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Taking that "Peace Be With You" Stuff Seriously
June 30, 2005 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Why does the National Council of Churches hate America? The NCC -- a coalition of 36 Christian denominations -- makes a firm statement against the war in Iraq: "This year our nation is at war as we observe the 4th of July, a day that honors those founders who spoke out for independence from tyranny. Today in Iraq a cruel dictator has been deposed, yet the suffering of the Iraqi people continues. Mandated elections have been held, yet the future of Iraq remains as uncertain as ever. Day by day the cost of this war for the United States, for Iraq, for peace grows clearer. No weapons of mass destruction have been found; no link to the attacks on September 11, 2001 has been shown. It has become clear that the rationale for invasion was at best a tragic mistake, at worst a clever deception." Mainstream Christians are starting to take back Christianity from the theocrats.
posted by digaman (74 comments total)

 
Beautiful! eloquent! A modern version of Senator, Have You No Shame
posted by ElvisJesus at 11:19 AM on June 30, 2005


Very nice. Is there any way to tell how many people this group actually represents?
posted by gurple at 11:25 AM on June 30, 2005


This is exactly why I'm proud to identify myself as a mainstream Christian in the US (United Methodist, to be exact).
posted by tippiedog at 11:26 AM on June 30, 2005


I dunno, man, the Churches that are part of this "National Council of Churches" -- ELCA Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists -- seem "Mainline Liberal Protestant." This is to say that these churches are not part of the vocal "Evangelical Christian" movement, and probably opposed military action in the middle east from the get-go.

As much as I'd like to see "Evangelical Christains" questioning the Republican Party Line with regard to military action, I don't see it happening.
posted by u2604ab at 11:28 AM on June 30, 2005


gurple: according to their 'about us' page, 36 denominations and communiions are members of the NCC (including the United Methodist Church). Based on my very insufficient knowledge of the membership of various of those groups, that would be tens of millions of members of those denominations and communions.
posted by tippiedog at 11:30 AM on June 30, 2005


Maybe, because just like the rest of the "blame America first" crowd, they just don't get it.

"...the suffering of the Iraqi people continues." Hmm, well, life is certainly tough for countries coming out from underneath the brutal boulder of tyranny. At least they're not being gassed by the tens of thousands for their religion; having their eyes and tongues gouged out for speaking against murderous despots, or being forced to watch their mothers, sisters and wives being gang-raped by their country's own soldiers while simply trying to live.

Instead, they are starting businesses, printing newspapers, and practicing (or not practicing) whatever religion they choose, and getting started on the road of self rule.

Don't confuse "mainstream Christians" with leftist conformists who have been coerced into thinking that approval of the war is paramount to mortal sin. Some would have us believe that continued sanctions and appeasment would halt Saddam's efforts to continue developing WMD. As recently as the Clinton administration's failure to appease North Korea, only to find that NK had continued nuclear weapons develoment the entire time, we've learned that with crazy, evil leaders, appeasement does not work.

A policy of appeasement in regards to evil dictators results only in the type of reprehensible mass murder seen under Hitler. Saddam was travelling quickly down the same path, and enabling other madmen to lash out.

Our service men and women fight against brainwashed teenagers, while Biden and others who "hate America" accuse Americans of being cruel reckless killers; when it is the terrorists who teach their children to shoot RPGs and machine guns at Americans. Americans aren't training our children to kill Middle Easterners--we're teaching acceptance and tolerance to our children.

I guess those opposed to firm resolution and action in the face of evil can't understand my point of view just as I cannot fathom their willingness to stand by while millions of innocents are murdered and tought to hate.


posted by intheory at 11:31 AM on June 30, 2005


More voices of dissent, the noise level will get to the point that ShrubCo can no longer ignore the fact that his pet war is not America's pet war.

But I'm still a cynical agnostic.
posted by fenriq at 11:31 AM on June 30, 2005


Doh! At the top of the About the NCC page, it says there are 45 million members and 100,000 local congregations.
posted by tippiedog at 11:32 AM on June 30, 2005


...Americans aren't training our children to kill Middle Easterners*

*Not applicable, of course, to members of the armed forces age 18 and under.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 11:33 AM on June 30, 2005


iron chef morimoto: how many members of the armed forces are under age 18? Even children of military personnel don't get AK47s handed to them with targets of Iraqi's pasted to them.
posted by intheory at 11:35 AM on June 30, 2005


Wow, intheory Godwins out in record time. Congratulations!

Yep, NCC claims membership of 45 million through their member churches, but I wonder what that actually translates to in terms of support. Maybe the best way to find out would be to see how seriously the right wing takes them.

Also, as pointed out above, these seem to be churches on the liberal side of mainstream.
posted by gurple at 11:36 AM on June 30, 2005


Thanks, intheory, for distilling the absurdist false dichotomies and straw men down to such a succinct posting; very entertaining, and useful in case we encounter any of the ever-shrinking number of Americans who actually believe that horseshit.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:38 AM on June 30, 2005


Whoops, I meant "maybe the best way to find out would be to see how seriouslythe right wing takes them."
posted by gurple at 11:38 AM on June 30, 2005


George_Spiggott: It is unfortunate that the number of Americans who believe the truth is "ever-shrinking." I have yet to hear of any of the mass graves being debunked. In fact, I think there have been some great documentaries coming out of the Mid-East that catalogue the atrocities of Saddam. The real "horseshit" is that when presented with an opportunity to protect the citizens of an oppressed country, there are some Americans who would choose to stand idly by and claim some sort of higher moral ground in doing so.
posted by intheory at 11:41 AM on June 30, 2005


As a gay man who wishes his marriage was legal, intheory, I know all about people being taught to hate. As a journalist, I've interviewed the teenagers who we're sending over to Iraq to fight, many of whom have been brainwashed into believing there was a direct connection between Iraq and 9/11 -- a disinformation campaign that continued with Bush's speech the other night. You can get back to me after you've had some practical experience to back up your theories about who is against this war and why. In the meantime, I'll be working to take back democracy from the cynical opportunists who are undermining it here.
posted by digaman at 11:42 AM on June 30, 2005


gurple, u2604ab: It's a sign of how far the scale has shifted in the last couple of decades that you (fairly, I'd say) characterize this group as on the "liberal side of mainstream." Not too long ago, this was simply "the mainstream."

We mainstream Christians tend to consider it impolitic to to discuss politics in church. This is good, because we try to focus more on the general goals (such as the second set of bullet points in the 'Speak Out' call), but it's also unfortunate, because we are hesitant to speak out against our right-wing brethren who have no difficulties mixing politics and religion.
posted by tippiedog at 11:44 AM on June 30, 2005


there are some Americans who would choose to stand idly by and claim some sort of higher moral ground in doing so

This is a derail. However: rwanda. darfur. THOSE were definitely atrocities, and we weren't jumping in there. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe because that war would have no spOILs?

Anyway, Bush's line about Iraq is still WMDs and 9/11 tie-ins. Shouldn't you be getting with the party line, intheory?
posted by gurple at 11:46 AM on June 30, 2005


intheory: ...their willingness to stand by while millions of innocents are murdered...

Maybe you could clear up precisely which group of "millions of innocents" you're talking about here?

What strange times we live in, when it's considered an act of radicalism for a Christian church group, of all things, to stand against violence and in favor of truth-telling.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:46 AM on June 30, 2005


What strange times we live in, when it's considered an act of radicalism for a Christian church group, of all things, to stand against violence and in favor of truth-telling.

Amen, brother or sister!
posted by tippiedog at 11:47 AM on June 30, 2005


intheory: I'm sure you were all over that Rwanda thing, right? Wrote your congressman and everything, did you? There's no way you would have stood idly by, I'm sure. And I'm sure you're as puzzled as any of us as to why Osama is still free and why the Saudis who backed the 9/11 hijackers have not seen the inside of a courtroom, right?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:48 AM on June 30, 2005


"millions of innocents" - men, women and children executed and buried in mass graves.

Rwanda - I believe some of the major actions occured during the Clinton administration; and demonstrates again what happens when those who can act choose instead to appease, monitor and wait.

Christians who don't allow their faith to impact their worldview (e.g. who they support politically) aren't really getting the whole picture.

It's been real, all, but I've got to run to work. Just wanted to voice an opposing view to the 99% of mefites on the other side of the street.
posted by intheory at 11:53 AM on June 30, 2005


intheory wrote: Christians who don't allow their faith to impact their worldview (e.g. who they support politically) aren't really getting the whole picture.

I agree completely, only I think you and I come to very different conclusions as to what our faith calls us to do and which politicians most closely align with that call. Have a good day at work!
posted by tippiedog at 11:56 AM on June 30, 2005


All snark and nastiness aside, intheory, it's good to have more than one perspective on these kinds of issues.
posted by gurple at 11:57 AM on June 30, 2005


oh, real quick - my "millions' figure may be a bit of hyperbole. The number is probably only in the hundreds of thousands, as far as what we've uncovered so far.

And Rwanda/Darfur -- yes, I have written my representatives and have some great form reply letters. Ticks me off.
posted by intheory at 11:58 AM on June 30, 2005


It's been real, all, but I've got to run to work.

Also known as the "oops, my shitty arguments aren't fooling anybody, better pretend that I'm too important/busy/smart to discuss this with anyone, tuck my tail between my legs, and run"-move.
posted by papakwanz at 12:06 PM on June 30, 2005


intheory wrote:
"millions of innocents" - men, women and children executed and buried in mass graves.
From the article cited:
More than 100 bodies have been found from the first location and a similar number from the other.

Hundreds of thousands of bodies uncovered? Where?
posted by Floydd at 12:06 PM on June 30, 2005


Back on the actual topic, I'll be interested to see how much press it gets, and if it does, whether the Evangelicals distance themselves from it and the National Council of Churches. Ecumenism is problematic to say the least when there's diametrical opposition among self-described Christian as to what it actually means to be one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:09 PM on June 30, 2005


OH man, thanks InTheory, for the biggest belly laugh I've had all day outside of McSweeney's Future Winners of the New Yorker Cartoon Contest.

Any argument that includes broad-stroke slurs in the very first sentence isn't even worth the pixels it's written with.
posted by spicynuts at 12:13 PM on June 30, 2005


Why does Gary Bauer hate America have his head up his ass?
posted by Jon-o at 12:16 PM on June 30, 2005


when those who can act choose instead to appease, monitor and wait.

Oh, like Darfur, you mean?

But don't worry -- a solution is at hand. Prayer. Yes, prayer is the preferred solution when we're otherwise engaged with subduing a couple of middle-eastern countries.
posted by ladd at 12:20 PM on June 30, 2005


Also, intheory, we'd be much more willing to consider your position if it was so obviously the regurgitated, dogmatic, apologist party line. If your statement had even a hint of an original developed idea that didn't smack of bludgeoning neo-con brainwashing, you wouldn't have been immediately dismissed.
posted by Jon-o at 12:23 PM on June 30, 2005


wasn't so obviously...
posted by Jon-o at 12:24 PM on June 30, 2005


Actually, jon-o, I think he didn't get the latest memo -- the party line as of Tuesday night is back to "fighting them there so we don't have to fight them at home". And turning someone else's country into a honeypot for Islamic radicals where you can blow the fuck out of them without restraint is not exactly consistent with being a liberator. But they can feel free to alternate between the two fundamentally incompatible rationales to suit the context.... and they will.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:28 PM on June 30, 2005


these seem to be churches on the liberal side of mainstream.

The President was raised Episcopalian by his Republican father and now claims to be Methodist. We're talking about "liberals" like Geroge W. and George Sr. here.

Don't confuse "mainstream Christians" with leftist conformists who have been coerced into thinking that approval of the war is paramount to mortal sin.

Don't confuse snake handling grapejuice drinkers with mainstream Christianity either. These are denominations like Lutherans and Methodists, those hardly qualify as leftists. Don't get Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ mixed up with Unitarians and Quakers (no offense to UUF's and Friends, to which I think this troll was directed).
posted by Pollomacho at 12:29 PM on June 30, 2005


"fighting them there so we don't have to fight them at home"

Oh right, I forgot that one.

So does that mean I can come over to your house and have a screaming fight with my ex-girlfriends? I'd really rather not have them showing up at my door.
posted by Jon-o at 12:35 PM on June 30, 2005


From looking at their list of policies, I wouldnt say that this is out of the norm for the NCC, and I wouldnt call them mainstream.
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 12:36 PM on June 30, 2005


intheory: my "millions' figure may be a bit of hyperbole.

Yeah, I'll say.

The estimates I've seen all guess that something like 100,000 to 300,000 Iraqis "disappeared" under Saddam's long rule.

You have to watch out when looking up figures like these, because a lot of tallies lump Iraqi war casualties (from the Iran/Iraq war and from 1991's Desert Storm) into the total number of "Iraqis Saddam killed." I think that's incredibly dishonest and misleading, but let's give it to them for the sake of argument: the figure rises to 400,000 to 600,000 range.

So even the highest estimates are way short of the sort of figure implied by the vague "millions," and not even particularly notable by global atrocity standards.

Saddam isn't a nice man. What does anyone stand to gain by making him out to be even more monsterous than he is? Do the facts matter, or don't they? Is "truth-telling" a good thing, or is it not?
posted by Western Infidels at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2005


I wouldn't call them mainstream.

And what exactly would you consider mainstream then?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:46 PM on June 30, 2005


I really don't know why anybody is arguing with intheory.

There are two possibilities:
1) he really believes the shit he's saying. In this case he's proven that he's not willing to think critically or examine a situation objectively. His numerous attacks show that not only does he believe that he is definitely correct, but that anybody who disagrees with him can be shoved neatly into an easily discarded box.

2) he is a troll.

Either way, who cares what he says? He's not interested in a discussion, he just wants to say "You're wrong, I'm right, Liberals are evil, Clinton sucks, Moderate Christians are pussies."

He's said it, lets move on.
posted by mosch at 12:53 PM on June 30, 2005


"Mainstream Christians" as represented by the NCC are just as capable of being theocrats as the Falwellites. They'd have to be: they used to be chief theocrats until the Falwellites finessed the press. Furthermore, when I was a kid the United Methodist Church, the one I was raised in, was pretty damn right-wing except for civil rights for blacks (and that belatedly), and didn't begin to provide an "liberal" alternative to the Falwellites until they needed to keep people like me from leaving the church -- so their clergy could keep get paid. It's as much about market share as principles: the Falwellites keep breeding and recruiting -- or driving people away from Christianity altogether, while the "old fogeys" in the "mainstream" dwindle agedly away; without re-gathering those whose parents or grandparents were "mainstream Christians", or convincing those who grew up in Falwellism and rejected it that they're a more "enlightened" version of Christianity, those who graduated from "mainstream" seminaries would have to take up plumbing or something.

And Pollomacho, Dubya is not a very good Methodist, nor does he go to any church anyway. He's a free-range fundy is what he is, a denomination of one, as befits someone to whom God talks directly.

Anyway. To get back to the point: I suspect the "mainstream Christians" are simply competitors for theocracy, "kinder gentler" theocrats.
posted by davy at 12:59 PM on June 30, 2005


Nah, let's not move on: there's another bit of falsehood to address in his spew.

At least they're not being gassed by the tens of thousands for their religion

The numbers I've seen are around 5000, and I'm under the distinct impression their religion had nothing to do with it.

having their eyes and tongues gouged out for speaking against murderous despots

True enough, that.

being forced to watch their mothers, sisters and wives being gang-raped by their country's own soldiers while simply trying to live

While simply trying to live? I don't think so. No doubt Husseins forces were bastards, but I don't recall ever hearing that they typically ran about the country pillaging and plundering.

If you were an activist, life was a bitch. If you just kept your opinions to yourself, you were quite unlikely to get caught up in the Hussein lunacy.

Instead, they are starting businesses, printing newspapers, and practicing (or not practicing) whatever religion they choose

Prior to the war, and particularly prior to the embargos, the big cities had excellent schools and universities, women had good equality, and there was a lot of successful private business.

There's SFA of that now, because the entire country is in turmoil.

For all his bad, Hussein did have one positive: he kept the religious factions from slaughtering one another, and in that stability it became possible for people to focus on family and work.

This is no longer the case, and it's going to be a looong time before it is again possible to live a happy, quiet, productive and safe life in Iraq.

getting started on the road of self rule

Debateable, that, given how the USA is helping ensure the leaders have the Bush Stamp of Approval.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:12 PM on June 30, 2005


I'll be interested to see how much press it gets

I bet not that much. I duno where you guys have been but the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches have been around quite a long time, and are nothing new. There are few Left Wing causes that the NCC & WCC don't support.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:13 PM on June 30, 2005


Also, good for the NCC. It's time the good Christians took back their good name.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:13 PM on June 30, 2005


I guess those opposed to firm resolution and action in the face of evil can't understand my point of view just as I cannot fathom their willingness to stand by while millions of innocents are murdered and tought to hate.

Don't pick on intheory--I think that he has seen the light although millions of innocents haven't been murdered yet.

Wait--he is talking about the Bush Administration, isn't he???
posted by leftcoastbob at 1:15 PM on June 30, 2005


intheory: Well, give us some time. We're working on catching up to Saddam. After all he had 24 years to kill hundreds of thousands of people.
posted by papercake at 1:20 PM on June 30, 2005


And Pollomacho, Dubya is not a very good Methodist, nor does he go to any church anyway.

Actually he goes pretty regularly to an Episcopal church when he's in DC. That'd be pretty hard to call fundy.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:29 PM on June 30, 2005


I couldn't help but note how the NCC went from representing 35 denominations with 52 million churchgoers, in the fundie 'article' above from 1999, to representing 36 denominations with 45 million churchgoers, on their website today.
posted by boaz at 1:47 PM on June 30, 2005


"fighting them there so we don't have to fight them at home"
(ie, the flypaper strategy)

I don't remember where I saw it, but someone made a good analogy:

The flypaper strategy is like making a filthy hospital to attract all the germs.
posted by Happy Monkey at 1:50 PM on June 30, 2005


Metafilter: like making a filthy hospital to attract all the germs.
posted by Jon-o at 2:22 PM on June 30, 2005


I'm late, but...
intheory: how many members of the armed forces are under age 18?
Cpl. Ramona M. Valdez was 17 when she signed up for the Marines, and she way 4 days shy of 21 when she was killed in Iraq, last Thursday.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:45 PM on June 30, 2005


Well, give us some time. We're working on catching up to Saddam

And we're making progress. We're killing innocent Iraqis at nearly twice the rate he was. Unfortunately our efforts at rape and torture have been limited to Abu Ghraib, so we've only managed to rape a fraction of the women and children he did. But at least we took pictures and videos - think of the royalties and residuals!
posted by bashos_frog at 2:55 PM on June 30, 2005


The extent that the NCC speaks for anyone let alone 45 million church goers is somewhat misleading. Despite what a few liberal people at the top of these churches say they have little to no influence on a congregational level, where things tend to get much more conservative. Pollomacho said Lutherans and Methodists "hardly qualify as leftists." He's right on the congregational level -- but if you listened to the political statements coming out of the ELCA (more conservative LCMS Lutherans wouldn't have anything to do with this) and Methodists you'd think they spent more time studying Michael Moore than the bible.

Just do the math - we know regular church goers voted overwhelmingly for Bush, and it would be ridiculous to assume that those that did were all firebreathing evangelical snakehandlers. Bush was overwhelmingly supported at the polls by the very same people the NCC who belong to churches under the NCC umbrella.

I can tell you that it's been my experience that serious Christians, even within the denominations that the NCC purports to represent, do a lot of eye-rolling whenever the NCC comes up. Far from just being a check on Republicans, the NCC is VERY left and has been for sometime.

Which is not to say that these Christians are Bush supporters; they reject the right-wing evangelicals as well as the NCC or anyone that excessively politicizes the church. They recognize the politicization of religion isn't just bad for politics it undermines the credibility of the church. It's one thing to speak out on abortion as a grave moral problem -- but it's quite another to squander credibility by getting churches involved in commenting on petty partisan issues on a national scale or particpating in partisan rhetoric.

Hence a renewed interest in Luther's Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms as a Christian solution to dealing with politically charged issues.
posted by Heminator at 3:03 PM on June 30, 2005


The extent that the NCC speaks for anyone let alone 45 million church goers is somewhat misleading. Despite what a few liberal people at the top of these churches say they have little to no influence on a congregational level, where things tend to get much more conservative. Pollomacho said Lutherans and Methodists "hardly qualify as leftists." He's right on the congregational level -- but if you listened to the political statements coming out of the ELCA (more conservative LCMS Lutherans wouldn't have anything to do with this) and Methodists you'd think they spent more time studying Michael Moore than the bible.

Just do the math - we know regular church goers voted overwhelmingly for Bush, and it would be ridiculous to assume that those that did were all firebreathing evangelical snakehandlers. Bush was overwhelmingly supported at the polls by the very same people who belong to churches under the NCC umbrella.

I can tell you that it's been my experience that serious Christians, even within the denominations that the NCC purports to represent, do a lot of eye-rolling whenever the NCC comes up. Far from just being a check on Republicans, the NCC is VERY left and has been for sometime.

Which is not to say that these Christians are Bush supporters; they reject the right-wing evangelicals as well as the NCC or anyone that excessively politicizes the church. They recognize the politicization of religion isn't just bad for politics it undermines the credibility of the church. It's one thing to speak out on grave moral problems -- but it's quite another to squander credibility by getting churches involved in commenting on petty partisan issues on a national scale or particpating in partisan rhetoric.

Hence a renewed interest in Luther's Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms as a Christian solution to dealing with politically charged issues.
posted by Heminator at 3:05 PM on June 30, 2005


I don't know how that double post happened; My apologies.
posted by Heminator at 3:06 PM on June 30, 2005


Don't sweat it. Seems to be happening a lot these days.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:59 PM on June 30, 2005


Oh my God! In the last two hours, we've invaded Zimbabwe, Zambia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, the Congo, the Ivory Coast, Syria, Lebanon, Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE, Libya, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Chad, Somalia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Sudan, and the island nation of Togo!

Finally, the world is free of murderous despots! Democracy is king!
posted by fungible at 4:18 PM on June 30, 2005


How about some real criticism of the NCC statement rather than responses to intheory's regurgitations?

For example, I think one could validly criticize the document for calling for an "early fixed timetable" for withdrawal. What does a timetable for withdrawal have to do with peace? Saying "When X happens we'll pull Y troops out, and when Z happens..." makes sense, but a timetable?

Sadly, we're on the ground in Iraq. That means we need to learn from Vietnam, from John Paul Vann, who told his superiors how to win in Vietnam. When he was ignored, he turned to reporters like Neil Sheehan, who published a biography of Vann, Bright Shining Lie:

The big-unit fighting with the Main Force Viet Cong and the NVA "could move to another planet today, and we would still not have won the war," because "the Vietnamese people are the prize." Without the sustenance they provided through the local guerrillas and the clandestine Viet Cong government, the Communist regulars could not exist. The United States therefore had to employ its troops to shield the populated areas while it pacified by earning "the trust and loyalty of the people" (Sheehan 631).

Of course going into Iraq was wrong. Bush led us into a quagmire, yes. If there were a snowball's chance in hell of Bush getting impeached over it, I'd love to argue about the run-up to the war with intheory and his ilk, but there's not, so let's ignore him, eh?

I don't know about y'all, but I'm interested in the best way out, which might not be the fastest or the prettiest. I'm interested: what's the Christian way out of our present situation in Iraq?

As a member of the UCC and a firm believer that there is no such thing as a just war, I still think pulling our troops out on a fixed timetable starting tomorrow would end in more violence and human suffering than some alternatives, but what are those alternatives? The present course certainly doesn't seem to be working.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 4:43 PM on June 30, 2005


Hey, I'm back. Again, thanks for the chance to spout "the party line" from the other side of the line.

btw, papakwanz, I really did have to run to work. I especially like how you post one comment in the entire thread and it consists completely of an ad hominem. Since I appear to be the only mefi in this thread on this side of the debate, it's not like you even needed to try and paint me as a moron. There are a number of opposing arguements that shut me up without resorting to pot shots.

I did start out OT on this, but have been particularly frustrated with the whole Evangelical Right Wing Conspiracy thing, and this looks like an attempt by some leftist churches to glom onto the influence/media attention of the conservative/rightist churches. Heminator has some good points along this line.

Giving Saddam props for pretty much anything ("...kept the religions from slaughtering each other...") is like giving Hitler credit for his terrific Public Relations team. The man is a butchering sycophant. You might have some problems with Bush and Rumsfield and Cheyney (hell, I do), but frick, getting rid of Saddam now rather than later is a good thing. The world waited until it couldn't ignore Hitler any longer, and it only cost us 6 million lives.

Honestly, I really do have a hard time putting 100% behind Bush/Cheyney and some of their actions; especially since I consider myself a right wing conservative to some extent. I'm probably even a "fundy" by some standards. But...

We don't all sing the party line and mimic every memo. Liberals aren't any more or less evil than us conservatives; if I recall correctly, it wasn't Clinton that sucked; and moderate Christians aren't pussies.

Okay, so I'm still OT. tarheelcoxn has some good points. I happen to disagree about there not being such a thing as a just war. I agree that the Bush administration's reasoning for this war (by attempting the 9/11=Iraq tie) is beyond foolish; but I think that removing a crazy tyrant from power so his people have a shot at democracy is pretty just.

At risk of papakwanz accusing me of chickening out, I do have to sign off again. I just saw the post about the Left Behind video games...and figure I better call it a day before I even look at that. :p
posted by intheory at 5:00 PM on June 30, 2005


I'm a little confused at the prevalence of comments equating 'evangelical' with 'right-wing' and 'conservative'. I always understood that 'evangelical' meant Bible-based or gospel based. Perhaps it's different here in Canada but both the Presbyterian and Baptist churches I have attended called themselves 'evangelical' because they base their teaching on the Bible. If this is so, it seems to me that 'evangelical christians' should not (and are not, in my church at least) be aligning themselves with many of the typical 'right-wing' causes but rather should be on the side of the poor and the oppressed of the world and against those powers that oppress and seek their ends through war. Blessed are the poor...the peacemakers...etc. Anyhow, this may be off topic or I may be nitpicking but I thought I would mention it.
posted by madokachan at 5:34 PM on June 30, 2005


Fewer Iraqis would be dead today, were Saddam still dictator.

He was brutal and a torturer and evil, but he was not continuously mass-slaughtering his citizens. You were at great risk if you were an agitator, or associated in some way with an agitator. You were not at great risk if you kept your political opinions quietly to yourself and played along.

This is not in theory: it is fact. You made a lot of very silly little statements, and they run counter to the truth. That the Husseins prevented the religious groups from slaughtering one another, and ran a very (for the mideast) secular country, with good education systems and progressive feminist rights, is a fact. Deal with it.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:19 PM on June 30, 2005


Novak speaks
posted by mert at 7:00 PM on June 30, 2005


madokachan, they justify it by saying that their beliefs are based on the Bible: it says in the(ir reading of) the Bible that homosexuals are filthy sinners, that because "the powers that be are ordained by God" it's a sin to not be patriotic and obedient, that a Christian is better than anyone else though s/he be a sinner and so a Christian country is better than a Muslim one, etc. And if you bring up the stuff about "blessed are the meek" and so on they'll say that only applies to Christians: the point of feeding the hungry is to get a chance to preach the Gospel to them and convert them, but if they won't listen and be "saved" then it's okay to quit feeding the "ungrateful heathens". ("Shake the dust of your feet" and so on.) And if you disagree with them they pronounce you a godless Communist carrying out the Homosexual Agenda just like Bin Laden and the Devil want. So you see eveything they do they think is Bible-based.

And by the way, five_fresh_fish just spoke sense. Though it was easier for Saddam to be "liberal" before the first Gulf War and the twelve years of sanctions wrecked the Iraqi economy; even still, even after Saddam had to suck up to some religious groups to keep the peace, Iraq was still a much better country for women than most mostly-Muslim countries. Under the Baathists women could go to college, get medical degrees, drive, run businesses and so on; they were nothing like the black-draped wraiths of Kabul. This is not to say that Saddam was an angel, just that the American conquest has set Iraqi women back a good 30 years.

And hey, intheory: look up sycophant. Did you mean to call Saddam "one who flatters another excessively: adulator, courtier, flatterer, toady. Informal apple-polisher"? Do you disapprove of him because he kissed too much ass? Words do have meanings, you homo sapiens Net-thespian.
posted by davy at 7:57 PM on June 30, 2005


shock! "and by the way, five_fresh_fish just spoke sense." i was under the impression we were bitter enemies. look how saddam has brung us together! the man was a ruthless, evil fuck of a dictator with children surely the spawn of hell itself, but lo! he has again put an end to our religious squabbles. now to keep my head down and pretend to be happy with the oppression of ideas
posted by five fresh fish at 8:35 PM on June 30, 2005


So why is America so selective about the butchers it takes down and the butchers it embraces? (Or at least shakes hands with?)

The second you use the word "evil" intheory I call bullshit. And no, it's not because I'm a nihilist, but because evil is an absolute. America has no right to claim it is constantly good given that we took down one bad guy. We have moments as a country, no doubt, but I look at the last 30 years of foreign policy and see a very mixed bag. The fact that Bush uses certain words but doesn't understand the implications of his moral rhetoric (good, freedom, God bless America (what about other countries? Does she like them?)) in terms of history makes me question your triumphalism.

And BTW, is there any cost, in human lives and dollars, at which you will admit this war is a mistake?
posted by bardic at 9:58 PM on June 30, 2005


Davy, we mainline liberal pastors would love to turn this country into a theocracy. Unfortunately, our parishioners keep shouting us down when we use religious language like "justice" and "peace."

As an Episcopal priest, I eagerly await the day when we Americans again honor the queen as the supreme governor of both church and state. Every Sunday I pray that, just like the good old days, we could burn Baptists and Romans at the stake. I don't know how you figured us out as theocrats. We thought we were working secretly.

Just today I worked on a letter with a reconstructionist Rabbi, an AME Zion pastor and a Unitarian minister to demand a local developer fulfill his promise to build affordable housing. We used theocratic language like "good, "evil," and "sacred." I never thought of us as particularly dangerous, but it feels good, Davy, if you think that. I wish more people did.

Intheory, war has always been considered a consequence of human sinfulness, even when "just." Even when we kill in self-defense, it is a Christian's duty to confess such a killing as sin.
posted by john wilkins at 10:40 PM on June 30, 2005


Has it occured to you reasonable religionists that your churches could do more in the way of leading those who don't hang out in churches?

Take a look at the 7th Day Adventist commercials that (used to?) run in the Pacific NW and probably elsewhere. They had damn good messages in them without being overtly religious.

They promoted good via showing reasonable behaviour to the broad public. There was always a pleasant voiceover that described the benefit of the behaviour, especially the feel-good payoff it would generate. I'm pretty sure the message mostly boiled down to "be good to others."

I daresay -- given how dedicated corporations are to advertising -- it works.

I'm pretty sure your gods would be delighted if you tried to spread good social messages of love, care, responsibility, and inclusion, even if it often doesn't lead to an increase in actual symbolic ritual attendances. You've got the self-supporting organization. Now it can look outward in a bigger way.

A lot could be accomplished if the churches thought a bit bigger. Don't make it about the rituals any more. We're done with that.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:02 AM on July 1, 2005


tarheelcoxn
I don't know about y'all, but I'm interested in the best way out, which might not be the fastest or the prettiest. I'm interested: what's the Christian way out of our present situation in Iraq?

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. It wouldn't be easy, and it certainly wouldn't be cheap. I have a feeling it would involve massive (and I mean really massive) amounts of aid and rebuilding work, so that we put the country's infrastructure and welfare systems back into the same state they were in before we blew them to crap. To be done without regard for the profit potential, and most definately so that the final result is Iraqi-owned and with increasing involvement of Iraqi officials, policemen and skilled workers.

As for the insurgents, I wonder about the possibility of air-drops of food and supplies for the inhabitents caught in the areas where they're hiding. Maybe if the local populations come to trust that the occupying armies are there to try and help them, they'd get rid of the insurgents on their own. A solution imposed from outside will not work unless the local people believe in it.
posted by talitha_kumi at 5:34 AM on July 1, 2005


f you listened to the political statements coming out of the ELCA (more conservative LCMS Lutherans wouldn't have anything to do with this) and Methodists you'd think they spent more time studying Michael Moore than the bible.

What I think is you have no clue as to what Christ-like really means and you apparently haven't read the Bible yourself Herminator. Jesus was a radical dude.

Thanks for the comments john wilkins, you darned radical, Michael Moore studying, evil, liberal, advocate for the poor and servant of Jesus Christ!
posted by nofundy at 6:50 AM on July 1, 2005


FWIW - madokachan, you're dead right about the word "evangelical." It has a very different meaning in a theological context than the way it is thrown around in the media and in a political context as a short-hand for the charismatic born-again types. This has been a problem in similar discussions before...
posted by Heminator at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2005


Nofundy, thanks for the incisive critique. I'm pretty sure that pronouncing judgment on exactly what my understanding of Chritianity is based on such *ahem* wafer thin evidence might be the real Christian misunderstanding here. Oh and how did you know I haven't read the Bible! Such powers of perception.

I didn't mean to critique Michael Moore so much as I was pointing out the degree to which they are comfortable politicizing issues (something that Michael Moore, whether you agree with him or not, excels at). The Politicization is the greater crime, be it right or left, not necessarily whether I agree with the way their political sentiments are leaning.

"Jesus was a radical dude."

I'm assuming that this sentiment is integral to your definition of "Christ-like." Um, yes insofar as the nature of his divinity made him radical. But for Christians the fact he was The Lord is far more important than the degree which he might be construed a political activist. But last I checked Jesus didn't pass any laws, nor did he campaign for anyone.

In fact, when he himself was the victim of a corrupt, unjust political system that sentenced himself to a horrible death, he submitted. I'm not saying submitting to injustice is Christian, but merely pointing out that His example might indicate the Christian church's relationship with politics is clearly more complex than adopting a "radical" fight-the-power attitude.

Given this, I would welcome you definition of "Christ-like" and how that might apply to the political realm.
posted by Heminator at 12:15 PM on July 1, 2005


Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw— a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. - Matthew 10:34-36.

Sounds pretty radical to me. Jesus didn't come so everybody could hold hands and sing kumbaya.
posted by TetrisKid at 4:46 PM on July 1, 2005


Ya think? Perhaps he was demanding that we finally pull our collective shit together and make this place work for everyone. To ensure that all citizens have food, shelter, and security enough to live a fulfilling, happy life would -- and still does -- require overturning the establishment. Ironically, the way to peace may be war.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:20 PM on July 1, 2005


Heminator: Jesus did submit, but the other alternatives were terrorism against the state, or collaboration with it. To say that it was political "submission" is imprecise: it was an action designed to reveal to the light the ground upon which empire was built - pain and suffering - and the folly of attacking empire with their own tools. It was an act demonstrating courage and the intrinsic limits of imperial power. They can control death, but not life [yes, its pithy and probably imprecise, but useful].

What does an empire do with a religion that believes that the victim will return and judge the empire? Empires rely on death being the end of the story. The symbol of the resurrection represents that it isn't, and that the poor have a say in the way the world works.

Like religion, it may be untrue. On the other hand, it may be something worth believing in.
posted by john wilkins at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2005




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