astoundingly chock full of homophobia and condemnation of abortion which are considered -- and named -- as Greek traits.

If a Rabbi told you that homophobia and opposition to abortion are not part of Jewish history, that Rabbi is nuts. Judiasm is THE core transmitter of those positions.

Posted by: MM32 on May 13, 2009 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

you think this is an American thing...The Catholic Church...even Islam...[are] against abortion. -McGruber

Catholicism and Islam are not equivalents of America. Apples and oranges.

Posted by: doubtful on May 13, 2009 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's only torture if it was done to John McCain by Godless Communists. When it's done by Good White Christian Americans to Evil Brown People then it's not really torture.

Posted by: Ephemereal on May 13, 2009 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

It means what it says it means, jackass. It's obvious you don't have kids.

Ah. Kids. Shouldn't you be ending your "workday" and getting home for your daily 20 minutes with yours?

(And an aside to a friend: Still think this is parody?)

Posted by: shortstop on May 13, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Thx for the context, MM32.

Watching liberals try to argue away the blood-soaked history of whatever religion they happened to be born into is always quite disconcerting.

Posted by: Disputo on May 13, 2009 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

"McGruber, as I've already stated, the early church had no issues with pre-viability abortion."

I don't know what Keori is selling here but it ain't Augustinian; theology is best discussed with one who is not a raving Keorian imbecile: "...the Catholic Church is a foreign state run by a Nazi." (Golly, do you mean St. Margaret's up on Plum Street?)

"...a fetus conceived and born is a divine work, not a human one." (Augustine, Contra Julianum, V, 34).�

So the death of a fetus, ie. a work of God, at human hands, regardless of what Augustine understood as "ensoulment," was punishable by perdition. Abortion was a mortal sin in the Early Church from the git-go.

Posted by: tao9 on May 13, 2009 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber wrote: "if the baby in the womb isn't human, then what the hell is it?"

Who the hell cares whether it is "human" or not?

I am more concerned about the well-being of an adult chimpanzee than about the well-being of a human embryo consisting of a few cells with no nervous system and therefore little or no capacity for subjective experience.

According to our best scientific understanding, an adult chimpanzee has the capacity to suffer, and to value its own life, and a human blastocyst does not.

In the case of a late-stage fetus which has developed a nervous system and therefore may have the capacity for subjective experience -- including pain and suffering -- then there is an issue with methods of abortion that might cause pain or suffering to that fetus.

But this is already addressed by the law of the land, namely Roe v. Wade.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 13, 2009 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me, MacGruber (and this is a serious question)

I am a bartender. It is illegal, in my jurisdiction (the District of Columbia) for persons under 21 years of age to consume alcohol. While parents have the right to serve children alcohol in reasonable quantities in the homes, it is not legal for me to serve a child, even with a parent present and consenting. In fact, it is illegal for a minor to even be in my establishment, even accompanied by a parent, after nine pm. I am also forbidden to refuse service to an adult based on physical condition (save intoxication) knowing, as we do, that alcohol is absorbed by the fetus from the mother, how do I reconcile this? Do I require all women to certify that they are not pregnant before being served, as I require them to certify that they are over 21? Maybe I should have a bunch of ept tests next to the swizzle sticks? Or what? What do you suggest?

Posted by: Northzax on May 13, 2009 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Let's waterboard Gary Bauer until he offers his immortal soul to Satan. Ought to make a really entertaining six-second youtube.

Posted by: phony rollers on May 13, 2009 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

I studied this theological dilemma at Regent University. Waterboarding is not torture because if you waterboarded a fetus he would probably like it because he grew up under water. If you need to get a Moslem fetus to say that Saddam Hussein knocked down some buildings in New York you would have to try something else. Maybe slice up his little genitals like a bloomin' onion. You'd have to use a little tiny knife, I guess. Or get a little German Shepherd fetus to bite him. You couldn't really scare him with recordings of the silent scream cause you can't hear it, it's silent. If there's an atom bomb in there ticking and it's gonna blow, it's OK to dilate his mamma and scrape around with the curette, just to scare him. But don't abort him, that makes baby jesus cry.

Posted by: Uncle Pa on May 13, 2009 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that McGruber is deriving his theology from St. Paul's Epistle to the Crips (I recycle this with thanks from this very blog's comments section of a few years back).

I met Gary Bauer very briefly ten years ago. Well, "met" is stretching the point; better to say that I spoke to him briefly. He didn't speak back. I was in DC for a conference in November 99, and a colleague and I were at the Lincoln Memorial end of the Mall late one afternoon when we caught sight of Bauer in front of the building, by all appearances between takes on a campaign commercial shoot. I approached him and exclaimed "As I live and breathe, it's the Ayatollah Bauer! Hey, you're taller in person!" I was prepared to riff, live concern-troll fashion, about how I was his biggest, I mean, most fervent fan, but my colleague, deeply mortified, had already grabbed my arm to drag me away, and I was getting the very evil eye from two security goons (could they have been Secret Service? I know that Bauer made noises about running in the 2000 election, but surely USSS protection doesn't kick in 12 months out as a rule), so I retired from the field. Bauer's reaction to my intrusion was, from the brief look I had, baleful.

Posted by: Rand Careaga on May 13, 2009 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Torture" has basket into which we throw any treatment we don't like.

At some point in future society will undoubted think it barbaric to incarcerate people for any crime, since it can be logically argued that all criminal behavior is an illness.

Oh, and Uncle Pa above, we do genital mutilation right here in the USA. It is called circumcision, it is probably equally terrifying as waterboarding, and permanently damages sensation.

Posted by: Bebton on May 14, 2009 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK

"Torture" has basket into which we throw any treatment we don't like.

We didn't like it when we prosecuted some Japanese soldiers for war crimes for waterboarding. It was a popular technique during the Inquisition, too.

There's never been any debate over whether waterboarding was torture until the Bush Administration and its apologists had to defend their war crimes, period, full stop.

Posted by: Gregory on May 14, 2009 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

We didn't like it when we prosecuted some Japanese soldiers for war crimes for waterboarding. It was a popular technique during the Inquisition, too.

Torturing people and genocide approved and promoted by God himself is endemic in the Old Testament. The Inquisition was benign compared to what those acting on claims of God's orders have pulled off as celebrated by the book itself!

As long as people subscribe to the racism, dehumanization of non chosen people in the Middle east, the view of them as not quite human will continue.

As far as Japanese soldiers being tried at the end of the war, is that really a surprise given the number of innocent Japanese we incinerated? Those trials were idiotic...at the very least the Japanese were not hypocrites, they believed in brutal warfare and made no apologies. US soldiers brutalized, killed and tortured German and Japanese POWs, and illegal warfare was carried out by our leaders right to the very top. We won so there were not many trials against our soldiers and none against our leaders.

Let's leave out the Inquisition, it is a naive example. Intolerance of the other, and murder of him and his children based on religion, began with the advent of monotheism -- in fact the interest in doing so it is probably the reason why monotheism was invented.

Posted by: Eth on May 14, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

US soldiers brutalized, killed and tortured German and Japanese POWs

Whoa, cool your jets. Individual US soldiers may well have brutalized and killed German and Japanese POWs, but it was contrary to US law and policy to do so. And that stance worked -- Germans, in particular, were much more likely to surrender to the US, with whom they beleived they at least had a decent chance of humane treatments, whan to the Soviets, from whom they expected brutal treatment, and so would fight to the death.

With the Bush gang, torture was contrary to US law but the fact that they made it policy -- a fact Bush and his crew denied for so long -- is now a matter of the public record and beyond debate. Hell, Cheney admits it was policy by claiming the policy worked.

Holding the Japanese accountable for their war crimes was far from idiotic. That's what you're supposed to do with war criminals, then and now. Furthermore, Japan has been a peaceful and prosperous nation ever since. When writer Yukio Mishima tried to stage a right-wing coup to restore Japan's militaristic government, people laughed at him.

And why is the Inquisition a naive example? It isn't naive to say what was torture then is torture now.

Posted by: Gregory on May 14, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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