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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON — Whenever I write sympathetically about religion, I get bombarded by tweets and notes from readers who normally agree with me but cannot abide the idea that religious belief should be seen as intellectually serious.

And because I have written favorably about Pope Francis, I get more than my share of angry comments about the Catholic pedophilia scandal, which continues to haunt the Church and troubles even its most loyal members.

Getting lambasted doesn’t bother me. On the contrary, citizens talking back to the purveyors of opinion is a glorious aspect of free speech. But my correspondents underscore the existence of a strong anti-religious current within a segment of the liberal community that is both an important political fact and a potential problem for progressives.

Here’s the challenge: Americans who are left-of-center are far more religiously diverse than their opponents on the conservative side. When it comes to matters of faith, liberals and Democrats have a far more complicated task of coalition management — although religion also raises some serious difficulties for the right.

Consider the findings of a survey (in which I was involved) released last month by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution. Using the answers to a wide variety of questions, we created a scale that broke our respondents into four groups: Religious conservatives, moderates, progressives and the non-religious.

Overall, we found that 28 percent of Americans could be classified as religious conservatives, 38 percent as religious moderates, and 19 percent as religious progressives. An additional 15 percent were non-religious.

But among supporters of the two parties, Republicans were far more cohesive. The analysis found that 56 percent of Republicans were religious conservatives and 33 percent were religious moderates. Only 5 percent were religious progressives and just 6 percent were non-religious.

Democrats, by contrast, were all over our analytical map: 28 percent were religious progressives, 13 percent were religious conservatives, 42 percent were religious moderates, and 17 percent were non-religious.

Among self-identified political liberals, the proportion of the non-religious — essentially, the folks sending me those messages — was even larger: 31 percent of liberals were non-religious, 33 percent were religious progressives, 30 percent were religious moderates and 6 percent were religious conservatives.

Two things are thus true simultaneously: Non-religious Americans are a very important part of the liberal constituency; yet the majority of liberals have ties to religion. The survey found that African-Americans, who are deeply loyal to most liberal causes (and to the Democratic Party), are among the most religious people in the country. For liberalism to thrive, there needs to be acceptance and, even better, some respect across the boundaries of belief and non-belief.

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134 responses to “Religion Challenges Left And Right”

  1. Catskinner says:

    A strong stand to encourage mankind to outgrow the scourge of religion is the only thing the progressives got right. There’s nothing intellectual about it.

  2. TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

    The pedophilia scandal remains a scandal with its cover ups. less than 1% of victims ever received any help from this organization despite the lies the catholic church claimed it did help and lost so much money.

    Today in states as New York, Pa and Ohio,, the catholic church lobbies to stop laws that would expose pedos. Yet the truth is the greatest healer,,

    The catholic church has more lobby power than its victims, thus reducing the already damaged children.

    Not a great religion. What would we have done if they were simply an international day care center?? That’s the tell all. In fact if that were the case,, statutes of limitations would not be their protection, they’d be charged with the worst crimes of cover ups —> ‘Discovery’. The popes, cardinals and bishops would be in jails today.

    Now tell me how nice this filth pit is..

  3. Michael Kollmorgen says:

    Religious belief seems to do more harm to “social justice” issues than just about anything else.

    It was the belief in the Christian god that justified the black man in Africa to be enslaved, considering the black man as not being human, pagan and without god, therefore needing conversion, even with the whip and chain when convenient.

    Christianity did the very same thing to the American Indian, only one step worse by giving them disease-laden blankets, forced marches across the US to their “new” reservations.

    It was Christianity which stigmatized the black man for many years and still does in the old south. There are some christian churches in the south whos pastors refused to marry mixed couples. This was just a few months ago.

    Yet, the black race is the most christian-god-believing race now? Other than the American Indian, the black race has been screwed by Christianity more than any other race or ethnic group. And, I dare to propose the people’s of South and Central America come a close second if not first place in some respects at the hands and armies of the Spanish Conquistadors.

    Christianity moreover does not embrace diversity. It does not embrace equality. The supporters of Prop 8 in California choose to stigmatize a group of people, set them apart as something evil.

    This is what Christianity does to keep people divided and at each others throats. It has had a 2000 year history of murder, rape, discrimination and stigmatization which still continues to this day.

    The ONLY guarantee of true equality is with the Rule of Law, man made laws, enacted by people of conscience with NO connection to any brand of religion, especially Christianity.

    • Annemb says:

      Excellent post!

      I would also include the Crusades, the Inquisition, 300 years of witch burning and “christian” terrorists who bomb clinics and kill abortion doctors.

      One radical man, Jesus a Jew, spoke out against the status quo and for social change. Although he didn’t form a belief system, Christianity was formed and given his name by, I believe, Paul in one of his epistles.

      As a follower of Jesus, this gives me the responsibility of treating others in love and working and speaking out for social change.

      Again, thanks for your wonderful post!

      Blessings be upon you and your family.

      • idamag says:

        There were several inquisitions. The worst two were in Spain and France where people were literally cooked alive. We can also add to that The Mountain Meadow Massacre.

      • Michael Kollmorgen says:

        Yep, I forgot to mention these other horrors.

        Yes, jesus as we think we know him was a great man.

        Give jesus the due credit he deserves for wanting true change, but not his religion.

        • Annemb says:

          Thanks for your wonderful post!

          As you may know, Jesus did not come to start a religion, he advocated social change. He aligned himself with the outcasts, rejected and disenfranchised of that society. He was executed for his ideas much the way others have been executed for their ideas for change especially by those who want to continue with the status quo.

          BTW, have you seen the trilogy, “Women and Spiritually”? They are, “Goddess Remembered”, “The Burning Times” and “Full Circle.” We saw “The Burning Times” in seminary and discussed it afterward. I bought the set when it was on Public Television some years ago.


          • Michael Kollmorgen says:

            Yes, during his time, he certainly shook up the Status Quo. But it was unintentional. I don’t believe if jesus were alive today, he would not approve of the way his religion behaves. and, he would probably be crucified once again.

            No, I have not seen this programming. Usually I never watch any religiously-orientated programming. I consider most religious programming more or less propaganda.

            I consider myself an Atheist in the strict dictionary definition of the word.

            But, I am agnostic enough to believe that there is something on the other side. I don’t know what it might be and neither does anyone else. Whatever it might be, it is probably so different than what we think it is, our brains could never comprehend it in this life.

            We’re all going to find out whether we like it or not when we all kick off. This is the one common denominator, the great equalizer with all life.

            I’ll be perfectly honest about it, I have sort of driven curiosity about the entire process. It should be interesting if not exciting – I hope in a good way.

      • Lovefacts says:

        Thanks for pointing out more horrors committed in Christ’s name. As a Jew, I’m especially sensitive to this. Thank you for also noting that Jesus was born and died a Jew. He didn’t start his own religion.

        Jesus wanted to change Judaism. He was the reform Jew of his day. Interestingly, IMO, he would approve of today’s reform and conservative forms of Judaism, but would be horrified by the religion founded in his name because they ignore the central tenet of his belief system–taking care of the orphans, widows, and poor. That means feed, house, clothe, and train or educate them. Again, IMO, Jesus would disown those who wrap themselves in religion–a religion formed in his name–then ignore all his teachings.

        • Annemb says:

          I wrote you a response but my computer burped and I lost the post before I posted it. I’ll recall what I can.

          First, you are welcome.

          I learned Hebrew Scriptures from a rabbi before I went to seminary. Several years after, I attended a progressive seminary, and found that the seminary taught the Hebrew Scriptures exactly as Rabbi. I’ll never forget our first meeting. Rabbi said, “Some say the Holy Spirit didn’t come until the New Testament.” My response was a definite, “Oh no! The Holy Spirit was from the beginning.” Rabbi then turned to me and said, “Let us now begin.”

          I attended some religious services — Passover Seder, Yom Kippur, Rash Hashanna, Shabbot, Hanukkah. I also attended other services in the Synagogue. Book discussion group for Paul Johnson’s “A History of the Jews.” I loved it.

          Rabbi was Conservative and responsible for speaking out for women rabbis until they were finally ordained.

          In seminary, we learned that the gospel writers blamed Jews for killing Jesus (which was incorrect) because if they blamed Rome, who was responsible for Jesus’ execution, they and the followers of The Way would be annihilated. I believe it was a pope (don’t remember his name) who cemented the blame against the Jews. How very sad.

          Jesus was a Jew. He was a radical (I call him a socialist) who spoke out and acted against the status quo. Because of this, he was a threat to Rome and most likely the Jewish hierarchy. However, it was Rome that executed Jesus.

          In seminary we had the choice of learning Biblical Greek or Biblical Hebrew. I chose the latter. (Before seminary I attended Hebrew classes in Lewiston, ME where I learned that Jews celebrate Thanksgiving four times a year, and before eating a new fruit of the season to say a prayer. My mother did the latter, I taught my children and I still say a prayer before eating a fruit for the first time in season.

          I know I wrote more, but can’t remember right now.

          Rest assured, I share what Rabbi taught me wherever I happen to be discussing Scriptures – whether it’s in Bible study, Sunday School or in discussion with friends.

          Rabbi shared much of the mistreatment he suffered from so-called “Christian” clergy, as did he wife share with me what she suffered from so-called “Christians.” He has a lot of love. And I have a lot of love for him and for the Jewish Faith.

          Thanks again for your kind words. Please forgive my going endlessly like this. WHEW! It is unintentional.

          BTW, I know that God did not dictate the Scriptures. It was written by men.

          Take care of yourself. Thanks again for your kind words. Blessings be upon you and your family.

        • m8lsem says:

          You are mostly correct. Christianity functioned as a sect of Judaism for a while, until Jewish and Roman politics both got in the way. I believe that you are correct that Jesus would approve of Reform Judaism, and I’m not able to speak with reference Conservative for lack of relevant knowledge. I agree Jesus would be horrified about much of what he would see going on under the name Christian, though I’d like to think that Jesus and the new Pope would get along just fine.

    • TheSkalawag929 says:

      The problem with Christianity is that it is its self conflicted.
      On the right you have the Old Testament which appears to be the principal philosophical and moral basis of conservatives for whom religion is an important factor in their day to day living.
      On the left you have the New Testament which it appears is the guideline for the philosophical thinking of those who are more progressive and less rigid in their outlook on life.

      Both are grounded in religious belief but each is moving in a different direction. At least that’s the way it seems to me.

      • idamag says:

        Jesus said he came to fulfill the prophesy. He said in the old days, they said to love thy neighbor. He said to love thine enemy also. Fundamentalists who use the Leviticus laws to justify discrimination against Homosexuals, forget there are many more than one of those laws. There were laws against divorce. Any meat that did not have a cloven hoof and chew a cud was forbidden. Any fish that did not have fins was forbidden. A woman in her menses was unclean and had to be isolated from the tribe. A woman who gave birth was banished for five days if it was a boy and seven if it were a girl. People were commanded to build an altar and sacrifice meat on it for the smell of burning flesh was pleasing to the Lord. If your brother was caught in one of several transgressions you were commanded to kill him. if a man raped your daughter he had to marry her. So, either we are not bound by those laws any longer and than means all of them or we are bound by all of them.

        • Wes_Scott says:

          It is VERY important to know and remember that the Book of Leviticus was NOT written for ALL people, but rather for the Tribe of Levi, which were the priests of Judahism. Far too many people do know realize this simple fact and try to apply the laws of Leviticus to all people.

          • stcroixcarp says:

            Martin Luther pointed this out. People, even in his day, interpreted the Old Testament laws as rules they were required to follow. Luther contends that Mosiac Law applied only to the Hebrews and to that culture and that time in history. He contends that the Ten Commandments are present in many cultures and many religions and as such are “natural” law. BUT Jesus is the law fulfilled, As Christians we are saved by God’s grace and are to live our lives with grace to others.

          • Michael Kollmorgen says:

            Most of the world’s religions basically follow the same precepts. They might state it different, even follow different gods. But they all mean the same – love your neighbor and try to do no harm.

            This is what all religions basically try to teach. But, it’s leaders pervert their true meanings.

          • m8lsem says:

            Agreed … the Vatican II conference published a document the title of which translates to “Our Relatives” … and posits that the Holy Spirit has always been available to, interested in, and trying to influence every person on earth from the first human onward.

            God, Gott, Dieu, el Senor, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Thor, Krishna, jupiter, etc. etc. are names various peoples have given to what they perceive the transcendent intelligent intending Creator to be. All see one or one primary God, attribute characteristics, and proceed.

            As the Jebbies told us centuries ago, we don’t have to be labeling everything the same way, or understanding things exactly the same way, to be in fact acknowledging the one and only God.

        • TheSkalawag929 says:

          I don’t have a problem with people believing in what gets them through life as happily as possible. It’s when they try to force me into the same belief system that the problems arise.

          • A_Schick says:

            And by refusing to adhere to the religious standrards unwelcomlingy being placed upon us, that somehow enters us into a “war on religion,” whatever the hell that means

          • TheSkalawag929 says:

            I think it means that’s how they justify in their small minds the rejection of their ideological narrow mindedness.
            More aptly put, “Mommy the other kids won’t follow my rules because they say my rules are stupid.”

      • Germansmith says:

        Probably because God mellowed down after fatherhood.
        Before Christ,(Jewish Torah/Old Testament) he was an inflexible dick, slay this, flood that, destroy cities and so on…
        After Christ, he was all peace and love.
        Is not Christianity or Judaism a problem, is the interpretation of the people arrogant enough to claim to understand the lesson.

    • idamag says:

      Actually, in Songs of Solomon it says, “Look not upon me because I am Black, oh Lord. I am Black because the sun has looked upon me.” I took that to mean that the amount of melatonin in the skin is protection from the sun. Yes, the horrid atrocities that took place in the Bible belt would turn a decent human being away from Christianity. The lying, the name calling and the hate spewed on these boards by people. claiming to be Christian, is also a turn off for Christianity. It also says in the Bible, “By their fruitage hall you know them.” If lying and hate is their fruitage, what does that say about their religion?

    • Fern Woodfork says:

      That’s All Men Bullcrap!! 🙁 Man Has Been Lying And Using GOD For Their Own Gain!!! 🙁

    • RobertCHastings says:

      Christianity does indeed embrace diversity. From the pulpit of the Florida pastor who threatened to burn a Koran, to the Oklahoma pulpit of Robin R. Meyers who advocates for the de-Christianization of the modern church there is a huge difference of opinion. Churches are just as diverse as the population in general, from ultra-conservatives to radical-liberal. Unfortunately, those who have become so doctrinaire in their beliefs as to virtually have turned against the teachings of Jesus have received the most coverage. Those of a more liberal bent who see the failure in the modern Christian church as stemming largely from a refusal to follow Jesus rather than to worship the Christ are simply not vocal enough. Ministers who mistakenly believe that success in faith is signified by financial success miss the whole point of both faith AND wealth. Ministers who see their flocks as special and unique and different from other flocks miss the whole message universal inclusiveness and brotherhood. Remarkably, Jesus’ message that God loves all of us is totally lost on those who believe in exceptionalism.

    • Lovefacts says:

      I’d also add the treatment against the South American Indians and those in the US, not to mention the moments in history that Annemb mentioned. And let’s not forget the almost 2,000 years of hate and death inflicted upon Jews. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

      • m8lsem says:

        Kwai, kwai Nidoba …
        In the later 1500’s and early 1600’s the French Jesuits came to us, persuaded us that the deity we called Dabaldak and their God were one and the same merely differently named. They found our customs among ourselves to be very compatible with Christianity, and they commenced to co-opt us into Christianity, on the story line that they just knew more about our own story that we hadn’t learned yet. There never was a war between us and them. We got along quite well with the French, thank you. It was the Puritans, who chose to believe we worshipped the Devil, that we had trouble with — as in the French and Indian Wars, of Puritans at war with a French-Indian alliance.
        The hate and death visited upon us, our relations (most directly the Algonquians from Virginia to Maine to Alberta and Idaho), did not generally come from the Catholics, but the philosophical descendants of those Puritans and other Protestants …

    • m8lsem says:

      It is an error to believe that someone claiming to be Christian is in fact doing what Christ taught he should do. There are many so-called, self-called Christians who are anything but.
      Many historic events were done by imperialists for economic reasons and only under color of religion. Others were done by racists under color of religion. If I were to institute a Nazi program in America and call it Christian, that would not make it Christian. Consider Lincoln asking how many legs a horse would have if we call a horse’s tail a leg. It still has only four legs, he said. Likewise an atrocity is an atrocity and an act of prejudice or hate, no matter whether is calls itself Christian.
      Pope John XXIII, and it would seem Francis I, present(ed) as real Christians.

    • whodatbob says:

      Michael, Excellent listing of atrocities committed in the name of religion. It was the arrogant f#%* up a-holes who used their misinterpretation of some religious principle to justify their actions, not religious principles nor holy persons.

    • tdm3624 says:

      Negative actions always get more press than the positive ones. There are so many Christian based charities around that world that do what they can to help the poor and homeless.

      And, let’s not forget that even though slave holders/traders tried to justify the slave trade as being Biblical, it was the Evangelical movement in Britain that led to the navy enforcing a slave trade ban in the Atlantic.

      It is true that some churches discriminate and judge, but I have also attended churches that welcome diversity with warmth and support.

      • Michael Kollmorgen says:

        That is true, some do good work.

        However, too many of these “charities” have more than one agenda and not only to “help” the local people.

        Several years ago, down in Australia, more than a few american-lead church organizations got booted out of Australia because they were found to be getting way too involved in their politics.

        And it’s because of american-lead church groups in Africa right now that has made gay such a dirty word, many parts of the continent today, it can lead to death.

        In another words, they expect something back in return for their “charity”. And, it’s usually control of their population or resources in one way or the other. Also, resources don’t necessarily mean products, goods either.

        It can also mean human trafficking of babies. There is a huge baby adoption industry involving many of these church groups in poor countries. I know one scholar that has researched the subject thoroughly and condemns it hands down.

        Charity? I don’t think so!

  4. Annemb says:

    E.J. Dionne, this is another wonderful article by you, that insists we think.

    Thanks so much.

    I also enjoy your guest appearances on MSNBC and your appearance of “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly”, perhaps about a year ago.

    Blessings for all you do.

  5. Dominick Vila says:

    I am part of the 15%. I must say, however, that religion is not challenging me, I am challenging religion, because I find it illogical and because I believe it is an important element in many of the greatest injustices that have taken place throughout the world in the course of human history. I can only wonder how different things would be if instead of venerating idols people spent their lives reflecting on the wonderments of nature and the beauty of all life forms.

    • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

      certainly religion has not set the example on doing ‘right’. Their gross errors and poor misconduct do not given them an edge on ‘good’. Religion and dictators seem to behave quite similarly. They love to control, fabricate stories they expect people to believe and use fears to force those into believing them.

      Thankfully it’s been secular society which has promoted fair and good throughout history and today.

      • Germansmith says:

        The go back to your history books and please tell me which secular societies have done good. The only strictly secular societies I know are the USSR, North Korea and maybe the old Mao China, not shining examples of do-gooders.
        As people like to remember the evils done in the name of God, they forget that even our founders were inspired by the divine.
        I do not begin to understand why atheist fail to understand the difference between religion and understanding and being inspired by a higher being.

        • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

          read my other posts.. Religions and dictatorships are quite the same.. Both destructive to society.

          Secular society exists in the USA (our founding fathers believed in secular rule), France, UK, Spain, Germany,,

          No such thing as ‘pure’ anything,, however segmentation exists in ALL.

          • Germansmith says:

            If our politicians would keep to the Ten Commandments we would not be in the dilemma that we are today. I rather trust a politician who “truly” fears God that an atheist that believe the end justifies the means.
            None of our major Religions encourages the killing, raping and pillaging, on the contrary they discourage it…that never have stopped people from doing the nasty things that come natural to humans and using Religion as an excuse.
            Cars do not kill people, lousy or drunk drivers do.
            Guns do not pull their own triggers…there most be a homo sapiens to do that.
            Catholics are not encouraged to rape boys…it requires a sick gay pedophile to do that. (I believe if we encourage priest to marry, we would discourage all these sick people to find refuge in the Church)
            And all the so “called” secular laws and customs that are admired by progressives have their roots in the scriptures…like it or not.

          • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

            your post is scary.. ten commandments are quite short of good behavior requirements. Keep in mind that man wrote those.

          • Germansmith says:

            No need to keep it complex….How about the Golden Rule?
            “Do not do unto others what you do not want to be done to you”

          • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

            yes,, another one of man’s creations. A good one

          • Fern Woodfork says:

            Man Wrote All Of This Religion That Goes On Here To Day!! Therefore He Put In It What He Wants For His Own Gain!! 🙁

          • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

            BTW “Catholics are not encouraged to rape boys…it requires a sick gay pedophile to do that.”

            The cover ups were far worse than the abuse.. And that horrendous crime was committed by the popes. cardinals and bitchops. had the children received help instead of threats, many would have lived lives on path to their potential.

            A sick bunch at the vatican (always has been)

          • Germansmith says:

            True…But that is Religion…not God

          • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

            again, religion is NOT the group to tell anyone how best to behave.

            Next,, you prefer a god who destroys (read your bible)

            Either way,, your post is meaningless dribble. No good sited.

          • Sand_Cat says:

            Don’t want to get too fundamentalist, but “Jesus” did say “By their fruits you shall know them.”

          • Sand_Cat says:

            If you take out the first three or four “commandments,” what you have left are pretty much universal rules arrived at by all cultures other than the most depraved. And yes, if people followed them, things would likely be better. It would be my contention that those first three or four constitute one of the main reasons no one follows the others.

          • idamag says:

            There are religious people who would have you believe in their religion while they spew anger and hate. And there is the other kind. Those who, instead of finding solutions to problems, pray about them.

        • Wes_Scott says:

          YOU need to go back to the history books. Our Founding Fathers were NOT the pro-religion guys you pretend they were. Most were Freemasons and Rosacrucians. They understood the need to give people freedom of religion, but also freedom FROM religion, because they were well aware of what had transpired throughout history when deeply religious people decided they needed to kill “pagans” to “set them free.”

          The Salem witch trials comes to mind in the days before the USA came into being a nation.

          • Mark Forsyth says:

            The founding fathers were also some of the greatest minds to come from the Age of Enlightenment.

          • idamag says:

            Thomas Jefferson said, “I don’t care whether a man believes in one God, many Gods or no God.”

        • Michael Kollmorgen says:

          There is nothing inspiring about a religious faith that turns to hate, discrimination and misinformation to control its flock.

          I never said the USSR, NK or any tyrannical regime did good. ALL forms of government in one way or the other is bad for its people over time for the most part. And, it seems to me, ALL religions are bad for its people also. There are a few, but Christianity isn’t one of them.

          I will tell ya, Communist China is the result of a christian nation supporting Mao during WW2. And, guess which nation supported Mao to the hilt? Good ole USA!

          More over, the USA is a secular society. If we weren’t, we’d have a government-sanctioned religion. Thankfully, we don’t. Not yet anyway. And, I hope we never do.

          Of course, that’s not saying much either about the US “doing good”. We’ve created a lot of horrors too in our early history and mostly over religious belief.

        • Allan Richardson says:

          Communism is not secularism, it is a fanatical religion in itself. This is why many thinking people who toyed with it at one time in their lives became disillusioned with its practice and rejected it, at least in countries that allowed such a rejection.

          Moral atheists are good friends to intelligent forms of religion, because they keep THOSE religious people from becoming fanatical. By “moral” atheists I mean those who are dedicated to humanistic morality AND to truth, so they refuse to “fake” a belief in God out of fear that God will punish them for disbelief.

          • plc97477 says:

            I have always said that anyone who needs eternal damnation to be a good person is not a good person.

          • idamag says:

            Great post! We can’t be good for the sake of being good, but because we will be rewarded when we die or we will turn on a spit for all eternity.

        • RobertCHastings says:

          Do a little research on secular humanism, a movement of the 18th century that greatly influenced SOME of the Founders, and that explains why Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and Franklin saw the necessity for the First Amendment, especially the clause regarding religion. I you feel that societies controlled by the dictates of their faith are “good”, perhaps you need to examine Iran a little more closely.

      • idamag says:

        I remember a girl who was in the girl scout troop I led. She wanted to talk to me, privately. She asked if I thought it was okay to lie for the Lord. I ask what she meant. She told me about her mother’s passing with cancer. She, and her father, was in with their mother who was drugged heavily because of the pain. They sat with her for the entire day and night and she finally died. She said her father got up in church and told the story that her mother had woken minutes before she died and said she had been to heaven and urged them to keep the faith so they would be together again. When she was alone with her father, later, she questioned him and he said it was okay to tell these stories for the Lord.

        • Wes_Scott says:

          A christian lies? Say it ain’t so, Joe! Everything about christianity is a lie, and it always has been, starting with the fact that christianity usurped Jesus from the Jews and made himover into something he never was. Christians never have a problem telling lies to promote what they believe.

          • idamag says:

            And there are the coincidences that become divine intervention. God would see that a little girl got scarlet ribbons for her hair while other children are dying. How about the woman who prays for a parking place and lo one appears. A woman, I know, was describing a tragedy that took place in her family. When she got the call, she knew she needed to go to the person affected. What would she do with her children? She looked out the window and saw a neighbor walking on the sidewalk. She called to her and the neighbor came in and sat with her children. She said God sent her the woman. Others said the woman took a walk every morning at that time.

      • Allan Richardson says:

        One of the radical Episcopal bishops in the 1960’s said “Thank God for the ATHEISTS who founded the American government to keep us Christians from killing each other.”

        • plc97477 says:

          That is a great quote. Do you know who said it?

          • Allan Richardson says:

            One of the liberal 1960’s Protestant bishops, Anglican or (American) Episcopal, I believe. A tedious Google search just now to refresh my memory found, among others, Anglican Bishop John A. T. Robinson, but I am still not sure. I was an active member of the Wesley Foundation on my campus from 1965 to 1970, and we studied the Situational Ethics and God is Dead movements. A younger representative of that movement was John Shelby Spong, but that name does not sound like the one I heard in the discussions at the WF. Whoever can get the definite source of the quote, please publish it.

        • Michael Kollmorgen says:

          I love that Quote. I’ll have to remember it somehow:)

    • disqus_LcxpBv2uzz says:

      Dominick- If you haven’t read it already, try “God Is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchins. He deconstructs and debunks religion in an absolutely logical manner, and points out the atrocities done throughout the world, from the beginnings of civilization, in the name(s) of various deities.

  6. Germansmith says:

    There is a God, of that I have no doubt. I was an agnostic in my youth, but the more I learn about the earth, the universe, science and nature and how all is put together, the more convinced I am that all this was not put together by chance.
    Religions are the interpretations that humans give to the wonders and acts of God…we not always get it right. If we remember that all the scriptures of all religions were written by men and are the interpretations of prophets’ teachings filtered by the writer’s prevailing prejudices, then we realize why some of them do not make sense to modern man and why some of them contradict each others.
    These mistakes does not indicates that there is no GOD…It just prove that even the smartest humans are very flaw and not always bright.
    A lot of evil have been done in the name of religion, but also a lot of good as well

    • Wes_Scott says:

      If there IS a god in heaven, then let me strike me dead with a bolt of lightning within the next five minutes.

      I will comment again later unless I have been reduced to a pile of ashes, in which case I will then be in deep doo-doo, according to religious teachings.

      • Wes_Scott says:

        Well, god just called and said that he is busy right now, but that he will get around to the lightning bolt trick a little later today. The one thing I can count on is that my chances of being hit by lightning are far greater than my chances of winning the lottery!

        • Germansmith says:

          God called and told me that he is trying to run an energy efficient heavens and would not waste a lightning bolt on you.
          But he also told me that instead of the bolt, for you to expect a new wave of diarrhea…he is just trying to help clearing your mind.
          But do not press your luck and play a round of golf in Florida

          • Wes_Scott says:

            Still here … and no runs, either! God is a wimp, and the creation of demented, weak minds.

          • Germansmith says:

            Gee Wes
            I do not know who you are, but it does not really matter
            Either way, I guarantee that smarter people than you have faith in a superior being.
            If “God is a wimp” is the last thought in your mind as you die, power to you and good luck.
            I , on the other hand do not run my life using the Bible as a manual, but I am not foolish enough to insult God either.
            Is funny how atheists are as dogmatic about God not being real as religious people are about seeing God in everything in life…
            Have toilet paper ready….it is coming….

          • Wes_Scott says:

            I am not really dogmatic about whether or not god is real. I just have seen absolutely no proof (and neither has any other person) that he exists. All we have are tales of mystery and imagination created by men with a control freak agenda who want to dominate us, make us subservient to themselves and steal our money by getting us to gladly give it to them.

            Show me some proof and I will become a believer, but I am not accepting ANYTHING on faith!

          • Sand_Cat says:

            I enjoyed your humor. Atheists, being people, come in many variations. Likely the more “dognmatic” ones are thosed who were raised as “dogmatic” Christians and feel the need to assert their independence. If the existence of a god were all Christians were dogmatic about, no atheist would likely feel the need to argue: certainly neither can really prove his/her position.
            My own position would be that – if there is a god – I do not believe it has much resemblance to the tyrants and monsters most human religions propose. If it does resemble them, in most cases the only “moral” and courageous attitude is defiance, and this no doubt spills over into the arguments.

    • dwolfcoach says:

      You have no doubt? Then that is not “faith” it’s certainty.

      Not getting it right is not even an understatement. It’s the antithesis of that, you’ve gotten it all wrong! All of the “good” has taken place in spite of these sinister, intolerant texts. I do like though how you all run away from your texts and magic absurdities when science and logic have made them hard to defend. Plan on more of this!

      • Germansmith says:

        Not my texts and you are confusing.
        May the Lord clear your mind brother…..

        • dwolfcoach says:

          Ha, running from the texts that give your life meaning? Nice move, but not so subtle. If the lord wrote them, He’s got to do the clearing. Yet dignifying these texts as in formative is is something I’d run from too.

  7. Mark Forsyth says:

    Nature is one of the greatest sources of spiritual enlightenment.The problems religion is having in America are self inflicted and are mostly from the extremes of evangelical and fundamental influences,courted no less by your favorite right wing political party.People will tolerate only so much ignorance from those who lean too much on dogma while forgetting their humanity
    Shallow thinkers equate a lack of religion with a lack of God.No one who desires a relationship with the God of their understanding needs a religion,holy book,church,or clergy member in order to have it.Few if any members of the clergy will say this for fear of risking unemployment.For those who feel a need for it,religion can be a stepping stone to higher consciousness.
    Eventually,Buddha left the confines of religion behind.

    • Michael Kollmorgen says:

      Yea, and not only that.

      Buddhism can trace the lifespan of every single Buddha that was ever born with documented proof.

      Christianity is based on one person who’s life was recorded for only about 5 years of jesus’s 30 or so years of living. What did he do the other 25 or so years? No one knows.

      And, to beat all hell, even his words were not originally from him directly, but 150 years later from hearsay and gossip.

      • Mark Forsyth says:

        I’m glad for your comment and the chance to respond. Generally,we get the life story of Jesus beginning with the Annunciation in which the Angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she is to be the mother of Jesus Christ followed by his birth which is recognized and celebrated at Christmas.Jesus spends his early life with his parents and the last that is told of him until much later is when his parents lose and then later find him conversing with the elders in the temple.
        He does not appear again in biblical texts until age thirty or so,when he has become a spiritual master and come into his ministry.Here is the interesting part.There has always been great speculation as to Christ’s whereabouts and doings during that chronological gap.
        The Gospel of Luke states that during those years: ‘the child increased in wisdom and stature.” But,was it in the carpenter shop in Nazareth?
        During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s many scholars and intellectuals were determined to learn about the “Lost Years”.I have a book that gives an account of the travels of several of these seekers and what they learned.Written by the author Elizabeth Clare Prophet,it is titled “The Lost Years Of Jesus” and I quote from it:According to ancient Tibetan manuscripts,Jesus secretly withdrew from the home of Mary and Joseph at age thirteen.Young “Issa” joined a merchant
        caravan to India and the Himalayas.
        At Juggernaut,”the white priests of Brahma made him a joyous welcome.They taught him to read and understand the Vedas,to cure by aid of prayer,to teach,to explain the holy scriptures to the people,and to drive out evil spirits from the bodies of men.”
        Buddhist scholars documented ” The Life of Saint Issa ” two thousand years ago. Nicolas Notovitch discovered the long lost document in 1887 at the Himis monastery in Ladakh. Swami Abhedananda published a Bengali translation of the Himis manuscript in1929. Nicholas Roerich quoted the same verses in a 1929 travel diary of his Asian expedition. And in 1939,a beaming lama at Himis presented a set of parchments to Elisabeth Caspari with the words: “These books say your Jesus was here!”
        These revelations have always been and continue to be controversial.The Catholic Church has rejected them outright not only refusing to validate the findings but also failing to do the work of verifying them. As a matter of faith,Catholics believe that the authors of the Gospels ie: Mathew,Mark,Luke and John were divinely inspired and that they wrote the words of God.Lets assume that is true.Even if it is, history reveals that almost from the start, the bible and the gospels have been deleted from,added to,and just generally changed to such an extent that it is difficult to defend the claim of being ” the word of God.
        The book ‘The Lost Years Of Jesus” is an interesting read full of photos and reprints of the stunning paintings of the artist Nicholas Roerich.

        • disqus_LcxpBv2uzz says:

          Mark- Is that the same angel Gabriel who dictated the Qu’ran to the illiterate Muhammed? Guy got around!

      • idamag says:

        The New Testament was written after Jesus died. Paul was born 30 years after Jesus died.

        • Sand_Cat says:

          Paul never met Jesus, except in his alleged vision.

          • idamag says:

            That is true. Visions abound. Thee was Lourdes, Fatima, Mary Baker Eddy, and Joseph Smith to mention a few. And then there is the stigmata. More than one religion has experienced it and uses it to reinforce their belief that theirs is the one true religion.

  8. labrown69 says:

    Religion is ignorance with wings! – Sam Harris

    “Atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify
    himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for
    people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the
    galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than
    the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious
    beliefs.” – Sam Harris … and he is so right. Religion is for those who just can’t outgrow fairy tales.

    Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are
    highly immoral – that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and
    appalling suffering on innocent human beings. This explains why Christians like
    yourself expend more “moral” energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. It
    explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the
    lifesaving promise of stem-cell research. And it explains why you can preach
    against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each
    year. (you guessed it) Sam Harris

    • Allan Richardson says:

      And in Roman times, Jews and Christians were called “atheists” because they believed in ONLY one God!

    • D. Dimas says:

      Atheism has a name because it is the FAITH that God does not exist. Negatives are notoriously hard to prove…

      • labrown69 says:

        I really don’t mean to demean or insult those who are spiritually inclined or even relgious because I think too much cynisizm is not healthy either. Most of us don’t know what there ISN’T any more than we know what their IS. The mysteries of the universe are above most of our pay grades but I do believe life itself is miraculous and inexplicable and therefor I am open minded to many possibilities that some would call “spiritual”.

        On the other hand, I think religious dogma is absurd. I think it is a pretty safe bet that Mohammad did not “fly to heaven on a winged horse” because there is no such thing as winged horses and I feel equally sure that the universe was NOT created by an all-powerful all-knowing being who impregnated a virgin and came down to us in the form of a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own Father and who can absolve you of sin and make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that came about when a woman made from a man’s rib was convinced by a talking snake to eat from an evil tree.

        • D. Dimas says:

          “The mysteries of the universe are above most of our pay grades”

          That is a cop out. Whether you believe in God or not, striving to understand is above no ones pay grade. Don’t shortchange yourself.

          • labrown69 says:

            Now now … I did not say not to “strive” … I merely said I would not adopt childish primitive fables (like the Bible) written by men for whom a wheel barrow would have been a marvel of modern technology. Man can not know all the mysteries of the universe but science does provide many answers. I personally, do not believe we were meant to know all the answers or that we will ever have all of them.

          • D. Dimas says:

            You do realize that many of the fellows you refer to had the same opinions as you do? Denigrating their intellects by calling them childish is hugely disrespectful. Their understanding was limited, and they did not possess in many cases the opportunity for a good education (by any standard), but they were not childish. If you read the Bible with a historians perspective you will gain much. The Bible is the repository of the moral, legal, historical, and traditional knowledge of a people. Some parts of it are clearly allegorical, others are just as clearly history, or law, or poetry.

            The contents of the Bible are instructive, heartbreaking, inspirational, profane, disturbing, and comforting. That one book alone is one of the great pillars of our civilization. You don’t have to be a believer to respect that document.

            The beginnings of Western Civilization have been described as:

            A Jewish heart, and a Greek mind in a Roman body.

          • labrown69 says:

            In fairness, I was referring to those who interpret the Bible literally. I personally believe religious dogma does way more harm than good and has long outlived any use it may or may not have ever had.

      • idamag says:

        The word atheist means no god. It shouldn’t matter that a person does not believe in a god of any kind. At this point, he has the freedom to do so.

      • Sand_Cat says:

        Stop projecting. Atheism is not faith of any kind, and you only show the weakness of your position by trying to claim we’re like you.

        • D. Dimas says:

          Ok, prove it, scientifically. You cannot, trying to prove a negative is one of the classic logical fallacies (don’t believe me, check the literature). The only position that you can take on a scientific basis is agnosticism, which is to say you don’t know if there is or is not a God, and if there is, who he might be.

          ANYTHING else is a statement of RELIGIOUS belief, and I find many atheists to be wilfully blind and self contradictory on this point.

          This is not projection, this is logical reasoning, something I find many atheists to be very bad at. Therefore they are not at all like me…

          • disqus_LcxpBv2uzz says:

            Instead of “atheism”, perhaps a more descriptive term would be antitheism.

          • Sand_Cat says:

            Your definitions assure your desired conclusion. I don’t have to prove anything to you, scientifically or otherwise, and I have no intention of trying, since you obviously prefer to remain mired in your complacent ignorance.
            If you want to play word games about atheism vs agnostocism, be my guest.

          • D. Dimas says:

            Actually the difference is that the one is an entirely reasonable conclusion based on the scientific evidence. The other is an unwarrented jump to an unsupported conclusion.

            Lets see if you know which is which shall we?

  9. highpckts says:

    I don’t care if anyone wants to believe in the purple people eater just so they keep it out of the Government and don’t force it on me!!

  10. sdexnorva says:

    In my view religion should be a private personal affair. Sure, persons with similar beliefs should be able to form into groups (organized religion) for there is great strength in doing so.

    But organized religion can and far too often does have a negative side. Some of them want the rest of us to bow down and to obey. It was a problem with the Roman Catholic church in Europe and it was a huge problem with the Puritan church in early Massachusetts. Today in the United States there is a fairly large and powerful lobby which even expresses itself in the Congressional Religious Caucus. All of this is simply wrong given the First Amendment protections for religion.

  11. elw says:

    Unfortunately for the Religious Right the world is full of people of all kinds and all religions and believes and views. Their biggest problem is that the world around them has changed but they haven’t. As the young people in their late teen and early twenties move into the voting block the Conservative Right will fade away. Those young people have grown up in a very different world than people over 68. They have lived next door and gone to school with people from all backgrounds, races, sexual orientation and cultures and have had personal relationships with them. For most them, social justice makes sense because it affects the people they know: their friends, loved ones and neighbors.

    • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

      you mean the religious right will fade away.. I agree, they will finally evolve one day.

      • elw says:

        Thanks, that was what I meant. However, I am not so sure they will ever really evolve. I think reasonable people will leave them completely or for more progressive places to worship. There will always be some who find the ridged belief system to their liking. In any regard their power will fade with time.

        • disqus_LcxpBv2uzz says:

          I’m not so sure that they will evolve. Rather, as with other forms of mythology (cf. ancient Greek, Roman, Norse religions, to name but 3 western versions), they will fade away and become an historical curiosity or footnote.

    • jointerjohn says:

      Those of the American Right Wing, (including but not exclusive to the religious right), believe in absolutes. In fact, they need absolutes in order to survive. I on the other hand believe there are no absolutes, and that is a good thing. The Right sees the world in black and white, with no shades of grey. I see only shades of grey, and the shades are innumerable. This is why they struggle so with social change, scientific discovery and emerging geological evidence. Their absolutes are falling like dominoes and it frightens them. We need not crush their absolutes, adding to their panic. In time their absolutes will all fall apart anyway. Just keep their absolutes from driving our public policy decisions and we will be OK.

      • elw says:

        I think most reasonable people do not care if they keep their absolutes, and just want them to keep it to themselves. I personally find a world full of grays much more stimulating, challenging and worth living.

  12. bestofandy says:

    Ever wonder why all kids snap out of the Santa-Claus belief? Its because they discover that something is wrong with the “picture” and get smart and decide to leave that childish and stupid Santa story behind them. Society rewards them for their intellectual leap over this delusive hurdle. The problem with the religious “picture” is that it is a similar childish and stupid story, but society seem to reward them for not maturing and staying within the delusion.

    • 1standlastword says:

      Religion and faith are an afterlife insurance plan for some and a way to get through this short and arduous life for others.
      I’ve learn to respect other people’s fear as their own choice. This is my personal policy that is easy to abide when I meet the good Christians who are quiet and private and really try to employ a Christian life philosophy.

  13. 1standlastword says:

    The problem modern conservatives have is they seemed to have inherited all the worst historical motives of western religion/ Christianity: i.e., its violence towards women and exploitation of the poor and elderly, its history of greed, artifice and most evident–its fear of the “other”.

  14. RobertCHastings says:

    Years ago I acquired, from my parents and mainstream Methodist Church, my religious indoctrination. I learned to never wear my religion on my sleeve, that religious conviction was a largely personal and private matter. Today, it is very difficult to maintain one’s privacy in such matters. One must either reveal one’s beliefs, or be considered a non-believer or apostate. Largely because of the increasing disrespect for the individual’s freedom of choice have my wife and I ceased attending church, of ANY denomination, although both of us still carry a strong faith.

  15. m8lsem says:

    Dear commenters, many are the political personages of today and of the past who have espoused Christianity, while denying by their actions everything Christ taught. They find it convenient, as their predecessors found it convenient, to label themselves ‘nice’, while being all sorts of ‘bad.’ In so doing these hypocritical pseudo-Christians have given Christianity a bad name. Unfortunately, this side of death their is no certified sorting-out.

    Christ invented Social Justice, at least within Judeo-Christian-Western culture. It is a crime how badly some so labeling themselves have behaved. This group of hypocrites includes much of the anti-abortion politicians, who preach against abortion but legislate against it only in ways that do not cost the public anything. Seeking to deal with causes is expensive, so lets just preach against effects.

    P.S., Michael, there are Native Americans in every state of the Union. Some of us just learned how to lay low.

    • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

      “Christ invented Social Justice” no he didn’t.. stop the nonsense.

      • m8lsem says:

        You’re right. Moses did. Jesus brought the teachings into clarity.

        • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

          wrong again.. stop the silliness. It’s good people who do good, atheist included. Biblical writers stole the good of others and claimed it for their fantasy characters.

          The truth is,, the bible, old and new, are full of hate, anger, harm and contradictions. Any resonable thinking person can see the fake in it.

          • m8lsem says:

            There are two groups who. when reading the Bible, make the same mistake: atheists, and Biblical Fundamentalists. The error they make is to read the Bible as if written yesterday by a person who is a native English speaker and a modern historian writing in English.

            The Bible is not a history book, and the modern English translations such as the New American Bible are in pertinent parts good or bad or so-so English translations of a good or bad or so-so Latin translation of original Greek originals or translations of Hebrew or Aramaic originals, and of Egyptian-influenced versions of Greek and Aramaic and Hebrew, each of which languages of course have idiomatic materials to contend with, and were addressed to an original audience of given characteristics, backgrounds, and intellectual settings which audiences are not at all like modern Americans.

            It is not to be learned so much as to be learned from — in the sense of figuring out what it meant when first read by or to one in the group intended, and as teaching of what to that one. Thus a horrible story if taken as history may miss the fact it was instead addressed to children and means ‘when you grow up, marry within the faith.’

          • TimeTheMiddleClassRanThisShow says:

            the bible IS a history book, tainted by religion

          • Sand_Cat says:

            Well, I think most historians would strongly dispute that.
            Certainly portions of it purport to be history, and they can contribute to the construction of actual history from multiple sources, but history themselves? I think not.

          • m8lsem says:

            Adam and Eve are not history. The stories of Saul and David have a lot of historically referenced material in them. In the midst of the Saul and David stuff are vignettes of far less ‘historical’ value or importance that have nowhere near the historical significance to be addressed in the same narrative as the conquest of Palestine, Jordan, and a whole lot more. They are instead teaching tools of no historical value at all. And so forth. A history book (in the modern sense of that word) the Bible assuredly is NOT.

          • Sand_Cat says:

            The modern translations are not of Greek texts that were translations of Latin: rather, the so-so translations in Latin came from some of the same Greek texts used by modern translators of the “New Testament.” I hope no one is still using Greek or other non-Hebrew sources other than for comparative purposes for the “Old.”
            And atheists simply make the “mistake” of listening to what Christians say and how they act, then reading the book they claim inspires them, not of taking the book as history, which it certainly is not. Comparing them with fundamentalists is more projection.
            We simply tire of reading the horrors described in the “Old Testament” and listening to the solemn recitation of the “laws” of the monster-protagonist by modern Christians – funamentalist and otherwise – as if they were some unique and astonishing revelation from an all-beneficient being instead of a bunch of stuff cobbled together by superstitious and ignorant tribesmen, in many cases drawing on “pagan” stories altered to be include Yahweh rather than the original being. You can explain these away all you like, but they are still cited when convenient.
            Most of us have few if any complaints about “liberal” Christianity, and relatively few confrontations with it: since we’re usually answering fundamentalists, we usually use their terms and explain from inside their world, in which the Bible is in fact literally true in every word – except where even they find the literal truth embarrassing or repugnant, of course. You apparently mistake this for “making the same mistake as fundamentalists.”

          • m8lsem says:

            “the horrors described in the “Old Testament” and listening to the solemn recitation of the “laws” of the monster-protagonist by” is the sort of thing which makes me class a person as a literal reader a la Fundamentalism.
            There are those things such as Saul and David with serious factual facts stated. The horrors are, at least those I’ve dissected, generally a minor event of the contextual narrative of pages before and pages after that often are largely unrelated. These isolated stories often teach a moral that is rather benign, the story being merely an attention gatherer, the much more benign version of which are Jesus’ parables. The other version of horror stories are free standing and well before the time the O.T. was in fact put into writing, that likely around the time the Israelites returned from Babylonian captivity and concurrent Egyptian refugee status, being the upper class divided between those who fled from Jerusalem and other Israeli settlements before the Babylonians arrived, and those who did not and were worthy of being taken away.
            That like stories are found in other writings either evidences coopting or independent verification …
            The Leviticus rules are in the class of recorded oral tradition, written down sometime not too long after 539 BC.
            Dietary rules were in part rather intelligent, such as eschewing pork (avoiding trichinosis).
            Stories of the conquest of Palestine from the Canaanites are from oral tradition, are ‘patriotic’ writings glorifying the story. And so forth.
            Sodom and Gomorrah is a story offering an explanation for remains of a community that archeologists have of course later also found, and stressing thereby how very important the rule of hospitality for an arriving stranger is (a culture trait shared with Arabs).
            And it of course helps to keep in mind that when stories are being told to teach a principle, the question is not what would serve as a good illustration for an American audience in 2013, but what would serve as a good illustration for an audience in Canaan in 1200 BC.

      • idamag says:

        Actually, if you study ancient civilations (before Christ) you will find everyone of them has a code for social justice.

        • disqus_LcxpBv2uzz says:

          Yes, but in order for these codes to have been enforceable by humans, they had to be attributed to some kind of superhuman entity, with dire consequences meted out by the entity (in the form of priests, or shamans, or some other human acolytes who claimed to be in contact with the supernatural).

  16. Sand_Cat says:

    Once again, the irony of religious freedom’s being a “problem” for either party. Most freedoms are a problem for Republicans, but what is someone’s support for Democrats worth, and how durable is it likely to be if it wavers because some atheists or minority religious people support the candidate?

    The American people need to grow up on a lot of issues, religion and sex being the top two. Frankly, if theologically conservative people can’t support a moderate conservative agenda such as the one usually followed by the Democratic party, they deserve the intolerant theocracy that – unfortunately – seems to be its only alternative these days. However theologically conservative one is, the Republican gospel of selfishness and punishment for the poor and others in need should be completely repugnant, or one’s theology is completely divorced from the man claimed as lord and savior.

  17. Sand_Cat says:

    The best comment on this entire issue, and one that especially applies to those who are “theologically conservative,” is Derrick Jensen’s:

    “Here is the real lesson of the story of Jesus, the main myth of our Christian culture: oppose us and we will kill you, speak to us of love and we will nail you to a cross. We will deify your image and ignore your words. Within the span of three generations, your precious people will be killing each other in your name.”

  18. Robert Cruder says:

    E.J has encountered two extreme outlooks, possibly genetic.

    One is authoritarian and patriarchal. Every choice has a rule or an authority to which one can commit. Once one BELIEVES, there can be no contrary facts and disagreement triggers outrage.

    A leader cannot attach to the rules or authorities of this group because there are so many. He must show how carefully selected rules (scripture) or authorities (preachers or dead politicians) support him.

    The other style is explorative and anarchic. Choice requires facts which are never complete and goals which are never certain. The only principle is the right to independent choice and any rigid rule is an insult to that. Authorities are temporary at best and rarely worth fighting over except to oppose the first group.

    A leader must attract a huge following from the second group if they are to be useful at all in order to buttress individual uncertainty. He must demonstrate how the principle of choice and the latest facts support him.

    The current rate of change in knowledge does not merely cast the first group as ignorant by birth or made ignorant by others but ignorant by their own hand. (Note cool bible quote.) It also splinters the second group into factions who just learned this week’s facts and those who are still bound to last week’s facts.

    Neither side respects the other and a leader must dance with both!

  19. howa4x says:

    All religions set up an immediate we/they situation where true believers see those who don’t as threats that need to be killed. This is why progressives and the young see religion as a backward way to view the world. Most of the religions suppress women whether it be in banning reproductive rights, access to birth control, shaving heads, or wearing a facial cover. All religions have a sect inside them that treat women as second class citizens. These are reasons why the young stay away. Also religions draw sadists, masochists, molesters, criminals, sexual pedophiles, murderers, rapists, enslavers, and other mall adjusted individuals since they can easily hide in their midst posing as the most devout. Although some parts of religions do some good in the world, it is mainly only for their members, but the evil that has been done through the centuries negates most of it. Republican do put themselves at a disadvantage embracing the most restrictive form of Christianity. Instead of Jesus’s love they replace it with a series of no’s mainly about pre marital sex but never about murder, or inequality. This is why the young treat them as kryptonite. While the current Pope has said some decent things, The church is seen by many as a haven for pedophiles . If he doesn’t ferret out these priests, and forever rid the priesthood of this type of evil, then they are more empty words. It doesn’t help that all of the wars we see today are about one religion vs another. For progressives to embrace religion they have to do a better job of just following what the founders of their religions professed. Other wise they are hollow sermons and history is against them

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