Pastor Rick's Test
August 20, 2008 7:02 PM   Subscribe

At the risk of heresy, let it be said that setting up the two presidential candidates for religious interrogation by an evangelical minister -- no matter how beloved -- is supremely wrong.

Saddleback Sideshow: Presidential Professions Of Faith Distract Voters From The Core Issues Of The Day
posted by finite (151 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's sad that this even has to be debated. Religious gatekeepers to secular office? I'm throwing up in my mouth more than a little bit.
posted by DU at 7:06 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes, it is insane. But CNN gave him a platform. If it were a webcast, would we be having this discussion? "Who is your favorite Supreme, and why?"
posted by fixedgear at 7:08 PM on August 20, 2008


I'm more pissed at the guy who held the gun to Obama's head and made him show up.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:08 PM on August 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


At least it wasn't Dobson putting himself into the position of "Juggler of Political Forces".
posted by Balisong at 7:09 PM on August 20, 2008


The capacity of modern American society to understand, much less appreciate, the Jeffersonian concept of a "wall" between government and religion is sorely lacking.

Lemmings get the government they deserve, I guess. Unfortunately, they push the rest of us off the cliff, too.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:11 PM on August 20, 2008 [20 favorites]


It's insane that either of the candidates have to play this game and prove that they're religious. Separation of Church and State, how bout it?
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:13 PM on August 20, 2008


Yes, it is insane. But CNN gave him a platform. If it were a webcast, would we be having this discussion? "Who is your favorite Supreme, and why?

Well, I think if McCain and Obama both attended a webcast, then yes it would be discussed. The big news to me is that they attended, not that CNN gave Rick Warren the time.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:18 PM on August 20, 2008


It is true that no one was forced to participate in the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency and that both McCain and Obama are free agents. Warren has a right to invite whomever he wishes to his church and to ask them whatever they're willing to answer.

And that should be the long and the short of it, period.

I just liked the fact that each candidate was asked similar questions, and given time to answer them thoughtfully and not in sound-bite portions, and no one was arguing over anyone else and you could actually hear and understand their positions.

Does it really take a pastor to give us that?
posted by konolia at 7:21 PM on August 20, 2008 [11 favorites]


Well, obviously America has changed a lot over the decades, I mean when we started slavery was legal and the founding fathers grew hemp. There isn't really any reason why in the future America won't become more theocratic, people will just 'reinterpret' the constitution -- Scalia, Roberts, Thomas and Alito would probably love to do that right now.

And the thing is, I didn't watch this but it sounds like this guy asked real questions and the candidates actually had the opportunity to have a real conversation. Unlike most presidential forums during the Democratic primary which were idiotic.

Obama has always talked about his faith and said he wanted to reach out to evangelicals, so this shouldn't be a surprise at all. He was probably more comfortable then McCain. This country obviously has a lot of problems, and Obama is a great candidate, but frankly if you're really worried about getting religion mixed up with politics he is definitely not your guy.
posted by delmoi at 7:22 PM on August 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


And btw unless y'all plan on kicking people of faith out of this country, we have the right to know where they stand on things that matter to us. Atheists, agnostics, pastafarians, go right ahead and have your own forums, and may CNN give you equal time. With my blessings, even.
posted by konolia at 7:23 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Funny. If its corrolary happened in, let's say Iran or Syria, substituting an Imam for a fundie christian minister, the Pentagon would be planning an invasion their borders tomorrow to 'liberate' the people and give them some of our yummy, yummy freedom.

Mmm...tasty freedom.
posted by brain cloud at 7:24 PM on August 20, 2008


In the end, we get what we deserve, the lowest common denominator. CNN and the media in general have turned us into a nation of uncritical fucks. "Oh isn't it great they're just like us."
posted by Xurando at 7:24 PM on August 20, 2008


Relax people the sky is not falling.

The last time I checked every citizen of the Republic had the right to question and confront political candidates.
posted by oddman at 7:27 PM on August 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


And btw unless y'all plan on kicking people of faith out of this country

You are 80% of the country and you do not get to play aggrieved party here.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:31 PM on August 20, 2008 [77 favorites]


> the Jeffersonian concept of a "wall" between government and religion is sorely lacking.

Much as I admire Long Tom, it has not been established that "Jeffersonian" is identical to "American." (He was, after all, a slave-owner, remember.) It has equally not been established that the specifically Jeffersonian concept of a totally impervious wall is the right one. It certainly isn't the one we have in place, which tolerates considerable leakage; and it is this one, not the Jeffersonian one, which has been established (and continuously tweaked) by practice and legislation, and repeatedly vetted by the courts.

I have no doubt there are comical loonies who think Sunday school buses shouldn't be allowed to use the public roads. But I go as far out of my way to avoid them as I do to avoid people who want to rant about Ayn Rand. The two lots have much in common.
posted by jfuller at 7:31 PM on August 20, 2008


No one is talking about kicking people of faith out of the country, certainly not Ms. Parker.
posted by ltracey at 7:33 PM on August 20, 2008


I have no doubt there are comical loonies who think Sunday school buses shouldn't be allowed to use the public roads. But I go as far out of my way to avoid them as I do to avoid people who want to rant about Ayn Rand. The two lots have much in common.
Especially if you ignore the fact that only one of the two lots actually exists.
posted by Flunkie at 7:39 PM on August 20, 2008 [10 favorites]


Obama was asked by Warren, "When does a baby get human rights." His response: "Well, uh, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or, uh, a scientific perspective, uh, answering that question with specificity, uh, you know, is, is, uh, above my pay grade." McCain responded to the same question simply and to the point. "At conception."

The question was asked from a legal perspective, a softball for the academic Obama, who could have flatly stated the reason for the law, or at least showed how most conservatives stop caring at birth anyway--therefore the question is backwards. He had nothing to lose but respect, and he lost it all. Those conservative voters don't feel as guilty about race as liberals do, so his defining religiosity against Hillary now comes across as a religious poser against the simpleton McCain who quoted the right slogan.
posted by Brian B. at 7:40 PM on August 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm just as much (probably moreso) a separation of church and state type of guy as the next person, but these folks are running for office not in their capacity as elected officials, but as private citizens.

It's unfortunate that some people prioritize religious beliefs in factoring in who to vote for, but the only way to prevent candidates from discussing their religious views would be to change the election laws which would, in and of itself, be a violation of the first amendment.

There's a big difference between freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I'm not going to let the evangelical's desire to mix politics and religion move me to rise up and try to prevent them from practicing their beliefs. I may shake my head in dismay and try to reason with people about the dangers of theocracy but I'm not going to dictate what criteria anyone should use excercising their right to vote. (no matter how misguided, imho, they might be)
posted by MCTDavid at 7:43 PM on August 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Private citizens asking candidates questions that interest them in a completely optional event is a far cry from "Religious gatekeepers to secular office"

Core Issues Of The Day

Says who?
posted by jpdoane at 7:47 PM on August 20, 2008


patstafarian?

Oh, now I get it. What compelled me to think that it could be looked up?
posted by captainsohler at 7:50 PM on August 20, 2008


Pastafarian? Hellz ya! I used to smoke the ganja with Chef Boyardee. Now, that's some real Pastaman Vibrations!
posted by jonp72 at 7:54 PM on August 20, 2008


I think this forum illustrates the expansion of the political discourse over the last 4 years. We had so few opportunities to compare and measure the performance of Kerry and Bush in 2004 or Bush and Gore in 2000. We've been looking at these men intensely for over a year now and we have so many ways to review what they said in the past, remix it, compare it, constrast it with themselves, with each other and with whichever historical figure seems apt in the moment.

This isn't bad news.

The more facets we add to the examination of these two men the more vivid a picture we get of how they might behave and think as President. Until we get to run then through near real world simulations and compare performance scores, it's the best method of appraisal we've got.
posted by benignfun at 7:59 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Amen, brotha.
posted by mattbucher at 7:59 PM on August 20, 2008


Funny. If its corrolary happened in, let's say Iran or Syria, substituting an Imam for a fundie christian minister, the Pentagon would be planning an invasion their borders tomorrow to 'liberate' the people and give them some of our yummy, yummy freedom.


Yeah, good thing they don't allow candidates in those countries to discuss anything pertaining to religion. Can you imagine?
posted by jpdoane at 8:03 PM on August 20, 2008


Not particularly an original take on this event , nor a particularly surprising response from MeFites everywhere. Besides being a pastor, Rick Warren is also the author of the best selling hardcover book in history, a new kind of evangelical leader on AIDS and poverty, and the man some are calling the next Billy Graham. It's illogical to deny that he has influence among Americans at large and that he will be on the speed dial of the next President of the United States.

Political progressives (a group of which I'm happy to count myself) will not build a new agenda without the help of religious folk and a peace and social justice agenda which begins with Jesus and runs through Augustine, Aquinas, John XXIII, Paul VI, Martin Luther King Previously on MeFi, Dorothy Day, and many others, all of whom were revolutionaries and none of whom have philosophies which can be removed from their belief in God and earnestness to follow God's will in their social and political affairs. More importantly, it is the very act of declaring that certain worldviews aren't worth discussion that mocks free speech and free expression.

Remember what G.K. Chesterton said: "The problem with Christianity is not that it's been tried and found wanting. It's that it has been found difficult and left not tried at all." Deciding that all Christians are hatemongers who want to take away your rights and evangelize you at the end of a sword, or that somehow Barack Obama has to have had a gun put to his head to want to discuss something so fundamental to his life is just as bad as deciding all Muslims are terrorists, that all minorities are lazy or (for that matter) that all atheists are as hateful as Christopher Hitchens. or Sam Harris. You can choose to mock, belittle and hate an enormous group of your fellow countrymen, or you can choose to try to understand and listen to them. You can choose to cry fowl of Rick Warren and know nothing of one of the world's most influential people, or you can give him two hours on a Saturday night in the middle of the Olympics when nobody's watching CNN anyway.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:05 PM on August 20, 2008 [21 favorites]


The more facets we add to the examination of these two men the more vivid a picture we get of how they might behave and think as President. Until we get to run then through near real world simulations and compare performance scores, it's the best method of appraisal we've got.

That's a lovely sentiment, but it's clear no amount of religious posturing guarantees anything at all about a candidate's presidential chops, other than which group(s) they know they need to pander to in order to edge out the other guy.

Case in point: GW Bush would no doubt swear up and down how he's a 'saved,' Bible-readin', Jesus-lovin,' commandment-followin' born again Christian, who has surrounded himself with similarly like-minded believers. Too bad he's been at the head of probably the most amoral, destructive and mistrusted administration since the formation of the Union.
posted by brain cloud at 8:06 PM on August 20, 2008


The fact that Obama is pandering to centrist religious folk who operate as swing voters, and the fact that the religious right has created SUCH a pressure on the candidates, startles me. The fact that MeFites would like to censor that under a veiled pretense of "church and state" is par for the course.

It should concern you that he's allowing religion to play such a significant role in his campaign. If it weren't for the rumors that he's Muslim, I'd be hesitant to vote for such an outspoken Christian. He's made it part of his fricking platform, for God's sake, and you're blaming the Reverend??

The Right has changed the political dialogue in the last eight years, and not for the better. You want to change that? Don't dignify their accusations that Dems have no morals. Don't play their game and come up with a laundry list for why Dems are going to heaven.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:08 PM on August 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, good thing they don't allow candidates in those countries to discuss anything pertaining to religion. Can you imagine?

You misunderstand. There's more than a bit of irony in how religious (Christian-brand) fundamentalism has gotten quite a toehold in this country, to the point where almost nobody bats an eye when presidential candidates are asked, point-blank, religious questions by a minister as a test of their worthiness, while at the same time our country tries to make the case that the #1 thing bringing down the fine people of the Arab middle-east is their embrace of religious (Muslim) fundamentalism and the political power that they give their clerics.
posted by brain cloud at 8:10 PM on August 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


The last time I checked every citizen of the Republic had the right to question and confront political candidates.

That's not the point. Yeah, everyone "has the right" to ask them questions. A wino on the corner could ask them questions too by his right.
Their pandering to a religious interrogation is what we're talking about here.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:11 PM on August 20, 2008


Remember what G.K. Chesterton said: "The problem with Christianity is not that it's been tried and found wanting. It's that it has been found difficult and left not tried at all."

The same could be said of True Scottishness.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:23 PM on August 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


Their pandering to a religious interrogation is what we're talking about here.

And there we have it. This is not about Rick Warren, not about CNN, but about disappointment with Obama. Because he seems happy to discuss issues of religion and faith, and even his own faith, you are left with two uncomfortable options:

a) Obama is being genuine and therefore not an atheistic intellectual like all the rest of you smart people. How disappointing.

b) Obama is being disingenuous and all this pandering proves he can't be trusted to stand up to all these religious nutjobs. How disappointing.
posted by jpdoane at 8:25 PM on August 20, 2008 [12 favorites]


every sunday at lunch my restaurant fills up with evangelical christians fresh out of church. they are, without exception, the rudest, most condescending, and demanding customers of the week. they are also lousy tippers. how can a table of people join hands and pray with flourish and then treat a waiter like a piece of shit? we also lose more silverware, salt and pepper shakers and condiments on sundays than any other day of the week. at this point, we are actually considering closing on sundays. who these people would approve as a suitable candidate in a presidential election is interesting, if not predictable. the thought of spending eternity with them is horrifying.
posted by kitchenrat at 8:26 PM on August 20, 2008 [21 favorites]


You are 80% of the country and you do not get to play aggrieved party here.

i miss the days of national politics when people argued about what was right for the country, not who was most aggreived
posted by pyramid termite at 8:31 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


"What does that mean, anyway? What does it prove? Nothing except that these men are willing to say whatever they must -- and what most Americans personally feel is no one's business -- to win the highest office."

The problem with this line, from the article, is that most Americans personally feel that the religion of their neighbors, of their civil servants and of their own private practice, is everyone's business (and certainly their business).

Gone are the days when it was impertinent to pray in the public square, where a man's salvation was his own. Gone like the days when it was seen as unbecoming to actually campaign for office (as it was in Jefferson's day). Indeed, those days may never have existed in reality—while presidential candidates did not stump, they certainly sent their seconds to ply the mobs with hard cider and to use party organs to allege adultery and miscegenation (a word coined for Lincoln's 1864 campaign); Jesus himself railed against those that wrought their piety publicly, and yet the charge of traveling on the Sabbath or uttering blasphemous oaths was potent even as violence, fraud and liquor were the primary modes of campaign.

Yes, of course it coarsens us all to have our politicians kowtow to preachers and pastors, as the fundamental failing of religion is mentioned in that comment above: the gulf between the ease of voicing morals and acting upon them. Anyone can, and will given nomination to a major party, mouth platitudes. And those platitudes will be accepted, and held as proof that the politician is one of us, because who doesn't mouth platitudes about God's will or immortal souls or whatever else unknowable that men pronounce upon with the certainty of touts at racetracks, or the confidence of someone repeating that a plane cannot lift off from a treadmill. It cheapens the awe to act as if all we need are the passwords and the handshake and we can trust these gents as they are of our cloth.
posted by klangklangston at 8:36 PM on August 20, 2008 [5 favorites]



I'd like to see either candidate, or any candidate, of any election in the US, stand up to the kind of interrogation European public officials receive regularly from the press, or expertly maneuver amid that claptrap in the House of Commons the way Tony Blair did day in and day out. Fuck these "debates", "town hall meetings," etc. It's like watching the AKC Championships. It's a simulacra of public discourse, weightless, worthless. It doesn't mean anything. Everyone knows nobody is saying what they really think, only hinting, gesturing, mitigating.

The media is such a soulsucking vacuum chamber of the real that politicians are left with only symbols and signifiers with which to address the incredible complexity of our times. No wonder our government doesn't work. If Barack wants to change things, and if he wants to win, he needs to do what he does in his oratory - "pierce this rotten diction and fasten words again to visible things" (Emerson). The hazard of committing a soundbite-sized gaffe is nothing next to that of conducting the great responsibility of power with this shameless and sterile idiom.
posted by bukharin at 8:36 PM on August 20, 2008 [19 favorites]


"while at the same time our country tries to make the case that the #1 thing bringing down the fine people of the Arab middle-east is their embrace of religious (Muslim) fundamentalism and the political power that they give their clerics."

One can drive a truck through that non-sequitur. You are saying that Rick Warren is a fundamentalist on the same level with, say, Al-Sadr. I am not familiar with Rick Warren's writings, and maybe you can enlighten me - is he a proponent of sectarian violence to solve the problems of America? Just checking.
posted by falameufilho at 8:42 PM on August 20, 2008


...you are left with two uncomfortable options...

Only two options? And both have to be "uncomfortable?" There's no room for a third option at all?

c) Barack Obama can talk, or not talk, about religion, as much as he wants. But his answers (or non-answers) about it have no bearing on what type of political leader he is, and will be, since we live in a secular country that supposedly has a constitutionally built-in rule about there being no religious test for office.
posted by brain cloud at 8:42 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


You what's nice about being an atheist? I don't have to worry that anything else I do is impairing my future electability. It's really quite liberating!
posted by nicwolff at 8:43 PM on August 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


The author asks:
For the moment, let's set aside our curiosity about what Jesus might do in a given circumstance and wonder what our Founding Fathers would have done at Saddleback Church.
Luckily, we don't have to hypothesize. In 1801, a group of religious leaders wrote to Thomas Jefferson to congratulate him on his election and to encourage him in what they saw as the task God had providentially raised him to his office to perform, the preservation of their religious liberty and the promotion of religious freedom and not mere toleration.

The religious leaders were the representatives of the Danbury Baptist Association. Jefferson's reply is the source of the famous phrase "wall of separation." I expect his reply would have been much last satisfactory to the Danbury Baptists then and to secularists today if Jefferson had declined to state his inarguably theological opinion on whether it is proper for the state to endorse a particular religion.

Consider also, John F. Kennedy's famous speech on the role religion would play in his presidency, delivereed to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association.
"Reverend Meza, Reverend Reck, I'm grateful for your generous invitation to state my views. While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, ... I am not the Catholic candidate for President.

I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic.

I do not speak for my church on public matters; and the church does not speak for me. Whatever issue may come before me as President, if I should be elected, on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject, I will make my decision in accordance with these views -- in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise. "
The requirement that a religious test not be applied is a requirement imposed upon the state, not upon the electorate. It is entirely proper for the electorate to impose a religious test, whether that test is whether the candidate can in conscience support the separation of church and state, whether the candidate believes in the saving power of Christ, or whether the candidate will make policy free from consideration of the preferences of the Holy See.
posted by Jahaza at 8:45 PM on August 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


is he a proponent of sectarian violence to solve the problems of America? Just checking.

Are you suggesting that calls to violence are the only actions that separate a fundamentalist from a non-fundamentalist? I'm using the word in its dictionary-definition sense; that is, that one's scripture of choice is 100% without error, comes straight from the Almighty, and must be followed to the letter. Whatever leads from that is trouble, whether bombs are involved or not. That there are undeniable similarities between Christian fundamentalism in the West, and Muslim Fundamentalism in the East (with or without violent action -- though I'd think the war posturing my country has done in Muslim-majority countries over the last six years to further neoconservative and Dominionist global objectives) has obviously been lost on a lot of people.
posted by brain cloud at 8:50 PM on August 20, 2008


"Much as I admire Long Tom, it has not been established that "Jeffersonian" is identical to "American." (He was, after all, a slave-owner, remember.) It has equally not been established that the specifically Jeffersonian concept of a totally impervious wall is the right one. It certainly isn't the one we have in place, which tolerates considerable leakage; and it is this one, not the Jeffersonian one, which has been established (and continuously tweaked) by practice and legislation, and repeatedly vetted by the courts."

This is an excellent point, and it's also interesting to contemplate this in the terms of Jeffersonian ideas of democracy. The rural poor, whom he exalted, are without a doubt the most prone to religious affiliation here in the states. Letting aside that Jefferson never actually said anything about a wall, and noting that pure numbers would favor MORE religion in public life, not less. Sure, sure, sure, all the pocket Voltaires of MetaFilter would flip out and totally mean to move to Canada were that impulse to be enshrined further in law, but doesn't the broad impulse of democratic rule mean that people should get the government they desire?

This can be seen in more stark relief when you look at both of the major Fascist regimes (Italy and Germany, as I don't know enough about Spain or Portugal to speak on them), where democratic means were used to fundamentally negate democracy. You can see a similar strain running through the idea of voting for folks who privilege theocratic or pseudo-theocratic rule in America (and in many Middle Eastern countries).
posted by klangklangston at 8:52 PM on August 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think it's sad that we can't evolve as a nation and get past the religious ties to politics. But the simple fact is that a majority of Americans are religious in some sense, and the majority of them are Christian. So that forum was--ostensibly--for the majority of the people.

I don't like it that it happened, but if Obama and McCain had to go to an evangelical church, I suppose Rick Warren wasn't as bad a choice as it could've been. He's one of these weird hybrid evangelicals: 50% "Jesus-Jesus-Jesus!" and 50% Dr. Phil. At least they weren't interviewed by truly disgusting preachers like John Hagee or Pat Robertson or the late Jerry Falwell (course the latter would be impossible).

Also, although we had to listen about Jesus, we didn't have to listen to stupid questions about Rev. Wright or flag pins, so that alone puts Warren's questions a slight step above the MSM debates. But I agree with the article's questions about the necessity of religious forums for a secular job.
posted by zardoz at 8:57 PM on August 20, 2008


I take that back, as Jefferson obviously did say something about a wall, and repudiate the foolish notion I previously held.
posted by klangklangston at 8:57 PM on August 20, 2008


When faced with the blunt force of facts, fall back and regroup.
posted by Eekacat at 9:05 PM on August 20, 2008


COMP: "Senators Obama and McCain, what the public wants to know is, what is your stance regarding pinapple on pizza?"

MCCAIN: "I'm running for president of the United States, because I want to help with family values. And I think that family values are important, when we have these strange, alien pizza toppings -- I just, whatever happened to traditional pepperoni and sausage?"

OBAMA: *mimics cleaning fingers with an invisible Wet Wipe*
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:05 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


@brain cloud: So yes, in your opinion Muqtada Al-Sadr, Mullah Omar, Rick Warren and that "God Hates Fags" pastor are all on the same fundamentalist boat? After all, they all arguably adhere to the "dictionary definition" of fundamentalist.

As for the comparison between religious fundamentalist violent action and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - is the neoconservative/dominionist interest of the USA of a religious nature? Is there an expectation from members of this administration that Islam can be eradicated from those regions and replaced by Christianity at some point?
posted by falameufilho at 9:05 PM on August 20, 2008


"Senators Obama and McCain, what the public wants to know is, what is your stance regarding pinapple on pizza?"

ME - "You can't put a pineapple on pizza, it'll crush the box."
posted by pyramid termite at 9:19 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can choose to cry fowl of Rick Warren

...but don't call him "chicken" about taking on the tough issues of our troubling (end)times.
posted by Hat Maui at 9:21 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I still found it to be extremely useful and telling -- how each of the two candidates answered the questions -- did they pause or answer the question immediately, ramble with benign and vague feel-good phrases instead of be remotely specific, keep looking at the audience for feedback to adjust what they said to pander to them -- was actually easier to spot than if it were a by-the-numbers interviewer/journalist/anchor in the role. Two very different candidates emerged with that, and their views on religion had nothing to do with it.

There is so much media training that it is almost impossible to get a true feel for a candidate -- it would have interesting if other kinds of people were hosting these debates just to get a different reaction from people used to dealing with reporters...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:23 PM on August 20, 2008


I think this forum illustrates the expansion of the political discourse over the last 4 years.

Yep ... yeah: Latest Poll Reveals 430 New Demographics That Will Decide Election.
posted by ericb at 9:36 PM on August 20, 2008


"The Battle Over the Dunkin' Donut Independents!"
posted by ericb at 9:37 PM on August 20, 2008


@brain cloud: So yes, in your opinion Muqtada Al-Sadr, Mullah Omar, Rick Warren and that "God Hates Fags" pastor are all on the same fundamentalist boat? After all, they all arguably adhere to the "dictionary definition" of fundamentalist.

Are they all the same kind of fundamentalist? No, certainly not. But they're all religious fundamentalists; even they would answer proudly that they are if they were asked, so the point of fitting them in their exact proper spot on the fundamentalist spectrum is moot. No doubt if you asked each one individually which one was adhering most closely to the tenets of their brand of religious fundamentalism (book/God/obeying) he would answer that he is, and all the others are completely wrong. So among them, probably a bit of a cage match for the top spot, right?

Now, does Rick Warren represent (in the scheme of things) a kinder, gentler sort of American fundamentalist than, say, Bob Jones? I think from most people's perspectives the answer would be "yes;" he's got more of the populist touch than the rest of them, at the very least. The issue that I, personally, have with him using his bully pulpit isn't that his questions were lame, or that they wouldn't elicit interesting answers, it's that he and many many others like him aren't satisfied in just having the opportunity to question. Not satisfied in believing what they wish to believe, and living the way they believe they are prescribed to live, and leaving it at that. The job isn't finished until their worldview is become the status quo. That's when they're going to get some serious pushback from me, because to me religion is a personal thing, not a nationwide hegemony that we all have to subscribe to or shut up from talking. If that sounds a bit hysterical or over-the-top to you, then I'll be happy to provide examples of regimes in place right now where fundamentalist clerics and religiously-approved leaders are calling the shots, and what life is like in those places for believers and non-believers alike.

As for how all of this has influenced US foreign policy of late, I would say that there are undeniable (and indeed proven, given statements from people who have worked in and left the current administration) links between neoconservatism (which is the ideological basis of the center of power in our country today) Dominionism, and how it guides our actions in the world, specifically in the middle east. More than a few of the people calling the shots are framing our moves around the showdown to end all showdowns, the mythical battle of Armageddon. Whether they're doing it because such an inevitable-seeming endgame is a convenient way to frame other, more worldly objectives (oil, strategic power) or whether it's because they truly believe their job is to set the stage for the second coming, is really immaterial. The main thing is that every time we give fundamentalism more power to influence our political decision-making, we are basically setting up a perfect storm with geopolitical consequences, that never had to happen in the first place.
posted by brain cloud at 9:40 PM on August 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Kathleen Parker is usually a concern troll from the other side. Wha' happen?
posted by dhartung at 9:46 PM on August 20, 2008


As per the Q&As with Rev. Rick Warren ... there are many who question the validity of McCain being segregated in a "Cone of Silence" while Obama was answering Warren's questions.

Ya' gotta love how McCain and his staff throw around his POW status in this instance.
"McCain’s staff bristled at suggestions that McCain listened to the broadcast [of Obama's Q&A with Rev. Rick Warren] while en route to the church.

'The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,' said McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace. [NYT, Aug. 18, 2008]

What McCain’s Vietnam War-era POW status had to do with this wasn’t clear. But it was clear that Warren’s assurance that 'we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence' wasn’t true, nor was McCain’s light-hearted remark about trying to hear through the wall."*
posted by ericb at 9:46 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


One thing I have noticed is that many here are reading this piece at face value. Maybe that is fair. As for me, Kathleen Parker is nothing more than a right-wing pundit. Furthermore, her writing is often substantively wrong. The ugly thing about this line, quoted above:

"...these men are willing to say whatever they must -- and what most Americans personally feel is no one's business -- to win the highest office."

is that it assumes a knowledge that is impossible for her to know. Of everything we know of Obama, for one, I cannot find a single instance in which his faith is a cynical ploy. Choice in church, maybe, but faith? I disagree. Hive, prove me wrong.

Ultimately I think that this is all an effort to disparage an event in which Obama performed reasonably well before a crowd not necessarily disposed to agree with him. Nothing more.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 10:05 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone here is saying "This shouldn't happen", more "It's regretful that it did".

Most atheists are truly fine with people believing what they want. You have the freedom to decide, for yourself, what your belief guides you to do. If you, as an adult, want to decide your day's diet based upon the readings from a Ouji board or from the guidance of "What Would Jesus Eat?", that's perfectly okay. Where we start to draw the line is you forcing your children to eat only unleavened bread because it's the only kind endorsed by the Saviour, or forcing stores to drop sales of puff pastry for the same reason.

It's disappointing that Obama has been forced to take this route. And he has been, with the newly evangelised McCain. It is, to a certain extent, a reversal of a very good speech he (Obama) made regarding faith and politics at the Sojourner's Call to Renewal Conference two years ago:
"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

This may be difficult for those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of the possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It insists on the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one's life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing."
He cemented this with the story of God's call for Abraham to sacrifice his son, which I will paraphrase here:

"There is no question that Abraham believed he was following God's will when he brought the knife to the throat of his son. And followers of the Bible believe it too. But if we saw Abraham here today, with the same knife pricking the skin of his son and prepared to thrust, we would intervene - believers and unbelievers alike - no matter what will Abraham said was driving his motivation."

We've already had a President who believes that God told him to attack Iraq, and that God intended him to be Commander in Chief. A belief in God is fine. Believing that God works through you - that you are executing God's will on earth, or that your faith should be a guide to national or foreign policy - is not.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:09 PM on August 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


The job isn't finished until their worldview is become the status quo. That's when they're going to get some serious pushback from me, because to me religion is a personal thing...

Sounds like both of you are interested in influencing the worldview of others. How come its proselytizing for them and not for you?
posted by jpdoane at 10:11 PM on August 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Obama has been forced to take this route

What makes you think Obama was "forced" to participate, and what makes you think that it contradicts his speech at Sojourners, (which is also a Christian forum)?
posted by jpdoane at 10:16 PM on August 20, 2008


The article is quite strange. The author seems to be surprised to learn that she's living in a country where citizens have the right to vote according to their convictions, or maybe she's just surprised to learn that not everyone shares her personal convictions. Neither of these things should be surprising to someone older than, say, 10.

It's strange because she doesn't quite explain what was so supremely wrong about what happened. She just points and nudges us, hoping her outrage will be contagious.

Maybe she can't explain it, because she realizes that asking questions of political candidates is clearly at the absolute core of the speech protected by the First Amendment, and no citation to Jefferson is going to change that.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:26 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


His answer to the "life begins" questions" sound to me like, back off on science and faith, I'll tell you public policy. And not badly handled given the crowd.

Hypnotic Chick, I cannot prove you wrong. Far as I can tell, the man believes in his Jeebus.

Why is no one talking about what Pater Rick looks like? Who'd a thunk it.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:34 PM on August 20, 2008


People keep thinking this is about Barack Obama.

This is not about Barack Obama.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:35 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I heard Warren on NPR today straining to convince listeners that he really, really wanted to have climate change and poverty front and center in the debate, he SWEARS there were questions about these issues...that he didn't have time to ask. Abortion, however was front and center, which is TOTALLY SHOCKING.
posted by The Straightener at 10:36 PM on August 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sounds like both of you are interested in influencing the worldview of others. How come its proselytizing for them and not for you?

Hardly. They can keep their worldview, and I'll be happy to keep mine, and if the two don't mesh, oh well, then we'll agree to disagree. Sadly, a hallmark of much fundamentalism (religious or otherwise) is the "my way or the highway" school of black and white thinking. I'm quite the opposite. If your way of thinking and believing works for you, then fine, great, that's superduper. As long as we can all acknowledge that religion isn't a one-size-fits-all deal, I think the world will be a much happier place. Rejection of being prostelytized-to is not itself a form of prostelytism.
posted by brain cloud at 10:40 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of an interesting and brief conversation I had with my brother-in-law recently.

Me - I can't believe it's 2008 and we're still asking presidential candidates questions about religion.

Him - I can't believe it's 2008 and religion still exists.
posted by braksandwich at 12:12 AM on August 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


The author seems to be surprised to learn that she's living in a country where citizens have the right to vote according to their convictions, or maybe she's just surprised to learn that not everyone shares her personal convictions.

Yes, people can vote according to their convictions. But people in America need to remind themselves that they should vote for those politicians who support their interests...not those who echo their personal style or religious convictions or taste in food, etc. This is part of a much larger problem. We don't need government to go to church for us, or drink our beer for us (or, as the case may be, swallow our arugula for us) or wear a cowboy hat for us. The percentages of Americans who go to church, wear spurs, go bowling etc. should have no impact on the political process. I'm aware that people are free to vote on whatever basis they choose to, but certain choices might, and do, hurt the democratic political process. The reason we need government is to secure our interests (of the top of my head: health care, social security, protection against natural disasters, etc.) and thus these should be reasons for voting for president. In short, no matter how Christian you are, you don't need your president to be Christian, nor do you need anyone making public avowals of faith in order for society to serve your needs.

The last time I checked every citizen of the Republic had the right to question and confront political candidates.


Again, it is perfectly legal for the candidates to screen themselves before religious authorities. Many things are legal that are bad for the country. As others have pointed out, professions of religious faith have nothing to do with either real piety or competent performance of government offices. If I'm not mistaken, Jesus said as much in Matthew 6:1-8: "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them...And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men...And in praying, do not heap up empty phrases, as the Gentiles do..." etc.

Separation of church and state -- separation of politics from questions of faith -- is good for the state, but also good for the church; among other things it serves as a check against hypocrisy, which should be in the interest of true religion.
posted by creasy boy at 12:35 AM on August 21, 2008 [3 favorites]



l33tpolicywonk -Thanks for your enlightening, clear-headed and reasonable post here. It speaks so effectively to many points raised in this thread.

"Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty." --Abraham Lincoln, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 12:50 AM on August 21, 2008


we have the right to know where they stand on things that matter to us

Well there's your problem right there. The shit that matters to you doesn't matter.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:57 AM on August 21, 2008


(Clarification: if the state of health care in the U.S. mattered to you, or our dalliances in political regimes in the third world, or our shrinking domestic production of goods and the subsequent joblessness that results, or the content of our food, or how the law is being manipulated to suit the richest half-a-percent of the population, or any other secular, political shit, then I humbly retract my previous statement. If, on the other hand, you want to know how the president of the country feels about a potentially non-existent person's ability to perform magic tricks 2000 years after his death... well, see above.)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:04 AM on August 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


"Yes, people can vote according to their convictions. But people in America need to remind themselves that they should vote for those politicians who support their interests...not those who echo their personal style or religious convictions or taste in food, etc. This is part of a much larger problem. ... I'm aware that people are free to vote on whatever basis they choose to, but certain choices might, and do, hurt the democratic political process. The reason we need government is to secure our interests."
Here's the thing. It's a republican political system. For the most part, people vote for leaders, not for policies (referendums and the like are exceptions). Now while it may not make sense to vote for someone based on, say, consumer preferences, it actually makes a heckuva lot of sense to vote for people who you think will govern better even if you don't always agree with their policies. For one thing, you can't always know what issues they will be called to act upon in the future.

Furthermore, your list of interests is very narrowly defined (economics and physical protection). Many Americans have a much wider view of the promotion of the public welfare. They may vote against their economic interests, but in accordance with their political interests more broadly (moral issues, ethical government, behaviors that should be allowed or prohibited).

You've similarly grouped non-interest related criteria together in a way that doesn't make sense. Taste in food and religious convictions are not on the same level. Some atheists for instance, believe that belief in God marks someone as fundamentally irrational. Clearly, it doesn't make sense to vote for leaders you believe are irrational. The same principle applies mutatis mutandis to people who view leaders religious convictions as positive.
posted by Jahaza at 1:11 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


"As others have pointed out, professions of religious faith have nothing to do with either real piety..."
Since you quote the New Testament below this remark, I'll respond from a Christian perspective. It is clearly not the case that professions of religious faith have nothing to do with real piety. Jesus commands that the Gospel be preached to all nations. Preaching requires a profession of faith. Furthermore, the example of the early Christians is that they refused unto death to make the profession of faith of pagan Rome, offering incense to idols. If a profession of faith has nothing to do with real piety than they were shockingly mistaken about what constitutes the Christian life.
posted by Jahaza at 1:16 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jahaza -- well, maybe "profession" was the wrong word. Maybe I should've said "effusion". I see a difference between Obama saying that he's Christian, and Obama trying to convince people on TV just how very Christian he is. The latter is what I think the passage from Matthew comdemns, and with good reason. We've seen how it leads to hypocrisy -- I don't think I need to list examples of politicians who've been full of public piety for the sake of getting elected. This is why just how very pious you are should be a private matter -- on the one hand it deteriorates the quality of religion, on the other hand it distracts from state issues when it becomes a criterion for politicians.

And yeah, I didn't mean to entirely equate taste in beer with religious preference. They're comparable here in that they're both things we don't need government for -- I don't need government to eat or pray for me, nor does anyone.

And you're right that people primarily vote for leaders in America...not policies. I suppose that's why I prefer the typical European parliamentary system. You seem to be arguing that character is important in a choice of leader, and religion relates to character. I would say that a politician's consistent public character is important: whether in their action they show concern for the well-being of all citizens, whether they show diplomatic tact towards other world powers, etc. Beyond specific policy, I'm interested in how the candidate would approach new and unexpected situations as president. This is a matter of public character. You can gauge this by looking, for example, at how Obama has responded to new situations in the past as an office-holder...and he has enough of a political record for us to get a pretty good picture. We don't need to extrapolate based on entirely unrelated aspects of his private life. Whether a candidate has built a trusting and loving relationship with his wife, for example, is no indicator of the kind of relations he will build with other nations, or with the senate.

You're right that I listed only material concerns as "interests". Fair enough. "Ethical government" can also be an interest. I would be happy to see Americans vote against their economic interests in favor of "ethical government". But what does this have to do with the religious platitudes he says on TV? You can actually look at whether, as a legislator, he tends to promote ethical government. But his own religious feelings cannot possibly be an interest of yours -- and the only way his public statements of these feelings can be in your interest, is if you're interested in seeing as much public display of religious sentiment as possible; in which case I refer you back to Matthew and the sort of corrosive hypocrisy he condemned.
posted by creasy boy at 2:00 AM on August 21, 2008


My mind is made up: I will not vote for any candidate who submits himself to the USian-hick religious test. But I'm not voting for Bob ("fuck voting, marijuana is bad") Barr either. So, it's off to the 3rd or 4th tier candidates, and quite happily too! (What a relief!)
posted by telstar at 2:36 AM on August 21, 2008


God deliver our country from smug pricks like Warren. Have any of you read A Purpose-Driven Life? This guy is like the L Ron Hubbard of the evangelical set. I'd rather see Pat Robertson moderate a debate between McCain and Obama ("Gentlemen, in the wake of God's righteous wrath against the sodomites of New Orleans in 2005, do you think the federal government reacted appropriately?"). Warren is his own prophet, with his own holy book, and a herd of glaze-eyed followers who will push his sappy, vague, New Agey dreck on you at every available opportunity. It's not Christianity; it's McLord. Seriously, who let this man moderate anything beyond a tobacco auction? And anyone debating who "won" this debate is sorely missing the point - that this debate even happened would be unthinkable in any other developed nation in the world, and puts us on par with Iran for allowing the clergy to hold sway over who may or may not govern.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go back to Barack Obama's "Issues" page to remind myself why I'm voting for him again.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:00 AM on August 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


How come Cynthia McKinney wasn't invited?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:11 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


and just exactly how is it the candidates were "set up" for this dog and pony show? pfft!
posted by quonsar at 4:28 AM on August 21, 2008


Good article, but she spoils a lot by the quasi-religious invocation of the founding fathers:

For the moment, let's set aside our curiosity about what Jesus might do in a given circumstance and wonder what our Founding Fathers would have done at Saddleback Church.

Here's my guess what the founding fathers would have said, had they been present at the event: "Warren, what's that negroe doing there? Why isn't he working in the fields?"

The founding fathers were human beings, with all their faults, like everybody else. I'm sure they would have opposed an Obama presidency due to the color of his skin alone. "What would the founding fathers do?" is not a good replacement for "What would Jesus do?"
posted by sour cream at 5:08 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


(I should add that I don't know whether the founding fathers actually used the term "negroe". But I suspect that they didn't say "blacks" or "colored people". If offended, feel free to replace the term with the one that was actually used by the founding fathers.)
posted by sour cream at 5:14 AM on August 21, 2008


"Me - I can't believe it's 2008 and we're still asking presidential candidates questions about religion.

Him - I can't believe it's 2008 and religion still exists.
"

Ha Ha! Intolerance is witty!
posted by oddman at 5:24 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jahaza Some atheists for instance, believe that belief in God marks someone as fundamentally irrational.
I would take that view. However, every human being is fundamentally irrational to some extent.

Clearly, it doesn't make sense to vote for leaders you believe are irrational.
Firstly, it depends how irrational; and secondly, at least in this case, there is no other real choice presented to the electorate.

The same principle applies mutatis mutandis to people who view leaders religious convictions as positive.
Not as such; people of that opinion have no shortage whatsoever of candidates available who reflect their views.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:25 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Asking one wheter he believes in god seems much like asking "have you stopped beating your wife ?". If you answer yes, then it's evident you are a lunatic (which would be the reaction of agnostics and atheists) , but if you answer no it's evident you are a lunatic (from the theist point of view).

Some questions demand an answer that isn't black/white , yes/no and a possible answer could be "I believe that a superior being could exist, but as a leader I have the duty to be impartial and not to favor any personal belief over others" , yet as any party will not be happy but with perfect impartiality (maybe approximable, but hardly perfect without simply not doing anything) and is likely to read any choice as made just to covertly help some party.

Which leaves one with the problem of explaining to many parties how the choice wasn't conceived in order to favor specifically someone, but as eventually a party will pop up being favored somehow, or seen as such by some other, nobody will be entirely happy as any party believes they are the only ones that are absolutely right and virtuous.

That's an excellent breeding ground from thumpers of any faith, obviously much more interest into obtaining personal power by having state coffers pay the bill.

Hence the need for a clearcut separation from church and state.
posted by elpapacito at 5:53 AM on August 21, 2008


But people in America need to remind themselves that they should vote for those politicians who support their interests

Why do you think people aren't doing this already? You seem insistent that having a Christian president can't possibly be in someone's interest, but this seems clearly wrong, given the number of people to which this is a very important issue.

Is your view a fundamentally paternalistic one? Are you claiming that people don't really know what's in their interest, but you do, and that even though they think having a Christian president is personally important to them, it's actually not?

I'm having trouble reading your comment any other way.

The reason we need government is to secure our interests (of the top of my head: health care, social security, protection against natural disasters, etc.) and thus these should be reasons for voting for president.

Basically, you want other people to vote based on what's important to you. Dressing it up in this generalized, objective language ("the reason we need") doesn't disguise the fact that you're merely expressing a personal desire.

Not everyone is going to vote for what's personally important to you, and this doesn't mean democracy is broken, or they're voting wrong, or anything of the sort. This is how the system is supposed to work.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:57 AM on August 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm Christian and I think that the separation of Church and State should be more respected. I also believe that wearing a flag pin on your lapel does not make you patriotic.

Politics in the United States just keeps getting more and more ridiculous.
posted by jeanmari at 6:07 AM on August 21, 2008


The founding fathers were human beings, with all their faults, like everybody else. I'm sure they would have opposed an Obama presidency due to the color of his skin alone. "What would the founding fathers do?" is not a good replacement for "What would Jesus do?"


"What would the founding fathers do?" is the perfect replacement for "What would Jesus do?" in a secular society. Our founders were far from perfect, but they realized and acknowledged that. They were the first group of powered and privileged men who voluntarily gave up their power, codified it, and handed it to the people. They believed that fair and transparent procedure could overcome the vagaries of humans.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:28 AM on August 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


"What would the founding fathers do?" is the perfect replacement for "What would Jesus do?" in a secular society.

we have (or should have) a secular government - we do not have a secular society and are not likely to have one for a very long time, if at all
posted by pyramid termite at 7:10 AM on August 21, 2008


I don't really see how the Saddleback forum is any different than teacher unions, labor unions, or small business associations.

They are all voting blocs with an agenda, and the candidates will do what they can to assuage their concerns and persuade them to vote.

To think evangelicals are anything more than a political entity is falling for their chicanery.
posted by plexi at 7:42 AM on August 21, 2008


"At the risk of heresy, let it be said that setting up the two presidential candidates for religious interrogation by an evangelical minister -- no matter how beloved -- is supremely wrong. "

...But...why is it wrong?

Was this a government-sponsored debate? No -- this minister paid for the whole shebang, so far as I can tell.

Is the government blocking anyone else from setting up a similar event? No. If Hugh Hefner wanted to set up his own similar debate to ask the candidates what they thought about hot chicks, he could.

Is this the only privately-funded debate that's going to happen? Not so far as I can tell.

So....what's the problem?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:49 AM on August 21, 2008


So....what's the problem?

I agree with you, Empress. The problem, for me and maybe for others here, isn't the legal propriety of the event, but rather it's being a high-viz symptom of a too-pervasive religiosity (and by extension anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism) in the United States.

I would like to live in a country where most people don't give a toss about what religion the candidate adheres too. Ah, well.
posted by everichon at 7:57 AM on August 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


"no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States" - US Constitution

The constitution prohibits establishing an official requirement of religion (or lack thereof) for a candidate, such as the requirement of age or country of origin. It does not prohibit candidates from discussing religion, religious issues, or their own faith, nor does it prohibit or discourage individuals or groups from being influenced by these issues.

If you disagree with this, ask yourself - would you vote for a candidate who was a fundamentalist?

I do not think it is wise to vote for a candidate based soley on their (claimed) religion. But I am interested to know what their religion means to them - how they see it in their day to day decisions and behaviors. Don't you wish we all knew more details about how George Bush saw the relationship between his faith and his leadership? Likewise, I am very interested to know how Barak Obama sees the interplay between his faith, his values, and his leadership.

Also - remember that Rick Warren did not first bring up the issue of Barak Obama's faith in this election. Barak Obama did.
posted by jpdoane at 7:58 AM on August 21, 2008


You all know Warren will get caught either a) masturbating b) embezzling c) as an adulterer at some point? It ALWAYS happens to these guys. Just look forward to it.
posted by A189Nut at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2008


Just look forward to it.

Hoo, yes.
posted by everichon at 8:07 AM on August 21, 2008


Don't you wish we all knew more details about how George Bush saw the relationship between his faith and his leadership?

I'm not sure what difference it would make, considering he's a Christian only because he calls himself one.
posted by agregoli at 8:13 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why do you think people aren't doing this already? You seem insistent that having a Christian president can't possibly be in someone's interest, but this seems clearly wrong, given the number of people to which this is a very important issue.

Is your view a fundamentally paternalistic one? Are you claiming that people don't really know what's in their interest, but you do, and that even though they think having a Christian president is personally important to them, it's actually not?


I think people mostly do know what's in their interest on a day-to-day basis, but a lot of them don't bring this awareness of their interests to politics as much as they should; I think a lot of people vote on personality, style, gut feeling etc. rather than a considered view of how a politician will or will not represent their interests.

Or can you explain -- plausibly and realistically -- how the religious sentiments expressed by the president have any positive or negative impact on the actual lives of American Christians? How exactly? Will they have more money? More leisure time? More fun? Better sex? Will their children have a brighter future? Will their aging parents get better medical care?

I'm being critical of certain voting blocs, but hardly paternalistic. My point is that they should rethink what it is that representative democracy is supposed to do for them.
posted by creasy boy at 8:27 AM on August 21, 2008


I think what disturbs many people about this situation is not that candidates are talking about their faith, but that the whole system is currently such that non-Christians need not apply, including people of other faiths as well as agnostics and atheists. I was watching the Daily Show the other day, and one of their interviewees pointed out that a black person was likely to be president before a Jewish candidate would. Yes, there have been Jewish VP candidates, but I think they are right; non-Christians can be senior staff, set policy agendas, even VP, but not the head itself, not the public face. There are people going around publically saying how they would not vote for Obama "because he is a Muslim" - which is just disgusting. They have no other reason other than religious discrimination. I wish that Obama would respond to these rumours by addressing the issue of the anti-Muslim hatred, instead of simply vociferously denying it, and thus seemingly enforcing the prejudice (or at least not addressing it at all).
posted by jb at 8:40 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The problem, for me and maybe for others here, isn't the legal propriety of the event, but rather it's being a high-viz symptom of a too-pervasive religiosity (and by extension anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism) in the United States.

I would like to live in a country where most people don't give a toss about what religion the candidate adheres too.


But my point is, nothing is stopping a non-religious group from setting up their own debate -- that is, nothing except for their own not-doing-it themselves.

The biggest actual advantage that the religious right has right now is that it is the only special interest that seems to actually be USING its rights. Yes, we are concerned about the religiousity in this country. But -- are WE setting up our own debates on topics WE want represented?....No. Is it because we CAN'T? No. It's simply because we AREN'T.

It is not the fault of the religious right nor is it the fault of the government itself if the left is simply not "together" enough to do what it can.

And I say this as one of those left-wing liberal wack-nuts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:51 AM on August 21, 2008


Don't you wish we all knew more details about how George Bush saw the relationship between his faith and his leadership?

I think we've seen quite enough of that already, actually, and the results speak for themselves.
posted by brain cloud at 9:18 AM on August 21, 2008


I think we've seen quite enough of that already

My phrasing wasn't very clear, sorry - I meant, don't you wish you would have known more prior to the 2000 election. It certainly seems like Bush is a perfect example of why understanding politicians' thoughts on religion are very interesting and relevant.
posted by jpdoane at 9:27 AM on August 21, 2008


"Maybe she can't explain it, because she realizes that asking questions of political candidates is clearly at the absolute core of the speech protected by the First Amendment, and no citation to Jefferson is going to change that.

This does not mean that every question is valid, or that every question should be asked.

I acknowledge that a fair number of Americans believe these issues are important. I even agree that some of them are important (abortion rights, for one). However, I find the framing of these questions, through venue, moderator and audience, to be distasteful and counter to my ideals of this nation. Ideals that I believe will better serve my interests in the next 50-or-so years that I expect to live, and ideals that I believe are more in line with the ideal character of this nation.

I also dispute the idea that many of the answers given to these questions are new or revealing or interesting in their own right. There is not a single question from Warren that could not have been answered by reading campaign literature (this is the same reason that, though it is obviously politically not in my interest to communicate this to them, I generally hold undecideds in contempt—anyone who can't yet make up their mind hasn't been doing their homework).

But yes, I totally acknowledge that I can disagree with people regarding their goals and aims and ideals and that this doesn't make them perforce evil. It doesn't stop me from regarding them as foolish and as an obstacle to my interests, however. And I think that most of the folks here feel similarly.

"Some atheists for instance, believe that belief in God marks someone as fundamentally irrational. Clearly, it doesn't make sense to vote for leaders you believe are irrational. The same principle applies mutatis mutandis to people who view leaders religious convictions as positive."

Some Christians believe that a belief in God is necessarily irrational, as well as broader theists. You could argue that Kierkegaard really believed that faith was arational, not irrational, but that's a thin lamb to sacrifice.

Further, given that some of those who hold irrational beliefs as theists also act quite rationally when in charge of secular policy, and some theists even, from that irrational kernel, grow their theologies rationally from that ungrounded assumption, there must be then granted the premise that irrationality does not necessarily give rise to irrational beliefs on the whole, only that irrationality can't be used to justify beliefs in a rational manner. Because of that, and because the apparatus of state is as inherently theistic as gravity, it makes sense to seek a leader who will properly discern between the spheres of faith and of reason. Especially given that both our current choices for president have faith and interact with faith in different ways, that can be a salient point when deciding whom to vote for. However, I tend to believe that most of the people viewing the Saddleback forum will weight those performances with values that encourage a view of the chief magistrate as a theological office, which is generally unrelated to the performance of their duties (and may indeed interfere).

As to the question of voting for fundamentalists, I would have gladly voted for Carter over Ford or over Reagan. Fundamentalism does not, in itself, disqualify someone, at least in my view, if their fundamentalism is aligned with my secular aims and if they acknowledge the distinction between their private beliefs and their public duty.
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 AM on August 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


konolia wrote: And btw unless y'all plan on kicking people of faith out of this country, we have the right to know where they stand on things that matter to us. Atheists, agnostics, pastafarians, go right ahead and have your own forums, and may CNN give you equal time. With my blessings, even.

And as someone who has much less of a problem with people of faith than many secularists (including my very Catholic SO, who feels religion and government mix only at our peril), that's a shitty thing of you to say.

It's like me saying "I have the right to say 'go fuck yourself!'," which, although true, is not a very nice thing to say. It's not very nice of you to wilfully misunderstand that this is not about your understanding where the candidates stand on matters of faith, which neither of them have been quiet about, but about what it says about our willingness to keep the government out of the business of religion. It's like telling those of us who believe in secular government to go fuck ourselves.

While it's perfectly fine for our elected representatives to believe whatever they damn well please, it's not OK to put on these dog and pony shows for the benefit of one particular religion, or even all particular religions. It's simply bad taste. God forbid that the fundamentalist sect of Christianity in this country actually do what the bible says and stop making noise about how pious they are and essentially forcing any candidate who wants to win the Presidency to participate.

Not that either McCain or Obama are above that level of discourse.
posted by wierdo at 9:57 AM on August 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


A clarification:

Are we discussing the propriety of having a private debate hosted in a religious setting by religious leaders discussing issues of interest to religious people (eg abortion, existance of good/evil, religious freedom, poverty, AIDS, etc)?

Or are we specifically talking about asking the candidates about their own religious beliefs?

These are two different questions, and I realized that I (and I suspect others) have been conflating them.
posted by jpdoane at 10:00 AM on August 21, 2008


Here's my guess what the founding fathers would have said, had they been present at the event: "Warren, what's that negroe doing there? Why isn't he working in the fields?" [...]

I'm sure they would have opposed an Obama presidency due to the color of his skin alone.


I don't know about this characterization. Franklin was an abolitionist while he owned (at least two) slaves. Jefferson thought slavery immoral despite owning about 180 slaves. Washington thought slavery contradicted the principles of the new nation and he owned over 300 slaves at the time of his death. Adams thought slavery was so reprehensible he didn't even think it was a subject worthy of debate. Certainly they weren't saints, and they may have even had prejudices against blacks for whatever reason, but this plantation owner caricature you offer is rather unfair.
posted by effwerd at 10:09 AM on August 21, 2008


Is there a transcript available? I think people should keep their religious fantasies to themselves, but I'm curious how well John McCain managed to con people into thinking that he believes in anything other than money and John McCain.
posted by cmonkey at 10:28 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


While it's perfectly fine for our elected representatives to believe whatever they damn well please, it's not OK to put on these dog and pony shows for the benefit of one particular religion, or even all particular religions. It's simply bad taste.

Whether or not is in bad taste is a different matter from whether or not it is permitted under the First Amendment.

Don't get me wrong, it's not my bag either. But neither was "There's Something About Mary." Fortunately, the First Amendment grants others the right to make other movies, just like it grants others the right to put on dog-and-pony shows of other kinds as well. It ain't Pastor Rick's fault if they aren't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:33 AM on August 21, 2008


"Don't get me wrong, it's not my bag either. But neither was "There's Something About Mary." Fortunately, the First Amendment grants others the right to make other movies, just like it grants others the right to put on dog-and-pony shows of other kinds as well. It ain't Pastor Rick's fault if they aren't."

And it grants us the right to say that Leprechaun In Space was a terrible movie and that the franchise should have ended with Leprechaun In The Hood, just as we can say this forum should have never happened, or that the fact that it did happen and was popular describes an unfortunate part of our national character.

The argument that secular forums should happen is fine, and they do happen, but it's not a rebuttal to the argument that Saddleback shouldn't have happened.

The First Amendment is a red herring here.
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 AM on August 21, 2008


Much as I admire Long Tom, it has not been established that "Jeffersonian" is identical to "American."

Oh yeah? What about Fake Thomas Jefferson? If anything equates to the Evil League of Evil, it's a "debate" like this. And Rick Warren is Bad Horse for setting it up. It doesn't give us any better idea of what kind of president they'd be, it just sets up the faith/antifaith/agnostic divide and digs us all into an even deeper hole of separation at a time when we should be working together. wierdo is right, it IS a dog and pony show. And it IS like telling those of us who believe in secular government to go fuck ourselves. Believe whatever the heck you want, but stop trying to enforce the dictates of your religion on the rest of us.

You have two major-party choices for president. I believe that there is more than enough publicly available information to render your own verdict on who gets the job based on one's own religious affiliation. So stop subjecting the rest of us to stuff like this!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:45 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please, please tell me you made up Leprechaun in Space, klangklangston. Please. I don't think I can bear the thought of that.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:46 AM on August 21, 2008


These are two different questions, and I realized that I (and I suspect others) have been conflating them.

The questions have certainly been conflated, but not by us. Fundamentalist Christian "leaders" have successfully wheedled their way onto the political stage in America. They have conflated politics and religion (illegally, BTW, in the eyes of tax laws) from the pulpit and in the media. They have wielded their combined votes as a cudgel to change society as they see fit. They have become a very effective special-interest group.

That's all well and good, on the face of it. There are plenty of special interest groups. But religion is a beast unto itself. Perhaps that's why the pitfalls of the mingling of religion and government were a topic of discussion since the very beginning of this nation. That's why we specifically forbid any religious test for office.

Be as religious and pious as you want to be. Just keep in mind that theocratic governments have never ended well for the masses.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:51 AM on August 21, 2008


I think what disturbs many people about this situation is not that candidates are talking about their faith, but that the whole system is currently such that non-Christians need not apply, including people of other faiths as well as agnostics and atheists.

Even many Christians needs not apply. I wonder what these evangelical types would think if the modern equivalent of a Catonsville Nine situation went down today. The Catholic priests who destroyed draft records, the conscientious objectors among the Quakers, environmentalist ministers like Richard Cizik and the every-day Christian who humbly practices her faith without great concern for what people are doing in the privacy of their own bedrooms have nothing in common with these people. They are decidedly intolerant, unforgiving and pro-war. At the risk of stumbling into a "true Scotsman" declaration, they are very far removed from a great deal of modern American Christians. That their ministers seem more concerned with creating cults of personality and religious corporate entities to act as fund-raising machines for political campaigns is just one major distinction.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:52 AM on August 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." T. Jefferson

Awesome quote at the end. Bringing in someone's religion, oh wait I'm sorry "faith", is dirty politicking. Church and State are separate for a reason. Where I go every Sunday is my choice, what you do with your Sunday is yours. People shouldn't try to find good morals in politics.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:55 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Note to Americans: "In God We Trust" on our currency is more embarrassing and we have to look at it everyday.

As much as it sucked ass, Rick Warren's charade had very little to do with the constitutional "separation of church and state."

What's next? Interrogations by rabbis, priests and imams?

Or (gasp!) environmentalists!?!?! Despite what you (and I) may believe, isn't support for cohabitation with (vs. dominance over) planet earth by human civilization, at its foundation, a theological concept? Why shouldn't we exploit the earth for our benefit as much as possible, and privatize every last square inch? (rhetorical question.)

Their pandering to a religious interrogation is what we're talking about here.

They have the right to pander to whomever the fuck they want, just like you have the right to vote for whomever the fuck you want.

There are other presidential candidates, you know. I don't expect to see Matt Gonzalez under interrogation by preachers anytime soon. If third-party candidates "have no chance," then lets work for proportional voting and try to get alternative progressive parties some power. ... instead of wasting time volunteering for Obama. (No offense.)

Also, y'all are missing the best part of the Rick Warren testimony. We got this gem: John McCain thinks the "rich" = "a $5 million yearly salary."

If the Democrats/progressives were willing to wage a little class warfare (I think they will be forced to eventually) and tackle oil subsidies, they would destroy McCain in November. Unfortunately, they're all fed from the same petroleum teat... and they're all fucking rich.

I am much more offended by a government of weathy plutocrats than I am by a government of Christians. I am not a Christian.

Or what MSTPT said.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:17 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


@cmonkey:

Transcript and video.
posted by puddleglum at 11:20 AM on August 21, 2008


puddleglum: Fantastic, thanks.
posted by cmonkey at 11:41 AM on August 21, 2008


Awesome, and I haven't even gotten through the first bit of the transcript yet:

From part one of the transcript, line 20: "WE HAVE SAFELY PLACED SENATOR MCCAIN IN A CONE OF SILENCE"

Well, there's a start.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:23 PM on August 21, 2008


No, I only wish I'd invented Leprechaun In Space. Unfortunately for my anecdote, it preceded …In The Hood, which was by far a superior movie.
posted by klangklangston at 1:26 PM on August 21, 2008


Ya' gotta love how McCain and his staff throw around his POW status in this instance.

And, again today.
"Eric Kleefeld notices that McCain aides referred back to McCain's time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam in defending him from the mockery over his houses.

'This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison,' says spokesman Rogers.

It does seem like they're flirting with Giuliani/9/11 territory here, in which at subject that seems utterly immune to humor, used as a first resort, suddenly becomes a running joke among your political enemies and your late night comic friends.

McCain himself, it should be noted, doesn't tend to talk about his prisoner-of-war experience in random contexts; but his staff and surrogates have been doing it a bit lately.

UPDATE: That is, he doesn't put his experience to political use, or frame his views relative to it, the way Giuliani did 9/11. He did, a reader notes, mention Vietnam to justify his preference for ABBA.

FOR EXAMPLE: A reader points out that liberal blogger John Aravosis predicted McCain's campaign would refer to his POW experience today; then the campaign did."
posted by ericb at 1:30 PM on August 21, 2008


Not everyone is going to vote for what's personally important to you, and this doesn't mean democracy is broken, or they're voting wrong, or anything of the sort. This is how the system is supposed to work.


Um, they're voting on ridiculous non-issues that were concocted by The Right to deflect attention away from The Right's real agenda.

So, this is not how the system is supposed to work. Democracy is broken.


Yeah, they are "voting wrong" because they don't know any better. Look at the events during the last 7 years (for starters) if you need proof.
posted by Zambrano at 1:37 PM on August 21, 2008


Ha Ha! Intolerance is witty!

If you believe in something stupid then you deserve to get laughed at.
posted by Slenny at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just how heavy is that giant paintbrush, Slenny?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:13 PM on August 21, 2008


This thread was worth it for becoming aware of Leprechaun In Space. I will now sit back and wait for the Turks to fashion their own version, which will multiply the awesome geometrically.
posted by everichon at 2:15 PM on August 21, 2008


If you believe in something stupid then you deserve to get laughed at.

Ladies and gentlemen, the state of politics in 2008.
posted by turaho at 2:23 PM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The list of questions that were asked (please excuse the caps). How many of these questions would you define as ridiculous non-issues? How many of these are we worse off knowing the answers to?

WHO ARE THE THREE WISEST PEOPLE YOU KNOW IN YOUR LIFE AND WHO ARE YOU GOING TO RELY ON HEAVILY IN YOUR ADMINISTRATION?

WHAT WOULD BE THE GREATEST MORAL FAILURE IN YOUR LIFE AND WHAT WOULD BE THE GREATEST MORAL FAILURE OF AMERICA?

WHAT'S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT POSITION YOU HELD TEN YEARS AGO THAT YOU NO LONGER HOLD TODAY, THAT YOU FLIPPED ON, YOU CHANGED ON BECAUSE YOU ACTUALLY SEE IT DIFFERENTLY?

WHAT'S THE MOST GUT WRENCHING DECISION YOU'VE EVER HAD TO MAKE AND HOW DID YOU PROCESS THAT, COME TO THAT DECISION?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO TRUST IN CHRIST AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN ON A DAILY BASIS? I MEAN, WHAT DOES THAT REALLY LOOK LIKE?

AT WHAT POINT DOES A BABY GET HUMAN RIGHTS IN YOUR VIEW?

DEFINE MARRIAGE

DO WE STILL NEED FEDERAL FUNDING FOR RESEARCH? WOULD YOU STILL SUPPORT THAT FOR EMBRYO STEM CELLS?

DOES EVIL EXIST

WHICH EXISTING SUPREME COURT JUSTICE WOULD YOU NOT HAVE NOMINATED?

THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF '64 SAYS THAT FAITH BASED ORGANIZATIONS HAVE THE RIGHT TO HIRE PEOPLE THAT BELIEVE LIKE THEY DO. WOULD YOU INSIST THAT FAITH BASED ORGANIZATIONS FORFEIT THAT RIGHT TO ACCESS FEDERAL FUNDS?

DO YOU THINK BETTER TEACHERS SHOULD BE PAID BETTER. THEY SHOULD BE MADE MORE THAN POOR TEACHERS

DEFINE RICH. I MEAN, GIVE ME A NUMBER. IS IT 50,000, 100,000, 200,000? EVERYBODY KEEPS TALKING ABOUT WELL HERE WE'RE GOING TO TAX. HOW DO YOU DEFINE THAT?

AS AN AMERICAN, WHAT'S WORTH DYING FOR? WHAT'S WORTH HAVING SACRIFICE OF AMERICAN LIVES FOR?

WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO CONSIDER AND EVEN COMMIT TO DOING SOME KIND OF EMERGENCY PLAN FOR ... ORPHANS TO DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE?

RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE US SHOULD DO TO END RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION FOR INSTANCE IN CHINA, IN IRAQ AND IN MANY OF OUR ALLIES.

HOW DO WE SPEAK OUT AND HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT [SEX TRAFFIKING AND HUMAN SLAVERY]

WHY YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT?

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO OPPOSE ME ASKING YOU THESE QUESTIONS?

WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IF YOU KNEW THERE WOULDN'T BE ANY REPERCUSSIONS?
posted by jpdoane at 2:32 PM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the questions regarding what marriage is, when a "baby" (interesting omission of "fetus") has rights, and what it means to trust in Christ were pretty superfluous. The rest of the questions were fine, I suppose. I just don't like Warren to have yet another platform for expanding his cult.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:46 PM on August 21, 2008


Rick Warren is also the author of the best selling hardcover book in history,...

He's God, then?
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:06 PM on August 21, 2008


Rick Warren is also the author of the best selling hardcover book in history...

Not.

The Purpose Drive Life: 30 million (March 2007).

There are many books which far surpass that figure. Heck, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" sold a record 11 million copies in its first day alone.

For comparsion sake: The Bible: 5 to 6 billion.
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on August 21, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that a giant invisible sky wizard created man with a grand plan in mind. A plan to save man by allowing man to nail his son to a stick. That is why we must eat Jesus if we are to defeat the talking snake.

Also it is gross when boys kiss boys.

VOTE FLEETMOUSE
posted by fleetmouse at 3:27 PM on August 21, 2008 [7 favorites]


Not clear to me how this was paid for and to what extent the church's tax-free funds were used to accomplish this. Certainly any salary Rick Warren got from the church that allows him to do this would need to be taxed as non-religious income to the church. And those that contributed those dollars need to pay taxes on them as well.

I am disturbed because the line between religion and lobbying has become so blurred as to be invisible these days. This was a right-wing lobbying effort created and paid for by a religious organization that, as far as I know, takes full advantage of favorable tax laws for religious organizations. They should be forbidden from dabbling directly in politics, but they aren't. Why is that? Is it because the right-wing Christians have managed a stranglehold on the government? If so, isn't that inherently wrong, even to the right-wing Christians?
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:29 PM on August 21, 2008


Just how heavy is that giant paintbrush, Slenny?

That's nothing. You should hear his take on the Norse pantheon.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:17 PM on August 21, 2008


I don't think it's wrong that US presidential contenders have to have a faith-off as part of the election process... it's just fucking sad.
posted by pompomtom at 5:02 PM on August 21, 2008


'This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison,' says spokesman Rogers.

I wish I could favorite spokesman Rodgers. LOL (literally).

I completely agree with anyone suggesting to revise the taxation of religious organizations. They should be taxed like any other nonprofit organization if they are nonprofit, and like any for-profit corporation if they are for profit.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:42 PM on August 21, 2008


Fineman: McCain Is Trivializing His POW Past
"Once a remarkable and respected aspect of his biography, John McCain stands on the brink of 'trivializing' his past as a prisoner of war, which has become a 'crutch in the campaign,' Newsweek's Howard Fineman declared Thursday.

'I think they are going to it way too many times. It's the original story that defined John McCain, that still when you read it in his book "Faith of my Fathers," when you read about it in "The Nightingale's Song," you can't help but have admiration and respect for the guy. And I think he wisely for many years stayed away from it as a political tool, he really did. But now it not only defines him, it's become a crutch in the campaign. And I think he is in danger of trivializing it. By the time they get to the convention in St. Paul, there might not be much of it left to use.'"
posted by ericb at 6:41 PM on August 21, 2008


America: Becoming more like Iran every day.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:42 PM on August 21, 2008


Lt. General Robert G. Gard Jr. (USA, Ret.): McCain's POW Defense: Devaluing Our Service and His Own
"The McCain campaign has spent weeks trying to portray Obama as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans. Today, an interviewer at Politico.com asked McCain how many homes he and his wife owned, to which he responded that he was not sure but would get someone from his staff to answer.

Contrary to what many will tell you, this does not make McCain out of touch with ordinary Americans, as many families today are in trouble with their banks and trying to figure out how many homes they have - zero or one.

Still, it's the campaign's defense we find deeply troubling:
'This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison.'
We obviously honor and respect McCain's service and the five-and-a-half years of horror that he went through at the hands of the North Vietnamese; but it's not an excuse for everything. He has already used it to explain away his infidelities in his first marriage. He's used it to defend his healthcare plan. He just the other day used it to deflect accusations of having skirted the rules of the Saddleback forum.

It's time for the Senator to stop cheapening the war experiences of thousands of vets and his fellow POWs, and his own as well, by stretching the boundaries of logic to make his POW status a wild-card rebuttal to all accusations or an answer to all difficult questions.

We are veterans who like John McCain, who served honorably, but and we continue to serve our country honorably by not using our military experiences as unjustifiable necessary shields or stepping stones. John McCain has faced and will continue to face many difficult questions that he does not have an answer for, and problems to which that he will provides no solutions to, in the 70 days between now and the election. When he uses his status as a veteran to deflect legitimate questions and concerns, it devalues not just his service to our country but ours as well.

So today, we ask not as Veterans for Obama, but as Veterans of America that Sen. McCain respect the service of his fellow POWs and combat veterans, and stop cheapening their service by hiding behind his own."
posted by ericb at 6:47 PM on August 21, 2008


Slenny: "If you believe in something stupid then you deserve to get laughed at."

You know there are quite a few caustic comments that came to mind when I read this, quite a few more sarcastic ones. Then I realized that you are a small minded bigot, and I suddenly lost all interest in engaging in banter with you.

Your position, if we're all unfortunate enough for it to be sincere, is petty, ignorant, and flat out silly if not outright shameful.
posted by oddman at 7:11 PM on August 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


So, is there a Dem swift-boat to say that McCain got captured on purpose? Perhaps so he could give the Viet Cong secrets, and return as a sleeper agent?
posted by klangklangston at 7:17 PM on August 21, 2008


how the religious sentiments expressed by the president have any positive or negative impact on the actual lives of American Christians? How exactly? Will they have more money? More leisure time? More fun? Better sex? Will their children have a brighter future? Will their aging parents get better medical care?

You're not taking other people's interest seriously. You're assuming that other people must really want the exact same things you want--but for some reason they're not admitting it. You think that voting for Christian leaders must be some roundabout way to get more money, because that's what people really care about, but you can't see how it works.

Well, try to understand that not everyone actually does want the same things you do. If I asked you how having more or less fun would have a positive or negative impact on your actual life, you'd look at me like I was crazy. Having more fun is, to you, in itself part of a better life.

To some people, living under the governance of Christian leaders is itself a good. They also expect other goods to flow from it, such as laws and policies--and thereby (hopefully) an entire society--informed by Christian values.

Asking how any of this leads to good sex is totally beside the point.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:34 PM on August 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Asking how any of this leads to good sex is totally beside the point.

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America: Bad in Bed. Bad for America.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:43 PM on August 21, 2008


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America: Bad in Bed. Bad for America.

Very true.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:53 PM on August 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


I completely agree with anyone suggesting to revise the taxation of religious organizations.

do you send them condolence letters when they lose the elections they've run for? it's just not going to happen in this country

---

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America: Bad in Bed. Bad for America.

liberals are never satisfied - MPDSEA doesn't last that long and you hate him - bush screws us for 8 years straight and all you do is complain, complain, complain ...
posted by pyramid termite at 8:33 PM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some of the questions:

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO TRUST IN CHRIST AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN ON A DAILY BASIS? I MEAN, WHAT DOES THAT REALLY LOOK LIKE?

DEFINE MARRIAGE

DOES EVIL EXIST


What would be really interesting is to have a similar debate at an atheist forum (or, since that is not going to happen, perhaps at the actual debates) and ask the candidates the exact same questions.
posted by sour cream at 12:12 AM on August 22, 2008


Another question just jumped out at me here. Can't believe I didn't catch it before:
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO OPPOSE ME ASKING YOU THESE QUESTIONS?
This is pretty much a set-up to get these two candidates to personally defend Warren on national television. It's a self-serving non-question designed to do nothing but boost Warren's status and regard. Seriously, why didn't he ask, "Does this tie go with this belt?" or "Do these trousers make my butt look big?"

Alright, I'll stop whipping on Warren now.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:27 AM on August 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


What would be really interesting is to have a similar debate at an atheist forum (or, since that is not going to happen, perhaps at the actual debates) and ask the candidates the exact same questions.

Yes, I very much agree. In fact that would be utterly fascinating. I would really hope that the answers wouldn't change much (in core content at least). Do you think they would answer differently (lets assume the Rick Warren forum never happened)?

I find it odd that you cite these questions as irrelevant (I assume that was what you were responding to), and then say how interesting the answers would be if asked elsewhere.
posted by jpdoane at 6:44 AM on August 22, 2008


"Does this tie go with this belt?"

This really is a non-question: ties aren't supposed to match belts. It's like whether your china set matches your local weather patterns.
posted by oddman at 6:51 AM on August 22, 2008


ties aren't supposed to match belts.

Philistine.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:54 AM on August 22, 2008


The bit of McCain history that I think harms him most is about how he deliberately wet-started his jet to piss off the pilot behind him, which set off one of the missles, which subsequently killed over a hundred men. What a fucking douchebag.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:10 AM on August 22, 2008


Umm.... ties really aren't supposed to match your belt, really. I actually know a bit about this sort of thing.
posted by oddman at 10:15 AM on August 22, 2008


Just rattling your chain there, oddman.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:21 AM on August 22, 2008


Obama's Fetal Mistake

I would disagree, but I think it is interesting analysis anyway.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:22 AM on August 22, 2008


McCain bets the farm that women aren't listening.
posted by agregoli at 11:44 AM on August 22, 2008


I must say, this bit is very poorly written:
So the candidate is doing exactly what Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld did in her popular cookbook, Deceptively Delicious. He's sneaking a little of his bad-tasting reproductive rights stance into the meatloaf of his candidacy
I really doubt Seinfeld was sneaking abortions into her deceptively delicious dinners.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:26 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO TRUST IN CHRIST AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN ON A DAILY BASIS? I MEAN, WHAT DOES THAT REALLY LOOK LIKE?

DEFINE MARRIAGE

DOES EVIL EXIST

What were Obama's answers to these questions?
posted by Brian B. at 4:29 PM on August 22, 2008


I thought, what the hey, let's open up a thread at PoliticalFilter and get this thing going. Head over there if you want to discuss / liveblog tonight's events.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:22 PM on August 28, 2008


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